Mar 062006
 

A bit of a bad day on the predictions yesterday going just 2 for 5. I missed out on the Columbus shootout win over Anaheim, the St. Louis upset of Vancouver and the Dallas win over Chicago.

Since I began using the current version of the prediction algorithm my success rates are as follows:

Strong: 16 of 28 – 57.1%
Good: 20 of 29 – 69.0%
Some: 58 of 101 – 57.4%
Overall: 58 of 101 – 59.5%

I am satisfied with Good and Some success rates but the Strong should be much higher. Most of the losses in the strong category have come due to the St. Louis Blues recent hot streak and some of the losses the Senators suffered just prior to the Olympic break.

Here are predictions for tonights games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Rangers Carolina Carolina Some
Philadelphia Montreal Philadelphia Some
Washington NY Islanders NY Islanders Some
Atlanta Florida Atlanta Some
Tampa Bay Ottawa Ottawa Good

The Rangers/Hurricanes game could go either way depending on how Carolina reacts to the Cole injury (sometimes they miss the player and sometimes the rest of the team plays better/harder to compensate).

Supposedly Gagne will be back in the Flyers lineup tonight so the potent Forsberg-Gagne 1-2 punch will be healthy and a force once again. Montreal will have to shut down those two guys if they want a chance to win.

Here in Ottawa people are back on the bandwagon after 3 straight post-olympic wins but we have to remember who those wins came against. The two worst teams in the east – Pittsburgh and Washington – and a Toronto team which has lost 15 of their last 18 games. From what I have seen Ottawa has looked good, but not great, in those games so playing Tampa will be a good test for them tonight. They really haven’t played like a Stanley Cup favourite since December 1st and certainly not since January 1st. Tampa still has a playoff position to secure so they should be ready to come out playing hard. A Tampa win wouldn’t surprise me here.

I have to give the Islanders the edge over Washington but the Atlanta/Florida game could go either way. Atlanta gets the edge because they are playing at home those.

Mar 052006
 

The push for the playoffs is on and with the extremely unabalanced schedules it becomes important to look at which teams have the more favourable schedules between now and the end of the season to see who has the best chance of making the playoffs. So what I did was look at how many points a team has as of games through last night and compare that to the difficulty of their schedule so far and then based on the number of games and the difficulty of their remaining schedule make a prediction on how many points they should get. From that, here are the predicted final standings for the eastern and western conferences.

Eastern Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts Total Pts
1 Carolina 60 88 0.471 22 0.435 34 122
2 Ottawa 59 85 0.496 23 0.472 34 119
3 Buffalo 59 81 0.486 23 0.524 29 110
4 NY Rangers 60 80 0.464 22 0.491 27 107
5 Philadelphia 61 76 0.467 21 0.481 25 101
6 New Jersey 61 71 0.477 21 0.466 25 96
7 Montreal 59 66 0.511 23 0.491 26 92
8 Tampa Bay 60 68 0.472 22 0.471 24 92
9 NY Islanders 59 58 0.495 23 0.429 26 84
10 Atlanta 61 62 0.472 21 0.490 20 82
11 Toronto 60 59 0.513 22 0.495 22 81
12 Boston 61 60 0.505 21 0.527 19 79
13 Florida 60 54 0.482 22 0.482 19 73
14 Washington 59 46 0.486 23 0.500 17 63
15 Pittsburgh 61 39 0.501 21 0.472 14 53

Western Conference Predicted Standings

Pos Team GP Pts Schedule Strength Future GP Future SchedStr Pred Pts TotalPts
1 Detroit 60 87 0.484 22 0.464 33 120
2 Dallas 60 81 0.518 22 0.507 30 111
3 Calgary 60 77 0.515 22 0.539 26 103
4 Nashville 60 76 0.487 22 0.488 27 103
5 Colorado 62 74 0.531 20 0.489 25 99
6 Vancouver 62 75 0.517 20 0.553 22 97
7 Edmonton 60 70 0.526 22 0.538 25 95
8 Los Angeles 62 73 0.516 20 0.539 22 95
9 Anaheim 59 67 0.516 23 0.539 25 92
10 San Jose 59 64 0.520 23 0.522 24 88
11 Phoenix 61 60 0.537 21 0.491 22 82
12 Minnesota 62 63 0.526 20 0.550 19 82
13 Columbus 60 48 0.509 22 0.491 18 66
14 Chicago 59 47 0.505 23 0.511 18 65
15 St. Louis 58 43 0.502 24 0.531 16 59

Of course the Rangers would get the #3 playoff seed in the east. Overall there isn’t really much change from the current standings but there are some interesting things to note.

