Apr 242007
 

Time for the second round predictions. Like the first round, the second round features some intriguing matchups and also like the first round, none of those match ups are divisional rivals.

  1. NY Rangers at Buffalo

    NY Rangers (road) Buffalo (home)
    Predicted Winner Buffalo (Good)
    Fair Odds +135 -155
    Overall Record 42-30-10 53-22-7
    Home/Road Record 21-15-5 28-10-3
    Last 10 Games 7-2-1 7-3-0
    Past Games
    • 2006/10/14: NY Rangers 4 at Buffalo 7
    • 2006/11/05: Buffalo 4 at NY Rangers 3 (OT)
    • 2006/11/26: Buffalo 3 at NY Rangers 2 (OT)
    • 2006/12/01: NY Rangers 3 at Buffalo 4 (SO)

    My Opinion: Buffalo has been my pick to win the east before the season and they are still my pick though I think the Rangers could give them a challenge. With Jagr, Straka, Nylander and Shanahan the Rangers have 4 legitimate threats offensively, Sean Avery has given them a valuable boost in the ultra-pest category and he has also played great hockey too. The Rangers also have a servicable group of defensemen that are more of the stay at home defensvie minded variety which is probably better against a deep and talented offensive team in Buffalo. And most importantly what the Rangers have is some of the best goaltending in the NHL over the past 2-3 months.. With Buffalo having a deeper set of forwards and a better group of defensemen the Rangers are going to need Lundqvist to substantially out play Ryan Miller if they are to win. Problem is Miller is a very good goalie too so I think Buffalo will win this series. My Prediction: Buffalo in 7

  2. Ottawa at New Jersey

    Ottawa (road) New Jersey (home)
    Predicted Winner New Jersey (Some)
    Fair Odds +110 -111
    Overall Record 48-25-9 49-24-9
    Home/Road Record 23-12-6 25-10-6
    Last 10 Games 6-2-2 6-3-1
    Past Games
    • 2006/10/21: New Jersey 1 at Ottawa 8
    • 2006/11/17: Ottawa 2 at New Jersey 3
    • 2007/01/06: New Jersey 3 at Ottawa 2
    • 2007/04/03: Ottawa 1 at New Jersey 2 (SO)

    My OpinionOttawa looked very good in defeating Pittsburgh relatively easily but I think the Senators are going to be in tough now against New Jersey. The defense first, rely on exceptional goaltending style of play the the Devils play seems to be a challenge for Ottawa to overcome. In the first game of the season series Ottawa trounced the Devils 8-1 but only mustered 5 goals in the final 3 games. Ottawa has also struggled to generate offense against other defense-first, top goaltending teams losing 1-2 to Calgary and 2-1 to Vancouver. As for the Devils they looked off their game early in the Tampa series but rounded into form late in the series winning 3 straight games to take the series in 6 games. Ottawa has a lot more secondary scoring than Tampa did so that should be a bigger challenge for the Devils but Jason Spezza and Dany Heatley didn’t have good series against the Penguins either. That has to change if the Senators are to have any chance against the Devils. The Devils also have two lines producing goals which bodes well because you know that Volchenkov and Phillips will do a good job at shutting down one of them. Getting that second line scoring will be key and if the Devils get that they should win this series. My Prediction: Devils in 6

  3. San Jose at Detroit

    San Jose (road) Detroit (home)
    Predicted Winner Detroit (Some)
    Fair Odds +120 -125
    Overall Record 51-26-5 50-19-13
    Home/Road Record 26-14-1 29-4-8
    Last 10 Games 7-1-2 5-1-4
    Past Games
    • 2006/10/19: Detroit 1 at San Jose 5
    • 2006/10/25: San Jose 1 at Detroit 2
    • 2006/12/02: San Jose 3 at Detroit 2
    • 2007/01/04: Detroit 4 at San Jose 9

    My Opinion: I was not sold on the Red Wings going into the playoffs but the way they dominated the Flames at both ends of the rink was very impressive. If it weren’t for Kipprusoff it could have been a sweep for the Wings. But San Jose looked very good against a strong Nashville team as well so I think this might be a dandy of a series. San Jose will provide more of an offensive threat than the Flames did, but their goaltending isn’t near as good. The Wings are better defensively than the Predators and more experienced but may not have the raw talent than Nashville had. But I don’t beleive that raw talent is what wins in the playoffs. Smart team play, hard work, dedication, depth and experience is what wins in the playoffs and I think the Wings have a bit more of that than the Sharks. My Prediction: Wings in 7

