Tag: nerdy stuff

Tampa Bay Lightning v Buffalo Sabres

Blowouts deflate what’s left of Leafs, Bolts’ playoff dreams


If you’re a Toronto Maple Leafs or Tampa Bay Lightning fan, you’d have to be very optimistic to carry playoff dreams into Monday night. After both teams were absolutely embarrassed, even the biggest dreamers can put those thoughts to bed.

Boston completes the sweep

Toronto can look back at – and Brian Burke might just base his firing upon – an absolutely embarrassing season series against the Boston Bruins. It seemed like whenever the Bruins needed a pick-me-up, they needed only to turn to Toronto, as tonight’s 8-0 thrashing completed a ridiculous sweep:

Oct. 20: Bruins win 6-2.
Nov. 5: Bruins win 7-0.
Nov. 30 and Dec. 3: Bruins win home-and-home set 6-3 and 4-1.
March 6: Maple Leafs actually complete but lose 5-4.
Today: Boston dominates 8-0.

To recap, that’s a 36-10 disadvantage, with two shutouts. (Tim Thomas only needed 13 saves for a goose egg tonight, by the way.)

If you want a more thematic explanation, Milan Lucic’s beating of Mike Komisarek is pretty symbolic, violent and fitting.

Buffalo douses Lightning

The Lightning won’t have the same regret when looking back at their games against the Buffalo Sabres, however. In fact, with Tampa Bay winning the previous three contests in regulation, Buffalo’s 7-3 demolition is more like revenge than the Boston-Toronto situation – which is essentially another ton of dirt kicked in Burke’s face.

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With the Washington Capitals holding on to win 5-3 against the Detroit Red Wings tonight, the Sabres are still behind the eight-ball in a tight three-team race for the last spot in the Eastern Conference. (Winnipeg’s last-minute fumbling loss to the Carolina Hurricanes from Sunday certainly doesn’t hurt matters, though.)

The race for eighth

Speaking of which, here’s what the East’s No. 8 race looks like now:

8. Washington: 80 points, nine games left (37 wins, 35 in regulation/OT)

9. Buffalo (won tonight): 78 points, nine games left (34 wins, 27 in regulation/OT)
10. Winnipeg (lost last night): 76 points, 10 games left (34 wins, 30 in regulation/OT)

The Sabres essentially rotate home and away games until the end of the season, when they face a tough duo of closing road games: at Philadelphia (April 5) and at Boston (April 7). In other words, if Buffalo makes it, they’ll get to the playoffs by earning it.

(Oh, and if you’re into odds, Sports Club Stats gives Washington a 73.2 percent chance to make the playoffs (up 9.9), Winnipeg a 16.1 percent shot (down 5.8) and Buffalo a 15.5 chance – up 2.5.)

Tim Thomas: “We’re stuck. I don’t have answers.”

Tim Thomas, Dennis Seidenberg, Evgeni Malkin

At one point not too long ago, the Boston Bruins seemed like an unstoppable wrecking ball of a team. The defending champions represented the most compelling choice for back-to-back Cup wins in quite some time.

Now the Bruins must worry about losing their division and/or sliding to the third seed – and who knows what once the playoffs begin.

In good times and bad, much of the focus shines upon two-time Vezina Trophy-winning goalie Tim Thomas. (That seems especially fair since he allowed six Florida Panthers goals last night.) CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty caught up with the struggling goalie, who seems downright stumped right now.

“[I] don’t know if I’ve ever been part of a run like this,” Thomas said. “We’re stuck. I don’t have answers.”

Thomas certainly hasn’t provided many answers in March in particular. He’s 3-5-0 in that time, but it’s his individual numbers that are of a bigger concern. Thomas has a hideous .842 save percentage and a ghastly 4.06 GAA in nine unsettling appearances this month.

(Feel free to peruse his split stats and game log if you want to hatch White House slump-related conspiracy theories – start with Jan. 31’s game – but it’s especially clear that times have been rough since March rolled around. Personally, I think it’s a coincidence, but an amusing one in that.)


Thomas isn’t responsible for the slump alone, but his numbers jump out the most. With Tuukka Rask seemingly far from a return from injury and Marty Turco looking rusty – to put it kindly – Thomas and the Bruins must look within for the answers to their plaguing questions.

Then again, maybe they should just look at their Stanley Cup rings – and all the times when their run almost fell short in 2011 – and realize that it was never supposed to be as easy as it looked from November to mid-January.

Gabriel Landeskog makes a serious Calder statement

Gabriel Landeskog

When the Colorado Avalanche made Gabriel Landeskog the second overall pick of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft, one of his biggest selling points was his NHL-readiness.While Ryan Nugent-Hopkins made the splashiest early impact, one could argue that the sentiment still holds up because RNH’s body didn’t exactly, well, hold up.

Either way, Landeskog is making a strong argument for the 2012 Calder Trophy and tonight’s overtime game-winning goal (Colorado beat Anaheim 3-2 in OT) might be the lead moment of his highlight reel.

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OK, so it’s not exactly Michael Jordan’s “flu game” but Landeskog deserves some credit for toughing it out. Landeskog spoke about being the only rookie to lead his team in scoring in the video below.

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(Landeskog also broke a quirky record: he’s now the all-time Avalanche rookie leader in shots on goal.)

So where does Landeskog rank among the Calder candidates? Here’s a quick survey:

Points: second with 44 (Adam Henrique leads with 46 in 10 fewer games)

Goals: Tied for first with Matt Read at 19

Assists: Third with 25

Plus/minus: first overall with +20 (I’m not a fan of the stat, but it’s fairly impressive and voters probably will dig it.)

