Nov 282007
 

A couple days ago I wrote an article about the Leafs problems and mentioned that it is probably time for John Ferguson Jr. to be let go whether he deserves it or not. But after listening and reading media reports over the past coupld days I think firing John Ferguson Jr. would be a mistake, at least at this time. I have come to the conclusion that there are two problems with the Leafs.

1. Larry Tanenbaum

From all reports it is Larry Tanenbaum who most wants John Ferguson Jr. relieved of his duties as General Manager and it was Tanenbaum who pushed for the search for someone to ‘help’ JFJ last summer which Bowman, Muckler and possible others turned down because they thought it would be an unworkable relationship. And media reports now say that it is Tanenbaum that is approaching former NHLers like Glen Healey, Mark Messier and others about being a part of a GM by committee setup. These moves have undermined the authority of Richard Peddie, JFJ and in turn Paul Maurice. I know the saying ‘the players are professionals and should play hard and determined regardless’ but when you bosses today may not be your bosses tomorrow it is natural for humans to lose some moral and lose some sense of a ‘team’ atmosphere and in a highly competitive league even a small amount of moral drop can have an impact on the ice. It also should be stated that it was probably Larry Tanenbaum who pushed for the resigning of his close friend Tie Domi (which was a failure) and it was Tie Domi, possibly in conjunction with Tanenbaum, that pushed for the signing of Eric Lindros. Because of these situations I believe that Larry Tanenbaum is bad for the Leafs organization. Crazy as it sounds but we should all be pulling for Richard Peddie and the Teachers Pension Plan in this power struggle and the reason is, the Teachers Pension Plan is not going to meddle in hockey decisions like Tanenbaum apparently has and still is.

BTW, yesterday’s hiring JFJ was a mistake quote by Peddie, which was taken in the completely wrong way by the media (as usual), was really a shot at Tanenbaum and his plan to bring in a group of mostly inexperienced ex players by saying that Toronto is no place for rookie GMs.

2. Paul Maurice

Paul Maurice must go and last nights game is a perfect reason why. The Leafs lost 4-3 in the shootout while the powerplay went 0 for 4 and the penalty kill allowed 2 Montreal powerplay goals. There is no reason why the Leafs should be 29th in the NHL on the powerplay or 20th in the NHL on the penalty kill. I feel special teams are two aspects of the game that can be greatly impacted by good coaching and the Montreal Canadiens are a perfect example. Based on talent and 5 on 5 play there is no reason to expect the Canadiens would be the best power play team in the league but they play a smart system that exposes opposing teams weakness of being a man down. The same can be said for the penalty kill but what really really irks me about Maurice is the Leafs failures in the shootout. The Leafs have a dreadful shootout record having gone 4-10 under Maurice. It would be fine if the Leafs just weren’t good in the shootout but if you are not good and you don’t practice it, that is unforgiveable. After a recent shootout loss Mats Sundin had the following to say:

“We finished one point out of the playoffs last year so each one of these is so important. What do you say? Maybe we have to work on it more in practice.”

to which Paul Maurice commented:

Hey, if the players want it, then we’ll do it on a daily basis

Last time I checked Paul Maurice is the coach and Paul Maurice should be the once deciding what is important to practice and what should not be. His ‘Ah, whatever they want’ attitude is not good enough and in my mind is enough to get him fired.

Now I really don’t know what Maurice does in practice but if one half of every practice is not devoted to improving special teams and shootouts then he isn’t doing enough. The NHL is in many ways special teams league now and good special teams is often the difference between winning and losing. Just look at last night. Maurice should be fired for not taking special teams and shootouts seriously enough.

A Small Ray of Hope

In order to not be completely negative I thought I would toss in a small ray of hope for Leaf fans. Yesterday I wrote about the importance of goaltending and the good news is that Toskala is showing some positive signs with respect to being at least an average starter in the NHL and average goaltending would be a huge improvement over what Raycroft brings. Over Toskala’s last 6 outings (5 starts and one relief of Raycroft early in the Phoenix game) Toskala has a .918 save percentage and a 2.16 goals against average which is more than respectable.

