12.17.2007

Stomp Heard Around the Hockey World

I was listening to the TEAM 1260 on the way home today and Bob Stauffer stated that he believed that Chris Simon should be kicked out of the league for what he did. Now I agree he should and will be punished, but being kicked out of the league is a bit excessive. With his track record I think that Chris has likely played his last game this year. Which I believe would be a fair enough penalty for the most suspended player in NHL history.

12.13.2007

New Generation Oilers

With the team in a rebuild (or not depending on who you ask) there is a new wave of Oilers bringing new blood to this team. But it goes beyond the players as Daryl Katz has made a new offer at 188 million on the Edmonton Oilers. One that is wholly(sp?) endorsed by Cal Nichols and other members of the EIG.

As Cal put it, "it's probably time to pass the torch to a new generation of ownership". So after stomping their feet and scoffing at Mr. Katz's previous offers, the EIG are singing their way to the bank. The third offer Katz made was reported in the previous article as 185 million, so basic dollars has not changed. Why the sudden change of heart? Maybe they are forcasting a rush off the Oiler bandwagon that Chris Pronger built. This team is a non-playoff team for a couple years maybe they expect that to hurt the bottom line where as Katz can handle a couple of tough years with his deep pockets. As one of the richest teams in the NHL with a strong fanbase I just don't see that as a solid reason. Either way Katz has made a solid investment to try and take over the franchise that Gretzky built.

Many EIG haters have applauded the idea of a rich man owning the team over a group of 36 less rich men. I can't tell if its because they like Katz or just hate the EIG, I'll go with the latter. So what does Darryl Katz do for the Oilers that the EIG couldn't (or didn't). He has been quoted as saying that he will invest 100 million of his own money into a new arena along with providing capital so the Oilers could spend to the cap every year. The EIG responded to this by stating they too will provide money into a new arena. This could have been nothing more than a publicity comeback to Katz's remarks but either way they both promised money. Secondly the EIG have responded about team salary by having one of the highest payrolls in the NHL. Lets call it a wash in those two categories.

As for running the team this is where the two ownership parties could vary greatly. For those who like the idea of one wealthy owner running this team you can look at guys like Charles Wang who run the team like the way they want to, not necessarily whats best for the on ice product. You have to be wary of a bored wealthy man treating this team like his toy. When you have a large group of shareholders there are many people that decide on what actions to take thus preventing the problems associated with that. There are downsides to have a larger group of owners as decisions and changes can be long and not always unanimous, which goes hand in hand with democratic groups. Having one owner allows him to act quickly and confidently, which could be the difference between a signing or trade falling through or not.

If Darryl Katz becomes owner of this team will anything change? It will be interesting to see.

12.12.2007

What went wrong?



Last night Joffery Lupul was the first Philadelphia Flyer in 10 years to score 6 points in one night. Now, I do not want to open old wounds but, I was wondering why did he have such a bad year last year?


First, I would like to look at his stats from last year compared to this year:

Last year in 81 games Lupul had 16 goals and 12 assists from a grand total of 26 points. He was also a god awful -29.

However, this year in 28 games Lupul has posted 9 goals and 14 assists for 23 points and is +5. That means at his current he is set to have a season of 27 goals and 41 assists for 68 points. That is nearly triple the production from last season.

So now why the sudden jump in production? The main reasons that I have heard are as follows:

1. Playing in the Fish Bowl called Edmonton

Now coming from a team such as the Anaheim Ducks where you could leave the arena and no one would know who you are, to a team such as Edmonton where you could not go and get gas without someone noticing you would be hard for anyone. Now think that you are a 24 year old millionaire who is running around carte blanche with your money and nightlife. Problems in your game will always follow (see Torres and Stoll). As well, the media and fans in Edmonton were on him from the moment that he stepped off the plane. “We got this guy for Pronger”, “Good home-town boy.” Then about 10 games into the season “We are waiting for Lupul to show up.” These are all aspects that could have affected his play.



