Tag: nhl hockey

NHL 2017-2018 Contenders and Pretenders

Contenders, the teams that we knew were going to be here come April during the preseason, but there are some new contenders that may be shocking all of us. The contender’s lists are teams that look to be serious playoff contenders for the upcoming playoff series. A list of teams that, well, we might see more often later down the road.

Pretenders, the guys who look like they are going to be playing for a playoff spot if the season ended tomorrow but we all know come 60 more games and these guys will fall off. Pretenders don’t fool me, don’t let them fool you too!

Contenders (Eastern Conference) 

  • Tampa Bay Lightning, the Lightning are off to one of the league’s best starts. With 16 wins 34 points through 23 games the Lightning look to be legit contenders. With Steven Stamkos back in the lineup, this team will be gunning it for Lord Stanley we would assume. Throw in their bottom six and forward depth, this team is a definite contender!
  • Toronto Maple Leafs, ranking second in the Atlantic division and six points in front of the next team, the Leafs look to be contenders. Even with Mitch Marner and William Nylander off to slow starts this team is finding ways to win games. The offense will pick up and if the defense can be of use or better, definite contenders.
  • Columbus Blue Jackets, this team will be a top three team in the Metropolitan division all year, for sure a contender and without a doubt a team we will see in the playoff mix. With Sergei Bobrovsky’s looking to go for back-to-back Vezina trophies, this team will be riding high on the elite goaltender’s performances. With some offensive weapons and Cam Atkinson back the Blue Jackets top six rank up against any top six in the NHL, a deep team that is young also, not many holes in the lineup and for sure a contender!
  • New York Islanders, look to be early contenders for the Metro division, I think we can guarantee this team a playoff spot but I am not sure where. The Islanders offense has been producing at an unbelievable rate that worries me because it will be hard to maintain. With this offense through on any given night, they could be slotting four-plus goals home, an exciting team to watch thus far and credit goes to Matthew Barzal and John Tavares. But without goaltending this team will be struggling later in the season if either goalie can find their way in between the pipes the Islanders are early contenders!

Contenders (Western Conference)

  • St. Louis Blues, I think it is fair to say that the Blues are a guaranteed lock for a playoff spot unless Tarasenko and Schenn go down plus Jake Allen than yeah maybe they are out but that is not going to happen. The Blues trio of Schwartz-Schenn-Tarasenko has been unbelievable each night one or more of these guys are tallying three or more points. The Blues defense has been solid too, Alex Pietrangelo early Norris nomination, Colton Parayko and the rest of their defense are a serviceable defenseman that gets the job. Guaranteed lock and definitely contenders!
  • Winnipeg Jets, out goes Steve Mason in comes Connor Hellebuyck, and yes Hellebuyck has been unreal! The Jets are finally seeing solid goaltending which is resulting in some confidence on the front end and their forwards are some of the best in the league. A deep forward group with five or six solid defensemen, there is not much wrong with this team. They get this goaltending all year, a for sure contender!
  • Nashville Predators, DEPTH. First thing I think of when I hear this team is depth, they have three very good centers now and two to three good wingers who can score. With the addition of Kyle Turris, this team looks to have a now solidified forward group. Wait until Ryan Ellis gets back on defense, this team is a for sure contender.
  • Calgary Flames, the Flames have definitely had their rough spots but this team is solid and led by Johnny Gaudreau I can trust this team to be a definite come April. They have Dougie Hamilton, TJ Brodie, Mark Giordano, Travis Hamonic(out) on defense and among all four of these guys, they have not even played some of their best hockey. The Flames can get their defense going and see some consistency from Mike Smith, a definite contender!

Pretenders (Eastern Conference)

  • New Jersey Devils, I don’t the Devils will hold onto the one spot all year that is why they are contenders. Possibly a playoff spot, wild card at best, but at some point this team has to hit a wall. Especially when their leading goal scorer is Brian Gibbons.
  • Detroit Red Wings, too young and riding a hot offense right now, their lack of defense and goaltending will come back to bite them. A contender in two years though.

