Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Metropolitan Division Predictions

I am continuing my regular season predictions today.  Today I look at the most poorly named division in the NHL.  This is the Metropolitan Division.  Is a city like Los Angeles or Chicago not metropolitan?  They are more metropolitan than Columbus or Carolina but those are Metropolitan Division teams and the Kings and Hawks are not.

I have already looked at the West Conference and its divisions the Central Division and the Pacific Division.  Here are my Metropolitan Division predictions:

1. Pittsburgh Penguins - This is the team with the largest group of offensively talented players.  If Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin can stay healthy, that will propel the Pens to the top of the standings.  Phil Kessel joins them from Toronto and he is ready to show us that Toronto was his problem (as opposed to the Leaf fan belief that he was Toronto's problem).  Patric Hornqvist and Chris Kunitz will provide some strong depth.  On defence, Kris Letang is a top offensive defenceman if he stays healthy.  Olli Maata should be healthy enough to provide some depth.  Marc-Andre Fleury has proven himself to be an acceptable choice as a goalie, though he is not an elite choice.  With health, this team should be a league leader.

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West Conference Predictions

I am continuing my predictions by listing my predicted order of finish for the West Conference teams.  Blurbs for the individual teams are written in the divisional predictions threads.  The Pacific Division is here and the Central Division is here.

1. Anaheim Ducks
2. St Louis Blues
3. Los Angeles Kings
4. Chicago Blackhawks
5. Nashville Predators
6. San Jose Sharks
7. Dallas Stars (wild card)
8. Minnesota Wild (wild card)

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Central Division Predictions

I am continuing with my regular season predictions today by looking at the Central Division.  I have already looked at the Pacific Division.

Here are my thoughts on what might happen in the Central Division.  Of course a surprise injury, trade, rookie etc. will render it all moot and you can count on several of them occurring this season.

1. St Louis Blues - Ken Hitchcock is a very good coach who keeps this team motivated all season.  They have some solid offensive talent in Vladimir Tarasenko, Alexander Steen, Paul Stastny and Jaden Schwartz.  Alex Pietrangelo, Jay Bouwmeester and Kevin Shattenkirk are a solid group of defencemen.  Jake Allen and Brian Elliott are good enough goaltenders to succeed behind this group, but goaltending won't be a strength.  This is a team with strong depth that is motivated and will play well.

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Pacific Division Predictions

I have been AWOL from this site for quite a while.  Sometimes life gets in the way.  When it is the hockey off-season it is possible to get away.

I want to start my regular season predictions by looking at the Pacific Division.  Here we go:

1. Anaheim Ducks - Bruce Boudreau is a top coach who keeps his team on task and gets the most from his club.  Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry are among the best one-two punches of any team in the league.  Ryan Kelser and Jakob Silfverberg provide some depth.  There is a solid defence built on Cam Fowler, Sami Vatanen, Hampus Lindholm and newcomer Kevin Bieksa.  Frederik Andersen had a solid season last year, but I am not entirely sold on it being repeatable.

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Paul Gaustad Leads In Defensive Zone Starts

When I posted the league leaders in 2014/15 by excess defensive zone starts (defensive zone faceoffs - offensive zone faceoffs) when a player is on the ice, Paul Gaustad of the Nashville Predators leads.  Gaustad has 457 excess defensive zone starts.  This makes him the player who had the role most defined by zone starts.  Mike Ribeiro, the offensive zone start leader, has 302 excess offensive zone starts.  Since both the offensive and defensive leaders play on Nashville, it is clear that they were the strongest users of the strategy of getting offensive players into offensive zone starts and defensive players into defensive ones.

Gaustad played a tough role defensively.  This showed up in his puck possession numbers.  His team adjusted Corsi rating is sixth worst in the NHL last year at -248.8.  That doesn't make him one of the weakest players in the NHL.  It means that his Corsi shows the context of a tough defensive role.  If he starts his shifts in the defensive zone, he is more likely to face a shot attempt against.  In order to better use Corsi to single out the best and worst puck possession players, it is necessary to correct for zone starts.  I will do that soon.  In fact despite Gaustad's poor Corsi, I would have given him a fourth place Selke vote as best defensive forward because his role is so tough defensively.

