Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
"This is a fact: all this happened to me because I wasn't wearing a face shield."
Monday, October 26, 2009
I saw some photo of a Packers fan wearing a Aaron Rodgers jersey and it made me think about how nice (but risky) of a gesture that is. That made me think further: what jersey(s) should fans of each NHL team consider?
Saturday, October 24, 2009
And now, Jeff Fisher's from his Wiki page:
Of the two coaches, Fisher's bulletproof tenure makes the most sense (instantly at least). He lead the Titans to a notably competitive Super Bowl match up against the St. Louis Rams, managed an unexpected 13-3 record last season and has only four seasons with a losing record in his 15 year reign. Only Andy Reid (who started in 1999) can reasonably compete with Fisher in two treasured categories: longevity and mustache dominance.
Trotz's run seems the most vampiric (and in general, the guy conjures up images of various D & D inspired creatures). On one hand, Trotz managed to squeeze points out of teams that were among the league's worst in star (and fire)power. You cannot fault him for failing to transform Nashville into a juggernaut.
Which form of the undead is more exhausted: vampires or zombies?
That being said, many franchises would get antsy with his results. While he managed to break them into the playoffs for four seasons, the team was knocked out in the first round each time and never even made it to a Game 7. They've never won their division and some might say the main reason they were No. 2 in the Central for those years was because their other division mates rarely managed to muster even the slightest competition. Over the years, the Predators ceiling has been "frisky."
Such middling results kept the Predators from getting many premium draft choices and you wonder how many elite players are on that roster ... who beyond Shea Weber will truly threaten greatness? Oddly enough, Trotz shares a lot in common with Lindy Ruff, the only guy who has been sitting behind a bench for a longer period of time. Buffalo is off to a great start - and like Nashville - has a nice array of competent players. However, you wonder if the team could benefit from tanking for a season or shaking things up.
My question is: is the city of Nashville that loyal? Is everyone just so preoccupied with fixing the Vols that they don't even care what happens with their pro coaches? Or could it be that Fisher and Trotz feast on human blood and sleep upside down every night?
I must know.
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
As they trickle in, we'll post "state your case" arguments for the fake GMs in the League Re-Draft. I'll also occasionally make awful pun names for the fake teams. You're welcome.
It's pretty hard if you're trying to reinvent the wheel and perfecting something that's already an art was quite a task. Trying to build a better NHL team than NHL GMs can is a lot easier in a video game that it is when you're up against other inquiring minds and pseudo-GMs in my follow CLS quasi-bloggers. But, nonetheless, one cannot go into a draft without a strategy of their own.
In my draft strategy, it was simple: I would take the best player available with the first pick.
After that, I picked according to ranking of importance.
I tried to take centers who could win faceoffs and defenseman that had great dollar worth, foot speed, and either great passing or great hitting ability. By loading up on these commodities, it was easy to trade from a position of strength to acquire the other things I needed, such as goaltending and wingers.
Also, it was important (in my opinion) to push hard for the players I thought would define the kind of hockey I wanted to see played. This would ensure that a certain leadership core was represented on this team and that a certain team culture could emanate from the players on the team. Exciting but responsible hockey.
For me, it was important to build a team that was not just about scoring goals, or being tough.
I needed a team that was a hybrid, something that could roll four lines and hound the other team.
Faceoffs, hitting and speed are key to this strategy.
I may not score a lot of goals with a team like the one I built, but I will be annoying to play against.
And that, in itself, is a joy of its own.
Monday, October 19, 2009
I've been a little bit obsessive about the salary cap the last year or so and it means that certain flippant statements will bug me at times.
The crazy decade-plus contract trend is understandable for reasons of artificially diluting annual cap hits but I prefer the direction the Penguins (conscious or not) went with giving their young guns more reasonable (read: shorter) contracts. If Alex Ovechkin ruins his knees, the Caps aren't just fucked this year but for the next 10. If something happens to Evgeni Malkin, it would still be a catastrophe but not of the same degree.
