Kukla's Korner

The Puck Stops Here

My All Star Game Injury Replacements

A couple weeks ago I posted my NHL All Star Game rosters.  Unlike the NHL, I like the East Conference vs. West Conference game a lot more than two teams selected by captains that they will use.  Thus I have kept the East vs. West format.  I haven't worried about selecting rookies to participate in the skills competition but not the actual game - I see little point in that.  In fact it seems to keep rookies who are All Star worthy out of the actual game itself.  I have Filip Forsberg and Aaron Ekblad listed as All Stars.  The NHL doesn't since they are only listed as rookies despite being worthy All Stars.  I am holding myself to the constraint that at least one player comes from each team - which the NHL did initially but after injury hasn't bothered.  Detroit will not have an All Star representative in the actual game since Jimmy Howard got hurt.  The NHL appears to have let several veterans choose not to play in the All Star Game.  That is the only logical conclusion given Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk and the Sedin brothers not being chosen from their respective teams when they are far more logical choices than the players actually selected (Jimmy Howard and Radim Vrbata).  I am not doing this in my game because I have no reliable way of knowing exactly which players may have been offered an All Star berth but declined it.  Thus I almost certainly have All Star players who are not actually available.

In order to determine which players are injured and thus unavailable for the All Star Game, I am using the NHL injury list on tsn.ca.  This list gives Pekka Rinne, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang as injured players that I put on my original teams.  I suspect that Malkin and Crosby may have injuries that will keep them out of the All Star Game but no regular season games, meaning that some players who are opting out of the All Star Game are getting out in my system - but not all.

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Top +/- Rating

I often look at the +/- ratings list and try to explain why the current leader is who he is and what that means.  +/- ratings are a crude tracker of puck possession.  The problem is they track a low number of events.  There are usually only a handful of goals in a given game.  That gives a handful of data points.  Much of the game is not recorded in a +/- analysis.  Goal totals can be significantly affected by shooting and saves percentages.  A team may possess the puck but struggle to score or may score with little puck possession.  Thus +/- is an imperfect tracker of puck possession.  Nevertheless it has some value.

Currently Nikita Kucherov of the Tampa Bay Lightning leads the league in +/-.  He has a +28 rating.  This is two points better than teammate Tyler Johnson.  In fact their entire line including Ondrej Palat all have very good +/- ratings.  All three have very good PDOs.  This is the sum of the shooting and saves percentage for their team when they are on the ice in even strength situations.  Generally high PDOs like this are a sign of good luck.  The league average will be 1000 and most of this rating is usually unsustainable.  High shooting percentages and saves percentages rarely last for significant amounts of time.  Thus a significant portion of the +/- success of this line is unlikely to last.

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AHL Standings

Last week I took a look at the AHL standings and found the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings affiliate) and Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oilers affiliate) tied for the lead.  Oklahoma City has taken a two point lead over Manchester.  They have a 27-14 record with five regulation tie points.  This gives them 59 points.

The Edmonton Oilers may be tied for last place in the NHL, but they have a top farm affiliate.  Is this a sign of better things to come?  Not necessarily.  The AHL is a league of men who are no longer serious NHL prospects and boys who are prospects.  Generally the men are better than the boys today, although the boys will be much better in the future. 

Jason Williams the Oklahoma City top scorer is 34 years old.  He has no NHL future.  Their top defenceman Brad Hunt is 26.  He is probably as good a player now as he will ever be and today he is no NHL prospect.  Richard Bachman has been their top performing goalie.  He is 27 and also will not likely improve.  The best players in Oklahoma City are men beating up on the boys who are prospects elsewhere in their league.  As a result, they have little future value to the Edmonton Oilers in the NHL.  The Barons success is not a silver lining for the Oilers poor season.

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KHL All Star Game

The KHL All Star Game will be played in Sochi, Russia on January 25th (next weekend).  It will have several former NHL players and players who have been seen in international tournaments.  It should be interesting to hockey fans.  Here are the rosters as Team West meets Team East

Team West

Goaltenders

Stanislav Galimov CSKA Moscow
Alexander Yeryomenko Dynamo Moscow

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Top Defenceman This Season

It was November when I picked Mark Giordano of the Calgary Flames as the Norris Trophy leader.  I think he has slipped to second place in the Norris Trophy race.  I think Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators has surpassed him.  Weber is playing against the toughest competition of any defenceman in the NHL this season.  He is scoring successfully with ten goals and 29 points.  This puts him a few points back of league leaders Kevin Shattenkirk and Giordano.  It is his defence that gives him the lead.  Weber is a significant reason that Nashville has been a successful team this year. 

