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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Lost Award: The Lovely Lady Byng

I assure you, we didn't forget the Lady Byng on purpose.  And there's nothing funny about the correlation between light-hitting forwards and a trophy named after a middle-aged British woman who liked the Senators and married a guy who was nicknamed "Bungo."  The first winner of the Lady Byng Trophy (I like to call him the First Lady) was Frank Nighbor of the Ottawa Senators, her favorite player.  Nighbor had amassed 18 PIM in 26 games that year.  The Senators' best player in 1925, Cy Denneny, had 16 PIM in 28 games, along with 27 goals and 42 points (good for 2nd in the league in scoring).  Nighbor had 7 points.What a bunch of bullshit.

Needless to say, there's an art to awarding the Byng, which combines scoring ability and playing time with a low number of penalty minutes.  That's the closest we've come to matching Lady Byng's idea of "gentlemanly play" when really I just think she wanted to get into Nighbor's breezers or whatever they called them at the time.  Little did she know that one of her favorite gentleman, WayGret, would be putting himself in such compromising positions six decades later.

Hopefully that little tasteless history lesson satisfied all you Lady Byng fans out there.  So what about polling?  I'm going to try something new...

Who's the Byng-est Lady in the NHL?
Pavel Datsyuk
Martin St. Louis
Anze Kopitar
Brad Richards
Your mom.
My mom. free polls

Have fun.  Now that I mocked the Trophy, I'm sure to get ghost tea-bagged by Bungo.

P.S. Be sure to vote for your player awards on the right side of the blog.  If you don't see someone you voted for, let me know in the comments on this post.

This Will Make Your Day

Puck Daddy deserves all the hits they're going to receive from this post.  If any of you have seen the new NHL playoffs commercials, you'll understand; if not, Wysh brings you up to speed.  I guarantee it will make your day.  Oh, it involves video, so keep that in mind if you're at work...

Interim Influencing...

Okay, so I know I voted and argued for Ilya Bryzgalov, but Behind the Net made some pretty convincing points against Breezer > Miller.

It is worth pointing out, though, that the VUKOTA projections he references had the Sabres as a team no less than 10 points better than the Coyotes going into the season, a difference largely offset by the difference in VUKOTA-projected versus real production by Bryzgalov.  And my point about shootout performance stands pat.  Regardless, my arguments can't account for Miller's superior save percentages across the board in these data.  As you can see, Miller has performed above-average (and above-Breezer) in all situations even-strength, penalty kill, and power play.

I'm just going to be a little ass and say "Breezer's got more wins and shutouts," then quickly pull up the drawbridge and creep into my castle.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Allow Me To Influence You...Blog Cosby's Picks for Player Awards

Let the celebration of winners begin!

Hart Trophy: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Why? I had to battle in my head between Miller and Bryzgalov, but in the end the stats said Miller played fewer games, faced significantly more shots, and maintained a higher save percentage and GAA. Now this alone doesn’t give him the win; since Bryzer has more wins, it becomes a closer battle. But I thought about the season and its highlights. Apart from Miller's stellar performance in the Olympics (which holds no bearing on my decision), he had far more highlight-reel saves than Bryzgalov, which tells me he made the extra effort to keep his team alive more often than Bryzgalov did.

The rest? One, Sedin can’t win, since they both had virtually the same points-per-game. Washington does fine without Ovie, as does the Pitts without Sid.

Vezina Trophy: Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres
Why? He wins the Hart, how can he not win the Vezina?!

Calder Trophy: Tyler Myers, Buffalo Sabres
Why? Well you may think I have a thing for Buffalo, but you’d be wrong, they just had the right crew this year. Tyler Myers at 6’8” 222lbs, is expected to play the Chara role, and as a rookie at the age of 20, it’s hard to live up to expectation. He managed to pot over 40 points (more than Chara have you) and stay above a +11, on a team that has very little actual defense, in fact I would say they have more defensive forwards than defense. I know the complaints come in when he doesn’t take loads of shots and doesn’t crunch his opponents, but those aspects will come with time, and if you can get that many points your first season as a rookie, the hard part is done.
The rest? Jimmy Howard did a great job, but being six years older and having played NHL games in three previous seasons, he had too much time to develop to where he’s at. I give props to Matt Duchene, but he didn’t quite awe me.

Jack Adams Award: Dave Tippett, Phoenix Coyotes
Why? Let’s be honest, he took a team that shouldn’t have even started the season and organized a group that is unpredictable. The consistency of the 'Yotes after injuries is possibly the most impressive.
The rest? Joe Sacco and the Avs are impressive in their own ways, but it’s also not uncommon for a group of rookies and young players to play well together. As the Avs are currently in 8th place in the West, their journey is a bit less surprising.

Norris Trophy: Mike Green, Washington Capitols
Why? The big hype for d-men this year has been reserved for Duncan Keith and Drew Doughty, but I really think Mike Green was the most outstanding of all the defensemen. He has put up as many points as he did last season but switched his focus to the defensive side of the game, despite leading all d-men in goals. I also take into consideration the other defenseman that he plays with and I don’t see a superb group (apart from the recent acquisition of Joe Corvo). He is a standout on his team (for defense) and at his age he already tops them all (though I give big credit to Doughty).

The rest? Keith has a lot of defensive talent around him to both learn from and work with, so I consider his effort great, but also a result of a good team around him. Doughty has less talent around him, but still is learning the role and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him putting up Green-like numbers in the next few seasons.

Selke Trophy: Alex Burrows, Vancouver Canucks
Why? I know everyone says his numbers are mostly the result of playing with Swedish Twins, but he did play half of the season without them, and more importantly he plays shorthanded without them and is tied for the league lead with five shorthanded goals. He has maintained a +/- over 30 and does all of this while picking up 100+ PIMS. In addition to those numbers he has almost 70 takeaways, and only 20 giveaways.

Masterton Trophy: Tim Connolly, Buffalo Sabres
Why? Ok, now you really think I’m a Sabres fan. I chose Connolly because he surprised everyone. I’m not talking about his point totals because they are no surprise; I’m talking about playing most of the season! Since the lockout this guy has struggled with injuries, playing a total 161 games over four seasons (that’s out of a possible 328 games!). Connolly suffered from post-concussion syndrome from two different hits over those four seasons; to come out on top this season shows his perseverance in the game of hockey. Many players have made a return after a multiple-season injury, but most of them don’t produce the same as they did before.

And now for my personally created award...

Clarke Award: Chris Stewart, Colorado Avalanche
Why? (Should be) given annually to the player who isn’t afraid to fight for his team while being a vital component to the scoreboard. Stewart has neared a point-per-game this season, and even though he’s not breaking 100 PIMS, he will get into a fight, even with a goon. He has fought 7 times, many of them in the later part of the season. Players like Stewart (Getzlaf, Richards, and Backes, too) are more than valuable players. These guys contribute not only through raw talent, but through intimidation of their opponents. They show they have the grit to do what they need to do and nothing will get in their way (apart from the occasional sprained ankle...ahem...Getzlaf).

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Allow Me to Influence You...Matteau the Magic Wrap-Around's Picks for Player Awards

Have you ever done this before?  Let me help...

But seriously, you'd think we'd just throw a poll at you and let you make some kind of unsolicited selection?  Reduced bias is the Power Rankin's department (see fresh March 29th Rankin's below, or here), not mine, so allow me to influence you...

The 2009-10 season has been a bit exciting for me, because I got a couple of things right, including the fact that Stevie Stam broke out and Ales Kotalik will never stop sucking (<<< 3 different links there).

