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NHL Week 9 Saturday (23 November): What Have We Learned?

We are now in NHL Week 9. Game 30 furlong analysis is in full swing. Conference graphics show all G30 projections, with all teams having been called Chasing Stanley (CS) or at Tee Time (T2) remaining so unless at some point in the season they reach a Shot off The Post (SotP) call.

So here we go with our notes…

The NHL As A Whole

1. The West Versus East rundown still shows a favorable winning percentage for the West. Through games played Saturday night, 23 November, the East’s record against the West is 57 – 73 – 22 / 44.7%.  In terms of winning percentage, this is barely unchanged from last week’s record against the West of 48 – 62 – 19 / 44.6%. The Metro Division is still the primary culprit with a 24 – 33 – 9 / 43.2% record, but the Atlantic Division is backsliding into more even territory with a 33 – 40 – 13 / 45.9% record against the West. Who is giving them the most trouble? The Central Division is where they have played the Atlantic to 13 – 20 – 8 / 41.5%, and the Metro to a 9 – 14 – 3 / 40.4% records. When Eastern teams have played the Pacific Division, they are a combined 35 – 39 – 11 / 47.7%. Keep in mind the East has to play a total of 448 games against Western teams and we have only played 152 / 33.9% of that schedule, so more potential pain is coming to the East.

2. The current OT/SO percentage rose again slightly from last week’s 24.5% of all games played to this week’s 24.7%. That is three straight weeks with a gain and it still outpaces 2010-11’s final percentage of 24.15%. One interesting note here is that the percentage of extra frame games ended in OT rose from last week’s 33.8% to this week’s 36.8%.

3. For PP and PK numbers this week, St. Louis is still the PP leader at 25.6%, a slight down tick from last week’s 25.8% effectiveness rate. Note here that St. Louis has had the best PP in three of the last four weeks. Florida is at the PP basement for a third straight week at 9.3%, a drop off of that same .2% as St. Louis. Vancouver is the leader on the PK for the third consecutive report with an 89.2% rating, the highest in the last three weeks. The Islanders hold the 30th position at 70.3% for the third straight week, a downward trend of 3.8% over that span of time.

And now for our current analysis of the NHL…

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates how the Eastern Conference projects against the PQC through Saturday, 23 November’s games:

NHLeast23Nov

Some notes here reference G30 maximum calls:

1. Six (down from eight) Eastern Conference teams have a shot at earning a CS call for G30.

2. Three (up from two) teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call by G30, or just short of IN the post-season.

3. Three (up from two) teams cannot surpass an In The Curve (ITC) call by G30.

4. No teams currently project a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call, or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.

5. And four Eastern teams remain a T2 projection, or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention.

6. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. There are a couple of changes from our last blog’s final seedings projection:

  • Based on Toronto’s wins and a sliding Tampa Bay, the Leafs are nestled in the No. 3 seed with the Lightning as their projected, visiting opponent.
  • Based on their win in Music City, the Rangers overtake New Jersey who lost to San Jose for the No. 3 seed in the Metro and final team from that division projected into the Playoffs. This will be an ongoing battle with Philadelphia trying to catch and pass both.
  • And based on Detroit losses, Montreal takes over the No. 7 / Wild Card seed and the Red Wings slip to No. 8

7. PQC breakdown:

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the first team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the fourth team in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

17 November 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON – The Columbus Blue Jackets have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the sixth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

8. The G30 Projection Schedule is (Atlantic Division teams are in BOLD Text):

THUR., 5 DECMTL, PIT

FRI., 6 DEC – CAR, DET, NJD

SAT., 7 DECBUF, FLA, NYI, NYR, OTT, TOR

SUN., 8 DEC – BOS, WSH

MON., 9 DEC – CBJ, PHI

TUE., 10 DECTBL

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Saturday, 23 November’s games:

NHLwest23Nov

Western notes:

1. Ten (down from 11) teams out of the West can earn a CS call by G30. This is still too many for the number of teams that can make the 2014 Playoffs and will self-correct before the end of the furlong.

2. No teams currently project as an SS call by G30.

3. Two (up from one) teams cannot surpass an ITC call out of the West.

4. No team currently projects as a maximum DoC call at this time.

5. And two teams remain T2 calls for G30.

6. There were only two changes to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on games through Saturday night:

  • Anaheim and Phoenix have switched back to the No. 2 and No. 3 Pacific Division seeds respectively after yesterday’s flip-flop.
  • And the same goes for Minnesota and Los Angeles who are now the No. 7 and No. 8 Wild Card seeds respectively.

