1. 4.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

The NHL At The 5-Game Mark: A Status Report

It is important for understanding why your favorite team sits where they are in the standings to gauge play the strategic, On Goal Analysis way. In that vein, here is a status report on NHL teams on the date they hit the 5-Game mark (MIN was last on 23 Oct).

Over the three complete seasons since the NHL suffered the Lockout, the league stood at an average Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) rating of 2.753 at Game 5. As of all 30 teams’ Game 5, the NHL has a PQC rating of 2.893. This difference is partially reflected in the 21 games that have already progressed into Bonus Hockey, an increase that places the League on track for approximately 42 games extending into OT or a Shootout in OCTOBER. This is a gain of 6.5 more times a team earned that ‘third point’ over the previous OCTOBER record since the Lockout. And the gain in OGA’s opinion is quite likely a reflection of greater NHL parity which will be borne out by how close playoff races actually end.

The PQC when comparing Divisions at Game 5 indicates the East was leading the West in PQC rating by almost one-half of a game. If this trend remains unchanged, a very early, league-wide analysis of the difference in PQC from history to now indicates Eastern Conference teams may need to win as much as one game more than normal / attain 95 points in order to secure a seed in the playoffs. In the West, it would take 92 points / 46 wins.

Individual organization comparisons indicate a total of eight Eastern teams are playing above their normal Game 5 average while the West only has five. Seven of those above-average Eastern teams, if the regular season ended at Game 5, would meet the criteria to enter the playoffs based on the standings versus only four of the five Western clubs. A team can be playing below their historical average and still be on track for a 'Game 5 Playoff Spot' because the Division as a whole is playing below average. Last years’ two Stanley Cup Finals teams are examples who would be 'in the playoffs' at Game 5 but were playing below their historical average. Three teams are even with their historical, Game-5 mark, while 14 of them are playing below their post-Lockout average. Additionally, five teams (STL, EDM, CAR, BUF, and VAN) would have been new entrants into the playoff picture, a statistic that is not abnormal based on playoff-team turnover from season to season.

In summary, several PQC-related facts show:

  • There is an increase in Overtime and Shootout games, quite possibly linked to greater parity
  • Based on play at Game 5 remaining at the same level throughout the season, it would take:
  • As much as one more win / 95 points to make the playoffs in the East
  • One less win / 92 points for a playoff seed in the West
  • Eight teams are playing above their historical average at the Game 5 mark
  • Fourteen teams are playing below average at Game 5
  • If the playoffs came at Game 5, the standings would indicate five new teams would participate in the post-season

It is, of course, VERY early in the season. The only way a team could be called IN or OUT of the playoffs at Game 5 would be because five was the final number of regular season games and the standings dictated the post-season lineup. It does stand, however, as an indicator of where teams are now when compared to their historically average level of play. It also is a gauge of how well teams spent their money in the off-season to bring together their current team. At OGA, we know what was done between the end of Game 6 of the Stanley Cup and the first regulation puck drop does the most to get a team into the playoffs. So stand by for more play from your favorite NHL teams. Despite an exciting first 100 or so games, chemistry is just now beginning to settle in and the game is on!

1. 4.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

OGA Road Trip Day 3 Summary

Day 3 of the OGA Road Trip (SUN 12 OCTOBER) was a non-hockey day with no local games scheduled. We therefore took advantage of the open schedule to tour New York and pay our respects at Ground Zero.

During the trip, The Colonel posted a thorough examination of our time spent down near Battery Park and the WTC. It's well worth the read and is just a few posts down (click on link to the right for it), entitled: The Colonel and Crew at Ground Zero by The Colonel.

Since it was a touring day, I will simply post some pics with a few details for the OGA ScrapBlog.

The first stop was to pay tribute at Ground Zero with a guided tour of true perspective. Sgt. Chalker, who on the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 turned in his badge and gun at the Police Station in order to don fatigues and serve in his National Guard capacity that morning.

From Shadow to Light. Walking down Church Street towards the World Trade Center Site

Looking into the WTC Site

We then made our way around the WTC site, cutting through a spectacular building by the water front. No idea what the building name was (anybody know? Mrs. Pill believes it's the Hilton...) but the view through the huge wall-o-windows was nice.