1. If everything goes according to what one would expect from the above analysis there really won’t be much of a playoff race in the eastern conference. Tampa and Montreal would end up tied for the final 2 playoff spots a full 8 points ahead of the NY Islanders who push their way into 9th based on a very easy remaining schedule.

2. The playoff race in the west will be a bit closer with Edmonton and Los Angeles tied just 3 points ahead of 9th place Anaheim and 5 ahead of 10th place San Jose. One must also consider than San Jose has played better since the Joe Thornton trade so they should be able to close the gap even further.

3. Most importantly we must remember that things never happen according to expecations and that all of the above predictions are subject to change depending on what trades teams make or what injuries teams suffer. And don’t assume that all trades for good players are for the better. Nashville has been pretty mediocre since picking up Sillinger and Carolina has been no better either since the Weight trade. Weight has so far contributed very little (8 games, 1 point, -4).

I’ll post updated predictions every week or two so you can all keep up to speed on how your team is doing and it’s playoff outlook.

Mar 052006
 

I think I have seen it all now. A member of the Toronto hockey media, George Gross, is lecturing Toronto Maple Leaf fans to lay off criticizing coach Pat Quinn.

The hunt for Quinn’s skin is nothing new for Toronto’s so-called sports fans. They do it all the time, regardless of whether they condemn the coaches of the Maple Leafs, Raptors, Argonauts or Blue Jays. If their team doesn’t win, it’s never the players, the general manager, or the owner’s fault. It always is the fault of the coach.

I find that interesting because the leaders in the Fire Pat Quinn campaign has been, is, and always will be the media. It seems every time the Leafs lose back to back games someone in the Toronto hockey media has a fire Pat Quinn article. I wonder where the fans get the idea that Pat Quinn should get fired from? If you ask me the fans are more critical of the players than the coach.

I believe George Gross has been a defender of Pat Quinn in the past so at least he is being consistant in his message but I feel going after the fans is attacking the followers and not the leaders. The fire Pat Quinn rally cry has always come from his fellow sports writers. To bad Mr. Gross feels the need to attack the fans because he is too gutless to attack his coworkers.

Mar 052006
 

I had a decent night on the prediction front last night going 7 for 11. It’s probably about what I would expect. We have 5 games on the schedule tonight. Let’s aim for a 4 for 5 night.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Edmonton Nashville Edmonton Some
Anaheim Columbus Anaheim Good
Chicago Dallas Chicago Some
Minnesota Colorado Minnesota Some
Vancouver St. Louis Vancouver Strong

My prediction algorithm is constantly going to predict St. Louis to lose but in the last several weeks they haven’t done much of that and have won the majority of their games. Vancouver is a beatable team with their somewhat inconsistant goaltending and injuries on defense so the Blues could win this one too. Chicago being the predicted winner over Dallas is quite the surprise but the Chicago prediction over Vancouver was a bit of a surprise a few days ago and that one went to a shootout so I guess anything is possible. Edmonton/Nashville and Colorado/Minnesota are games that could go either waywhile Anaheim should win over Columbus.

Mar 042006
 

Last nights predictions were 5 for 6 with only the Vancouver-Chicago game, which Vancouver won in a shootout, being wrong. No time for analysis right now but here are today’s game predictions.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Los Angeles Columbus Los Angeles Strong
Boston Buffalo Boston Some
Toronto Ottawa Ottawa Some
NY Islanders Philadelphia Philadelphia Some
Atlanta Washington Atlanta Good
New Jersey NY Rangers NY Rangers Some
Pittsburgh Carolina Carolina Some
Tampa Bay Montreal Tampa Bay Some
Dallas Colorado Dallas Some
Phoenix Detroit Detroit Some
Calgary San Jose Calgary Some
Mar 032006
 

For those who still think that Sidney Crosby, or anyone else (in my mind Lundqvist is the only other rookie worth considering), deserves the rookie of the year over Alexander Ovechkin you really need to watch this. He does everything.

Not only do I think that Alexander Ovechkin is the best rookie in the NHL I think he is easily one of the top 5 forwards in the NHL and might even already be the best. Ovechkin is 2nd (to Jagr) in goals scored and 8th in points. But what might be the most amazing stat is that he has 71 points, 40 points more than any other player on the Washington Capitals. He has 7 more goals than any other player on his team has points. He has 16 power play goals and 3 short handed goals. He is playing with guys like Zubrus, Halpern, Pettinger and Willsie. Just imagine what he would be doing if he played with players Straka, Nylander, and Rucinsky like Jagr. Kovalchuk has Marc Savard and Marian Hossa and vice versa. Alfredsson has Heatley and Spezza and vice versa. Staal has Brind’amour, Cole and Stillman. Thornton had Murray and Samsonov and now has Cheechoo and Marleau. Ovechkin has Zubris and Pettinger. Because of that he might already be the best forward in the NHL.

