Jan 082007
 

Just one game tonight but nothing to get to excited about. It is an important game for Edmonton as they have fallen a bit back in the playoff race. They can’t afford to give away winnable games like this one.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Los Angeles -106 Edmonton 106 Edmonton Some
Jan 072007
 

We are just past the mid-point of the season and most teams have played 40-42 games so that makes it time to think about mid-season awards. Here are my votes through the first half of the season.

Hart Trophy (MVP)

1. Marian Hossa – Hossa has his team in second spot in the eastern conference, he is tied for first in goals and second in points in the NHL plays on the power play and kills penalties. He deserves the MVP.

2. Jarome Iginla – A month ago Iginla probably wouldn’t garner much attention but a recent surge has him 8th in the NHL in points, and 6th in goals and he plays on a defensive minded team and plays a physical game most that most other point leaders don’t.

3. Joe Thornton – He got off to a slow start to the season but has been his old self since and is now among the league leaders in points and assists.

Norris Trophy (defenseman)

1. Chris Pronger – Leads all defensemen in points, is 4th in the NHL in +/- and plays for the team with the best record in the NHL.

2. Nicklas Lidstrom – His point production has dropped off a bit recently but is still among the league leaders for defensemen and has the best +/- in the NHL.

3. Scott Niedermayer – Second in scoring among defenseman.

Vezina Trophy (goalie)

1. Martin Brodeur – Brodeur is first in wins, second in games played, second in goals against average, third in save percentage and the best goalie in the NHL this year.

2. Jean Sebastien Giguere – Giguere has an amazing 23-4-5 record, is third in goals against average and fourth in save percentage and is a significant, if not the most significant, reason for Anaheim’s success so far.

3. Christobal Huet – I am still not 100% convinced he is an elite goalie for a full season but one cannot deny that Huet has been awesome for the Canadiens so far this year. I generally don’t think the Canadiens have a very good team but Huet has them firmly in a playoff spot so for that he deserves 3rd place over other top goalies.

Calder Trophy (rookie)

1. Evgeni Malkin – There really isn’t much to say about Malkin aside from the fact that he is far and away the most talented rookie in the NHL this season and leads all rookies in goals and points despite missing several games to start the season.

2. Anze Kopitar – Though he was a top prospect he is a bit of a surprise rookie of the year candidate but he has been a bright light for the Los Angeles Kings and is second in both league rookie scoring and scoring by Kings players.

3. Marc-Edouard Vlasic – Vlasic is someone most of you probably don’t know much about but he has been a key cog on the San Jose Sharks defense. More than fellow rookie Matt Carle. In fact, the only Shark player with more ice time per game than Vlasic’s 21:32 is Scott Hannan. He’s been awesome for the Sharks and despite being a number of other top rookie candidates (Stastny, Radulov, Wolski, Zajac, Penner, etc.) I think it is time we recognize a high quality defensive minded player like Vlasic.

Selke Trophy (defensive forard)

1. Rod Brind’amour – Brind’amour is not only the best defensive forward in the NHL is probably the best all-round forward in the NHL and I considered putting him as an MVP candidate too. He is among the leaders in short handed ice time for forwards, and is one of the top 2 or 3 at winning faceoffs.

2. Jere Lehtinen – Maybe the best defensive forward in the NHL over the last 5 seasons and he has been great again this year.

3. Samuel Pahlsson – Pahlsson is underrated as a defensive forward. He has the most short handed ice time among forwards and for one of the top penalty kill units in the NHL.

Jack Adams Trophy (coach)

1. Dave Tippett (Dallas) – I think Tippett deserves a lot of credit for what he has accomplished in Dallas both last year and this year. He doesn’t have a top 5 goalie playing for him, he doesn’t have a Norris trophy candidate playing for him and he certainly doesn’t have an MVP candidate playing for him and yet his team wins lots of games. He’s figured out how to Ribeiro, once a problem in Montreal, into a productive and highly useful player. Last year he turned Florida castoff Jussi Jokinen into an excellent all-round player and shootout superstar. He has 2 defenseman (Boucher and Zubov) leading his team in points while the rest of his defense consists of an aging Daryl Sydor, Jaroslav Modry, Stephane Robidas, and Trevor Dayley which isn’t a lot to work with. And yet he has his team winning a lot of games. Tippett in my mind deserves to be coach of the year.

