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Oct 272005
 

Ok, back to a bit of reality after that 8 for 8 night. Last night I was 1 for 4. Still, that’s a pretty good 2 night average. Here are tonights game predictions.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Toronto Toronto Good
NY Rangers NY Islanders Pick N/A
Philadelphia Florida Philadelphia Some
Ottawa Montreal Ottawa Good
Pittsburgh Atlanta Atlanta Good
Detroit Chicago Detroit Strong
Colorado Vancouver Vancouver Good
Phoenix Calgary Phoenix Good
 Posted by at 5:36 am
Oct 262005
 

So the NHL has finally decided to shut the coaches up about complaining about the new rules so I guess it is up to us hockey bloggers to pick up the slack. The talk of the day today was about Sidney Crosby and the fact that he drew six penalties last night on his own. I just watched the guys on TSN talk up Cosby and his knack for drawing penalties. Well, I watched a fair bit of that Penguins-Panthers game and I saw all the highlights and I must say what most people are forgetting to mention is that half of those penalies were not in fact penalties and I will go so far as saying that it looks like Crosby got in the diving act like so many other NHLers these days. On one of the penalties called he was skating down the middle of the ice and about halfway between the blue line and the Panthers goal, two Florida defensemen close in on him and pinch him off (looked like a smart defensive play) at which point Crosby made his body go limp and he fell to the ice in a heap. He was not hooked or even hit very hard, but because he went a penalty was called. Crosby was not hooked or tripped and since he had the puck he was not interfered with. You are still allowed to hit players with the puck. At least that is what I thought. It should not have been a penalty and honestly, I think Crosby embelished his fall on that play. On another penalty Crosby was cutting in from the right side towards the net like Glenn Anderson was so famous for. He was heavily leaning into the defenseman who was in good position to cut his drive to the net off and the second the defenseman bumped him, Crosby falls and a penalty is called. Again, there was no hook or hold and Crosby had the puck and hitting the puck carrier is allowed. And it wasn’t a hard hit either and the fact that Crosby was heavily leaning into the defenseman probably caused him to lose balance very easily. One or two of the other penalties he drew were pretty suspect too.

But it isn’t just Crosby. People are ‘losing balance’ on the lightest of hits and almost any time a player goes down to the ice the refs seem to feel the need to call a penalty, whether a penalty was deserved or not. I was just watching the Boston-Carolina game and Bret Hedican and a Bruin went into the corner to retrieve a puck. The Bruin player lost his balance like players so often do when skating hard into the corner and trying to stop, turn and play the puck in all one motion. Hedican was right with him but didn’t interfere at all but since the Bruin lost his balance and went down, the refs automatically thought penalty. So Hedican goes off for 2 minuted for tripping. To make matters worse when the Bruin player was falling his stick came up and he high sticked Hedican drawing blood for what should have been a 4 minute penalty on the Bruins.

In the Carolina-Ottawa game the other day Jason Spezza bumped into a Carolina player at the offensive blue line and upon contact Spezza let his body go limp and fell to the ice. Penalty gets called. This diving and chintzy penalty calling is getting rediculous. The newest skill in hockey is whenever you get bumped to relax every muscle in your body and fall to the ice in a heap. The refs are certain to call a penalty then because it seems the new directive to the refs is that they must call a penalty everytime someone falls to the ice. It is getting rediculous. This game is becoming a joke. There is becoming less contact in hockey than there is in basketball. There are fewer hits in most hockey games than the Houston Astros could muster in last nights 14 inning game (that’s 8 if your counting). Sure, there may be more goals. Sure, certain aspects of the game may be faster. But surely, there has to be a better way to do it. Creating more offense through more power plays on horrible penalty calls is not how to do it. It’s a joke.

 Posted by at 8:02 pm
Oct 262005
 

I didn’t pick the Penguins to make the playoffs this year so to see them struggle is no real surprise for me but I am starting to really feel bad for them because this is much worse than anyone could have imagined and the fact they 5 of their 9 losses have come in overtime must make it even more frustrating for them since they have had opportunities to win. Maybe once they get their first win they will rack up a few wins in a row, but for now they remain at the bottom of the HockeyAnalysis.com power rankings.

I am curious what everyone thinks of these rankings. Are any teams ranked too high or too low for your liking or do they more or less look reasonable? Post your thoughts in the comments section.