Nov 272007
 

In Real Estate they say the value of a property is all about location, location and location. In hockey I believe success is all about goaltending, goaltending and goaltending. I recently wrote an article about young franchise players and I ranked Henrik Lundqvist and Roberto Luongo at the top of the list ahead of players like Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Dion Phaneuf, etc. In the comments to that post several people argued against me putting two goalies at the top of the list saying that goalies aren’t that valuable. The following is some evidence to show otherwise.

Last year 15 of the top 16 teams in team save % made the playoffs while only one team not in the top 16 (Tampa) did.

Of the past 12 Stanley Cup winning goalies, not one had a save percentage under .920 in the playoffs in their cup winning season as shown in the table below with cup winning goalies and their playoff and regular season save percentages.

Year Playoffs Reg. Goalie
2006-07 .922 .918 Jean-Sebastien Giguere
2005-06 .920 .882 Cam Ward (was the backup in regular season)
2003-04 .933 .910 Nikolai Khabibulin
2002-03 .934 .914 Martin Brodeur
2001-02 .920 .915 Dominik Hasek
2000-01 .934 .913 Patrick Roy
1999-00 .927 .910 Martin Brodeur
1998-09 .935 .915 Ed Belfour
1997-08 .925 .913 Chris Osgood
1996-07 .932 .899 Mike Vernon (only played 33 games in reg. season)
1997-06 .921 .908 Patrick Roy
1994-05 .932 .902 Martin Brodeur (strike shortened season)

Based on that evidence teams should be aiming to obtain a goalie capable of posting save percentages of .910 and above over the duration of the regular season but also capable of picking up their save percentages to the .920-.935 range over the course of a playoff run. If you don’t have that kind of goalie, can you really be considered serious cup contenders? Based on the list above, probably not.

The Columbus Blue Jackets entered this season with essentially the same team that finished the past two seasons 33-42-7 and 35-43-4. But because of some top tier goaltending by young Pascal Leclaire the Blue Jackets are a very solid 11-8-4 to start this season. That is with a defence of Ron Hainsey, Rostislav Klesla, Adam Foote, Kris Russell, Jan Hejda, Duvie Wescott and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen. At best half those guys are journeyman NHLers. Hainsey was a waiver pickup. Hejda is a 29 year old with 39 games NHL experience (with the lowsy 2006-07 Oilers) prior to this season. Duvie Wescott is a 30 year old with 5 years experience but only a single season with more than 40 games played. Russell is a rookie drafted in the third round of the 2005 draft. That isn’t exactly a top tier defines so I won’t buy the ‘but Columbus has a great defence and that is why Leclaire looks so good’ argument. The Boston Bruins, who are now getting good goaltending from Tim Thomas, have gone from being well out of the playoffs to somewhat comfortable in the playoffs despite having more or less the same team but without the services of talented Patrice Bergeron for more than half their games so far. A similar story can be written about DiPietro and the Islanders. On paper the Islanders forwards and defence crew are quite average but DiPietro keeps them in a lot of games and have allowed them to stay in a playoff position.

On the flip side take a look at the Pittsburgh Penguins. No one can argue that they aren’t an extremely talented team up front and on defence but when they don’t get the goaltending they are quite mediocre. Dany Sabourin has a fairly decent .911 save % this season and is an equally fairly decent 4-3-1. Marc-Andre Fleury has a fairly weak .898 save% and is an equally weak 6-8-1. From October-December of last season Fleury had a .900 save % and a 15-11-4 record. From January to April of last season Fleury had a .911 save % which resulted in a fabulous 25-5-5 record.

