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Showing posts from May, 2008

Dirty Boots?

Just when Predators fans were settling in for a comfortable summer of franchise building under stable, mostly local ownership, a scandal appears to be unwinding around William "Boots" Del Biaggio, the second-largest member of Predators Holdings LLC , the group that collectively owns the team. First, word broke that Del Biaggio is being sued for obtaining a $3 million loan using a securities account as collateral that, in fact, wasn't his. The SEC is also apparently investigating. Here's one distressing snippet from that article: "he failed to make payment at the end of last month, citing significant financial and other problems." For someone who is such a key portion of the Nashville ownership, not being in position to make payment on a $3 million loan is a matter of gigantic concern. Then there's also the news that Boots resigned from Sand Hill Capital , the firm he cofounded, for "personal reasons." Hardly a good sign, that. This ev

Drop the puck, already!

The opening faceoff of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals is mere hours away, so it's the right time to take a look at how the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins match up in the faceoff circle, and how that might shape the outcome of the series. In yesterday's Globe and Mail, uber-hockey statistician Alan Ryder made the case that the Red Wings will hold a critical advantage in this area, citing the fact that Detroit was #1 in the NHL with a 53% winning rate during the regular season, compared to Pittsburgh's league-worst 46%. Adjust those figures for how they might do specifically against each other, prorate that across 50-60 faceoffs per game, and that does indeed appear to give the Red Wings an extra minute or two of puck possession per game, which, when you're looking for difference-makers between two top teams, could be a decisive factor. What I decided to do was to take a peek inside those overall percentages, and focus on how each of the main faceoff men (Cr

Bravo, NHL

Sure, most folks these days are waxing poetic about the NHL's great fortune in hosting a Detroit vs. Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Final, and yes, I'm looking forward to a dynamic series as much as the next fan. Something over at caught my eye today, however, and it makes me want to give the crew over there a standing ovation. Until now, if you were to comb through their online stats, say be sorting all players in 2007-8 based on goals scored, as you surfed from one page to the next (since each page presents 30 players) the columns would shift around, a deliberate attempt to prevent people from automatically scraping that data off the website. The work could still be done, but it had to be done so by hand (or especially clever scripting), and it was a brutally unnecessary pain in the butt. Going through all the skaters, for example, involved 29 pages that would have to be copied, pasted, and edited in Excel to come up with one coherent list. Today, while grabbing some inf

Hockey Blogger Moves Out of Mom's Basement

Sure, the NHL free agency period doesn't start until July 1, but the NHL blogging world saw a momentous move take place as Greg Wyshynski, one of the most widely read (and published) hockey bloggers has been picked up by Yahoo! Sports as " Puck Daddy ", a full-time job that involves a steady stream of postings on all matters NHL. James Mirtle has a nice interview with Whyshynski about his new endeavor, and what it means to both mainstream hockey journalism and the blogosphere as well. Congrats Greg! And while you've moved up to the penthouse, relatively speaking, please be sure to remember those of us remaining here with a backlink now and again.

Wednesday Moanin'

It's been a long time between updates here (quite busy with the job search), so let's get right down to business with some quick observations as to the state of the Nashville Predators and the NHL: 1) The Tennessean's coverage of the Predators took a significant step forward this last season, as John Glennon and Jessica Hopp did a generally fine job, and the editorial staff finally stopped starting every story with phrases like "The Nashville Predators, who have constantly struggled to gain fan acceptance...". On Saturday, however, Glennon committed quite the faux pas in a blog post at the Tennessean's website, complaining that Detroit's Tomas Holmstrom should be more closely scrutinized for having a foot in the crease when he scores. The problem, unfortunately, is that the "foot in the crease" rule was relaxed several years ago, and as long as you're not interfering with the goaltender, having a foot in the blue ice when scoring a goa

Vancouver to leverage statistical analysis?

There's a very interesting article this morning over at the Vancouver Sun, discussing the analytical work of former NHL GM Mike Smith , and how Mike Gillis, who just took over as Canucks GM, might make use of advanced hockey statistics in his new role. Here's a quote from Smith that pretty much says it all: "Everybody will be doing some version of this in four, five or six years. Most owners are doing business analytics in their own businesses. It's here to stay." In a salary cap-driven NHL, payroll dollars are a constrained resource, so it only makes sense to apply whatever tools you can to ensure the maximum return on that investment. Particularly for a team like Nashville, which doesn't have the luxury of living at the high end of the salary cap range, this is even more true. One of the great frustrations I run into doing some of this work is that I have to spend too much time reassembling information into data; extracting play-by-play files, merging

The Suggestion Box is Open, and Wired

I thought I'd give a test run to an interesting new widget called Skribit , which you can find a ways down the left sidebar here. The basic idea is to allow you, the reader, to suggest topics that should be covered here at On the Forecheck. You want a breakdown of individual Predators players? How about a deeper dive into the statistical area of your choice? Whatever you want, make a suggestion, and let's see how this thing works...