Rank Team Win-Loss Power Rank
1 Ottawa 6- 1 14.2
2 Nashville 8- 0 13.6
3 Montreal 7- 2 12.9
4 Detroit 9- 1 12.9
5 Vancouver 8- 2 12.8
6 Toronto 5- 4 12.2
7 Los Angeles 7- 3 12.1
8 Buffalo 6- 2 12.0
9 Dallas 5- 3 11.7
10 NY Islanders 5- 4 10.7
11 Philadelphia 4- 3 10.6
12 Minnesota 5- 5 10.4
13 Carolina 5- 3 10.3
14 Florida 6- 4 10.1
15 Colorado 4- 5 9.7
16 NY Rangers 4- 6 9.5
17 Tampa Bay 4- 5 9.4
18 Phoenix 4- 7 9.3
19 Boston 4- 6 9.0
20 Calgary 4- 6 8.8
21 St. Louis 2- 7 8.7
22 New Jersey 4- 4 8.6
23 Atlanta 3- 6 8.4
24 Washington 3- 6 8.2
25 Anaheim 3- 6 8.1
26 San Jose 3- 6 8.1
27 Edmonton 3- 7 7.9
28 Chicago 3- 6 7.9
29 Columbus 2- 7 7.3
30 Pittsburgh 0- 9 5.2
 Posted by at 10:27 am
Oct 262005
 

My picks were a perfect 8 for 8 yesterday. Let’s hope the hot streak continues with todays games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Buffalo Washington Buffalo Strong
Carolina Boston Carolina Good
Columbus Nashville Nashville Good
New Jersey Tampa Bay Pick N/A
Dallas San Jose Dallas Strong
Anaheim Calgary Pick N/A
 Posted by at 12:14 am
Oct 252005
 

Here are my game predictions for tonights games.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
NY Islanders Atlanta NY Islanders Good
Montreal Philadelphia Montreal Good
Pittsburgh Florida Florida Strong
Nashville Chicago Nashville Strong
Minnesota Vancouver Vancouver Some
Colorado Edmonton Colorado Good
Phoenix St. Louis Phoenix Some
Los Angeles Anaheim Los Angeles Strong
 Posted by at 10:27 am
Oct 242005
 

My predictions were 0 for 3 yesterday which is a little dissapointing but overall I am fairly satisfied with my prediction results so far. Since I began making predictions here is my success rates for each confidence rating:

Strong Confidence: 19 of 24 – 79% success rate
Good Confidence: 10 of 15 – 66% success rate
Some Confidence: 6 of 15 – 40% success rate

I am happy with Strong and Good success rates since this is so early in the season and they would be better if you ignore the first few days of predictions, but I really hope the some confidence success rate increases. It should become more reliable as the year goes on but I am going digg into the numbers some more and see if I can tweak the formula some to improve it’s success rate. In any event, here are today’s game predictions.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Carolina Ottawa Ottawa Strong
Columbus Detroit Detroit Strong
Toronto Boston Toronto Strong
 Posted by at 8:20 am
Oct 232005
 

Yesterdays game predictions were 7 for 9 missing out on Philadelphia’s win over Toronto and Atlanta’s win over New Jersey. Here are today’s game predictions.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Anaheim Phoenix Phoenix Some
Chicago Minnesota Minnesota Some
Los Angeles Calgary Los Angeles Strong
 Posted by at 9:58 am
Oct 222005
 

I don’t want to make too many sports media bashing posts here (and I could make a lot) but I figured I’d post one now and again to try and show why the mainstream hockey media is something to be read for amusement only, and not for any real informative information.

Howard Berger is the Fan590 reporter who covers the Maple Leafs on a daily basis and he also writes a hockey blog at HockeyBuzz.com. In his current post he tries to take credit for making a lot of intelligent predictions prior to the season beginning.

I had a strong suspicion heading into the season that Darcy Tucker might enjoy a breakout year – going so far as to suggest he could hit the 35-goal mark if healthy through the bulk of the schedule. That would represent an 11-goal increase over his season-best total of 24. Many people, including my colleague and good friend at The Fan-590, Bill Hayes, said they’d have to see that happen before they’d believe it, but I’m not backing off one bit.

This is funny because in August he was complaining about how little the Leafs had done to add scoring and that they would be severly offensively challenged. Here was his comments on Tucker on August 15th.

The No. 1 troika had Sundin centering Jeff O’Neill and Darcy Tucker. No argument with the Big Swede, or a healthy O’Neill. But, Tucker has hardly ever been used as a front-line winger in the NHL, even though he was a prolific scorer in Junior for the great Kamloops teams that won the Memorial Cup in 1992, ’94 and ’95; Tucker compiling 379 points in 223 regular-season games. His grit, and willingness to compete against bigger players in the NHL has made him an effective performer in most situations, but Tucker has not scored at the pace required of a first-line winger on a contending team.

In another post (which I cannot seem to locate) he went on to say that Tucker would likley be a first line winger but Tucker had only twice scored 20+ goals. I know he made this comment because I sent him an e-mail telling him that Tucker had in fact scored 20+ goals 4 times, not twice. Furthermore I told him that given the chance I thought that Tucker could score 30 goals.

Here is the actual e-mail I wrote him on August 30th.

Actually, Tucker has broken the 20 goal mark 4 times in his career, not twice as you wrote.