7. PQC breakdown:

24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA – The San Jose Sharks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO – The Colorado Avalanche have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – The Chicago Blackhawks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the third team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fifth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

19 November 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The St. Louis Blues have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the fifth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

8. The G30 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in BOLD Text):

TUE., 3 DEC – ANA, VAN (the first G30 PQC calls)

THUR., 5 DEC – CHI, EDM, MIN, WPG

SAT., 7 DEC – LAK, NSH

SUN., 8 DEC – SJS

TUE., 10 DEC – CGY, PHX

THUR., 12 DEC – COL, DAL, STL (the last G30 PQC calls)

Our next blog will be posted on Wednesday, 27 November after we get some more G30 furlong games under our belt…

NHL Week 8 Friday (22 November): What Have We Learned?

We are now in NHL Week 8. The Game 20 (G20) furlong is also now complete and with it, a bit more than 25% of the season. This furlong was quite difficult due to the lack of parity between West and East we have highlighted and the fact a large percentage of cross-divisional games were played to open the season. So, yes, turmoil and chaos in the PQC! But we think we are sorting things out.

And this week we begin to turn our attentions toward the G30 stretch. The Conference graphics show the G30 maximum possibilities in the upper, Conference projection numbers. All final G20 calls today are in the lower sections. Tomorrow (following games on Saturday, 23 November), we will have everything relating to G30 calls.

So here we go with our notes…

The NHL As A Whole

1. The West Versus East rundown continues on Sunday, 24 November. In the meantime, have a look at paragraph 4 of our preamble from last Saturday’s blog for a good rundown.

2. Current OT/SO percentages will be detailed next Sunday as well.

3. And Week 8 PP / PK numbers will also be reviewed this weekend.

And now for our current analysis of the NHL…

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates how the Eastern Conference projects against the PQC through Friday, 22 November’s games:

NHLeast22Nov

Some notes here reference G20 and G30 maximum calls:

1. We close out our G20 PQC calls in this blog below. Starting with Sunday, 24 November’s blog, we turn all attention toward G30. Our projections for calls immediately below are for the G30 stretch.

2. Eight Eastern Conference teams have a shot at earning a CS call for G30.

3. Two teams can earn a Sharpening Skates (SS) call by G30, or just short of IN the post-season.

4. Two teams cannot surpass an In The Curve (ITC) call by G30.

5. No teams currently project a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call, or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.

6. And four Eastern teams remain a T2 projection, or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention.

7. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. There are two changes from our last blog’s final seedings projection:

  • Based on their wins over the week, New Jersey has taken over the third seed in the Metro Division, knocking the Rangers out of a Playoff berth.
  • And based on Ottawa losses, Montreal has taken over the last Wild Card seed.

8. PQC breakdown:

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the first team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH – The Montreal Canadiens have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

15 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – Both the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Toronto Maple Leafs have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

16 November 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – Both the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

16 November 2013, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO – The Carolina Hurricanes have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

16 November 2013, Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the fourth team in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

17 November 2013, Canadian Tire Centre, Ottawa, ON – The Ottawa Senators have been called In The Curve (ITC), and the Columbus Blue Jackets have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the sixth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Simply put, Ottawa is a .500 team. The issue with a .500 team is they hang in there for most of the season, and then fall off in the last 10 – 20 games, failing to make the post-season. As Sens fans watch them play and root for them to improve, be mindful at G20 that their current 10 wins is the second lowest total any of their Playoff teams since 2005 have displayed at this point in the season. And Columbus, full of hope and vigor coming into the season, have slipped to the point we have no choice but to call them a Tee Time (T2) club. They held their own through G10, and then slipped to only 3.5 wins in their last 10, sinking their chances to earn an Eastern playoff slot. They are at their fifth best G20 in the last eight seasons. And they rest below 50% in Corsi For % (CF%) and Fenwick For % (FF%) and below 100% for PDO. So all indicators are for an early exit to the golf course come April.

17 November 2013, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY – The New York Rangers have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. Wow! What a difference home cooking makes! Through Game 10, the Rangers played .300 Hockey. And then they were finally home from the road and have been a .700 team through Game 20. They also are Top 10 in CF% and FF%.  Their PDO ranks them in the 20’s, however, due primarily to a low shooting percentage for injured, key players and a save percentage that should rise from its current 91.4% as more games are played.

18 November 2013, RSBC Center, Raleigh, NC – The Boston Bruins have been called Sharpening Skates (SS), or just short of IN the Playoffs. Games 10 – 14 were rough for the Bruins as they went 1 – 3 – 1. IN Games 15 – 20, however, they countered with a record of 5 – 1 to bring the Bruins just short of a Chasing Stanley call. Their advanced stats are Top 12 or better. And they are currently 2 – 1 – 1 against the West which, although a small sample size, indicate some success where most others in their Conference struggle. We need to watch the Bruins push past their current level of play a step better to earn a CS call going forward.