Even a team as good as Ottawa struggles when they don’t get top tier goaltending as they are 3-4-1 in their last 7 games during which they posted a decent, but not great, .902 save %. Prior to that stretch the Senators had a spectacular .938 save % which converted into a even more spectacular 13-1-0 record. Any guesses on what the Senators record would be if they had the Leafs .886 save % for the whole season? Would they have a .500 record? Some fans will suggest that the team in front of the goalies has not played as well recently and while that may be partially true I would suggest the biggest reason for the Senators recent woes are the goaltenders not the forwards. I watch a lot of Sens games and I watched the Leafs generally out play the Senators in game 2 of the season but not out goaltend them. The Sens won that game 3-2 with Gerber stopping 41 of 43 shots. I watched Gerber shut out the Rangers the very next game stopping all 35 shots the Rangers directed his way. I watched (in person) a week later when Gerber stopped 36 of 37 shots to defeat the Rangers 3-1. All of these games could have easily gone the other way with just average goaltending just like the recent losses to Philadelphia, Pittsburgh and Buffalo did.

In an NHL where there are a ton of one goal games the difference between a .925 and a .895 save % is huge. That amounts to about a goal per game and if you are giving up an extra goal every game that will convert (in theory) all OT wins and OT losses into straight loses and convert a several wins into OT losses. On average last year teams lossed 9 games in OT and thus teams on average won 9 games in OT. If you take those 9 OT wins and convert them to regulation losses that would account for a difference of 18 points in the standings. In the eastern conference that could be the difference between finishing 2nd in the conference or finishing 11th like it would have last season. That;s the difference between being a very good team and a very mediocre one. That’s significant.

There are currently 9 teams with fewer points than games played (i.e. sub .500). Those teams are Florida, Atlanta, Tampa, Pittsburgh, Toronto, Washington, Calgary, Los Angeles and Edmonton. Those teams sit 12th, 26th, 28th, 17th, 22nd, 30th, 14th and 25th in the NHL in save percentage respectively. Not exactly teams with top goaltending.

And if you need one more piece of evidence take a look at the Phoenix Coyotes. They picked up a talented goalie in Ilya Bryzgalov and they have yet to lose a game.

In the NHL success is all about goaltending, goaltending and goaltending.

Nov 272007
 

With everything that is happening in Leaf land these days I feel like this is piling on but hey, the numbers are the numbers. This weeks Power Rankings see the Leafs fall from 9th to 23rd with the losses to Boston, Dallas and Phoenix. But the Leafs are not alone as a couple of other teams saw dramatic falls in the standings. Carolina fell from 7th to 17th and Atlanta who was making a resurgence in the rankings fell from 18th to 27th. Going the other direction was Buffalo, Dallas and Phoenix who are on 5 and 6 and 4 game winning streaks respectively. Buffalo jumped to 12th from 21st, Dallas jumped to 13th from 24th, and Phoenix jumped from 20th to 14th.

It seems like central division teams are taking turns in the #2 spot behind Ottawa. Early in the season Columbus had that spot, then Detroit had it and Chicago had it a week or two ago. Today that spot is reserved for the 13-8-0 St. Louis Blues. For Ottawa though their recent slump has dramatically reduced their lead over second place and another loss or two and they may lose their hold on top spot for the first time this season.

Rank 7 Days
Ago
Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power
Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.727 0.489 0.698
2 4 St. Louis 0.595 0.542 0.670
3 5 Detroit 0.630 0.524 0.640
4 2 Chicago 0.522 0.552 0.602
5 8 Boston 0.545 0.523 0.594
6 3 Montreal 0.543 0.519 0.590
7 6 Columbus 0.521 0.543 0.584
8 11 Nashville 0.523 0.530 0.560
9 10 NY Islanders 0.571 0.477 0.550
10 13 Vancouver 0.565 0.491 0.537
11 15 San Jose 0.545 0.502 0.533
12 21 Buffalo 0.500 0.514 0.528
13 24 Dallas 0.542 0.500 0.519
14 20 Phoenix 0.500 0.517 0.514
15 16 Minnesota 0.565 0.486 0.507
16 17 Philadelphia 0.568 0.460 0.504
17 7 Carolina 0.587 0.445 0.495
18 14 Colorado 0.500 0.494 0.478
19 12 NY Rangers 0.521 0.464 0.478
20 22 Calgary 0.438 0.517 0.465
21 25 Anaheim 0.438 0.521 0.454
22 19 New Jersey 0.500 0.449 0.441
23 9 Toronto 0.375 0.538 0.438
24 23 Pittsburgh 0.413 0.492 0.425
25 26 Los Angeles 0.391 0.523 0.417
26 28 Florida 0.417 0.458 0.382
27 18 Atlanta 0.435 0.449 0.379
28 27 Tampa Bay 0.435 0.433 0.360
29 30 Edmonton 0.312 0.523 0.344
30 29 Washington 0.333 0.469 0.315