OGA Goes Around the Yellow Tape. Nice View.

The Police Memorial for all NYC Police Officers who have served and fallen in duty.

Well known Fire Station directly across the street from the Twin Towers

The cemetery in front of St. Paul's

One of the first depictions (painting) of the Great Seal of the United States hangs in this church where George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of the US and attended services.

George Washington's Pew at St. Paul's

We then grabbed lunch at my favorite deli, Stage Door Delicatessen ( the Original - www.stagedoordeli.net ). We ate in the peace and quiet of the upstairs room and captured a nice pic thru the window of the front of St. Paul's.

Looking down from Stage Door onto St. Paul's

After lunch OGA made their way back to Rockefeller Center and the NHL Store so The Colonel (who had not arrived yet when OGA first stopped by) was able to bask in the glory.

On the way, we passed by one of those famous NY institutions Mrs. Pill had sent me a text message about, reminding me of its proximity...Tiffany's.

"Yes, Mrs. Pill, I did go. No, dear, I did not go IN..."

After the NHL Store we trekked our way to FAO Schwarz for the kids...the big and the small ones.

OGA believes they found the mummified display of Tom Hanks in this store.

OGA then wound our way down to Lombardi's for Pizza in Little Italy (see previous post for scrumptious pizza pic!) On our way, we scooted down the Avenue of the Americas where traffic was blocked off and the entire street for blocks and was lined on both sides with booths for goods/crafts/foods. Quite a sight in NYC...

Sunday Strolling and Shopping the Avenue of the Americas

Next post is a Recap of Day 4 where OGA sees TWO hockey games on Columbus Day at the Nassau Coliseum and and at Madison Square Garden....
1. 4.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

OGA Road Trip Day 2 Summary

Day Two (SAT 11 OCT) started at the hotel in Queens, NY, found us in downtown DC shortly after sunset and ended with the OGAs laying their weary heads back down in the hotel in Queens by 5AM the next day.

The only picture I should post is one of our rental car. Over 10 hours were spent in the rental on Day 2.

The day began early w/ the Frozen Pill and Big Tex headed back out by hotel shuttle to LaGuardia to pick up Rental Car ONE for the drive to Washington, DC that evening. We grabbed the car, swung by Shea Stadium via the one wrong turn and toured the area. Then back to the hotel to meet up with The Colonel and Big Tex JR.

We had a business meeting scheduled at the Empire State building that morning and were able to do the TrainTango downtown arriving a little late for the appointment. This became the theme of the day as many little roadbumps presented themselves and we were a step behind the rest of the day.

After our meeting we had lunch at the Heartland Brewery at Empire State where we enjoyed an early lunch and the Smiling Pumpkin Ale. Yes, we were smiling as it was quite tasty.

While at lunch, Big Tex JR forgot the entirety of his vocabulary and could muster nothing more than the time-tested, yet always appropriate, 'that's what she said.' And you know what? He was right. That's what she said.

After lunch we hopped the train, made the usual connection for the swap onto the line that would deliver us back to our hotel only to find the 7 Train was not running. Track maintenance. The signs had been posted during our short visit at the Empire State Building.

Okay, we thought, we'll walk in the general direction until we see a cab. This being NY, we expected to walk a block or two before hailing a Yellow. Well, cabbies were either off duty, already carrying customers or not working this street. I think we saw 4 the whole walk back (over 40 blocks) to the hotel.

Tired and running late, we grabbed our gear and then jumped in the car. We got stuck in downtown Manhattan working our way to the highway and momentarily contemplated whether or not we would end up driving for over 4 hours only to see 10 minutes of hockey and then another 4 hours back to Queens after the game. Argh. OGA was being tested. But OGA was not to be deterred.

Just about this time, the clouds parted, the Red Sea opened and we headed south to Rock the Red at the Verizon Center in Washington, DC.

With hockey kicking on the car's XM Radio, we swapped drivers in New Jersey and the Frozen Pill (with Big Tex on map duty) slid us into his hometown and into valet parking one block from the Phone Booth. We stepped in right at the start of the 2nd period and proceeded to watch Ovie 1 and the Caps beat the Blackhawks with Ovechkin scoring two goals.

