Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Northwest Division Predictions

With the regular season fast approaching, it is time to begin my predictions for the regular season.  I want to begin with my standard disclaimer.  I have seen several people attempt to predict the winner or every game (or a significant number of them) over a season. I have never seen anybody post as good as a 60% success rate.  If we assume that 60% is a theoretical limit for the maximum possible longterm success rate (and that number is probably too high), then we can see that 20% of the time the better team wins because of their talent (i.e. they are the better team) and the rest of the time the game was won by luck.  There is an equal chance that either team can win because of luck, so there is a 40% chance the favorite wins and a 40% chance the underdog wins.  This leaves us with one game in five won because of the talent of the better team.  That is the signal I am trying to predict.  I cannot predict the other games.

In the regular season things get even harder.  It is September and some of the games I am trying to predict will not happen until next spring.  By then there will be trades, injuries, new coaches, streaks, slumps and a bunch of other things nobody can expect today.

So here are my predictions for the finish in the Northwest Division and a little blurb for each team:

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Bobby Orr Has Best Point Shares Season Ever

I have been looking at Justin Kubatko’s point shares system at hockey-reference.com.  Yesterday I listed the top 20 seasons ever by this system.  Bobby Orr is quite dominant on this list.  His seasons rank 1st, 2nd, 4th, 9th and 11th all time.  That gives him five of the top twenty seasons of all time.  Wayne Gretzky also has five of the top 20 seasons but his ranks are a bit lower at 6th, 7th, 8th, 17th and 18th all time.  Orr’s 1970/71 season ranks first overall on the list.  He is credited with 22.92 point shares that season.  Orr earned 13.5 of those point shares from his offence and 9.4 from his defence.  He was first in the league that season in terms of defensive point shares and second in terms of offensive point shares (teammate Phil Esposito beat him).  Bobby Orr finished second in league scoring from defence with 37 goals and a then record 102 assists for 139 points.  This 139 point total was Orr’s career best.  Orr posted a +124 +/- rating that year, which is a record that still stands today.  This was clearly a great season, but is it the best ever?

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Top 20 Seasons By Point Shares

As I look into the point share method developed by Justin Kubatko of hockey-reference.com, I have listed the top 20 seasons by the offensive, defensive and goaltending portions of the system.  It is now time to look at the top seasons by the total system, which is the sum of the three portions.

Here are the top 20 seasons ever by the point shares system:

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Ray Bourque Is A Close Second By Point Shares

Yesterday I listed the top 20 players by career point shares.  This is a system created by Justin Kubatko of hockey-reference.com to try to credit team points to their individual players.

It is no big surprise that Wayne Gretzky has the top career of all time.  The surprise is that Ray Bourque is second.  He is slightly less than ten point shares behind Gretzky and more than 25 point shares above any other player.  Bourque is considered one of the best defencemen of all time, but not the best one.  He is never considered in the race to be the best player in hockey history by any serious listing of players.  So why does he appear this high on the point shares list?

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Top 20 Careers By Point Shares

I have posted the top 20 careers by offensive , defensive and goaltending point shares.  Now it is time to put it all together and look at total point shares, which is the sum of the three portions.  As we have seen, offensive point shares is the most accurate, though it is rather arbitrary the way it treats assists relative to goals.  Defensive and goaltending point shares are largely a sharing of the goals prevented by a team among the various players.  This is a poor technique because it doesn’t attempt to find the actual value of a player, but rather it gives his portion by their position on the ice.  This can lead to some problems in defensive valuation.

Nevertheless, let’s add the three portions and see who leads in career point shares.

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Roberto Luongo Has Best Goalie Point Shares Season Ever

I have taken a bit of a break from my sabermetrics and hockey posts, but there are still a few points I want to revisit before the season opens.  I had last been looking at goaltender point shares and posted the top 20 seasons by goaltender point shares.  At the top of the list all time is Roberto Luongo’s 2003/04 season with the Florida Panthers.  This season is worth 20.85 point shares.  No goaltender has ever had a better season according to this system.  How reasonable result?

Luongo did not win the Vezina Trophy that season.  That award went to Martin Brodeur.  Luongo was nominated, but he finished third in the race behind Brodeur and Miikka Kiprusoff.  If Luongo had as historic a season as the point shares system says, the voters did not notice.

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Shanahan Off To A Good Start

One of the big stories in the NHL this season is Brendan Shanahan taking over for Colin Campbell as the NHL’s vice president of hockey operations in charge of suspensions and discipline.  Campbell had been criticized for his NHL suspension policy.  Shanahan taking over is a chance for Campbell is a chance for expectations to be reset.  It is a chance to fix some of the problems that exist or to create new ones.  So far Shanahan has issued two suspensions and it seems he is off to a good start.

In Tuesday’s pre-season game between the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks which Calgary won 5-1, Pierre-Luc Letourneau-Leblond of the Flames hit Matt Clackson from behind in the third period.  He drove Clackson hard into the boards and finished the check.  The new NHL policy is that hits from behind should be avoided or minimized to prevent injury or the offending player will be suspended.  Letourneau-Leblond broke it.

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Future Hall Of Famer Mike Modano Retires

Today Mike Modano announced his retirement after 1499 regular season games played.  As is my policy, I am writing a career retrospective on him as I consider him a future Hockey Hall of Fame player.  Here was the post I made when I first considered him a Hall of Famer.

Modano was born on June 7th, 1970 in Livonia, Michigan.  He first gathered the attention of hockey scouts as a 15 year old playing in the Michigan National Hockey League (MNHL) for Detroit Compuware.  He scored 131 points in 69 games and was a local hockey star.  Modano chose to come to Canada to play in the CHL.  He went to Saskatchewan to play for the Prince Albert Raiders.  He scored 62 points as a 16 year old rookie in the WHL and was actively recruited by several US colleges.  Modano turned down at least three scholarship offers to remain in Prince Albert.  In his second WHL season, Modano scored 127 points and starred for the US in the World Junior Championships with five points in seven games.

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Kings Alienating Doughty Long Term

A restricted free agent has very little leverage in most cases.  If they cannot file for salary arbitration there is little that they can do except accept their current team’s contract offer or wait.  In principle another team could give them an offer sheet but this is a difficult task.  There is no point giving a player an offer sheet if his current team will immediately match it, so you must offer a significant sized contract.  Usually it is hard to be in a situation where a team has the money on hand and salary cap space to make such an offer where the player’s current team does not.

The top player in the NHL who finds himself in this situation is Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings.  Doughty is a 21 year old defenceman who has already had a Norris Trophy nomination.  The Kings hold his rights until he has played seven seasons in the NHL.  This will happen when Doughty is 25 years old and probably has not played the best years of his career yet.

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Dallas Stars Bankruptcy

While the NHL press releases often give the impression that things have never been better financially for the league, there are actually a lot of franchises in financial trouble ( Tom Benjamin has a good list).  One of the more serious problems is the Dallas Stars. 

The Dallas Stars moved from Minnesota for the 1993/94 season.  Tom Hicks bought the team for the 1995/96 season and they were an NHL success.  They were one of the top teams in the league and won the 1999 Stanley Cup.  They were incorrectly seen as a big market team that was dominating the league in one incorrect justification for the 2004 lockout.  The reality is Dallas is a pretty big market but they hardly qualify as one of the biggest markets in baseball (with the Texas Rangers), how could they be a big hockey market?  If Dallas had not had on ice success, it was quite likely they would have problems with the franchise.

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About The Puck Stops Here

imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.

Why am I blogging? I want to.

Why are you reading it? ???

Email: y2kfhl@hotmail.com

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