Steven Stamkos, C, Tampa Bay Lightning.  Hobbies: Golf, Hanging out with Friends, Wizardry.

But for all those minor victories, it is important for Bettman's Nightmare to step outside of self-gratification (no matter how good we are at it) to, in general, give props to the top players in the league.  So, without further ado, my picks for the player awards...

Hart Trophy:  Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes
Why?  To be honest, this was a fight between goalies, Miller and Bryzgalov, and despite some of the surprises out of the desert I think Buffalo fielded a sounder team this year.  It stands to be said that neither team would be sniffing the playoffs without their goalie, and their stats are nearly a wash, but the 7% higher save percentage in the shootout gives Bryzgalov the edge for me.  Those simulated breakaways, unfortunately, have a serious impact on the standings.

The rest?  I can't bring myself to pick Sedin because I feel like they should get it as co-winners some year (my god, the this A Walk to Remember?).  I like Ovechkin's game (at times), but the Capitals are not carried by his play as much as the Coyotes are by Bryzgalov's.  Doesn't mean they're not being carried to a degree, but c'mon...Coyotes vs. Capitals...

Vezina Trophy:  Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes
Why?  It's a real Jose Theodore situation (beware! funny link!).  Or, if you want to reference a good goaltender, a Dominik Hasek situation.  

Calder Trophy:  Jimmy Howard, Detroit Red Wings
Why?  The Red Wings would not be in the playoffs if Howard had not been given the reigns in Detroit.  Sorry, Osgood, but your numbers would only look good from about 1980 to 1990.  Tyler Myers and Matt Duchene are impressive stories, but Jimmy (whenever I hear that name I think of a soda jerk) could afford fewer lapses in performance over the year.  30 wins in 2/3 of a season as a starter?  Good boy, Jimmy!

Jimmy cautiously asks the young lady if she wants to go steady.  She smiles nervously, thinking of excuses to leave.  He is not the cat's pajamas.

Jack Adams Award:  Joe Sacco, Colorado Avalanche
Why?  Yeah, that's me with the loner Sacco vote (so far).  In both the Colorado and Phoenix cases, their teams were not expected to do much this year.  But whereas Tippett stepped into a team with many of its key members intact from the previous year, Sacco brought together a host of new players into a cohesive and successful unit.  Yup, I just said "unit."

Norris Trophy:  Duncan Keith, Chicago Blackhawks
Why?  It was down to Doughty and Keith, because to be honest I think Pronger is a glorified pylon nowadays.  You have the little advantages between the former two that end up evening out: with Doughty, he uses the body more; with Keith, he blocks more shots.  Doughty has a better shot this year, but Keith has set-up far more goals.  Keith gets the edge because he's better at taking away the puck.

Selke Trophy:  David Backes, St. Louis Blues
Why?  His team's been a defensive wreck this year, but Backes has done everything to offset it.  He throws the body around, he blocks shots...while he ended up with a -3 on the year, Behind the Net suggests that, on a more equalized scale (removing some of the effects of just being on a mediocre team), Backes would be in the plus.  He's also fairly good (almost Nicklas Backstrom territory) at taking the puck away, not to mention a part of the best penalty-killing unit in the league.  Besides, he mounted a well-publicized campaign to beat up every Canadian before the Olympics; how great is that?  That's self-defense...I think...

Masterton Trophy:  Michael Cammalleri, Montreal Canadiens
Why?  Especially since he has no votes right now?  Well, I voted for Gaborik because I'm a homer and I truly think it's a miracle that he made it an entire season.  That being said, Cammalleri deserves this trophy.  After suffering a pretty serious injury to his MCL in late December (diagnosed early January), he rehabbed quickly and has provided serious spark for a team that direly needs his offense.  I've always been a fan of this guy for his ability to play bigger than his size and lift poor teams, and his story is truly why we have this trophy.  In fact, I've convinced myself.  Vote changed.

And now for my personally created award...

Carbonneau Trophy (and yes, I know the QMJHL has this already):  Mike Fisher, Ottawa Senators
Why?  (Should be) given annually to the best all-around center in the game, the Carbonneau focuses on face-off prowess, takeaways, blocked shots, and hitting to award a truly talented and unique position player.  With a 52.7% face-off win percentage, 74 blocked shots, 43 takeaways, and 202 hits, Fisher accomplished all these things while maintaining a +7 and only being assessed 48 PIM.  Throw in 22 goals and marrying Carrie Underwear, and you've got a heck of a year for Fish.  Feel the Carbonnoize...

 Hopefully, I've not influenced you too much.  That level of stimulation has no place in a house of hockey worship.  Be prepared for more influencing as my esteemed colleagues present their laughable picks over the course of the week.  

NHL Power Rankin's (week of 3/29/10)

Hello, sports fans. And welcome to another edition of the Power Rankin's!

Alright, raise your hand if you didn't see this coming - I'm talking, of course, about the Detroit Red Wings and their late season burst. They miss out on this week's Big Mover award to Ottawa (up 6 spots to Detroit's 5), but breaking the Top 5 after languishing out of the playoffs through much of the year is worth top billing in this forum.

In the East, it's tough to tell whether anyone really wants the 8th and final playoff berth. Considering that team is now assured of playing Washington in the first round, I don't know that I can blame any of them (Philly, Boston, Atlanta, or Montreal). Boston is the only team that moved up in the Rankin's this week, though, so I'll give them the blog-label recognition.

We're coming down to it, folks. Two weeks left, and only nine playoff spots left (8, if you put Washington through to the second round right now...).

Also, don't forget to vote for your trophy winners on the Bettman's Nightmare homepage!

1) (1) Phoenix
2) (2) Washington
3) (7) San Jose
4) (4) Nashville
5) (10) Detroit
6) (3) Chicago
7) (8) Buffalo
8) (5) Vancouver
9) (6) Los Angeles
10) (9) Colorado
11) (11) Pittsburgh
12) (12) New Jersey
13) (13) Calgary
14) (16) St. Louis
15) (21) Ottawa
16) (15) Anaheim
17) (20) Boston
18) (14) Montreal
19) (19) Dallas
20) (17) Philadelphia
21) (18) Atlanta
22) (22) Minnesota
23) (23) NY Rangers
24) (24) Florida
25) (26) NY Islanders
26) (25) Carolina
27) (27) Columbus
28) (28) Tampa Bay
29) (29) Edmonton
30) (30) Toronto

Voting Galore! UPDATE

Okay, my simple mind ran into a couple of roadblocks to my plan.  For one, my dumbass forgot about Drew Doughty (and admittedly slighted a couple of other candidates).  In the process, I found that Google will not allow me to edit a poll after votes are made (which, in retrospect, makes perfect sense).  So, any of you that have already voted, if you could please vote again for the Norris, Selke, and Masterton, as I had a couple of changes to the lists.

Newcomers, please cast your votes for the awards listed in the right margin of the blog.

Finally, if you have suggestions for a player that I forgot in any of these lists, let me know in the comments for this post and pay attention to previous commenters (you might just have to "second" a previous person's suggestion).  I'll have to tabulate votes for forgotten players on my own notepad.  How primitive.

P.S. I have one vote for Vokoun as Vezina Trophy candidate.  So don't forget him.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Voting Galore!

Here at Bettman's Nightmare, we rail against the tyranny of the hierarchical, dictatorial NHL structure.  It's a thankless mission, though occasionally I've received an e-greeting (I can't verify it was for this; I can verify that now, whenever I open Excel, pictures of male genitalia consume my screen and shut down my computer).  Anyways...

