Nov 172005
 

Below are the game predictions for tonights NHL games. In the 2 pick-em games I think Detroit will rebound after a loss to Calgary last night and the Islanders will beat a struggling Tampa team.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Toronto Toronto Some
Buffalo Washington Buffalo Good
Carolina NY Rangers Carolina Good
Ottawa Florida Ottawa Strong
Tampa Bay NY Islanders Pick N/A
Edmonton Detroit Pick N/A
Los Angeles Vancouver Los Angeles Some
Nov 162005
 

Here are the NHL Power Rankings for this week. I have added a new column to the table which shows last weeks rankings which was requested by a reader a couple weeks ago. Big gainers this week are Detroit (5th to 2nd), Nashville (11th ot 7th), Calgary (15th to 12th), and New Jersey (24th to 19th). Biggest droppers are Montreal (2nd to 5th), Colorado (8th to 11th), Boston (22nd to 25th) and Florida (25th to 28th).

Rank Last Week Team Win-Loss Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 13- 3 15.0
2 5 Detroit 15- 4 13.0
3 3 Carolina 13- 4 12.9
4 4 Philadelphia 11- 5 12.7
5 2 Montreal 13- 6 12.7
6 7 Dallas 11- 7 12.0
7 6 Los Angeles 12- 7 12.0
8 11 Nashville 12- 5 12.0
9 10 Vancouver 11- 7 11.6
10 9 Toronto 10- 9 11.6
11 8 Colorado 9- 8 11.5
12 15 Calgary 11- 9 10.6
13 12 Buffalo 9- 9 10.5
14 13 NY Rangers 11- 9 10.1
15 16 NY Islanders 9- 9 9.9
16 14 Edmonton 10-10 9.7
17 17 Phoenix 9-11 9.7
18 18 San Jose 8- 9 9.2
19 24 New Jersey 8-10 8.8
20 19 Minnesota 8-11 8.6
21 21 Tampa Bay 8-12 8.4
22 20 Anaheim 7-11 8.3
23 26 Chicago 7-11 8.3
24 23 Washington 7-11 8.3
25 22 Boston 7-12 8.1
26 28 Atlanta 7-10 8.1
27 25 Florida 6-13 7.6
28 27 Columbus 5-13 7.3
29 29 Pittsburgh 5-14 6.7
30 30 St. Louis 2-15 5.5
Nov 162005
 

Here are tonights NHL game predicitons. The game of the night has to be Detroit at Calgary. Although Detroit is the predicted winner, don’t count out Calgary who is on a 7 game winning streak. But Detroit has won 3 in a row as well so it could go either way. I am also interested in seeing how entertaining this game will be. One might expect it will be but my Entertainment Index doesn’t rank Calgary or Detroit very highly. Calgary is ranked 13th in the NHL while Detroit is sitting in 25th position. TSN has this game as its national broadcast game and I’ll be interested to see if it will be entertaining and contradict my Entertainment Index or whether my Entertainment Index actually works. For anyone who watches the game feel free to post your comments here after the game and whether you thought the game was entertaining or not.

Another interesting game to watch might be Pittsburgh at Philadelphia. Not only is this a Pennsylvania state rivalry but both teams rank fairly highly on the Entertainment Index. I’ll watch bits of this game too. There are three games that are too close to call tonight according to the mathematical formula used so as I often do I’ll make some picks of my own. I’ll take the Atlanta Thrashers at home over the NY Islanders because I think the Thrashers are really starting to get it going and are a team to watch. The Phoenix-Colorado game is a tough call because both teams have looked good at times this year and both teams have looked bad at times. Both are suffering consistency issues so when I can’t decide I always take the home team. In this case, that’s Phoenix. The final game of the night is Vancouver at San Jose. With Todd Bertuzzi scoring a hat trick in his last game he might finally be breaking out of his slump. If he is that is good news for the Canucks and should be enough to give them the win in San Jose tonight.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Pittsburgh Philadelphia Strong
Atlanta NY Islanders Pick N/A
Columbus St. Louis Columbus Good
Calgary Detroit Detroit Some
Phoenix Colorado Pick N/A
Anaheim Dallas Dallas Good
San Jose Vancouver Pick N/A
Nov 162005
 

So I went to the Carolina-Ottawa game last night. I could give you a complete redux of the game but Chris McMurtry has done a great job of that over at Hockey Country. I’ll just add a few additional comments.

In general, Ottawa didn’t have the same scoring touch as they have in most other games this year. Although they had some good scoring chances they just couldn’t finish it tonight like they have most other nights. Certainly some of it was Martin Gerber’s excellent play but as Chris pointed out there were a lot of missed/fanned on shots, shots hitting posts or going wide, etc. Something just wasn’t there for them tonight.