  4. Vancouver at Anaheim

    Vancouver (road) Anaheim (home)
    Predicted Winner Anaheim (Some)
    Fair Odds +117 -120
    Overall Record 49-26-7 48-20-14
    Home/Road Record 23-15-3 26-6-9
    Last 10 Games 6-3-1 5-3-2
    Past Games
    • 2006/11/09: Anaheim 6 at Vancouver 0
    • 2006/11/30: Anaheim 2 at Vancouver 1
    • 2007/02/20: Vancouver 3 at Anaheim 2 (OT)
    • 2007/03/11: Vancouver 2 at Anaheim 4
  5. My Opinion: I am still not sold on Anaheim being a typical Stanley Cup winning team as I think they lack depth on defense and have a lot of young and relatively inexperienced forwards. But, they fairly easily defeated Minnesota and I think should relatively easily defeat the Canucks. The reason is, those two teams are ideal match ups for the Ducks. With a high dependence on just a few defensemen I think they are better suited to play against one line teams like the Wild and Canucks than deep, talented teams like Nashville, San Jose or Detroit. As we saw in the Dallas series, if you can shut down the Sedin line you go a long way to completely shutting down Vancouver’s offense. I think the Ducks can mostly do that just like they shut down the Wild’s offense. The Ducks should be able to generate more offense against Luongo than the Stars did so I think this is the end of the line for the Canucks. My Prediction: Ducks in 5

Apr 102007
 

When writing up these first round matchups I realized that not one of them features a divisional rivalry. I am too lazy to check but I am not sure that has ever happened before. Anyway, here are my eastern conference predictions.

NY Islanders at Buffalo

NY Islanders (road) Buffalo (home)
Predicted Winner Buffalo (Good)
Fair Odds +137 -159
Overall Record 40-30-12 53-22-7
Home/Road Record 18-17-6 28-10-3
Last 10 Games 6-3-1 7-3-0
Past Games
  • 2006/10/26: Buffalo 3 at NY Islanders 0
  • 2007/01/01: NY Islanders 1 at Buffalo 3
  • 2007/01/27: Buffalo 3 at NY Islanders 5
  • 2007/03/30: NY Islanders 4 at Buffalo 6

Through some gritty play, some surprise goaltending and some luck the Islanders managed to find their way into the playoffs but unfortunately for them in the first round they are going to play the best team in the east just as they are getting healthy for the first time in a long time. In other words, it is going to be real tough for the Islanders to move on to the next round. That said, if Dubielewicz can provide quality goaltending like he has the past week I think the Islanders could steal a few games. The Islanders may not have any superstars on their team but they have some very good, hard working players like Blake, Smyth, Hunter, Witt, Hill, etc. and should make the Sabres work for their wins. But in the end, the Sabres have by far the better talent, depth and probably goaltending.
My Prediction: Sabres in 6

Tampa Bay at New Jersey

Tampa Bay (road) New Jersey (home)
Predicted Winner New Jersey (Good)
Fair Odds +129 -140
Overall Record 44-33-5 49-24-9
Home/Road Record 22-15-4 25-10-6
Last 10 Games 5-4-1 6-3-1
Past Games
  • 2007/01/18: Tampa Bay 3 at New Jersey 2 (SO)
  • 2007/01/26: New Jersey 2 at Tampa Bay 0
  • 2007/02/11: Tampa Bay 4 at New Jersey 1
  • 2007/03/22: New Jersey 1 at Tampa Bay 3

Those who read my blog will know that I do not think that Tampa is a very good team. Tampa is really just a 4 player team of Lecavalier, St. Louis, Richards and Boyle. Their goaltending is weak, they don’t have a lot of quality depth and if it werent for their shootout play they wouldn’t have been close to making the playoffs. All that said, Tampa has beaten the Devils 3 times this year including both games in New Jersey (one by a shootout) so who knows, maybe they have a chance. Plus, I am not completely sold on the Devils either. But even so, I think between Brodeur and their defensive oriented game the Devils play they will shut down Tampa’s big 3 forwards and New Jersey will get enough offense to put away the Lightning fairly easily.
My Prediction: New Jersey in 5

NY Rangers at Atlanta

NY Rangers (road) Atlanta (home)
Predicted Winner Atlanta (Some)
Fair Odds +121 -127
Overall Record 42-30-10 43-28-11
Home/Road Record 21-15-5 23-12-6
Last 10 Games 7-2-1 6-3-1
Past Games
  • 2006/11/10: NY Rangers 5 at Atlanta 2
  • 2006/11/28: Atlanta 5 at NY Rangers 4 (OT)
  • 2007/01/20: Atlanta 3 at NY Rangers 1
  • 2007/03/16: NY Rangers 1 at Atlanta 2 (OT)

This is a real interesting series between two fairly similar clubs. Both teams are using second year goalies (Lundqvist, Lehtonen) with real promising careers ahead of them. Both teams rely heavily on 4 forwards (Jagr, Straka, Nylander, Shanahan vs Hossa, Kozlov, Kovalchuk and Tkachuk) for offense with 3 of them being European and both teams have decent, though relatively anonymous group of defensemen. The Rangers have a super pest in Sean Avery and the Thrashers have gritty veteren forward Scott Mellanby. For the Rangers I really like that Lundqvist is going into the playoffs playing the best hockey of his season if not his young career and that might be the difference. But I also think that the Thrashers have a little more experience and leadership with guys like Mellanby, Holik, Rucchin, DeVries as well as coach Hartley and that bodes well for the Thrashers. This should be an exciting and long playoff series but in the end I’ll go with the team with home ice advantage.
My Prediction: Thrashers in 7

