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Friday, February 5, 2010

Olympic Pain Points: Which Teams Stand to Lose the Most?

 As the Olympics start to rear their beautiful head, Lou Lamoriello (GM and Mr. Everything for the New Jersey Devils) has spoken out that he is a supporter of the Olympians. Obviously, there were some grumblings that the Devils were likely to struggle because they were sending too many players to the Olympics. Is Lou Anti-American—does he hate the Olympics? Who wouldn’t be a supporter of the Olympics? Well, we at Bettman’s Nightmare aim to explore that very question.


There is an assumption that players who play a lot in the Olympics are less likely to perform as well  as the season wears on. This assumption makes a lot of sense, because let’s face it; playing 82 games of puck is likely to wear on even the best of athletes. I agree that my guys would have more jump in their step if they used those 2.5 weeks off to relax, find their game, and get rid of those nagging injuries. Also, the Olympic organizers have made many concessions to satisfy the NHL, including an NHL-sized rink and fewer games.


At an initial pass, Lou has a reason to be perturbed with the Olympics set up, because his Devils are sending 6 players, whereas other teams (like the New York Islanders) are only sending 1 player. But, what is he complaining about? The Sharks are sending 8 players and several other teams are sending 6 and 7 players—so he surely isn’t alone. However, a closer look at the data shows that Lou has a leg to stand on. We have put together an Olympics Pain Point Scoring that looks at each team’s potential impact from their team’s involvement in the Olympics.

Here’s how it works. Goaltenders are the guys who are likely to face the biggest strain on their performance due to the Olympics because they play the most time. Defensemen are next and then Forwards would likely have the least impact from the Olympics. Additionally, if your NHL’s starting goaltender is likely to play in the Olympics, this is likely to have a bigger impact on your team than if the player in the Olympics is your back-up. Similarly, a player that is expected to be a starting goaltender for his National team is likely to face a bigger impact on his performance coming down the stretch. Thus, NHL Teams that have starting goaltenders that are expected to start in the NHL are already facing some serious fatigue issues coming out of the Olympics (Hiller-Switzerland-Ducks;  Miller-United States-Sabres; Kiprusoff-Finland-Flames; Vokoun-Czech Republic-Panthers; Halak-Slovakia-Canadiens; Brodeur-Canada-Devils; Lundqvist-Sweden-Rangers; Nabokov-Russia-Sharks).

Conversely, there are players who have been invited to the Olympics who do not even start for their team—this isn’t expected to have any impact on a team (Ole-Kristian Tollefsen-Norway-Red Wings; Andrei Kostitsyn-Belarus-Canadiens; Mikhail Grabovski-Belarus-Maple Leafs, just to name a few). The sum of all of the individual’s player pain gives the total pain-impact for the team.


NHL Teams
Olympians
Total Pain
San Jose Sharks
8
2048
New Jersey Devils
6
1980
Vancouver Canucks
7
1868
Anaheim Ducks
7
1648
Detroit Red Wings
7
1580
Montreal Canadiens
6
1344
Atlanta Thrashers
5
1312
Buffalo Sabres
4
1284
Ottawa Senators
5
1244
Boston Bruins
5
1232
Pittsburgh Penguins
5
1216
Tampa Bay Lightning
4
1200
Minnesota Wild
5
1108
New York Rangers
5
1104
Calgary Flames
3
1088
Florida Panthers
2
1088
Chicago Blackhawks
6
1036
Los Angeles Kings
5
1020
Philadelphia Flyers
5
1008
Nashville Predators
6
996
Washington Capitals
5
896
Phoenix Coyotes
3
872
Columbus Blue Jackets
6
788
Toronto Maple Leafs
5
760
Colorado Avalanche
3
728
Dallas Stars
4
560
Carolina Hurricanes
3
512
Edmonton Oilers
2
504
New York Islanders
1
448
St. Louis Blues
3
420

Now when you start to consider that the Sharks are sending 8 Olympians, including their entire starting 6, and 2 other guys that are expected to log heavy minutes in the Olympics—things could get dicey for the Sharks down the stretch.

Lou’s claims that he is pro-Olympics are obviously rooted in the fact that somebody caught wind of the fact that the Devils are sending most of their starting lineup to the Olympics and their stud goaltender—they are likely to not be as rested as teams in their division (also worth considering that Elias and Langenbrunner, two guys Lou would love to have in the lineup haven’t been and are likely to suit up in Vancouver). Of all of the Eastern Contenders, only the Sabres and the Senators are likely to face as much headwinds coming out of the Olympics (Montreal is not considered a contender at this point). In the west, things could open up for Chicago (who are sending a lot of players, but no goaltenders), Phoenix (who is only sending three players), and the Kings whose goaltender is listed as a third-stringer for the U.S. team.

We will revisit the Olympics Pain Points after the end of the season—stay tuned. 

P.S.  This is Weagz's inaugural post, resplendent with pictures chosen by the author.  Initially, I was going to suggest an extensive collage as the head picture:


...in hindsight, it might have been too over-the-top.  Good stuff, Weagz!  --- Matteau

8 comments:

  1. You skimped out on the Ducks, they have 8 Olympians

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  2. That's just because we all know the Ducks' season is going to be over after 82 games regardless (haha).

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  3. Who's the 8th? Todd "I Take only Backhands" Marchant?

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  4. BY FAR THE WORST POST EVER IN THE SHORT HISTORY OF BETTMAN'S NIGHTMARE. THE BLOG WILL NEVER BE ABLE TO RECOVER FROM SO MIGHTY A CREDIBILITY BLOW SINCE PUTTING UP THIS RUBBISH.

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  5. Hey, I'm the historian around here. And I think this one (http://bettmansnightmare.blogspot.com/2010/01/doc-emrick-reaches-puberty.html) was worse.

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  6. Getzlaf, Perry, Ryan, Selanne, Koivu, Niedermayer, Whitney, Hiller

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  7. Sure enough. So the question is which person was left out. I'm willing to bet it was one of the guys who will get a lot of playing time, because 1600+ for 7 players seems low.

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  8. This post was drafted prior to Gleason and Whitney being added to the team.

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