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The Long NHL Weekend


The first weekend of the NHL season is done. While there is rejoicing from we fans and from some teams, it is early in the year.

Yet we are looking at some things on the analysis side here at On Goal Analysis. OGA offered Our predictions of all 30 teams’ opening 10 games based on nine fatigue factors and how they stack up in this blog last Thursday: http://ongoalanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/10/06/oga-believes%e2%80%a6/
We promised to give you a report card when we get to the G10’s, but we thought a peek at how it’s going would be interesting.

OGA is also working an analysis behind the scenes on scoring and the EKG of sorts – the Scoring Rhythm – it is producing. Again, it is very early in the season with teams only having played between one and three games, but we wanted to offer up a peek at any trends that are developing now.

Without further ado…

Fatigue Factors Have Meaning

So far, that meaning is an overall 17 – for – 25 / .680 accuracy rate. Why ‘25’? Here is the simple math:

Games played: 31

Games called a “Pick ‘em” per fatigue factors: – 9 = 22

“Pick ‘em” games ending in a one goal differential we get 1/2 credit for: + 3 = 25 (We said a “Pick ‘em” game indicates a goal differential of 1.0 or less so was too close to call a winner; if it ended in a one goal difference, we are giving ourselves 1/2-game credit)

So 17 correct / 25 total = .680

Here are some further team fatigue notes for teams in the East and then West (if there is no mention of your team, they are right where they are supposed to be).

Eastern Fatigue

In Boston, the Cup Champions are learning the same ol’ effort to secure a win is a goal short two-out-of-three times. They are a talented group, but have to step up the pace and pull down some of the Pick ‘em games to stay on track.

Buffalo convincingly took advantage of their first two Pick ‘em games with strong wins in Europe. They have the fatigue advantage coming up against CAR. But the telling stretch in this first 10 games will be on the road at PIT, MTL, FLA and TBL where they need to pull some points and are at the disadvantage.

Carolina fans might be pulling out their hair right now. The loss to TBL was a Pick ‘em, they were supposed to lose to WSH and pulled down a point, and NJD held the fatigue advantage for the Devils in a spirited game that pulled down an empty netter against. The game Wednesday against BOS is at the ‘Canes advantage, and they need to secure a victory or they are going to fall closer to the lower end of the prediction spread near the 3-wins-in-10 number than they might like.

Florida stole Game 1 at the NYI on the back of Jose Theodore’s shutout. Tonight they are at PIT on national TV (Versus/NBC Sports Network) and have the fatigue advantage over a road weary PIT team (see below). Can they pull down the ‘W’? Doing so, coupled with that opening win on Long Island, is the kind of play that could see them back in the playoffs this year.

While Ottawa is 0-2, that is where the fatigue factors said they would be. Fatigue factors are in their favor over the next two games versus MIN and COL who are on road trips around the League. Watch for their strong finishes to turn into some W’s if they can exploit the other teams’ fatigue factors.

Pittsburgh pulled down 2.5 wins out of their first three games. This is significant because they were at a fatigue disadvantage for all three. A great sign for the club, yes? What if the effort they are putting out now for the W wears them out for later in the season? While nobody is advocating coasting through any games, if the effort they put forth for the W on the road is their standard effort with the choke on, no worries for later in the season. But this could equally expend more effort that they need down the stretch. Time will tell. For now here at OGA we say, ‘Good game, boys!’

Tampa Bay pulled down a win-and-a-half off of two Pick ‘em games. They have one more fatigue Pick ‘em versus NYI before their Black and Blue pair of games (see http://ongoalanalysis.wordpress.com/2011/07/16/the-2011-12-nhl-black-blue-schedule/) against FLA and another two advantageous home games against NYI again and BUF. In a purely talent comparison, they need to wins over NYI before they have to close this first 10 against BUF (in a Black and Blue pair) and NSH. Let’s see how they do.

Is Leafs Nation ecstatic about their wins and equally concerned about a lack of defense? Take heart in three things: they have scored in every five-minute block of time from mid-1st through mid-2nd Period; Reimer has looked good for all but the last half of the 3rd period in Game 2; and Kessel is on a hot streak. They also have the fatigue factor advantage versus CGY, COL and WPG coming up, so could easily start the season 5-0. But watch out on the back half…

Nervous in Washington with an OT and SO win to open the season? Don’t be. Fatigue factors indicate they had the advantage in Game 1 versus CAR and were a Pick ‘em for Game 2 against TBL. They are doing just a bit above what should be expected.

One game does not necessarily decide a season. But Winnipeg’s 5-1 loss to MTL in a game in which they had the fatigue advantage is not the kind of result that puts teams in the post-season. MTL stole that one. The Jets need to turn on the afterburners.

Western Fatigue

Calgary fans needed that win in Game 1 against PIT when the Flames had the fatigue advantage. You can just as easily see what happened in STL repeat in MTL and TOR and this team start the season 0-4. If that happens, take a little solace in the fact they have the fatigue advantage over opponents for the final six games of this stretch, a benefit no other team enjoys. Bottom line, however, they need to win when they have the advantage or we are looking at issue for CGY this season.