Pittsburgh at Ottawa

Pittsburgh (road) Ottawa (home)
Predicted Winner Ottawa (Good)
Fair Odds +129 -140
Overall Record 47-24-11 48-25-9
Home/Road Record 21-14-6 25-13-3
Last 10 Games 6-3-1 6-2-2
Past Games
  • 2006/11/10: Ottawa 6 at Pittsburgh 3
  • 2007/03/06: Pittsburgh 5 at Ottawa 4 (SO)
  • 2007/03/18: Ottawa 3 at Pittsburgh 4 (SO)
  • 2007/04/05: Pittsburgh 3 at Ottawa 2

In some ways this is kind of like the San Jose-Nashville series in the west where both teams are quality offensive teams but both teams have their question marks. For Nashville it was their small, soft players and for San Jose it was relying heavily on a couple of young defensemen. In this series it is lack of leadership and grit for the Senators along with carrying the heavy burden of numerous playoff failures in the past. For Pittsburgh it is depending heavily on 3 forwards aged 20 and under a 22 year old goalie and a second year defenseman in Ryan Whitney. I normally would not want to pick a team with that much youth but Crosby and Malkin are rare talents that might be the exception to the rule and Ottawa isn’t exactly a veteren laden, playoff hardened team. Ottawa has their own 21 year old defenseman, a 24 year old second year goalie, and a 23 year old number one center and most of the rest of their team just 25-26 years of age. But what I think will be the difference in this series is the veteren leadership that the Penguins have that the Senators don’t. Between Roberts and Recchi the Penguins might have the two best playoff experienced leaders in the game. Recchi has a pair of Stanley Cups and 135 games of playoff experience. Roberts has a Stanley Cup and 114 games of NHL experience. Ottawa doesn’t have an equivalent and if those two guys can keep Pittsburgh’s young players focused and confident I like Pittsburgh’s chances in this series. Before I make my prediction I will add that it will be critically important for both teams to stay out of the penalty box as both teams have the ability to be especially devastating on the power play.
My Prediction: Pittsburgh in 6

Apr 102007
 

Here are my first round predictions for the western conference. My eastern conference predictions will come later today. What is interesting about the western conference matchups is that the the home team has won every single game of each of the regular season series except for the final game of the San Jose-Nashville series in which Nashville won the game on the road in a shootout. That might lead you to believe that the home teams should win these series, but I wouldn’t be too eager to jump that that conclusion. For the most part, all the games were close and so should these series.

Calgary at Detroit

Calgary (road) Detroit (home)
Predicted Winner Detroit (Good)
Fair Odds +127 -137
Overall Record 43-29-10 50-19-13
Home/Road Record 13-20-8 29-4-8
Last 10 Games 6-4-0 5-1-4
Past Games
  • 2006/11/01: Calgary 2 at Detroit 3
  • 2006/11/17: Detroit 1 at Calgary 4
  • 2007/02/11: Calgary 4 at Detroit 7
  • 2007/03/20: Detroit 1 at Calgary 2

There are a lot of series that are really difficult to predict this year and this is certainly one of them. Detroit has played pretty consistently good hockey all year while Calgary started off horribly, then played significantly better, and then sputtered a bit down the final stretch of the season losing its last 4 games as well as having a 1-4-1 stretch in March. That said, I have always believed that Calgary has the best combination of offense, defense, goaltending, skill, toughness, experience and depth of any team in the NHL. The key for the Flames in this series might be that toughness as Detroit is generally a soft team and tough, tenacious play can beat them, kind of like what the Oilers did last season. If they play hard physical hockey on guys like Datsyuk, Zetterberg and Lang I think they have a chance of shutting down Detroit’s offense. The key for the Red Wings might be their deadline pickup of Todd Bertuzzi (and to a lesser extend Kyle Calder) as he can play that physical game and certainly won’t be intimidated by it. But is he healthy enough to play that style of game against a very physical team for a full 7 games series? I am not sure about that.
My prediction: Flames in 6

Minnesota at Anaheim

Minnesota (road) Anaheim (home)
Predicted Winner Anaheim (Some)
Fair Odds +120 -125
Overall Record 48-26-8 48-20-14
Home/Road Record 19-19-3 26-6-9
Last 10 Games 7-2-1 5-3-2
Past Games
  • 2006/10/20: Minnesota 1 at Anaheim 2
  • 2006/10/27: Anaheim 2 at Minnesota 3 (SO)
  • 2006/11/12: Minnesota 2 at Anaheim 3
  • 2006/12/31: Anaheim 3 at Minnesota 4

This is another difficult series to predict as I believe both teams have serious flaws though both teams have also looked extremely dominant at times. For Anaheim they have the stellar 2 defensemen but lack much depth on defense as their 5 and 6 guys, whoever they are, don’t scare anyone. That might cost them more down the road as the grind of the playoffs takes their toll or against a very physical team but whether Minnesota can expose that in the first round is another question. Anaheim also has a lot of youth and inexperience up front in guys like Penner, Getzlaf, Perry, Kunitz and others. For Minnesota, their defense is really unspectacular and could be the achilles heel for them. That said, they play great team defense so it will be more difficult for other teams to expose that flaw. The other question mark for Minnesota is whether rookie Niklas Backstrom is ready to handle the pressure in the playoffs. It certianly isn’t un heard of for young goalies to lead their team deep into the playoffs (see Cam Ward last season) but it has to be a bit of a concern not at least having a healthy Manny Fernandez there if needed.
My Prediction Anaheim in 7