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

Nov 262007
 

The Leafs have lost 4 of their last 5 games, are 3-6-2 in November, and 8-11-5 on the season. At times they have showed some signs of life like their pair of shutout 3-0 wins over division rivals Buffalo and Ottawa where they played a smart team defensive game while at other times they look disinterested and a bunch of individuals playing for themselves and not the team. If there were signs of improving consistency you could probably argue that it is worth waiting a little longer to see of the current crew can work it out but they looked weak against Dallas and dreadful against Phoenix on the weekend. Improvement is not what we are seeing with this team and the inconsistency has been going on for 100+ games now dating to last season.

I still believe that this group of players is capable of much better things but it is also apparent that such better things aren’t going to happen without changes being made. The first change has to start with the coach. I have a real hard time identifying what positives coach Paul Maurice has brought to the Leafs. When you watch every other top tier team their players have well defined roles. You have defensive players whose role is to stop opposing forwards. You have offensive players whose main objective is to produce goals. You have penalty killing specialist and power play specialists. The Leafs do not have that. It seems that every game coach Paul Maurice is grabbing at straws by changing his line up and his lines all the time. How can a player learn a system or a role or learn the tendencies of a line mate if he has different line mates every game, if not every period. Paul Maurice has to go and a real systems coach needs to be brought in and the players need to be taught how to play as a team in a system.

But the coach cannot be blamed for everything. The players deserve some blame too and while I know some people will target the defence first, the first thing that needs fixing is the goaltending. This is the primary problem with the Leafs and the primary failure in my mind of GM John Ferguson Jr. While both Raycroft and Toskala have had a good game or two more often than not they have been mediocre to bad. The Leafs sit second last in the NHL (surprising the Flames are last but I can’t seem them staying there all season) in save % and there is no way you can be a competitive team with that kind of goaltending. It is time that the Andrew Raycroft experiment dies a quick and painless death by putting him on waivers in hopes of finding a taker or if not sent to the Toronto Marlies to backup Justin Pogge. Two years ago Raycroft had a .879 save percentage, last year he was at .894 and this year he is at .882. None of those are even mediocre save percentages and not even good enough to qualify as a backup on most teams. As far as I am concerned his NHL career should be done and the Leafs should bring up Clemensen to back up Toskala. As far as Toskala is concerned he hasn’t shown me that he deserved that 2 year $8 million extension but the Leafs have made the bet that he can be a solid starter and so the remainder of this season should be devoted to seeing if he can be that guy or whether goaltending needs to be addresses yet again next summer.

I think if you added the right coach who was able to get the team to play a smart defence-first system you will solve 80% of the Leafs problems because there is no way you can convince me that the group of defensemen and forwards that the Blue Jackets or Islanders or several other teams have are better than the Leafs but those teams have managed to be reasonably successful this season. But that doesn’t mean all the defensemen and forwards should be considered safe. Even with good coaching and goaltending they aren’t going to be serious Stanley Cup threats (just like the Islanders and Blue Jackets aren’t) so ultimately management needs to look to next season and beyond. While there can be no untouchables on this roster the players I would aim to build the team around are:

Tomas Kaberle: One of the best puckhandling defensemen in the league and isn’t making huge bucks.
Hal Gill: He has been the best Leaf defenseman since he got here and needs I would look to make him half of a shutdown tandem.
Mats Sundin: Still one of the best players in the game and he should remain a Leaf so long as he wants to be here.
Jason Blake: He hasn’t produced goals like the Leafs would have liked but he has still produced and is capable of being a front line winger.
Kyle Wellwood: Probably the most talented forward outside of Sundin and would be an ideal second line center.
Nik Antropov: Can score goals, kill penalties, is big and strong and doesn’t hurt you defensively.
Matt Stajan and Alex Steen: I would look to these two as being two-thirds of a defensive shutdown line and PK specialists. They both have good speed, defensively responsible, and can also chip in offensively too. These two could be a Leaf version of Antoine Vermette and Chris Kelly in Ottawa. I’d even try to sign Kelly as a UFA next summer to join this duo. That could form a nice shutdown line capable of forcing mistakes and capitalizing on them.

