Strome and Khaira II

883241252Something I came across recently was just how poor the Oilers possession numbers have been and how they’ve been trending downwards. There’s been some optimism around the team as they had put together a somewhat respectable stretch, but their Corsi For percentage was 46.3%, with their Fenwick For percentage hovering around the same level (45.0%). (Link)

The other thing I found was just how badly the Oilers third and fourth line players were doing in terms of shot-share metrics, namely Ryan Strome and Jujhar Khaira. Now to me this isn’t that surprising. I put together a post earlier this month making a case for the two forwards to remain together on a line and dug into how they’d done as centers. Highly recommend reading that one first if you haven’t already. So for all the people into sports this is a really good news, and they can also go to sites online where they can purchase bets, such as rivalo and others.

In my opinion, neither is a great centerman on their own or without another centerman with them. But when they’re on the ice either together at even-strength (5v5) splitting duties this season, they’ve been just fine.

Strome and Khaira (2017/18)

TOI (5v5) CF% FF% GF% PDO
256.97 53.2 55.8 50.0 0.976

What’s also worth noting is that general manager Peter Chiarelli views Strome as a good option for center, as discussed the day he was acquired from New York, and that it’s always helpful to load up on centers.

Chiarelli on whether Strome slots in at centre or wing: “If you can put two centres on a line it’s to your advantage. I think he’s a natural centre, but he can certainly rip a wrist shot so he’s quite good on the wing also.” (Source: Edmonton Journal)

Unfortunately for the Oilers, the coaching staff has been adamant for the last 12 games now to have Strome and Khaira away from each other and centering their own lines.

This all stems of course from McLellan’s desire to have his top three centermen, McDavid, Nugent-Hopkins and Draisaitl, play in the top six. In the most recent stretch, McDavid has been playing with Nugent-Hopkins on the same line, with Draisaitl anchoring the second line. It’s understandable that a coach wants to have as much fire power together, but it’d make a lot more sense to spread the talent across three lines to really cause match-up issues for the opposing team.

Because of the coaching staff’s deployment tactics, two things are occurring: the team’s overall possession numbers haven’t been strong. And the on-ice numbers of both Strome and Khaira as they center their own lines have been horrible.

Over the last 12 games, the Oilers have gone 7-4-1, but that’s with an even-strength (5v5) goal-share of 44.9% (a -5 goal differential). So right away, we know this isn’t real. And we can also make a case that this recent success probably isn’t sustainable since their Corsi For percentage is 48.1%, and their Fenwick For percentage is 46.8%.

With Khaira or Strome on the ice centering their own lines, the team’s Corsi For percentage dips below 45%, with a higher rate of unblocked shot attempts against going way up, especially with Strome on the ice.

Player TOI G-A-P CF% FF% GF% PDO
Strome 131.18 2-2-4 44.0 40.3 40.0 1.009
Khaira 113.42 1-1-2 44.3 43.2 50.0 1.008

Looking at each player’s rolling 5-game Corsi For%, it’s pretty apparent that their on-ice numbers took a hit once they were split apart and trusted as centermen by the coaching staff.

Strome - Rolling 5

Khaira - Rolling 5

If a coaches job is to put players in a position to succeed and improve the chances of winning games, then it behooves them to collect as much information as possible and deploy the best possible player combinations. And if things look fine on the surface and the team is winning, it’s even more critical to analyze and determine if the success is sustainable or not and make adjustments as needed.

It’s easy to dismiss criticism directed towards third and fourth line-type players. But as we’ve seen from other successful teams, depth is critical to be a contender. And while the Oilers are playing out a lost season and it makes sense to try out different players in different positions, it’s critical that they review the underlying numbers and the right information to know what the player’s true on-ice impact really is.

Data: Natural Stat Trick, Barlowe Analytic


6 thoughts on “Strome and Khaira II

  1. I’m really quite surprised you are still of the opinion of McD, Draisaitl, and Nuge centering their own lines, considering how the season has gone. I do agree with you that Khaira and Strome on a line together is a great option-but those big three all need to be top 6, especially considering wing depth. The right move, IMHO, is keep Nuge with McD, Strome with Khaira on the 3rd. That leaves us without a 4th Line Center. What an easy fix that would be, however. Khaira and Strome both deserve 3rd Line minutes, and with the development of Puljujarvi and Yamamoto, I think our top 9 doesn’t look bad at all.

    • I agree, but I’m very worried as a fan that PC will trade Nuge for nothing since we have the boat anchor Looch here. I have also been thinking and wondering the same thing, Strome and Khaira have chemistry. But look at the roster, the Oiler’s best producing LW is Lucic and he sucks. So put Nuge on the LW and you get production on the 1st line. If PC trades Nuge it continues to reaffirm that he has no hockey sense. They need him more than ever and if they can bring in a 4th line centre in the summer it will help immensely. Pouliot would be the highest scoring LW if they kept him and didn’t pay him to pay in Buffalo. The wings need to be addressed because they are not close to good enough in this league. I like JJ on the wing with Strome because he’s the next best option after Nuge. Both being centres adds much needed depth and versatility in case of injuries to the other centremen.

    • I strongly believe that had the Oilers kept the three (McDavid, RNH, Draisaitl) on their own lines, they would have had way more success this season. Just based on what the team results were in December when they were doing running them on their own lines and the underlying shot metrics for the team and each line.

      The Oilers could still have the three in the top six. And have Strome, Khaira and say Cammalleri on the third line. The fourth could be whatever is left over since you’d have three pretty good lines playing the bulk of minutes.

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