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Showing posts from March, 2007

Endorsements

Got any good books to recommend?

Greatest Hits from Working the Net:

Harlow Salon - one of the very best hair salons in Nashville TN.

Predzone forums shut down?

Does anyone out there know what has happened to the Predzone forums? I was just checking in, and can't get past the (disabled) login screen, which bears the message, "You can thank the Tennessean for this."

Any clues?

UPDATE 3/30/2007: It looks like the website is back up, no word on what happened, however.
UPDATE 4/2/2007: Check the Predzone Podcast for the story of what happened last week. I'm not quite sure what to make of the whole mess, but hopefully it doesn't set the "internet sites with press access" issue back here in Nashville. Mike paints a picture of being disrespected by the Tennessean as well as the Predators organization, but in doing so throws around a good deal of mud himself.

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Good seeds and Bad seeds...

Now is the time of year when we start to see articles describing how winning the President's Trophy really isn't that big a deal, and that teams like Buffalo, Nashville, Detroit and Anaheim are better off taking things easy and making sure they're ready for the playoffs. After all, as quoted from this morning's Tennessean, "only six Presidents' Trophy winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in the 20 years the league has given out the award."

Wow, that sounds horrible! All that hard effort over 82 games, and chances are the President's Trophy winner won't even win the Cup!

Think for a minute, however, and you realize that 6 out of 20 really isn't that bad - 30%, in fact. When you consider that the Stanley Cup Playoff is a 16-team tournament, saying that one team in particular has a 30% shot at winning makes them a pretty strong favorite.

I went back through the 1994-2006 playoffs to see how well teams of different seeds have done in the playo…

Go For the Predz-idents Trophy

Today's Tennessean has a boilerplate article about how winning the President's Trophy isn't a big deal, and that "only six Presidents' Trophy winners have gone on to win the Stanley Cup in the 20 years the league has given out the award." Setting aside the notion that it's a bad idea for teams to poo-poo the importance of the regular season (shall I just save my ticket-purchasing money for the playoffs?), earning home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs is indeed worth something.

There are sixteen teams in each playoff run, and if regular season standings really don't mean anything, then each team has a 6.25% chance of winning the Cup. If 6 President's Trophy winners have won in 20 years, however, that suggests a 30% chance for the best regular season team.

I don't know about you, but a 30% shot sounds better than 6.25% any day.

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Hooray for PythagenPuck

Back in November, around the quarter-mark of the NHL regular season, I wrote a piece looking at Expected Winning Percentages for each team, based on their Goals For/Goals Against ratio, using the PythagenPuck method as outlined in Alan Ryder's "Win Probabilities" article over at Hockey Analytics. Since we're approaching the end of the campaign, I thought it worth revisiting the two assertions I made back in November - that the Ottawa Senators were capable of getting back into the playoff race, and that the Boston Bruins were in danger of a freefall to the bottom of the standings.

Just to review, the basic idea behind win probability models like PythagenPuck is that over the course of a season, the Goals For and Goals Against numbers can be used to derive a team's winning percentage, within a a surprisingly narrow margin of error. For instance, if you only had GF/GA information, you could make a very good stab at projecting what the standings would look like. The w…

The Need for Speed

Hurry (and I do mean hurry) over to A Theory of Ice, for a wonderfully written piece "On Speed." Here's a snippet:
‘Hockey sense’ is actually a bit of a spooky phenomenon, like ESP, and indeed the players who have it give the eerie impression that they see the future. They are where they need to be, simply and unfailingly, even before the rest of the team realizes that someone needs to be there. They pass to the place where there teammate is going to be in a few moments, not to where he is. And a fast enough mind can, sometimes, compensate for a slow body, because a quick enough read of the play can see the game geometrically and position accordingly, rather than trying to chase it down. Forwards, maybe, can afford to have bodies faster than their minds, but a good defenseman and especially a good goalie is defined more by the ability to think faster than the opposition, rather than move faster.Sounds like a perfect description of Larry Murphy to me...

Where are my tickets, Mr. Holland?

While working on a piece about the 10th anniversary of the great Colorado/Detroit game at Joe Louis Arena, I caught myself reflecting on some of the great games I've had the fortune of seeing in Detroit during the 1990's, through a variety of means. Then another thing came to mind - when I'm in attendance, the Red Wings win. I'm on a huge personal winning streak here, so perhaps the Red Wings front office would want to bolster their chances during the upcoming playoffs and make sure I'm in the house for those critical games? I can make myself available...

June 4, 1995: Detroit takes Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals from Chicago, 3-2 (although the Hawks put one of the goalpost as the final horn sounds). Wow, has it been that long since the Blackhawks achieved anything? Ticket courtesy of a college buddy who had a spare.

