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Derrico

Fancy stat guys - should I be excited yet??

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I hasten to add that Sean Tierney seems to have a somewhat more positive view of the Sabres, than what I posited above, based on his eye-pleasing charts. The Sabres seem to be straddling a line between somewhat dull (low-event) and somewhat good. An average team?

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These charts are so weird because there's such a gap in games played between teams right now. Some teams have played 10 games already, and some have only played 6.

Oddly enough, the Atlantic division has the lowest amount of disparity in games played, a range of 7-9. Which probably makes it the only division worth comparing teams in right now.

Edited by darksabre
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I find the xGF/60 number for the Sabres in the Team xG Rates chart a bit surprising. I think it'd be closer to 2.4, but that's going on memory.

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Tierney takes on the question at hand:

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Arizona will be an interesting case study as they catch up on games played.

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17 minutes ago, That Aud Smell said:

I love Tierney. More food for thought here:

 

In other words, Buffalo's success is a team effort; EDM and ANA are clinging to the performance of a key individual on each team.

As others have pointed out, the production of the Eichel line out west was kind of meh in terms of scoring, but the team made up for that with scoring by other lines and one mad, record-setting shutout by Hutts. 

What I see watching this team is there is a different hero every game.  The "balanced" approach RFK is taking in the lines and D pairings is working in that in most games, the lines generally cancel each other out, but one or two of the matchups turn out in the Sabres' favor.  Each line has its own quality and style, and only rarely do they get outplayed by their opponents.  Some of that is pure ability/talent, but even more is team play and hustle, something that can overcome a lack of talent if the gap isn't that large.

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I still feel like we are missing a piece. 

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20 minutes ago, LGR4GM said:

I still feel like we are missing a piece. 

Anything to replace Sobotka on that line

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1 hour ago, WildCard said:

Anything to replace Sobotka on that line

The line that has outscored its opponents at even-strength by 6 or so over nine games?

I remember posing the line-stacking question several different ways, but doesn’t it all come down to setting a lineup in a way that puts each line in a position to win its matchup?

If the Eichel line is essentially playing the Crosby, Hall, Barkov, Kopitar, Couture...etc. lines straight up even and the other three lines are winning their matchups, what exactly is the problem?

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Just now, dudacek said:

The line that has outscored its opponents at even-strength by 6 or so over nine games?

I remember posing the line-stacking question several different ways, but doesn’t it all come down to setting a lineup in a way that puts each line in a position to win its matchup?

If the Eichel line is essentially playing the Crosby, Hall, Barkov, Kopitar, Couture...etc. lines straight up even and the other three lines are winning their matchups, what exactly is the problem?

Imagine if they had a better winger on there, or an actual 2C, what they could be doing. They're doing all of that in spite of Sobotka, not because of him. Johanssen can do everything Sobotka does on that line as the RW, adding a 2C there and pushing Marcus over to replace Sobotka would be a dream come true

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7 minutes ago, WildCard said:

Imagine if they had a better winger on there, or an actual 2C, what they could be doing. They're doing all of that in spite of Sobotka, not because of him. Johanssen can do everything Sobotka does on that line as the RW, adding a 2C there and pushing Marcus over to replace Sobotka would be a dream come true

Cutting of your nose to spite your face.

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15 minutes ago, dudacek said:

The line that has outscored its opponents at even-strength by 6 or so over nine games?

I remember posing the line-stacking question several different ways, but doesn’t it all come down to setting a lineup in a way that puts each line in a position to win its matchup?

If the Eichel line is essentially playing the Crosby, Hall, Barkov, Kopitar, Couture...etc. lines straight up even and the other three lines are winning their matchups, what exactly is the problem?

I know it's a limited sample size, but there's no better PDO-poster-child goal than the one MoJo scored on that one-timer from the high slot (?) a few games back. A seeing eye puck, and, yes, a good screen (so sometimes you make your own luck). 

The line has been doing well. MoJo is carrying a PDO of nearly 110. The team would do well to improve that line.

Also, who says the Eichel line is playing the opponent's top line "straight up even"? My sense is that the Eichel line is not quite getting the best of its matchups, on balance and to date.

13 minutes ago, WildCard said:

Imagine if they had a better winger on there, or an actual 2C, what they could be doing. They're doing all of that in spite of Sobotka, not because of him. Johanssen can do everything Sobotka does on that line as the RW, adding a 2C there and pushing Marcus over to replace Sobotka would be a dream come true

This may overstate things a bit, but I think it is more true than untrue.

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From Travis Yost of TSN. 
 