Dallas at Vancouver

Dallas (road) Vancouver (home)
Predicted Winner Vancouver (Some)
Fair Odds +122 -129
Overall Record 50-25-7 49-26-7
Home/Road Record 22-14-5 26-11-4
Last 10 Games 7-1-2 6-3-1
Past Games
  • 2006/10/23: Vancouver 1 at Dallas 2
  • 2006/11/06: Dallas 1 at Vancouver 2
  • 2007/01/03: Dallas 1 at Vancouver 2 (SO)
  • 2007/02/25: Vancouver 1 at Dallas 2 (OT)

Yawn. Sorry, but I have a hard time getting up for this series. If you like offense and goals do not watch this series. In 4 games this year these two teams combined for just 11 goals (not counting the shootout). I don’t see much different now that the playoffs are here. I think the best two offensive players in this series are both named Sedin and both play for Vancouver and I think Vancouver has the better goalie as well so all that is good news for the Canucks. The only thing that I think can save the stars is if Modano gets on fire and becomes a dominant player, something he hasn’t done much of this season. Unfortunately I think he is past his prime and the Canucks will win this series fairly easily by having that slight edge to win the close games.
My Prediction: Vancouver in 5

San Jose at Nashville

San Jose (road) Nashville (home)
Predicted Winner Nashville (Some)
Fair Odds +117 -121
Overall Record 51-26-5 51-23-8
Home/Road Record 26-14-1 28-8-5
Last 10 Games 7-1-2 5-3-2
Past Games
  • 2006/10/26: San Jose 3 at Nashville 4
  • 2006/12/09: Nashville 1 at San Jose 3
  • 2007/02/14: San Jose 0 at Nashville 5
  • 2007/02/28: Nashville 4 at San Jose 3 (SO)

This is another tough series to predict because while I think Nashville is the better regular season team, I am not convinced they are built to win in the playoffs for some of the same reasons Detroit might struggle. They have a lot of small forwards and defensemen that I think can be exposed, especially by a team like the Sharks which has size up front. It worked for San Jose when they bounced the Predators out of the playoffs in the first round last year and it could certainly happen again. Nashville has tried to address the size issue by adding Arnott and Vishnevski but is that enough? Another key for Nashville will be the health of Peter Forsberg and whether he can be a leader for the team both on the ice, on the scoreboard, and in the dressing room. If he can, then the Predtors have a chance to beat anyone but that is a huge if based on what he has done in the regular season for both the Flyers and Nashville. For the Sharks, I question their experience on defense as they will depend a lot on rookies Vlasic and Carle and you just never know how they will react to the pressure of playoff hockey. In the end I think the Sharks size will over power the Predators.
My Prediction: San Jose in 7

Apr 092007
 

I am one (of many I believe) of the people who totally despise the current point scheme where some games are worth 3 points and other games are worth 2 points. I also despise the fact that an individual skills competition (aka the shootout) is used to determine winners of games and which teams make or miss the playoffs or their relative playoff seeding. So lets take a look at, and evaluate, the various point systems that the NHL could used.

1. The current scheme.
2. The traditional scheme where a win gets you 2 points, a loss zero points and a tie 1 point with no shootouts.
3. The 3 point system where all games are worth 3 points. A regulation win gets you 3 points and a regulation loss zero points. An overtime or shootout win would get you 2 points and an overtime or shootout loss would get you a single point.

The tables below show how the standings would look under each system. I have also included regulation win % which is a teams winning percentage in games that ended in regulation as well as my power rank from my power ranking scheme.

(Note: These are the standings, not the playoff seedings where the division winners get ranked 1,2 and 3).

Rank Team Points Team Trad.Pts Team 3Pts/G Team Reg.Win% Team Power Rank
1 Buffalo 113 Buffalo 100 Buffalo 151 Ottawa 0.638 Buffalo 0.583
2 New Jersey 107 Ottawa 100 Ottawa 149 Buffalo 0.633 Ottawa 0.580
3 Ottawa 105 New Jersey 96 New Jersey 143 New Jersey 0.600 New Jersey 0.532
4 Pittsburgh 105 Pittsburgh 90 Pittsburgh 136 Pittsburgh 0.564 Montreal 0.501
5 Atlanta 97 Carolina 85 Atlanta 127 Atlanta 0.517 Pittsburgh 0.501
6 NY Rangers 94 Atlanta 84 Montreal 124 Toronto 0.508 Toronto 0.496
7 Tampa Bay 93 Toronto 83 NY Rangers 124 Montreal 0.500 Carolina 0.488
8 NY Islanders 92 Montreal 83 Toronto 123 NY Rangers 0.500 Atlanta 0.480
9 Toronto 91 NY Rangers 80 Carolina 122 Carolina 0.500 Tampa Bay 0.460
10 Montreal 90 Tampa Bay 80 Tampa Bay 122 NY Islanders 0.500 NY Rangers 0.457
11 Carolina 88 NY Islanders 77 NY Islanders 122 Florida 0.492 Florida 0.444
12 Florida 86 Florida 76 Florida 116 Tampa Bay 0.468 NY Islanders 0.444
13 Boston 76 Washington 66 Boston 98 Washington 0.365 Boston 0.410
14 Washington 70 Boston 65 Washington 93 Boston 0.349 Washington 0.390
15 Philadelphia 56 Philadelphia 49 Philadelphia 74 Philadelphia 0.273 Philadelphia 0.299