19 November 2013, Wells Fargo Center, Philadelphia, PA – The Philadelphia Flyers have been called Dusting Off Clubs (DoC), or just short of OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Talking about late arrivals… Philly was almost a T2 call at Game 10 and has fought back to earn a DoC call for the second straight furlong. Make no mistake, however. Their 5 – 3 – 2 record this furlong, and most importantly, points in eight of their last nine games played, have fueled a resurgence. And their goaltending has been very solid as of late. Maybe it is not too late for Flyers fans to hope for a Playoff appearance. Time will tell.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Atlantic Division teams are in BOLD Text):

TUE., 12 NOV – BUF

THUR., 14 NOV – NYI

FRI., 16 NOV – DET, FLA, MTL, WSH

SAT., 16 NOV – CAR, NJD, PIT, TBL, TOR

SUN., 17 NOV – CBJ, NYR, OTT

MON., 18 NOV – BOS

TUE., 19 NOV – PHI (the last G20 PQC call with COL and STL)

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Friday, 22 November’s games:

NHLwest22Nov

Western notes:

1. Again, our chart shows G30 projections at top and G20 final calls below today.

2. Eleven teams out of the West can earn a CS call by G30. This, of course, is too many for the number of teams that can make the 2014 Playoffs. But several will fall off before the end of the furlong.

3. No teams currently project as an SS call by G30.

4. One team cannot surpass an ITC call out of the West.

5. No team currently projects as a maximum DoC call at this time.

6. And two teams remain T2 calls for G30.

7. There were several changes to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on games through Friday night:

  • Projecting one more possible win, Colorado is the Central Division’s No. 2 home team, pushing Chicago down to the No. 4 seed as their visitor.
  • Phoenix and Anaheim have switched No. 2 and No. 3 Pacific Division seeds respectively.
  • And due to Los Angeles wins and a Minnesota loss to open the week, the Ducks move to the No. 7 seed while the Wild drop to No. 8 in the Wild Card ranks.

8. PQC breakdown:

24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA – The San Jose Sharks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO – The Colorado Avalanche have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

10 November 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA – The Vancouver Canucks open G20 PQC calls with a second consecutive In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – The Winnipeg Jets are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL – The Anaheim Ducks are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, United Center, Chicago, IL – The Phoenix Coyotes are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – The Los Angeles Kings are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Wild are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – The Chicago Blackhawks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the third team called IN the 2014 Playoffs, and the Nashville Predators are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play. Chicago, folks, arguably needs one more Stanley Cup victory to be associate with the ‘D Word’ (for Dynasty). Make no mistake – unless everything comes undone, they will be in the Playoffs again this season as their CS call today indicates, so they have every opportunity to ‘have a go at The D.’  Advanced stats? Fuggidaboudit. They have them. Team play? Yup. If there’s one chink in the armor, it’s their No. 16 save percentage. But coupled with a 9.2% SOG success rate, they are in fine shape. And the Predators rally after being outscored 17 – 2 in G16 – G19 to pull off a big win last night versus the ‘Hawks to help land the ITC call. Nashville is hurting for Rinne to return from injury and needs to cut back on SOG against (30.4 per game) while raising their SOG for (28.6 per game) to round themselves out into the Nashville defensive juggernaut we have seen in the past.

16 November 2013, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary, AB – The Calgary Flames have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fifth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Whaaat? Alberta is finished with Hockey in early April this year? Again? Yes, we’re afraid so. You had to know with the team blow up and rebuild that this was coming despite their .500 start. With only half of that winning output over the last 10 games, their inevitable fate is now sealed. So why watch, other than this team plays Canada’s national pastime?  Because they are playing some entertaining Hockey with some good signs for the team’s (near) future.  AND because we believe with their level of competition you just might see them in a spoiler role for many Western teams when games turn more to the intra–Conference variety.

17 November 2013, Rogers Arena, Vancouver, BC – The Dallas Stars are an In The Curve (ITC) call, or just about average for Western Conference play s. Dallas has picked up their game, going 7 – 2 – 1 in the G20 furlong while edging closer to Minnesota and their projected Wild Card seat. Kari Lehtonen has returned from injury in excellent form, and the Stars speed and skill has been popping the twine with the puck. This is a team on the rise and at a relatively steady pace. So keep an eye on this team as we go forward.

19 November 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The St. Louis Blues have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the fifth team called IN the 2014 Playoffs. This is the Blues team we have seen Ken Hitchcock pilot into the playoffs the last several seasons.  Big, banging bodies up front, a strong defensive core behind them, and great goaltending, mostly from Jaroslav Halak are what define the Blues. They are as competitive as they come in the West and may be the only Central Division team that can challenge to dominate Chicago. Stay tuned for more of the same from St. Louis.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in BOLD Text):

SUN., 10 NOV – VAN (the first G20 PAC call)

TUE., 12 NOV – ANA, WPG

WED., 13 NOV – EDM

THUR., 14 NOV – PHX

FRI., 15 NOV – LAK, MIN, SJS

SAT., 16 NOV – CGY, CHI, NSH

SUN., 17 NOV – DAL

TUE., 19 NOV – COL, STL (the last G20 PQC call with PHI)

Our next blog will be posted on Sunday, 24 November, with an emphasis on the G30 PQC…

Dealing Del Zotto

Right Wing Conspiracy – 21 NOV 2013

Right Wing Conspiracy is a weekly column about hockey, with the odd hockey-related conspiracy theory thrown in for good measure.