2. Playing under MacTavish

I believe that the worst thing that a coach can do is what MacTavish does on a constant basis. The MacT blender. He puts lines together for as little as 3 shifts and then starts putting players out in different combinations. A guy like Lupul needs to play with a playmaker or plain and simple he will not score. We saw all last year the play die with Joffery. This seemed due to his inability to create room for himself. However, when in the attacking zone he is able to find spots that goal scorers find to receive passes.

As well, MacT’s offensive system from the last two years is sporadic at best. Some games the Oilers come out hard and forecheck, while other games it seems that if they are not going to be the first one to the puck they peel off and wait for the other team to attempt a break out. Either way one fact rang true, “if you were not defensively responsible” you were bound to ride the pine while Toby the wonder-boy would be getting time on the PP.

3. He came from the Anaheim Ducks

This has been a relatively new argument since Penner arrived in the fact that maybe Duck players are not as well conditioned for the beginning of the season. This could have been a factor as last October and November Lupul registered only 13 points. By that time, with shot confidence, being bounced from line to line, and having fans and media all over him, it might have been too late.

So, what went wrong? No one will likely know. However, I will say that likely you can not single one specific reason, possibly it was. But, I would bet that it was a combination of 2 or possibly all three reasons

11.21.2007

Divisional Games

I didn't get to see the game last night, but i heard it was a good one. I started this post before the game because I've been disappointed about the Oilers ability to play teams in their own division. We play these teams 32 times, and if you can play 4 teams well all season you get rewarded with a lot of wins (assuming hockey gods are fair). Clearly we are not doing this. I compiled a list of how the players have done against their division and outside the division. These are purely raw numbers from the NHL site and do not account for empty net goals and stuff like that. Its just meant to be a brief overview.

Stats should be up to date (click for larger view). What do we see? Penner and Gagner are surprisingly more effective against divisional opponents, with Gagner's only two goals coming against Calgary and Penner being the only plus player. Horcoff has been very consistent in either category, he's having a great year so far. On the other end Hemsky has not been able to do what Horcoff has: play against our division. His numbers drop against the Calgary's and Colorado's etc..I consider these to be tougher games to play, our division is one of the best in the league (aside this team) and teams usually play division opponents a lot tougher. If Hemsky is going to be our best player, he needs to be our best player against every team. Using Ryan Getzlaf as a comparable (who just got slightly more money than Hemsky did, and is 2 years younger) we can look at his offensive stats. In 9 games outside his division, he has 9 points, and in the 10 games against divisional opponents he as 12 points, clearly producing across the board. His division includes the Sharks, Kings, Coyotes, and Stars. The Kings and Coyotes being the lesser two but are only a combined 5 games under .500. Cogliano is just impressive. Good numbers and they are almost identical in either category.

Another thing that stands out is our checkers. Guys like Sanderson, Reasoner and Brodziak have been getting killed in the +/- area (a combined -20). This could be the teams greatest weakness, a lack of an effective checking line. Our team is unable to stop the other teams best players, and its showing. Sanderson has never been known as a strong 2-way player, Reasoner is more of a 4th liner, and Brodziak is a rookie. Our division is beating us like a rented mule with a bad leg because players like the Sedin Sisters dominating us in the offensive zone.

Oh and our record against the NorthWest? 4-8-1. Against the rest? 4-4-0. Bones and Assholes can't heal fast enough.

An interesting note, Stortini is a minus player in exactly one game. Limited minutes but interesting nonetheless.

11.19.2007

Oilogosphere

An interesting article in the Journal today on the Oilogosphere. Good read for those interested in getting to know the various bloggers in the "sphere".

Enjoy.

