Sunday, September 7, 2008

A pessimist's guide to the Oilers' upcoming season

Ever look at a park full of children playing on a beautiful, sunny day and think "What's the point? We are all just going to die and turn into dust..."? Welcome to A Pessimist's Guide to the Oilers' Upcoming Season*.

As an Oilers fan, I expect the worse, am surprised by success, and thus completely prepared for the mediocrity that often lies between. The one thing I especially try to keep the reigns on is runaway optimism at the beginning of the season, no matter how much I'm champing at the bit by training camp (that's right, three horse-related metaphors in one sentence, muchachos).

As a kid I didn't know any better, so I'd gobble up every morsel of Oilers news in the summer, spending precious good-weather moments indoors listening to radio reports from training camp, wildly projecting Peter White or Ralph Intranuovo's breakout year based on intra-squad games. And hell, even last year I let some excitement slip after Edmonton beat San Jose 3-2 in the shootout opener, that is, until the suck hammer came down to knock my expectations back into place.

Not this year! I'm fully expecting that something will go seriously wrong, like
Conkkanen wrong. A player will play well below expectations as they often do, whether it be Garon crumpling as a true number one for the first time, Steve Staios losing a step, or the kid line not lasting more than two weeks. I'm not even going to mention what might happen to Penner's numbers with the arrival of Erik Cole. Throw in the inevitable 200 man games lost to injury and we're really cooking with gas. Oh, and if I'm wrong, I still win... in here [thumps the part of his chest where his heart is].

Based on last year's league average, the Oilers will need to score about 228 GF and keep their GF at around 210 if they want to make the playoffs. I don't have to wheel out Pythagorean projections to tell you that at GF 220/GA 247, the Oilers were decidedly not a playoff-worthy team last year, which is also why you won't hear me complaining about Matt's
latest post about his secretly-favourite team.

To make this exercise easier, I'm simply going to assume that the defence is better this year, with a better job from the top 4 and enough depth in Ladislav Smid, Jason Strudwick, Theo Peckham and Mathieu Roy to fill in the 7th and 8th spots reasonably well. I'll even spot them a miraculous 37GA improvement in 2008-09, mostly because it's easier for me.
That just leaves GF, which could very easily fall short of 228 GF, looking like this: - I tried to not lowball the numbers just to prove a point. Except for maybe Penner, I've kept the totals within a range that makes sense compared to the previous three years. Why'd I pick on Penner? Because I'm not convinced he's magically changed his personality or lost about 10 per cent of McNugget body fat in the last 150 days.
Assume that goals are somewhat interchangeable with callups and injuries.
By assuming that Cogliano, Horcoff, Pisani and Gilbert's shooting percentage will return closer to average NHL levels, they take a cut in goals. Horcoff's predicted 22 goals is actually fairly reasonable based on the last three years.

Due for an injury

- Ales Hemsky, nearly every game, in the middle of the ice at the other team's blueline
- at some point Steve Staios will take off his skate after blocking a shot and his foot will actually pour out.
- Erik Cole in game 2 of the regular season. Seems appropriate somehow...
- Ethan Moreau, tearing an erector spinae from the bone while reaching for a SpongeBob SquarePants tumbler for one of his kids.

Depressed yet? Good, I've done my job. See you at the bar, scum bags.

* Telling me that I'm too negative or something silly like "you are not a true fan" would be missing the point. This is how I deal with a team that has mostly broken my heart, especially in the lean adult years. It's also a little bit of reverse-psychology superstition, for good measure.


Lowetide said...

Mike W: WHY did you print that Hemsky injury thingy? WHY?

Steve said...

I'd actually characterize 27 goals for Cole is pretty near "best reasonable case" territory. I'd say that you're also slightly on the optimistic side with Cogliano, Gagner, Brodziak, Souray, and Strudwick.

Man, when I look at it like this, *I'm* suddenly depressed.

mike w said...