Everyone else should be made available for trade between now and the trade deadline with the primary goal being adding youth and adding financial flexibility to sign a big name free agent or two next summer. Some names to consider trading include:

Bryan McCabe: He has a no movement clause in his contract but if he can be convinced to waive it he needs to be traded. Not because McCabe is a bad player, because he is not, but because he has become the scapegoat for the fans and media (not completely warranted either) and that Leafs would be better off without that negativity around the team.
Pavel Kubina: I like Kubina and think he was starting to really fit into this team before he got injured a couple weeks ago. If the Leafs could manage to trade McCabe I would consider keeping Kubina but I think the Leafs really need to free themselves of at least one of these two defensemen salaries so they can address other concerns.
Darcy Tucker: Under Paul Maurice Tucker has been given the lowly role of fourth liner and power play specialist. While he excels on the power play if that is his primary and only role I say look to find him a new home and use his $3 million per season elsewhere. Whether he should get moved or not should depend somewhat on how any new coach might use him.
Vesa Toskala: He has shown nothing to me that he is capable of being a #1 goalie or that he deserves his $4 million salary next season and the one after. I doubt you can find any takers but if you could get someone to take his salary off the books take the offer without even blinking.

So, assuming you can free up some salary cap space the primary targets for next summer should be:

1. A defensive defenseman capable of forming a shutdown tandem with Hal Gill. I’d love to see the Leafs sign Marek Malik from the Rangers.
2. A defensive forward to play with Stajan and Steen. I’d absolutely love to see Chris Kelly on that line to form a solid defensive line with some offensive punch and lots of speed and some feistiness as well.
3. Another reliable scoring winger. Marian Hossa is probably out of their budget (even if they rid themselves of McCabes and Tucker’s contracts) but Cory Stillman would be an awesome addition or Markus Naslund if the price was right.

So I have discussed the coach and the players and I am sure some of you may be wondering what I think about John Ferguson Jr. Well, it appears it really doesn’t matter because it seems almost certain that he won’t return. It is not a matter of if he will be fired but when. I’ll have mixed emotions when he gets fired because I think on many levels he has done some smart moves. Some haven’t worked out but he had the guts to make some bold moves and I think that is needed to be GM in Toronto. I also don’t think he has been given a fair shake by the owners, the media or the fans. He was brought into a tough situation replacing Pat Quinn as GM while Quinn remained on as coach and he was never given a chance by the media because he had no proven track record as a GM. So when JFJ gets fired I really hope that he finds another job as GM where he will be given a fair chance by those involved with the team.

Now there are a lot of rumours going around right now that they might replace JFJ by committee which may include former players Glenn Healey, Mark Messier, Ron Francis, Joe Nieuwendyk, Doug Gilmour and others. There are also rumours they will try to bring in a big name GM with a proven track record like Scotty Bowman, Ken Holland or even Brian Burke. Personally I think the committee solution is doomed to failure in Toronto despite it being somewhat successful with the Islanders who are led by former goalie Garth Snow. I just don’t think the media would give that kind of set up a fair chance and the negativity around the team would continue to be a distraction for everyone involved. One might hope that the Toronto media would give Mark Messier or Ron Francis a fair chance but I have little hope of that. Just look how they ripped the Brett Hull promotion to co-GM.