Dealing Del Zotto

Word on the street is the New York Rangers want to trade 23-year-old offensive defenseman Michael Del Zotto.  Two factors have contributed to MDZ’s newly-acquired “surplus” status.  First and foremost, his decision-making with (and increasingly, without) the puck has become rather erratic.  He’s now playing with a more than a hint of panic in his game.  While this could be excused in a rookie, Del Zotto is now in his fifth season in the NHL.  As a result, the defenseman has watched the Rangers’ last three games from the press box.

The second reason the Rangers are shopping Del Zotto is money.  Specifically, GM Glen Sather is looking at a mountain of players on contracts which expire next summer.  While the salary cap will certainly rise, it’s too soon to say by how much…and New York is very close to the current cap, with just $1,076,794 between the Blueshirts and the ceiling (via Cap Geek).  Sather will have to make decisions on the following players before next season (and in the case of the UFAs, by next June):

RFA:  Brassard, Zuccarello, Kreider, Del Zotto, Falk, John Moore

UFA:  Callahan, Boyle, Pyatt, Pouliot, Dominic Moore, Girardi, Stralman, Lundqvist

In addition, Slats has a tough call to make on the rejuvenated Brad Richards, which I dissected back in September.  Add it all up, and it means something’s got to give.  Right now, that something appears to be Michael Del Zotto.

What would the Rangers need in return for MDZ?  Considering he’s a pending RFA with great upside (if he can learn to make better decisions on the ice), mere draft picks won’t get the deal done.  Consider the Blueshirts’ recent history:  In 2011-12, they came up short in the Eastern Conference Finals because their one true sniper, Marian Gaborik, struggled to shoot the puck due to a shoulder injury.  In the offseason, they sacrificed roster depth to bring in a second sniper, Rick Nash.  The Rangers then struggled for much of last season, largely because of a lack of depth…so they traded Gaborik for depth players.

Now that New York has the necessary depth players, Del Zotto could be used to bring a second sniper to Broadway.  To that end, rumors have been floated about a deal which would send him to Ottawa for winger Milan Michalek.  That won’t work, however, as Michalek’s $4.33mil cap hit would necessitate additional roster moves in order to squeeze him onto the roster…unless, of course, the financially-pinched Sens agreed to eat half his salary.  Also, Michalek’s numbers have been in steep decline since his 35-goal 2011-12 campaign (which, based on shooting percentage alone, seems to have been a statistical anomaly).  Finally, the Sens’ winger will go UFA next summer, leaving the Rangers with nothing to show for Del Zotto.

If Ottawa isn’t a viable option, how about Calgary?  The Flames, already far out of the playoff race, are shopping Mike Cammalleri.  While Michalek’s output has declined, Cammalleri’s is actually improving.  Like Michalek, the Flames center (who can also play wing) will go UFA next summer. However, Calgary is so far below the cap that they could easily absorb half Cammalleri’s $6mil salary/cap hit to make the deal.  In addition, if the Flames threw in smallish defenseman Kris Russell (cap hit: $1.5mil, UFA next summer) and the Rangers sent Benoit Pouliot and a 3rd-round draft pick west in return, the deal could be a short-term win for New York and (potentially) a long-term win for Calgary.

Admittedly, including Russell in the deal is a bit of wishful thinking, but adding Del Zotto would give the Flames a surplus of blueliners, so someone would need to go.  Chris Butler, perhaps?  Regardless, Mike Cammalleri would give the Rangers a much better return for MDZ than Milan Michalek.  The bottom line is this:  The Rangers need to trade Michael Del Zotto.  Ideally, they would get a goal-scoring winger (preferably a right-handed shot, but they can’t be too picky about that) and a veteran 5th or 6th defenseman in return, players who can help them win NOW, because upcoming contract decisions mean the New York Rangers will be –for better or worse– a vastly different team next season.

Follow Matt Pryor on Twitter:  @BigTex1926

NHL Week 7 Saturday (16 November): What Have We Learned?

We are now complete with NHL Week 7. The Game 20 (G20) furlong will be complete and with it, almost 25% of the season, by Tuesday, 19 November. This furlong was quite difficult due to the lack of parity between West and East we have highlighted and the fact a large percentage of cross-divisional games were played to open the season. So, yes, turmoil and chaos in the PQC! But we think we are sorting things out.