This barn is huge. I was amazed at the layout and enormity of the Verizon Center. The Fans were LOUD and very excited. It was the home opener game of the new season and the Caps had raised the 2007 Southeast Division Champs banner prior to the game. The folks were pumped and ready for the return of hockey!

We sat in the very last row and just soaked in the 'playoff' atmosphere in October. Simply amazing. The team has a 'Rock the Red' motto going this year and the fans have embraced this as the ice itself seemed to be the very parting in the Sea of Red. Check out the picture below...

After the game, OGA swung by the fan shop and procured goodies. We then retrieved the car from valet and headed north on I-95 back to New York. Big Tex and The Colonel pulled off a driving miracle through the New Jersey Turnpike and delivered us safely back to the hotel to rest our tired, hockey-loving selves for a nice 2 hour nap before we were to meet the next day head on with a special tour of Ground Zero.

Day 3 Recap tomorrow with plenty of pictures....
1. 4.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Premature Nostalgia

Barely home a few days and the Frozen Pill already misses the big OGA Hockey Road Trip. I am sure, like the Colonel and Big Tex, thoughts are already formulating for next year's sojourn. But I cannot help but think perhaps a mid-season mini-road trip may be in order. Ah, we'll have to run that one by Mrs. Pill before I spend too much time dwelling on a strategy...

Well, to help me (more than you), I will post some pics and thoughts on the recent OGA-outing to the Northeast for 5 games in 5 days at 4 Barns. In addition to seeing some great hockey, we met great people and saw some wonderful scenery. Most of it by design. Not all.

Some thoughts on Day One...

Big Tex, Big Tex JR and Frozen Pill flew out pre-dawn and were thereby transported to the post-modern Statue of Liberty known as LaGuardia early in the day, having plenty of time to play whilst awaiting the Colonel's arrival on a separate flight.

A shuttle to the hotel in Queens (across the street from the soon-to-disappear Shea Stadium), three purchases of Metro Cards (for the week!) and a train ride downtown found us in Manhattan, ready for business.

We made the most of the time (and the good fortune of timing) to head to the big NHL Faceoff 2008 Fan Festival at the NHL Powered by Reebok store at Rockefeller Center. It was a fantastic event and packed. Very helpuful employees and all very nice. I highly sugest a stop-by if you have business in the Big Apple.

After shopping like those Sexy City girls in a shoe-store, Frozen Pill and Big Tex JR left with some handsome NHL Store bags full of treats for the family and wears for the new season. We cruised the city a bit and then rode the train back to Queens to meet up w/ the Colonel whose flight had arrived.

A quick dinner at the Pine Restaurant with some apps, Buffalo Wing action, and sandwhiches and we were ready for another subway ride downtown to the world's most famous arena, Madison Square Garden. Like a small city unto itself, the Garden blew us away. We were fortunate enough to meet some fellow hockey fans after switching from the 7 Train to the E and were able to walk in and get the tour of the Garden with Vito and Savy (see previous post for more info, but thanks again, fellas!)

Also, see Big Tex's previous posts for the OGA take on MSG, but I will simply say there is probably no other barn in the sport that feels like this on. There are Hockey Gods who live in the building and you can feel their presence when you enter. When the Blue Shirts hit the ice in front of the home crowd, I felt truly blessed to be there...and we were able to sit amongst the true fans up in the blue seats. If this is a restaurant review, the Atmosphere stars are maxed out here.

In addition to a great game and the incredible vibe, when the Rangers came skating onto the ice at the beginning of the 2nd and 3rd periods with the Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up' blasting on the speakers, well, I just thought perhaps the Frozen Pill had stepped through the Pearly Gates of Hockey Heaven and was ready for my 'fuhgetaboutit' baptism.

Until, of course, after the game we were mobbed by Spongebob and Spidey.

OGA trekked it down to Time Square after the game and a slice of pizza. You know you are in Gotham when Spiderman hits you up for change. Seriously.

My own Spidey sense told me his super hero disguise was in need of some repair. I cannot imagine Spidey gets many nights off in NYC.

