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Where Does Cogs Sit On The Bus?

I was going to write about Andrew Cogliano anyway but if Robin Brownlee's interpretation of Shawn Horcoff's shoulder is correct (and Horcoff didn't take a shift in the last ten minutes despite playing a strong game), Cogliano's performance as a centerman becomes even more important.  Many have noticed that Cogliano's performance in the faceoff dot is poor (last season it may even have been historically bad).  Many others, myself among them, have also taken issue with Cogliano's performance defensively overall as he really seems to struggle when the puck is in his own zone (and he's certainly not the only one).  So far this season Cogliano's performance has been pretty disappointing (although he's improved his faceoff percentage to 38.7%!) as he's only scored  6 points in his first 15 games in spite of a very healthy 20% shooting percentage.  In order for the Oilers to have success they'll need more production from Andrew Cogliano and from the Oiler depth in general.  I'll break down Cogliano's first fifteen games in a couple of different ways after the jump.

Most observers would agree that Cogliano looked his best through training camp and at the beginning of the year (and really, the Oilers as a team looked pretty good through those first two games against the Flames).  Is it just a coincidence that Cogliano was used as a winger during this stretch?  In addition to these first few games Cogliano was used as a winger a couple of times later on in the season, so let's start by giving Cogliano's splits as a center and as a winger so far this season (The scoring chances do not include the game between the Oilers and Red Wings but otherwise all scoring chance data comes from Dennis King and all Corsi data comes from Vic Ferrari.  Thanks very much to them both):


GP Corsi + Corsi - Corsi % SC + SC - SC %
Cogliano as Center 10 75 134 35.89% 20 31 39.22%
Cogliano as Winger 5 53 71 42.74% 11 15 42.31%


Looking at things in this way makes Cogliano look much better as a winger than he did as a center but, to be perfectly frank, he looks bad in either case.  To put these numbers in perspective, Cogliano played almost exclusively at center last season and had a scoring chance percentage of 48.5%.  Clearly he's regressed from there and although we're still talking small numbers here there isn't a lot of evidence in these five games that Cogliano will be much better on the wing than he was at center.  

How else can we divide the data to explain for Cogliano's strong start?  Well, the Oilers played their first three games at home, so let's take a look at Cogliano's home and road splits:


GP Corsi + Corsi - Corsi % SC + SC - SC %
Cogliano at Home 9 88 127 40.93% 15 28 34.88%
Cogliano on Road 6 40 78 33.90% 16 18 47.06%


At home Cogliano played four games on the wing and five at center.  On the road Cogliano played one game on the wing and five at center.  These numbers are fascinating because of the discrepancy between Corsi and scoring chances.  Although we've seen that over the long haul Corsi and scoring chances track closely which one, over a small sample, is a better indicator of a player's past performance?  To be honest, I'm not at all sure though I suspect that the Corsi number is likely a better predictor of future success since it is based on a higher number of events.  Regardless, his results are, once again, bad in both situations. 

What else may have helped Cogliano at the start of the year?  His linemates.  Cogliano has played most of his time with three different sets of linemates: Penner-Brule (first three games, Cogliano on wing, all at home), Moreau-Stortini (all ten of Cogliano's games at center, five at home, five on the road) and Gagner-Nilsson (two games on the wing, one at home, one on the road).  Here are these results:


GP Corsi + Corsi - Corsi % SC + SC - SC %
w/ Penner and Brule 3 33 32 50.77% 7 10 41.18%
w/ Moreau and Stortini 10 75 134 35.89% 20 31 39.22%
w/ Nilsson and Gagner 2 20 39 33.90% 4 5 44.44%


Note: the scoring chances for the Red Wings game with Nilsson and Gagner are not included.

These numbers are, to me, a bit disconcerting.  Although it's good that he plays well for the first three games with Penner and Brule the fact that he's been unable to come close to matching those results with other groups suggests that he might be more of a passenger than a driver of results who has some skill at finishing plays in the offensive zone but who struggles to get the play moving in the right direction.  If Horcoff really is injured that puts the Oilers in desperate need of guys that can drive results and although Cogliano is still very young and could still improve, at this moment, he's not one of those players.  In the past, some (including Oilers' brass) have called him "Marchant with hands" but I think, unfortunately, a better past-Oiler comparison might be "Lupul with speed."