August 12 2012 10:03PM
Can Don Maloney find another steal?
By Mathew Cerasoli, via Wikimedia Commons
The Phoenix Coyotes are one of the more interesting teams in the league when you think about it. They are an out of market team with a tight-budget, are always in relocation talks and are still searching for an owner but despite that, they have made the playoffs in three consecutive seasons and appeared in the Western Conference Finals last year. Phoenix is a team that has always managed to “beat the odds” for the last few seasons. They always seem to be in the playoff mix despite many predicting them to regress, and they always seem to do it while losing a major piece or two.
Ever since they made the playoffs, the Coyotes haven’t been a bad team at even strength, but they have been largely mediocre, ranking 15-19th in Fenwick close in the last three seasons. The main reason they have reached the playoffs is because they’ve received outstanding goaltending. Their lowest even strength save percentage the last three years has been .923 and it was at least .930 in the last two seasons. Most hockey minds thought they would take a large step back when they replaced Ilya Bryzgalov with Mike Smith, but the exact opposite ended up happening and the Coyotes ended up getting a Vezina-quality season from Smith.
Elite goaltending can boost a mediocre team to greater heights and that has been the case with the Coyotes over the last few years. The question now is will Smith be able to replicate his incredible season and will it be enough to keep the Yotes in contention? Goaltending performance is something that is next to impossible to predict, so Smith could go either way. A bigger problem for the Coyotes is that they lost a couple important players up front and could be on the verge of losing another, so Phoenix may need more than great goaltending to get back to the post-season next year.
August 11 2012 08:33AM
If you followed my earlier article on the "Ken Hitchcock effect", you'd have maybe found what I did. A particularly elite coach like Hitchcock can possibly influence his goaltender's save percentage and make it a little better than the goalie normally expects. Now, the effect isn't great. I think a lot of people who took a look at St. Louis' goaltending this season can make the mistake of attributing all of the success of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak to Hitchcock.
August 10 2012 02:23PM
In this edition we covered all things tracking with an expert panel on the subject: Neil Greenberg from the Washington Post and ESPN Insider, Geoff Detweiller of Broad Street Hockey, Eric T. of BSH and NHLnumbers and our own tracking addict Corey S. We went over Eric's article on the link between scoring chances and shot differential and what it means for scoring-chance tracking, Geoff and Eric's very promising project tracking zone entries, tracking zone exits and what the future holds for tracking/advanced stats.
August 09 2012 02:09PM
The key to the Stanley Cup rides high
Photo by JulieAndSteve via Wikimedia Commons
Sifting through the futures odds to win the Stanley Cup for the 2012-2013 NHL season, it is no surprise that the Los Angeles Kings currently sit atop the chart as 8/1 favorites. Coming off a 16-4 playoff record, the team will return an identical roster to the one that defeated New Jersey 6-1 in game six of the Stanley Cup Final. GM Dean Lombardi has been relatively quiet this offseason, focusing on retaining his key contributors and role players. Since the team figures to look stunningly similar on opening night, projecting the Kings’ season success will best be accomplished evaluating last season’s roster moves and results to determine
how many rings they’ll win in the next five years what we can expect this year.
August 09 2012 08:00AM
In 2012 the Dallas Stars missed out on the playoffs for the fourth straight year. After being eliminated in the final game of the season in 2011 by the lowly Minnesota Wild, the Stars were spared some of that heartache by missing the cutoff by six points in 2012. The Stars were 17th in Fenwick Close, and when you finish in the middle of the pack in possession the chances of your season ending early increase.
Despite missing the playoffs for the fourth straight year, the Stars weren't a disaster under first year head coach Glen Gulutzan. They have their issues going forward, but the club has a solid developing core of young players that should carry the team back into contention at some point in the near future.
This offseason was the first in several years where the Stars organization had some money to spend and with that infusion of wealth they set their sights on three key areas: special teams, depth, and possession.