Senators News & Notes

I didn’t watch the Sens 4-1 loss to Arizona, but Ary M provides a blow-by-blow recap.  I’m curious to see who (if anyone) the Sens recall to replace Curtis Lazar (I’d guess Matt Puempel, although he isn’t the most de serving).  Bryan Murray is overly fond of meat & potatoes players (ergo the Max McCormick recall), but at some point he needs players who can put the puck in the net.


The BSens beat Toronto 5-1 last night.  There were two lineup changes from their previous game, as Chris Driedger got the start and Alex Wideman replaced the recalled McCormick (Greening took the latter’s spot on the third line while Wideman played on the fourth).  Prior to the game Luke Richardson praised Tuzzolino‘s performance which is appalling.  As for the game itself (Jeff Ulmer also offers a breakdown), here’s a quick look at the goals and a few other moments of note: the scoring opened with Cole Schneider giving Matt Puempel a tap-in on a 2-on-1; David Dziurzynki made it 2-0 when his shot simply sailed through Garret Sparks from just inside the blueline; Tobias Lindberg made a great pass to Eric O’Dell to make it 3-0; right after Mark Fraser fought Richard Clune as payback for a hit on Ryan Dzingel, the Marlies scored as Josh Leivo fired through a screen; Schneider scored with a backhand move on a breakaway; there was a nice give & go between Puempel and Schneider (latter with the goal).  Other items of note: Nick Paul missed on a first period breakaway; the aforementioned Tuzzolino fell asleep in front of his own net early in the second and nearly gave up a goal; Lepine almost managed an own-goal in front of his net (2nd); Lindberg made a great pickoff in his own zone leading to a 2-on-1; Fraser took a needless penalty (2nd); Lindberg missed high backhand on a breakaway (3rd).  Despite the final score the Marlies dominated in the early 2nd period when the score was 2-0 and 3-0 (where the poor defensive plays and bad penalty above are mentioned).  The first-line was again the best, with the second continuing to improve.  [A look at the goals:
1. Shortly after Mullen saved a goal in front with a timely stick check with a Marlie all alone in front, Schneider creates the turn over and he feeds Puempel for the empty net on a 2-on-1
2. Dziurzynski scores with an innocent wrist shot from a long way out
3. Nice little pass by Lindberg who creates the turnover and O’Dell makes no mistake from in close
4. Hobbs turns it over and Ewanyk loses his check so Leivo is all alone in the slot to shoot through a crowd
5. Puempel springs Schneider on a breakaway and he makes no mistake with a deke
6. Paul gets the puck out of danger and Puempel gives Schneider the empty net on a 2-on-1]

I agree with Jeff that Wideman was invisible; I think the porous Marlies defense Jeff mentioned occurred when they got far behind and defensemen were gambling; Jeff agrees with me that Zack Storini doesn’t work on the powerplay–he can’t stake, he can’t pass, and he can’t shoot–his stats last year were an aberration (with that said, I don’t expect Richardson to remove him); a lot of BSens fans are praising Fraser, particularly for defending his teammate, but I’m still on the fence about him–in the first five games of the season he’s taken selfish penalties in two of them (tonight and against Albany), along with being guilty of an atrocious turnover leading to a goal (the first game against Saint John).  The latter will happen to any blueliner at some point, but there’s no excuse for the dumb penalties.  Fraser has no offensive upside, so he has to be excellent in all other facets of the game and he needs to police himself better.


The IceMen played their second game of the season last night against last year’s Kelly Cup champs Toledo, with a similar result to game one (a 2-1 loss).  The lineup changes were Swede Sebastien Strandberg replacing Mark Anthoine and he was a big improvement; Samuel Noreau replaced Dieude-Fauvel which didn’t help the team at all.  The individual play continued, being particularly bad from veterans Matt Hussey and Daultan Leveille.  The first goal against Scott Greenham was due to poor defensive coverage and on the second Noreau screened him; Evansville’s lone goal was a Fawcett tip off a point shot.  Zarbo played well again; Troy Rutkowski had a strong game (as did Greenham).  Most of the game Toledo dominated and was clearly more talented, but the IceMen did put on great pressure after their goal (so the final half of the third period).  It’s just two games in, but a lack of talent may be the downfall of Evansville.


I’m puzzled by fans (and professionals) who simply reject analytics.  Hockey people like Patrick Roy, John Tortorella, the Sens organisation, and others express dismissive views despite showing little to no understanding of the material.  This kind of rejection isn’t unique to hockey–there are many instances where conventional wisdom is used as “evidence” to reject actual evidence.  In the case of the NHL I don’t believe there’s any perniciousness here, instead I think those trying to break down the game into usable data are fighting two separate problems: 1) the struggle to understand analytics (and what their numbers mean), and 2) the weight of decades of hyperbole and conventional wisdom that’s accumulated from the era before analytics.  The issues are interrelated, because the media has done a poor to non-existent job in addressing it–part of that, surely, is because accepting the importance of the data would promptly unemploy a huge swath of TV and radio personalities.  Secondly, while the proof that analytics is legitimate continues to pour in, it’s new enough that challenges to it can still be seen as reasonable–despite the fact most of them boil down to ‘hockey can’t be understood purely by numbers.’  It’s basically a battle of faith at this point (people believe something is true to the point that they are not open to it being wrong).  Once the media (and NHL) fully embrace analytics that opposition will vanish, but it may be another ten years or so before we see that happen.

