Nov 302005
 

If you haven’t heard already, the Boston Bruins have traded Joe Thornton to the San Jose Sharks for Brad Stuart, Marco Sturm and Wayne Primeau. In my mind this is a horrible trade for the Bruins and a good one for the Sharks. The Sharks now have a dominant centerman who can take control of a game and anchor the Sharks offense. Every team needs one of those guys if they want to win. For Boston, well, now they don’t and they will suffer. Yes, Brad Stuart is a solid defenseman, and the Bruins could definitely use one of those, but without Thornton Boston is going to suffer significantly in the offensive zone. Not only do they lose Thornton but Glen Murray isn’t going to be near as useful as a goal scorer without Thornton setting him up and I am not sure Bergeron, Boyes, Zhamnov or any of the other centers that Boston has will be able to fill that role adequitely. They Sharks may need to go out and add a depth defenseman to help replace Stuart but this deal is a big win for them.

For you fantasy hockey poolies, Glen Murray will suffer but Bergeron might get a small boost as he will likely take over the first line centerman role. For San Jose, the whole team should improve, especially anyone who plays on the first power play unit including Marleau, Cheechoo and defenseman Tom Preissing.

Nov 302005
 

There are many reasons to like computer generated power rankings like the ones I produce here at HockeyAnalysis.com. TSN’s power rankings this week show one of the main reasons why I produced my power rankings. TSN had the Carolina Hurricanes dropping from 5th to 16th because of a couple losses. Is Carolina really the 16th best team in the NHL because in one week they lost to Ottawa and Atlanta while beating Toronto? Come on TSN, you guys are smarter than that.

The big movers in my power rankings are Nashville who jumped from 9th into 4th in large part by last nights 2-0 win over Calgary. Also moving up is Buffalo, from 14th to 8th and Colorado, 11th to 7th. Making the biggest fall this week is Montreal who fell from 5th last week to 11th this week after going 0-3 in games against Buffalo, Toronto and Ottawa.

Rank Last Week Team Win-Loss Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 19- 3 15.0
2 4 Carolina 16- 8 12.1
3 2 Los Angeles 16- 9 12.0
4 9 Nashville 15- 7 11.8
5 3 Dallas 14- 9 11.7
6 6 Detroit 18- 8 11.6
7 11 Colorado 14-11 11.3
8 14 Buffalo 15-10 11.2
9 7 Vancouver 15-10 11.1
10 8 Toronto 14-11 11.1
11 5 Montreal 14-11 11.1
12 10 Philadelphia 14- 9 11.0
13 13 NY Rangers 16-10 11.0
14 12 Calgary 14-12 10.7
15 15 Edmonton 14-12 10.4
16 17 Phoenix 13-13 10.3
17 19 New Jersey 12-11 10.0
18 16 NY Islanders 12-13 9.8
19 18 Tampa Bay 13-13 9.6
20 23 Anaheim 11-14 9.6
21 20 Minnesota 10-12 9.2
22 25 Atlanta 10-15 8.6
23 21 Chicago 9-14 8.3
24 22 San Jose 8-15 8.2
25 24 Washington 8-16 8.0
26 26 Boston 8-18 8.0
27 28 Florida 7-18 7.3
28 27 Pittsburgh 7-18 7.1
29 29 Columbus 6-18 6.9
30 30 St. Louis 4-18 6.3
Nov 302005
 

Seven games on the schedule today, three of which I would say have the potential for an upset. Philadelphia is the favourite to win over New Jersey but should Forsberg not be able to play tonight I would say that New Jersey has a solid chance at beating them. And if Columbus is going to beat any team other than the St. Louis Blues then Minnesota might just be that team. Minnesota plays a low scoring defensive style of game which Columbus may be able to compete with. The key will be somehow stopping Gaborik who has 4 points in 2 games since returning from injury. Finally, call me crazy, but I think San Jose has the potential to upset Dallas. How can I say that when San Jose is on a 9 game losing streak and Dallas has won 6 of 7? Well, San Jose has lost 5 1-goal games in a row to some pretty good teams (Phoenix, Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Detroit) andafter 3 days of rest and time to refocus I think they will come on strong and if Dallas isn’t ready an upset could be in the making.

In the two pick-em games I am going to pick Toronto over Tampa and Phoenix over Anaheim.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia New Jersey Philadelphia Good
Tampa Bay Toronto Pick N/A
Minnesota Columbus Minnesota Good
Chicago Los Angeles Los Angeles Good
Dallas San Jose Dallas Strong
Vancouver Colorado Vancouver Some
Anaheim Phoenix Pick N/A
Nov 292005
 

Seven games on the schedule tonight and many of them should prove interesting. Philadelphia is in New York to play the Islanders after losing to them 4-2 on home ice on Saturday. They played without Peter Forsberg on Saturday and will do so again today as he recovers from a mild groin strain. Because of this the Islanders have to be given a slight advantage in this game.