No, it isn’t Alexander the Great, it is Alexander the Best.

Mar 032006
 

I’ve criticize the main stream hockey media (particularly the Toronto one) here many times and I will continue to do so every once and a while. One of the reasons I started this website was to counter some of the pure nonsense that some in the media choose to write. Today’s target is Al Strachan.

He writes an article about big spending teams still winning (Colorado, Philadelphia, Detroit, NY Rangers) but cites two previously big spending teams who aren’t winning this year (St. Louis and Toronto) but justifies St. Louis no longer being a good team because they chose to dismantle their team (trading Pronger and more recently Weight, Sillinger and probably soon to be more). But the real crux of the article was to give him a reason to bash the Leafs.

I’ll get to his Leaf bashing later but let’s me mention two things so far. First, while the Rangers were one of the top spending teams in 2003-04 and sucked, they probably aren’t this year and are doing great. Probably not the best example of a big spending team *still* winning. Second, yes, the St. Lous traded Pronger but they are still a big spending team and if you bash the Leafs for spending big and not playing well then you have to bash the Blues as well. You can’t just let them off the hook because they let a big priced guy go because the reality is that they let wrong big price guy go.

He cites four players that the Leafs have over spent on.

1. Tie Domi – ” The two-year deal to Tie Domi had the rest of the league snickering.”

2. Jason Allison – ” Jason Allison has played well, but you simply cannot, under any circumstances, tie up $4.5 million of your cap room for a player of that calibre.”

3. Ken Klee – ” Ken Klee is another useful player. Under the old order, his $1.9 million would not be out of line. But it is in today’s game.”

4. Antropov – ” The same can be said of Nik Antropov, who earns a salary almost identical to that of Sillinger. Which one would you rather have? To help you make your decision, you should know that Sillinger has 24 goals, Antropov seven.”

I agree on Jason Allison. He’s been decent this year but not worth $4.5 million. Tie Domi making $1.5 million wouldn’t be bad if he was the Tie Domi of 2003-04 but he seems to have lost some of the edge he used to play with. It’s fine that he doesn’t fight as much as he used to but he doesn’t crash and bang as much either and that makes him not worth what he is being paid. But, I would not be surprised if someone traded for him so I wouldn’t classify him as hugely overpaid. Ken Klee is just rediculous though. $1.9 million is probably a bit high for a player of his age/skill level but not vastly over paid and since it was a carry over contract it was probably not worth buying him out. If he was an unrestricted free agent he’d have probably gotten $1.5+ million anyway.

But the one that really irks me is saying Antropov is over paid and comparing him to Sillinger because Sillinger has 24 goals this year. It is a rediculous statement to make because you are comparing Antropov to a very mediocre player having a career year and who benefitted greatly by playing a ton of minutes on the Blues top line because the blues lacked any depth. But the Blues sucked in a big way and Sillinger was a part of that. In St. Louis, Sillinger was a -17 3rd worst on the team. In 9 games with the Predators he has just 2 goals and is a -5. Over his careere Sillinger is -186 in 886 games and has only had a single + season when he has played more than 30 games (+2 in 1993-94 with Detroit). Had the Leafs given a $1 million contract to him last off season coming off an 8 goal 2003-04 season the Leafs would have been ridiculed by everyone in the Leafs media, including Mr. Strachan. One more Sillinger stat for you:

Blues record with Sillinger: 11-20-8
Blues record without Sillinger: 6-2-1

Predators record without Sillinger: 31-14-6
Predators record with Sillinger: 4-5-0

Read into that what you want.

Antropov on the other hand is a +4 (3rd on the Leafs), kills penalties pretty well and has never had a – season when he has played at least 12 games.

The sad thing is that there is a message that can be clearly be read into the records by the Rangers, Red Wings, Flyers, Avalanche, Leafs and Blues. Goaltending wins. This is most evident by looking at the Rangers. They had the talent in 2003-04, but they didn’t have the goaltending. This year they have the goaltending and they are winning. When Aebischer was struggling earlier in the year the Avalanche weren’t winning, now that Aebischer is playing well, they are winning. Detroit has had very good goaltening and Philadelphia has been mostly good. The Blues and Leafs haven’t. Extending it further, Los Angeles won a lot of games early because they were getting good goaltending.

All this is interesting because the most over paid Leaf (based on performance) is Ed Belfour, who Strachan for some odd reason chose not to put him on his list. He is far more overpaid than Klee or Antropov and is a far bigger reason why the Leafs aren’t higher in the standings. If the Leafs had good goaltending they would easily be in a playoff position and probably not far behind Philadelphia in the standings. But, for some reason Antropov and the Leafs defense as a whole (hence Klee) are the whipping boys of the Toronto media (and they have never really liked Domi either) so they get criticized over the more deserving.