October 13, 1995: The Wings pummel the Edmonton Oilers in their home opener, 9-0. After the painful Finals sweep against New Jersey the…

Set the Wayback Machine for 1997...

There will be numerous posts, no doubt, celebrating the 10th anniversary of perhaps the greatest regular-season NHL game in recent memory, the duel between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena that featured Darren McCarty's pummeling of Claude Lemieux, among other epic battles. Rather than comment on the game from today's perspective, I thought I'd provide a contemporary look, as in those early days of the World Wide Web I was a columnist for a hockey website called In The Crease (now only found in the Internet Archives), and due to the hard work of our NHL editor, we had worked up enough credibility in those days that I got my first press pass to cover this highly anticipated matchup (and to think how slowly the issue of press access for bloggers has come along since then). By that point I had been writing columns online about the Red Wings for a couple years, having joined ITC after participating in innumerable newsgroup threads, and answering …

A Swede Addition

I'm surprised I didn't already have this one in my blogroll, but be sure to check out Ingmar Bergman Shoots... and Scores! The most recent post is a great online interview with an anonymous Swedish NHL player, that gets well past the usual cliched pablum that athletes generally have to feed the mainstream media. Check it out, as it's about the most casual and open interview you'll see with an athlete these days. Some highlights:

The NHL Player: Shitty hotelroom. I hate it when the toilet is two centimetres higher than the standard. I get uncomfortable not being able to get the bottom of my feet firmly on the floor.

(When I read this I laughed so hard I'm thinking this guy needs his own talkshow on HBO.)

The NHL Player: To all the readers: If you want to marry someone you've put on a pedestal, remember I pick my nose, use the toilet and fart just like the rest of you.

That puts a new spin on those "just like you" commercials the NHL's been running …

Is Sid the Best Playmaker in the NHL?

My recent piece looking at 1st vs. 2nd Assists and the possible impact on Hart Trophy consideration generated a deluge of emails, most expressing outrage over the mere suggestion that anyone other than Sidney Crosby should be awarded the MVP this season. In particular, there was a great deal of anti-Ovechkin rhetoric, including comments like "the last time he ever passed a puck was probably at the dinner table", and others making the point that players with lots of 1st Assists (goal-scorers like Ovechkin) tend to be shooters creating only rebound opportunities rather than actually setting up their teammates.

Today's table tries to answer that question with hard facts. How often do players get assists because of shots taken*?

This year, out of 6,336 goals scored, 1,105 involved an assist due to either a shot that was saved, or a missed shot that was then turned into a goal, roughly one per game. Among the current Top 30 NHL scoring leaders, Teemu Selanne leads the way with …

He's Not In Motown Anymore

Apparently New York Ranger Brendan Shanahan's post-concussion recovery is going well - this from the New York Post (link courtesy of Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press):

March 20, 2007 -- LINDSAY Lohan continued her New York party over the
weekend. On Saturday night, she and her pals, deejay Samantha Ronson
and p.r. powerhouse Lisette Sand-Freeman, hit the Beatrice Inn before
going to The Box at 1 a.m. - where Lohan got up on the stage and sang
while doing a "stripper dance" to thunderous applause. She got off easy
- after her, New York Ranger Brendan Shanahan was blindfolded and
ball-gagged as trannies danced around him.

I wonder if one of them has a Rangers jersey with "Tran-ahan" on the
back...

What Would Patrick Do?

Following up on the issue of whether the Nashville Predators should have congratulated Mike Modano for becoming the all-time American-born goal scoring leader in NHL history, I thought a specific instance of how such situations should be handled would help clarify things.

We're approaching the 10th anniversary of perhaps the most intense and spectacular regular-season games in NHL history, the March 26, 1997 brawl-fest between the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena (more on that next week). Lost amidst the the furor of Darren McCarty vs. Claude Lemieux (among other battles) was an underreported gesture by Colorado goaltender Patrick Roy at the end of the game. McCarty scored the game winner in overtime, and as his teammates celebrated and headed off the ice, Roy fired the puck down to Red Wings goalie Mike Vernon, with whom Roy had fought just two periods earlier. This was in recognition of the fact that the game marked Vernon's 300th career victory,…

Tootoo takes the fall, Predators drop the ball

It's quite fashionable to bash the Nashville Predators this season, and last weekend's game against Dallas only added more voices to the chorus seemingly bent on running the Preds out of town, or as some would prefer, out of the league entirely. Since we now know that Jordin Tootoo will sit for five games for knocking out Stephane Robidas, I thought I'd toss my $0.02 in on the evening's activities:

1. Obviously (to most, but not all), the initial hit by Tootoo on Modano was clean, hard hockey. Mike Modano had just played the puck, Tootoo didn't leave his feet, end of story.

