Overlooked in the excitement of the Stanley Cup being won on Friday, there was another important cup victory in the AHL. The Hershey Bears won the Calder Cup. I will review the finals, but first links to the first, second and third rounds.
I was wrong in prediction for the Stanley Cup finals. Pittsburgh won. That brings my record to 9-6 in my playoff predictions. It’s a .600 record, which isn’t bad but I have done better in past years. While I was wrong, the Detroit fans that make up most of the commenters on this blog were even more wrong. For the last month or more they have been screaming at me how Detroit is an elite team and a dynasty. Their dynasty didn’t win the Stanley Cup.
In the comments of the answering some questions thread it remains clear that the Detroit fans who make up a large portion of the Kukla’s Korner readership maintain some misconceptions about Chris Osgood. There remains the idea that he is still a top goalie and a few people even claim he is still in the prime of his career. This clearly isn’t the case and is relatively easy to show statistically,
If I had told you earlier this season that Maxime Talbot would be one of the best players in the Stanley Cup finals, you would probably have scoffed at me. He is a solid NHL player, but hardly one of the key players on the Pittsburgh Penguins. In Talbot’s four years in the NHL, he has never scored more than 26 points in a season. He is a good depth player, but hardly a star. Nevertheless in the finals so far, his four points are second on his team. His +3 +/- rating is team leading. The Penguins probably wouldn’t be in game seven if not for the play of Talbot in this series.
The Stanley Cup finals are tied at three games a piece. There is one more game left this season. Game seven will be played on Friday night in Detroit. Thus far, home teams have won all the games in the series. Will that trend continue? A one game winner take all scenario is something the NHL longed for. It is exciting. It does more to show that the two teams in the finals are nearly equally matched than it does to show that one team is clearly superior. Nevertheless, the winner on Friday will go down as the Stanley Cup champion and the loser will be largely forgotten in history.
There were a couple of questions left in my elite goalies post by J.J. from Kansas that I would like to address. He asks:
Has this year’s Stanley Cup playoffs and especially the finals to-date been less entertaining to watch than other playoff years throughout your history as a fan?
If so, is it because none of the teams are historically elite?
If so, are you saying that a Stanley Cup playoff run featuring one truly historically elite team would be fun to watch? Wouldn’t that team be an unstoppable titan, making the games less competitive and therefore less fun to watch?
It is relatively rare that a player establishes himself as a legitimate NHL player during a playoff run, but that is exactly what Darren Helm has done this year. Prior to the playoffs he has two partial NHL seasons with a grand total of 23 games, no goals, one assist and a -9 +/- rating. In these playoffs he has managed four goals and five points, which is a far bigger output than he has managed in the regular season, but his big contribution is his play as a checker. Darren Helm has been one of the key “energy” players on the Red Wings. This is shown by his playoff league leading 110 hits. Helm has shown he has an NHL calibre game under the toughest conditions the NHL offers (the playoffs) and that is rather impressive.
The biggest outdoor hockey party in the world in 2009 has been killed on orders of the NHL. The Pittsburgh Penguins have had a big screen viewing party for many of their playoff games as possible outside Mellon Arena. The problem is that the NHL doesn’t want this. NBC has complained that the games broadcast on their station suffer apparent rating drops due to this big screen. Since the NHL’s only stream of money from the NBC telecasts is a share of advertising revenue, which is dependent upon the game’s Nielsen ratings, they have killed these parties.
Nielsen ratings count the number of television sets that are tuned to the game. They do not count the number of people actually watching the game. Thus one screen with thousands of viewers counts the same for them as one screen with one viewer. This is a rather poor methodology, because obviously many people watching a screen means many people watching the commercials and more likely to buy the products advertised.
One area of play in the Stanley Cup finals where Pittsburgh has dominated over Detroit is special teams. The Pittsburgh Penguins have scored four power play goals in nine opportunities. That 44% success rate is far above anything that can be sustained. The Detroit Red Wings have only one power play goal in ten power play attempts and they allowed a short handed goal as well. That gives them a net of zero goals to show for their power plays.
Detroit’s power play failure in this series does not fit with their regular season. They had a league best 25.5% success rate on the power play. Pittsburgh’s 17.2% success rate left them well back in the pack in 20th. The Penguins did better on the penalty kill where their 82.7% success rate placed them eighth in the league. Detroit struggled on the penalty kill. Their 78.3% success rate was 25th in the league and the worst among teams that made the playoffs.
I started a bit of a controversy when I claimed no elite goalies are left in the playoffs during the semi-finals. I stand by that statement. The statement is part of a bigger problem that I have discussed in the past - how to identify a team that is among the greatest of all time. How to find the historically elite teams is an interesting problem.
Historically elite teams do not exist in the NHL every season. In the salary capped NHL they are rarer than ever before. I argue (based on historical precident) that a historically elite team necessarily has several core players (who may include the goalie) who are on Hall of Fame tracks (it is reasonable to project them to making the Hall of Fame in their careers) and they must have a top goalie (one who can arguably be called one of the top five in the game). These conditions are not sufficient to make a team an elite one. Obviously there are many other factors. The players must play well together as a team. Without the elite players, including a top goalie, a team cannot be an elite one. They need the players as well as a top performance.
About The Puck Stops Here
Who am I? A diehard hockey fan.
Why am I blogging? I want to.
Why are you reading it? ???