Dec 072005

David Singer over at The Ice Block has posted some interesting numbers about how the goals per game in the NHL has dropped over the first couple months. As you may know, I have been keeping track of this stuff as well and have a few interesting tidbits to add. While I don’t dispute his numbers I don’t necessarily think that it means production in the NHL is on a downward spiral.

The chart below shows a comparison of how the goals per game production has changed over the first 408 games of the NHL season and how it compares with the 2003-04 season (the two reddish lines, 2003-04 being the lower one). The green and blue lines represent 20 game averages (i.e. the average goals per game of games 1 thru 20). (Note: shutout goals not included)

As you can see, there has been substantial fluctuation in the 20 game averages with this season fluctuating a bit more than 2003-04. Around December 1st we saw the 20 game average hit a season low of around 4.5 goals per game. This is actually quite low, even for 2003-04 standards. The goal drought that caused this ran from Nov. 27 to Dec 1st and then quickly popped back to more normal levels that past several days. This short-term drop off would have a reasonably significant impact on David Singer’s lower goals per game averages for November and December.

The reality is that that the goals per game average for the season is slightly higher now than it was from October 16-19 (bottomed out at ~6.05). There does seem to be a very slow downward trend from a peak of around 6.37 goals per game around November 3rd to 6.14 where it is today. Where things settle out is yet to be determined but I think claiming a downward trend, especially a significant one, might be a bit premature.

NHL Power Rankings – December 7, 2005

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Dec 072005

Some significant movement in this weeks rankings. Despite playing without Forsberg, Philadelphia managed to win a couple games which was enough to bump them into 6th spot, up from 12th. The big traders were also movers as San Jose rose to 21st from 24th and Bostonr ose to 22nd from 26th. Those dropping included Los Angeles who dropped from 4th to 8th, Colorado who dropped from 7th to 11th, Toronto who dropped from 10th to 14th, and Atlanta who fell to 26th from 22nd.

Rank Last Week Team Win-Loss Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 21- 4 15.0
2 2 Dallas 17- 8 13.0
3 5 Nashville 17- 7 12.6
4 3 Carolina 17-10 11.7
5 6 Detroit 19-10 11.6
6 12 Philadelphia 16-10 11.5
7 8 Buffalo 17-11 11.5
8 4 Los Angeles 17-12 11.4
9 11 Montreal 15-12 11.3
10 9 Vancouver 17-11 11.2
11 7 Colorado 14-13 11.0
12 13 NY Rangers 18-11 11.0
13 14 Calgary 16-13 10.8
14 10 Toronto 15-14 10.5
15 15 Edmonton 15-13 10.5
16 16 Phoenix 15-14 10.5
17 18 NY Islanders 14-13 10.1
18 19 Tampa Bay 15-13 10.0
19 17 New Jersey 13-13 9.9
20 20 Anaheim 12-16 9.5
21 24 San Jose 11-16 8.7
22 26 Boston 10-19 8.3
23 21 Minnesota 10-16 8.2
24 23 Chicago 10-16 8.0
25 25 Washington 9-17 7.9
26 22 Atlanta 10-19 7.7
27 27 Florida 9-19 7.6
28 28 Pittsburgh 7-20 6.7
29 29 Columbus 7-19 6.5
30 30 St. Louis 5-19 6.0

Game Predictions – 12/7/2005

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Dec 072005

I don’t have a lot of time for analysis today but here are today’s game predictions. There is actually not that many interesting games tonight. Colorado-Boston could be interesting if Bsoton can continue it’s post-trade boost. The pick-em game is somewhat interesting because you’ve got the Calgary Flames who are really just the old New Jersey Devils in disguise – a good team who relies significantly on defense and goaltending. Calgary has the second best goals against average but the second worst goals for average. While Calgary is definitely the better team than New Jersey they are on the road and playing back to back games and thus why the game is a pick-em game. I think New Jersey will win this game.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Washington Nashville Nashville Good
New Jersey Calgary Pick N/A
Chicago NY Rangers NY Rangers Some
Dallas Florida Dallas Strong
Colorado Boston Colorado Good

Superstar Slowdown?

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Dec 062005

For ther first 20 or so games, several players were playing at a ~150 point season pace but most of them have seen that pace drop dramatically over the past week or so. In the last 4 games here are what the league leaders in points have done.