2. Lindy Ruff – In my mind Buffalo is the best team in hockey and Ruff is a key reason for that. They are young, but good. They have suffered a lot of injuries, but still won. Ruff deserves a lot of credit for that.

3. Glen Hanlon – All I need to say is that Hanlon has Ovechkin, Semin, Kolzig and a bunch of journeymen players in playoff contention. That’s outstanding.

Jan 072007
 

There are six games on the schedule today which is a lot of a Sunday. I guess with the NFL regular season schedule complete the NHL feels it can start playing more Sunday games. The algorithms predictions have all the home teams winning but I think there could be a few road teams winning today. New Jersey should have a good chacne at beating Montreal and Phoenix is playing very well lately having won 5 in a row and had a good chance to beat Chicago. The late game of the night sees the Florida Panthers go up against Vancouver and former goalie Roberto Luongo. Unfortunately Todd Bertuzzi won’t be in the lineup.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Ottawa -221 Philadelphia 154 Ottawa Strong
Montreal -118 New Jersey 115 Montreal Some
Chicago -109 Phoenix 108 Chicago Some
Pittsburgh -128 Tampa Bay 122 Pittsburgh Some
Anaheim -176 Detroit 143 Anaheim Strong
Vancouver -180 Florida 144 Vancouver Good
Jan 062007
 

Here are the game predictions for tonights games.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston -213 Philadelphia 153 Boston Strong
Ottawa -113 New Jersey 111 Ottawa Some
Montreal -155 NY Rangers 135 Montreal Good
Toronto -134 Buffalo 125 Toronto Good
Washington -163 Atlanta 138 Washington Good
Carolina -135 NY Islanders 126 Carolina Some
Nashville -133 St. Louis 125 Nashville Good
Minnesota -199 Colorado 149 Minnesota Strong
Calgary -117 Dallas 114 Calgary Some
Los Angeles 122 Detroit -129 Detroit Good
San Jose -289 Columbus 165 San Jose Strong
Jan 052007
 

Wow, there were some crazy games last night. First after being down 2-1 heading into the second period Toronto scores 9 unanswered goals to win 10-2. In San Jose the Red Wings got up to an early 3-0 lead only to see the Sharks score the next 9 goals to win the game 9-4. And in Edmonton Patrik Stefan of the Stars does his best to give away the game by fumbling with the puck 2 feet in front of Edmonton’s empty net only to see the Oilers pick up the puck, quickly come back down the ice and score with 2 second left to send the game to OT. The only positive for Stefan was that the Stars pulled out a shootout win to get him off the hook a little. Interestingly, these were the 3 games I pointed out as games to watch.

As for today the game to watch is Vancouver-Edmonton. The northwest division is so tight that you can move from last to first in a day or two. These games are ultra important. Although Buffalo should easily win, the Buffalo-Pittsburgh game will feature a lot of offensive talent that could be entertaining to watch.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Atlanta -190 Phoenix 147 Atlanta Strong
Buffalo -176 Pittsburgh 143 Buffalo Good
Chicago 135 Nashville -154 Nashville Good
Colorado -178 Tampa Bay 143 Colorado Strong
Vancouver -185 Edmonton 146 Vancouver Strong
Anaheim -214 Columbus 153 Anaheim Strong
Jan 042007
 

I have updated the player rankings and adjusted hits statistics which you can take a look at by clicking the appropriate link in the left side menu. I have also added adjusted takeaways and giveaways which like hits seem to have significant discrepancy between how game monitors in different cities have different threshholds in determining when gets a giveaway or takeaway gets awarded. You will find that usually the most skilled players are the ones at the top of the giveaway list. At first glance, that might be a surprise but when you think that these players also probably have the puck much more often than the average player it kind of makes sense. On the takeaway list more ‘defensive’ minded players show up like Robert Scuderi, Matt Stajan, Todd White, Samuel Pahlsson, etc.