The above table should tell you everything that is wrong about the current point scheme. The current point scheme has Tampa and the Islanders making the playoffs while no other scheme has them in the playoffs. The current point scheme has the Leafs and Canadiens missing the playoffs while no other point scheme has them missing. Additionally, 4 of the 5 methods have New Jersey the 3rd best team, except the one the NHL uses which has them second best. Something just seems wrong when 4 of 5 systems agree but the NHL uses the one that doesn’t. If fairness and having the best 8 teams making the playoffs is what the NHL is looking for, the current system does not produce that.

As for close playoff races (the NHL’s supposed reason for wanting to keep the current method), well, all of the methods would have resulted in very tight playoff races. In fact the 3 point game method had 6 teams ranked 6 through 11 with between 122 and 124 points. Can’t get much closer than that.

Western Conference

Rank Team Points Team Trad.Pts Team 3Pts/G Team Reg.Win% Team Power Rank
1 Detroit 113 Detroit 106 Detroit 158 Detroit 0.703 Detroit 0.640
2 Anaheim 110 Anaheim 102 San Jose 155 Anaheim 0.661 San Jose 0.622
3 Nashville 110 San Jose 102 Nashville 152 San Jose 0.649 Vancouver 0.621
4 San Jose 107 Nashville 101 Anaheim 149 Nashville 0.646 Nashville 0.619
5 Dallas 107 Vancouver 97 Dallas 142 Dallas 0.583 Anaheim 0.616
6 Vancouver 105 Dallas 95 Vancouver 137 Calgary 0.567 Minnesota 0.598
7 Minnesota 104 Minnesota 93 Minnesota 135 Vancouver 0.552 Dallas 0.584
8 Calgary 96 Calgary 88 Calgary 134 Minnesota 0.544 Calgary 0.568
9 Colorado 95 Colorado 87 Colorado 131 Colorado 0.537 Colorado 0.564
10 St. Louis 81 St. Louis 68 St. Louis 105 St. Louis 0.407 St. Louis 0.448
11 Columbus 73 Columbus 66 Edmonton 99 Edmonton 0.394 Edmonton 0.437
12 Edmonton 71 Edmonton 64 Columbus 97 Columbus 0.364 Columbus 0.433
13 Chicago 71 Chicago 63 Chicago 93 Chicago 0.344 Chicago 0.416
14 Los Angeles 68 Phoenix 59 Phoenix 91 Phoenix 0.343 Phoenix 0.394
15 Phoenix 67 Los Angeles 56 Los Angeles 89 Los Angeles 0.339 Los Angeles 0.376

The western conference playoff race was pretty much non-existant except for a late season surge by the Avalanche so the end result is that all methods of evaluation have the same 8 teams making the playoffs and all point systems show the same significant drop off between 9th place Colorado and 10th place St. Louis. Overall there is much more consistency between schemes in the west than the east.

Apr 092007
 

Here are the seasons final power rankings and Detroit claims top spot.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Detroit 0.646 0.508 0.640
2 3 San Jose 0.622 0.508 0.622
3 2 Vancouver 0.591 0.521 0.621
4 4 Nashville 0.616 0.510 0.619
5 5 Anaheim 0.622 0.508 0.616
6 9 Minnesota 0.567 0.524 0.598
7 6 Dallas 0.579 0.511 0.584
8 8 Buffalo 0.610 0.478 0.583
9 10 Ottawa 0.610 0.479 0.580
10 7 Calgary 0.537 0.527 0.568
11 11 Colorado 0.530 0.527 0.564
12 12 New Jersey 0.585 0.464 0.532
13 13 Montreal 0.506 0.486 0.501
14 16 Pittsburgh 0.549 0.467 0.501
15 14 Toronto 0.506 0.487 0.496
16 15 Carolina 0.518 0.473 0.488
17 17 Atlanta 0.506 0.474 0.480
18 18 Tampa Bay 0.488 0.476 0.460
19 19 NY Rangers 0.488 0.472 0.457
20 21 St. Louis 0.415 0.527 0.448
21 20 Florida 0.463 0.477 0.444
22 23 NY Islanders 0.470 0.473 0.444
23 22 Edmonton 0.390 0.539 0.437
24 24 Columbus 0.402 0.528 0.433
25 26 Chicago 0.384 0.530 0.416
26 25 Boston 0.396 0.495 0.410
27 27 Phoenix 0.360 0.530 0.394
28 29 Washington 0.402 0.482 0.390
29 28 Los Angeles 0.341 0.532 0.376
30 30 Philadelphia 0.299 0.487 0.299

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

Apr 072007
 

One can look at team goals against average and save percentage to get an idea of how good or bad a teams goaltending is but I wanted to get a better idea of how much each team has been affected by good or bad goaltending. As a quick and easy way of doing this I defined as either of the following:

  1. a game in which the team scored 2 or fewer goals, allowed 30 or more shots and won
  2. a game in which the team scored 3 goals and allowed 35 or more shots and won.