What I would really love to see happen is Brian Burke be given the job. Now I am not a huge fan of Brian Burke because I think he is opinionated, outspoken and maybe a bit stubborn (probably not unlike myself though) but I think that those are the perfect attributes for a GM of the Leafs. I would absolutely love to see Steve Simmons write some of his ridiculous anti-Leaf articles about Brian Burke because I can’t wait to see Brian Burke publicly rip Steve Simmons to shreds and put him and his nonsensical newspaper articles in their place (at the bottom of everyone’s bird cages hopefully). Brian Burke has the personality and credibility to defend his coach and players that JFJ doesn’t seem to have and that would allow the coach and players to do what they do best, coach and play.

Nov 202007
 

The question I pose to all of you today is this: If you were a GM of a team and you could choose any player in the NHL to be the anchor of your franchise for the next 8-10 years, who would it be?

My Answer: If you are looking for 8-10 years and beyond, you have to be looking at a fairly young player. With that in mind I am going to target players born in 1980 or later. I also am looking for a player that has shown himself to be healthy and durable as well as being a good team player and leader, despite being young. So with that criteria in mind, here is my top 20 young franchise players.

  1. Henrik Lundqvist – Goalies are the most important position in hockey (maybe in all of sport) and Lundqvist is the best there is right now.
  2. Roberto Luongo - Despite a slow start to the season, Luongo is right there with Lundqvist.
  3. Sidney Crosby – Should be the most dominant player in the NHL for the next dozen years.
  4. Vincent Lecavalier – It took a few years but Lecavalier has finally figure out how to dominate in all aspects of the game.
  5. Alexander Ovechkin – He does everything and unlike many wingers he can do it on his own.
  6. Dion Phaneuf – He is already one of the top defensemen in the league and will only get better.
  7. Henrik Zetterberg - Plays a good all-round game. but this season we will find out if he is very very good or elite level.
  8. Eric Staal – Needs to repeat his 100 point season before I am sold on him as one of the elite players.
  9. Ilya Kovalchuk – As offensively gifted as anyone but could use improvement on his all round game.
  10. Dany Heatley – The best sniper in the league but needs a playmaking center like Spezza to achieve greatness. He may not be a player who can excel on his own.
  11. Rick DiPietro – Showing that the Islanders were smart in locking him up on a 15 year contract and proves the theory you can have some success without a star forward or defenseman but with an elite level goalie.
  12. Evgeni Malkin – He has had a great start to his career but how much has he benefited from playing with Crosby? Needs to refine his game to take himself to the next level.
  13. Jason Spezza – Would be higher but I would be concerned about his injury issues having missed 29 games over the past 2 seasons and 6 more already this year including back and groin problems that can become chronic.
  14. Ryan Getzlaf – Maybe not as gifted offensively as the players above him on this list but might play the best all round game.
  15. Anze Kopitar – Has good size and very good offensive skills but needs to round out his game a little.
  16. Brad Richards – He isn’t living up to his $7.8 million per year contract but still one of the better centers in the game.
  17. Carey Price – Despite very limited action in the NHL so far it looks like his junior and AHL success will translate to the NHL level.
  18. Rick Nash – He is a power forward goal scorer like Jarome Iginla but has never put up 60 points yet. I’d love to see him play with a
    gifted playmaking center.
  19. Ryan Whitney – Looked like he was on the verge of stardom last year (59 points) but has taken a step back this season.
  20. Kari Lehtonen - A star goalie in development but needs to get healthy and gain a bit more consistency in his game.

Honorable Mentions:
Patrick Kane
Erik Johnson
Jack Johnson
Jonathan Tavares

Just not enough experience to judge their long term success at the NHL level yet.

Have I missed anyone?

Update: I made a glaring omission by leaving Thomas Vanek off the list. He slipped my mind but he definitely deserves to be there. I’d probably place him between Spezza and Getzlaf but has the potential to be worthy of a higher spot.

Nov 202007
 

The mover of the week is the Atlanta Thrashers. The Thrashers who finished last season horribly and started this season off 0-6 have turned it around and are 10-4 under new coach (and current GM) Don Waddell and have won 6 of their last 7 games. That has allowed them to jump into 18th spot from 27th last week. In the “who’d have guessed it category” the whole central division ranks in the top 11 teams. They accomplished that by being a combined 31-17-2 vs. teams outside their division. Nashville has the worst outside division record with a measley .500 record at 6-6-0.