Atlanta-Carolina are also playing the second game in a home and home series. Atlanta defeated Carolina 5-2 on Sunday and now seek a home ice win. The computer predictor predicts Carolina as a good favourite to win but I kind of like Atlanta in this game. Atlanta is 7-4-2 in November while Carolina is 7-5-0 but with just 1 win in their last 5 games.

Montreal is in Ottawa tonight to attempt to hand Ottawa just its second defeat in November. Normally I would say don’t bet against a team that is 18-3 on the season but Montreal has a quirky streak of their own. Montreal has won their last 6 games they have played on Tuesday’s. In the psat 3 weeks they have just 3 wins, all on Tuesdays. And when you consider that Ottawa’s only November loss came on a Tuesday you think, maybe, just maybe Montreal has a chance tonight. Of course I should mention that Montreal’s only Tuesday loss of the year was a 4-2 defeat by the Ottawa Senators.

Calgary is in Nashville tongiht in what should be a close, low scoring game. Nashville is the slight favourite but Calgary 10-1-1 in November so I do like their chances of pulling out a win.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Islanders Philadelphia Pick N/A
Atlanta Carolina Carolina Good
Ottawa Montreal Ottawa Strong
New Jersey Boston New Jersey Good
Pittsburgh Buffalo Buffalo Good
Nashville Calgary Nashville Some
Edmonton Colorado Edmonton Some
Nov 282005
 

All the talk around the NHL the past day or two has been the exciting Marik Malik goal to win the game on the 15th shooter for the NY Rangers. Almost everyone is talking about how exciting the shootout is and how, for that reason, it is here to stay. Some are even going to say that the shootout will soon come to playoff hockey. I say, let’s not get carried away.

Take it from the tired legs of people who were at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night, stood at the start of the shootout, never sat down and were jumping when the Rangers won the thing in the 15th round. –Mark Herrmann

As someone who watched the whole shootout let me say that yes, it was entertaining. But just because something is entertaining, doesn’t mean it is a good way to end a hockey game. Watching a hockey fight is entertaining too but no one ever suggests settling hockey games that way. Why? Because entertaining or not it just isn’t hockey. It would hurt the integrity of the sport to resolve a game that way. The whole argument of deciding a hockey game one way over another because of entertainment value is just plain bogus. There are lots of things that I find entertaining, many much more entertaining than a shootout, but I wouldn’t ever suggest deciding a hockey game that way. Hockey is a team game, not an individual game. Hockey game should not be decided by a fight, or a shootout or any other individual skills competition.

But even if entertainment value is what we are going for, can anyone suggest that the 5 minute overtime was not entertaining? The Rangers had 6 shots in that overtime and they had to kill a full 2 minute penalty as well. Was that not entertaining? Having watched the overtime I can confidently say, yes, it definitely was. It was certainly more entertaining than watching Maxime Kondratiev and Tomas Fleischmann make feeble attempts at scoring in the shootout. I am sure no one out there is desperately waiting for the day when they can see these too guys take another penalty shot in the shoot out. And you simply cannot convince me that fans would be less excited had the Rangers scored in overtime than in the shootout to win. Had Malik, or anyone else, scored a between the legs goal like that in overtime, would still be talking about how amazing the goal was? You bet we would.

So what would be an appropriate way to end the game. Well, first off I think I need to say that ties aren’t a bad thing, so long as they are relatively rare. According to my count there have been 69 games that went to overtime with 34 of those decided in overtime and the other 35 decided in the shootout. What if we extended overtime to 10 minutes? Doing that I suspect we could get rid of the majority of tie games without attacking the integrity of the game by resolving the game by a skills competition. With the increased scoring in the NHL, I think a 10 minute overtime would result in relatively few ties and those can just go into the record books as a well deserved tie. There is nothing wrong with that and it certainly isn’t as bad as deciding a team game on an individual skills competition.

Nov 282005
 

It’s a quiet night tonight with just 2 games on the schedule tonight so I thought I would take this opportunity to update everyone on my game prediction success rate. These numbers are just for the computer generated predictions and do not take into account my own thoughts where I disagreed with the computer prediction.

Strong confidence: 55 of 81, 67.9% success rate
Good confidence: 54 of 80, 67.5% success rate
Some confidence: 43 of 73, 58.9% success rate
65 games were too close to call

I am generally pleased with those numbers although I would like to see the Strong confidence success rate a tad higher, preferably into the 70-75% range.

