Jun 232007

I don’t read every sports writer in every newspaper in every city in North America. In fact, I don’t even come close. But even so, I have to be confident in saying that the absolute worst sports/hockey writer has to be Steve Simmons. The reason why he is such a bad hockey writer is he for some reason has a personal vendetta against everything Maple Leaf. Even if he is writing about something non-Leaf he still has to get a Leaf jab in.

For example, yesterday he wrote an article about Garry Monahan who was the first player every drafted into the NHL. It was a somewhat interesting read somewhat ruined by his personal vendetta against the Leafs.

In all, 21 players were chosen, 20 of them from Ontario. Some of the names remain familiar: Peter Mahovlich, from St. Mike’s, taken right after Monahan by Detroit; the Leafs selected Walt McKechnie with their first pick, Jim McKenny with their third and Gerry Meehan with their fourth.

How long ago was this? Might have been the last time the Leafs outsmarted teams at the draft.

For what purpose, other than displaying his inherent anti-Leaf bias, did he have to write that last sentence? It contributed absolutely nothing to the story and took away a lot. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason he wrote the article is to take that jab.

And now today he thrashes all over John Ferguson Jr. and the Leafs for the trade he made yesterday to acquire Bell and Toskala. In particular about forgetting all about building through scouting and the draft. But let’s look at the facts here.

First off, by nearly everyones account this is one of the worst drafts in recent history. If that is the case, how bad could this draft be? Let’s look at the 10-25 picks of some recent bad drafts.

1994: Nolan Baumgartner, Jeff Friesen, Wade Belak, Mattias Ohlund, Ethan Moreau, Alexander Kharlamov, Eric Fichaud, Wayne Primeau, Brad Brown, Chris Dingman, Jason Botterill, Evgeni Ryabchikov, Jeff Kealty, Yan Golubovsky, Chris Wells, Vadim Sharifijanov
1999: Jamie Lundmark, Branislav Mezei, Oleg Saprykin, Denis Shvidki, Jani Rita, Jeff Jillson, Scott Kelman, Dave Tanabe, Barret Jackman, Konstantin Koltsov, Kirill Safronov, Barrett Heisten, Nick Boynton, Maxime Ouellet, Steve McCarthy, Luca Cereda, Mikhail Kuleshov

So out of those 32 players in those two weak drafts I only see three guys (Ohlund, Boynton, maybe Jackman) that turned out to be better than Mark Bell let alone better than Bell AND Toskala and none of them are star players or een first line players. Even in a good year you are only going to get at most 4 or 5 quality players from positions 10-25 and maybe one star player. Even with mid-first round draft picks in good years the odds of drafting a first or second line player or top 3 defenseman are pretty slim.

And it is not like Bell and Toskala are old at 26 and 30 years of age respectively. Bell is a big, strong, two-way forward (and we saw how important these kind of guys were to Anaheim) who outside of last year looked like he had developed into a reliable 20-25 goal scoer, 45-50 point guy and a solid second line winger. And the worst case scenario for Toskala is one of the best backup goalies in the game and the best case is a solid starting goalie. Plus neither Bell or Toskala are making a huge salary. Scott Hartnell, who just signed a 6 year, $4.2 million per year contract, has never scored more than the 25 goals and 48 points he got in 2005-06 which happens to be the exact output that Bell provided the Blackhawks in 2005-06.

Maybe the Leafs could have gotten a high quality player with their 13th pick yesterday but more likely than not they would have drafted a dud from a whole lot of duds in a bad draft year, just like every other team drafting from the 10th spot and beyond. But Steve Simmons doesn’t seem to care one iota about reality, logic, reason or even journalistic integrity and instead lets his anti-Leaf bias rule his career (and maybe his life, who knows). It’s unfortunate that readers of the Toronto Sun get stuck with a clueless writer like that.

Jun 042007

Dany Heatley: 1 goal in last 9 games, 3 shots in last 3 games
Teemu Selanne: 2 goals in last 10 games

Combined those two guys potted 98 goals in the regular season but both have been in horrendous playoff scoring slumps. If one of them can break out, it could be the difference in the series. It’s something to watch for in the remainder of the Stanley Cup finals.

Mar 282007

I don’t very often write about non-NHL stuff but when I heard about this it just disgusted me and this story deserves to get told so that those involved get thoroughly embarassed and shamed for what they have done.

The story is about Jared Murray, an eight year old hockey player in Shawville, Quebec who happens to be the son of Tim Murray, who is a scout for the New York Rangers and nephew of Ottawa Senators coach Bryan Murray. Jared Murray, who is 4’9″ and 110 pounds, has been ruled inelligable to play in the Outaouais regional playoffs because he is too good. These are eight year olds people. Nobody eight year old should be too good or too bad to play hockey. Jared is eligable to play in the league and was allowed to play all season only when it came to regional playoff time was he disqualified to play. Those who made this decision should be thoroughly disgusted in themselves.

In the eyes of Hockey Outaouais officials, Jared is just too good to compete in the regional playdowns at the B level — the sniper scored 51 goals in 17 games in his second season of novice in Hockey Outaouais’ Metro League. Jared is also the grand-nephew of Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray; Jared’s father, Tim, is a New York Rangers scout, a former head coach of the Shawville Pontiacs junior B team and the nephew of the Senators coach.

Jared’s team finished with an 11-3-2 record, ended up third in the 16-team league in the Pontiac area, but then lost in the opening round of sudden-death playoffs.

Updated player rankings and statistics

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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.

