The absurdity of Colton Orr

Something funny happened on Joffrey Lupul’s second goal Saturday night. As you can see from the video above, Colton Orr gets in quick, makes a hit that forces a turnover and allowing Nazem Kadri to recover the puck, set up Joffrey Lupul for a Leafs goal. Easy, right, just how Randy Carlyle drew it up, with Orr creating space for the young Kadri.

The problem is that when he’s playing away from Colton Orr, Nazem Kadri scores more goals, records more points, and fires more pucks at the net, it’s close, but Kadri’s been better away from Orr this season:

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  TOI GF/20 MIN Goals/20 MIN Points/20 MIN Attempts/20 MIN
With Orr 56:14 1.067 0.00 1.07 5.33
Without Orr 306:12 1.306 0.39 1.11 5.62

That “goals for/20 minutes” figure is pretty key. Orr and Kadri haven’t been on the ice to give up a goal against together yet on the season. I think what’s important is offence in this context, and whether Orr actually adds to Kadri’s offence.

Most of Orr’s hits this season seem to be after the opponent has already made a play. Looking back to the last time Kadri and Orr played together in a game, against Tampa Bay, I can find three hits where Orr and Kadri were both on the ice:

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In both cases, Orr lands the check by “finishing his check”. I think “finishing your check” was good at wearing down the opposition back during the days when players smoked between intermissions, offseason training regimens involved being able to do 20 push ups and there was generally a huge gap in physical ability between the top guy and the second guy.

NHL players can play 30 minutes a night, can play back-to-backs, late into OT and don’t seem to suffer too much from fatigue or get worn down a lot. I haven’t seen a shirtless hockey player who wasn’t absolutely cut, or a hockey player in shorts who didn’t have calf muscles the same circumference as milk jugs.

Two instances against Tampa Bay, of Orr’s three recorded hits. The first two are just tame plays, with the Lightning player easily getting a clear. In this first instance, the Lightning were able to turn a routine Matt Carle clear into a 4-on-2 that turned out to be offside, because Orr was too slow in getting to Carle before he made a play on the puck, even though he bobbled the incoming pass:

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The second instance, Orr lands a hit on Brian Lee as he dumps the puck in for a change:

In both instances, the act of hitting didn’t change anything on the play. This next sequence, off an offensive zone draw, shows how Orr’s limited speed does affect Kadri inversely in the offensive end. Sorry for the blurry images, you know how it is with GameCentre Live.

Orr engages Lee here, rather than attempting to recover the loose puck:

The puck then ends up behind Tampa’s net and Kadri is forced to recover it on his lonesome:

Overmatched, Kadri cedes control of the puck, and Orr, despite being in a good place to support defensively along the right wing boards, is turned around and backchecking before Tampa even breaks out of the zone:

The use of Colton Orr leads me to think that the Leafs are seriously undermanned at wing. While Nik Kulemin is getting demoted to the fourth line next game, according to David Alter, Orr is jumping up to play alongside Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabovski.

Nothing like jumpstarting Mikhail Grabovski by letting him play with a possession black hole. Kulemin, by the way, is fifth on the Leafs in even strength points per 60 minutes at 2.12, behind just Matt Frattin, Nazem Kadri, James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel. Orr is 11th at 1.04, ahead of just Leo Komarov.

Evidently, we’re going to see every tweaking of the bottom nine until Randy Carlyle finally decides to split up Bozak and Phil Kessel.

By the way, the Leafs are 15-12-2 after 29 games this season. After 29 games last season under Ron Wilson, the Leafs were 15-11-3. So much for that much improved, much tougher squad to play against.

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  • uh oh – wait until tnleaf gets ahold of this one…

    My view on this is that most teams have a Colton Orr. For some reason (beyond me) NHL coaches like having atleast one of those guys. So.. they cancel eachother out.

    Until the NHL brass falls out of love with fighting – these guys will stay in the game. And in saying that – good on them… toughest job in sports.

    Me personally – I like fighting in hockey if it’s a part of the game. I’ll take one unskilled player a team in exchange for a good fight every now and then.

    As another Cam would say…. “caveman alert, caveman alert”!!!

  • @Cam

    Well I tried to click on the link you included, but it was FORBIDDEN. Nevertheless.. I trust the numbers you’ve provided.

    So I’ll put it this way.. most teams have 1 player who plays slightly over 8 mins a game, also against easy competition (usually the other teams 4th line) and who will fight with anyone who obliges.

    Do the Leafs need 3 guys (Orr, Fraser & McLaren)? No.

    Should Orr/McLaren be playing on anything other than the 4th line? No.

    Does Carlyle care about any of this? No.

    That’s who Randy Carlyle is. We’re barking up the wrong tree if we’re expecting him to not have atleast 1 enforcer in his lineup.

  • I can’t agree with your comment lumping Frazer in with Mclaren and Orr implying that he’s just muscle along with the other two tough guys. That guy is +16 and if he can play great AND have the intimidation factor in his game, more power to him! So is 2 tough guys too many? I don’t think so. Randy is Randy but he’s not over doing that aspect in my opinion :D. I see the factoids sir dangle, but I think Orr brings a presence to the 3rd line that numbers can’t put into reason lol.. Maybe having Orr on there strikes fear into the opponents! You never know. Putting another guy on that line with Kadri may or may not change the effectiveness that they’ve had on and off. who knows. Orr worked hard in the off season and has improved his speed. Doing a good job in my books 😉

  • Outhitting the opponent, finishing checks and beating up people does wear them down. Malkin’s game in Toronto was finished by a JVR hit and he’s missed a few since, Bourque’s been out with concussion ever since he attacked Colton Orr in Montreal and got punched in response, that poor Senators kid that got knocked out by Fraser McLaren’s was carried off the ice… These are just glaring examples of how physical play affects the game that you can’t argue with. All the ‘little bumps and bruises’ add up and if you listen to opposition’s commentators when Leafs come to town that’s exactly what you’ll hear: This is a physical team, they wear you down, if they don’t get you in the first and second, they’ll get you in the third….

  • Cool numbers, bro. Too bad that’s not how hockey works.

    Correct me if I’m wrong: based on what you’re saying, hitting is no longer effective in hockey because the players are in superior shape compared to what they use to be?

    Did you actually write this and expect it to pass the sniff test? Put the slide rule away and learn the game a bit better.

    This is one of your worst posts… and that’s saying a lot.

    Effeminate men commenting on a full-contact sport is tiresome to read.

  • Mclreans goal today was due to space from the agressive forecheck by Orr. Dangle you will forever by some quarky kid behind a camera but stats are not everything. There are intangibles that you seem to forget or not realize because you never been more then a fan in your life.

    Randy is respecting the players who help set the pace and up the tempo of the game. If Reimer gets hit who will jump in? This is not a one dimensional “cut” players type of game like you say it is. If that were the case Edmonton wouldn’t be scared every time they touch the puck because they have some muscles…

    get your head outta your ass

    sincerely, anyone who has ever played hockey at a competitive level