This is my final prediction post for the 2013/14 regular season. I have posted an order of finish for the West Conference and Metropolitan Division and Atlantic Division blurbs. Here is my order of finish for the East Conference:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins
2. Boston Bruins
3. Detroit Red Wings
4. New York Rangers
5. Ottawa Senators
6. New Jersey Devils
7. Montreal Canadiens
8. Washington Capitals
The season has just begun but it is too early to find any meaningful trends this season. I am completing my predictions by looking at the Atlantic Division. This misnamed division is one of the newly aligned divisions this year. It is odd that Detroit is in the Atlantic Division while New York teams are not. Which city is closer to the Atlantic?
1. Boston Bruins - Fresh off a Stanley Cup final berth, this is one of the better teams in the NHL. Patrice Bergeron leads their forwards and may be the best two-way forward in the game. David Krejci, Brad Marchand and Milan Lucic provide some depth with Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla joining the group. Zdeno Chara may be the best defenceman in the game and he leads a group including Dennis Seidenberg and Dougie Hamilton. Tuukka Rask is a good starting goalie.
The name of this division is silly. It is probably the worst named division I have ever heard of in any sport. Nevertheless the NHL has given us a Metropolitan Division. The rest of the NHL names are geographic. I guess they think the Metropolitan area ranges from Ohio to New York to North Carolina. That's not any geography I have ever heard of.
I am aware that my predictions come a bit after the start of the season, but it is too early to identify any meaningful trends that will change my predictions at all.
Here are my predictions for the Metropolitan Division:
1. Pittsburgh Penguins - The most talented club in the division is led by Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, James Neal, Chris Kunitz, Kris Letang and Paul Martin. Their weakness is goaltending. Marc-Andre Fleury has fallen on hard times, but he has been a good enough goalie to have success behind a talented team. Tomas Vokoun is aging and suffering from blood clots, but he could be the solution to any goaltending problems when he becomes ready.
1. Los Angeles Kings
2. Chicago Blackhawks
3. Vancouver Canucks
4. San Jose Sharks
5. St Louis Blues
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Pheonix Coyotes
I am continuing my pre-season predictions today. Yesterday I posted my predictions for the Pacific Division and today I move on to the Central Division. The new alignment makes my predictions a little uncertain. I don't expect to have my predictions completed for the East Conference until a few games have been played and those games may affect my predictions. I don't care much about a single game result. It will be long term trends that become clear (for example a key longterm injury) that would affect my predictions.
Here are my Central Division picks:
1. Chicago Blackhawks - They are the defending Stanley Cup champions and were clearly the best team in the NHL last year. There will likely be a Stanley Cup hangover but they have a lot of talent. It will be hard to beat the team of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook. If there is a weakness it is in goal where Corey Crawford has never proven himself to be a top flight NHL goalie.
2. St Louis Blues - Ken Hitchcock is a very good coach and will get the most out of this team. Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk lead a very good defence but I am not so sold on their forwards. Chris Stewart was their only forward who exceeded 28 points. In goal Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott have looked good at times but have been largely inconsistent. This isn't a top flight team but they will likely exceed their talent levels.
With the regular season coming up, I am going to begin making my predictions for the 2013/14 season. We have a new alignment which will make things a little bit interesting and harder to predict than usual. Nevertheless I plan to try to make my pre-season predictions starting in the Pacific Division.
1. Los Angeles Kings - The 2012 Stanley Cup champions have recovered from their Stanley Cup hangover and have a talented team that led the NHL in puck possession last year. Jonathan Quick is one of the top goalies in the game. Drew Doughty is one of the top defencemen in the game. Anze Kopitar, Mike Richards, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams lead a solid deep group of forwards. This is one of the best teams in the NHL.
2. Vancouver Canucks - The Canucks window to win the Stanley Cup is beginning to close. In a perfect world Roberto Luongo and the Sedin brothers can lead the Canucks to the Stanley Cup but since they are all in their 30s their best days are likely gone. If Ryan Kesler can remain healthy it will really help. On defence, Dan Hamhuis and Kevin Bieksa lead a group which is solid but is not the Canucks biggest strength.