So here we go with our notes…

The NHL As A Whole

1. The West Versus East saga continues to have a significant impact on predicted outcomes (see paragraph 4 of our preamble from yesterday’s blog for a good rundown). Through Saturday night’s contests, the East’s record against the West is 48 – 62 – 19 / 44.6%, a bump up in percentage last week’s 39 – 56 – 16 / 42.3%. The Metro Division is still the culprit here at 17 – 29 – 9 / 39.1% over last week’s 10 – 22 – 6 / 34.2%, but the numbers indicate a second straight week of improvement.

2. The current OT/SO percentage jumped up to 24.5% of all games played, with 33.8% of them ending in OT. Last week we saw the OT/SO numbers at 22.83% of all games played. The rise to 24%+ is a second straight uptick in the numbers. It also currently just outpaces 2010-11’s final tally of 24.15%.

3. As is generally the case while the season progresses, the Week 8 PP / PK numbers show a downward trend from the highest percentages and an upward trend from the lower. The torch for the best PP after Saturday night’s games is passed from Washington back to St. Louis, standing at a 25.8% effectiveness rate versus last week’s 28.3%. Florida continues to hold down the PP cellar with a modest improvement to 9.5% from 8.5%. Vancouver remains the top PK at 88.6%, down modestly from last week’s 89.1%. And the Islanders continue to struggle at the bottom with a PK rate of 72.3%, down from last week’s 74.1% and about at Chicago’s 72.2% from two weeks ago.

And now for our current analysis of the NHL…

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates how the Eastern Conference projects against the PQC through Saturday, 15 November’s games:

NHLeast16Nov

Some notes here reference G20 maximum calls:

1. Only one Eastern Conference team is a CS call for G20. That team is now announced below.

2. One team can currently earn a maximum of a Sharpening Skates (SS) call, or just short of IN the post-season.

3. Nine (down from 10) teams cannot surpass a maximum In The Curve (ITC) call. Eight of them are already a lock and announced below.

4. One team currently projects no better than as a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.

5. And four teams are a T2 projection or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention. Three are already identified, and the fourth T2 team will be announced on their Game 20 call date.

6. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. There were two changes from the last blog’s final seedings projection:

  • The Rangers project as the third seed in the Metro Division and are visitors to Washington
  • And based on Montreal’s loss to the Rangers last night, Ottawa sneaks in at the No. 8 Wild Card seed

7. PQC breakdown:

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the first team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH – The Montreal Canadiens have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

15 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – Both the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Air Canada Centre, Toronto, ON – The Toronto Maple Leafs have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. The Leafs began the year seemingly a house afire as they won 70% of their games by G10. They only pulled off 5.5 wins in the G20 stretch, placing them squarely in the ITC bell curve. Part of their issue is what the advanced stats tell us – they are 29th in both Corsi For % (CF%) and Fenwick For % (FF%). So being immediately ahead of Buffalo in those categories might sound like the end of the season already. What keeps them afloat is their PDO, ranked at No. 5. With a combined save and shooting percentage of 103.1, their netminders and ability to score when they shoot keeps them swimming along in the middle of the pack.  More defense – shown by less SOG against – can help push this team over the top and into the playoffs this season.

16 November 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – Both the New Jersey Devils and Pittsburgh Penguins have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. A valiant effort by the Devils has driven up their near-elimination Dusting Off Clubs call from G10 to a more solid ITC one. They are solid Top 10 in CF% and FF%, and continuing to be the antithesis of Toronto, down at No. 22 in PDO with a 98.1. Their SOG % and Save % suffer here from less effective goaltending and scoring at season’s start, but both are picking up. And the Penguins, who looked at G15 to be on track toward a CS call by G20 had the wheels come off the scoring wagon while they went 1 – 4 for G16 – G20. Not unusual for the Pens to have a wins correction during the season. But keep an eye out as their relative 12 wins at G20 is only their fourth best effort at this point in the season since the 2004/05 Lockout.

16 November 2013, Scottrade Center, St. Louis, MO – The Carolina Hurricanes have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. Despite playing their No. 3 organizational goalie for most of this furlong, the ‘Canes have done nothing less than hung in to earn that ITC call. You will see them in the mid– to lower–20’s in all advanced stats categories right now along with being in the lower end of the ITC bell curve. But their .500 record is buying their goalies time to recuperate for a potential, late run into the playoffs. Only in the Metro Division, however. Only in the Met…

16 November 2013, Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix, AZ – The Tampa Bay Lightning have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the fourth team in the NHL and first in the Eastern Conference called IN the 2014 Playoffs. So you demoralizingly lose your franchise player for months and, convincingly, that same game 3 – 0. The cold dark winds calling for you to hang up the season are blowing now, eh? Except your team comes back to win their next two contests and finally drop their first game in eight tries to Western Conference teams in Phoenix, a Western up – and – comer. And you range Top 10 to Top 14 in all advanced stats categories, indicating excellent performance. What is even more important with Stamkos’ injury is your goaltending ranks at No. 9 in save percentage, something that will have to maintain to keep the Bolts up high in Eastern competition. Keep an eye on Tampa once the rest of the East wakes up and acts like they want to play their way into Playoff position. But Stamkos aside, we still like their chances.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Atlantic Division teams are in BOLD Text):