2. Robidas sees the hit and turns to charge at Tootoo - he comes at him with his stick in both hands, ready to come in and blast away. Under those circumstances, I don't see Tootoo's response as a "sucker punch", as many have called it*. If Robidas hadn't gotten the concussion from that hard fall, I doubt it would have resulted in a suspension (which is a problem of subjectiv…

We've Got Mail!

Yeah, it's a lame topic for a post, but I'm out of town for the weekend, and got boatloads of email related to my recent article on first vs. second assists and the Hart Trophy that got posted over at FoxSports.com - apparently any gainsaying of Sidney Crosby's achievements brings the fans out in droves! Here are some of the highlights...

I like the argument as to whether or not the second assist is more or less valuable then the first, however, a major stat that gets overlooked in determining the Hart winner is the +/- rating. Do me a favor and addthat factorto the computation and see if Mr.Ovechkin and his -19 rating is really worth Hart Trophy mentioning!Sincerely, a relocated Penguin and Sid”the kid” FAN.-Matthew
You're right, bringing +/- into the argument certainly doesn't help
Ovechkin, although we always have to remember the limitations of that
stat (namely the influence of your teammates on your numbers).The comparison of first assists to second assists is …

They've got a long ways to go, and a short time to get there...

Mirtle made an interesting point the other day about this week's Predators/Red Wings home-and-home series involving a long way to travel (~530 miles) for games on consecutive nights. So I thought to myself, which of the back-to-back matchups have had the most distance between them this year? Estimated distances are from Google Maps directions, which is based on driving distance, but this is good enough for blog work...

On December 29th & 30th, the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues (not even division rivals!), travelled 850 miles and lost an hour along the way, since the first game was in Denver (Mountain time) and the second in St. Louis (Central).
On February 27th & 28th, we had another non-divisional pairing between Ottawa and Carolina, separated by about 830 miles.
On October 16th & 17th, the Edmonton Oilers played at Vancouver then played the Canucks the next night back home (~700 miles).
On December 22nd & 23rd, the Red Wings first hosted the Minnesota Wild,…

Deja Vu All Over Again: Predators/Red Wings

It's time for the 2nd half of the Central Division showdown between Detroit and Nashville. Dominik Hasek and Chris Mason face of in goal tonight, replacing the goalies from the night before.

No Erat. No Forsberg. No Sullivan.
No Cleary. No Zetterberg. No Markov.

No crying, OK? Let's just play...

Early 1st: Lots of empty seats in the lower bowl at JLA tonight. At best it's 75% full (of course, those seats are 100% paid for, so don't cry for Little Ceasar).

16:58 1st: Darryl Bootland just can't wait to get his hands on Jordin Tootoo (get a room, you two!), and takes a penalty. Tootoo keeps his gloves on and gives the Preds an early power play opportunity.

16:00 1st: Perhaps the best scoring chance so far as the Wings gain possession in the Preds zone, and set up a shorthanded slapper for Nick Lidstrom from about 20 feet, which Mason stops.

14:20 1st: Another Detroit penalty called as Mathieu Schneider gets tagged for interference, on a mystifying call. Jarred Smithson check…

More Wings/Predators Action Tonight

With any luck I'll attempt another liveblogging tonight, of the Wings/Predators rematch at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. First, a few thoughts and updates from last night's game:

1. Martin Erat is going to be out for 4 weeks due to a sprained knee suffered during a collision with teammate Jason Arnott last night. That's a tough blow to a Nashville offense already missing Peter Forsberg and Steve Sullivan.

2. Marek Zidlicky came in at a dreadful -5 rating for the night (prompting a lively discussion on the Preds message board), whereas the Red Wing line of Kyle Calder/Robert Lang/Jiri Hudler came in at +3 each (as did defenseman Chris Chelios).

3. I can't recall when it occured, but there was an amusing moment when Chelios got the puck in his own end, and with plenty of space around him, stood there and craned his neck to look up at the scoreboard to see how much time was remaining. A pretty ballsy move by the aged veteran...

Check back later this evening for more Centr…

Detroit Red Wings at Nashville Predators Liveblog

OK, here we go - the 1st half of a home-and-home that just might settle things in what has been a very tight Central Division this season. With only a dozen games left in the season, the Red Wings are three points back with a game in hand, so two regulation victories by either team this week would open up a relatively sizeable gap at this late stage. For Nashville, a lively sellout crowd is expected, but one question will be how heavy the Red Wings support is. Traditionally, there have been a huge number of Detroit fans in the house for these games.

Tonight's starting goalies: Chris Osgood for Detroit, and Tomas Vokoun for Nashville, same as in their matchup last week. Peter Forsberg is still out of the lineup for the Predators.