OGA called it a night and started the subway/train switcheroo back to Queens. The next day would see OGA walking bock after block (over 40 of them!) at breakneck speed to take a rental car thru mid-town Manhattan. After a brief run-in with Captain Tourrett's, a couple of tunnels and a 4.5 hour ride down to the Phonebooth, we chased the Chicago Blackhawks to Washington DC where I would be reunited with the team that introduced the Frozen Pill to hockey.

Next post - a recap of OGA Road Trip, Day 2...
1. 4.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Hockey Crusade Recap

Five games in five days in four arenas. What a trip! I won't speak for Frozen Pill or The Colonel, but the following are my impressions:

Most fired-up fans: Capitals. They're still on a high from last season's run to the playoffs, and are expecting even more this year. The Caps' home opener against Chicago had a distinct playoff atmosphere. Not a season-opener I'm-so-glad-it's-hockey-time-again atmosphere, a we-want-the-Cup-and-we'll-crush-anyone-who-gets-in-our-way atmosphere. The Phone Booth was rockin', and I expect it to continue into May.

Best fans: Doing my best to set aside personal bias here, but...Rangers fans, hands down. When the Blueshirts are winning, the fans love 'em, and when they're struggling, the fans still show up...to let them know how badly they suck. Win or lose, though, they're proud to be Ranger fans. As a fightin' Texas Aggie (and a Ranger fan), I can respect that.

Worst fans: Surprisingly, I was very disappointed by Penguins fans. During the National Anthem, we three OGA hockey crusaders were the only people in our section with hands over our hearts. When an active duty soldier attending the game was recognized and his name was flashed on the scoreboard, the applause was tepid, at best (a stark contrast to the standing ovations given to servicemen and women at Dallas Stars' games). Lack of patriotism aside, the fans didn't seem to really be into the game...against Philly, for Pete's sake! Wake up, Pittsburgh!

Most beleaguered fans: Islanders. Even though my loyalty doesn't extend east of the Brooklyn bridge, I feel sorry for these folks. I give credit to Isles management for trying to make the games as enjoyable as possible (good food at Nassau Coliseum - best hot dog of the trip!), but they still have work to do, both on-and off-ice.

For starters, the Isles have a section of the press box reserved for bloggers, to whom they issue credentials. This is a great idea, a great way to reach out to the fans and get them involved. OGA contacted the Isles...SIX TIMES...to try to obtain said credentials, and received no response. None. Not a word. Next, when the lineup and scratches for the Sabres were announced, the graphic on the scoreboard was for the St. Louis Blues. Also, after one Buffalo goal, the goal lamp was left on for quite some time after the puck was dropped to re-start the game. All of the above paled in comparison to the woeful product on the ice. As a Ranger fan, I found myself actually feeling pity for the Isles. C'mon, guys - justify my hatred!

Most comfortable arena: The Verizon Center. Modern, with wide concourses and easy ingress/egress. Reminded me quite a bit of the AAC in Dallas.

Coolest arena: Mellon Arena. Literally. It was the only stop on the trip in which I wished I'd worn more than a t-shirt. Also, we sat five rows from the top of section E29 (2nd deck), and felt like we were just above the ice. Best seats of the trip.

Madison Square Garden: I'm at a loss to categorize The House That Tex Built, but I have to talk about it. MSG reminds me of the Roman Coliseum. Sitting in the Blue Seats is the only way to fly, as that's where the best fans can be found. Definitely not for families, unless you consider "Slap Shot" or "Goodfellas" to be family movies. It was a dream come true to see two games at MSG, but...can someone turn on the A/C?!?! I've never perspired so much through a hockey game that I didn't play in. That aside, I can't wait to go back.

It was truly a great trip, and OGA looks forward to doing it again next year. Where will we go? At this time, we have no idea! Could be a trip to the East again (Boston-Ottawa-Montreal), or down South (Florida-Tampa-Atlanta-Carolina), or maybe a Midwestern trip (Chicago-Detroit-Toronto-Buffalo), or something else entirely. When we figure it out, we'll let you know. In the meantime, OGA will keep you posted on the playoff prospects of your favorite team. Keep checking back here for updates!
1. 4.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Six Days on the Road

...and we're gonna make it home tonight. OGA is at LaGuardia, waiting for our boarding call. It's been a great trip. We've met many good people, been to four arenas we'd never been to before, seen some great hockey, and eaten great food. While we're sorry to see the trip come to an end, we look forward to getting reacquainted with our families (and getting a decent nights' sleep).