- No one over the age of 30 gets more than 4 years
- Really, on some crazy level I wouldn't want to give anyone more than 3 years
- Extend players before you expect them to breakout, if at all possible
- Fear the contract year anomaly
- Sometimes, you have to let people go even if it hurts
Sunday, October 18, 2009
At first, it seemed like the Bruins were as hapless as a 13-year old trying to unhook a bra in the dark. In my preview, I criticized the Bruins for basically giving up on Phil Kessel ... for Derek Morris. Even if that was a case of obvious oversimplification, my question was: what were the Boston Bruins doing?
With Kobasew gone and deals like Morris' set to expire, the prospects of the Bruins re-signing Savard (above) and Wheeler are looking much brighter.
Some have said that the Maple Leafs' staggering ineptitude may not continue, but realistically what is the ceiling for Toronto this year (or even next)? The fact of the matter is that these aren't just draft picks, they might be top-10 or even top 5 draft picks. It's not every day that the top seed in the Eastern Conference could end up with two potential lottery picks that didn't result from a regular season free fall.
Friday, October 16, 2009
Note: like the last post, these are stats from the 2008-09 season although going forward I'll be using 2009-10 stats ...
Click to enlarge TRUE PP%
What I like about these stats is that they create a more pronounced "upper class" or elite group of PP units.
The Red Wings' absurd PP is reflected better here: they are heads and shoulders above the rest of the league (as they should be). It also reflects just how bad the Blue Jackets' PP was; 12% is pretty bad as it is but the team let up a lot of SHG too. When you think about it, when the CBJ went on the PP something good would happen only nine percent of the time. (LOL)
I still think sheer quantity (ultimately PPG - SHG allowed) is the best way to judge a team's PP unit but this is pretty interesting, too.
True Penalty Kill %/PK Efficiency Rating/PK Success Level is the same as PK% except it's PPG allowed - SHG scored divided by Times Shorthanded.
Click to enlarge True PK%
The order of best PK teams doesn't change a ton here, but it again distinguishes the GREAT PK units. The Wild's special teams, again, were just amazing last year.
At some point I might try to come up with a "magic number" for special teams percentages combined. Is a great overall special teams a combined 110% or ... what?
Jeez, I'm a dork.
What do you think, though? Is this interesting or as fun as eating a lifetime supply of microwave re-heated pizza crusts?
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Now that you have a frame of reference, here's that list sorted by the simplest stat that we'll be tracking this season: Net Goals.
There aren't a ton of surprises there.
That being said, it's really interesting that the league's best team in Net Goals (Boston) scored 78 more goals than they allowed while the league's worst team in Net Goals (Islanders) allowed 78 more goals than they scored. Funny how things work out sometimes.
It's also interesting that only two playoff teams allowed more goals than they scored: Columbus (-4) and the Rangers (-8). This also shows that the Blue Jackets must have been one hell of an even strength team.
Perhaps the most intriguing set of stats comes in the form of the Special Teams plus-minus.
The number that sticks out the most to me here is the Columbus Blue Jackets being -29 special teams goals. 78 Special Teams Goals Allowed isn't astronomically bad ... what makes the Blue Jackets totals so bad is their anemic power play. Any CBJ pundits who are still sore that the BJ's lack a great PP point player could point to this stat and say, "How do you expect this team to make the playoffs (again) with numbers like that?"
Looking at special teams play, it must be especially heartbreaking for Minnesota Wild fans that their team narrowly missed the playoffs last season. They were second in Special Teams +/- with a +33 (12 more than the tied for 3rd place Bruins and Red Wings).
It also makes me think that maybe injuries and Sean Avery weren't the top reasons why the Dallas Stars missed the playoffs last season.
Just for your fun and to strengthen a point I made yesterday, here's some extended special teams stats:
This leads to a bit of discussion on a point I (sloppily) made yesterday: quantity of PP goals (and PP goals allowed) means a lot more to me than percentages, even though it's not a huge difference and it's easier for networks to use a %-based graphic.
There are, however, a few examples that illustrate my point. The Buffalo Sabres managed to be in the top 5 in PPG scored despite having a PP that scored about 2% less than the other top powerplays. Over 82 games, a couple percentage points can make a big difference (kind of like how a 2% save percentage difference can make a pretty huge difference in how a goalie will be perceived). Anaheim and Boston scored at 2.5% higher rate but the Sabres drew at least 40 more power plays (or about one more every other game) and therefore were able to generate more PPGs. (OK, it was only one more PPG ... but still.)