And now for tonights games. The eastern conference game sees Toronto playing Florida. Toronto has had a bit of an up and down season (couple good games, followed by a couple bad, etc.) they have generally played better the past couple weeks. For Florida, well, they have been mostly bad with just one win in November (last friday vs Pittsburgh) and having lost 13 of their last 14 games. Picking Toronto to win this game is a no brainer. The western conference matchup is sure to be a good one as Central division leader Detroit plays Pacific division leader Los Angeles. Los Angeles is considered the slight favourite largely because they are playing at home but honestly, this one could go either way. Both teams are very good. It’s a tough call but I’ll stick with the computer prediction of Los Angeles.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Florida Toronto Toronto Good
Los Angeles Detroit Los Angeles Some
Nov 272005
 

Here are the game predictions for todays games. Vancouver-Colorado is probably the game to get most excited about today as these two teams have a bit of a rivalry. It should be a pretty close game with the potential for quite a few goals as well. It is also the only pick-em game of the day so I’ll be picking the Avalanche to get the win since they are at home and didn’t play last night.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Carolina Atlanta Carolina Strong
Tampa Bay Pittsburgh Tampa Bay Good
Washington Buffalo Buffalo Some
Anaheim Chicago Anaheim Some
Colorado Vancouver Pick N/A
Nov 262005
 

It took 15 shooters but the Rangers finally won the shootout on a goal by Marek Malik. And what a beauty goal it was. The shootout was actually becoming somewhat comical watching 4th liners and defensemen try to score on the shootout. That was until Washington’s Bryan Muir scored to give the Caps a 3-2 shootout lead. But then Jason Strudwick came right back and tied it up again for the Rangers. That’s when Matt Bradley made his attempt and failed which set it up for Marek Malik to win the game for the Rangers. Not only did he win the game, he did in on a between the legs shot which fooled Olaf Kolzig. It was so good I quickly got the VCR going so I could capture it and show you all. If you haven’t seen the goal you can download it here. It is approximately 1MB long so those on dialup it might take a bit to download but trust me, it is worth it.

Personalized Letters from Santa



Nov 262005
 

I wasn’t going to do this because I believe in let the best blog win as opposed to let whoever can stuff the ballot boxes the most win but since my competition is doing it, I may as well too.

Apparently someone has nominated HockeyAnalysis.com up for a Canadian Blog Award in the best sports blog category. To whoever nominated me, thank-you. I am not going to beg or ask you to stuff the ballot box but for those who do enjoy this blog feel free to drop by the voting booth and show your appreciation.

I am also going to take this opportunity to thank all the regular, and irregular, visitors to HockeyAnalysis.com. I have hardly been running this site for 3 months and already there seems to be a solid following and that gives me the incentive to continue. I’ve been lucky in that I haven’t been real busy with work and other real life stuff so I have been able to dedicate some time to getting HockeyAnalysis.com up and running. Hopefully this free time will continue as I really enjoy doing this.

I am also going to take this opportunity to ask you, the readers, for some feedback on what you think of HockeyAnalysis.com so far. What do you enjoy most? Is there anything you would like to see more of or less of? One thing I am hoping to do at some point is to devise a player ranking system but so far haven’t had quite enough time to work through how I would do that and ultimately get down and doing it. It probably won’t happen before Christmas but maybe in the new year. With the player ranking system I am really going to try to factor in both offense and defensive ability while attempting to factor out the ability, or lack of ability, of teammates as well as the strength of schedule his team is playing. It will be a daunting task to do this but I am hopeful it can be done fairly and accurately. If there is anything else you think might be interesting to look at post your ideas in the comments. For those who are new to HockeyAnalysis.com some of the things I have done in the past are Power Rankings, game predictions, entertainment index, and an analysis of hitting in the new NHL.

Nov 262005
 

Looks there most of the interesting game were played yesterday as there isn’t a lot to get too excited about today. Toronto-Montreal should be an exciting game to watch. Both teams have struggled a bit recently (Montreal more/longer than Toronto) but when these two teams play it is usually a good game and they have already played 3 one goal games including an overtime game. I’m going to pick Toronto to win this one. In the other pick-em games I’ll take Vancouver over Phoenix and Detroit over San Jose. If you are looking for an upset opportunity, that could be Chicago over Los Angeles. The final game worth pointing out is the battle of the two worst teams in the NHL as Columbus plays St. Louis. Columbus is just horrible while St. Louis has at least shown some good signs with the play of goalie Sanford and that gives them the edge but honstly, these are two pretty bad teams.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia NY Islanders Philadelphia Good
Toronto Montreal Pick N/A
Ottawa Boston Ottawa Strong
NY Rangers Washington NY Rangers Strong
Atlanta Florida Atlanta Some
St. Louis Columbus St. Louis Some
Nashville Dallas Nashville Some
Phoenix Vancouver Pick N/A
Los Angeles Chicago Los Angeles Strong
San Jose Detroit Pick N/A