Jan 152012
 

Not sure what led me to look into this but I took a look at poor defensive teams making the playoffs in the eastern conference.  Over the past 3 seasons there have been just 6 teams to make the playoffs in the eastern conference with goals against averages greater than 2.80.  They are:

  • Tampa Bay Lightning (2010-11):  2.80
  • Ottawa Senators (2009-10): 2.80
  • Pittsburgh Penguins (2009-10):  2.82
  • Montreal Canadiens (2008-09): 2.88
  • Washington Capitals (2008-09):  2.89
  • Ottawa Senators (2007-08): 2.92

Over the past 4 seasons there have been a total of 26 teams with gaa’s above 2.80 and just 6 of those made the playoffs (37.5%).  There have been 18 teams with gaa’s above 2.90 and only one team (the 2007-08 Senators) made the playoffs (5.6%).

What is interesting is that right now there are currently 4 teams in eastern conference playoff spots with goals against averages above 2.80.

  • Washington Capitals: 2.85
  • Philadelphia Flyers:  2.90
  • Toronto Maple Leafs:  3.03
  • Ottawa Senators:  3.07

There are actually only 6 teams in the eastern conference with GAA’s under 2.80 so at least 2 of them over 2.80 would have to be in the playoffs.  Those under 2.80 are the Bruins, Rangers, Penguins, Canadiens , Panthers and Devils.  If history is any indication that means Pittsburgh should be able to climb back into the playoff picture and who knows, maybe there is hope for the Canadiens (wouldn’t bet on it though).  But regardless, it appears there will be a few teams making the playoffs in the eastern conference with gaa’s above 2.80, and maybe even one or two above 3.00.  The only eastern teams to make the playoffs with a gaa above 3.00 post lockout are the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2006-07 (3.11 gaa) and 2005-06 (3.07), Carolina Hurricanes in 2005-06 (3.11) and Philadelphia Flyers in 2005-06 (3.04) but offense was significantly higher in those seasons.  Particularly in 2005-06 when only 5 teams had sub 3.00 gaa’s in the east, all making the playoffs.

I should also point out that of the teams that made the playoffs with a GAA above 2.80 in the past 4 seasons, both Ottawa teams missed the playoffs the following season, Tampa is certain to do so this season and Montreal squeeked into the playoffs in 2009-10 with just 88 points, the lowest point total for a playoff team post lockout.  Bad defensive teams don’t generally see much success and should they achieve some it is seemingly not a positive predictor of future success.

 

Jan 142012
 

There has been a lot of talk over the last 24 hours about the possibility of the Maple Leafs trading Luke Schenn to the Philadelphia Flyers for James van Riemsdyk?  Personally, I’d seriously consider it and probably do it, but lets take a look at the numbers.

Luke Schenn

HARO+ HARD+ FenHARO+ FenHARD+ Ozone%
2011-12 1.19 0.85 0.94 0.83 45.7%
2010-11 1.05 0.89 1.02 0.94 51.1%
2009-10 1.19 0.85 1.05 0.96 51.7%
2008-09 0.97 0.82 1.06 0.89 53.2%

For those who don’t know what these numbers are they are my all-encompassing (mostly) hockey rating stats.  HARO stands for Hockey Analysis Rating Offense and is an offensive rating for the player based on goals scored.  HARD is the defensive rating based on goals.  The Fen ratings use fenwick stats (shots + missed shots) to calculate the ratings instead of goal stats.  For these ratings anything over 1 is quite good (above average) and anything less than 1 is not so good.  The above ratings are for 5v5 even strength situations.

The one thing these stats do not take into account is zone starts (I have a plan to fix this in future versions of my ratings but haven’t coded it yet) so I have included the Ozone% which indicated how frequently the player started in the offensive zone vs the defensive zone.  >50 means more starts in the offensive zone than the defensive zone and <50 means more starts in the defensive zone than the offensive zone.

So, for Luke Schenn we actually find his numbers quite consistent.  Strangely he has been a pretty solid offensive defenseman but a pretty weak defensive defenseman which is the opposite of what he was projected to be when drafted.  His FenHARD+ rating has dropped significantly this season from the previous 2 seasons but that can be fully explained by the fact that he has had significantly more defensive zone starts this year from previous years.  The same is true for his drop in HARO+.  When we factor in his zone starts he has been extremely consistent over the past 2 1/2 seasons (his rookie season was a little weaker).  That lack of progress is what concerns me most about Schenn.  If he can’t significantly improve his defensive ability his overall value going forward is limited to a #4-6 defenseman.