Conversely, the New Jersey Devils scored at at least a 2% higher rate on the PP than other bottom PPG scoring teams but they were only able to go on the PP 307 times (compared to Buffalo's 358) and therefore scored 17 less last season.
Does it make an enormous difference? Absolutely not. But even if it's only a slightly more accurate way of tracking the good PPs, that's good enough for me.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
There was a point when I was like those many curmudgeon old sports columnists who looked down on complex statistics. Thankfully, though, there have been enough great stat blogs to finally teach me my lesson: some stats just don't tell you as much as you might originally think.
(Click to enlarge)
So those of you who hate simple arithmetic, you're welcome. The real reason I thought to do this, though, was to take a look at special teams numbers.
It's always bothered me that such an emphasis has been made on Power Play and Penalty Kill percentages but who gives a rat's ass about that? To me, PP effectiveness has always been about a) sheer quantity of goals and b) timeliness. There's no doubt in my mind that I'd take a powerplay that scored 2 out of 10 than one that scored 1 out of 4.
I'm aware that is an overly-simplistic criticism, but work with me here.
To take a more "big picture" look at special teams, I think it is also important to compare teams' PP and PK together. If your team can eek out a substantial amount of PP goals while keeping PK goals under control, you'll have a major advantage while attempting to make the playoffs.
So, I've come up with (OK, I bet someone else has done this too since it's super-simple) "Special Teams Plus-Minus."
The formula's almost as simple as "Net Goals"
PP Goals Scored + SH Goals Scored - PP Goals Allowed + SH Goals Allowed* = Special Teams Plus-Minus.**
* Just realized I didn't include SHG allowed but I'll do it next time. Promise!
** - However, if I've come up with something stupidly original feel free to call it a Jimbo Score. :)
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
When you see the title of this blog, you'd think we'd be a source for Vancouver Canucks information (or at least snark). No, that is not the case. Instead, you should go to blogs like Vancity Canuck. Sha Sha's a longtime buddy of the blog and even runs a Tampa Bay Lightning blog (The Hockey Bay) to boot! What an overachiever...
The one thing that hasn't changed from last year, is that the Canucks still don't have secondary scoring. There was hopes that Cody Hodgson was the answer. And Cody Hodgson was not the answer, at least not right now with his ailing back. Then, there was hopes that Sergei Shirokov was the answer, and it turns out he was not the answer. So where is our secondary scoring when the Sedins and Burrows don't score? Hopefully Kesler and Samuelsson can find some chemistry with the newly promoted Raymond, or hopefully Berniers hands of stone finally turn into hands that can put pucks in the back of the net. Hopefully. And speaking of sore thumbs, or sore shoulders/knees/who knows what Salo/Demitra/Schneider has hurt now....Some components of the Canucks are like glass, you never know who's gonna be hurt from taking a hit/puck/throwing a hit/trippingoverelectricaltape...
In the event that you made an understandable hockey hibernation during the summer, we've been Re-Drafting the NHL for the last few months. Since rosters are (thankfully) just about to be finalized, it's time to start studying these bad boys like the Zapruder film.
One of my team building philosophies (and general sports views) is to lean heavily toward players who have an obvious carrot dangling in front of them (instead of a guy who's fat and happy with a huge new 12-year contract).
- An elite passer (Savard)
- An elite sniper (Semin ... and maybe Selanne)
- A playoff proven goalie (Giguere)
- One of the league's best offensive D (Gonchar)
- One of the league's best shutdown D (Mitchell)
- A great defensive forward and one of the best guys in the FO circle (Malhotra)
- One of the league's most frequent hitting forwards (Neil) and D (Komisarek)
Fake Toronto is designed to be good in 5-on-5 situations but great in special teams.
- Assuming Matt Cooke would be around just a little bit longer. Same with Taylor Pyatt, Ian Laperriere and Travis Moen. (The hope is that Mike Grier and Chris Neil will hurt people sufficiently)
- Could have used a little more grit with the team's best scorers.
- While I'm on record in saying that I think Giguere still "has it," it would have been nice to get an obvious starter.
- If I would have known that Rob Niedermayer and Rob Lang would be in the NHL, I would have taken at least one of them. Especially since Kostitsyn and Turris were booted down.