In our little hockey community, we want to stage our own vote for the NHL player awards.  We're purposely holding this now to avoid any influence from the awards nominations.  So please, take part in the polls I've placed along the right side of the blog, and heed P. Diddy's advice.  In two weeks (ending April 10th), we'll tabulate.  In the meantime, we'll do our best to influence you in both negative, non-vote related ways (as per our mission) as well as positive, vote-related ways.

P.S. If you feel I've left someone out, mention it in the comments.  If someone "second's" it in the comments, I'll add them to the selections.

Thought of the Day

Blog Cosby's beloved Ducks have officially waddled their way to the links a bit early this year.  To commemorate, a review of the Ducks season, ending with Tom Hanks giving the only true verbal response a Duck fan might give:

P.S. Note Tom Hanks visibly mouthing the words "What the fuck?" at 0:07.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Thought of the Day

For all my griping, I only have one true complaint about the NHL:

And occasional appearances from Ice Girls isn't enough.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

NHL Closes Case on Capitals: Is the Case Closed on PED Culture in Hockey?

UPDATE:  The NHL decided to close their investigation promptly in less than 24 hours.  My original title for this post, "Washington Capitals Training Facility Targeted for Steroid Investigation: What Was That About Ovechkin's 'Strength,' Boudreau?", while funny, needed updating.

Big-time, breaking news...and so now the PED story officially comes round to hockey again (the first crisis for the Capitals was almost a year ago).  Really, though, this shouldn't be news to us: remember Sean Hill, or Bryan Berard?  In other words, we've seen the signs bubbling beneath the surface.  We've seen the pictures of hockey bodies ripped out of their minds.

I will not implicate anyone until there's evidence.  But let me tell you a story.

I worked as a Zamboni driver in Wisconsin for 5 years.  While there, there was a whole host of hockey activity, including youth hockey, Division III college hockey, high school hockey, and junior hockey.  I knew a lot of the players that came through there at every level, and chatted them up regularly (what are you gonna do when you only work 10-20 minutes on the hour?).

One day, one of the Midget AAA (high-school-aged junior hockey) players came into my break room looking for some water, a glass, and a spoon.  I found them all, and he broke out an enormous jug of creatine product and made himself a glass.  He told me that about 2/3 of his teammates did the same.  The kid was 15 years old and skinny as a rail, as were most of his fellow players.  He said that they use the stuff all of the time, and that they needed it to gain the edge for the next level.

These are kids barely out of middle school, experimenting with this stuff with the knowledge that a.) they need a boost if they're going to get to the top, and b.) there are things that can get you there, fast.  In the case of this Midget AAA team, these guys are one step away from getting a tryout for USHL teams, which in turn are prime plucking-grounds for the NHL draft.

I saw guys use it in high school, I've seen junior players use it, and the point is that the spirit of the use of PED's is there.  All you need is a supply.

It kills me to write this because I remember what hockey was (and is) for me.  But if we can wade into this pool and get the truth, the NHL cannot waffle like MLB has for so many years.  We need to break the back of the PED culture, and protect the sanctity of this game.

I'm optimistic, I know.  The NHL stands to lose a lot (hell, maybe everything) over this.  But if Gary Bettman could ever prove his worth, it would be in approaching this issue in a different (and less impotent) manner than any of the other leagues.

The last thing I want to say is this:  when players get stronger, the physical game intensifies.  I love a good physical game as much as anyone, but physical hockey can be destroyed by this.  Players could be getting injured right now solely because of other players' illegally increased muscle mass.  Nevermind the number of players that could be hurting themselves or the longevity of their career by such use.  This is a player safety issue, as well, and we shouldn't lose sight of that.

P.S.  And for Chrissakes do not tell me in the comments that it's not a problem.  Because it sure sounds like it is here, here, here, and here.

Monday, March 22, 2010

My God, What's Happening to Me?

Just saw a great clip of the scrum at the end of the Wings-Pens game tonight:

You of course will note the frustrated Crosby cross-checking the hell out of Zetterberg, presumably because Zetterberg was doing what he always does: suffocate his opponents.  The fact that he got Crosby to that level of frustration and scored 2 goals, 1 assist, just brought me to newly-found admiration for Z.

And then Jimmy Howard goes and straight-up mugs Crosby from behind.  I'm already smitten with the guy because he's on my fantasy team, but he, like Z, had been shutting Crosby down all night and now this.

It's feelings like this that make me realize that, perhaps, I don't hate the Red Wings as much as I used to ("used to" being last year).  Somehow, they being a team fighting to get in the playoffs makes them more endearing.

For the record, I still don't like Todd Bertuzzi, Mike Babcock, or Tomas Holmstrom, but Rome wasn't built in a day.

My iciness is melting...Mr. Gorbachev...

P.S. And no, this does not make me a Reagan fan.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

NHL Power Rankin's (week of 3/22/10)

Its officially no longer a fluke, ladies and gentlemen (and Flyers fans): The Phoenix Coyotes are for real. For the 2nd straight week, the bane of hockey purists' existence stand atop the completely objective NHL Power Rankin's. They do so convincingly, as well, as the 'yotes rank no lower than 5th out of 30 teams in any of the 5 component indices comprising the Rankin's. Phoenix is on a 9 game winning streak, they lead the Pacific division with less than a dozen games remaining, they continue to win even as the pressure ratchets up as we approach the playoffs, and it is this observer's opinion that they have some of the best goaltending in the game. I'm not picking them to win the West yet, but if they get the right draw...

Nashville (another of those darned Gary Bettman plants designed to destroy Olde Tyme Hockey), takes home this week's Big Mover award, vaulting into the top 5 at #4 - up from 10th spot a week ago. Nashville just beat out their downside counterpart, Ottawa, who slid 5 spots during the week to number 21. Things are not going well in the capital.

Atlanta is also on the move after a home-and-home sweep against the Flyers and their problem-laden netminding condition. It was right before the Olympic break that my models had Atlanta stealing the 8th spot in the East. With Montreal playing well these days, I would pull things together quick if I were Boston & Philly.

1) (1) Phoenix
2) (2) Washington
3) (3) Chicago
4) (10) Nashville
5) (6) Vancouver
6) (5) Los Angeles
7) (4) San Jose
8) (9) Buffalo
9) (7) Colorado
10) (11) Detroit
11) (8) Pittsburgh
12) (12) New Jersey
13) (13) Calgary
14) (17) Montreal
15) (18) Anaheim
16) (15) St. Louis
17) (14) Philadelphia
18) (23) Atlanta
19) (21) Dallas
20) (19) Boston
21) (16) Ottawa
22) (20) Minnesota
23) (23) NY Rangers
24) (24) Florida
25) (25) Carolina
26) (26) NY Islanders
27) (28) Columbus
28) (27) Tampa Bay
29) (29) Edmonton
30) (30) Toronto

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Thought of the Day

Don't give up on your pond hockey rinks just yet...

Friday, March 19, 2010

Just to Add Some Historical Perspective

I want to clear something up for all the "Doomsday-scenario" people that suggest the NHL is spiraling into an Armageddon of dangerous hits and suspend-able acts.  Take a look at this excellent little glimpse into the "best hits" of the 1980s:

Players received suspensions for almost none of these hits, and absolutely zero of these hits resulted in suspensions of 10 games or more.  So for as bad as the Wizzer hit was a few nights ago... had about 15 Wizzer hits in one measly compilation from the 1980s.  In other words, we have a much tamer league than we did 25 years ago.  An incident like Wayne Maki cracking open Ted Green's skull in 1969...