Rank 7 Days
Ago
Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power
Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.816 0.527 0.828
2 2 Chicago 0.525 0.569 0.659
3 3 Montreal 0.575 0.548 0.657
4 7 St. Louis 0.583 0.534 0.646
5 4 Detroit 0.650 0.504 0.632
6 8 Columbus 0.550 0.538 0.619
7 5 Carolina 0.625 0.474 0.560
8 10 Boston 0.500 0.540 0.558
9 12 Toronto 0.429 0.577 0.550
10 6 NY Islanders 0.647 0.455 0.546
11 18 Nashville 0.525 0.509 0.524
12 13 NY Rangers 0.524 0.495 0.522
13 14 Vancouver 0.553 0.471 0.512
14 9 Colorado 0.526 0.480 0.506
15 15 San Jose 0.571 0.469 0.505
16 11 Minnesota 0.600 0.457 0.487
17 16 Philadelphia 0.583 0.450 0.482
18 27 Atlanta 0.450 0.489 0.442
19 21 New Jersey 0.425 0.492 0.438
20 22 Phoenix 0.444 0.490 0.437
21 24 Buffalo 0.389 0.540 0.437
22 19 Calgary 0.425 0.484 0.433
23 20 Pittsburgh 0.400 0.514 0.433
24 28 Dallas 0.450 0.485 0.422
25 23 Anaheim 0.429 0.491 0.418
26 17 Los Angeles 0.400 0.489 0.395
27 29 Tampa Bay 0.500 0.435 0.394
28 25 Florida 0.386 0.478 0.371
29 26 Washington 0.300 0.488 0.303
30 30 Edmonton 0.275 0.486 0.284

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

Nov 162007
 

It’s a big day here because today I get to announce some big plans for the future of HockeyAnalysis.com. Over the last couple of days I have been working on upgrading my blogging software to where I will be able to host multiple blogs. It is not yet 100% ironed out but it is close (thanks to help from the great guys at Canadian Web Hosting, I highly recommend them) and I am ready to announce the first step in what should be some great things for HockeyAnalysis.com.

When I started this website I initially wanted it to be a great resource for hockey fans to come and hang out and discuss the game at a deeper level than what occurs in the general hockey media in hopes that we all get a better understanding of the game. I think to some level I hace achieved that but there is only so much one guy can do in his spare time. So, with that I am looking to expand and the first step in my expansion is to add a Fantasy Hockey section. In doing so I am welcoming to the Hockey Analysis team Ian Fergusson who in conjunction with myself will be in charge of the Fantasy Hockey section of HockeyAnalysis.com. Ian is a long time fantasy hockey writer for TalentedMrRoto.com before it was bought by ESPN. He started up his own blog at shallowfrozenwater.blogspot.com where he continued to discuss fantasy hockey stuff but has now decided to move here and be a part of HockeyAnalysis.com. I am looking forward to working with Ian and hopefully we can bring some interesting fantasy hockey discussion that you will all enjoy. One of the main features that Ian will offer is a fantasy team analysis where he will review your fantasy team and make recommendations on how you could improve it or offer you advice on potnetial trades and roster moves. It should be fun and if you have any suggestions feel free to post a comment or drop Ian or I an e-mail. We always look forward to constructive feedback. Also, if you are a registered user here you should be able to log in using your same username and password at fantasyhockey.hockeyanalysis.com as well.

But this is just the start of the HockeyAnalysis.com expansion. My short, medium and long term plans are to bring more bloggers into the fold. My hopes are to get one or more bloggers for each and every team in the NHL with each team getting their own HockeyAnalysis.com subdomain (i.e. oilers.hockeyanalysis.com). You may also find some more generic hockey blogs prop up as well. So, If anyone out there currently operates a blog and is interested in moving their blog to HockeyAnalysis.com or if you are interested in contributing to a particular team blog here at HockeyAnalysis.com send me an e-mail (david (at) hockeyanalysis.com) and we can work out the details.

