Posts Tagged ‘vancouver canucks’

  • I watched this whole game and I didn’t think the Wild got outplayed much at all–especially considering this was a second night of a b2b after a long Olympic break. Plus, they got completely jobbed by the interference call on Haula.That seemed to be just the edge the Canucks needed to draw out the game. Read on…

Sort of a stream of consciousness for tonight’s renewed rivalry game against the Canuckleheads…

  • Betting we’ll see some hard-hitting hockey tonight, there is no love lost between these former division rivals
    • Fast pace early in this game…I have to think this style favors the Nucks, let’s see if the Wild can slow it down a little
    • Are the Wild doing something different with their sweater laces? They have a cool horizontal look instead of the criss cross. I like it a lot
    • Brodziak gets the puck shorthanded, skates down and fires on Luongo, forcing a DZ PP start for VAN
    • Oh, and then Brodzy draws a penalty! How do you like that Read on…

I’m working on a cool feature looking at the Wild using some new “puck hog” metrics, but in the mean time I wanted to look at some team-level stats and broaden it to the Western Conference. It’s still early in the season…but with the compressed schedule the timeframes get out of whack. With around a quarter of the schedule in the books, some teams that might be outperforming their true talent might be accumulating enough points in the bank that if they do regress, they could still get a bit of home-ice advantage come playoff time. And on the other hand, with a smaller sample size than usual, the “laws” of regression may not even take effect!

Anyway, what I wanted to do tonight is look at the Western Conference standings (current as of Wednesday, 2/20) and compare them to some team-level rate stats: shots for and against at even strength, and particularly Fenwick ratio. Fenwick has been shown to be a great indicator of a team’s level of play, and accurately predicted the Wild’s demise and the Kings’ surge last season alone.

It is generally accepted that the effects of home ice are less in hockey than other sports. But I still like to look at the numbers (why do people climb mountains? because they’re there…why do I analyze home/road splits? because they’re there!) On the other hand, it’s a little dicey to take a small sample and split it into even smaller samples…I heard on #MvsW the other day that the Kings have played just like 4 home games and 9 road games so far, so appropriate grains of salt necessary here. Having said that, on with the chlorophyl!

(Friendly reminder, if you need a refresher on what Fenwick is, head to my stats glossary.)

Table 1. Western Conference Fenwick Close with Home/Road Split

ss 2-20-13 west conf standings fen close

Table 2. Western Conference 5v5 Shots For and Shots Against per 60 minutes

ss 2-20-13 west conf standings sf sa 60

The Best

The Blackhawks and the Canucks are prettay…prettay…prettay good. Expert analysis there, good night everybody! It’s no surprise to me to see that Chicago and Vancouver have almost identical home and road Fenwick rates–great teams play just as well on the road as at home. The Anaheim Ducks are the darlings of the conference so far, and why not? Everyone likes a feel-good story, and the Ducks are loaded with them, from the Boudreau redemption story to the timelessness of Teemu Selanne to the Viktor-Fasth-as-Randy-Quaid-in-that-movie-about-the-old-rookie, there’s narratives flying all over the place. But notice that Anaheim is getting outshot at even strength, and their Fenwick rates are below 50%, and not just barely either. They’re the only team that has a better road Fen close than home…an anomaly most likely but still interesting and worth monitoring. The Nashville Predators are another team that’s rife with storylines, and they are at the league cellar for shots, but dang it all if they aren’t right there in fourth place. Shea Weber seems to be snapping out of his funk, and Pekka Rinne is doing Pekka Rinne things so we’ll see how long he can carry that team. San Jose is in that classic spot where they’re not really as good as they looked for the first two weeks of the season (hi Patty) but not as bad as they have looked for the most recent two weeks, so to be honest I’m just going to set them aside and see what they look like in a couple more weeks. For now, they’re still on top of the Pacific division and their Fenwick rates don’t show anything to panic over. I’m not a Niemi believer, though, so we’ll see where this team winds up.