Dec 292006
Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Carolina 138 Anaheim -161 Anaheim Strong
Ottawa -130 NY Rangers 123 Ottawa Some
New Jersey -119 Washington 116 New Jersey Some
Pittsburgh -100 Toronto 100 Toronto Some
Florida 112 Montreal -114 Montreal Good
Minnesota -244 Columbus 159 Minnesota Strong
Chicago 103 Boston -104 Boston Some
Dallas -122 Nashville 118 Dallas Some
Colorado -205 St. Louis 151 Colorado Good
Calgary -241 Los Angeles 158 Calgary Strong

Game Predictions – 12/27/2006

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Dec 272006
Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Washington 130 Montreal -143 Montreal Good
Ottawa -169 NY Islanders 140 Ottawa Strong
Pittsburgh -100 Atlanta 100 Atlanta Some
Florida -144 Philadelphia 130 Florida Some
Detroit -220 Minnesota 154 Detroit Strong
Colorado -146 Dallas 131 Colorado Good
Vancouver -111 Calgary 110 Calgary Some

Game Predictions – 12/23/2006

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Dec 232006

It’s that last night of games before the 2 day Christmas break so I will take this time to thank everyone for dropping by my site to ceck out my predictions and other stuff and I wish you all a Merry Christmas. Enjoy the holidays.

Oh, and here are tonights predictions.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Philadelphia 132 Ottawa -149 Ottawa Good
Boston -105 Montreal 105 Montreal Some
Toronto -122 Washington 118 Toronto Some
NY Islanders -171 Columbus 141 NY Islanders Good
Atlanta -177 New Jersey 143 Atlanta Strong
Tampa Bay -127 NY Rangers 121 Tampa Bay Some
Florida -151 Carolina 133 Florida Good
St. Louis 148 Buffalo -194 Buffalo Strong
Nashville -161 Los Angeles 137 Nashville Good
Minnesota 103 Detroit -104 Detroit Some
Dallas -120 Edmonton 116 Dallas Some
Colorado -187 Chicago 146 Colorado Strong
Phoenix 139 Anaheim -165 Anaheim Strong
San Jose -135 Calgary 126 San Jose Some

Game Predictions 12/21/2006

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Dec 212006

There are 10 games on the schedule and while none are prime, must see games, many are fairly intriguing. Atlanta-Pittsburgh will feature a lot of top end talent in Hossa, Kovalchuk, Crosby, Malkin and others. Ottawa-Tampa will also feature a lot of skill but two teams who just can’t quite put it all together. Buffalo-Nashville could prove to be a very interesting inter-conference matchup between hiqh quality teams. And finally, San Jose-Dallas meet in what is probably a race for second in the Pacific division behind Anaheim.

Home Team Fair
Road Team Fair
Predicted Winner Confidence
Boston -113 Vancouver 112 Boston Some
Atlanta -143 Pittsburgh 130 Atlanta Good
Montreal -276 Philadelphia 163 Montreal Strong
Ottawa -131 Tampa Bay 123 Ottawa Some
Florida -112 NY Rangers 110 Florida Some
St. Louis 129 Los Angeles -142 Los Angeles Good
Nashville 124 Buffalo -133 Buffalo Good
Colorado 100 Calgary -100 Calgary Some
Phoenix 121 Edmonton -127 Edmonton Good
San Jose -202 Dallas 150 San Jose Strong

Power Rankings – 12/19/2006

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Dec 192006

There is a lot of parity in the NHL this season, especially in the east where 8 teams have between 32 and 38 points and 13 teams between 28 and 43 points. It has become almost as close in the west. Because of this a short win streak or losing streak can still cause you to jump or drop several spots in the power rankings. This weeks biggerst movers up the rankings are Vancouver (15 to 9) and Toronto (20 to 13). Going the other way are Carolina (8 to 12), Atlanta (10 to 15), Minnesota (13 to 19) and Tampa (19-24).

I have also added pages (see left side menu) that list each teams record against the top 10 teams in these power rankings, middle 10 teams in these power rankings and bottom 10 teams in these power rankings. Generally, if a team has a real hard time beating teams in the top 10, it will be real tough for them to be ranked among the top teams.

Rank Last Week Team AdjWinP SchedStr Power Rank
1 1 Anaheim 0.757 0.484 0.695
2 2 Detroit 0.661 0.500 0.669
3 3 San Jose 0.706 0.485 0.653
4 4 Buffalo 0.672 0.490 0.641
5 9 Montreal 0.594 0.504 0.603
6 7 Calgary 0.567 0.509 0.583
7 6 Edmonton 0.531 0.517 0.577
8 5 Dallas 0.591 0.493 0.570
9 15 Vancouver 0.515 0.521 0.568
10 11 Nashville 0.636 0.466 0.550
11 12 Washington 0.547 0.492 0.526
12 8 Carolina 0.500 0.506 0.519
13 20 Toronto 0.500 0.508 0.517
14 14 New Jersey 0.531 0.485 0.508
15 10 Atlanta 0.529 0.488 0.504
16 16 Boston 0.483 0.510 0.503
17 21 Ottawa 0.485 0.504 0.499
18 18 NY Islanders 0.500 0.488 0.488
19 13 Minnesota 0.422 0.531 0.487
20 17 NY Rangers 0.485 0.492 0.483
21 25 Colorado 0.455 0.506 0.460
22 22 Pittsburgh 0.484 0.480 0.453
23 23 Los Angeles 0.382 0.535 0.451
24 19 Tampa Bay 0.409 0.512 0.434
25 26 Chicago 0.484 0.468 0.428
26 24 Florida 0.386 0.512 0.415
27 27 Phoenix 0.328 0.521 0.362
28 28 Columbus 0.371 0.475 0.336
29 29 Philadelphia 0.266 0.506 0.283
30 30 St. Louis 0.203 0.528 0.235

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