In upcoming posts, we'll discuss the Pluses and Minuses of our trip: Which arenas, fans and teams we liked (or didn't like), and why. Stay tuned!
1. 4.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Game Five final- PIT 3, PHI 2 (OT)

The fifth, and final, game of OGA's hockey odyssey is in the books. The Penguins scored with 10 seconds left in OT to send the fans home happy. Other than the Game-Winning Goal, the highlight of the game was the 1st period fight between Eric Godard (Pens) and Riley Cote (Flyers) - possibly the best fight I've seen in person in my hockey-watching life.

We now head back to Harrisburg, PA, to catch a few hours' sleep before driving back to New York for our flight home. The Colonel is driving, Frozen Pill is talking to Mrs.Pill, and Big Tex is going to try to catch some extra shut-eye. More later...
1. 4.

Are There Penguins In Pittsburgh?

We are on Pennsylvania Interstate 70/76, almost at Pittsburgh. We are running late to meet Sascha of Berlin, Germany fame from yesterday's Islanders game. A true Hockey fan - his German team folded and he refuses to go see the rival Berlin Ice Bears and will write off any family members who do - was to meet us at the Marriot across the street from Melon Arena where you can often times meet some of the players. If we miss you, Sascha, we will catch you the next time you are in America. He, like we, were impressed by Carlton our cab driver who picked us out of the crowd coming off of the Long Island Railroad, delivered four of us to Nassau Coliseum for $24 AND picked us up after a five minute wait to hurry back to the station, all arranged with a handshake.

We are amazed at two things as we speed through the Allegheny Mountains. The trees are a painting of wonderful confusion in Wild green, Flames' red and yellow and Flyers' orange. We also are mystified by the lack of mileage signs by the side of the road, but know they would block the view.

We are about to exit now for Mellon Arena, so More To Follow...
1. 4.

Gratuitous Hockey Picture

The OGA boys are in Harrisburg, PA where we camped out for the night (morning) after 4 hours on the road last night. Two games in one day yesterday was like hockey heaven and tonight we visit The Igloo where the Pens host the Flyers to conclude our hockey pilgrimage. Since the Frozen Pill has done all his blogging via the phone, I thought it was time for posting one of the archived pics from the trip. This picture was taken outside the RBK NHL store in NYC and thought it to be a nice post in honor of the upcoming All Hallow's Eve. The Headless HockeyMen will report again soon. Uintil then, remember...it's only a puck until you take one in the teeth. Then it's a Frozen Pill.
1. 4.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Rangers 4, Devils 1

Great game-try the knish! On to Pittsburgh...
1. 4.

MSG 2.0

OGA is at the Garden again tonight. A great first period of hockey is under the belts and nothing less expected for the heated rivalry. And boy, howdy we are in a different section tonight and the fans are 'lively'...we'll stick to our PG-13 rating here, though. Gotta keep it short to save on phone battery as we have to drive halfway to Pittsburgh after the game tonight. OGA provides...
1. 4.

From Long Island to Manhattan

Game One final: Sabres 7, Islanders 1. A smooth train ride from Hempstead took us to Penn Station and Madison Square Garden 19 minutes before faceoff. Game (Two) on!
1. 4.

The Game is in the Stands

Although theres been some hockey on the ice, the Isles actions is in the seats. With less than 5 minutes left, Buffalo leads 7-1. There is plenty of pain here on the Isle. There was a garage sale on the ice with plenty of available gloves and sticks during the second period. Total of 6 players with misconducts - 3 players accounted for 4 Game Misconducts on the ice. And I think 4 more for fans in our section ejected from the game. It's been a wild one but we have to make our way to MSG now and will report back soon. Fans win (lose) 4-3. Yikes.
1. 4.

LIVE from Long Island

After two periods, the score is Sabres 5, Islanders 0. Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug. Definitely a bug day for the home team.

As a life-long Rangers fan, it's very interesting to be at Nassau Coliseum (Motto: Great seats are still available!). Wish I could've been here for the Rangers, but I'll take what I can get. There's so much history here - as I sit here, I can look up at four Stanley Cup banners, the first of which was won the season I became a hockey fan (79-80).

