Something's in the works. I can feel it. I hope and pray that something is related to righty defenders. Peter Chiarelli's a general manager with a loaded weapon and a heavy trigger finger. If something's amiss at right defence it seems possible that one of Justin Schultz or Mark Fayne might be going the other way. It's a possibility, but I'd be hard pressed to express that possibility as a probability.
In October several of our comrades in the blogosphere had interesting things to say about righty Schultz. Schultz is nearing the two-hundred game mark and approaching unrestricted free-agent status. Woodguy took a look at WOWY Corsi numbers for both Fayne and Schultz, while over at the Cult of Hockey Bruce McCurdy looked at Schultz's ice time at the 210 game mark and participated in a panel discussion with David Staples and Jonathan Willis on Schultz as problem or solution. On C&B Sunil examined Schultz and war-on-ice Scoring Chances and looked at Schultz's deployment.
With-You Or Without You
The following is a WOWY analysis. WOWY stands for With-you Or Without You and is an analysis tool made popular by David Johnston of stats.hockeyanalysis.com. This analysis was done using the tools on David's website. My approach is somewhat similar to that taken by Woodguy, but my interest is not exclusive to Corsi.
I have mixed feelings about WOWY analysis. I think they can lead to some misleading conclusions. WOWYs are essentially two different measures: the "With" and the "Without". The obvious problem is that the context in both situations is completely different.
For example, last season (2014-15) The Oilers had a Corsi-For of 43.7% when Boyd Gordon was on the ice, and 48.9% when he wasn't. One is tempted to say that the score "rose" without Gordon, that Gordon made the Oilers' worse. But anyone who watched those 68 games last season knows that nothing could be further from the truth.
At best WOWY's are circumstantial evidence and do not provide "irrefutable evidence". But I think if one's careful about how they're used they can have value, particularly for examining pairings of players and players who play together often, or over entire seasons where players may have faced a similarly large variety of circumstance.
Fayne and Schultz WOWYs
The following table contains all of the data used to create the charts below. For the purpose of this analysis Fayne is in blue and Schultz is in orange.
The charts below correspond exactly to the numbers highlighted in orange and blue above, selecting for the percentage and per-60 related stats (the ones that matter). The ice time for all stats is pretty long, meaning there were many trials ("samples" in Corsi-speak) involved. "Delta" in these charts is the difference between "WO" and "WY". All charts are interactive.
Schultz tends to have a minimally positive effect on both CA60, CF60, and CF% according to these charts. However, Schultz's effect on GF and GF% is quite positive. Last season the Oilers scored approximately one goal more per 60 minutes of 5v5 play when Schultz was on the ice. That's pretty good, however, it could be a product of who Schultz plays with. When Schultz was on the ice the team shooting percentage increased, while the team save percentage slightly decreased. Overall, Schultz's effect (without digging too deep) seems positive with WOWY.
Fayne's charts are pretty interesting to me. He doesn't seem to do well at home. Perhaps Edmonton (or Canada) is not sitting well with Mark Fayne. Maybe this good American defender needs to play for an American team. Or maybe there are other factors at play here that we just don't know about. Or maybe Fayne received different treatment or deployment at home. Over-all Fayne has had a negative impact on possession, scoring, shooting percentage, and save percentage if we take his WOWY at face-value.
Without Three Most Common linemates
In order to scratch the surface a little bit, I did a WOWY while subtracting their three most common linemates. In the case of Fayne these players were Martin Marincin, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. In the case of Schultz these players were Oscar Klefbom, Jordan Eberle, and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.
When we subtract his most common linemates, Schultz's positive effect on scoring seems to collapse. One is tempted to conclude that Schultz has little positive effect at all, and that all of this miraculous scoring comes from Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. However, when we consider that both Fayne and Schultz were paired most commonly with the same forwards were are left with the following possibilities:
1. Schultz + Klefbom + Eberle + Nugent-Hopkins is a good combination in terms of scoring.
2. Schultz + Eberle + Nugent-Hopkins is a good combination in terms of scoring.
3. Fayne + Marincin + Eberle + Nugent-Hopkins is NOT a good combination in terms of scoring.
4. Fayne + Eberle + Nugent-Hopkins is NOT a good combination in terms of scoring.
5. Fayne + other non-disclosed partners is a good combination.
6. Schultz + other non-disclosed partners is a bad combination.
7. Schultz + Kelfbom is a good combination.
8. Fayne + Marincin is a bad combination.
9. It's all Marincin's fault (inside joke).
Maybe it has nothing to do with Justin Schultz. Maybe it's the colour of his underwear or the smell of his Old Spice body wash. But one thing is certain: more goals happen when he's on the ice and when he plays with the right guys Corsi doesn't take a beating.
Maybe it has nothing to do with Mark Fayne. Maybe it's the smelling salts he likes to use before every period. Maybe it's his insane cravings for late-night delicious Chipotle take-out. But another thing is certain: less goals happen when he's on the ice and Corsi takes a nose-dive when his skates grace the impeccable ice at Northlands Coliseum.