...would be so horrifying, it would make the response to McSorley's infamy...

...seem like a little buzz on the newswire.

In other words, it's becoming sensationalized, and the league admittedly has its head up its ass when it comes to suspension length.  It needs to simply nip this in the bud by coming into next season with rigid, announced parameters for suspend-able acts and suspension lengths.  And, an announcement that, though based off precedents, the league would consult the parameters rather than parallel incidents to levy its punishments.

P.S. Maki wasn't a "repeat" offender, by the way, and the incident was during a preseason game.

Quote of the Day

"[I]f we started to work together, we could do it. Instead, you schmucks just want to argue about elbow position and shit like that."

- Weagz, 3/19/10 (on the Wisniewski hit and debate about its consequences)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Thought of the Day

Remember these bad boys?  Marc Sommers peddled these things on Double Dare like a 10-year old peddles lemonade.  I felt straight-up out-of-the-loop in my Roos.  Though I could definitely store my quarters in my Roos.

How does this relate to hockey, you ask?  Um...

Stumpy!  Full recovery!

But seriously kids, listen to your mother.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Good Call, Bad Call: The Ovechkin/Campbell Incident

The league's Wheel of Discipline has spun again, and NHL's Vanna White (Colin Campbell) turns over a 2-game suspension for Alex Ovechkin for this hit on Brian Campbell:

An ugly incident, no doubt, and the damage was even worse: a broken collarbone and rib for one of Chicago's most expensive and consistent rearguards.

The outcry from the blogosphere has been heard, including an interesting Puck Daddy response from editor Greg Wyshynski, where he says:

"If you believe, as we do, that a dumb shove in the back near the end boards with unfortunate circumstances isn't the stuff suspensions are made of -- and that you should suspend to the act, not the result -- then the NHL just whiffed on another disciplinary decision."

An interesting assertion, though it makes you wonder who he's referring to when he says "we."  Consider the contention of fellow Puck Daddy contributor Ryan Lambert (also of the blog Two-Line Pass), who has his own take, posted on Puck Daddy:

"The puck was clearly away from Campbell when Ovechkin engaged him, and the hit gave Campbell no way to protect himself crashing into the end-boards. Textbook boarding call in a very dangerous part of the ice. Of course it deserved a match penalty, it was an exceptionally stupid play on Ovie's part."

So obviously even in Yahoo's world we have conflicted responses to this hit, and for good reason.  You could argue that Campbell's fall was made worse by what appears to be a caught edge.  You could argue that Ovechkin's hit was just part of a good forecheck, as does Wyshynski.  Wyshynski also makes the argument that, in light of the Matt Cooke hit on Savard receiving no suspension, this suspension is ridiculous.  A person could also protest that, because he received a game misconduct (and thus an automatic 1-game suspension), he's been punished enough.

On the other hand, you could also argue that Maxim Lapierre's hit, which received a 4-game suspension, is a good litmus test for what the call should be here:

There was no call on Lapierre for making that hit after Nichol attempted to bat the puck out of the air.  Nichol was back one game and one week later.  You could argue that Ovechkin has been no more or no less of a repeat offender than was Lapierre, which is true.  You could argue that it was a hard backcheck for Lapierre just as much as it was a hard forecheck for Ovechkin.

Or you could try to ignore all the external yapping and isolate the play itself, beyond these comparisons and chatter.  Is the Ovechkin hit an illegal hit?  Yes.  It was called a boarding.  Did it result in injury?  Yes.  He was given a game misconduct for that reason, which goes hand-in-hand with an additional 1-game suspension.  Was the act dangerous enough to merit further action by the league?  That's the sticking point.

I lean towards yes, it was dangerous enough.  What if Campbell hadn't been able to pitch sideways at the last second to absorb the impact with his collarbone and rib?  That move saved his career.  He didn't pitch sideways because Ovechkin willed it.  He pitched sideways to save his neck.  Much in the same way that Nichol pitched sideways to save his neck.

In the end, Ovechkin loses 3 games to suspension, while Lapierre lost 4.  That's about as close to parity as your going to get in the NHL, and I think for once the league got something right.  And they didn't pander to the notion that suspending Ovechkin would hurt the popularity or pocketbook of the league.  Shoot, if Downie gets off without a suspension for this ridiculousness, you'd start to think Bettman actually wants to dispel the notion that he wears Crosby underwear and Ovechkin pajamas.

By the way, Ovechkin does not qualify for automatic suspension, as boarding calls inhabit a different category of repeat offenders in the rule book.  He'd had to have 3 boarding infractions over the last 41 games, which he doesn't.

Now bring the pain...

P.S. And the results are in: no suspension for Downie.

Boudreau's Glass is Spiked

It should not be surprising that Bruce Boudreau did his best to come off as being shocked that Alexander Ovechkin could possibly be suspended for his filthy shove of Brian Campbell on Sunday. However, if he thinks the following statement is warranted, then his serving of the Ovechkin Kool Aid is spiked:

"Alex is so much stronger than everyone else. So we're penalizing him for being strong."

Ovechkin is indeed big. He's strong, and he's intense. I know Boudreau is excited about the upcoming Clash of the Titans release, but his characterization of Ovechkin as Perseus is just embarrassing.

Initially, I had actually thought that beyond the prospect of a mandatory suspension due to his repeat-offender status (3 Game Misconduct strikes), Ovechkin shouldn't have suffered supplementary discipline for his dirty tactics this time around - the 5-minute major sufficed, in my view. However, Boudreau's statement above has so enraged me on the matter that I can no longer manage to maintain any objectivity.

Good riddance. Ovechkin is as filthy as they come.

You want to do your opponents some bodily harm? How about this for a starting 5:

Center: Mike Richards
Left Wing: Alexander Ovechkin
Right Wing: Todd Bertuzzi
Defense: Chris Pronger
Defense: Andy Sutton

Sunday, March 14, 2010

"Those Damn Homer Refs": 3 Years' Time

Why not make it a trilogy, Samwise?

To be honest, I'm not happy enough to settle with just one year's data on team home PIM percentages, because we know that a single year houses its own anomalies (Ch-ch-ch-Cheechoo!*).  It's fun to rip on the Leafs for many reasons, but let's be fair: the disparity in home-away minors this year (37-63, respectively) has not really helped Toronto's performance (especially not with the league's 26th place power-play).

If you really want to mount a crusade with evidence on this front, you need more data to back you up (and one year's worth ain't it).  To get a bit clearer picture, I expanded my research to look at PIM data stretching back the last 3 years, including this year and going back to include 2007-08 (I put the standard deviation in parentheses to give a sense of which teams were steadily seeing advantage/disadvantage at that percentage).