The Bubble

“The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry when both your goalies get injured.” –Steinbeck. The Blues are putting up eye-popping Fenwick rates, particularly at home, but if the netminder can’t stop pucks, none of that matters. I learned last year not to dismiss the Coyotes, but they aren’t looking like a team that can get to the conference finals again. Kari Lehtonen is a great goalie…when he’s not injured. When healthy, he covers up a lot of their deficiencies, but when he’s out, the cracks in the armor start to show up real quick. Detroit still has as much firepower as any team out there but they’re not getting any younger, and if Jimmy Howard misses time, the Wings will have to work that much harder at winning those 5-4 games. What to say about the Wild…you can only watch so many games where you hear the commentator say, “Parise fires the team’s first shot on net here, twelve minutes into the period” before you start to wonder what it will take to get this thing turned around. I didn’t delude myself into thinking that the additions of two All-Stars would erase all the team’s problems but I had sort of hoped they would figure out a way to get a couple more shots per game.

The Rest

I know we’d all rather just continue to repress all our lockout memories, but I distinctly recall a team down in Oklahoma City that was ripping the AHL a new one. Ah, those were the days. The Oilers have got some great puzzle pieces, but it’s hard to score goals when you’re skating backwards. Devan Dubnyk has been inconsistent, but when he’s on his game, he has looked great. I keep saying the Kings will be fine, buy low on the Kings. But they keep losing, and sooner or later they have to string together some wins if they want to get back in this thing. They are showing great possession numbers, and their shots allowed are lowest in the league, but Quick needs to start stopping some pucks like he did last year. I’m still confident that they will be fine, but if they’re not careful they might run out of time. The Avalanche are just a mess. They had a really good thing going last year with Landeskog and the rest, and this year they’ve managed to piss it all away. Side note: have you seen some of Ryan O’Reily’s dad’s tweets? The dude is on this big crusade about how psychiatric medications are an evil plot by scientists, and schizophrenia isn’t a real thing and on and on and on. We’re talking Tom-Cruise-on-Oprah-level here. Calgary needs to admit they’re in a rebuilding phase–I’d do it like a band-aid and get it over with, but that’s just me. I think I’m actually buying into the Blue Jackets right now…they’ve got something like three first round picks next year, they’ve got a new GM and they didn’t get as much in return for Rick Nash as a lot of people thought they should have, but I think this franchise is starting to find its way out of the woods. It’s unfortunate when a team is playing for next year so early in the season, but rebuilding is a process, not an event.

To sum it all up, I think the Hawks and Nucks are for real, the Ducks are surprising everyone and while I’m not rooting for them to regress, their underlying stats might catch up with them. Nashville is in the same boat with their low number of shots, and the fifth seed through about the eleventh seed are just a few points apart, so I’ll want to see what the bubble teams do in the next month or so before guessing which of them are playoff contenders.

Thanks for reading, make sure to check out my fantasy hockey podcast, and shoot me an e-mail at hashtaghockey [at] gee mail [dot com and follow me on Twitter, @Hashtag_Hockey

Luongo sucked! Mike Smith was great! Canucks choked! Blow up the Sharks! Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s take a look at some numbers from the first round matchups. First, the goalies:

The five tenders that made it out of the first round were remarkable, with Mike Smith’s .945 Ev Sv% and Jaro Halak’s .935 Overall Sv% coming in at the LOW END. If you taped Quick, Smith, Rinne, Halak, and Elliott together to make one supergoalie this round, they collectively would have turned in a .949 Sv% and a 1.57 GAA. That’s prettay…prettay good.

By contrast, the losing goalies showed more variance. Crawford was about who we thought he was (.915 Ev, .903 Ov regular season,) while Jimmy Howard underperformed (or was overwhelmed if you’re a Preds fan,) .929 Ev, .920 Ov regular season.