This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)



  1. They had the better of the play but were a bit let down in their goalie. They also could not finish when given and opportunity.

  2. By the same token,neither you,nor any of your colleagues of the ottawa blogosphere,have EVEN ONCE,acknowledged the limitations of analytics,or the skewed impressions it can create about a players effectiveness.
    Any statistical analysis can create a picture,but not necessarily,a complete picture.
    For example, corsi,fenwick etc,can demonstrate how a player can drive posession, but it does not measure for slow footedness,uneven competing and frequent loss of puck battles. Witness: local analytics hero,weircioch.
    Local pro analytic bloggers have urged the sens to acquire players with good underlying numbers,including benoit pouliot and alexander semin (before his buyout) despite the fact that they are lazy,under acheiving players. Yet you NEVER acknowledge,that analytics do not always tell the entire story.
    I see the value of analytics,but also it’s limitations.
    But to you and your colleagues,it has assumed the status of a cult,a religion.
    Why can you notsee the entire picture?
    I am interested in your response.

    • I appreciate your thoughts, but to have a serious discussion you have to present tangible facts. Just *saying* something is true doesn’t make it true–simply telling me that player X is good or bad doesn’t tell me anything other than your opinion–as interesting as that opinion might be, without evidence backing it it’s no more (or less) meaningful than anyone else’s. For example, if I remove Wiercioch’s name above and replace it with Karlsson (or Crosby/whoever), there’s really nothing that changes about your statement except that no one would take it seriously. If you’ve got some hard data backing your opinions then I’d be more than happy to discuss them–I have no problem with changing my mind, but I need more than your opinion for that to happen. I do find your comparison of the analytics community with a cult fascinating, since the former is predicted on evidence and the latter on faith, both of which are antipodal to each other.

      • Fact: 29 nhl teams had the same opinion of weircioch prior to his seeming temporary resurgence at the end of last season.
        Fact: the posession driving pouliot played for five teams in five years before hooking up with a desperate edmonton franchise.
        Fact: local analytics gurus were talking up the “posession driving” semin in the midst of a six goal season,which led to him being bought out.—–so we are not only talking about MY opinion.
        You talk as if the only thing that can constitute evidence are bits of mathematically quantifiable data.—- which may or may not be significant in a broader overall context.
        You seem to reject,or devalue observable phenomena such as actual results obtained by an athlete,which may not correspond at all with underlying stats.
        You demean the “dreaded” eye test,which can reveal such “underlying” attributes as effort,grit,emotion,clutch performance,and consistency.
        And—–you don,t seem to acknowledge that all the underlying stats in the world don’t necessarily explain what a player actually acheives with the damn puck—-i.e. Goals and assists.
        I think it was one of your colleagues that recently posted something to the effect that if you study analytics,you don’t make bad decisions such as signing david clarkson.
        Do you have to study analytics to know not to sign david clarkson
        If you think my position is weak because i don,t adhere to what you believe is the “meaningful evidence” i suppose i’ll just have to take solace in hanging out with patrick roy.

      • I think perhaps the problem is understanding what an argument is–we don’t hear proper arguments very often (especially on the Internet) so it’s worth going over: an argument is a series of statements typically used to persuade someone of something or to present reasons for accepting a conclusion. You aren’t actually making an argument against analytics, instead you’re attempting to make an argument that there are a few players whose performance doesn’t match what you think analytics is saying about them–that approach can make for effective rhetoric, but it’s not an actual argument (you’ll want to read up on outliers as well). What you need to do is put forward a thesis whereby analytics is actually false, otherwise you’re simply talking about ways to improve it (something no one opposes). So rather than engaging in circular arguments debating the relative merits of player X or Y, you’ll want to illustrate how possession and shot metrics are not indicative of player value. Incidentally, if you listen to Ray Ferraro on the latest PDOcast he gives a brief, useful definition of how he views analytics and how he believes old school guys (like Patrick Roy) actually feel about it (–you can skip to around 19 minutes for it.

  3. But you are not hearing me. I am not making an argument against analytics,i am stating that analytics,like all other methods of analysis,is incapable of properly interpreting all information under all circumstances. It is you who are taking the untenable position of suggesting it can!
    This would be more fun over a whiskey.

    • I don’t know anyone who thinks Corsi/Fenwick provides all information in all circumstances–it’s certainly not my claim.

  4. Well,implicitly it is,for i have never seen you say,for example,that “despite good underlying stats,player a,b,c,or d is an inneffective player” surely,some are.
    Thanks for the “argument”

    • The absence of information isn’t the basis for an argument (you’d add weight to your statements by actually citing things I said). To follow your own logic, you never said Sidney Crosby was a good player, ergo you think he’s not (reductio ad absurdum). Beyond looking to add evidence when you make an argument, I highly suggest you peruse lists of logical fallacies and that will help you a great deal.

  5. I really do not need your help peter. I chose to overlook your early condescension and arrogance,as i was enjoying our exchange of views,but perhaps you would be well advised to pursue your philosophy studies at a program more advanced than algonquin.

    • I think there’s still hope for you–a little more life experience and open-mindedness goes a long way.

  6. […] of the major themes of this season is Mark Fraser taking awful penalties (passim), but Richardson has chosen to do absolutely nothing about it–the guy isn’t going to […]

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