Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

The Unproven Playoff Goalie Trend

Tonight the Montreal Canadiens passed over their backup goalie Peter Budaj to play minor leaguer Dustin Tokarski in their losing playoff game against the New York Rangers.  When their second round playoff series was on the line against the Los Angeles Kings, the Anaheim Ducks chose to play John Gibson in net instead of proven goalie Jonas Hiller.  They lost and pulled Gibson in the second period of game seven.  These are both examples of teams choosing to play unproven goalies instead of those with NHL experience in an important game.  The logic behind these moves is that the proven goalie is a proven entity.  We have a pretty good idea how good he is and how good he isn't.  We know that he will not likely steal the game, but he isn't likely to totally blow it either.  He is the "safe" choice.  The unproven goalie has a much bigger range of potential outcomes that may occur.  He isn't proven in the NHL and he may completely blow this game.  There is a chance he might steal the game - often because we haven't seen him in that situation enough to totally discount it.  Most likely he will not be as good as the proven goalie.  There is a good reason why the proven goalie has had the chance to play in front of the unproven goalie all season.  This is a case of the unlikely but not totally disproved chance of the unproven goalie being the next star getting more weight than the fact that the proven goalie is almost certainly a better goalie.  It is a poor move far more often than it is a good move.

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Future Hall Of Famer Teemu Selanne Is Retiring

I like to write a career retrospective whenever a player I consider a future Hall of Famer retires.  Here was the post I made when I first considered Selanne a Hall of Famer.  Teemu Selanne has played his final NHL game as his Anaheim Ducks were eliminated from the playoffs by the Los Angeles Kings on Friday.  Therefore here is my Teemu Selanne career retrospective.

Teemu Selanne was born on July 3rd, 1970 in Helsinki, Finland.  He first was noticed by NHL scouts when he played for Jokerit Helsinki in the Finnish Junior league in 1986/87.  He quickly became one of their better players.  In his second year there he led the league in goals with 43 and points with 66 (in 33 games played).  He played five games in the Finnish 2 adult league as well and was a standout in the European Junior Championships scoring 16 points in six games played and making its All Star Team.  This was a strong enough showing for the Winnipeg Jets to draft him in the first round, tenth overall in the 1988 Entry Draft.  Selanne then served in the army in Finland for a year, which is mandatory for Finnish citizens.  This had him playing with the Army Sports Academy in the Finnish Junior League as well as with his home team of Jokerit Helsinki.  He played the majority of his games in the Finnish second division league that year.  He also played in the World Junior Hockey Championships scoring ten points in seven games.  1989 saw Selanne playing in the Finnish Elite League with Jokerit where he stayed for the next three years.  In 1991, he played on the Finnish team in the World Hockey Championships.  In 1992 he played in the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France.  Selanne had 11 points in eight games but did not win a medal.  He also led the Finnish league in goals with 39 (in 44 games played).

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Pittsburgh Penguins Fire GM Ray Shero

If a team had a 60% chance of winning every playoff round they played in, they would be a very good team.  That team should be quite satisfied with their achievements and not be tearing itself apart because they are disappointed with their results.

What does it mean to have a 60% chance of winning every playoff series that you enter?  It means that you have a 0.6^4 chance of winning the Stanley Cup in any given year as you have a 60% chance of winning in four different rounds.  That leaves this team with a slightly under 13% chance of winning the Stanley Cup in any given year.  A team with a 60% chance of winning in any playoff series they enter will probably not win the Stanley Cup in any given year.  In fact they should go several years between cup victories.  They should win the cup once every 7-8 years.  Each other year they should lose to a team that they were favored to defeat.

Ray Shero has been Pittsburgh GM for 8 playoff years.  During his reign the Pittsburgh penguins won the Stanley Cup once.  These results are consistent with our hypothetical team that has a 60% chance of winning any given playoff series they enter.  That result got him fired.

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Semi Final Playoff Predictions

The second round of the playoffs has completed.  My predictions were correct in the West Conference and incorrect in the East Conference.  That 2-2 record added to my 7-1 record in the first round gives me a 9-3 record overall.  I am guaranteed to have a winning record in my playoff predictions regardless of what happens from here on in.  So far all my incorrect predictions have come in seven game series which were obviously very close calls.

On to the third round predictions:

Chicago Blackhawks defeat Los Angeles Kings.  Chicago has more frontline talent in Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Marian Hossa and others.  Los Angeles is not without talent in Anze Kopitar and Drew Doughty, but it doesn't run as deep as it does in Chicago.  On paper, goaltending should be an area where Los Angeles is favored, but so far Corey Crawford has outplayed Jonathan Quick in the playoffs.

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Konopka’s Suspension Another Example Of NHL Hiding Things From Fans

Zenon Konopka is going to be an unrestricted free agent this summer.  He split this past season between the Minnesota Wild and Buffalo Sabres and nearly played himself out of the league posting three points in 59 games played.  Today it has been announced that he tested positive for a banned substance and will be suspended for the first twenty games of next season.  This will make it a hard sell for a new team to offer him a contract this summer.  He is 33 years old and barely hanging on to an NHL career.

My complaint is that we do not know what substance he tested positive for.  This is a big part of the story and we as fans are not being told it.