Unfortunately, the current incarnation of the Isles doesn't compare. We'll see what the 3rd period brings. Game on!
1. 4.

...Because Hockey is a Global Community

Here we are on the Long Island Rail Road headed towards the Isles vs Sabres matinee. The OGA fellas are now joined by a fellow hockey traveller, Sascha from Germany. Sascha saw us standing on the platform, waiting for the train. We assume he recognized us as fans of the Great Game due to our representin' each of the three NY Teams with the Frozen Pill donning the Islanders T, Big Tex in his Rangers shirt and The Colonel sporting the Sabres duds. Perhaps we make this easy. Sascha approached us for some advice on procuring a ticket for the train and how best to get to the game. Our repsonse was simply, 'Join us'. Like OGA, Sascha is on his own Hockey Sojourn here in the states and is catching 5 games in 10 days. Yes, hockey fans are a community like no other. Must keep this post short as we need to disembark from the train and hop a bus soon to Nassau Coliseum. Turns out Sascha, like OGA, is headed west for the Pittsburgh Penguins game tomorrow as well...so an open invite is extended to all you fellow fans out there, no matter where you are from, whether West Berlin, Texas or PA...care to join OGA in the Steel City? After all, we all speak the same language of hockey. Make sure you at least join us on the OGA Blog if you can't join in person. Next post...on the way to MSG tonight...!
1. 4.

On The Rails Again...

We started out a bit after 11am for the 2pm BUF @ NY game at the Long Island Coliseum. Despite what non-NYers might have heard, the subway cars are clean and in good use. it is the best way to get around for someone staying out in Queens while seeing NY. we got a $25 Metro card for unlimited travel for the week and used it to travel from 111th St to Shea Stadium, then transfer to go back toward Jamaica Station. Here we are transferring to the Long Island Railroad for $4 to get on out to the Isles game, our first of two state-of-NY showcases today. We'd like to claim great planning as our guide for today (we head over to MSG for the Devils/Rangers game tonight), and then seeing every Keystone State team tomorrow in Pittsburgh.

We just ran into a Buffalo fan at the LIRR tracks. And then a fan from Berlin. We will tell you more about the trip in a little while - time to catch the train...
1. 4.

Day Three-Touristas in the Big City

Sunday was an off day for OGA, as there were no NHL games within driving distance. We used our time wisely, leaving the hotel around 8:00a (less than 4 hours after we got back from D.C.) and hitting the World Trade Center site, St.Paul's, FAO Schwartz (which doesn't carry G.I. Joes), the NHL Store (which did NOT give me another free pair of shoes), a street fair on Avenue of the Americas, and...Lombardi's.

Lombardi's pizza was just as good as advertised on The Travel Channel. Fresh mozzarella, the best pepperoni I've ever had, great coal-fired crust...my mouth is watering as I type this. Two thumbs up!

That wraps up Day Three. Today, OGA hits two games, then hits the road for Tuesday night in Pittsburgh. The odyssey continues!
1. 4.

The Colonel and Crew at Ground Zero

...I finally made it. Seven years, one month and one day later I found myself at the location that changed my life. It was Ground Zero on September 11, 2001 that pulled me from my civilian job to write security plans for the state of Louisiana, serve as the Operations Officer for the Louisiana National Guard contingent in support of the U.S. Secret Service for the 2002 Super Bowl in New Orleans, and deployed me away from my new family to Iraq in time for the first free elections in that nation in 30 years.

We met my good friend, Sergeant First Class John Chalker, also one of NY's Finest in the 'day job' that most National Gaurdsmen have, and his son Sean at Church Street on the west side of Ground Zero. John deployed to Iraq as one of many of the Fightin' 1-69 Infantry Soldiers who were attached to my Brigade in the spring of 2004. This day was, in addition to my own emotional visit to the site, about John's story on September 11th.