James van Riemsdyk

HARO+ HARD+ FenHARO+ FenHARD+ Ozone%
2011-12 1.13 0.84 1.07 0.99 54.0%
2010-11 1.29 1.02 1.08 0.93 49.6%
2009-10 1.05 0.97 1.13 0.99 52.9%

Van Riemsdyk’s fenwick ratings have been extremely consistent over the past 2 1/2 seasons with the fluctuations observed in them almost solely due to the fluctuations in his Ozone%, particularly for the fenwick ratings.  Overall he appears to be an above average offensive player and a somewhat weak defensive player, not all that different from Schenn.  Last season was clearly a good season for him with a bit of a drop off this season.

In some other discussions I have compared van Riemsdyk to Joffrey Lupul, just a little bigger.  So let’s take a look a Lupul’s numbers and see how they compare.

Joffrey Lupul

HARO+ HARD+ FenHARO+ FenHARD+ Ozone%
2011-12 1.59 0.68 1.07 0.82 50.0%
2010-11 1.09 0.78 0.93 0.79 47.4%
2009-10 1.32 0.96 0.95 0.96 50.8%
2008-09 1.15 0.83 1.01 0.87 44.4%

Lupul’s seems to be a perfect example of a high risk high reward player.  His offensive numbers are quite good, a little better than van Riemsdyk’s, but his defensive numbers are quite bad, especially over the past 2 seasons.  His offensive numbers have jumped quite a bit this season but his offensive ratings from 2008-09 to 2010-11 had him as an above average offensive player so maybe this season isn’t all that surprising given he is probably playing with better players and given more offensive roles.  Also, his ratings from 2008-09 to 2010-11 are quite comparable to van Riemsdyk’s over the past 2 1/2 years (though van Riemsdyk has benefited more from more offensive zone starts).  Compared to Lupul I think we can say van Riemsdyk is slightly below him offensively (particularly if Lupul’s performance this season is sustainable), and slightly above him defensively.

In the end whether you trade Schenn for van Riemsdyk comes down to each teams need and whether you project improvement in either of them going forward.  Right now Schenn is probably a #4-6 defenseman on most good teams and van Riemsdyk is a second line winger on a team with good depth up front.  The reason I make the trade is Schenn has been given big minutes and top 4 defenseman roles in the past but hasn’t shown he can be that.  Van Riemsdyk has never really been give top line duty or been given top PP unit duty so we don’t know whether if given that opportunity he could have a break out season, much like what Lupul is doing this season.  Plus, I think a line of Van Riemsdyk-Grabovski-Kulemin could be an interesting combination of size and skill and 2-way ability, even more so if Colborne replaces Grabovski down the road.

Update:  Apparently Van Riemsdyk is now out with a concussion so the idea if trading Schenn for van Rymsdyk right now is a moot point, but the analysis (concussion aside) is still valid.

Oct 022010
 

As we head towards the start of the 2010-11 season, lets take a look at 9 teams who may struggle in goal.

Philadelphia Flyers – Michael Leighton has been a waiver claim 4 times in the past 4 years and another time was traded straight up for a 7th round pick.  Despite playing well at times last year, he isn’t anyone I’d be comfortable depending on and he will be starting the season on IR with a bad back.  Brian Boucher has had moments of great play in his career too but has never been able to establish himself as anything more than a backup.  This is not the goaltending a supposed Stanley Cup contender should have.

Ottawa Senators – The Senators had the third worst save percentage in the NHL and they chose to come back with the same tandem and they haven’t looked any better in the pre-season.  Pascal Leclaire might be the worst goalie in the NHL over the past couple seasons (challenging Toskala for that title) though the Senators hope that is in part due to his injury issues.  Brian Elliot looked like he was in the process of transitioning from prospect to reliable NHL starter but he also struggled at times, and didn’t look good in the playoffs.  What Elliot’s NHL career looks like is still a big question mark.  Adding to the problem is the Senators lost a key defensive defenseman in Anton Volchenkov and added an offensive defenseman in Sergei Gonchar so the team may choose to go with a more offensive style of play which would only expose their goaltending issues even more.

Dallas Stars – Kari Lehtonen isn’t a bad goalie, just an unhealthy one.  Only once in his 5 year career has he been able to start more than 45 games.  Behind Lehtonen you have Andrew Raycroft who probably has been one of the worst goalies post lockout.  If Lehtonen gets injured yet again, it could be trouble for the Stars.

Toronto Maple Leafs – The Leafs have had terrible goaltending the last several years.  The good news is there is no one on the Leaf roster named Toskala or Raycroft so that has to be a positive.  But, with that said young Jonas Gustavsson hasn’t proven anything and has looked iffy in the pre-season and veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere is past his prime.  That said, I think Giguere will have a more steady influence on the team even if he isn’t a great goalie anymore and at least there is hope that Gustavsson can provide some upside as he develops.