TUE., 12 NOV – BUF

THUR., 14 NOV – NYI

FRI., 16 NOV – DET, FLA, MTL, WSH

SAT., 16 NOV – CAR, NJD, PIT, TBL, TOR

SUN., 17 NOV – CBJ, NYR, OTT

MON., 18 NOV – BOS

TUE., 19 NOV – PHI (the last G20 PQC call with COL and STL)

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Saturday, 16 November’s games:

NHLwest16Nov

Western notes:

1. Four teams out of the West will be at CS by G20. Three are now noted with one more to be announced when they hit G20.

2. Four teams – as announced – currently project as an SS call.

3. Four teams can earn an ITC call out of the West. Three (up from two) have already been identified and one more is already a lock to be announced on their Game 20 call date.

4. No team currently projects as a maximum DoC call at this time.

5. And two teams project as G20, T2 calls. One is announced below and one more will be at their G20 mark.

6. There was no change to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on Friday’s games.

7. PQC breakdown:

24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA – The San Jose Sharks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO – The Colorado Avalanche have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

10 November 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA – The Vancouver Canucks open G20 PQC calls with a second consecutive In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – The Winnipeg Jets are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL – The Anaheim Ducks are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, United Center, Chicago, IL – The Phoenix Coyotes are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Prudential Center, Newark, NJ – The Los Angeles Kings are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Wild are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

16 November 2013, Bridgestone Arena, Nashville, TN – The Chicago Blackhawks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the third team called IN the 2014 Playoffs, and the Nashville Predators are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play. Chicago, folks, arguably needs one more Stanley Cup victory to be associate with the ‘D Word’ (for Dynasty). Make no mistake – unless everything comes undone, they will be in the Playoffs again this season as their CS call today indicates, so they have every opportunity to ‘have a go at The D.’  Advanced stats? Fuggidaboudit. They have them. Team play? Yup. If there’s one chink in the armor, it’s their NHL No. 16 save percentage. But coupled with a 9.2% SOG success rate, they are in fine shape. And the Predators rally after being outscored 17 – 2 in G16 – G19 to pull off a big win last night versus the ‘Hawks to help land the ITC call. Nashville is hurting for Rinne to return from injury and needs to cut back on SOG against (30.4 per game) while raising their SOG for (28.6 per game) to round themselves out into the Nashville defensive juggernaut we have seen in the past.

16 November 2013, Scotiabank Saddledome, Calgary,ABN – The Calgary Flames have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fifth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. Whaaat? Alberta is finished with Hockey in early April this year? Again? Yes, we’re afraid so. You had to know with the team blow up and rebuild that this was coming despite their .500 start. With only half of that winning output over the last 10 games, their inevitable fate is now sealed. So why watch, other than the play Canada’s national pastime?  Because they are playing some entertaining Hockey with some good signs for the team’s near future.  AND because we believe with their level of competition you just might see them in a spoiler role for many Western teams when games turn more to the intra–Conference variety.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in BOLD Text):

SUN., 10 NOV – VAN (the first G20 PAC call)

TUE., 12 NOV – ANA, WPG

WED., 13 NOV – EDM

THUR., 14 NOV – PHX

FRI., 16 NOV – LAK, MIN, SJS

SAT., 16 NOV – CGY, CHI, NSH

SUN., 17 NOV – DAL

TUE., 19 NOV – COL, STL (the last G20 PQC call with PHI)

Our next blog will be posted on Monday evening, 18 November, with four more G20 PQC – impacting calls that include another Tee Timer…

NHL Week 7 Friday (15 November): What Have We Learned?

We are now in NHL Week 7, bringing us the beginnings of our Game 20 (G20) calls. Why haven’t we updated things since Tuesday? Turmoil. Turmoil and chaos in the PQC. But we think we are sorting things out.

So here we go with our notes…

The NHL As A Whole

1. The West Versus East saga continues and is having an impact on predicted outcomes – see No. 4 below. Another weekly update was posted on yesterday’s blog and will be updated again next Sunday until the ship right rights itself.