Reasons for optimism 

Buffalo Sabres (7-1-1) Believability: Moderate

This isn’t the Sabres of a year ago – a team that rode lofty shooting percentages early in the season, only to watch their huge shot volume disadvantage (along with an inexplicable cratering in performance from the goaltending duo of Carter Hutton and Linus Ullmark) ultimately win out. Last year’s Sabres team was fatally flawed: they had one ultra-productive line trying to smooth over depth issues in the forward ranks and a ghastly defence that was seemingly incapable of moving the puck.

Buffalo’s blueline overhaul may end up being one of the biggest stories of the 2019-20 season. Adding Colin Miller and Henri Jokiharju – two guys with some holes in their off-puck game but incredible puck movers and north-south transitional players – has alleviated a huge defensive burden from their forward class. Jokiharju, in particular, has completely reshaped Buffalo’s ability to take the game to their opponents when their best players are on the ice. Paired predominantly with Marco Scandella, the Sabres are getting a whopping 55 per cent of shots with their third unit on the ice.

Buffalo’s season-to-date measures are as follows:

EV Corsi%: 51.5 per cent (12th)

EV Expected Goal%: 53.0 per cent (Seventh)

EV Goal%: 67.2 per cent (First)

Power Play Expected Goals Per-60 Minutes: 6.4 (15th)

Penalty Kill Expected Goals Against Per-60 Minutes: (7.7 (27th)

Those aren’t the type of numbers we expect to see from teams that are lottery bound. There is surely some puck luck blessing this team on the defensive side, as the Sabres are stopping more than 95 per cent of shots at 5-on-5 and nearly 93 per cent across all situations. Turn your opponent into a team that can only convert on five to seven per cent of their opportunities and you’ll have a chance to win on most nights. The only problem is that these stop rates are well outside of our expectations for both the team and the goalies, and we did see this same exact thing happen last season.

But the best way to combat an inevitable save percentage regression is to spend more time in the offensive zone, which serves to both apply pressure on the opposition defensively and ease the pressure on the defensive side of the game. This Sabres team has shown they are capable of doing just that, and that’s materially different from what we have seen from other Buffalo teams for most of this decade.

The Sabres still don’t seem like a great pick to finish inside of the top three in the division, but they can pass the bar of wild-card calibre. That’s quite impressive in a division with the likes of the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, and Boston Bruins.


Edmonton Oilers (7-1-1) Believability: Low

I will say this much about the Oilers: I don’t think the Pacific Division is really impressive outside of the Vegas Golden Knights, so there’s a real opportunity for even a depth-challenged team to try and steal one of the two other playoff spots. While I think the lineup is fatally flawed, the Oilers’ first line is on a perpetual heater and the goaltending combination of Mikko Koskinen and Mike Smith has held up so far.

If both don’t sustain, Edmonton is going to have a hard time staying afloat. Consider their performance numbers through the first nine games with both of those as major positives:

EV Corsi%: 48.6 per cent (21st)

EV Expected Goal%: 47.5 per cent (23rd)

EV Goal%: 55.5 per cent (Ninth)

Power Play Expected Goals Per-60 Minutes: 8.1 (Third)

Penalty Kill Expected Goals Against Per-60 Minutes: 8.7(31st)

I think the Oilers will continue to have one of the best lines in all of hockey – magic is being made anytime one or both of Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl is on the ice (they have 37 per cent of the team’s goals so far this season). But the Oilers are still only getting about 40 per cent of the goals when those players are shelved at 5-on-5, and at some point, the usage for their big guns may come back to haunt them.

Unlike a team like Buffalo, though, the Oilers are still being broadly outshot and out-chanced, and polarizing power-play performances seem to be something of a wash. The depth issues that everyone feared would lower this team’s ceiling haven’t left – they’ve just been masked over by incredible individual efforts, which are quite fleeting historically.

Still, the points are in the bag, and the division doesn’t offer up a tremendous amount of competition. That can’t be understated enough. The Oilers may be a flawed team – more flawed than the standings would suggest – but the hot start has given them an early leg up on the rest of the field, and they might be able to hang around in the playoff race for quite some time as a result. 

 

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Anyone got those high scoring chances against stats?  Sabres haven't let in many goals where I feel like they've been outworked.  Many of them are flukey off of weird bounces.  Granted, some of those bounces were generated because of strong pressure, but they don't seem that consistent.  On the other hand, Buffalo has been able to score with their 2-4th lines at ES, which has made the difference.  The 41% PP was bound to regress, and that was a factor in both losses, but hasn't made them stumble overall.

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26 minutes ago, That Aud Smell said:

This may overstate things a bit, but I think it is more true than untrue.