Pretenders (Western Conference)

  • Vegas Golden Knights, basically unstoppable at home and riding way too high of a shooting percentage, and it really just comes down to pure grit with this team. The goaltending they have, it amazes me they are still where they are. Falling off for sure.
  • Los Angeles Kings, they are slowly coming back down to earth, I thought they could keep it up and ride this into the playoffs but the Kings have dropped six of their last ten and have been struggling offensively. Like we imagined. No playoff spot for this team, pretenders.
  • San Jose Sharks, they went on a small winning streak, signs of life were there but again they are coming back down to earth. The offensive depth is not there and Brent Burns looks like a complete bust right now. Not enough evidence to show me this team will be a contender and definitely enough evidence to show they are pretenders!

 

NHL Headlines 11/9

No Matthews No Problem, Is it? The Leafs have played their first game without Auston Matthews since his debut, and it went according to plan…well kinda. The Maple Leafs defeat the Minnesota Wild 4-2 on home ice for a 2nd straight win. The problem this game was the shot differential, Minnesota outshot the Leafs 37-19, ouch. Without that star power of Matthews, who was out due to soreness, and was more of a maintenance day I do not know if the Leafs are still contenders. But they got one without him, and hopefully this is not a serious problem.

Rangers Are Streaking: Jimmy Vesey scored twice, and the led the Rangers to their 5th straight win. This is a huge confidence boost for a team, who in a way appeared to be similar to the New York Giants football team. A good team on paper, with a guy who should be a good coach, and they all just crumble down into a bottom dweller. The difference is hockey has 82 games, and Alain Vigneault has his guys playing the right way. To also note, Henrik Lundqvist appears to have swiped the October cobwebs off and can make a save. Overall a good game by the Rangers, who knows, maybe they will push for a top spot in the Metro when it is all said and done.

Lightning Strikes San Jose: Tampa Bay scores, scores, scores. A 5-1 win over the Sharks, and they made it look easy. Offense flowing from their whole top 9, and filtering through their lineup. The more I watch them play, the more I believe this team will win the Cup this year without a doubt. They are not pretenders at all, only if they stay healthy, sorry for the jinxing Bolts fans.

Vegas And Analytics (Game 15)

KEY:

CF%=Corsi For %=Shot Attempts For/Total Shot Attempts

CA%=Corsi Against %=Shot Attempts Against/Total Shot Attempts

PDO=Save%+Shooting%

TPR=Total Play Rating (Not a completely verified stat) = (PDO-CA%)+(((MDSV+LDSV)/(MDSA+LDSA))x100)

I adjusted the TPR rating to be better suited for the goalie’s play in their game. Note the changes in the formula above.

CF%:

VGK: 5v5=56.52%

CA%:

VGK:5v5=43.48%

Vegas is really starting to struggle during this east coast trip. Dropping now to 1-4-1 during the trip, they have had struggles in their own zone, which by looking at the stats makes sense. The team has given up a goals against average of 4. Now I say team because goals against average is NOT a goaltending stat. For example, if a goalie makes 60 saves, but lets in 4 goals, his GAA (Goals against average) is still 4. That is the same as a goalie giving up 4 goals on 12 shots, for example. This is a team statistic, not a goalie one. Lagace has not been stellar for the team, but what does one expect from a young kid who was not even supposed to be a starter in the AHL this season. Overall, Vegas has had good possession numbers, especially in this game against Montreal. They lost the game 3-2, and it is due to a poor start. Two goals in the first 10 minutes or so of the game to go down 2-0 is hard to come back from, and couple this with fatigue from the road trip is not easy whatsoever. Vegas did claw back into the game, but still suffered defeat. Looking at the graph below, it is evident that Vegas’ start is what to look at as their failure this game, but played much better after the 45-minute mark or so.

vgkmtl.png

PDO:

VGK:95.74

TPR:

VGK: 147.00

The Knights’ TPR this game is about 10 points higher than their last three games averaged out. During that 1-1-1 stretch, their TPR was at 137.17. Although their TPR went up, it was not enough to capture the victory. I am noticing a trend with TPR, if a team has a TPR at 150 or above, their chances of winning increase significantly compared to if it were to be below 150. Lagace is starting to play a little bit better, and Fleury is expected back as soon as next week. Vegas’ offense is really coming into their own, and the defense is strengthening up with the addition of Theodore. Once the goaltending situation comes back up to earth, who knows with them. They sit right now at 9-5-1, and second in the Pacific. Can we see this new expansion team make the playoffs? Stay Tuned!

