Yesterday, I began my summer sabermetrics and hockey series. I listed the top 20 players in 2014/15 by adjusted +/-. At the top of the list is Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens who posted a +31.6 rating. This is a two point lead above Nikita Kucherov in second place. The two of them were tied in +/- during the NHL season. Pacioretty does better after adjustment because Montreal was a weaker +/- team than Tampa Bay.
Pacioretty is a good player. He was the top scorer on the Montreal Canadiens. He was a member of the US Olympic hockey team in the Sochi Olympics. He has the best adjusted +/- in the league, does that make him the best puck possession player in the league?
I would argue that it doesn't come close. One problem with +/- is that it is strongly affected by saves and shooting percentages while a player is on the ice. This can be measured using a stat called PDO. PDO is the sum of saves percentage and shooting percentage. By definition the average in the NHL will be exactly 1 (or 1000 defending upon how you write things). Usually if a player has a high PDO, it is a sign that he has been lucky and he will not be able to repeat his current numbers. If a player has a poor PDO, they have likely been unlucky and things will soon get better. This is because shooting and saves percentages are transient things. No one player can control the shooting and saves percentages for all the players that are on the ice with them. There are a few contradictory examples - for example a checking player who is usually played against another team's stars will usually have a low PDO. However in most cases, including that of Pacioretty, it is usually a good measure of luck.
Today I begin my summer sabermetrics and hockey series. I am not sure that this series will be as significant as in other years due to Paul's plans to reboot with Kukla's Korner 2.0 over the summer. I will start by looking at adjusted +/- treated as a counting stat. I find this more useful that adjusting +/- as a rate stat as that method selects forwards over defencemen almost exclusively.
+/- is a good way to measure puck possession when it is done in coordination with Corsi. There is a clearer relationship between goals in +/- than attempted shots in Corsi to winning hockey. The problems with +/- are that it has a smaller sample size and can be strongly affected by transient effects such as save and shooting percentages.
Here are the top 20 players in 2014/15 by adjusted +/- (among players who played 50 or more games with one team):
Chicago won the Stanley Cup. It was a 2-0 victory. Chicago wins the series 4-2. Duncan Keith wins the Conn Smythe deservedly. It is fitting that Keith scored the Stanley Cup winning goal. Patrick Kane scored the other goal. It was his first of the finals. That goal along with an assist on the Keith goal gave Kane a tie for the playoff scoring lead with Tyler Johnson. Corey Crawford, perhaps the weakest link on the team, puts up a shutout.
The worst part of a Stanley Cup victory us that Gary Bettman is on display to hand out the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy. I wish he could keep himself out of view and not ruin a good moment.
This is Chicago's third Stanley Cup in six years. That is impressive. It does NOT make them a dynasty. People are trying to water down the definition of dynasty because we haven't seen one in ages. At the very least, a dynasty must win the cup twice in a row - and I wouldn't argue that alone would make a dynasty.
Chicago probably is an elite team. I argued that they could be an elite team before the finals began. Their Stanley Cup goes a long way to showing that they are elite. I am not entirely certain they are elite. They probably are but there is still room that my mind can be changed. There has to be continuity. Chicago must be a good team next year - in as much as there is continuity in their roster.
The AHL playoffs concluded yesterday and I haven't had the chance to write about it until now. This post will be a summary of the Calder Cup finals. Here is my first round post, here is my second round post and here is my third round post.
Manchester Monarchs defeat Utica Comets four games to one. Manchester is the Los Angeles Kings farm affiliate. Utica is the Vancouver Canucks affiliate. This was a strong serious for Manchester. They clearly showed that they are the best team in the AHL. Manchester was led by the three highest scorers in the AHL playoffs in Michael Mersch, Jordan Weal and Brian O'Neill. Vincent LoVerde led their defence. Jean-Francois Berube gave way in goal during this series to Patrik Bartosek due to injury. Cal O'Reilly and Alexandre Grenier led Utica offensively. Bobby Sanguinetti led their defence. Jacob Markstrom was their top goaltender.
Five games into the Stanley Cup finals and no team has led any game in the series by more than one goal. That is a close series. Chicago won 2-1 tonight to take a 3-2 game lead in the series.
I think a lot of my comments in previous games could be made today. Ben Bishop was back in net. He looked like it hurt to get back up on several occasions. That hasn't been something Chicago has been able to take full advantage of in this series. Nikita Kucherov left this game in the first period with an injury. That cannot help Tampa Bay.
Patrick Sharp finally got on the scoreboard in the first period. Patrick Kane hasn't. Steve Stamkos hasn't.
I still leave with the opinion that we haven't seen the best of the Chicago Blackhawks at any point in the finals so far.