I'd actually characterize 27 goals for Cole is pretty near "best reasonable case" territory...*I'm* suddenly depressed.

See? I ain't messing around here.

Matt said...

Assuming enough of those goals are big goals at key times of the game, you'll be fine.

rickibear said...

Penner 17G ?????

The first 30 Games were the post SCF result most player suffer.
06/07 2.20
07/08 2.40
2.30PPG/60 is not unexpected. As our best PP scorer option and one of the 20 best in the league he will see 3:45 PP TOI. 307.5 MIN/YR

12 PPG/YR is not un expected.
AT EV 13:00 TOI/GM would be expected. 1066 Min.
His EVG/60
06/07 1.04 14.7% Shooting
Last 50
07/08 0.80 11.4% Shooting
current career Avg 12.4%
Therefore a .80EVG/60 makes sense.
13 G EV
25G total
That is pretty much worse case if he plays a healthy 82 Games. This young man really is a 25-30G player each year.

Lord Bob said...

Mike hides a good point in his comment. People are focusing on goals, assists, and points. Where are the predictions on BIG GOALS/EV60? Isn't that the most important stat of all?

Come on, number guys! You're letting me down! This is almost as important as calculating Edmonton's WORLD-CLASS CITY quotient per capita before and after a taxpayer-funded arena.

Loxy said...

your not a true fan

crapsie said...

Maybe it's the McNuggets that cause Penner's flippant on-ice attitude. I know that I feel lethargic and listless after putting down a 9-pack.

Storts is gonna have a breakout year and score 4.

Steve said...

Rickibear, I agree with what you're saying, except that I think you're presuming that Penner will be used in a role comparable to the one in which he was used last year (i.e. first line left-winger). He may be, but DMFB seems to be predicting he'll be on the third line, in which case the prediction seems reasonable. If he's not on the third line, presumably Cole will be, in which case 27 goals for him becomes a little outlandish.

Instead of reading the prediction as "Cole 27 goals, Penner 17 goals", it might be better to read it as "First line left-winger 27 goals, third line left-winger 17 goals".

Steve said...

Sorry, I misattributed this post - should be mike w, not DMFB.

mike w said...

Instead of reading the prediction as "Cole 27 goals, Penner 17 goals", it might be better to read it as "First line left-winger 27 goals, third line left-winger 17 goals".

What he said. Although I agree he holds up on the powerplay, I'm not convinced he's actually good enough at EV to play on the first line, especially with Cole's arrival.

Wouldn't he be a better option against soft opposition with a couple of young guns like Gagner or Cogliano -- in effect replicating as much as possible his breakout year with Anaheim?

I know that I feel lethargic and listless after putting down a 9-pack.

Have I told you how glad I am not to live/work anywhere near an A&W Teen Burger? It reminds me of a TV feature I saw on Sheldon Souray, being interviewed as he's going to McDonald's for chrissakes (IIRC). The Drive-Thrus in Edmonton are turning everyone into Brad "Human McNugget" Isbister.

Doogie2K said...

I think reversing Brodziak's and Pisani's Mr. Negativity goals would be a little more "in the range" for the subject. Otherwise, I think that works. I should have Ender post his Mr. Positivity numbers and see just how big the swing is between the two. They'd be good markers for judging where this team is.

Also, if Hemsky is seriously hurt, I would earnestly advocate someone taking the ten-game hit to come off the bench and beat Regehr/Boogaard/whomever into the ice. With his stick.

DMFB said...

Sorry, I misattributed this post - should be mike w, not DMFB.

Here I was trying to figure out when the hell I predicted Dustin Penner was going to be the third-line winger.

LittleFury said...

I heartily endorse this event or product.

This team is gonna suck donkey balls through a feeding tube in their stomach this year. Because they hate us and want to see us cry.

grease trap said...

Loxy beat me to the punch. That's okay, though...I expected it so it doesn't hurt as much.