September 21 2016 09:52AM
Team North America lost a heartbreaker to Russia in their previous game, completely outshooting and outchancing Ovechkin and pals in the final frame only to come up one goal short. The upstart young stars team has been full value so far this tournament, providing entertaining, high-octane hockey that puts their opponents on their heels.
The kids face a stiff test in Team Sweden today, however. The Swede's roster is filled with NHL stars, both of the grizzled vet and young star variety. Sweden's blueline is especially imposing, featuring Erik Karlsson, Hampus Lindholm, Victor Hedman, Oliver Ekman-Larrson and Anton Stralman.
Team North America started to look like a Cinderella story in the making after an impressive start to the tournament. Can they get past Sweden today or does the fairy tale end?
September 12 2016 08:00AM
A lot changed for the Calgary Flames this offseason, but there are two things that will determine if they really are a better team this year: goaltending and coaching.
The goaltending side is simple.
The coaching side is a bit more complicated. New bench bosses Glen Gulutzan and Paul Jerrard have very clear areas of the game they need to improve in Bob Hartley's wake, including some individual tactics that were lacking under the previous regime.
Here are the areas I'll be grading the new coaching staff on this year.
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.
August 29 2016 10:00AM
Glen Gulutzan has a handful of challenges ahead of him as the new Flames coach.
Perhaps no single obstacle is as big as the bottom end of the Flames blueline rotation. Brad Treliving has so far been unable to clear out any of the clutter from positions 4-6 on the club's back-end, leaving his new bench boss with an unsightly mix of aging players who all have the same problem: they can't defend.
To crystallize this problem further, we'll concentrate on Dennis Wideman. At $5.25M, Wideman is expensive. He still has some offensive chops, but his defensive game is rapidly swirling around the bowl. In the proper circumstances, Wideman could probably be an asset for at least one more year, but beyond that, you need two very obvious things: shelter at even strength and a partner who can do the defensive heavy lifting.
The first is possible. The second is the problem.
August 15 2016 12:00PM
"Inculcating a data-driven culture is...fundamental. What do we mean by data-driven? Most every company in the world today depends on data. But the vast majority of them use data in retrospect, to understand history, not to drive decisions ...
When we say data-driven, we're talking about companies that operationalize data."
The NHL isn't the only business experiencing seismic ripples and paradigmatic shifts in the information age. The time of "Big Data" is upon us, driven by mass adoption of powerful communication technologies. There's deep wells of information everywhere for those who care to look, waiting to be plumbed for valuable insights and new efficiencies.
Of course, access to information is necessary but not sufficient when it comes to operationalizing data in an organization or business. NHL teams have begun to dip their toe in the "advanced stats" pool, but are no doubt encountering challenges in effectively leveraging the various analyst bloggers who have been scooped up in the past year or two. It's one thing to bolt on a "stats consultant" to existing organizational structures and quite another to integrate empirical processes from top to bottom.
I recently read the book Winning With Data by Tomasz Tunguz and Frank Bien. In it, Tunguz and Bien lay out a roadmap for successfully operationalizing data, as well as the many roadblocks businesses often encounter in trying to become more empirical.
Here are three key insights I discovered in Winning With Data that could help NHL clubs become truly data driven.