Mar 032006
 

We have 5 games on schedule tonight with two of them having huge impacts on the western conference playoff race. Currently Edmonton holds the final playoff spot in the west with Anaheim, San Jose and Minnesota hot on their tails. Tonight these four teams face off with Anaheim facing Edmonton and Minnesota in Anaheim. These are extremely important games for these four teams. A Minnesota loss and you could almost eliminate the Wild from the playoff race as since they have played more games than the other three teams and passing three teams with fewer games left on the schedule would be real tough. The prediction algorithm says Edmonton and Anaheim will win. I’m OK with Anaheim but I would be concerned with Edmonton. They haven’t played all that great lately while San Jose has been pretty good. It would be a huge win for Edmonton but I am not sure they can win it.

And for those who say that I always pick the favourites please check out the Chicago/Vancouver prediction.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Carolina Florida Carolina Good
Buffalo Toronto Buffalo Good
Chicago Vancouver Chicago Some
Edmonton San Jose Edmonton Some
Anaheim Minnesota Anaheim Some
Mar 022006
 

We have a busy day on the schedule tonight with 10 games being played several being playoff important games. Boston/Atlanta is a big game as both teams try to make a push for the final playoff spot in the east. If Kari Lehtonen plays again tonight I like the Thrashers in this game. Witht he 2 week break Lehtonen had more time to fully heal his groin injury and he looked great last night stopping 34 of 36 shots. Florida and Montreal play under similar circumstances. Montreal currently holds the 8th and final playoff spot while Florida is 8 points back and wondering if they can find a way to get back in the playoff race.

Philadelphia and the NY Rangers also battle it out for top spot in the Atlantic division. I’ll have to give the more rested Rangers a slight advantage and we might even see a gold medal game goalie rematch between Niittymaki and Lundqvist.

Out west we have Nashville and Vancouver fighting for playoff position and this could be a first round playoff preview. If the season ended today these two teams would be facing each other. The Minnesota/Los Angeles game is also a big game as Minnesota tries to get back in the playoff race and the struggling Kings are one of the teams they have a chance to catch. The 11th place Wild trail the 7th place Kings by just 6 points.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Atlanta Boston Some
NY Islanders New Jersey NY Islanders Some
Philadelphia NY Rangers NY Rangers Some
Florida Montreal Montreal Some
Ottawa Washington Ottawa Some
Nashville Vancouver Vancouver Some
Colorado Columbus Colorado Strong
Calgary St. Louis Calgary Good
Phoenix Dallas Dallas Some
Los Angeles Minnesota Los Angeles Some
Mar 012006
 

Here are the first post-olympics power rankings. There have been some significant movers since the previous power rankings on February 8th. Big risers include Detroit (8th to 3rd) and San Jose (13th to 9th) while the big drop was by Toronto (12th to 17th) who lost to the lowly Capitals for the 3rd time this season.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.679 0.503 0.694
2 2 Colorado 0.575 0.535 0.639
3 8 Detroit 0.669 0.487 0.624
4 4 Calgary 0.595 0.519 0.616
5 5 Buffalo 0.643 0.486 0.612
6 3 Dallas 0.586 0.515 0.604
7 7 Vancouver 0.575 0.521 0.600
8 6 Carolina 0.640 0.475 0.592
9 13 San Jose 0.535 0.517 0.561
10 9 Edmonton 0.509 0.528 0.549
11 11 Nashville 0.576 0.489 0.545
12 10 Minnesota 0.492 0.528 0.535
13 14 Los Angeles 0.508 0.516 0.527
14 15 Philadelphia 0.586 0.467 0.522
15 17 Montreal 0.474 0.516 0.516
16 16 Anaheim 0.509 0.512 0.516
17 12 Toronto 0.483 0.508 0.505
18 21 NY Rangers 0.569 0.464 0.502
19 20 Tampa Bay 0.542 0.469 0.494
20 18 Phoenix 0.441 0.534 0.488
21 19 Boston 0.457 0.503 0.469
22 22 New Jersey 0.483 0.477 0.456
23 24 Atlanta 0.466 0.474 0.434
24 23 NY Islanders 0.421 0.495 0.431
25 25 Florida 0.414 0.478 0.393
26 26 Columbus 0.362 0.509 0.374
27 27 Chicago 0.325 0.502 0.322
28 28 Washington 0.325 0.484 0.316
29 29 St. Louis 0.295 0.500 0.294
30 30 Pittsburgh 0.263 0.495 0.269

AdjWinP is a teams winning percentage when shootouts are considered ties and there are no points awarded for overtime losses
SchedStr is an indication of a teams relative difficulty of schedule
Power Rank is the teams expected winning percentage if team played all .500 teams