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The History of Hockey Relive great moments in hockey history and discuss how the game has changed over time.

Adam Oates' 1993 season

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09-21-2015, 01:18 PM
  #1
Hockey Outsider
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Adam Oates' 1993 season

I was wondering if anybody had any insights into Adam Oates' spectacular but strange 1992-93 season.

It's probably the best season of his career (the only time he finished in the top five in Hart voting, and he tied for his highest placing in the scoring race).

What's unusual about this season is that Oates, the consummate playmaker, scored a ton of goals. He potted 45 goals that season, when he only broke the 25 goal mark one other time in his long career. It was the only time he cracked the top twenty in goal-scoring. He was still a superb playmaker, leading the NHL in helps and setting a career-high in that category too.

One might dismiss this and say he scored a lot of goals because 1992-93 was such a freakishly high scoring season but even his ratio of assists-to-goals was out of line. Every other season during his prime (1987-88 to 1999-2000) he scored between 2.5 and 4.0 assists per goal. In 1993 he had "just" 2.2 assists per goals. In other words: the fact that this was 1993 inflated the raw numbers, but it doesn't explain why his assists-to-goals ratio was out of line.

My theory: from 1990 until late in 1992, Oates played with Hull in St. Louis. It's pretty obvious that Hull was the shooter on that line. In 1994 and 1995, Neely was at least somewhat healthy and it was clear he was the shooter. In 1993 Neely missed most of the season and he spent most of the year with Joe Juneau. Juneau, like Oates, was always much more of a playmaker than a goal-scorer. But someone on the line had to shoot the puck, so maybe Oates picked up the slack? This was certainly reflected in his shots on goal (254 shots, in his next closest year he only took 197 shots). Is this the reason, or is there more context I'm missing?

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09-21-2015, 01:33 PM
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Monsieur Gustave H
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It seems he was asked to shoot more in Boston. He averaged 2.59 shots per game in Boston and 1.48 elsewhere.

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09-21-2015, 03:21 PM
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Sutter pours bourbon
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I think the Bruins tended to run plays through Bourque at the point as the set-up man, whereas just about everywhere else Oates went he'd be at the half-wall or off the rush dishing the puck. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other defensemen that Oates played with who are in even remotely close the same tier as Bourque offensively, so that probably freed him up to shoot more and from better areas than he'd see the rest of the time.

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09-21-2015, 03:27 PM
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TheDevilMadeMe
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sutter pours bourbon View Post
I think the Bruins tended to run plays through Bourque at the point as the set-up man, whereas just about everywhere else Oates went he'd be at the half-wall or off the rush dishing the puck. Off the top of my head, I can't think of any other defensemen that Oates played with who are in even remotely close the same tier as Bourque offensively, so that probably freed him up to shoot more and from better areas than he'd see the rest of the time.
You made me think to check his ES/PP/SH splits, and I think you're on to something.

At even strength in 1992-93, Oates had 20 goals and 58 assists. That's not even a career high in ES goals - in 1990-91, Oates had 21 ES goals but only 3 PPGs. He also had 17 ES goals in both 1995-96 and 1996-97, lower scoring seasons.

The outlier seems to be the PP. Oates had 24 PPGs and 38 PPAs in 1992-93. That's easily Oates' career high in PPGs. The very next season, Oates had 16 PPGs. His 3rd highest season in PPGs? 7.

So it would appear that Oates had a role on the PP in both 1992-93 and 1993-94 that he didn't have at any other point in his career. 24 and 16 PPGs in back-to-back seasons, next highest was 7.

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09-21-2015, 03:29 PM
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brianscot
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That season Oates scored 24 power play goals, far and away his most productive year in that regard. Interestingly, the Bruins power play that year scored at a 20.92%, only 9th in the league.

Not only was Neely missing, but Vladimir Ruzicka missed 24 games. Without Ruzicka, Oates probably acquired even more power play time than expected as Ruzicka had been excellent the previous season.

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09-21-2015, 03:41 PM
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I expected part of Oates goal increase to be due to padding his stats vs. the Sens, but I checked and he only scored 3 times against them in 7 games. He did pick up 11 helpers though. I didn't tally the scores but the Bruins went 7-0 against Ottawa that season, mostly blowouts with the exception of a close 3-2 score early on.

That Bruins team went into the playoffs on a 16-3 run as well, crushing some teams down the stretch (7-1, 6-2 vs Que, 5-1 vs Mtl). Not a team you'd think would get swept by the middling Sabres.

And it looks like PP opportunities were the major difference, as TDMM and brianscot noted.


Last edited by Sutter pours bourbon: 09-21-2015 at 03:48 PM.
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09-21-2015, 05:11 PM
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Looking at his splits from that season, all the strange parts of it (the close goals/assists ratio, increased power-play goals, much higher shooting percentage) all seem to be concentrated in December and January. His numbers for the months before and after that look like typical Adam Oates stats.

http://www.hockey-reference.com/play...1/splits/1993/

Neely didn't return to the lineup until late-February. Ruzicka missed all of December.

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09-21-2015, 07:46 PM
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vadim sharifijanov
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who else was going to shoot? joe juneau was even more of a pass-first guy than oates, which just leaves you with the enigma that was dmitri kvartalnov.

interestingly though, those three guys had almost exactly the same ES goal total.

EDIT: okay i just read the OP, which says the exact same thing i just said. nevermind.

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09-22-2015, 09:55 AM
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Thanks for the comments everybody. It looks like we`ve found the explanation

From November 23rd to January 28th, Oates scored 27 goals in 33 games. (He only scored more than 27 goals twice over the course of a full season!) This coincided with the absence of Neely and Ruzicka. In particular, Oates needed to step up and shoot more on the powerplay (he scored 16 PP goals over those 33 goals - only once did he ever score more than seven PP goals over the span of an entire season).

This is borne out in the shots on goal data. During those 33 games he average 3.5 shots per game. The rest of the season he averaged 2.7 SPG. His shooting percentage also shot up (23.7%, vs 12.9% the rest of the season), which is exactly what we'd expect for someone shooting more on the powerplay (where, on average, shooting percentages are much higher).

Outside of that one stretch, his goal scoring numbers were good by his standards, but not exceptional (18 goals in 51 games, on pace for 29 goals over 82 games).

I also looked into the possibility of him beating up on the two awful expansion teams (Ottawa and San Jose). He scored 5 goals in 9 games, but even if you remove these games entirely he still would have hit 40.

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09-23-2015, 07:44 AM
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tony d
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Interesting, yeah Oates was a great playmaker for sure but not so much a goal scorer aside from the 1992-1993 season.

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