Ottawa’s power play continues to struggle going 0 for 8. I think one of the reasons Ottawa’s PP doesn’t seem as as good as 5 on 5 is because Ottawa scores so many of their goals via the transition game. They play a high pressure defense and immediately upon a turnover they hit the rocket boosters out of their own end and score a lot of goals on the (odd man) rush. For obvious reasons this doesn’t happen during PP situations. Even in the offensive zone they play a high-pressure forecheck really challenging the opposing team to make perfect passes to clear the puck out of their own end. Any indecisiveness and they force the turnover which they frequently capitalize on. Again, this situation doesn’t present itself as much in powerplay situations.

I can’t figure out Martin Havlat. He can look so dominant in short handed situations seemingly being the most skilled player on the ice but on 5-on-5 situations seems not to have the same creativity consistantly. Outside of his 4 goal game in Buffalo he hasn’t been anything special most of the time.

I’d like to add one more ‘bad’ to Chris’s list. That is the Ottawa fans for booing every penalty called against the Senators. The two minute standing ovation for Alfredsson quickly converted to a bunch of boos when an Ottawa penalty was announced. You can’t have it both ways. You want he game called tight so you can have open ice for your free-wheeling players but then you criticize the refs when they call the game tight against you. Plus it is one thing to boo a borderline hooking call but quite another to boo Hasek playing the puck in the forbidden zone. Hasek did it, it’s an automatic penalty, get over it. Yes it was close, but close still counts. Blame Hasek (or the rules making committee), but not the referees. That penalty is a black and white call.

Finally, in Ottawa they have been trying to name the Senators top line of Alfredsson-Spezza-Heatley. I am thinking they should be called the Tornado line since they can blow by you and cause a lot of damage but still play second fiddle to Hurricanes.

Nov 152005
 

Here are the predictions for tonights NHL games. Despite the prediction of Buffalo over New Jersey, I think this game could go the Devils way. Brodeur is back and healthy and it seems that the Devils might be getting back to playing solid defensively. Carolina should also bounce back after a 9-0 thrashing from Atlanta but whether they can beat Ottawa again is questionable. In the two pick-em games I’ll take Washington over Tampa and Los Angeles over Nashville.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo New Jersey Buffalo Good
Washington Tampa Bay Pick N/A
Toronto NY Rangers Toronto Some
Montreal Florida Montreal Strong
Ottawa Carolina Ottawa Good
Nashville Los Angeles Pick N/A


Nov 142005
 

A little over a week ago I posted a ranking of the most entertaing games and teams in the NHL. That post generated a fair amount of interest so I decided to create a new and improved ranking system – Entertainment Index Version 2.0.

I believe that fans want to see 3 things in a hockey game:

1. Lots of offense and scoring
2. Physical play and intensity
3. A close game

With this in mind I created the following point scoring system to evaluate every game played in the NHL so far through Sunday, November 13th. Here is the scoring system.

Offense
2 points for each goal scored
1 point for every shot over 50 shots (2 team total)

Physical Play
1 point for every hit above 30 (2 team total)
2 points for every fight

Close Game
35 points for a game ending in OT or a shootout
30 points for a 1 goal game
25 points for a 2 goal game
20 points for a 3 goal game
15 points for a 4 goal game
10 points for a 5 goal game
5 points for a 6 goal game

Since watching to see if a goalie is going to get a shutout, I have also given a bonus 2 points for a shutout.

Using that forumla the most exciting games so far are:

1. Boston 4 at Toronto 5 – Oct 24 (shootout) (Gamescore = 103)
2. Toronto 5 at Ottawa 6 – Oct 10 (shootout) (Gamescore = 97)
3. Los Angeles 4 at Detroit 5 -Nov 9 (overtime) (Gamescore = 86)
4. Florida 4 at Montreal 5 – Nov 1 (overtime) (Gamescore = 85)
5. Boston 3 at Montreal 4 – Oct 18 (Gamescore = 85)
6. NY Islanders 3 at Montreal 4 – Oct 22 (Gamescore = 83)
7. San Jose 7 at St. Louis 6 – Oct 8 (Gamescore = 82)
8. Philadelphia 5 at Ottawa 3 – Oct 30 (Gamescore = 82)
9. Montreal 3 at Ottawa 5 – Oct 27 (Gamescore = 82)
10. Boston 7 at Pittsburgh 6 – Oct 8 (overtime) (Gamescore = 81)
11. Chicago 3 at San Jose 4 – Oct 15 (Gamescore = 81)

And the least entertining games:
1. Tampa Bay 6 at Atlanta 0 – Oct 20 (Gamescore = 22)
2. Detroit 6 at Columbus 0 – Oct 22 (Gamescore = 22)
3. Los Angeles 0 at Phoenix 4 – Nov 3 (Gamescore = 25)
4. Carolina 6 at New Jersey 1 – Oct 15 (Gamescore = 27)
5. Atlanta 9 at Carolina 0 – Nov 12 (Gamescore = 27)

Next I calculated team scores by averaging the game score for all the average game score for each game the team played in. The following table shows the results.