11.10.2007

Sour Milk


I was reading the sun a few days back and there was an article about how the Oilers made a big mistake trading for Roloson instead of Biron back in '06 (remember?). Thats a difficult statement to make, first of all your assuming that the Biron trade was there to be made which could likely not be true due to the Sabres wanting two goalies for a cup run. Secondly your assuming that what we give up for Biron won't be more than draft picks. Thirdly, if we did have a different goalie or gave up more than draft picks would this team have still gone to the finals? Honestly I don't change a thing in case I never get to live the experience of that run. Roloson wasn't what carried this team to the cup (See: Pronger) and Jussi played well in his absence, but I have to say that he did a great job and I'm glad he was on this team.

Now in the "what have you done for me lately" category, the 07-08 Oiler goaltending issues. The Oilers have not received the caliber of goaltending they have been expecting, from either Roloson or Garon, and the third worst team GAA of 3.38 (behind T.O. and ATL) at least implies it could be better. But Roloson is 38 and Garon is not a future starter in this league (contrary to some preseason speculation). So what is the future for the Oilers goaltending? We have two legitimate prospects in Jeff-Drouin Deslauriers and Devan Dubnyk with Glenn Fisher and Bryan Pitton a distant (and unlikely) reality. Heres a look at what JDD and Dubnyk have done in the past two years of pro:

JDD: 07-08 5-2-2 2.41 GAA .920% in 10 gp
06-07 22-12-3 2.47 GAA .908% in 40 gp

DD: 07-08 1-3-0 3.18 GAA .914% in 5 gp
06-07 2-1-0 2.94 GAA .855% in 4 gp (AHL)
24-11-7 2.56 GAA .921% in 43 gp (ECHL)

At first there are some positive things to take out of these stats. Dubnyk had an excellent 06-07 season, even being an allstar in his league. JDD has put up decent GAA in the AHL over the last two years, and is have a good season so far this year (though limited action). There are also some negatives to take out of it. JDD's SV% last year was 21st in the AHL, and if your looking at your future starter that is clearly not good enough, especially on the WBS Penguins who were a good playoff team. As for Dubnyk, how many goalies do you know starting in the NHL the last few years that have ever played in the ECHL? I'd actually be interested to know, but i bet you i can count with half a hand. Lets compare them to their draft class.

JDD was drafted in 2002, so lets look at the goalies drafted that year in the first two rounds along with any others that have NHL experience.

Of the three goalies taken in the first, two are starters and Toivonen has had an up and down career, but spent some time as Boston's starter before ending up in St. Louis behind Legace this year. In the second, Harding had a spectacular AHL career and is now an NHL backup being considered for the future starting role. Leneveu has been an average AHL starter and not succeeded in the NHL but he does play for Phoenix. Stephen and Daigneault have had similar progression to JDD and then Norrena was a decent NHL starter last season (2.78 .904 in 55gp for Columbus) only to lose his job this year to one of the hottest goalies in the NHL.

Clearly if JDD is going to become a candidate for a NHL starting role his should have shown greater progression by now. This is his fourth pro season and no one has him penciled in for NHL duties. As for Dubnyk, there is less expectation of him playing NHL games (being 2 years younger than JDD), and it may be too soon to lay judgment on him but lets look at how the goalies drafted in the first round of 2004 have done for themselves.

6. Al Montoya - up and down pro career in his first season (played 2 ECHL games). Good year last year as AHL starter.
14. Devan Dubnyk - first year pro in the ECHL was all star and played well. Got shelled in his 4 AHL games that year. Playing average this year. I suspect next year will be his defining year.
17. Marek Schwarz - This is the man that brings a lot of the debate, he was rated higher than Dubnyk and many believed was the better goalie. Been a decent AHL goalie (good GAA not good Sv%) and got into 2 NHL games last year.
26. Cory Schneider - college player playing his first year of pro, bad in the 5 AHL games he's played.

From my opinion Dubnyk is 3rd on this list. Both Montoya and Schwarz have established more at a higher level then Dubnyk; whom we have yet to discover if he can play at an AHL level. Based on the progression of some great young goalies (Ward, Harding, even Toivonen) we can't expect Dubnyk to become an NHL starter. These goalies went from junior to the AHL and had immediate success at this level. Dubnyk has not played very many games but has not won the starting job either, especially from goalies like Deslauriers who have not been stellar.