18:21 1st: The Predators get the first good chance with J.P. Dumont feeding Jason Arnott down close, but they fail to convert. After Kyle Calder storms down the right wing and pings a shot off the post, he picks up the rebound, carries it around behin…

Battle for the Central - tonight

Come back later on for a liveblogging* of tonight's pivotal matchup between the Red Wings and Predators for Central division supremacy, the first half of a home-and-home that concludes in Detroit tomorrow night. Will either team take charge, or will we be left with overtime results that don't settle anything? Stay tuned...

*liveblogging in my case means getting the kids to bed not too long into the first period, and catching up via Tivo.

Technorati Tags: Detroit Red Wings, Nashville Predators

You've gotta have Hart

As the 2006-7 NHL Regular Season heads into its final weeks, it's time to consider the contenders for some of the major awards. In order to add ammunition to your own barstool-style arguments over the Hart Trophy for league MVP, I thought I'd provide some statistical fodder for the debates to come.

One topic that occasionally comes up in these sorts of discussions is the relative worth of 1st vs. 2nd assists. While everyone can come up with examples of goals where the 2nd assist involved more effort or skill than the 1st assist (i.e. a great pass that sets up a shot that's stopped, but then someone taps in the rebound), the general agreement is that 1st assists are generally "worth more" than 2nd assists, with the tricky question being, "how much so?" I won't get into that issue today, but rather want to take our NHL scoring leaders and see how they're doing in terms of 1st vs. 2nd assists.

The table below takes the current Top 30 NHL scorers base…

The Saturday morning constitutional

This morning I thought I'd take a stroll through the blogroll and pass along some highlights:

JavaGeek over at Hockey Numbers has a team-by-team breakdown of on-ice pairings, detailing how much time each player is spending on the ice with his teammates, and a rating for positive or negative performance. Great stuff...

The Ice Block shows us a positive portrait of a retired NHL player in the popular Adam Graves. See, they're not allstick-swinging louts...

Speaking of Chris Simon, Hockey Dirt poses the question of whether a reported concussion sustained during the initial hit by Ryan Hollweg might provide a partial explanation for this week's incident.

Odd Man Rush makes a case for Colorado's Paul Stastny for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year. Most of the early noise has been for Pittsburgh's dynamic diaper-dandy duo of Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal, but Stastny's steady production has slowly but surely brought him to prominence.

Sidearm Delivery boasts …

NHL setting the pace once again

Sure, everybody has their pet complaint about the NHL, whether it be insufficient suspensions for violent acts, marketing failures, possible franchise moves, etc. But let's give credit to the league when it is due. An article in today's IOL out of South Africa notes that FIFA, the international governing body for soccer, is looking at NHL-style video review for goal validation. The plan is to have something in place for the 2007 Club World Cup in Tokyo.

While sometimes the review process can longer than some would like, you have to admit that video review usually gets things right and has been a positive addition to the sport, and now, is being recognized for that success.

Technorati Tags: FIFA, World Cup

Viva Las Vegas? Viva Las Whalers!

Following Mirtle's lead once again, bizjournals.com came out last month with a comparison of which US sports markets were overextended, based on total personal income compared to the requirements of current professional sports teams located there. For example, the Tampa/St. Petersburg/Clearwater, Florida area was judged to be the most overextended, since the combined personal income of $75.6 billion supports an NFL, NHL, and MLB team. Compare that to a city like Seattle, which has three teams as well (NFL, MLB, and NBA), but boasts a total personal income of $156.6 billion*.

The neat part is that bizjournals posted a spreadsheet with some of the details. So let's tour some of the numbers, remembering that this refers only to income levels vs. the requirements to support a local team, based on ticket prices and other factors. The income levels to support various teams were as follows:

Major League Baseball, $89.2 billion
National Basketball Association, $38.4 billion
National Hocke…

Give & Take

Following up on our look at the extent to which personal judgement might affect the compilation of the NHL's Extended Statistics, I bring you today a look at Giveaways and Takeaways. In a nutshell, the numbers seem to show once again that the level of Giveaways and Takeaways per game is primarily dependent on the site of the game, not the teams involved. Compared to the Missed Shot, Gives and Takes don't have much of a direct role relative to other hockey stats, in the sense that whether or not an official scorer calls something a Giveaway or a Takeaway doesn't impact the value of key stats such as Shots, Goals, Assists, or Saves. Nevertheless, if the NHL is going to publish statistics, it has an interest in ensuring valid data is being put out there, and what I'm seeing is a hodge-podge of data that defies logical explanation.

Within the following tables, the Road column shows a teams average events per game while on the road, Home shows the number for home games, and