This comes from the same league that claims to offer 24/7 access on HBO because the fan wants to be close to their NHL team.

The reality is the NHL doesn't want the fan to know lots of things about the league.

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What’s Next For Ilya Bryzgalov?

When Ilya Bryzgalov signed a nine year contract that would keep him in Philadelphia until 2020 it seemed the rest of his career was mapped out.  Things changed.  After two years the Flyers bought out his contract.  That left Bryzgalov without a place to play.  It wasn't until after the season had begun before the Edmonton Oilers signed him to a one year contract.  This was done after Devan Dubnyk failed as the Oiler starter.  The Oilers never saw Bryzgalov as a long term solution.  He was merely a band aid until something more permanent could be found.  When Ben Scrivens and Viktor Fasth were acquired he was again the odd man out.

He was traded to Minnesota for a fourth round draft pick.  Minnesota needed something to shore up their goaltending in the short term.  Niklas Backstrom had abdominal surgery and hasn't played since early March.  Josh Harding is out with complications due to multiple sclerosis.  That left Darcy Kuemper as the top healthy Minnesota goalie and that created an opening for Bryzgalov.

In the playoffs the Minnesota Wild surprised many by making it to the second round before falling to the defending champion Chicago Blackhawks.  Bryzgalov was the goalie who had the most starts along the way but he didn't post particularly strong numbers.  He had a .885 saves percentage and a 2.63 GAA.  These numbers were worse than those Kuemper posted.

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Steve Simmons Latest Corsi Stupidity

In his column this Sunday Steve Simmons wrote:

A quick Rick Nash update: He leads the Stanley Cup playoffs with 49 shots on goal and is last in the playoffs with no goals scored. In 24 career playoff games for the Rangers, he has 91 shots, one goal. And last I checked, he was third in the playoffs in Corsi. The Corsi leader was Nick Leddy in Chicago, who was made a healthy scratch the other day by coach Joel Quenneville

This is not the first time that Simmons has said negative but incorrect things about Corsi, but this is the most incorrect he has been so far.  In the past he has bashed Corsi because Tyler Seguin had a good Corsi rating and that somehow disproved the whole idea of Corsi.  As stupid as that logic is, Seguin's 2013/14 season showed that his puck possession as measured by his Corsi was a good sign that he was soon to establish himself as a star.  He followed that up by arguing that the Leafs penalty killing led by Jay McClement disproved the Corsi concept.   Penalty killing is not included in Corsi ratings at all and Jay McClement after adjustment for his zone starts had an above average Corsi.  These attempts to bash Corsi were at best misguided and at worst outright stupidity.

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Philadelphia Hires Ron Hextall As GM

A few NHL teams have general manager openings to fill and Philadelphia Flyers assistant general manager Ron Hextall is considered a top contender to fill one of those positions.  In order to prevent another team to hire him away from the Flyers, he has been promoted to general manager.  In order to make room, Paul Holmgren was promoted to president.

Holmgren had been the Flyers GM since 2006.  Although the Flyers had been a pretty good team through most of his tenure, he made several questionable moves.  Trading away Mike Richards and Jeff Carter, who became significant parts of the Los Angeles Kings 2012 Stanley Cup victory in order to have salary cap room to sign Ilya Bryzgalov, who was bought out.  Reigning Vezina Trophy winner Sergei Bobrovsky was traded away when Bryzgalov was seen as the Flyers goalie.  It is not a good record.  I wrote about it here.

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NHL Award Nominees Announced

Over the last couple of weeks the finalists for the NHL awards (at least those that interest me) have been announced.  While I have already posted who I would vote for if I had an award ballot, we can infer a lot more from looking at the award nominees.  Here are my comments on the finalists that have been announced:

Calder Trophy:  Tyler Johnson Tampa Bay Lightning, Nathan MacKinnon Colorado Avalanche, Ondrej Palat Tampa Bay Lightning.  These are the three highest scoring rookies.  I wouldn't be surprised if they finish in the order of their point totals meaning MacKinnon gets the award.  Missing out is Torey Krug of Boston.  He is the top scoring defenceman this year and did a very good job as the power play point man for the top team in the regular season.  The argument against Krug was that he didn't play as many minutes as top defencemen - though he played more minutes than any of the Calder nominee forwards.  Given the minutes Zdeno Chara plays that is probably an unreasonable expectation for Krug.  I have him as a close second behind MacKinnon.

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Playoff MVP

Two days ago before the Los Angeles/Anaheim game was played I picked PK Subban as the reigning playoff MVP.  Probably he was surpassed during the Los Angeles victory in a few hours by Anze Kopitar.  Kopitar continues to play well and has an assist within the first minute of today's game.  Kopitar is currently at 14 points and that number may continue to grow during today's game.  This is a three point lead on anyone else in the playoffs.  For such offensive dominance - with very good defensive play as well - Anze Kopitar is my current leader in the Conn Smythe race.

Kopitar is a top player in the NHL.  If he can hold on to this Conn Smythe Trophy lead - which would require a significant Los Angeles playoff run - Kopitar would likely establish himself as a top NHL star.  He has the talent to make that a possibility.

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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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