As it is now I don't see a goalie in our system who will have the ability to take over after Roloson retires and the Garon experiment fails. This team has spent valuable picks on goalies in 02 and 04 without success. We've reached our hand into the goalie fridge and not gotten what we wanted.

11.05.2007

What else is on TV tonight?

So I skip the rest of class to get home to see the third, and its already 5-2 Wild. I would trade a healthy Pitkanen for Smith straight up. Straight fucking up.

11.02.2007

Chest Pain


Two heart breakers in a row, tough time to be an Oiler fan. Few things about the game tonight that caught my attention. I once believed Grebeshkov could be a player in this league, that ended tonight. Early in the first its a 2 on 2 rush for the Preds and Grebs takes Gilberts guy, leaving his guy wide open for a nice shot that Grebs recovers barely by laying his stick on the ice to tip it. Then we can talk about the two goals he was on the ice for. Has talent but seriously lacks hockey sense. The experiment of him and Gilbert as our answer to the other teams best line needs to stop. Very good post at IOF that backs up the idea Grebeshkov doesn't belong. If anything makes for a good read for us stats junkies. I liked the game Gilbert brought tonight, and if he wasn't babysitting the Russian Pylon he'd have been better than -2 tonight. MacT's post game comments? "If you can't score you can't get scored against. Especially if your trying to make a living in the NHL". Souray can't come back soon enough.

TOI for the Oilers D tonight:
Gilbert - 27:05
Grebeshkov - 25:40
Staios - 25:00
Smid - 19:23
Tarnstrom - 18:41

I don't understand MacTavish's hate on for Tarnstrom; plays a solid game (as he has most games) yet can't be a consistent starter and ends up with the least amount of ice time on a night when Grebeshkov clearly struggled. Are we playing the rookies hoping to turn them into players next year or the year after? or are we trying to be competitive and at least give the fans something to cheer for? Better question: Does MacTavish even know? is Lowe on the same page cause he's signing guys to win now (Penner, Souray).

Team toughness is an issue for this team. We have more skill then they do but got pushed around, specifically our defenceman. This is only proven by out injury parade on the back end. Our D is getting pushed around and our forwards weren't hitting anything. Losing Roy contributed but we need to be better in this area. We had the goaltending and we had offensive pressure was decent, we just fell apart defensively for a couple minutes. Also the kids weren't a factor tonight aside from a good rush from Cogs and some crease crashing by Gagner.

This team is not a playoff contender and if we are trying to turn the rookies into future players who contribute to wins, games like tonight will be as regular as a Raisin Bran diet.

I'm starting a campaign:

Vote for '08

10.17.2007

How did this Happen?

To steal a line from Lowetide “This is Pierre McGuire.”

It came to my attention earlier today that Mr. McGuire was nominated and won an award for the Best Game Analyst from the Gemini Awards, which “recognize the best of Canadian Television”.

Now you have to be freaking kidding me. McGuire actually won this award? In my mind he should not even have been nominated. Or if he was nominated should have lost to guys like Bob Mackenzie or Kelly Hrudey (both of which actually were not even nominated).

Here are the top three things that I hate about Pierre McGuire’s broadcasting:

  1. Grandstanding of minute plays

When I listen to Pierre McGuire on the NHL on TSN I think to myself, does this guy actually know what is going on? During games he will grandstand minute plays and make them the key to why a player is successful. For example a player is in a scrum along the boards and kicks the puck to a teammate. That team mate then undresses a defenseman; make a complete mockery of the goaltender and scores. McGuire will build that simple little kick pass to be the play of the year.

  1. Continual ranting about certain aspects

Pierre will see something happen in a game and continually complain about it. For example one player is hitting with his elbow a little high, but he will continually point this out time after time. It gets a little repetitive because as a hockey fan I can plainly see that too, I do not need to be reminded of it time and time again in an annoying fashion. Show a replay of a move, do not show me clip after clip of how you are right and a player hits leading with his elbow.