Jan 042007
 

It’s a typical Thursday night with a lot of games scheduled and some quality games but three games stand out in my mind. The first is Toronto-Boston because these two teams might end up fighting each other for the final playoff spot in the east. The other two quality games are between quality western conference teams with Edmonton playing Dallas and San Jose playing Detroit. Dallas, San Jose and Detroit all should easily make it into the playoffs but Edmonton playing in the killer division will be in a fight for the playoffs through they may not be much less of a quality team than the other three.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston -129 Toronto 122 Boston Some
NY Rangers -176 Philadelphia 143 NY Rangers Good
Washington 104 Montreal -104 Montreal Some
Carolina -139 Phoenix 128 Carolina Some
New Jersey -142 NY Islanders 129 New Jersey Good
St. Louis 106 Chicago -106 Chicago Some
Minnesota -151 Tampa Bay 133 Minnesota Good
Calgary -161 Florida 138 Calgary Good
Edmonton -155 Dallas 135 Edmonton Good
San Jose -115 Detroit 113 San Jose Some
Jan 032007
 

One of my least favourite hockey announcers (Pierre McGuire) was on the Team 1200 radio station here in Ottawa this morning like he is every morning. Even though I don’t like him, I often listen to him to see what other rediculous thing he is going to say. Today the discussion turned to Sidney Crosby and McGuire inidicated he thought Crosby was the best player in the NHL because he makes the players around him better. You could certainly argue that Crosby is the most talented player in the NHL, but to claim he makes the players around him better is what I have a dispute with.

When I heard McGuire’s comment I immediately asked myself, who on the Penguins has Crosby made significantly better? Who on the Penguins is having a sigificantly better season this year than expected or than he has in the past? I am not sure there is anyone. Mark Recchi has 33 points in 38 games, but that is no better than he produced last year in Pittsburgh (57p in 63g), or the season before in Philadelphia (75p in 82g). Sergei Gonchar has 29 points in 38 games which is right on last years pace of 58 in 75 games which is on par with Gonchar’s pre-lockout numbers (a time when scoring was lower). The only other Penguin with more than 25 points is Evgeni Malkin. Now, one could argue that Crosby has significantly helped Malkin produce his 37 points in 34 games but is that the case? We don’t really know what we should have expected from Malkin because it is his first year in the NHL so maybe he is better than he would be if not for Crosby. But, Malkin was an elite prospect close to if not on the same level as Crosby and Ovechkin were last season so it probably was safe to assume that he could be a point per game player. On top of that, in the 3 games that Crosby missed, Malkin had 3 goals and an assist so Crosby wasn’t exactly missed.

Pierre McGuire often compares Crosby to Peter Forsberg, but Forsberg has a proven track record of making the players around him better. Prior to last year Simon Gagne had never scored more than 33 goals and 66 points but playing with Forsberg last season he totaled 47 goals, 79 points in just 72 games (7 fewer than his 33g, 66p season). When Forsberg wasn’t in the lineup last year, Gagne’s stats were very mediocre. Forsberg makes the players around him better. As does Jaromir Jagr (look what Straka and Nylander are doing this year), and Joe Thornton (look what he did for Cheechoo last year). This is what made Gretzky and Lemieux so great as well. Wayne Gretzky made Bernie Nicholls a 70 goal, 150 point player and just compare Alexei Kovalev’s numbers when he played with Lemieux and when he didn’t and you will see what greatness Lemieux brought to the game.