Vegas and Analytics (Games 12, 13, 14)

standings.PNG
Vegas Baby, Just Win Baby

KEY:

CF%=Corsi For %=Shot Attempts For/Total Shot Attempts

CA%=Corsi Against %=Shot Attempts Against/Total Shot Attempts

PDO=Save%+Shooting%

TPR=Total Play Rating (Not a completely verified stat) = (PDO-CA%)+(((MDSV+LDSV)/(MDSA+LDSA))x100)

I adjusted the TPR rating to be better suited for the goalie’s play in their game. Note the changes in the formula above.

CF%:

VGK: 5v5=44.87%

CA%:

VGK:5v5=55.13%

Yes, I am very behind on this series suddenly with the Golden Knights, but I will be back on a regular schedule from here on out. The Knights played 3 games in my absence and during that stretch went 1-1-1. A 2-1 loss against the Boston Bruins, a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators, and last evening a 4-3 Shootout loss against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The stats listed are an average over the 3-game stretch and will be short. Overall, they did not get drastically outplayed at all. In the situations that I have noticed, unfortunately their lack of goaltending costed them 2 of those games. Maxime Lagace is a 24-year-old rookie, and was not expected to even see NHL time as backup this season, nonetheless as a starter. In the game against Toronto, a Nazem Kadri backhand goal squeaked through, and that has been Lagace’s story as of right now. He makes some very good stops that most should stop, but a lot of weak shots will squeak through, or a weak shot will turn into a rebound chance that could go in. No doubt, league average goaltending would have made this three game stretch a 2-1-0 record rather than a 1-1-1 stretch.

PDO:

VGK:96.97

TPR:

VGK: 137.15

Honestly, this was a very average stretch by the Vegas Golden Knights. The biggest stat that jumped out to me was Maxime Lagace’s weak High Danger Save Percentage. In three games, he gave up a total of 4 goals on 17 shots. That is a .765 High Danger Save Percentage, the league average for goalies is around .79 or so. It is not his fault for these high danger goals, but at times in one goal games, they need a save. Now, if they got more offense against the Bruins, and won the skills competition (shootout) against the Leafs, they could have gone 3-0-0, alas they did not. Overall, Vegas was average during the stretch and play later this evening against the Montreal Canadiens. We will see if goal tending from Lagace can hold up to get a big win against Montreal during this tough scheduled road trip.

Vegas and Analytics (Game 11)

KEY:

CF%=Corsi For %=Shot Attempts For/Total Shot Attempts

CA%=Corsi Against %=Shot Attempts Against/Total Shot Attempts

PDO=Save%+Shooting%

TPR=Total Play Rating (Not a completely verified stat) = (PDO-CA%)+(((MDSV+LDSV)/(MDSA+LDSA))x100)

I adjusted the TPR rating to be better suited for the goalie’s play in their game. Note the changes in the formula above.

CF%:

VGK: 5v5=52.58%

CA%:

VGK:5v5=47.42%

Welp, I think it is safe to assume goaltending was to blame for this loss against a struggling Rangers team. Overall, a tight fought game with shot attempts being close throughout and a fast-paced game for the race to get the better lottery pick. No team took a stranglehold of the game like I thought one team would, but rather just going back and forth, shot for shot. The final shot totals were 34-38 in favor of the Rangers, but the real proof in the pudding must be high danger shots against. The Rangers had 16 High Danger Shots! That’s insane. These are shots between the hashmarks, and Maxime Legace made 12 of those saves, and is lucky to only give up 4 in that area. Overall, not an awful possession game by Vegas, they just must limit those high danger chances if they want to be competitive throughout the season, especially with their 5th string goalie.

https://twitter.com/NHLDaily365/status/925543993810804737

PDO:

VGK:95.97

NYR: 104.30

TPR:

VGK: 143.78

This game overall as a team was much better than their previous game against the Islanders. Giving up a PDO greater than 100, their chances of winning drastically goes down. The biggest tale of this game can be boiled down to two factors. First, their goalie cannot give up 5 goals, yes, they gave up 16 high danger shots, but an NHL goalie has to make some of those saves. Second, is based

on their net front presence in their own zone. They cannot keep giving up these absurd amounts of shots and expect a young, inexperienced goalie to get them out of situations. This is a brutal situation with all the injuries, but one that can have limited damage. I am not too worried about their team right now, as of now it is just worrisome to see the goaltending situation and how they will keep adapting if anyone else goes down. Shea Theodore made his season debut as well and was not amazing, but not completely trash. With a CF% of 41.06% he could have been much better, and he also had 3 individual giveaways. Once he gets his feet wet a little bit, there is no doubt in my mind that he will be able to reach his potential of a top-3 NHL defenseman.

