The St Louis Blues fired coach Andy Murray yesterday. Murray was a Coach of the Year nominee last year and the man I thought should have won the award. About half a season later, he is apparently not fit to coach in the NHL. What changed?
The St Louis Blues are not a particularly good team. They do not have any particularly potent scorers. Brad Boyes leads the team with 28 points. Erik Johnson has been their most successful defenceman so far this season. He made the US Olympic Team but would not likely be worthy of he All Star Game. Chris Mason and Ty Conklin have provided solid goaltending, but there is little talent in front of them.
Yesterday during the Winter Classic hockey game, the US Olympic Team was announced. Here were my selections. I expected that about 25% of my selections would not be selected to the actual team (at least until I saw James Mirtle’s picks who agreed with all but two of my picks), but the actual team was not as close a match. Sixteen of my selections made the American team and seven did not. I will explain why I made my selections in place of the players who were actually selected.
The preliminary round is complete in the 2010 World Junior Championships which are being held in Saskatoon and Regina, Saskatchewan. The teams are divided into two five team divisions. The top three teams in each division qualify for the the medal round.
1. Canada Canada had 35 goals scored and only allowed six in the preliminary round. Their only challenge came against USA, who they defeated in a shootout 5-4 (meaning they had a 30-2 goal differential in heir other three games). Canada’s deep offence was led by Jordan Eberle (Edmonton prospect) who had 10 points, Gabriel Bourque (Nashville prospect) with eight points and Taylor Hall (2010 Draft Eligible) and Brandon Kozun (Los Angeles prospect) with seven points each. The defence was led by Alex Pietrangelo (St Louis prospect) who had nine points and Ryan Ellis (Nashville prospect) with six. Canada’s top goalie was Jake Allen (St Louis prospect) who played in three games sporting a 1.30 GAA and a .925 saves percentage.
Yesterday the Canadian Olympic Team roster was announced. As expected, about 3/4 of the players on my selections made the team. The remaining players are largely depth players who will not make significant difference to the team. Nevertheless, I wanted to make the case for why I selected the player I did and not the player Team Canada selected.
The six players who made Team Canada that I did not select are Patrice Bergeron, Brenden Morrow, Eric Staal, Dan Boyle, Brent Seabrook and Marc-Andre Fleury. In their places I had Brad Richards, Steve Stamkos, Martin St Louis, Mike Green, Robyn Regehr and Jean-Sebastien Giguere.
Yesterday I wrote about the Detroit Red wing offence. Specifically, I wrote about how they have had the biggest dropoff in scoring in the NHL from last year to this one. I attribute the dropoff to three interrelated factors: injury, player losses due to the salary cap and a natural aging decline of the team. The comments show a lot of interest and in some cases denial of these factors, so I thought a quantitative study would help.
I looked at the goals created by individual Red Wing players so far this season and compared them to totals from last year (but pro-rated over the portion of the season that has been played so far).
One of the more surprising developments so far this season is the drop in the Detroit Red wings offensive production. In 2008/09 they were the highest scoring team in the NHL with 3.52 goals per game. One season later, they are the fourth lowest scoring team with 2.49 goals per game. They have dropped off by more than a goal per game. How can that big drop happen in only one season?
Last year’s Detroit Red Wings had three players scoring at near point per game pace, including Pavel Datsyuk who was well above it with 97 points in 81 games (the other two were Henrik Zetterberg and Marian Hossa. This season the only near point per game player is Zetterberg who has 32 points in 34 games. Zetterberg is currently out with a separated shoulder.
The top two scorers so far in December have been Henrik and Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks. Henrik has 22 points in 13 games so far this month and Daniel has 20. Henrik has 50 points and is second in league scoring behind Joe Thornton. Injuries have limited Daniel to 21 games (where he has 27 points). Their play is a large part of the reason that Vancouver has a 23-16 record. The Canucks are sixth in wins in the NHL but the NHL’s crazy point system only places them seventh in the West Conference. The Sedins have been a big reason for the Canucks success. It looks like this may be the year where they make the jump from being very good players to being among the best in the game. It has been a long ride to get there. In almost a decade with the Canucks, neither had significantly exceeded a point per game before this year (Daniel had 84 points in 81 games in 2006/07).
When I listed the players I would select for the 2010 Canadian Olympic Team, I picked Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the third goalie on the team. This is a choice that is highly unlikely to be made by the powers that actually pick the Olympic Team. It appears quite likely that Marc-Andre Fleury will be the team’s number three goalie. In all likelihood, there is no consequence in either decision, as it is not too likely the number three goalie plays at all, but I would like to explain why I think Giguere is the better pick.
Yesterday I posted my my picks for the Canadian Olympic hockey team. Today, I will give my picks for the American team. This team will be announced during the winter classic game in Boston on January 1st.
This is not my prediction for who will be selected to the team. It is the selections I would make if I was given the chance to pick the team. I expect that at least a handful of these players will not be selected to the actual team.
With Olympic Teams starting to be named (and Canada scheduled for December 30th) here are the selections I would make for the Canadian Olympic Team. This is not a prediction of who will be selected. I know a few of my picks are not likely. I expect the actual Canadian team to have about 3/4 of these players and to have passed over some of the young players in favor of more experienced but slightly less talented veterans - and likely in hindsight this will result in questionable picks like the 2006 omission of Sidney Crosby. I expect it does not make a significant difference to the success or failure of the team.
I think the biggest criticisms of this team will be the lack of a dedicated shutdown forward. This is something I don’t think is necessary given the talented defensive forwards already selected (many with Selke nominations in their past). Picking a Patrick Sharp or a Mike Fisher is a mistake given the talent Canada has available. It results in a better player being omitted and doesn’t add much to shutdown situations that cannot be done with players already being selected.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???