1998-99 – 21 with Tampa
1999-00 – 21 combined with Tamps (14) and Toronto(7)
2001-02 – 24 with Toronto
2003-04 – 21 with Toronto (in just 64 games)

I have confidence that Tucker can at least be a 30 goal scorer because if you recall at the beginning of last year (or when they last played) he played with Sundin and Mogilny and that trio was dynamite, especially on the PP. Because of that, despite only playing 64 games he had his most productive year on the PP with 8 goals and 12 points. Playing with Sundin will be a lot better for him than playing with Reichel.

I wonder if he will give my any credit for changing his mind on Tucker when Tucker does score 30+ goals. I suspect he won’t, but then I don’t really care. What I care about is that everyone out there reading this learns to take what people in the mainstream media say with a grain of salt and not as fact. Think for yourselves and come up with your own thoughts. That is what this blog, and most other blogs, is all about. The truth is out there, find it for yourself.

 Posted by at 11:21 am
Oct 222005
 

Here are today’s game predictions. There are 11 games being played (Ottawa-Florida has been postponed until December) of which 9 games can be predicted and 2 others are two close to call. Six correct predictions would be good, but lets go for seven.

Home Team Road Team Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston Pittsburgh Boston Strong
Toronto Philadelphia Toronto Strong
Montreal NY Islanders Montreal Good
Washington Carolina Pick N/A
Atlanta New Jersey New Jersey Some
Columbus Detroit Detroit Strong
Buffalo NY Rangers Buffalo Good
St. Louis Minnesota Pick N/A
Nashville San Jose Nashville Strong
Dallas Calgary Dallas Strong
Vancouver Colorado Vancouver Strong
 Posted by at 9:43 am
Oct 212005
 

Sergei Gonchar – Say what you will about his defensive abilities (or lack there of) but he has to be considered among the best offensive defenseman in the NHL. In his last 5 NHL seasons he has posted 54, 57, 59, 67, and 58 points and among the lead leaders for defensemen, if not leading the league himself. Although he is off to a bit of a slow this year but once again I think we should expect 55 or so points.

Bryan McCabe – I am not sure I would have put him second on the list 3 weeks ago but he has shown his 2003-04 season wasn’t a fluke. Not only is he the league leader in points by a defensemen, he is tied for second in the league for points overall and the guy ahead of him (Jagr) has played 2 more games. This after being 4th in points by a defenseman in 2003-04.

Scott Niedermayer – Like Gonchar, Niedermayer is also off to a slow start this year but he also has a long track record of being among the league leaders in points by a defenseman. He skates well, has a good shot, and is one of the best in quarterbacking a power play.

Chris Pronger – For many years Chris Pronger has been a regular Norris trophy candidate for best defenseman and won the Norris trophy and Hart Trophy (league MVP) in 1999-2000. Not only is he an imposing figure defending his own zone he contributes significantly offensively posting 45 or more points every year since 1998-99 except for the year he missed all but 5 games and in the last NHL season he tied for second in points by a defenseman with 54.

Bryan Berard – Once one of the best young defensemen in the NHL, a serious eye injury almost cost him his career, but despite having limited vision in one eye he is proving he still has the offensive flair he had before the injury. In 2003-04 he totalled 47 points in just 58 games and so far this year he has 4 points in 6 games for a weak Columbus team. A 50+ point season is a definite possibility for Berard.

Mathieu Schneider – I think Schneider has had a very under rated NHL career. He’s never really been considered one of the top few point producing defensemen but he frequently has been in the top 10 and seems to be getting even better at this late stage in his career. In his last 2 NHL seasons he has had 50 and 46 points and is off to a good start this year with 6 points in 7 games and has seemingly passed Nicklas Lidstrom as the Red Wings top offensive defenseman.

Kimmo Timonen – He has put up 40+ point seasons and has 5 points in his first 6 games this year but playing in Nashville, few people know him and how good he is. He is quick, has a good shot, and is a good power play quarterback. He is a major reason for Nashville’s success this year and last.

Brian Leetch – For most of his career he was considered one of the top 3 offensive defenseman and although he is now in his late 30’s, he still has the touch. He finished 2003-04 seventh in scoring by defensemen and with 4 points in 8 games to start this season he is showing that he isn’t done yet. Still an excellent skater and passer, Leetch should benefit greatly by the new rules.

Paul Mara – I wanted to get a couple young, up and comers on this list and Paul Mara is is the guy. He had 42 points in 2003-04 and has 6 points in 9 games so far this season. Unfortunately since he plays in Phoenix not many people have heard about him but he is pretty good and probably going to get better.

Rob Blake – There are a number of defensemen in their late 30’s who have made this list and Blake is another of those guys. He finished 9th in scoring among defenseman in 2003-04 and his good start this year shows he still has it (4 points in 6 games). Although I personally think he has been overrated as a defenseman, he has produced offensively and that is why he makes this list.

Honorable Mentions: Marek Zidlicky, Brian Rafalski, Wade Redden, Kim Johnsson, Zdeno Chara, Ed Jovanovski, Tomas Kaberle, Brent Sopel, Lubomir Visnovsky, John-Michael Liles Dick Tarnstrom and I am sure others I have missed.

 Posted by at 10:55 pm