Having just come off of night police duty, John's phone began ringing early on the morning of September 11th. He tried to ignore it at his Long Island home because he was very tired from the night's patrolling. As the ringing would not quit, however, he finally picked up to find his crying wife on the phone telling him to turn on the news, they had been attacked in the downtown area and she was evacuating with the rest of her office building. He turned on the news to see the first tower billowing black smoke and caught the second airplane strike as he continued to try and calm his wife. She got on the last train out of the city heading to Long Island, and he could hear the screams in the background as his wife turned around with other passengers to see the first of two towers collapse. Knowing how bad this was from what he was seeing on TV, and also knowing Mrs. Chalker was safe, he told her he loved her and had to hang up to go into his unit, the 1-69 Infantry, whose headquarters was in downtown Manhattan. Getting dressed in his military uniform and without an activation phone call because the phone systme was overloaded, he went in to his police headquarters on Long Island, turned in his badge and gun, and made his way down to his unit already beginning to deploy to establish security in support of the police and firemen at Ground Zero. John finally made it home for Thanksgiving that year and Mrs. Chalker put aside her fears to go back to work once they let them back into Manhattan, a testament to his own and his wife's strength and the bedrock of our American society.

John walked us around Ground Zero, to the Policeman's Memorial nearby which lists the names of all policemen in NYC who gave their lives in the line of duty since records were kept more than 200 hundred years ago, to the building where they discovered a tire from one of the planes on September 12th, to Ladder 10 which was devastated on the morning of the attack, and then to the WTC Visitor's Center established next to the site. Of singular note on that walk-about was seeing St. Paul's Church on the west side of Ground Zero. This church was where President George Washington was inaugurated as the first President of The United States. Its cemetery with grave stones dating back into the 1600's stands right next to where the towers stood and has many, large trees within. While the cemetery itself was covered with soot and debris when the towers fell, the trees protected the Church from ALL damage - there was not even one shattered pane of glass on site. St. Paul's became a source of refuge for the many volunteers working at Ground Zero to support the recovery effort, including Soldiers from the 1-69 Infantry working site security.

My personal thanks to John (and his son who plays goalie on his local Hockey team!) for their tour of the site. It was a day easier to take in for its significance one day later as I contemplate and type. I felt many things as we walked and talked. St. Paul's Church, unscathed in this heinous attack, I believe stood as a sign of strength and mercy against all of the suffering of that fateful day and the days that followed. The actions of Joh Chalker and his wife, despite their personal concerns and, at times, fears of what was to come, did what they had to do to fight back against this terrible situation, a testament to the character of New Yorkers in particular and Americans in general whether the TV news tells us so or not. And to see the site which charted my life over the last several years made me angry, awestruck and proud all at once.

I will leave this post here for now as it is difficult to not be emotional about it. Remembering that entire week of not being able to contain my tears every time I saw the footage of the attack and, the tears of departing my family for 18 months of active duty and deployment to Iraq for my part in the War or Terror, and the immense swell of pride that we, Americans, persevered through this attack is enough for now.

More to follow...
1. 4.

Little Italy, meet OGA

OGA had no games scheduled today, but we make up for it tomorrow with a two game tilt. Columbus Day finds us catching the Islanders hosting the Sabres at 2PM then hopping the Long Island Rail back to MSG where the currently undefeated Hockey Rangers host the rival NJ Devils. Okposo apps, Devils for dinner. Should be tasty. Perhaps even as filling as the Lombardi pies we ate in Little Italy today for dinner...OGA will inform. We hope you tune in to find out. Thanks for being here!
1. 4.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Day Two Wrap-up

The Caps kicked it up a notch in the 3rd period, and the tired Blackhawks simply couldn't keep up. Final score: WSH 4, CHI 2. Two goals for Ovechkin equals Much Rejoicing in D.C. I have to say that Ovie has the hardest WRIST shot I think I've ever seen.

After the game, we hopped back into our rental car and began our trek back to the Big Apple. We reached our hotel approximately one ETERNITY later, at almost four in the morning. The most notable part of the drive (aside from its' length) was crossing the Verrazano Narrows bridge and rolling up the Brooklyn-Queens Expy. If you've ever wondered what it's like to drive on a freeway that was built as an afterthought, shoehorned in amongst existing buildings, streets, rail lines, etc., then I highly recommend this narrow, twisting, turning, nightmarish masterpiece. I'm just glad that I drove it at about 3:30 in the a.m., so that I had the road almost to myself!