It is a pretty arbitrary definition but should give a fairly reasonable idea of what teams are benefiting from very good goaltending. So here are the results:

Num Team Stolen
Games
1 Columbus 7
2 Vancouver 6
3 New Jersey 5
4 NY Rangers 5
5 Anaheim 4
6 Atlanta 4
7 Calgary 4
8 Minnesota 4
9 Montreal 4
10 Nashville 4
11 St. Louis 4
12 Boston 3
13 Buffalo 3
14 Chicago 3
15 Edmonton 3
16 NY Islanders 3
17 Ottawa 3
18 Philadelphia 3
19 San Jose 3
20 Colorado 2
21 Dallas 2
22 Pittsburgh 2
23 Washington 2
24 Detroit 1
25 Florida 1
26 Phoenix 1
27 Tampa Bay 1
28 Toronto 1
29 Carolina 0
30 Los Angeles 0

Wow. Who’d have thought Columbus would be at the top of the list. I guess the likely reason for that is that the Blue Jackets have a lot of games in which they give up 30 or more shots. Not many surprises after that. At the bottom of the spectrum are Carolina and the Los Angeles with no stolen games. The Hurricanes are a bit of a surprise as I thought they would have managed at least one or two but the Kings and their generally horrid goaltending is no surprise.

I also defined blown games as:

  1. a game in which the team scored 4 or more goals, allowed 25 or fewer shots but lost.
  2. a game in which the team scored 5 or more goals and allowed 26-30 shots, but lost.

Again, those definitions are arbitrary but reasonable I think. And the results are:

Num Team Blown
Games
1 Colorado 6
2 NY Rangers 5
3 Toronto 5
4 Anaheim 4
5 Columbus 4
6 Tampa Bay 4
7 Carolina 3
8 Florida 3
9 Los Angeles 3
10 Nashville 3
11 Phoenix 3
12 San Jose 3
13 St. Louis 3
14 Washington 3
15 Calgary 2
16 Chicago 2
17 Edmonton 2
18 Montreal 2
19 NY Islanders 2
20 Ottawa 2
21 Philadelphia 2
22 Atlanta 1
23 Buffalo 1
24 Dallas 1
25 Detroit 1
26 New Jersey 1
27 Pittsburgh 1
28 Boston 0
29 Minnesota 0
30 Vancouver 0

I am guessing that most of those Colorado blown games came early in the season by Jose Theodore. Seeing the Rangers at the top of both lists is evidence of the up and down season that Lundqvist has had this year and as a Leaf fan I am not surprised to see Toronto near the top of the list. At the bottom of the blown games list you get the expected teams like Vancouver, Minnesota, New Jersey, Buffalo, etc. but a few surprises in Boston and Pittsburgh.

Apr 062007
 

I have heard and read several times the past few days about people thinking about what a joke it would be if the Canadiens and Leafs went to a shootout Saturday with the winner making the playoffs and the loser heading for the golf course. The underlying sentiment in this is that it just isn’t right that someones fate could be decided on the basis of a shootout. Now, because of last nights results the above Montreal-Toronto scenario won’t come to fruition, but a similar one could occur Sunday. There is a scenario where the Isles could need a win over NJ to make the playoffs. If that games goes to a shootout, if the Isles in the shootout they get the playoff spot, if they don’t, the Leafs would. Is that really any worse than the Montreal-Leafs scenario?

And what if the Leafs did beat Montreal in overtime on Saturday and the Islanders losing one of their two games resulting in the Leafs tying Montreal with 91 points and the Isles not being able to pass them. Montreal would then make the playoffs on the basis of the fact that they have 2 more wins than the Leafs. Coincidentally, Montreal has 6 shootout wins to the Leafs 4.

Also, Tampa has essentially made the playoffs because of the shootout and the extra points. They are 10-1 in the shootout. If they were 6-5 they would be out of the playoffs needing to win both their final 2 games and the Leafs beating Montreal to make the playoffs. If they were 5-6 they would be eliminated at this point.

But instead this team which is 29-32 in games that end in regulation have made the playoffs and are in contention for the division lead and the 3rd seed. Tampa would be the only team with a sub .500 regulation record to make the playoffs while Carolina is 34-33 in regulation heads for the golf course.

But what is crazy about all of this is that the Lightning are winning the shootouts because of their goaltending, not their big 3 forwards. Their goalies have a phenominal .936 save% in the shootout but a league worst .884 save % during the regular and OT play. Meanwhile Tampa has a 21st best 29.8% shooting percentage. If that doesn’t tell you how much ‘luck’ is involved in the shootout I don’t know what does. Boston is 9-4 in shootouts, Phoenix is 5-2 while Detroit is 2-8, Ottawa is 2-6 and Anaheim is 4-9. Clearly shootouts don’t have a lot to do with the skill and ability of the teams or players involved. Knowing this, does it really make sense to have over 13% of all NHL games, and as explained above, playoff positions decided by luck and not skills? I’ll let you decide.

