Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

Atlantic Division Predictions

Today I am giving my predictions in the final division in the NHL.  I have already predicted an order of finish for the West Conference and made predictions for its constituent divisions the Pacific and Central Divisions and also made predictions for the Metropolitan Division

Here are the Atlantic Division predictions:

1. Boston Bruins - Boston is probably the class of the East Conference.  Tuukka Rask is a top level goalie.  Zdeno Chara is a star level defenceman but at age 37 he is expected to slow down.  Youngsters Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton will have to carry more of the load.  Patrice Bergeron is the best defensive forward in the game and further strengthens the Bruins defensive ability.  David Krejci, Milan Lucic, Brad Marchand and Loui Eriksson will provide depth.  Boston has a strong deep team, though they may miss the veteran leadership and scoring of Jarome Iginla this year.

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Metropolitan Division Predictions

I continue my regular season predictions today by looking at the Metropolitan Division.  I feel the need to point out that I hate the name of this division.  Metropolitan does not describe this group of teams any more than any other current NHL division. 

I have already written my predictions for the West Conference and its constituent divisions the Pacific and Central Divisions.  Here is the predicted order of finish in the so-called Metropolitan Division.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins -  The Penguins won this division quite easily last year and should be able to defend it despite being a weaker team this year.  Stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin are both hurt at the start of the season.  Likely they will be healthy before long, but it's a poor start.  Kris Letang should be their top defenceman but he hasn't proven that he can get into form after suffering a stroke last year.  Marc-Andre Fleury has been inconsistent in goal in the past.  Despite these potential problems the Pens have some depth.  Chris Kunitz and Pascal Dupuis provide very good depth at forward.  Their defence may come together but it depends upon aging Paul Martin and Christian Ehrhoff succeeding.  This has been a good team in the past but they have lost some depth from last year and have some question marks.  I think they will do well enough to win the division.

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West Conference Predictions

I am continuing my regular season predictions by listing my predicted order of finish in the West Conference.  I will not be writing a blurb for each team, as i have already done so in the Pacific Division and Central Division prediction posts. 

Here is my predicted order of finish in the West Conference:

1. Chicago Blackhawks
2. Los Angeles Kings
3. San Jose Sharks
4. St Louis Blues
5. Anaheim Ducks
6. Dallas Stars
7. Minnesota Wild
8. Colorado Avalanche

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Central Division Predictions

I am continuing my regular season NHL predictions today.  I have already done the Pacific Division.  Today I am moving onto the Central Division.

1. Chicago Blackhawks - The Hawks are the most talented team in this division.  If they do not win it, probably it shows that they didn't over-extend themselves in the regular season in an attempt to wait for the playoffs.  Jonathan Toews is an outstanding forward and he has all star depth behind him in Patrick Kane, Marian Hossa and Patrick Sharp.  Brad Richards j0ins this bunch and should make it a little more potent.  Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook are a top defensive line and lead a solid group of defencemen.  Corey Crawford has been a solid goalie but has never shown himself to be an elite keeper.  If there is a significant weakness on the Hawks, he could be it, but this team will likely be without any glaring weakness.

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Pacific Division Predictions

With the season fast approaching, I figure that now is a good time to start my pre-season predictions.  I will begin today in the Pacific Division.

1. Los Angeles Kings - The Kings are the most talented of the teams in this division.  Should they fail to win the division it is likely due to a Stanley Cup hangover.  They may not be as fresh as any other team having had a shorter summer and they may not be as up for the more meaningless regular season games as some opponents.  Jonathan Quick gives them a solid goalie.  Drew Doughty may be the top defenceman in the game.  Anze Kopitar, Jeff Carter and Justin Williams are some very good forwards.  The popular opinion for people trying to find a significant weakness for this team comes from stating that Mike Richards is overpaid as a fourth line centreman - but that misses the point that the Kings have the depth to put an ex-Olympian on the fourth line. 

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Brian McGrattan Is A Poor Puck Possession Player

When I last posted about a week and a half ago, I posted the worst 20 players by adjusted Corsi as a rate stat.  Corsi is the difference between attempted shots in five on five situations when a given player is on the ice.  In order to make it more of an individualized stat, there are adjustments made for the team and usage of the player and it is divided by five on five playing time.  This is a good measure of the puck possession ability of the player involved.  The worst player among those who played 50 or more games last year is Brian McGrattan of the Calgary Flames.

McGrattan is a goon.  He appeared in 76 games last year scoring four goal and four assists.  His offensive contribution was minimal.  He had 100 penalty minutes, which placed him 32nd in the NHL.  The Flames knew he had little value despite the fact he dressed almost every game.  They only played him a little over six minutes per game.    When he played, the puck was going the other direction.  Calgary's opponents had control of the puck.  McGrattan offered little to his team besides fighting. 