The Arizona Coyotes financial difficulties have been chronicled for the last several years. The team went through bankruptcy and found ownership who is willing to run the club as long as their financial losses are covered by revenue sharing, the city of Glendale (where they play) and any other source they can find. It isn't clear that the longterm plan is to stay in Arizona. Relocation might be where the money is as long as much of the short term losses are covered by other people.
The city of Glendale pays the Arizona Coyotes $15 million a year for 15 years (a total of $225 million) to manage the arena where they play. I never understood why they would be willing to pay that kind of money. Other cities do not pay NHL teams millions of dollars to stay in their city as an "arena management" deal.
The Coyotes are losing money in Arizona. Sooner or later that must end. Glendale no longer wants to pay for some of the losses. They voted to cancel the arena management deal and hence the lease with the Gila River Arena.
Chicago wins tonight 2-1. This is the fourth one goal game in the series. The series is tied two games each. At this point there is no clear leader in the series.
Chicago won tonight despite only taking 19 shots on goal. Jonathan Toews scored his first goal of the finals. He now has two points in the final series. Patrick Kane is yet to score a single point in the finals. One has to imagine that the best is yet to come. These players are too talented to be kept from playing a dominant game.
Tampa Bay can make a similar argument. Steve Stamkos hasn`t scored in the finals either. The problem in Tampa is likely goaltending. Ben Bishop was unable to play tonight. He was clearly in pain when he won game three. It isn`t clear if he can be back before the series is over. Andrei Vasilevskiy made the start in goal. He wasn`t well tested but we had a game where Tampa Bay clearly outshot Chicago and lost. What happens if Chicago plays a more dominant game in the future? Could we see a more one-sided game in game five? At this point, there is no clear leader in the Stanley Cup finals.
I have to give Ben Bishop a lot of credit. He is clearly playing hurt. He faced 38 shots and stopped 36 of them. That was enough to be the winning goalie in a 3-2 Tampa Bay victory in game three. This gives Tampa a two games to one lead in the finals series. I cannot imagine that this is a trend that will continue for the remainder of the series. A hurt goalie is not a good thing. It hasn't stopped Tampa in one game but I find it hard to imagine that you can win repeatedly with a hurt goalie.
If I told you that Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane would not score any goals in the first three games, it probably wouldn't be a big surprise if Tampa would be leading at that point. I have to imagine that they are too talented to keep from making a significant impact in the remainder of the series.
At this point, all three games have been one goal games. This series has been remarkably close. Will that continue? I think that it is likely that Toews and/or Kane play a big game and Bishop's limited mobility is exploited.
We are clearly seeing how hard it is to win a Stanley Cup. Tampa has Bishop and Tyler Johnson playing hurt. There have been questions about Steve Stamkos health earlier in the playoffs. Chicago took a hit on their defence when Johnny Oduya seems to have an arm or other upper body injury. With Michal Rozsival also out this puts a significant strain on the Chicago defence.
This is the second straight one goal game in this series. Tampa won it 4-3. The series returns to Chicago tied 1-1.
I called Chicago a possibly elite team before the series. The doubt comes largely from their goaltending. Corey Crawford may not be an elite goalie but he is better than many give him credit for. In a one goal game any goal could be the one that won the game. The Tyler Johnson goal that slid up Crawford as he didn't have the post was a bad goal. Without that goal, the game would have gone to overtime.
Goaltending may become a bigger issue for Tampa Bay. Ben Bishop left the game (twice) for Andrei Vasilevskiy. It isn't clear what the problem is yet, but if it is an injury that keeps him out of upcoming games that won't be a good thing for the Lightning.
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are yet to have dominant games in the series. They are too talented for this to continue. If they break out look for Chicago to play a more dominant game.
Yesterday the Hall of Fame media inductees were announced. Bob McKenzie won the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award for hockey writing and Nick Nickson won the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award for hockey broadcasting.
Bob McKenzie is a familiar face to many hockey fans. He was the editor-in-chief of the Hockey News from 1977 to 1986. Then he joined TSN and was quickly known as the "hockey insider". He has been seen on TSN's hockey coverage since that time. With the advent of the internet he has written many pieces for the internet. He appears on the radio in weekly segments in many Canadian cities sports radio. In 2014, he joined NBCSN. It isn't clear if Bob McKenzie is better known as a sports writer or as a TV/radio broadcast personality. He is clearly worthy of the Elmer Ferguson Award. He is also a candidate for the Foster Hewitt Memorial Award. Probably he would have won one of these awards earlier if he hadn't crossed the line between hockey writing and hockey broadcasting and it wasn't clear which of these awards he was best suited for.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
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