Avg. %Minor PIM, Home - 2007-08 to 2009-10
1. Colorado Avalanche, 51.61% (4.447)
2. Philadelphia Flyers, 51.28 (7.231)
3. Chicago Blackhawks, 50.78 (5.995)
4. Boston Bruins, 50.35 (4.774)
5. Ottawa Senators, 50.29 (7.7)
6. St. Louis Blues, 50.09 (5.48)
7. Tampa Bay Lightning, 49.55 (4.23)
8. New York Islanders, 49.14 (3.59)
9. Dallas Stars, 49.11 (3.005)
10. Montreal Canadiens, 48.92 (3.213)
11. Phoenix Coyotes, 48.72 (3.905)
12. Anaheim Ducks, 48.31 (3.815)
13. New Jersey Devils, 48.08 (2.415)
14. San Jose Sharks, 47.97 (1.757)
15. Detroit Red Wings, 47.75 (2.381)
16. Minnesota Wild, 47.08 (1.491)
17. Atlanta Thrashers, 46.66 (3.782)
18. Florida Panthers, 46.64 (0.544)
19. Buffalo Sabres, 46.64 (3.004)
20. Vancouver Canucks, 46.59 (5.662)
21. Toronto Maple Leafs, 45.96 (8.097)
22. Los Angeles Kings, 45.91 (5.745)
23. Pittsburgh Penguins, 45.89 (5.908)
24. Carolina Hurricanes, 45.83 (4.11)
25. Washington Capitals, 45.81 (1.295)
26. Nashville Predators, 45.5 (2.03)
27. Edmonton Oilers, 45.33 (3.513)
28. Columbus Blue Jackets, 45.2 (3.019)
29. Calgary Flames, 44.49 (6.067)
30. New York Rangers, 43.61 (0.601)

Just to give you a brief idea of what we're looking at here: I'm using away PIM as a virtual "control group" (however debatable that might be).  Therefore, a low percentage here would suggest that teams are seeing favorable treatment at home (or, potentially, that everyone they play dislikes them and that somehow gets them more penalties in away games; or both).

As you can see, over the three years it doesn't appear that any team is a red-headed stepchild for long.

 Carrot Top will not be your punchline.

As you get to the team's with more favorable treatment at home, there are a handful of teams that stand out as consistently (read, low % and low standard deviation) receiving a distinct advantage.  Teams like the Predators and the Capitals are receiving consistent boosts over the others, and of course my Rangers are, far and away, receiving the most advantage.  The Penguins have two sub-43% home PIM seasons bookending a ~53% season in 2008-09.  On the flip side, the Colorado Avalanche seem to be the closest thing to consistent red-headed stepchildren, though the Lightning also seem to get the short end of the stick more often than not.  The Flyers, hit hard in the analysis for this year, were somewhat redeemed by a 44.5% reading at home in 2008-09 and a 50.44% in 2007-08.

The Rangers' advantage is above-and-beyond the most inexcusable stat out of this bunch.  The Maple Leafs' 37% from this year is ridiculous, but to post three straight seasons with a a nearly 56.5/43.5 split is terrible.  In the future, I want to get an even larger sample size (say, 10 or 20 years) to see if this is an unusual peak or par for the course.  Regardless, it also hasn't taken the Rangers places, though as I mentioned in the previous post some teams are literally a non-playoff season away from going under.

Finally, I want to give you some of the individual leaders/punching bags from 2008-09 and 2007-08.  As with the original post (The Fellowship of the Ring, if you will), we'll set our benchmarks at a minimum of 20 games played but bump it up to a minimum of 60 PIM, of which half or more need to be minor penalties.

Low %PIM Home, Forwards 2007-08
1. Mark Bell, Leafs - 20% (12 of 60 PIM; 40 non-fighting PIM)
2. Sean Bergenheim, Islanders - 22.58% (14 of 62; 62 nfPIM)
3. Kris Draper, Wings - 26.47% (18 of 68; 68 nfPIM)
4. Stephane Veilleux, Wild - 27.87% (17 of 61; 46 nfPIM)
5. Scott Nichol, Predators - 29.17% (21 of 72; 52 nfPIM)

Low %PIM Home, Defensemen 2007-08
1. Douglas Murray, Sharks - 16.33% (16 of 98; 60 nfPIM)
2. Greg De Vries, Predators - 19.72% (14 of 71; 66 nfPIM)
3. Mark Stuart, Bruins - 19.75% (16 of 81; 56 nfPIM)
4. Eric Brewer, Blues - 29.67% (27 of 91; 76 nfPIM)
5. Michal Rozsival, Rangers - 30% (24 of 80; 80 nfPIM)

High %PIM Home, Forwards 2007-08
1. Chris Gratton, Lightning - 72.73% (56 of 77; 62 nfPIM)
2. Olli Jokinen, Panthers - 71.64% (48 of 67; 52 nfPIM)
3. Steve Bernier, Sharks/Sabres - 70.31% (45 of 64; 44 nfPIM)
4. Scott Parker, Avalanche - 70% (49 of 70; 40 nfPIM)
5. Tom Kostopoulos, Canadiens - 65.49% (74 of 113; 68 nfPIM)

High %PIM Home, Defensemen 2007-08
1. Kevin Bieksa, Canucks - 74.44% (67 of 90; 70 nfPIM)
2. Rob Blake, Kings - 71.43% (70 of 98; 98 nfPIM)
3. Craig Weller, Coyotes - 71.25% (57 of 80; 60 nfPIM)
4. James Wisniewski, Blackhawks - 67.96% (70 of 103; 58 nfPIM)
5. Tim Gleason, Hurricanes - 66.67% (56 of 84; 54 nfPIM)

Low %PIM Home, Forwards 2008-09
1. Cal Clutterbuck, Wild - 21.05% (16 of 76; 76 nfPIM)
2. Ryan Craig, Lightning - 21.67% (13 of 60; 60 nfPIM)
3. Shane Doan, Coyotes - 22.22% (16 of 72; 62 nfPIM)
4. Sean Avery, Stars/Rangers - 27.03% (30 of 111; 76 nfPIM)
5. Erik Cole, Hurricanes/Oilers - 27.4% (20 of 73; 58 nfPIM)

Low %PIM Home, Defensemen 2008-09
1. Jim Vandermeer, Flames - 18.52% (20 of 108; 68 nfPIM)
2. Toni Lydman, Sabres - 28.57% (20 of 70; 70 nfPIM)
3. Braydon Coburn, Flyers - 28.87% (28 of 97; 92 nfPIM)
4. Craig Rivet, Sabres - 29.6% (37 of 125; 90 nfPIM)
5. Sheldon Brookbank, Devils/Ducks - 30.26% (23 of 76; 46 nfPIM)

High %PIM Home, Forwards 2008-09
1. Dustin Byfuglien, Blackhawks - 71.6% (58 of 81; 56 nfPIM)
2. Dustin Penner, Oilers - 70.49% (43 of 61; 46 nfPIM)
3. Ben Eager, Blackhawks - 70.19% (113 of 161; 96 nfPIM)
4. Dainius Zubrus, Devils - 68.12% (47 of 69; 64 nfPIM)
5. Dustin Brown, Kings - 65.63% (42 of 64; 59 nfPIM)

High %PIM Home, Defensemen 2008-09
1. Cam Barker, Blackhawks - 78.46% (51 of 65; 55 nfPIM)
2. Trevor Daley, Stars - 75.34% (55 of 73; 68 nfPIM)
3. Brent Seabrook, Blackhawks - 67.74% (42 of 62; 52 nfPIM)
4. Nick Boynton, Panthers - 65.93% (60 of 91; 66 nfPIM)
5. Brendan Witt, Islanders - 64.89% (61 of 94; 79 nfPIM)

An interesting smattering of players, though it does lead me to conclude the same thing that I did the last time I  looked at individual players: for one, the variance is so impressive here, it's really hard to say that any single player is receiving special treatment.  Even the Crosby detractors might need to re-assess their complaints; in 2007-08, he received 51.28% of his PIM at home, in 2008-09 59.21%, and this year 55.93%.  And in general, though I saw some support for the idea that star players receive favorable treatment at home this year, I don't see the same over this longer data set.

In conclusion, it is entertaining to think about Mark Bell again.  I thought he was dead.