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Top 20 Players By Defensive Zone Starts

I am continuing my sabermetrics and hockey series with the top 20 players in 2014/15 by excess defensive zone starts in 5 on 5 situations.  These are players who play in tough defensive situations.  By starting their shifts in the defensive zone they are more likely to have poor Corsi ratings.   I will adjust for this in Corsi analysis in the future. 

Here is a group of players who played - often anonymously - in tough defensive situations and deserve credit for it if they succeeded.

Here are the top 20 players in 2014/15 by defensive zone starts:

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Mike Ribeiro Leads In Offensive Zone Starts

A few days ago I posted the 2014/15 league leaders in excess offensive zone starts (this is faceoffs a player is on the ice for in 5 on 5 situations in the offensive zone minus those in the defensive zone).  Leading the league is Mike Ribeiro of the Nashville Predators with 302 excess offensive zone starts.  Thus Ribeiro was given a cushy role in Nashville where his offence could be maximized.

Ribeiro is an interesting case in the NHL in the last couple of seasons.  Ribeiro spent his 2013/14 season with Phoenix.  He was moderately successful scoring 47 points in 80 games.  This placed him fifth in scoring in Phoenix.  He was bought out of his four year contract after one year in Phoenix.  Largely this was done because of off-ice issues, but if he played better hockey that might have been excused.  Nashville took a chance on him signing him for barely over a million dollars in a one year contract.  It paid off.  Ribeiro scored 62 points in 82 games.  He was second in scoring on the Preds.  Nashville signed him to a contract extention of two years worth $3.5 million per year.

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Top 20 Players By Offensive Zone Starts

As I continue my sabermetrics and hockey series today I will look at the top 20 players in 2014/15 by excess offensive zone starts.  These are players who in 5 on 5 situations are on the ice for the most offensive zone faceoffs with defensive zone faceoffs subtracted off.  This is a group of players who are given a chance to play a big offensive role.  In some cases these are top offensive players attempting to maximize their offence.  In other cases these are players who are weak defensively being protected from the situations where they struggle.

Offensive zone starts help give us an idea of the context that is needed to evaluate puck possession stats such as Corsi.  In the future I will use these numbers for that purpose.

Here are the top 20 players by excess zone starts in 2014/15:

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Jay McClement Has The Worst Team Adjusted Corsi

A few days ago I posted the worst players in the 2014/15 season by team adjusted Corsi rating.  At the top (or bottom?) of this list was Jay McClement of the Carolina Hurricanes.  He posted a league worst -269.0 adjusted Corsi.  This shows that his puck possession as measured by attempted shots in 5 on 5 situations where he is on the ice is worse for him than any other player in the league when compared to their team.  McClement being near the bottom is no shock.  Last year he was 17th from the worst while playing in Toronto.  The year before that he was second worst.

Why does a player like that keep playing in the NHL?  In part it is because team adjusted Corsi isn't telling the whole picture.  Players like McClement tend to play against the toughest opposition and get a significant number of defensive zone starts which will hurt his Corsi.  Those things must be corrected for in order to get a true view of McClement's play. 

After they are accounted for, he has been a below average NHLer but getting closer to average who plays in a tough situation on his team when puck possession is hard to come by.  Defensively his numbers do not look bad.  Despite the high quality of opposition, he ranks above average on his team by most measures.  The problem is he doesn't score.  He doesn't do much of anything offensively.  Any team that plays like McClement would be an awful team that scores record low numbers of goals.  They would not have a horrid goals against but they would be beaten most nights. 

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Worst 20 Players By Team Adjusted Corsi

Today I am continuing my sabermetrics and hockey series by posting the 20 worst players in 2014/15 by team adjusted Corsi.  I have already posted the top 20 players by team adjusted Corsi.  This is the flip side.  It is a group of players who struggled with puck possession.  These players had low Corsi ratings relative to their teams.  This means that in 5 on 5 situations their opponents were taking more attempted shots than their team even after adjusting for team affects.  These are a group of players who struggled last year.

In a couple cases these players played tough defensive situations where they had a significant number of zone starts in their own zone and hence that (at least partially) explains a poor Corsi, but in general these players were weak links on their teams.

Here are the 20 worst players in 2014/15 by team adjusted Corsi:

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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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