  1. McGuire’s "monster"

I like the idea behind this in rewarding a player for individual effort in a team game. But seriously some of the guys that he picks are mind boggling. There are some games that you could have a player have 2 goals and played lights out and McGuire will give the monster to a plugger that made the inconsequential kick pass mentioned in #1 (Buffalo vs. Ottawa Feb 7, 2006)

Sure he was a coach (with a great record of 23-37-7), but that obviously does not make him a great hockey analyst. You become a good hockey analyst by looking at all the sides to the game. Not grandstanding plays, continually ranting about such and such play, or making people out to be “monsters.” All I can hope is that next year a real analyst like Mckenzie or Hrudey gets the nod. But, then again maybe I am just biased towards Mr. MrGuire.

10.15.2007

Early Attendance Figures

I have been hearing a lot of concern on the Team 1260 over the attendance records of some NHL teams this year. So I thought that I would take a look at the attendance through the league and found some interesting things. But, before we get to the points here is the break down ranked according to average attendance. (Note: I did not calculate the percentage of Los Angles or Anaheim because of the games played in London)

Rank

Team

Games

Total

Average

Percentage

1

Montreal

1

21,273

21,273

100.0

2

Philadelphia

1

19,714

19,714

100.1

3

Toronto

5

96,913

19,382

103.1

4

Calgary

2

38,578

19,289

112.4

5

St. Louis

2

38,300

19,150

91.2

6

Tampa Bay

3

57,214

19,071

96.5

7

Ottawa

4

75,721

18,930

102.3

8

Buffalo

3

56,070

18,690

100.0

9

Vancouver

3

55,890

18,630

101.1

10

Minnesota

3

55,704

18,568

102.8

11

Carolina

2

36,496

18,248

97.4

12

New York Rangers

3

54,600

18,200

100.0

13

San Jose

1

17,496

17,496

100.0

14

Los Angeles

4

69,948

17,487

-

15

Anaheim

2

34,585

17,292

-

16

Dallas

3

51,793

17,264

93.2

17

Detroit

4

68,848

17,212

85.8

18

Pittsburgh

2

34,138

17,069

100.7

19

Edmonton

3

50,517

16,839

100.0

20

Washington

1

16,741

16,741

89.7

21

Colorado

3

49,516

16,505

91.7

22

New York Islanders

3

47,763

15,921

97.7

23

Atlanta

3

47,064

15,688

84.6

24

Florida

3

45,898

15,299

79.5

25

Columbus

2

29,796

14,898

82.1

26

Phoenix

3

43,974

14,658

83.8

27

Nashville

4

54,749

13,687

80.0

28

Chicago

3

40,758

13,586

66.3

29

Boston

0

0

0

0

29

New Jersey

0

0

0

0

Being a couple games into the season I thought that I would do a preliminary report of the home attendance record of the teams in the NHL. Let’s look at a few key points from the chart that I have complied thanks to ESPN and Sportsnet:

  1. The Oilers are off to a great start and really I expect them to sell out each of their home games this year. However, it really shows that we might need a new building because we are selling Rexall out and still are ranked 19th in the league. Too bad none of the mayoral candidates want the new arena

  1. A couple teams have surprisingly low attendance currently.

    1. Detroit being one of them. I guess hockey is struggling in hockey town. Most sports writers chalk this up to a declining economy, however, when you look that the Michigan State Wolverines sell an average of 110124 tickets at an average of 58 dollars. That means there is more than enough money to go around. I think the real reason is fans are sick of losing in the first round and that the lockout really hurt hockey in established markets in the United States. All you have to do is look to the attendance before the lockout and Detroit was #2 right behind Montreal.

    1. Colorado being another. At one point Colorado had a near 11 year and 487 game sell out streak. Now this year they are only selling 91.7% of their tickets. Again I would say this is due to the lockout and fans waning interest in the United States towards the NHL.