Rank Team Entertainment Index
1 Toronto 64.5
2 Ottawa 62.3
3 Montreal 61.8
4 Boston 61.6
5 Philadelphia 61.2
6 Florida 57.9
7 NY Islanders 57.5
8 Dallas 56.6
9 Pittsburgh 55.9
10 Phoenix 55.5
11 Buffalo 55.2
12 San Jose 55.2
13 Calgary 54.2
14 Washington 54.0
15 Los Angeles 53.9
16 Anaheim 53.4
17 Carolina 52.9
18 Chicago 52.8
19 Vancouver 52.6
20 St. Louis 52.1
21 Colorado 52.8
22 Nashville 51.9
23 New Jersey 49.9
24 NY Rangers 49.6
25 Detroit 47.9
26 Edmonton 46.8
27 Atlanta 46.6
28 Minnesota 46.6
29 Comumbus 45.1
30 Tampa Bay 44.7

The northeast division is clearly the most entertaining division with the top 4 teams being from the northeast. Make sense because games between Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Boston have all been fairly high scoring and generally close. Plus these teams are among the most physical teams in the NHL.

(Statistics used were gathered from browsing box scores at NHL.com and Yahoo.com as well as fight data at HockeyFights.com)

Nov 142005
 

Here are the game predictions for tonights games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Pittsburgh NY Islanders NY Islanders Some
Tampa Bay Philadelphia Philadelphia Good
Colorado Edmonton Colorado Good
Calgary Minnesota Calgary Good
Nov 132005
 

The Toronto hockey media is quite amusing. Prior to the season starting the Leafs were old, injury prone, had horrible defense, wouldn’t score enough goals to win, Ed Belfour was a huge question mark and the Leafs would be fighting for their lives for a playoff spot.

Eighteen games into the season the Leafs have 20 points and sit in a playoff spot despite having played the toughest schedule in the league and despite playing without their captain for the majority of those games. But is the hockey media in Toronto happy? No, apparently not. Eric Lindros is on pace for 40 goals and nearly 70 points but that apparently isn’t good enough for Mike Ulmer who says Eric Lindros “has been far from dominant and still looks sluggish.” I am sure that if I had predicted a 4o goal season for Lindros everyone would have called me crazy. I am sure many in the Toronto sports media thought 20 goals from Lindros was dreaming but he’s almost halfway there already and he still gets criticized. I really wonder what it would take for Mike Ulmer to be pleased with Eric Lindros’ play.

I will admit that not everything is wonderful in Leaf-land. They do have to play much better team defense but all things considered the team is doing decently and better than most in the Toronto sports media predicted prior to the start of the season. Rather than admit even being slightly wrong some people would rather just point out the negatives (and in some cases create negatives) and ignore the reality of the situation as a whole.

Nov 132005
 

Here are todays NHL game predictions. The game of the day has to be Detroit at Vancouver. Although Vancouver has been struggling recently these are two of the top teams in the west and Vancouver should be able to get up for this game. My number crunching software says this is too close to call and for good reason. It could go either way but I’ll predict Vancouver breaks out of their slump and wins a close game. In the other pick-em game I’ll pick Edmonton over Chicago.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Columbus Los Angeles Los Angeles Good
Chicago Edmonton Pick N/A
Anaheim Dallas Dallas Some
Vancouver Detroit Pick N/A
Nov 122005
 

Before the season began I picked Atlanta as a team who could surprise people and possibly even unseat Tampa at the top of the Southeast division. Early in the season this looked like a terrible prediction but the Thrashers are on a roll and look to be reaching the quality of play I thought they would. The Thrashers have won 3 games in a row outscoring their opposition by a score of 19-2 crushing the Carolina Hurricanes (who had won 9 in a row and 11 of 12) 9-0 tonight. Why the slow start and the subsequent turnaround? The reasons are simple.

1. Bad goaltending. Kari Lehtonen who was a rookie of the year candidate was injured throughout the pre-season and then injured his groin again in the first game of the year. And then backup Mike Dunham got injured. That left them with two sub-par rookies in goal who were simply not good enough to play at the NHL level. Mike Dunham is now back and healthy and providing good goaltending.

2. Kovalchuk: Ilya Kovalchuk missed all of the pre-season and the first few games of the regular season due to a contract dispute. Having not had a training camp it took him a while to get back into the flow of the game and in sync with his teammates. He has 6 goals in his last 2 games so it is safe to say he is back in game shape.

3. The Trashers made quite a few changes in goal, on defense and up front from the 2003-04 season. It’s taken some time for these new players to start playing like a team. Some other teams who also made a lot of changes have struggled at times too (i.e. Calgary, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Edmonton). It just takes time for players to learn to play with each other.

I think Atlanta’s recent success is here to stay mainly because I think Atlanta’s offense is probably second best trailing only Ottawa’s (and probably not trailing by much) led by Kovalchuk who might be the best offensive player in the NHL. And Hossa, Savard, Bondra, and Kozlov aren’t too shabby either. Atlanta’s starting to make their move so those teams in the southeast division better watch out.