Game-winning goals: second with four (Read leads with five)

Time on Ice: eighth overall with 18:27 minutes per game, first overall among forwards

As you can see, if you were to argue Landeskog’s case, you’d spotlight versatility. He’s doing a little of everything and excelling in most areas. Landeskog is playing a significant role on a team fighting tooth and nail for a playoff spot.

In fact, some might argue that the Avalanche’s postseason chase might just define Landeskog’s Calder argument. Who’s your pick for the Calder so far?

Gauging the surging Anaheim Ducks’ playoff prospects

Anaheim Ducks v Pittsburgh Penguins

The hot-and-cold Anaheim Ducks are downright torrid now, but if you want to put their overall body of work in perspective, peek at their record after a 2-1 win against the Pittsburgh Penguins. (Click here to see Teemu Selanne’s game-winning [and historic] goal.)

24-24-9 for 57 points.

As hot as the Ducks have been – and as eerily familiar as this run is becoming compared to last season’s surge – the team is just now at .500. That doesn’t sound like the stuff of a Western Conference playoff team, but let’s dig a little deeper.

The cold, nerdy perspective

Sports Club Stats is the generally agreed-upon source for sober analysis of every team’s playoff chances. That site’s forecast of the Ducks’ chances isn’t very sunny right now: they’re currently at 6 percent, which places them 13th overall in the West.

The schedule

Anaheim’s immediate future doesn’t lend much in the way of optimism – at least if you ignore the context of its scalding run. The Ducks still have four road games in a row and five of their next six away from Anaheim. There’s also a four-out-of-five away run to in early March.

Trending up

That schedule bit can only rain on the Ducks’ parade so much because they’ve gone 3-0-1 in the first half of their current eight-game road trip. The Ducks are also enjoying a seven-game points streak (5-0-2) and have been hot in general since the New Year, putting together an impressive 14-3-3 mark.

The big picture

Excluding the four bubble teams in front of them for the sake of sanity, the Ducks are six points behind eighth-place Phoenix and trail the Blackhawks and Kings by eight as of this writing. Anaheim has 11 home and 14 road games remaining on its schedule.

Circling back to Sports Club Stats, the Ducks would have a 61.1 percent chance to make the playoffs if they go 16-7-2, a 78 percent chance if they go 16-6-3 and so on. In other words, they’d need to more-or-less duplicate the great work from 2012 while hoping that some of their peers stumble.


The Ducks face a steep mountain, but they did last season as well. Can they do it again? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Here are highlights from that Ducks-Penguins game:

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Blocking shots: Mad genius or just mad?

Chuck Kobasew, Gabriel Landeskog, Kyle Quincey, Jason Garrison

One of the interesting little underground hockey debates revolves around blocking shots.

Any reasonable person will admit it’s a brave act, but the schism happens when you discuss the wisdom of doing so. The New York Times tackled the subject in an interesting way on Monday, studying the undeniable increase in the activity since the lockout while spotlighting heavy practitioners and the teams who generally abstain from the courageous move.

Many stats bloggers will say that a blocked shot is often the sign of a last-resort move by a defenseman who’s out of position.

Interestingly enough, The NYT’s Dave Caldwell spotlighted the three local teams and saw a wide variety of results. The lowly Islanders topped the NHL in the category and look primed to fall in first place again this season, but the East-leading Rangers swear by it too. Meanwhile, the traditionally stout Devils defense follows Paul Coffey’s lead in avoiding the practice.

Crunching simple numbers on the subject

source: Getty ImagesTo take a quick-and-dirty look at the potential big picture view, here are the top five teams as far as shot blocking, their place in the standings, total goals allowed and times shorthanded:

1. NY Islanders: 955 blocked shots, 55 points (tied for second to last in East), 159 goals allowed and 158 times shorthanded
2. Montreal: 942 blocked shots, 55 points (tied for second to last in East), 154 goals allowed and 214 times shorthanded
3. Toronto: 912 blocked shots, 62 points (eighth place in East), 166 goals allowed and 178 times shorthanded
4. NY Rangers: 907 blocked shots, 77 points (first in East, second overall), 110 goals allowed and 178 times shorthanded
5. Minnesota: 904 blocked shots, 58 points (12th place in West), 144 goals allowed and 193 times shorthanded

To take a look at the flip side, here are the five teams who block shots the least in the same categories:

26. Boston: 694 blocked shots, 70 points for second in the East, 120 goals allowed and 188 times shorthanded
27. Los Angeles: 691 blocked shots, 65 points tied for sixth in West, 124 goals allowed and 210 times shorthanded
28. Columbus: 661 blocked shots, 38 points for worst record in NHL, 185 goals allowed and 185 times shorthanded
29. Vancouver: 652 blocked shots, 74 points for second in the West, 138 goals allowed and 208 times shorthanded
30. New Jersey: 638 blocked shots, 66 points for sixth in the East, 155 goals allowed and 190 times shorthanded

I’m not sure if you can deduce much of anything from that little study, although it does seem to provide good evidence that you can play stingy defense without blocking shots. The low shot-blocking side seems a little heavier on “legitimate” contenders … but it also includes the horrific Blue Jackets. (Click here to check out NHL.com’s stats on shot blocking.)


How do you feel, though? Is the strategy a necessary evil to avoid goals or a bad gamble in terms of positioning and/or injuries? Share your take in the comments.