Yes, I know people will argue that it is exciting and fans like it and hockey is really all about entertainment and if fans are entertained then it is good for the game. I simply cannot accept that argument. Yes, hockey is entertainment but it is first and foremost a professional competition and being a competition it is in my mind imperative to maintain the integrity of the competition itself. knowingly adding a significant amount of ‘luck’ under the banner of ‘entertainment’ into the equation only harms the game of hockey as a sport and a competition and thus, at least in small part, puts it on the same level as say, professional wrestling.

Apr 052007
 

With the Rangers win over Montreal both the Rangers and Lightning have clinched a playoff spot. The final playoff spot will come down to Toronto, Montreal and the Islanders.

Montreal will get in if they beat Toronto Saturday. They will also get in if they get an OT loss and the Islanders don’t win both of their final games.

Toronto gets in if they beat Montreal in regulation and the Islanders get no more than 2 points in their final 2 games.

If the Islanders win both of their games they get in so long as the Canadiens don’t win on Saturday. If the Islanders get 3 points in their final 2 games they will get in only if Toronto wins in regulation.

Apr 042007
 

It seems that we as fans just love to lay blame on a variety of players for bad plays that lead to scoring opportunities and every team seems to have one or two players that fans seem to love to pick on. But is it really justified? In an attempt to find the answer to that I decided to take a look at every players giveaways and whether they led to a shot on goal, or worse yet, a goal. In order to eliminate as much of the bias that exists in the giveaway stat that results from game monitors in every city seemingly having a different definition of what a giveaway is, I decided to look only at road giveaways. It probably still isn’t perfect but will eliminate a lot of the problems with the giveaway stat. From there, I summed up how many shots and goals were scored within 8 seconds of the giveaway or until play stopped. Using 8 seconds is pretty arbitrary but seems like a reasonable amount of time to attribute negative results directly to the giveaway.

Let’s start off with the team results. The following table shows how many road giveaways each team committed, how many shots resulted from those turnovers and how many goals resulted from those shots. The table is sorted by shots.

Num Team Road
Giveaways
Road
Giveaway
Shots
Road
Giveaway
Goals
1 Boston 417 64 9
2 Toronto 379 55 11
3 Carolina 344 53 6
4 San Jose 371 53 10
5 Anaheim 349 51 5
6 Buffalo 361 49 8
7 Montreal 339 49 8
8 Vancouver 320 47 7
9 Colorado 309 46 6
10 Minnesota 352 46 8
11 NY Rangers 407 46 7
12 Tampa Bay 327 46 13
13 Ottawa 359 44 5
14 Washington 317 43 8
15 Columbus 278 42 6
16 Detroit 333 41 3
17 Phoenix 346 41 7
18 St. Louis 268 41 5
19 New Jersey 322 40 12
20 Calgary 314 39 7
21 Dallas 284 39 8
22 Atlanta 340 38 5
23 Edmonton 346 38 7
24 Chicago 324 37 8
25 NY Islanders 334 36 6
26 Pittsburgh 369 36 5
27 Nashville 296 35 6
28 Florida 320 33 7
29 Los Angeles 290 33 4
30 Philadelphia 296 33 5

For me I think there are a few surprises. The first is probably how few shots and goals seem to result from giveaways. The most any team has given up is 13 by Tampa which isn’t even one goal by a turnover every 3 games. Another surprise is New Jersey with 12 giveaway goals on only 40 shots. Brodeur is a great goalie but it seems he isn’t so good at making up for mistakes by the players in front of him. Another surprise is Philadelphia. Who’d have thought they would have given up the fewest shots on giveaways. The only thing I can think of is they never have the puck to give it away.

For the record, the save percentage for the above shots on goal is 0.838 which is a fair bit below typical save percentages.

The following table lists all 57 players whose giveaways have resulted in 5 or more shots on goal.