Montreal Canadiens – I don’t understand the logic of trading away Jaroslav Halak who in addition to being a playoff hero also posted a 26-13-5 record with a .924 save percentage in order to keep Carey Price and his 13-20-5 record and .912 save percentage.  Price has looked shakey in the pre-season and if he doesn’t turn it around it could be a long year in Montreal.  New backup Alex Auld can be a decent backup but not someone I’d want to have to depend on too much.

Washington Capitals – Like the Flyers, the Capitals are Stanley Cup contenders with big question marks in goal.  While the Flyers have a pair of goalies with more experience than the Capitals the Capitals have a pair of young goalies with potential to have very good careers.  Both Seymon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth have been solid in goal at times but combined they have just 47 NHL regular season starts.  The good news is the Capitals have enough offense that they don’t need great goaltending but even so, that is a lot of pressure to put on a pair of youngsters with no veteran goalie around to support them.

Edmonton Oilers – Khabibulin is one of the most streaky goalies around.  When he is good, he can be really good, but when he is bad he can be awful, and there isn’t much behind him to support him during those bad streaks.  All that said, goaltending isn’t all the Oilers will have issues with.

NY Islanders – Rick DiPietro can’t seem to stay healthy and Dwayne Roloson is 41 years old.  The potential is there for the Islanders to have serious goaltending problems this upcoming season.

Tampa Bay Lightning – Both Dan Ellis and Mike Smith have shown potential to be decent NHL goalies but neither have played well enough to be called a reliable starter and neither are coming off good seasons.  Despite some good talent up front, it could be another long season for the Lightning if one of these guys can’t step up their games or the coaching can’t optimize the ‘go with the hot goalie’ strategy.

Honourable Mentions:  Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks.  I am not overly worried about Turco in Chicago, I think he can still be a reliable goalie for 50-60 games.  Can Crawford deliver in his 25-30 games though?  I am also not that worried about Niemi and Nittymaki in San Jose.  I think between them they will provide solid goaltending, but it probably won’t be as dependable as Nabokov’s.

Carcillo/Upshall/Antropov

 NHL  Comments Off
Mar 042009
 

The Flyers have acquired toughness in Dan Carcillo from the Phoenix Coyotes for Scottie Upshall and a second round pick. I think the Coyotes did well in this trade with Upshall and a second round pick but the Flyers do well as well by adding a high energy physical player for a guy, Upshall, who really was lost behind all of the other Flyer forwards.

Also, the Leafs have traded Antopov to NY Rangers for a second round pick plus another conditional pick. Brian Burke wanted a first round pick but he had to settle for a second round pick, which could easily be a mid-second round pick. The conditional pick is probably dependent on whether the Flyers make the playoffs or not.

Aug 172008
 

1 Montreal Canadiens
2 Pittsburgh Penguins
3 Washington Capitals
4 Philadelphia Flyers
5 Ottawa Senators
6 NY Rangers
7 New Jersey Devils
8 Carolina Hurricanes
9 Tampa Bay Lightning
10 Boston Bruins
11 Buffalo Sabres
12 Florida Panthers
13 Atlanta Thrashers
14 Toronto Maple Leafs
15 NY Islanders

Again, I’m going to have to disagree with THN over this. If the Pens had managed to keep Ryan Malone and/or Marian Hossa I’d be inclined to agree that they would finish atop their division, but they won’t. When you potentially have Miroslav Satan as your top scoring winger you’re not going to go anywhere fast. The rest of the team remains largely the same.

I have a hard time believing the Sens will finish ahead of the Rangers and Devils. Despite the fact that Wade Redden‘s game is in decline, losing him will hurt because they didn’t replace him. The Sens are still looking for ways to fill out the rest of their roster, but like so many other teams in the East, goaltending is their primary concern. If Martin Gerber doesn’t hold up, they’re slightly above average at best by virtue of their incredible top line.

The Bruins are going to make some noise this year, especially with a completely healed Patrice Bergeron. Michael Ryder will head into camp as the favourite to land the first line right winger slot, and considering the success Claude Julien had with Ryder, along with an elite playmaking centre in Marc Savard, he could be a very nice surprise. Once again, however, they head into training camp with a 1A-1B tandem of fan favourite Tim Thomas and the disgruntled Manny Fernandez.

The East is much more clear cut than the West because so many teams have holes. The Habs, arguably the best team in the East, also has a shaky goaltending situation considering how Carey Price fell apart last year. These goaltending problems also plague at least 3 of the playoff teams listed. It’ll be interesting to see how this season plays out – a lot of teams have areas to improve, and considering the mass exodus of players from the East heading West, this year could be rather different.