The Pages Of Oilers Jambalaya

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

"RNH PowerPlay FO% dilema"

This picture was taken during July 2011 Development Camp
'Mike Sillinger was working with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on faceoff techniques'

For those of you who know me personally you have heard me bring this up on several occasions as the games continue to be played. For those who may not know me on a personal level, I thought I would bring to attention some observations from my point of view. I realize I am not the Oilers Coach or could I ever be, however sometimes it becomes increasingly hard to watch how the development process unfolds, when I see things happen that I tend to disagree with.

In this post I am just wanting to bring to attention one area of concern that I see as this team moves forward into the 2011/12 season. Faceoffs! I spoke during rookie camp on this same topic here at Oilersjambalaya and can't but help bring some things to light once again.

I have no real concerns with Belanger and his FO% as he sits around 6th best in the entire league. That is why we brought him in. We needed a FO specialist and a key PK man. Belanger is just that. We also are banking on him teaching the younger centermen as well through mentoring.

While Horcoff was faring well in FO% early on, he has really taken a dive recently, which brings me to my concern. Horcoff continues to take key defensive zone FO's when RNH would normally be out there on the ice. I get that, and while he is learning the trade, I am ok with that. Where my concern comes in, is the PP.

When Horcoff is playing on our 1st unit PP, I have concerns. If he was winning say 54% of those draws, I could fathom that. But he is not! So when he loses the draw, the puck goes to our end and we are bringing it back up the ice with Horcoff still on the 1st unit PP. The play most often will die with him on the ice. I am sure most would agree that Horcoff is not a 1st unit PP guy. Yes, RNH may lose a faceoff, but I would much rather a creative offensive player out there with RNH, other then Horcoff who can control and move the puck around in the opponents end on the PP.

I am thinking the rationale for Renney is that RNH will lose more draws then he wins and therefore cost more valuable PP time. Maybe, but maybe not! Let's actually take a closer look at the FO% on the PP between Horcoff and RNH.

Horcoff is 50% (only 41.9% in offensive zone during road trip)
RNH is 38.5% (39.1% in offensive zone during road trip)

So that means if Nugent-Hopkins gets 3 or 4 PP Faceoff opportunities maybe the Oilers have to go back 2 or 3 times into their own end to bring the puck back up? Compare that to how many times Horcoff loses the puck in the offensive zone and we have to go back to our end to retrieve it. (let's say 2 to 3 times) Does it really make sense to have Horcoff taking more PP time up from another gifted PP player on our team? I say it doesn't and only slows the development of this team's PP. In fact Horcoff is 58.5% in FO% on the PK, so why not allow him to focus on that even more? Not to mention his Faceoff workload will eventually become too much, he even mentioned as much last year and he is on pace to be taking the same amount this year.

Currently the difference in overall FO% is...
Horcoff 49.7%
RNH 35.9%

However on our recent road trip the Oilers just returned from, showed a dramatic difference..

Horcoff 28.9% in 152 attempts.
RNH 32.9% in 79 attempts.

While Horcoff faced a greater number of attempts (almost twice the faceoffs), RNH was also facing tougher competition due to not getting last change while on the 6 game road trip. As well many coaches believe that offensive zone draws are harder due to defending team fighting harder in own zone. (not all believe this but it is worth a mention)

I find it also interesting how few discuss Lander's disappointing FO% but RNH is mentioned for his low % quite often, while facing higher competition.

Lander is 37.2%  (41.7% at Home and 30.6% on the road)
RNH is 35.9% (30% at home and 41.3% on the road)

FO's on the road are more difficult because the visitor is required to put their stick in first on the faceoff dot but at home, you should have the advantage. RNH looks to be learning and it should be interesting to see if things improve in his FO% these next home games from previous  games in the season. I will be keeping track of his zone faceoffs while at Rexall these next 5 games as well as next 5 on the road and probably mention so in a Game Day post.

What would I do? Continue to develop RNH in the the faceoff dot. Allow him to take the draws on the PP and have Horcoff or Belanger to cover off in our defensive zone while Nugent-Hopkins continues to grow and improve. The goal according to the Oilers organization before the year started was development process, so I say allow the process to continue, but for the love of development, give Nugent-Hopkins PP time in the FO dot!

Having said all that, maybe I am totally out to lunch on this perspective and Renney is taking all this in a different light and has a process to which he believes will work best for development. All I can say is, if it's for development, then make sure the development is the priority. Still, can't see how allowing RNH to take the offensive zone PP draws would hinder this team if Horcoff was not on the ice during the PP.

Maybe your seeing the bigger picture behind Renney's methods. Be sure to comment and share your perspective and views. Are you behind the current process? How long do you continue to have Horcoff out there on the PP? When do you start phasing RNH in? Do you wait till his FO% is around 45% and upward first?

NOTE: All stats were found on the oilers website at or at the NHL website at

Cheers Oil Country!

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  1. I Compleatly agree with everything you said & & Hall, RNH, Ebs need more ice time

  2. I actually believe by giving Horcoff less faceoffs by removing him from the powerplay it would allow him to focus stronger his energy into defensive zone and key faceoffs. ie:faceoffs near the end of the game etc... Also Belanger really should not be on the 2nd PP unit either. Some coaches just love their dependable guys though. At least I know Belanger will most likely win his FO

    will be interesting how things go in that direction in the next 10 games.



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