LAST SPOT ON THE MAGIC BUS (AGAIN)

Lowetide
September 07 2016 09:06PM


A year ago, we were talking about the one open spot among the Oilers top two lines: 2RW. Today, on the eve of training camp, 2RW stands as the unsolved mystery inside the top 6F.

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Let's embrace the uniqueness of the World Cup

Jayson Spikes
September 07 2016 05:12PM

Everyone loves best-on-best hockey, and it's almost here! 

We've waited over a year for it, and now it's like Christmas Eve for the hockey world. World Cup of Hockey training camps are well underway, games start on September 17th and fans couldn't be more ecstatic! Except, reality tells us that isn't really the case.

Everywhere you look, there's an extremely negative aura floating around the World Cup. It's hard to tell exactly what the majority opinion is, but it's hard to ignore the vocal naysayers striking down the idea of the tournament. 

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Stat Shot is illuminating and informative

Ryan Pike
September 06 2016 02:00PM

I honestly cannot remember the first time I read Rob Vollman's work on advanced statistics and hockey analytics. I'm sure it had to have been sometime around 2005 or 2006, but by that time he'd already become ubiquitous with what I like to call "looking at hockey with an academic sensibility." After a few years of working in relative obscurity, Vollman has broken through into a mainstream niche as the go-to guy in analytics – evidenced by his column on NHL.com and plentiful radio hits on places like Sportsnet 960 The Fan.

Vollman's first print book, Hockey Abstract Presents... Stat Shot: The Ultimate Guide to Hockey Analytics, is exactly what you would expect from him – it's what he's been doing, but on a larger scale. To put it another way: if his previous editions of the Hockey Abstract were his Evil Dead, Stat Shot is his Evil Dead 2 or Army of Darkness. It is an extension of his previous work, but on a much larger scale.

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Flames best and worst line combos from 2015-16

Kent Wilson
September 06 2016 11:00AM

It's September, the time when hockey fans start to create depth charts and line combinations in earnest. 

Brad Treliving did some reconstructive surgery to the club's starboard side this year, so it's hard to predict just how the new forward units will shake out. A new coaching staff behind the bench adds another layer of unpredictability.

For now, all we can go on was what worked (and what didn't) last year. Former coach Bob Hartley cycled through a number of different alternatives up front in his quest to find chemistry. Some worked out well, others... not so much.

Here's a look at the Flames' three best and three worst line combos from last season.

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Jake Gardiner Is Really Good Defensively

DragLikePull
September 06 2016 08:05AM

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Photo Credit: Kevin Hoffman/USA TODAY SPORTS

If you were to ask people around the NHL what Jake Gardiner is good at, you'd probably hear a lot of things related to his offensive abilities.  Earlier this year James Reimer said that Gardiner has a rare aptitude for passing.  Writing for the Canadian Press last fall, Stephen Whyno described Gardiner as a "young, smooth-skating, offensive-minded" defenceman but added that he "could be an adventure in the defensive zone."  I think those comments are representative of the general opinion about Jake: he's a talented skater who's got great vision, but he hurts his team when he doesn't have the puck.

Conventional wisdom on Gardiner, however, is wrong.  While he struggled a bit early on in his NHL career, over the past few seasons Gardiner has been one of the most reliable players in the league at reducing the burden faced by his team's goalie.  The same skills that Gardiner uses to generate offence, like his skating and his vision, help him keep the puck away from his own net.

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