You like me, you really like me!..or, maybe I just got another DUI...

Oh, and there might be some weight to teams receiving preferential treatment, but only a small number and we might need even more data before we could use it for a spirited argument (though it could be used in arguments when consuming spirits).

P.S. Once again, if you have any individual player queries (or really any other question), use our comments section below and I'll respond promptly.

* Okay, so this is a link to Jonathan Cheechoo's fan site; I had no idea it is a.) still a live site, and b.) people are still joining!

Power Rankin's (week of 3/15/10)

There's really no easy way to put this: The Phoenix Coyotes stand alone atop the Power Rankin's.

As the results rolled in throughout the week, and Phoenix maintained their current 5-game winning streak including another shutout win (their 2nd in 4 games), I kept trying to figure out a way to break the news to all the hockey purists who hate the idea of ice hockey being played below the Mason-Dixon Line. The best I could come up with was that Gary Bettman has had this planned all along.

"This is a conspiracy, that's what this is. One. Big. Damn. Conspiracy!"

I figured that I could at least sell this line to Philadelphia phans, who know deep in their collective soul (Glo') that the whole goshdarned thing is one big conspiracy to keep them from celebrating a Stanley Cup homecoming 30 years in the making (well... 34 now going on 35, actually).

Yes, the NHL Power Rankin's have succumbed, and now do the bidding of Gary Bettman and his hatred of the City of Brotherly Love!


Just kidding. Its all completely numbers-based, dude. And no, there are no dummy variables involved where 1 = Black & Gold and 0 = Orange & Black.

On a lighter note, be mindful of Montreal's place in the Rankin's. While the Habs have a 5-game winning streak of their own going, and currently hold down a playoff spot, they lie at #17 in the NHL Power Rankin's (i.e., just outside the magical 53.33% of NHL teams that make the post-season each year). Similarly - but in reverse - St. Louis is on this inside looking out, if you will (#15 but 5-points out of the West's 8th seed).

P.S. - The Power Rankin's has Pittsburgh beating Purdue in the NCAA tournament. Remember, you heard it here first.

1) (2) Phoenix
2) (1) Washington
3) (4) Chicago
4) (3) San Jose
5) (5) Los Angeles
6) (8) Vancouver
7) (6) Colorado
8) (7) Pittsburgh
9) (9) Buffalo
10) (12) Nashville
11) (10) Detroit
12) (11) New Jersey
13) (14) Calgary
14) (13) Philadelphia
15) (16) St. Louis
16) (15) Ottawa
17) (18) Montreal
18) (17) Anaheim
19) (19) Boston
20) (21) Minnesota
21) (20) Dallas
22) (23) NY Rangers
23) (22) Atlanta
24) (24) Florida
25) (25) Carolina
26) (27) NY Islanders
27) (26) Tampa Bay
28) (29) Columbus
29) (28) Edmonton
30) (30) Toronto

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"Those Damn Homer Refs": Team Edition

A little while ago, I took a look at PIM data and found that there is ample evidence that some players (and player types) receive considerably different treatment at home games than away games.  Guys like Jarome Iginla, Eric Staal, and Ryan Getzlaf have a whopping 75%-80% of their penalties called against them on the road, while Mike Knuble, Rene Bourque, and Mike Richards have 75%-80% of their penalties called against them at home.

While the disparity among players is interesting, I know a lot of you are more interested in the team PIM data.  You see, it's a bit easy to propose that players like Crosby and Ovechkin get the slip at home (which is not the case with Crosby; 56% of his penalties care called on him at home); it's not hard to follow a single player over the course of a game.  But if you really want to let your conspiracy dreams run wild, you need team data, and lots of it.

Now, I've always been one to pester and annoy, and the opportunity to add some fuel to this fire is something I simply can't resist.  Flyers fans, you might want to make sure you're sitting down.  Or at least not near any sharp objects.  Pens fans, you might want to look out for Flyers fans that haven't taken said advice.  Rangers fans, too....

And Toronto...oh man, Toronto...

(Note: Before you try to connect the dots, I want to point out that I do division breakdowns later in the post)

%Minor PIM Called at Home
1.  Philadelphia Flyers - 58.89
2.  St. Louis Blues - 56.4
3.  Ottawa Senators - 56.22
4.  Tampa Bay Lightning - 54.33
5.  Phoenix Coyotes - 52.93
6.  Boston Bruins - 51.98
7. Calgary Flames - 51.47
8. Chicago Blackhawks - 50.76
9. Colorado Avalanche - 49.91
10. Detroit Red Wings - 49.8
11. San Jose Sharks - 49.45
12. Edmonton Oilers - 49.21
13. Anaheim Ducks - 48.7
14. Atlanta Thrashers - 48.57
15. Minnesota Wild - 47.33
16. Buffalo Sabres - 47.23
17. Florida Panthers - 46.14
18. New York Islanders - 45.99
19. Washington Capitals - 45.94
20. Dallas Stars - 45.93
21. New Jersey Devils - 45.84
22. Montreal Canadiens - 45.25
23. Vancouver Canucks - 45.14
24. Nashville Predators - 43.68
25. New York Rangers - 43.06
26. Pittsburgh Penguins - 42.02
27. Columbus Blue Jackets - 41.84
28. Carolina Hurricanes - 41.17
29. Los Angeles Kings - 40.31
30. Toronto Maple Leafs - 37.76

Now, before we go too nuts on some of the teams near the middle, realize that, in general, the league is reffing at an approximate 48-52 split among minor PIM home and away.  In other words, the "homer bias" argument is slightly justified so far this year.  But in general the teams at the middle are not seeing substantive benefits or disadvantages over about 20 of the league's teams.

On the other hand, either end of the spectrum shows that some teams are likely getting some kind of edge or detriment beyond the others.  Toronto and Philadelphia are at impressively far ends, with a difference of 21 percent.

The differences in percentages among the conferences are, in general, pretty negligible, with the Western Conference seeing a 48.19%-51.81% split home and away, and the Eastern showing a 47.36%-52.64% split.  The same can even be said among the divisions; the highest division home PIM % is 48.5%, and the lowest is 47.16%.

What's more interesting is the dynamics within the division averages.  Four of the six divisions contain one team that has ~54% or higher of their minor PIM called against them at home; five of the six divisions have one team that has ~42% or lower.

Atlantic %Minor PIM at Home
Red-Headed Stepchildren: Philadelphia Flyers (58.89%)
The Gravy Train: Pittsburgh Penguins (42.02%)

RHS: Ottawa Senators (56.22%)
Gravy Train: Toronto Maple Leafs (37.76%)

RHS: Tampa Bay Lightning (54.33%)
Gravy Train: Carolina Hurricanes (41.17%)

RHS: St. Louis Blues (56.4%)
Gravy Train: Columbus Blue Jackets (41.84%)

RHS: Calgary Flames (51.47%)
Gravy Train: Vancouver Canucks (45.14%)

RHS: Phoenix Coyotes (52.93%)
Gravy Train: Los Angeles Kings (40.31%)

The Flyers, in fact, singlehandedly keep the Atlantic Division's numbers in line with the other divisions.  Every other team in the Atlantic has 45.99% (Islanders) or less of their PIM assessed at home.  The biggest in-division disparity is in the Northeast, with the difference between the Senators and Leafs a whopping 19 percent.

It will be interesting, in the future, to bring this data over a longer span of time and see if there are any trends.  What's most concerning to me is that a.) Flyers fans have another reason to be pissed, b.) Flyers fans can't complain about Crosby getting preferential treatment, which will compound the piss-itude of the previous problem, and c.) my Rangers are getting preferential treatment and still suck.  So there's that.