Weber has been a Norris Trophy candidate for several years but this could be the year that he emerges victorious.  He is the best all-around defenceman in the game right now.  Some others have better offensive skills but he has the most value to his team.  We will see if he maintains this lead the rest of the way through the season.

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AHL Standings

I last looked at the AHL standings just before Christmas.  The Utica Comets (Vancouver Canucks affiliate) led the league with its closest challenge coming from the Manchester Monarchs (Los Angeles Kings affiliate).  Utica has slipped back a bit since then.  Manchester has the league lead with 54 points.  They are tied with the Oklahoma City Barons (Edmonton Oiler affiliate).  One point behind them is the Springfield Falcons (Columbus Blue Jackets affiliate).  Utica is two points behind that.

Both Oklahoma City and Manchester have a 25-12 record with four regulation tie points.  Springfield is 25-13 with three regulation tie points.  There isn't much to separate these teams.

Manchester and Oklahoma City are both top offensive teams.  Oklahoma City leads the league with 122 goals scored.  Manchester is one goal behind them.  Manchester has the two top scorers in the league in Brian O'Neill and Nick Shore.  Jordan Weal is fourth in league scoring.  Oklahoma City has a more balanced offence.  Jason Williams is their top scorer and he is eighth in league scoring.  They have seven different players with more than 20 points.

There is no clear front runner in the AHL standings.  It will be exciting from here on out to see how things unfold.

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Top Scorer At Even Strength

If I asked you who the top scorer this season at even strength is, who would you guess? 

I bet most people would be surprised to learn that the answer is Tyler Johnson of the Tampa Bay Lightning.  He has 36 points at even strength.  This is two more than league scoring leader Jakub Voracek, who is second.  In terms of total points, Johnson has 45 which places him sixth in the league.  

Even strength points is usually a better measure of a player's scoring ability than total points because it removes unequal power play opportunities from point totals.  Johnson is a surprise top scorer and as a result did not start the season on the Tampa Bay power play.  He is currently fifth in power play ice time in Tampa.  He is 50 or 60 minutes of power play ice time behind several of the other top scorers.

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My NHL All Star Rosters

The NHL All Star rosters will be announced this weekend.  I want to post my teams before this occurs.  The game will occur January 25th in Columbus, Ohio.  The All Star format is a bit unclear.  Both coaches announced in Darryl Sutter of Los Angeles and Peter Laviolette of Nashville coach West Conference teams.  I have assumed the game will be East Conference vs. West Conference.  That may not be true if the coaches both are from the West Conference.  I have also ensured that at least one player is on the rosters per NHL team.  The NHL will likely do that as well, however they include a group of six rookies who will only participate in the skills competition and not in the game and a rookie may be the only participant for a given team.  I am not interested in using this trick.  I have not picked a group of rookies.  Thus a rookie who is not in the All Star Game cannot be the only player for a given team.

There are 42 All Star Game roster spots and 30 teams.  That leaves 12 players available to be freely selected without account for their team.  Five Chicago Blackhawks were voted into the game.  This removes four of these slots.  We are left with only eight team independent selections.  Three are on the West Conference team and five on the East Conference team.  As a result, there are players who are better than some of the All Star selections who have been left out of the game.

Here are my rosters:

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CHL Top Prospects Game

We are entering All Star season.  Yesterday I posted the rosters for the AHL All Star Game.  Today I will look at the CHL Top Prospects Game.  This game will be played in St Catherines Ontario on January 22nd.  This game is played between 40 of the best draft eligible players in the CHL.  The teams are divided into Team Cherry and Team Orr and named in honor of Don Cherry and Bobby Orr.

Here are the rosters:

Team Cherry

Goaltenders

Callum Booth Quebec Remparts
Alexis Loiseau Rimouski Oceanic

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AHL All Star Game

The AHL All Star Game will be played in Utica, New York on January 26th.  The rosters were announced yesterday. 

Here they are:

East Conference AHL All-Stars

Goaltenders

Anton Forsberg, Springfield Falcons
Connor Hellebuyck, St. John’s IceCaps
Jeff Zatkoff, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins

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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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