Maximeeeeee

Rangers head south for Thursday night matchup vs Tampa

New York Rangers(4-7-2) vs Tampa Bay Lightning(10-2-1) 

The New York Rangers begin their short two-game road trip through the state of Florida tonight when they visit the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Rangers come off a thrilling win at home vs Vegas on Tuesday night while the Lightning are coming off an eight-goal effort in a road win against the Florida Panthers Monday night. When these two teams get together it is always a solid, intense battle.

Tampa has been absolutely red hot with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov leading the charge. Stamkos has 24 points in 13 games and Kucherov has 21 points in the 13 contests to date. After Ben Bishop was traded last year, they turned the goaltending reins over to Andrei Vasilevskiy, so far this year Vasilevskiy is 10-1 in 11 starts.

Tampa’s lead in the NHL

NHL: MAR 31 Canadiens at Lightning

Tampa leads the Atlantic Division with 21 points, and they are a  juggernaut of the NHL right now. This will be a hard matchup for the Rangers. The Rangers as previously said are coming off a thrilling win vs Vegas, but they are still a team with problems all over. On the front end in terms of scoring is lead by Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich. Kevin Hayes, Hayes started out on the right foot but has cooled off a bit in the last few games, who has yet to record a point in the last four games.

The biggest problem for New York is consistency, they haven’t been able to put together a full 60–minute effort nor string together wins back to back. Many people believe that the game Tuesday just delayed the inevitable question of Alain Vigneault’s future in New York behind the bench, only time will tell though.

Tonight’s matchup will be a huge sign of how this Ranger team will be for the rest of the season. Can they get their feet under them early and figure things out with a win tonight, or will they lay down and die? We will find out at 7: 30 P.M. (EST). 

NHL PICKS OF THE NIGHT: Heading to the West Coast

New Jersey Devils(8-2-0) vs Vancouver Canucks(6-3-2)

Two teams off to a surprising start and within the top of their divisions. Tonight the Devils get back two key players though Brian Boyle who was diagnosed with leukemia before preseason and Marcus Johansson who went down with a lower-body injury earlier last week. With the top six solidified and a solid fourth line center in Boyle, the Devils will continue to produce tonight. In net will be Jacob Markstrom in net the Canucks will hope to continue their success, but with rookie Brock Boser now day to day, the Canucks line up continues to look worse. I am not a fan of Vancouver tonight, especially vs a hot Devils team. Devils, 4-2.

Toronto Maple Leafs(7-5-0) vs Anaheim Ducks(6-4-1)

Can anything else go wrong for Anaheim, they lose Cam Fowler, Kevin Bieksa and now Ryan Getzlaf. This team cannot catch a break but somehow they are managing to win games and actually post an above .500 record. John Gibson is their best chance of winning, as Jakob Silfverberg and Rickard Rakell have been off to slow start this team must rely on their defense and goal scoring right now. Toronto comes into the night for their second West Coast road trip, dropping a crucial one to San Jose Monday night, Toronto needs to collect a win on this road trip. I cannot see this team dropping two of the three on the road, and going back to back vs the Kings tomorrow, tonight is their best chance to win. Maple Leafs, 3-2.

Nashville Predators(5-4-2) vs San Jose Sharks(6-5-0)

Nashville has been struggling as of late in their last four games they are 1-2-1 and San Jose is 5-2-0 in their last seven games, but goaltender Pekka Rinne has been rock solid in net for Nashville this season through eight starts he is 5-1-2, with 1.86 goals against average and .940 save percentage. Some history could be in the making though as Joe Thornton is one point away from 1,400 career points, looking to be the 20th player in NHL history to do so. All eyes will be on both Rinne and Thornton tonight. The Sharks are coming off a solid win vs a good team Monday night and get ready to take on yet another good team. Nashville will need their top point go-er, Filip Forsberg, to be on tonight as tonight will not be an easy win vs a hot Sharks team. Sharks, 3-2.