2. The current OT/SO percentage update will also come next Sunday.

3. And ditto for Week 7 PP / PK numbers.

4. Here it is, Ladies and Gentlemen – at present, we do not have parity in the NHL.

Firstly, we continue to detail in No. 1 above on Sundays the continuing saga of Western Conference dominance over the East. What this is doing is skewing the Playoff Qualifying Curve to the point we have to go beyond our models and compare numbers from many other factors in order to make a qualified call. If we didn’t, it is likely at Game 20 that 7/8 of the Western Conference would appear decided. The key here is that those seven teams have a combined 54 – 6 – 10 / .843 record against Eastern opponents. AND, those 70 GP are 51.5% off all games played for those teams when the two each, inter-Conference schedule is actually only 36.6% of their entire schedule. When does this ship right itself for a more accurate picture? When these seven teams begin to play the majority of their games against other Western teams, which is scheduled to occur like this before G30’s:

Anaheim: Games 26 – 30 / 50%

Chicago: Games 21 – 30 / 100%

Colorado: Games 20 – 30 / 110%

Los Angeles: Games 24 – 29 / 60%

Minnesota:  Games 22 – 26 and 28 – 29 / 70%

Phoenix: Games 22 – 30 / 90%

St. Louis: Games 21, 24 – 28 and 30 / 70%

So expect a correction less so for Anaheim and Los Angeles, but more so for the other five Conference leaders.

And second, the Metro Division is the old Southeast Division this year. They have absorbed an overall, combined record of 66 – 69 – 18 / .490, and just 17 – 28 – 9 / .398 against their Western Conference competition. (That’s 54 of 70 / 77.1% of the West’s games played against the East, too.) Their goal differential is a –42. No team’s current streak is over two wins. In Corsi For %, six of eight of them are below Top 10 rankings. In Fenwick For %? They are numbers 4, 10, 13, 16, 18 through 20 and 25. They just are lagging everywhere. AND they are the primary source of yin to the West’s yang. When does this get a correction? In their favor, they are slightly better than 50% against the Atlantic Division and particularly against Buffalo and Florida. So how does the Metro team versus Atlantic team schedule look between now and Game 30?

Carolina: Games 21 – 26 / 60%

Columbus: Games 24 and 27 – 28 / 27.3%

New Jersey: Games 2 7 – 30 / 36.4% (one game versus Buffalo)

NY Islanders: Games 21 – 22 and 26 / 30%

NY Rangers: Games 19, 21, 24 – 26 and 29 – 30 / 58.3% (and one game each against Buffalo and Florida)

Philadelphia: Games 20 – 21, 23 – 24, 28 and 30 / 54.6% (and one game each against Buffalo and Florida)

Pittsburgh: Games 24 – 28 / 45.5% (one game versus Florida)

Washington: Games 23 – 26 / 40%

Of possibly more help than the above is the fact that only 29 games, or about 3.6 per team, come against Western Conference foes between now and G30. So while the total percentage of games for these teams includes more Eastern Conference than Western contests, less than half will specifically be played against the Atlantic Conference where they are having slightly better success. Expect from the above for Carolina, the Rangers and Philadelphia to potentially pick up their winning percentage over the next 10 games, with less help coming for Columbus and the Islanders.

And now for our current analysis of the NHL…

The Eastern Conference

Our chart below indicates how the Eastern Conference projects against the PQC through Friday, 15 November’s games:

NHLeast15Nov

Some notes here reference G20 maximum calls:

1. One (down from two) Eastern Conference teams can still earn a CS call for G20. That team will be announced at their Game 20 mark.

2. One team can currently earn a maximum of a Sharpening Skates (SS) call, or just short of IN the post-season.

3. Ten (up from nine) teams can surpass a maximum In The Curve (ITC) call. Eight (up from four) of them are already a lock and three are announced (see below).

4. One team currently projects as a Dusting Off Clubs (DoC) call or just short of OUT of the Playoffs.

5. And four (up from three) teams are a T2 projection or OUT of 2014 Playoff contention. Three are already identified – see below – and the fourth T2 team will be announced on their Game 20 call date.

6. ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ shows the Top 8 teams and who their opponents project to be. There was one change from the last blog’s final seedings projection. On the strength of their SO win, Carolina projects as the No. 5 seed, displacing the idle Rangers.

7. PQC breakdown:

19 October 2013, First Niagara Center, Buffalo, NY – The Buffalo Sabres have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the first team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

14 November 2013, Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY – The New York Islanders have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the third team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Nationwide Arena, Columbus, OH – The Montreal Canadiens have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. The Canadiens were once again stuck by the injury (with media) bug(s), influencing a rough G20 stretch. After only two wins in Games 11 – 15, they came back to earn points in four of their last five to close out the furlong. The Habs require a watchful eye going forward as at this same point since the last Lockout they held better records than their current one five of seven times (with one of them occurring in a year in which they failed to make the Playoffs).

