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Lennart Petrell or Anton Lander - Which Is The Boat Anchor?


In Scott's gameday gospel against the Avalanche, he noted:

I think we can all agree that Darcy Hordichuk is a goon, and as such, is a pretty terrible hockey player. So it's remarkable that he's actually not dead last on the club in Relative Corsi. Lennart Petrell, a guy who's counted on for his ability to actually play the game, is worse. Much worse. Hordichuk's Relative Corsi is -11.7. Petrell's is -17.9. This is not a player that should be in the NHL.

C&B regular OilLeak asked "Is Petrell the same black hole now that Lander is gone?" and continued "By eye he has looked a little better so I was wondering."

Anton Lander was sent to Oklahoma City on February 26th. Since then the Oilers have played seven games and Petrell has appeared in all of them. Compared to the rest of the season, his numbers in those seven games are eyebrow-raising, at the very least.

Of course sample size considerations must be accounted for, and even over the course of a full season we still don't have much WOWY data to go on. Petrell and Lander have manned the fourth line in Edmonton and have averaged just 8 minutes per game. Even with seven games apart, 53.9% of Petrell's time on ice has come with Lander as his center.

With that out of the way, the seven games away from Lander are enough that Petrell should be of primary focus for fans and especially management over the last fourteen games.

The possession metrics for the Oilers, Petrell, and the Oilers without Petrell are contained in the table below.

SF SA Shots % Fenwick F Fenwick A Fenwick % Corsi F Corsi A Corsi %
Team 171 168 0.504 245 245 0.500 334 346 0.491
Petrell 34 25 0.576 51 37 0.580 64 61 0.512
w/o Petrell 137 143 0.489 194 208 0.483 270 285 0.486

This is striking. Along with Devante Smith-Pelly and Lander, Petrell's possession numbers have been the worst in the league throughout the 2011-12 season. So to see any period, even a small stretch of games, where Petrell is above water is a shock. But Petrell isn't just above water - he's been great. His Corsi falls off a bit, indicating he and his mates are blocking shots, but if this is the real Lennart Petrell, it's a revelation.

The pre and post-Lander splits are in the table below.

SF SA Shots % Fenwick F Fenwick A Fenwick % Corsi F Corsi A Corsi %
Before 2/26 118 162 0.421 155 243 0.389 211 345 0.379
Since 2/26
34 25 0.576 51 37 0.580 64 61 0.512
Total 152 187 0.448 206 280 0.424 275 406 0.404

Petrell went from a sub-replacement-level player to something real.

The problem for the Oilers is this: because they gave Anton Lander an NHL roster spot and stubbornly kept him in the NHL for five months, they've given themselves just 21 games to evaluate Lennart Petrell. If this is a fluke and Petrell is riding some luck, there's every chance they overreach to keep him. If this is close to Petrell's actual game (and even 90% of these totals are impressive) and they don't recognize it, there's every chance they let a real NHL player go...again.