Spezza – 4 points
Jagr – 4 points
Heatley – 4 points
Alfredsson – 2 points
Forsberg – injured
Staal – 4 points
Thornton – 6 points
Gagne – 3 points
Savard – 2 points
Demitra – 2 points
McCabe – 3 points
Kovalchuk – 1 point
Prospal – 2 points
Naslund – 5 points
Frolov – 1 points

That’s the top 15 point produces in the NHL so far this season, and only 2 of them have scored at a better than a point per game pace (and Thornton benefitted from the usual new team boost) in the past 4 games while on the season, all of them have scored well over a point per game pace. Not only did Spezza and Heatley go pointless last night, they also went without a shot. Maybe it is just coincidence but doesn’t it seem strange that most of the leagues most productive players have slowed down their production at the same time? Something to ponder.

Game Predictions – 12/6/2005

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Dec 062005

Seven games on the schedule for tonight, all of them inter-conference matchups, one of them with upset potential. The Flyers, according to my number crunching, appear to be the slight favourites against Calgary but this is one I believe has an excellent chance of going Calgary’s way. The big reason for this is Philadelphia’s injuries. Forsberg, maybe the best player in the NHL, will be out, and Pitkanen, probably the Flyers best defenseman, will be out. Although they still have a lot of good players those two are a majr part of the Flyers offense and Calgary is already pretty stingy in giving up goals. I’ll predict Calgary wins this one.

The two pick-em games are pick-em games for a reason. I could see either game going either way. The first game has Los Angeles visiting Toronto. Los Angeles is a good team but are in the midst of a serious slump having lost 4 in a row. After a couple days off I expect them to regroup and come out playing to win. Toronto on the other hand just can’t seem to get it going consistantly. Sometimes they play a great game, sometimes they play a bad game. Sometimes they play a great period (like the first against San Jose Saturady) and sometimes they play a bad period (like the second against San Jose). The question is, which team will show up. I’ll take the home team in this one but honestly, this truely is a pick-em game.

The other pick-em game features Carolina at Anaheim. I would normally predict Carolina but they have struggled recently going 2-6 in their last 8 games. Anaheim on the other hand is starting to show some life after dumping Fedorov and have won 4 games in a row and 5 of 6. Knowing that you might think that picking Anaheim is a no-brainer but I’m going to pick Carolina as they try hard to get back on track on this west coast road trip while complacency sets in for Anaheim.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia Calgary Philadelphia Some
Toronto Los Angeles Pick N/A
Detroit New Jersey Detroit Good
St. Louis NY Islanders NY Islanders Good
Anaheim Carolina Pick N/A
San Jose Atlanta San Jose Good

Game Predictions – 12/5/2005

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Dec 052005

Another 3 games on the schedule tonight. Well, actually, depending on the schedule you are looking at there might only be two. That’s because the third game is a make up game between Ottawa and Florida which was cancelled due to the hurricane. This game could also be a potential upset game as well because Ottawa will be playing without Chara, Redden and Havlat. They still have the big 3 up front (Spezza, Heatley and Alfredsson) but if Luongo can provide some timely goaltending and the Panther forwards can capitalize on a now significantly weakened defense they may be able to pull out a surprise win. Florida is also on a 2 game winning streak although those wins are just against Chicago and Washington.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Florida Ottawa Ottawa Strong
NY Rangers Minnesota NY Rangers Good
Phoenix Atlanta Phoenix Good

Game Predictions – 12/4/2005

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Dec 042005

So far this year there have been 14 games between the two conferences. The conferenced have split those games, each winning 7 with 6 of those games going to overtime and 4 of those going to a shootout. So far it seems he conferences are fairly evenly matched.

Tonight features 3 more inter-conference games. Islanders in Detroit, Buffalo in Colorado, and Boston in Vancouver with all of the western conference teams the predicted winner. I tend to agree with all of those predictions.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Detroit NY Islanders Detroit Good
Colorado Buffalo Colorado Some
Vancouver Boston Vancouver Good

Game Predictions – 12/3/2005

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Dec 032005

Day 2 of inter-conference play. The conferences split last nights 4 games and there is another 9 inter-conference games tonight plus an eastern only game.

The two games to watch will be San Jose at Toronto and Boston at Edmonton. Both Boston and San Jose had excellent first games after the big trade as often happens. It will be interesting to see how long they can keep the momentum going. San Jose will be in tough playing their second game in 2 nights while Boston went on the road which might alleviate some of the pressure of the new guys wanting perform in front of their new fans.