The last thing I want to say is this: in the NHL, the power play has returned to its early 90s strength as a legitimate opportunity.  Some teams will take more penalties, and that's fine.  But the homerism has to at least be in balance, if not consciously eliminated altogether.  When a team is getting called nearly 1/3 less at home than away, it's getting ridiculous.  When a team is at a near 15 percent disadvantage compared to the rest of its division, it's getting ridiculous.  In general, if further research uncovers trends that re-affirm these disparities, the NHL must develop a response.  There are too many teams that literally cannot afford losing seasons.

P.S. If you want any individual player data, let me know in the comments and I'll get back to you.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Power Rankin's (week of 3/8/10)

The Olympics are over. The trade deadline is passed. Each team now has fewer than 20 games remaining. It's the stretch run, and the NHL Power Rankin's are here to light the way!

First off, I would like to thank Gary Bettman, the International Olympic Committee, the Trilateral Commission, the Heads of the Five Families, the Freemasons, the chief military commander at Area 51, and the Wizard of Oz for manipulating the goings-on of the hockey world during the past week in order to allow the Pittsburgh Penguins to take home this week's Big Mover award. The Pens are four-and-oh coming out of the Olympic break, Sidney Crosby is the current leader in the race for the Rocket Richard Trophy, and Alexei 'The Ukraine Train' Ponikarovsky (thanks, Steigey) is in Steeltahn generating mayhem in front of the net. I'd still take Washington to win a playoff series against Pittsburgh, but it won't be in four games straight.

On the flip side, Buffalo and New Jersey continue to fade in the Rankin's. Both team rank in the bottom five in terms of remaining strength of schedule, however, and both teams are facing serious challenges for their respective division titles. Their places in the Power Rankin's will tell the tale of how well they handle the pressure over these last few weeks of the season.

1) (1) Washington
2) (3) Phoenix
3) (2) San Jose
4) (5) Chicago
5) (6) Los Angeles
6) (4) Colorado
7) (14) Pittsburgh
8) (9) Vancouver
9) (7) Buffalo
10) (13) Detroit
11) (8) New Jersey
12) (11) Nashville
13) (12) Philadelphia
14) (15) Calgary
15) (10) Ottawa
16) (18) St. Louis
17) (16) Anaheim
18) (21) Montreal
19) (19) Boston
20) (17) Dallas
21) (20) Minnesota
22) (22) Atlanta
23) (23) NY Rangers
24) (25) Florida
25) (28) Carolina
26) (24) Tampa Bay
27) (26) NY Islanders
28) (29) Edmonton
29) (27) Columbus
30) (30) Toronto

"Those Damn Homer Refs": Who's Getting an Edge?

You hear the complaint, you've made the complaint, and my mother will never forgive Andy Van Hellemond for it.  You know what I'm talking about; it's those goddamn homer refs.

In all honesty, you aren't going to find a sport where the refereeing, officiating, judging, etc. isn't criticized.  The exception may be Nickelodeon GUTS, possibly, but it's hard to question Mo' with that marvelous British accent.

Note: A great idea for a drinking game is to watch GUTS, pick your "horse" (contestant), and either slam a beer for each loss or do a "beer tower" after each event.  The best part is you all end up yelling at children.

Moira Quirk aside, I want to take a brief look at players who either are a.) getting a lot of love from their homer refs, or b.) are getting slammed by homer reffing.

A quick explanation at how I'm doing this.  I'm simply taking the player's penalty minutes in away games and expressing it as a percentage of their total penalty minutes this year.  Initially, I've broken the players into two categories, forwards and defensemen, but I have a couple of additional categories worth looking at as well.  I've set the minimum games played at 10 away games (with the idea that they would have played around 20 games overall).

As you might know already, Byron Bitz is a very interesting anomaly in these data, getting all of his 31 PIM in away games.  A few other guys deserve honorable mention in duplicating this feat:

Quintin Laing, Capitals - 21 PIM (6 Minor PIM{mPIM})
Guillaume Latendresse, Canadiens/Wild - 12 PIM (12 mPIM)
Tom Pyatt, Canadiens - 8 PIM (8 mPIM)
Andrei Markov, Canadiens - 16 PIM (16 mPIM)

There are a couple of others, all lower than 8 PIM, but at that point it's really less interesting.  Sorry Brett, Carl, Jordan, Taylor, Cal, Brandon, Jere, Patrick, and David.

So, outside of these crazy cases, who are our leaders? (Note: total mPIM is included to give an idea of how frequently the player fights)

High % of PIM in Away Games, Forwards
1. Wayne Primeau, Leafs - 93.94% (31 of 33 PIM; 18 mPIM)
2. Pavel Datsyuk, Wings - 87.5% (14 of 16 PIM; 16 mPIM)
3. Dan Sexton, Ducks - 87.5% (14 of 16 PIM; 6 mPIM)
4. Dustin Boyd, Flames/Predators - 86.67% (13 of 15 PIM; 10 mPIM)
5. Peter Mueller, Coyotes/Avalanche - 85.71% (12 of 14 PIM; 14 mPIM)

High % of PIM in Away Games, Defensemen
1. Marc Methot, Blue Jackets - 94.29% (31 of 33 PIM; 20 mPIM)
2. Matt Gilroy, Rangers - 90.48% (19 of 21 PIM; 6 mPIM)
3. Tomas Kaberle, Leafs - 90% (18 of 20 PIM; 20 mPIM)
4. Jeff Finger, Leafs - 87.5% (14 of 16 PIM; 6 mPIM) - Note: The Finger's been in two fights?!
5. Darryl Sydor, Blues - 86.67% (13 of 15 PIM; 8 mPIM)

As you can see, a curious number of Maple Leafs among these top 5.  On the flip side, we also have a good handful of forwards and defensemen with all of their PIM assessed in home games; most prominently, Sami Salo (10 PIM; 10 mPIM) and Jesse Winchester (15 PIM; 10 mPIM).  The remainder are likely more anomalous.  The "leaders":

Low % of PIM in Away Games, Forwards
1. Nathan Horton, Panthers - 6.25% (2 of 32 PIM; 20 mPIM)
2. Michael Frolik, Panthers - 9.76% (4 of 41 PIM; 24 mPIM)
3. Andrew Cogliano, Oilers - 11.76% (2 of 17 PIM; 12 mPIM)
4. David Moss, Flames - 12.5% (2 of 16 PIM; 16 mPIM)
5. Devin Setoguchi, Sharks - 13.33% (2 of 15 PIM; 10 mPIM)

Low % of PIM in Away Games, Defensemen
1. Andrew Ference, Bruins - 12.5% (2 of 16 PIM; 16 mPIM)
2. Brian Rafalski, Wings - 14.29% (2 of 14 PIM; 14 mPIM)
3. Mark Stuart, Bruins - 17.02% (8 of 47 PIM; 30 mPIM)
4. Wade Redden, Rangers - 19.05% (4 of 21 PIM; 16 mPIM)
5. Brian Pothier, Capitals/Hurricanes - 20% (2 of 10 PIM; 10 mPIM)

Once again, some interesting recurrences, with Bruin defensemen and Panther forwards getting the short end of the stick this time.  One of the things you might notice is the drawback of using percentage to express this; a lot of these players have relatively low PIM totals.  So, to get better evidence of a player seeing a major difference in calls home and away, I reset the minimum to include both games played and 50 PIM. At least half of those minutes have to be minors.  Now it gets good:

High %, Forwards
1. Eric Staal, Hurricanes - 80.77% (42 of 52 PIM; 32 mPIM)
2. Jarome Iginla, Flames - 78.43% (40 of 51 PIM; 26 mPIM)
3. Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks - 76.47% (52 of 68 PIM; 58 mPIM)
4. Derek Dorsett, Blue Jackets - 76.39% (55 of 72 PIM; 42 mPIM)
5. Todd Bertuzzi, Wings - 67.65% (46 of 68 PIM; 58 mPIM)

High %, Defensemen
1. John Erskine, Capitals - 73.33% (44 of 60 PIM; 30 mPIM)
2. Bryan McCabe, Panthers - 73.13% (49 of 67 PIM; 52 mPIM)
3. Joni Pitkanen, Hurricanes - 69.7% (46 of 66 PIM; 66 mPIM)
4. Andrew Alberts, Hurricanes/Canucks - 65.43% (53 of 81 PIM; 46 mPIM)
5. Matt Greene, Kings - 63.89% (46 of 72 PIM; 52 mPIM)

Low %, Forwards
1. Mike Knuble, Capitals - 22.64% (12 of 53 PIM; 38 mPIM)
2. Rene Bourque, Flames - 25% (19 of 76 PIM; 66 mPIM)
3. Mike Richards, Flyers - 25.76% (17 of 66 PIM; 36 mPIM)
4. Steve Downie, Lightning - 28.8% (53 of 184 PIM; 94 mPIM)
5. Ethan Moreau, Oilers - 39.29% (22 of 56 PIM; 36 mPIM)

Low %, Defensemen
1. Zdeno Chara, Bruins - 30.56% (22 of 72 PIM; 52 mPIM)
2. Jim Vandermeer, Coyotes - 33.93% (19 of 56 PIM; 36 mPIM)
3. Christoph Schubert, Thrashers - 34.78% (24 of 69 PIM; 54 mPIM)
4. Erik Johnson, Blues - 35% (21 of 60 PIM; 40 mPIM)
5. Victor Hedman, Lightning - 36.36% (24 of 66 PIM; 56 mPIM)

A lot of fun conclusions to be had here.  Star forwards (and Derek Dorsett?) seem to get the "star treatment" at home, as Staal, Iginla, and Getzlaf have to get their time in the sin bin while traveling.  On the flip side, your hard-nosed forwards tend to get highlighted at home, but curiously given the slip on the road.  Rookie defensemen Johnson and Hedberg are getting taught the nuances of the game on-the-job, while some tougher veteran D get virtual playgrounds at home.  And nobody likes Steve Downie.  Well, maybe a couple of Flyers fans.

In general, when you get to the bigger penalty-takers, favoritism towards teams seems to be all over the map. On the other hand, player-types seem to draw trends, and I will be spending a bit more time with these data in the future.

Some Interesting PIM Data

I've been farting around with some PIM data (what better way to burn some Sunday morning hours?) to try and develop a "pest" statistic (forthcoming) and I noticed something pretty impressive about Byron Bitz.  And I don't mean his name.

Bitz, recently dealt to the Florida Panthers along with Craig Weller for Dennis Seidenberg and Matthew Bartkowski (no offense Panthers, but it's a bit of a rip-off), has played 46 games, 23 of which were played away from home.  He's amassed 31 penalty minutes, with 6 of those minutes from minor penalties.  All 31 minutes were committed during away games.  This includes 5 fights, and all the fights were in different games, against different teams, and against different players.  So in Bitz's case, he gets a bit randy when the boys are outta town.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Crosby Flop: Haven't I Seen This Somewhere?

So, as some of you know I cannot help but respond when something, ahem, "special" happens in a Rangers game.  Thus, last night's Sidney Crosby incident was a bit much for me.  Crosby, as most of us "Atlantickers" know, has a reputation for being a bit, well perhaps the 'Tube can indulge me:

You might not have noticed, but I substituted a Crosby clip with a Ric "Nature Boy" Flair special, the Old Man Flop.

Last night's incident with Marc Staal has all the classic features of a flop, but let's let the tape speak:

Lundqvist calls him on it, Drandon Bubinsky (just made that up a couple of weeks ago) calls him on it, and the Smurf Nation went wild.  I also went wild, only because I really, really hate divers.  In a huge way.  I'm also an enormous hypocrite:

In other words, I'm a little on my guard when I'm about to get upset about dives, because we all know Avery could match Crosby flop-for-flop.  Which sounds dirty.

Doesn't mean it isn't all completely ridiculous.  The sequel to Who Killed the Electric Car? should be Who Killed the Diving Penalty?

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Trade Deadline - Yay! or Nay?

The NHL trade deadline is here! Soon, GM's will be throwing around draft picks faster than the Epic Beard Man throws punches. Some fans seem to love the deadline, and they are perfectly fine with throwing away draft picks for the chance at a cup. Other fans dread that the quick trigger finger of their GM will result in the team losing out on the next Pavel Datsyuk.

Even Epic Beard Man gets riled up at the deadline

Here at Bettman's Nightmare, we sought to answer some important questions about draft picks.  How valuable are draft picks, really?  And what is the relative value of picks by round?

Draft pick data were compliled from 1997 to 2006, giving 10 years of data. Drafts before 1997 were excluded because we wanted data most relevant to today's NHL (read: most relevant to ice dancing, diving, and all other favorites of our good friend Gary). Drafts after 2006 were excluded because there hasn't been enough time to fairly evaluate those players.

Two outcomes were assessed: number of players to play 50 games (25 for goalies) per round, and number of players to play 100 games (50 for goalies) per round. All data were compiled from, and it looks like they don't update their stats until the end of the season. As a result, stats from this season are excluded.

A few things are noteworthy from the graphs. Not surprisingly, the chances of drafting an NHL regular decrease as rounds progress. Chances are fairly good in the first round, while the later rounds appear to be a crap shoot. In fact, there are two substantial drops in the data: after the 1st round and after the 3rd round (especially under the 100 game criteria). There doesn't appear to be much of a difference at all when drafting from the 4th round compared to the 7th (or 8th or 9th for that matter).

Chances are, 1st round picks are going to land you an NHL regular (about a 60% chance you'll draft someone who will log at least 100 games). One problem here is that teams may be more likely to give high picks a chance to play, and then after a while they give up on them and they become busts. Patrick Stefan come to mind?

Second and third round picks are decent, yielding a 25% and 20% chance, respectively, of landing an NHL regular.

From these data, it doesn't look like 4th round picks and later are worth much at all. You only have about a 10% chance of drafting someone who will log at least 100 games.

Finally, I was surprised with how consistent results were from year to year. More recent draft years have some catching up to do in the later rounds, but on the whole, results were consistent.

So, when your GM gives up a 2nd rounder today for Andrew Cogliano, how will you react? If you're playing the odds, I say keep your first rounders if possible. The rest of 'em? Over-rated. Now, I'm not suggesting that GM's trade away all of their picks. Obviously, the chances of landing a valuable player increase the more opportunities you get to draft. What I am saying is that if a 2nd rounder gets you a top 6 winger, why not do it?

Next, we'll be looking at how career point totals vary across draft rounds, which will give a better indication of the type of player you're likely to land across rounds. Until then, happy trade deadline!

P.S.  Click on the charts for a larger view.  - Matteau
P.P.S.  Here are the complete NHL Drafts from 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, & 2006.  - Matteau, also