Monday, October 12, 2009
It always warms our collective hearts to see our buddies prosper, so we're delighted to see Anaheim Calling move up to SBN as the Ducks' representative. At the moment, though, AC is still at Blogspot so it is not yet time to adjust your bookmarks. Here's Daniel's perspective on the Ducks ...
DANIEL: The one thing that could derail the Ducks season is puck support/team skating. The fact is, there isn't a single guy on the blue line who can strait clear the crease. With Pronger on the ice every other shift, it was possible to get hemmed up in the zone and then let your goalie face down a shot from outside, or the top of, the circles. Now the Ducks need to keep the puck moving. But, during the first two games of the season everyone seemed to be waiting for someone else to make a play instead of working on quick outlets and strong support through the neutral zone. Puck support was also a problem in the offensive zone and the Ducks ended up outnumbered along the boards, leading to transition offense for opposing teams. If the Ducks keep losing battles along the boards because they don't support each other, they will be facing more rushes on defense, and no scoring chances on offense.
If there's one thing the hockey blogosphere can teach you, it's that team success and blog quality aren't necessarily connected. A great example of that is Sens at Land's End. While the Senators could face some tough times, SaLE is one of our favorite Ottawa blogs, so make sure you follow it like a blind Jason Spezza drop pass.
Some might ask what isn’t an issue for the Sens this year, and those people might not be wrong. What worries me most, though, is the defense. Behind three usually reliable veterans – stay-at-homers Chris Phillips and Anton Volchenkov and puckmover Filip Kuba – play three young “mobile” defenders – Chris Campoli, rookie Erik Karlsson, and Alexandre Picard (who started the season in the pressbox). These guys may be great someday, but right now they’re prone to brain cramps that will definitely give Pascal Leclaire a workout. I would feel better if the defensive pairings were more balanced; however, the Senators have always shown an inexplicable unwillingness to split up the shutdown duo of Phillips and Volchenkov. This makes the second and third pairings a bit, well, scary. The more physical presence of Matt Carkner may help to an extent, but he’s been a career-AHLer until now and who knows how he’ll fare during a full season at the NHL level. To all these problems add the fact that Volchenkov and Kuba (already injured, by the way) both missed over 10 games last season and the picture becomes even less pretty.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
For Atlanta Thrashers (and often St. Louis Blues) thoughts, I often go to Laura from Wazzupwitchu and St. Louis Blues Game Time and that's exactly what happened this time around. On top of that blogging goodness, she also a very prolific person on Twitter to boot. Not too shabby.
The biggest flaw? Defense. Not the people playing defense (thankfully, I can finally say that), but the system. Coach Anderson's system relies on offense to a high degree, and he expects puck moving and playmaking (as well as scoring) from the defensemen. That is fantastic, but when you emphasize that too much, D starts to suffer. We're still probably going to allow at least 30 SOG each game, and that's concerning with Pavelec in net. I'll reiterate my opinion of him being a good goalie in a few years, but he's not 100% NHL ready. Of course, there's Hedberg, who is a damn fine backup and a great person, but not a starter... and there's that other dude... can't quite remember his name, but I heard he used to be a pretty good goalie until he realized he was made of glass... yeah. Name escapes me. Been too long since I've actually seen him to confirm that he exists.
Huh. Apparently that makes 2 flaws. But by God, we are going to score. A lot. Hopefully it'll be more than the other guys.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
In my Fantasy Hockey Guide, I mentioned how much I adored Goaliepost.com for their insanely accurate starting goalie updates ... but understandably they are asking for monetary return for (what one assumes) is a great deal of work. And you know what? You cannot blame them and I wish them the best.
We asked our good buddies at the Couch Tarts:
Nabby's 5 hole.
Have you seen it? The thing is HUGE. You could drive a bus through there, I'm talking a double decker, not just your standard MUNI ride. Hell, it's so wide open I bet even Ehrhoff could find it with his wrist shot. Dude wouldn't even need a map. You know that tree they used to let people drive through? Yeah. It's like that.
Nabby is a tremendous goalie, but if he can't shut that 5 hole of his, we're in for a lot of ugly goals this season.
(Make sure to follow the Couch Tarts for their great San Jose Sharks coverage this season.)