I should mention that I am looking for established writers who will contribute quality articles on a somewhat regular basis (i.e. once a week) and is in for the long haul. I am not interested in fly by night bloggers and while I will consider new bloggers someone with a blogging track record is preferred. Traffic wise I generate up to 20,000 unique visitors per month (for example, I had over 16,000 in October) and as I grow the offerings this should grow as well so if you have a lower traffic blog this could be a good opportunity to expose your blog to thousands of new readers as every blog will be linked to every other blog.

Down the road I have a few other ideas including a forums section and other interesting stuff and ultimately I want to make this one of the best hockey communities on the web. But despite all these changes you will still find me operating my blog at hockeyanalysis.com and you will still find all the great statistics at stats.hockeyanalysis.com and the salary cap info (currently here in sidebar but soon to be moved). This truly is an expansion and not a complete change in format.

Nov 142007
 

I was doing some web searching for some other hockey related article that I am considering writing and I somewhat accidentally came across this blog post from a British sports fan talking about hockey and the Ducks-Kings games that were played in London to start the season. What is interesting is to see what a relative outsider thinks of hockey.

“…there is a hell of a lot of skill involved besides just trying to knock as many teeth out of an opponents gum as possible, even if that is the biggest crowd puller.”

He then goes on to post a video of the Philadelphia-Ottawa brawl that occurred a few years go as well as a funny Dion Phaneuf incident. To me what is interesting is how the author identifies physical play and fighting as the ‘biggest crowd puller.’ In my mind this is one of the greatest failures of the Bettman regime. It seems Bettman wants to sanitize the game of much of the intensity, physical contact and fighting while implementing a system of speed, skill and goal scoring. In my mind both aspects must be a part of a hockey game, but if given the choice I believe, as this Brit sports fan seems to concur, that physical play and intensity is as important if not more important than speed and skill. I know many hard core hockey fans believe this but it is interesting to hear this from a casual hockey fan from abroad.

Nov 132007
 

This weeks story is about two young teams going in different directions. The Chicago Blackhawks led by Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane have jumped into second spot with three big wins over highly ranked Columbus, Detroit and St. Louis while the Crosby and Malkin led Penguins have lost 4 straight and 6 of 7 in November to fall to 20th spot.

Rank 7 Days
Ago
Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power
Rank
1 1 Ottawa 0.844 0.524 0.860
2 13 Chicago 0.559 0.546 0.681
3 3 Montreal 0.594 0.542 0.679
4 10 Detroit 0.735 0.486 0.671
5 2 Carolina 0.676 0.490 0.624
6 12 NY Islanders 0.643 0.467 0.585
7 4 Columbus 0.559 0.501 0.569
8 5 Colorado 0.588 0.490 0.564
9 9 Boston 0.500 0.526 0.552
10 11 Toronto 0.444 0.565 0.546
11 8 St. Louis 0.500 0.521 0.541
12 7 Minnesota 0.625 0.472 0.535
13 14 NY Rangers 0.500 0.513 0.525
14 18 Vancouver 0.500 0.500 0.522
15 15 San Jose 0.556 0.478 0.514
16 23 Philadelphia 0.625 0.445 0.491
17 24 Nashville 0.529 0.472 0.466
18 17 Los Angeles 0.469 0.486 0.456
19 16 Calgary 0.382 0.517 0.443
20 6 Pittsburgh 0.389 0.526 0.437
21 26 New Jersey 0.441 0.485 0.430
22 19 Anaheim 0.389 0.491 0.394
23 20 Phoenix 0.438 0.467 0.394
24 22 Buffalo 0.375 0.519 0.391
25 21 Florida 0.361 0.491 0.374
26 27 Washington 0.353 0.502 0.368
27 29 Atlanta 0.353 0.498 0.359
28 25 Dallas 0.382 0.481 0.356
29 30 Tampa Bay 0.471 0.429 0.352
30 28 Edmonton 0.294 0.504 0.321

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