3. San Jose Sharks - This is another team that is probably on its way down without having won a cup. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are no longer young men. Logan Couture may be ready to take over the scoring lead, but he isn't the player they were in their primes. Dan Boyle remains the top defenceman and he too is getting old. Antti Niemi was a surprise Vezina Trophy nominee last year, but few consider him a truly top goaltender.
I have been writing several posts about sabermetrics and hockey over the off-season. I have been looking at Corsi ratings. These are the difference between attempted shots by a team and their opponents when a player is on the ice in even strength situations. This number is then adjusted for the team which the player plays on and the situation in which he plays. The situation a player plays in is measured using zone starts. This is the number of times a player is on the ice for a faceoff in a given zone. Each excess zone start is worth 0.8 points of Corsi. This is used to rank a player's puck possession ability. The adjustments attempt to make this an individual ranking that ranks an individual player's puck possession.
Here are the worst twenty players in the 2013 by team and zone adjusted Corsi. These are players who usually have the puck under their opposition's control while they are on the ice. This is not a strong group of players.
A few days ago I posted the top 20 players by team and zone adjusted Corsi ratings. Leading the list was Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins. This is a strong argument that Bergeron is the best puck possession player in the NHL in 2013.
Bergeron is a top defensive forward with solid offensive skills. He plays a tough role for the Boston Bruins where he plays against tough opposition and has a large number of defensive zone starts. Despite that, while Bergeron is on the ice Boston usually controls the puck. This is a significant advantage to the Bruins. The best players on the opposing team play what should be offensive shifts but Boston takes control of the puck. That is a way to diffuse the offensive strength of their opposition. I think this shows Bergeron is a far more valuable player than his offensive numbers show. That is why he has played with Team Canada in the Winter Olympics. He is a centreman who hasn't topped 65 points in a season in the last six years and is far more valuable than those numbers show. This is a success of Corsi to show the value of a player who is clearly more valuable than his offensive numbers show.
I have been looking at sabermetrics and hockey this summer. Specifically, I have been looking into making Corsi ratings into a meaningful ranking of players. Corsi is a measure of puck possession found by comparing attempted shots by a team and their opponents in 5 on 5 situations when a given player is on the ice. Raw rankings can be strongly dependent upon the team for which a player plays. Thus I removed team effects. These rankings are now strongly dependent upon the role a player plays with his given team. This is measured by looking at the excess zone starts a given player has. For each extra time he is on the ice for an offensive faceoff his Corsi will be on average 0.8 units higher. This effect is removed. The problem here is this is partially accounted for in the team adjustment and the team excess zone starts must not be double counted.
This gives a pretty good list of players who drive the puck possession when they are on the ice. Since team and zone start effects are removed we have removed the main effects that bias these rankings.
This is not a ranked list of the best players in the NHL. Puck possession is only one part of hockey and this is a solid, but imperfect method of measuring it.
Here are the top 20 players in 2013 by team and zone adjusted Corsi:
Steve Simmons is arguing with me in his Sunday Toronto Sun columns. In his most recent column, which is over a week old, he wrote:
The Leafs penalty killing went from almost-record terrible for years to near tops in the league last season and Jay McClement was a big part of the change and the success. But he can’t be any good because advanced statistics consider him one of the worst players in hockey.
This is how he argues. He puts a cryptic soundbite in his column that much of his readership doesn't understand. It shows that he doesn't like Corsi and the reason for his dislike is probably a failure to understand it. His comment came on the heels of my post that Jay McClement had the worst raw Corsi in 2013.
This isn't the first time he has posted something along these lines. In his previous week's column he wrote:
Another reason why I have next to great difficulty for the CORSI analytic statistic in hockey. I saw a team adjusted CORSI ranking for this past season. Tyler Seguin of the Bruins was rated fifth best in the NHL. The same Seguin whom Bruins coach Claude Julien kept on the third line, moving rookie Carl Soderberg from press box to first-line centre when Patrice Bergeron got hurt. I’ll take Julien’s instincts over strange numbers anytime
I responded to that comment, which makes no substantive argument against Corsi here.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
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