The three pick-em games are Los Angeles at Montreal, Chicago at Florida and Carolina at Phoenix. Los Angeles and Chicago should win the first 2 games but Carolina-Phoenix could really go either way. Carolina is probably the better team but they are playing on back to back nights and Phoenix always plays a tough game. I’ll say Phoenix wins a very a close game.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
New Jersey Minnesota New Jersey Good
Washington NY Rangers NY Rangers Some
Toronto San Jose Toronto Good
Montreal Los Angeles Pick N/A
Pittsburgh Calgary Calgary Good
Florida Chicago Pick N/A
Nashville Philadelphia Nashville Good
Phoenix Carolina Pick N/A
Edmonton Boston Edmonton Strong
Anaheim Atlanta Anaheim Good
Dec 022005

I watched a fair bit of the Ottawa-Los Angeles game tonight and two things are worth noting.

1. I can’t believe how the Ottawa announcers (and fans) have changed their tune since 2003-04 and earlier. Back then the Leafs were the dirty, goon team who had to fight to win. They were a disgrace to hockey and the Maple Leafs, particular Domi and Tucker, should be ashamed. They were a black eye on the game of hockey. Tonight the Ottawa Senators initiate several fights and they the announcers are all but cheering them on saying it is so great to see the Senators stand up for themselves and their team mates. McGratton, who wouldn’t be in the NHL (and maybe not the AHL) if he couldn’t fight actually didn’t get in a fight but wanted attempted to instigate one on at least 2 occassions. Chara instigated a fight with Gleason with 3 and a half minutes left in the game and will get an automatic 1 game suspension (and coach Murray fined $10,000) because of it and Hasek showed again that he can let his emotions get the better of him overreacting to a play which Avery was attempting to knock a loose puck into the net.

2. The referreeing what horrible tonight. Here are a few examples.

(a) Sean Avery gets a game misconduct for not having his tie down propery secured. The rule clearly states that this penalty is only to be applied when a player participates in a fight. There was no fight. If there were a fight, McGratton would have gotten an instigator and in that case the rule doesn’t apply either. The referees were clearly targeting Avery to get him out of the game but he didn’t do anything to deserve it. Yeah, Avery can be a jerk at times and he has said some pretty stupid things but for the most part tonight he was just playing the game and playing it hard. Unfortunately the referees targeted him and did everything they could to get him out of the game. It’s a shame.

From the NHL rulebook:

A player who engages in fisticuffs and whose sweater is not properly “tied-down” (sweater properly fastened to pants), and who loses his sweater (completely off his torso) in that altercation, shall receive a game misconduct.

A player who is involved in an altercation, when the opponent has been identified as an instigator, shall not be assessed a game misconduct if his sweater should be removed by an opponent or an Official in the discharge of his duties.

(b) Craig Conroy gets an interference witht he goalie penalty. This was rediculous. The only penalty that deserved to be given on that play was to Heatley who had his stick in front of Conroy’s feed, then pushed Conroy from behind causing Conroy to trip over Heatley’s stick which in turn resulted in Conroys skate coming up and hitting Hasek in the side of the head. The worse thing is the video shows the referee looking right at the incident when it happened.

These are just two examples of many. As a hockey fan, it really is sad to see how horrible the refereeing has been this year. Every game you can point out several calls or non calls. Chintzy hooks or holds get called while more obvious ones don’t. It’s sad because the new rules have opened up the game and made it more exciting on many levels but when games get decided by bad refereeing it really frustrates me as a fan.

10 players you haven't heard of before

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Dec 022005

Just a quick post to point out 10 guys who are having solid seasons who many of you have probably never heard of before.

Marek Svatos – Colorado Avalanche, Right Wing, 12 goals, 24 points, 6 game winning goals
Tim Connolly – Buffalo Sabres, Center, 7 goals, 20 points, +5
Ales Kotalik – Buffalo Sabres, Right Wing, 13 goals, 18 points, 9 PP goals
Andy MacDonald – Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Center, 8 goals, 17 points, +11
Jussi Jokinen – Dallas Stars, Left Wing, 8 goals, 15 points, 9 PP points

Joe Corvo – Los Angeles Kings, Defense. 5 goals, 12 points, +20
Tom Priessing – San Jose Sharks, Defense, 4goals, 11 points, +4
Zbynek Michalek – Phoenix Cototes, Defense, 4goals, 8 points, + 7
Kurtis Foster – Minnesota Wild, Defense, 5 games, 4 goals, 5 points, +5

Ilya Bryzgalov – Anaheim Mighty Ducks, 15 games, 2.50 gaa, .915 save percentage