I think Sobotka looked a lot better on the road trip than earlier in the season.  Same with Vesey.  I think Sobs was disillusioned/disgusted with the way things turned out last year and played down to expectations.  This year is a totally different story; RFK has given Sobotka his full backing as a 2nd liner so far.  Does he belong there really?  No, but he's doing the best he can with the opportunity.  He only has the one assist but has made a few other passes that resulted in good scoring changes and over the last couple games no longer looks like a liability for that line. 

Edited by Doohickie
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28 minutes ago, That Aud Smell said:

I know it's a limited sample size, but there's no better PDO-poster-child goal than the one MoJo scored on that one-timer from the high slot (?) a few games back. A seeing eye puck, and, yes, a good screen (so sometimes you make your own luck). 

The line has been doing well. MoJo is carrying a PDO of nearly 110. The team would do well to improve that line.

Also, who says the Eichel line is playing the opponent's top line "straight up even"? My sense is that the Eichel line is not quite getting the best of its matchups, on balance and to date.

Of course the Johansson line can be better if a better player than Sobotka is on it. Any line can be improved.

The issue is how to best arrange the 13 existing forwards in a manner that gives the team its best chance to succeed.

As far as the bold goes, I think you are correct, but so am I. They might be up a goal or two, or down a goal or two overall, but essentially, Jack’s line has neutralized the big guns of the Crosby, Hall, Barkov, Seguin, Kopitar and Couture lines (I’m not sure if any of those named has scored, or even registered a plus against us), allowing the other lines to win games for us. Anaheim I believe is the lone exception, and, not coincidentally, our only regulation loss.

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4 minutes ago, dudacek said:

The issue is how to best arrange the 13 existing forwards in a manner that gives the team its best chance to succeed.

My sense in this regard is that the Sabres should arrange their 13 forwards so that Sobotka is not among them.

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Just now, That Aud Smell said:

My sense in this regard is that the Sabres should arrange their 13 forwards so that Sobotka is not among them.

Is that based almost entirely on Sobotka’s abhorrent performance last year?

What have analytics showed you about his performance this year?

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4 minutes ago, dudacek said:

As far as the bold goes, I think you are correct, but so am I. They might be up a goal or two, or down a goal or two overall, but essentially, Jack’s line has neutralized the big guns of the Crosby, Hall, Barkov, Seguin, Kopitar and Couture lines (I’m not sure if any of those named has scored, or even registered a plus against us), allowing the other lines to win games for us. Anaheim I believe is the lone exception, and, not coincidentally, our only regulation loss.

I think their 5v5 goal differential is somewhere around 0 - or a low negative number. Jack's 5v5 shot share metrics are not good, though -- verging on somewhat bad.

Just now, dudacek said:

Is that based almost entirely on Sobotka’s abhorrent performance last year?

What have analytics showed you about his performance this year?

That he's providing numbers that hover between dull and bad, while his more dynamic linemates trend toward good. The charts seem to indicate that he's holding them back. 

OTOH, perhaps his role on that line is being penalized by the stats that I understand.

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3 hours ago, That Aud Smell said:

I think their 5v5 goal differential is somewhere around 0 - or a low negative number. Jack's 5v5 shot share metrics are not good, though -- verging on somewhat bad.

Jack and Vic are -3, Sam is even and that includes a SH goal against for all 3.

As a unit at even strength they are around even, including each being -2 in the Ducks game.

Why break up one of three lines that are working to “fix” one that is essentially holding its own?

Edited by dudacek

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It's worth noting that the Skinner line is drawing massive amounts of d zone starts and is still producing.

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1 minute ago, darksabre said:

It's worth noting that the Skinner line is drawing massive amounts of d zone starts and is still producing.

Sobotka’s defensive acumen creating opportunities for Johansson’s transition skill, creating opportunities for Skinner’s finishing genius, according to design? Or luck based on unusual PDO?

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3 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Sobotka’s defensive acumen creating opportunities for Johansson’s transition skill, creating opportunities for Skinner’s finishing genius, according to design? Or luck based on unusual PDO?

GrouchyFoolhardyFly-size_restricted.gif

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10 minutes ago, dudacek said:

Is that based almost entirely on Sobotka’s abhorrent performance last year?

What have analytics showed you about his performance this year?

I think, at this point, the argument is pretty clear that even with Vlad's best years' stats plugged into that line's overall stats, if a better player were to replace Vlad, that line would very likely have even better stats than they do now.  The team's ceiling is only so high with players like a (historical) Vlad.  This is elementary.  I don't get the push-back on this basic point.

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