There is no doubt that Crosby is an exceptional talent but it is my opinion that he is not yet an elite player as he has not yet fully learned how to make the players around him better and his team a winner. And I do believe this to be a learned skill. Last night we saw the retirement of Steve Yzerman’s jersey in Detroit. Steve Yzerman will be remembered as an elite player in the NHL. He is 6th on the all-time points list, 7th on the all time assists list and 8th on the all time goal scoring list. He led his team to 3 Stanley Cups and Team Canada to an Olympic gold medal (on a wonky leg too). And only 2 other players (Gretzky and Lemieux) have total more points in a season than Yzerman’s 155 in 1988-89. But dispite all his point production and personal success there was some serious doubt in Detroit whether Yzerman was capable of leading the Red Wings to Stanley Cup success and there were often trade rumours surrounging him. But over time he learned to be a leader and learned how to make the players around him and his team as a whole better and last night when his Jersey was retired he was remembered as one of the great leaders the game has seen. Over the course of Yzerman’s career, he learned to become a leader and a true super star of the game.

So, while Crosby is a great talent, he has not yet learned to be a great leader. And because of that, he is not yet, in my mind, deserving of the league MVP (though I expect he’ll likely win it). More deserving are guys like Jaromir Jagr, Joe Thorton, Joe Sakic, Scott Niedermayer, and others who make the players they play with and their team better.

Jan 032007
 

Just 3 games tonight but there is a premier matchup in the Senators vs Sabres. The Sabres have clearly been the better team this year overall, but the Senators have won 3 straight games against Buffalo after the Sabres won the first matchup of the season. Should be an interesting game but with the Senators injury woes I have to give the edge to Buffalo. Vancouver-Dallas could also be a good game but the third game of the night is a battle between lowsy teams as Columbus visits Los Angeles.

Home Team Fair
HTOdds
Road Team Fair
RTOdds
Predicted Winner Confidence
Ottawa 107 Buffalo -107 Buffalo Some
Vancouver 118 Dallas -122 Dallas Some
Los Angeles -123 Columbus 119 Los Angeles Some

I’ll also take this opportunity to let you all know that Dobber from dobberhockey.com is releasing a mid-season hockey pool guide. It should be released today so check it out. You can buy it by clicking the buy now button.

Jan 022007
 

Here are the updated power rankings for this week. Although Anaheim has lost a few games in the past week or so they manage to hold on to top spot although Buffalo and Detroit aren’t far back now. Tonights game between the Ducks and Red Wings might change things. Philadelphia is still solidly in last spot.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Anaheim 0.720 0.492 0.676
2 4 Buffalo 0.679 0.486 0.656
3 3 Detroit 0.671 0.499 0.652
4 2 San Jose 0.650 0.499 0.638
5 6 Dallas 0.587 0.502 0.586
6 5 Montreal 0.579 0.494 0.571
7 8 Nashville 0.613 0.483 0.561
8 7 Calgary 0.541 0.514 0.558
9 14 Vancouver 0.513 0.517 0.545
10 11 Carolina 0.537 0.493 0.534
11 12 Atlanta 0.561 0.482 0.531
12 16 New Jersey 0.566 0.478 0.530
13 15 Minnesota 0.449 0.535 0.517
14 9 Boston 0.500 0.503 0.512
15 10 Edmonton 0.474 0.519 0.510
16 21 Ottawa 0.500 0.495 0.499
17 20 Toronto 0.463 0.505 0.479
18 17 NY Islanders 0.487 0.487 0.474
19 18 Tampa Bay 0.449 0.502 0.461
20 13 Washington 0.463 0.496 0.459
21 22 Chicago 0.461 0.493 0.446
22 23 Florida 0.427 0.503 0.445
23 19 Colorado 0.462 0.498 0.444
24 27 Phoenix 0.395 0.527 0.435
25 25 Pittsburgh 0.459 0.475 0.425
26 24 NY Rangers 0.438 0.486 0.424
27 26 Los Angeles 0.354 0.536 0.407
28 28 Columbus 0.397 0.501 0.394
29 29 St. Louis 0.316 0.523 0.351
30 30 Philadelphia 0.276 0.493 0.277

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