15 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – Both the Detroit Red Wings and Washington Capitals have been called In The Curve (ITC), or just about average for Eastern Conference play. The Red Wings are streaking, which is sort of good and sort of bad. You can say they have points in four of their last five and seven of their last eight games.  But you can equally note they earned only one point in each of their last four for extra frame losses plus a regulation loss five games ago.  They are in the lower end of the bell curve, so they must pick things up to contend. On the other hand, the Capitals have 13 points of a possible 16 in their last eight games. This tremendously corrects for their slow start. The Caps are on the uptick right now, so keep an eye out for more W’s here.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Florida Panthers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the fourth team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs. And replacing Coach Dineen and his staff are not going to change that fact. Dale Tallon is beginning the fire sale to stock up ‘for the future’ (again), a clear sign the season is over. Another high draft pick awaits this team in 2014.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Atlantic Division teams are in BOLD Text):

TUE., 12 NOV – BUF

THUR., 14 NOV – NYI

FRI., 15 NOV – DET, FLA, MTL, WSH

SAT., 16 NOV – CAR, NJD, PIT, TBL, TOR

SUN., 17 NOV – CBJ, NYR, OTT

MON., 18 NOV – BOS

TUE., 19 NOV – PHI (the last G20 PQC call with COL and STL)

The Western Conference

Our Western Conference chart below indicates their PQC projections through Friday, 15 November’s games:

NHLwest15Nov

Western notes:

1. Four (down from five) teams out of the West can still earn a CS call by G20. Of note, two were called at G10 as listed. And we already know of one other who will get the call on their G20 call date.

2. Four (up from three) teams currently project as an SS call. All four are listed below.

3. Four teams can earn an ITC call out of the West. Two have already been identified and one more is already a lock to be announced on their Game 20 call date.

4. No team currently projects as a maximum DoC call at this time.

5. And two teams project as G20, T2 calls. One is announced below and one more will be at their G20 mark.

6. There was no change to the last blog’s ‘If The Playoffs Started Today’ seedings projection based on Friday’s games.

7. PQC breakdown: 24 October 2013, TD Garden, Boston, MA The San Jose Sharks have been called Chasing Stanley (CS), or the first team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

25 October 2013, Pepsi Center, Denver, CO The Colorado Avalanche have been called Chasing Stanley (CS) at G10, the second team called IN the 2014 Playoffs.

10 November 2013, Honda Center, Anaheim, CA – The Vancouver Canucks open G20 PQC calls with a second consecutive In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, MI – The Winnipeg Jets are an In The Curve call, or just about average for Western Conference play.

12 November 2013, BB&T Center, Sunrise, FL – The Anaheim Ducks are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

13 November 2013, Rexall Place, Edmonton, AB – The Edmonton Oilers have been called at Tee Time (T2), or the second team called OUT of the 2014 Playoffs.  

14 November 2013, United Center, Chicago, IL – The Phoenix Coyotes are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.

15 November 2013, Prudential Center, Chicago, IL – The Los Angeles Kings are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs.  The Kings fell just short of a Chasing Stanley call in this stretch despite their .750 play over the furlong. They needed just a bit more uumph to get over the hump. Their next 30 games’ schedule is relatively favorable in terms of travel and rest in between games, so look for them to keep things on an even keel, even without Jonathan Quick in net.

15 November 2013, Xcel Energy Center, St. Paul, MN – The Minnesota Wild are a Sharpening Skates call, or just shy of IN the 2014 Playoffs. Why only an SS call? The same reason as Anaheim and Phoenix with one extra kicker. Minnesota just completed a stretch of the most favorable Western, 10-game schedule this season. That adds to their vastly increased Western Conference schedule and the fact Coach Yeo is quite possibly overplaying some of his key players to earn the W’s. We simply need to see what they are made of and we haven’t yet.

8. The G20 Projection Schedule is (Central Division teams are in BOLD Text):

SUN., 10 NOV – VAN (the first G20 PAC call)

TUE., 12 NOV – ANA, WPG

WED., 13 NOV – EDM

THUR., 14 NOV – PHX

FRI., 15 NOV – LAK, MIN, SJS

SAT., 16 NOV – CGY, CHI, NSH,

SUN., 17 NOV – DAL,

TUE., 19 NOV – COL, STL (the last G20 PQC call with PHI)

Our next blog will be posted on Sunday, 17 November, with eight more G20 PQC–impacting calls that include both Chasing Stanley and Tee Timers…

Twitter Updates

  • ...This suggests that the LAK will defeat CHI in Game 6 to play the NYR for the Stanley Cup 3 years ago
  • Since 2005/6, when a Round 3 team wins Game 5, they lose Game 6 66.7% of the time; also, Western series are determined by Game 5.889... 3 years ago
  • ...So those stats point to the NYR claiming victory tonight and playing the winner from the Western Conference in the Finals 3 years ago
  • Since 2005/6, when a Round 3 team wins Game 5, they lose Game 6 60% of the time; also, Eastern series are determined by Game 5.778... 3 years ago
  • 4. Top 4 in each DIV play 2 rounds seeded within the DIV, 1 round versus other DIV champ and then the Finals between the Conference champs. 3 years ago

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