This was predictable.  McGrattan has never been a valuable hockey player.  His four goals and eight points were career highs - as was his 76 games played.  Despite his lack of success in the past and the fact he is into his thirties, Calgary signed him to a two year contract in 2013.  Thus he will be back with the team for the 2014/15 season.

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Worst 20 Players By Adjusted Corsi (Rate Stat)

I am continuing my summer sabermetrics and hockey series today by looking at the 20 worst players in the 2013/14 season by adjusted Corsi rate.  Corsi is the difference between attempted shots taken by a team and their opponents when a given player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations.  This is a gage of puck possession, but it is a team gage and not an individual one.  In order to make it an individual gage, the Corsi rating must be adjusted for the team that a player plays on as well as their usage by that team as shown by their zone starts.  This list is then expressed as a rate stat by dividing it by the amount of ice time a player plays in 5 on 5 situations.  This should give a list of poor puck possession players.  In order to assure that players on the list played a sufficient number of games to have a meaningful rating, this list is limited to players who played at least 50 games played in the 2013/14 season.

Here are the worst 20 players by adjusted Corsi rate in 2013/14:

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Zenon Konopka Has A Top Corsi Rate

A while ago I posted the top 20 players in the 2013/14 season by team and zone start adjusted Corsi rate.  This is the difference in attempted shots by a player's team and his opponents when a player is on the ice in 5 on 5 situations.  It is then adjusted for the team the player plays upon and the zone in which the player's shifts tend to begin.  This Corsi is then divided by the number of minutes played in 5 on 5 situations by the player in question.  This is a measure of the puck possession ability of the player in question.  Since it is a rate stat, the hope is that some unlikely players will have high Corsi rates.  These would be players who do not get much ice time but when they do their team has the puck and is moving it in the right direction.  These would be diamond in the rough players with strong puck possession ability.

The biggest example of one such player in Zenon Konopka.  He split last season between the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres.  Offensively he was a non-factor.  He posted one goal and two assists in 59 games.  Thus he was easily overlooked.  In fact Konopka is an unsigned free agent who may not find a team in time for the start of the season.

Konopka is an interesting player and I have written about his puck possession in the past.

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Top 20 Players By Adjusted Corsi (Rate Stat)

In my summer sabermetrics and hockey series, I have written several posts about Corsi ratings and how to adjust them to make them reflective of individual play.  I listed a top 20 players by team and zone start adjusted Corsi ratings.  This is the difference in attempted shots by a team and their opponents in five on five situations when a given player is on the ice.  Since that number will depend upon the team a player plays on that is adjusted. It also depends upon the way a player is used.  If he starts the majority of his shots in the offensive zone he will tend to have a good Corsi rating when compared to a player who starts his shifts in the defensive zone.  When I posted this, poster Captain Eclectic asked if I can post this per minute of even strength played by each given player.  I have done that. 

Here are the top 20 players in 2013/14 by team and zone adjusted Corsi, but listed per minute of 5 on 5 play (and limited to players with 50 or more games played in the season):

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Taylor Hall And Ryan Nugent-Hopkins Puck Possession

The Edmonton Oilers were not a good team in 2013/14.  They had more excess defensive zone starts than any other team in the NHL.  As a result it is expected that many of their top players would not have good puck possession numbers.  When I ranked the worst 20 players by Corsi rating adjusted for team and zone starts, Edmonton did quite poorly.  Justin Schultz and Andrew Ference, their top defence pairing finished in 7th and 8th worst place respectively.  Their top forwards Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall were 9th and 10th worst respectively.  Edmonton had themselves in a situation where you cannot win.  If your opponents possess the puck when your best players are on the ice, you will not win.

The circumstances surrounding the defencemen puck possession and the forwards puck possession are different.  The defencemen (Schultz and Ference) were among the poorest players in the league in terms of raw Corsi (Schultz finished 8th and Ference 9th).  Adjustments did little to change their rankings.  Hall and Nugent-Hopkins are more offensive players and the Oilers made an effort to give them give them offensive zone starts in order to try to boost their offensive chances.  Edmonton, being the weak offensive team that they are, failed to get them into the league leaders.  The problem was that despite their offensive zone starts, these Oiler forwards often spent their time chasing the puck into the defensive zone.  In part this is because they played for a weak team and though there is an attempt to adjust for it, it cannot be done perfectly.  In part this is because their puck possession is not so strong.  Once they lost control of the puck, their defence was weak and they were rarely able to recover it.

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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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