November 02 2016 09:00AM
Photo Credit: Sergei Belsky - USA TODAY Sports
Everyone knew going into this season that the Canucks would be hard pressed to produce offence at even strength. Perhaps nobody knew more so than the Canucks themselves.
Combined with their general inability to generate positive shot differentials, Vancouver was always bound to a path less travelled if their destination was the post-season. That means playing to a tie at evens on most nights and putting the game away on special teams. There's a large element of luck involved therein, but such is life for the league's have-nots.
The Canucks penalty kill has, mostly, been a strength under Head Coach Willie Desjardins. His power play perhaps less so. Last season they finished 26th in the league in conversion rate. This season they're ranked 28th.
At this rate, USA TODAY's 65 point prediction is optimistic. If the Canucks can't fix their power play, that is.
November 02 2016 07:00AM
Photo Credit: Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY SPORTS
The Leafs are off to a rough start to the 2016-17 season winning just three of their first ten games, and while the record isn't great so far, the season hasn't been a complete disaster yet. For starters, this team is not as bad as their record might suggest and a lot of that has to do with the fresh new faces on the team.
With that being said, I wanted to take the end of the first month as an opportunity to look at the Leafs player's Game Score more to see which players played good or bad, which ones have been consistent and also the most surprising names based on pre-season expectations.
with Game Score, it's a single number
stat meant to measure single game
productivity and player value
that I developed over the summer. It basically
combines the most important box-score stats and weights them by their relevance to goals. It's not perfect and there's much that is unaccounted for, but it does pretty well for something that is relatively simple to compute and comprehend.
The sample is still incredibly small, but I figure taking a look at the team on a monthly basis could provide some insight into how the team is doing. So without further ado, here's how the Leafs October looked through the eyes of Game Score and some thoughts on it.
November 02 2016 01:17AM
Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY SPORTS
When it was realized that the line of Connor Brown, Nazem Kadri, and Leo Komarov was going to be the one that was tasked with shutting down super-phenom and all-around greatest player on earth Connor McDavid, many had their concerns. Sure, all three are hard workers, but what was Kadri going to be able to do to a player that's bigger, faster, and younger than him?
Sure enough, he had what could be argued to be the best game of his NHL career. The quintessential Nazem Kadri game. Much to the delight of the Leafs, of course; without that, they don't win this game.
November 01 2016 12:02PM
Starting this week, I will begin a weekly post on the previous week in the NHL. I'll look at the five best and worst NHL teams thus far in the season, as well as the three best and worst players in the last week.
November 01 2016 10:00AM
For the past two years, the Calgary Flames were one of the least penalized teams in the league. In 2014-15, they were shorthanded a league low 186 times (one of the many reasons they were able to make the playoffs that year). Last year, they gave up just 233 power plays, good for fifth best in the NHL.
This season has not started off on the same foot, however. Calgary has already been shorthanded 43 times in just 10 games, the second most in the NHL. That rate comes out to over four PKs per game and projects to a total of 353 (!!) over the course of the season. To put that in perspective, the Arizona Coyotes gave up a league worst 304 PPs last year.
To understand what's going on I took a look at who is taking penalties and how it relates to the club's rates from last year.