  1. That three of the top four teams in the league attendancewise are Canadian teams. As well as, Canadian teams have sold out each home game and that half of the teams with a 100% attendance rate are Canadian teams.

  1. I would have to assume that some of the American team’s attendance figures will start to drop soon as the home opener seems to draw better than the later games. However, that could work the opposite way if a team is in a playoff race.

  1. Had the Balsillie sale of the Nashville Predators gone through we would have a 7th Canadian team next year as there attendance is below 14,000 and I do not see how it will ever get above that mark.

With those points being raised I would not be disappointed to see a team located to Canada, where it seems a sure thing it would do well. I just hope that the NHL soon realizes that its bread and butter is Canada and stops attempting the relocated to places that are almost certain to fail. Just look, 5 of the bottom 6 teams to have played a home game are from the “recent” expansions or relocations.

10.10.2007

Top 20 Right Wingers

While reading The Hockey News Oct 2, 2007 edition I came across an article by Mike Brophy ranking the top 20 players at each position in the NHL. Out of the supposed top 100 players the Oilers hold only one position. Sheldon Souray is rated as the 18th best defenseman in the NHL. Maybe being an Oiler fan made one thing jump out at me. This would be the absence of Ales Hemsky from the top 20 right wingers. Here is the list the Mike Brophy has come up with including the complied point totals and point per game average for the past 2 years:

1. Jarome Iginla 152 GP 74G – 87A PPG = 1.05

2. Dany Heatley 164 GP 100G – 108A PPG = 1.27

3. Jaromir Jagr 164 GP 84G – 135A PPG = 1.34

4. Martin St. Louis 162 GP 74G – 89A PPG = 1.01

5. Marian Gaborik 103 GP 68G – 55A PPG = 1.19

6. Marian Hossa 162 GP 82G – 110A PPG = 1.12

7. Daniel Alfredsson 154 GP 72G – 118A PPG = 1.23

8. Jonathan Cheechoo 158 GP 94G – 69A PPG = 1.03

9. Martin Havlat 74 GP 34G – 39A PPG = 0.99

10. Rick Nash Listed as a Left Winger on NHLPA

11. Brendan Shanahan Listed as a Left Winger on NHLPA

12. Tomas Holmstrom 158 GP 59G – 52A PPG = 0.70

13. Andrew Brunette Listed as a Left Winger on NHLPA

14. Milan Hejduk 154 GP 59G – 69A PPG = 0.83

15. Justin Williams 164 GP 64G – 79A PPG = 0.87

16. Brian Gionta 144 GP 73G – 61A PPG = 0.93

17. Chris Clark 152 GP 50G – 43A PPG = 0.61

18. Jere Lehtinen 153 GP 59G – 36A PPG = 0.62

19. Nathan Horton 153 GP 59G – 50A PPG = 0.71

20. Shane Doan 155 GP 57G – 64A PPG = 0.78

Now let’s see how Ales stacks up compared to these guys

Ales Hemsky 145 GP 32G – 98A PPG = 0.90

Here are my reasons why Hemsky should be on this list:

1. There are three players on the top 20 right wingers that actually play on the left side. Was that a brain cramp or did Brophy just not research what he was putting down?

2. If you go by points per game average then Hemsky has a better rating than 7 other players on this list

3. I can see where Brophy is going by putting Lehtinen on this list as he is probably the best defensive forward in the NHL and has been for a while. But, when it comes down to it would you rather have Lehtinen or Hemsky?

4. Why is Chris Clark even on this list? If he didn’t play with Alex O he would have much worse stats. Imagine if you had Hemsky skating with Ovechkin.

Maybe I am wrong maybe Hemsky does not deserve to be in the top 20. However, if he doesn’t then probably 10 players on this list don’t really deserve to be there too. Maybe Brophy and The Hockey News have it wrong. I mean in this same issue they did pick Rob Schremp to be the 6th most likely rookie to win the Calder Trophy this year.