Num Player Team Road
Giveaways
Road
Giveaway
Shots
Road
Giveaway
Goals
1 ZDENO CHARA Boston 61 13 3
2 BRYAN MCCABE Toronto 38 9 2
3 ALEXANDER SEMIN Washington 31 9 1
4 SERGEI ZUBOV Dallas 32 8 3
5 CHRIS CHELIOS Detroit 27 8 1
6 BRIAN ROLSTON Minnesota 28 8 0
7 ANDREW FERENCE Boston 29 8 1
8 SCOTT NIEDERMAYER Anaheim 52 8 0
9 DMITRI KALININ Buffalo 36 7 0
10 PAUL RANGER Tampa Bay 29 7 2
11 NICLAS HAVELID Atlanta 31 7 0
12 SCOTT HANNAN San Jose 21 7 2
13 ANDREW ALBERTS Boston 32 7 0
14 ANDREI MARKOV Montreal 36 7 2
15 HAL GILL Toronto 31 6 0
16 PETER BUDAJ Colorado 23 6 0
17 BRIAN POTHIER Washington 30 6 2
18 ALEXANDER OVECHKIN Washington 39 6 1
19 MIKE GREEN Washington 22 6 0
20 MICHAEL NYLANDER NY Rangers 21 6 1
21 DAN BOYLE Tampa Bay 41 6 2
22 VYACHESLAV KOZLOV Atlanta 35 6 0
23 LUKAS KRAJICEK Vancouver 20 6 0
24 DEREK MORRIS Phoenix 23 6 1
25 CHRISTIAN EHRHOFF San Jose 28 6 2
26 JONATHAN CHEECHOO San Jose 24 6 2
27 PAUL MARA NY Rangers 22 6 2
28 MIKE VAN RYN Florida 23 6 2
29 SHELDON SOURAY Montreal 29 6 1
30 BRENT BURNS Minnesota 19 6 1
31 RYAN MILLER Buffalo 20 5 1
32 BRIAN CAMPBELL Buffalo 29 5 0
33 ERIK COLE Carolina 25 5 0
34 ALEXEI PONIKAROVSKY Toronto 17 5 0
35 KEN KLEE Colorado 21 5 2
36 JAROMIR JAGR NY Rangers 69 5 0
37 DOUG JANIK Tampa Bay 22 5 1
38 MARC-ANDRE FLEURY Pittsburgh 16 5 3
39 JOSEF MELICHAR Pittsburgh 19 5 0
40 RYAN WHITNEY Pittsburgh 37 5 0
41 MATHIEU SCHNEIDER Detroit 20 5 0
42 JASON WILLIAMS Chicago 26 5 0
43 JOSEF VASICEK Carolina 8 5 0
44 KIM JOHNSSON Minnesota 19 5 0
45 ROBYN REGEHR Calgary 17 5 2
46 DENNIS WIDEMAN Boston 21 5 2
47 BRYCE SALVADOR St. Louis 13 5 0
48 VILLE NIEMINEN St. Louis 9 5 1
49 MATTHEW CARLE San Jose 27 5 1
50 PATRICK RISSMILLER San Jose 19 5 0
51 BRAD LUKOWICH New Jersey 14 5 2
52 PATRIK ELIAS New Jersey 25 5 0
53 ANTON BABCHUK Carolina 13 5 0
54 JASON CHIMERA Columbus 15 5 1
55 BRAD STUART Calgary 28 5 0
56 ALEX KOVALEV Montreal 24 5 2
57 CARLO COLAIACOVO Toronto 18 5 1

Well, looks like Chara is easily running away with the lead in this statistic with 13 shots given up on 61 turnovers. Otherwise, not a lot of surprises really. There are a lot of defensemen near the top of the list with probably makes sense since they are more likely to turn over the puck in their own zone and less likely to have someone else backing them up. They also get the most ice time so inherently should have more opportunities to give away the puck. It is also interesting that a few goalies made the list.

Apr 032007
 

Tuesday’s results:
Islanders 3, Rangers 2 (SO)
Leafs 3, Flyers 2 (OT)
Tampa 3, Carolina 2
Montreal 2, Boston 0

Updated Standings:
6. NY Rangers (92) – vsMTL, atPIT
7. Tampa Bay (92) – vsFLA, atATL
8. Montreal (90) – atNYR, atTOR
9. Toronto (89) – atNYI, vsMTL
10. NY Islanders (86) – vsTOR, atPHI, atNJ
11. Carolina (86) – vsATL, vsFLA (eliminated)

To Get In:
NY Rangers: A Rangers win or a Leafs loss (in regulation or OT)
Tampa: A Tampa win or an OT loss, or a loss by the leafs (in regulation or OT)
Montreal: Getting a point against the Leafs on Saturday (win or OT/SO loss), or beating Rangers Thursday with the Leafs losing to Islanders.
Toronto: These combinations will get the Leafs in the playoffs:

  • Winning both games in regulation. One of Tampa, Montreal or the Rangers would be eliminated pending other results
  • Leafs win both games but one or both of them in OT and either Tampa loses both in regulation or Rangers lose both with at least one of the two losses in regulation.
  • Lose to Isles Thursday, Rangers defeat Canadiens in regulation and Leafs defeat Canadiens in regulation Saturday. Result: Leafs in, Montreal out.

Islanders: Must win all 3 games with Montreal getting no more than one point or go 2-0-1 including beating the Leafs in regulation and Montreal losing both their games in regulation.
Carolina: Eliminated.

I think those are all the scenarios. If I missed anything let me know.

The other eastern conference race is the battle for tops in the Atlantic division between Pittsburgh and New Jersey and the battle for home ice advantage in the 4 vs 5 seed matchup between Ottawa and either Pittsburgh and New Jersey. The standings currently are:

New Jersey (104) – at Phi, vs NYI
Ottawa (103) – vs Pit, at Bos
Pittsburgh (101) – at Ott, vs NYR

New Jersey clinches top spot in the Atlantic and second seed bu picking up a point against either the Flyers or Islanders. That should happen so the battle is between Pittsburgh and Ottawa for home ice in the first round. For Pittsburgh to gain home ice they need to beat Ottawa Thursday, and then do one point better against the Rangers than whatever Ottawa does against the Bruins. i.e. Ottawa loses, Pittsburgh just needs an OTL. Ottawa gets an OTL, then Pittsburgh must win. That is unless Ottawa get an OTL vs Pittsburgh on Thursday. In that case the Penguins need to beat the Rangers with the Bruins beating the Senators.