While the Avalanche dropped their advantage game to DET, they came back with a strong performance in the Pick ‘em game against BOS. Good effort to reclaim some standings points. Do you get the feeling this back and forth is going to occur all season long?

Columbus fans may be asking why hasn’t that blockbuster trade turned into instant gold? They had the fatigue advantage in Game 1 and a Pick ‘em for Game 3 and got no points for their efforts. True, this trend needs to go in the other direction for a successful season to ensue. If you are a ‘Jackets fan and looking for solace, keep in mind three losses by an average of 1.33 goals is an indicator of being this close to victory. You also have to like the top line of Prospal, Carter and Nash who look like they are beginning to jell nicely. Hang in there.

And Detroit’s victory against COL in the Wings’ Game 2 was against the fatigue call and good on the club. Seems they caught the Avs sleeping. They looked good for a bunch of old guys, eh? (Said the spider to the fly.)

In Edmonton, will everyone give Tom Renney the credit for saying RNH is ready to play the game at this level? We, too, know it is only one game. But if you saw the poise and skill of That Kid, you can see with Taylor Hall the makings of an Oilers line of old. Kind of like the United States militarily spending Russia out of the Cold War, those boys’ll keep coming with those young legs until the final whistle. WOW! Oh, and fatigue advantage was to Edmonton over PIT, which was on the money. But, again, WOW!

Nashville is clearly overachieving against the fatigue factors and on the strength of Centers David Legwand and Craig Smith. Hmmm… Predator goal scoring is carrying the team to victory. That’s unusual. And a good trend to overcome potential fatigue losses. Let’s see how they do at home versus PHX and NJD with the fatigue advantage.

And Phoenix fans should like that one point they pulled off of the DAL fatigue advantage last night. Remember, they are at a disadvantage as they continue eastward to NSH. But thereafter they close out the Game 10 stretch either at an advantage or as a fatigue Pick ‘em. We said they would most likely get 4.5 wins out of this first 10, and the half-notch is done.

Apparently, and if only one such game is a key indicator, Vancouver needed to get on the road. Points in the fatigue Pick ‘em game against CBJ were just what the doctor ordered for team confidence, especially when they are about to be at the disadvantage at PHI, DET and EDM to close out this road trip. Another win or two against the fatigue odds will be just what this club needs to exercise the Cup Cobwebs in their collective head.

Team Scoring Rhythm

And finally, we offer an early look behind the scenes at Team Scoring Rhythms of note. As with the teams not mentioned in Fatigue Factors above, if you do not see your favorite club here, there is nothing remarkable out their trending rhythms.

Eastern Rhythms

Buffalo has started the 1st and 2nd Periods strong with 2-of-8 goals before the midpoint in the 1st and 5-of-the-remaining-6 goals from the opening of the 2nd through that period’s first 15 minutes. After that, they have seemingly held on for victory. The defense between Ryan Miller and the blue line, has been very strong for the Sabres, a good trend for the season.

Carolina has seemingly been in good defensive mode through the first five minutes of the 2nd Period each game. And then BAM!  The other teams smack them like a brick wall with goals scored in every five-minute stretch except for the opening five in the 3rd until the game ends. To the tune of 12 scores over 40 game minutes. This trend will have to turn.

Rebuilding year and all we know, but Ottawa has scored at least one goal over every five-minute stretch of play from the last five minutes of the second period to the end of the game. And they have closed out games with four goals in the last five minutes, double any other team’s output in the NHL. The issue is letting in 1-to-2 goals every five minutes from mid way through the 1st Period to the end of the first five minutes in the 3rd. More D and earlier should be their clarion call.

For all but one goal, Pittsburgh has been done scoring before the final five minutes of the 2nd Period. Their games have been close for the 4-1 scoring disadvantage they have in the 3rd Period. This is an indicator of fatigue, and should be expected on a three-game road swing to the other side of the North American continent. Let’s see how that trend changes at home.

Toronto has outscored their opponents so far 7-1 through the first 10 minutes of the 3rd Period. The last 10 minutes of the game have been high adventure as they have been outscored 4-1. You can bet Ron Wilson and the team’s veterans are preaching ’60 minutes per game, boys’ in the dressing room. Not breaking this trend will bite them in the butt soon.

Western Rhythms

So far, Calgary seems to have come undone in the final five minutes of the 1st Period through the end of the game where they have given up 10 goals to four scored. Something is not firing right in their engine and they need to tune it up for victory.

Detroit has scored a goal in every five minute span beginning with the last five minutes of the 1st Period until games’ end with one exception in the 3rd period. In turn, the only goals they have given up have been in the 3rd Period. So a little more emphasis could come in for the final stanza and there would be an even more dominant showing from the Red Wings.

Nashville has not been dominant across all games at all times. (OK, nobody is as a general rule.) But they have scored over every five minute span from the final one in the 2nd Period until the game ends. Teams need to come see the Predators in good game shape to potentially break that trend.

Summary

The wins and losses and goals scored rhythms are going to change. Of that we have no doubt. But we hope in this short rundown you might understand a bit better where/why your team has or has not produced over the first few games this season. For those who say it is a waste of time to get wrapped up in what is and is not so early, we offer a friendly POPPYCOCK! Take a moment to soak it all in – the difference between in and out of the playoffs each year is a miniscule 1.5 games.

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