The narrative for the Canucks this offseason is that Luongo choked…again!…Schneider outplayed him, Schneider is the goalie of the future…et cetera and so on until our collective ears begin to bleed. However, they had the same Ev Sv%, while Schneider’s PP and SH rates were perfect, Luongo let in three power play goals and two shorties (gulp!) Schneider finished with better rate stats, but a couple of bounces here and a couple breaks reversed there and Luongo is 1-2 and Schneider is 0-2. Just saying…

Let’s look at Fenwick rates and total numbers of Sh and Missed Sh for the matchups:

LAK vs VAN

This series saw games where each team dominated in shots fired. The Kings had three games where they pushed the 60/40 mark, but in games 2 and 3, the Nucks blasted almost 60 pucks toward the net and dominated the stat. Also notable is that Game 4 (sans Daniel) and Game 5 (avec Daniel) were very similar in terms of shot output. Each game in the series was close, but the Hockey gods favored the Kings this time. Much has been made of the Kings out-fenwicking their opponents on the regular since the trade deadline, so I will be interested to see if they can continue that trend against a Blues team that is fantastic on defense…

STL vs SJ

Game by game fenwick rates were pretty even throughout the series, but what stands out to me is that after losing game 1 in double-OT despite outshooting the Sharks, the Blues turned around and won the next four despite being outshot by San Jose. LA vs STL could very well turn out to be the Bizarro PIT/PHI series where the losing goalie each night stops 39 of 40 shots and takes the 1-0 loss. It will be interesting to see if the Blues can continue to win games while putting up shots and missed shots totaling in the low-30s, or if the Kings can throw 50+ pucks at the net and find a couple weak spots in the armor of Elliott and Halak.

PHX vs CHI

It’s time for the requisite NHL-owns-the-Coyotes crackpot theory: the League FIXED the series so that the first five games would go into OT so they could sell more beer and make themselves more money! Those pigs. It all makes sense now…

I have written elsewhere on this site that Mike Smith won’t be on any of my fantasy teams next year, but there is no denying how locked in he was during the first round. The Hawks were touching 60 shots and misses in four games, and he still turned in a sub-2 GAA and a .950 Sv%. You have to hand it to the old guy. Maybe he’ll start doing credit card commercials where he’s locked in a taxi with a psychopath, frantically calling a gender-confused customer service agent with passive-aggressive tendencies…

What I said about St Louis needing to continue finding goals on a low number of shots goes double for Phoenix. I was surprised when they were able to run with the Hawks in game 1 and even game 2, but then they dropped off drastically in games 4-6, while Chicago kept increasing their total shot count. If Phoenix thinks they can settle in the low-twenties against Pekka Rinne, they must be feeling really lucky.

NSH vs DET

No team scored more than 3 goals in any game this series, while Pekka Rinne turned in some impressive performances in games 3 and 4, making more than 40 saves in each. I am not a Red Wings homer (they are so proud of their Hockeytown…Minnesota has a whole STATE OF HOCKEY) though I do sort of like their organization. I admit I had them picked to beat the Predators in this series, but that’s why they play the games. Nashville turned in some low total shot games, and if Mike Smith continues to be Voltron, they might be desparate for a goal. Phoenix has shown that even if they are undermatched on paper, they can take a game to overtime where anything can happen.

What do you think? What stats would you want to look at when breaking down a series? Who are your predictions to make it to the Western Conference finals and why? Leave a comment and share your thoughts, and don’t forget to follow me on twitter @Hashtag_Hockey

Will update with results of SJ/STL once that game is in the books. Eastern Conference coming tomorrow!

  • You can see that CHI/PHX is the closest series in the West, though Mike Smith’s injury could potentially shift the dynamic, the Hawks fired 59 (shots + missed shots) in each of the firs two games, and I feel pretty comfortable saying Mike Smith >>> Jason LaBarbera…
  • LA was outshot badly in game 2 yet still managed to score 4 goals. Then in game 3, in a scoreless game until late in the third period, they directed much more rubber at the net than did Vancouver. The Canucks need to find some way to make this into a series or they will be making tee times by next week.
  • The Red Wings are leading the Predators in Fenwick, but a Hot Goalie like Pekka Rinne can neutralize those differentials in short order. All three games have ended with a score of 3-2, and in each game the winner was outshot. It will be interesting to see if that pattern holds. A more advanced look at Fenwick would parse out 5v5 shots, but this is just a quick and dirty look at the series.