So ended Day Two. Next time: Day Three - a day of sightseeing around NYC.
1. 4.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

30 Year Deja Vu

OGA is at the Caps vs Hawks for opening night...and the journey was half the fun (battle). We started the day at the Empire State Building. After the Smiling Pumpkin Ale, we made our way via subway until the line was shutdown. We trekked it on foot for over 40 blocks, turned and burned in the car with a long drive thru mid-town Manhattan (yikes!) and then over four hours south on I-95 to the Nation's capital...for the Capitals! But one wonders if we aren't simply following the Blackhawks down their Eastern road trip. OV-1 has the game tying goal and this one smells like OT. OGA awaits...and will update you soon. 30 years since I last saw the Caps play in DC....
1. 4.

OGA's Excellent Adventure Continues

It seemed as though fate was conspiring against OGA earlier today. After a morning run into Manhattan for a business meeting, we were going to hop the 7 train back to our hotel in Queens, pick up our car and hit the road. We didn't count on the 7 train being shut down. After a leisurely 40-block stroll down Roosevelt Ave, we reached our car and hit the road.

A tragic error in judgment by a blogger who shall remain nameless led us to try to reach I-95 via the Midtown and Lincoln tunnels. Who knew that traffic through Manhattan on a Saturday afternoon would be so unspeakably horrible? Not me.

Long story short, we made it to Washington just in time for the 2nd preiod to begin. Looks like the Caps were waiting for OGA to show before they started playing. The 'Hawks led, 2-0, but we're now tied. The 3rd period is underway and the house is rockin'. More later...
1. 4.

Day One: NYC

After one day in NYC, I have the following observations:
1. If you go to New York, they give you free shoes. At the NHL Faceoff 2008 extravaganza, I won a free pair of custom (design your own) Reeboks. My son promptly confiscated them, but it was a nice welcome to the Big Apple, nonetheless.
2. New Yorkers are much nicer than the stereotype suggests. Salt of the earth, good people. Honestly, it's been an eye-opening experience.
3. New York Rangers fans are AWESOME. We sat up in section 420 (in the blue seats), and I was blown away by the spirit, the enthusiasm of the Blueshirt faithful. I look forward to going back to MSG for the Monday night tilt w/ the Devils.

More later-time to eat and run down to D.C. for tonight's game.
1. 4.

The Colonel and Crew In NYC

So after I blogged so eloquently on embarking upon the walk down the ramp to the plane as the crimson sun rose over the Red River, the Captain comes up out of his seat to tell us his lighting system is displaying some issues and it will take about an hour for the repair crew to arrive. We would all be more comfortable walking back up into the terminal for the hour or waiting, so would we please do so. Don't know about you, but I have been well trained by the Army to believe safety comes first, so if he needs the lights to fly safely, I will wait.

This immediately spun the wheels of 'How does this play out?' in my head. I figured the worse that could happen would be that I would arrive in NYC late and get down to MSG later than the puck drops, but I would link up with my brother, nephew and co-Managing Director of OGA. So the lesson learned when you purchase your tickets through Ticketmaster over the Internet and you are traveling in two groups, do like we did and print a complete copy of the tickets for each group. That is fine with any venue as long as you do not try to scan more than one of the same seat, so you just ensure you are ready to connect via text message or cell phone to find out which ones your partners have used, hope they haven't sold yours, and enter with it.

In any case, we were told in 15 minutes versus an actual hour that the plane was ready to fly, so a re-do of the boarding procedure began with me because I was originally the first one on and they were confirming by calling out your name to re-board. All in all though, we lost about 45 minutes, so it would be a very close thing to make my original connection.

I actually did after landing, running and riding the Skylink at DFW from the C to A to B terminal. With three minutes to spare. As I came around the corner with my ticket waving over my head, they asked if I was indeed me and scanned me on through. I even landed at LaGuardia Airport in NYC WITH MY CHECKED BAG on the aircraft. I am, needless to say, a big fan of American Airlines today.

I caught the shuttle to the hotel who came and got me when I called, and linked up with my group as they were returning from the NHL Store (see the Frozen Pill blogs done via cell phone already on The OGA Blogs). Having had toast at 4:30am and it was now 3pm in NYC, we were all hungry so went into Francesco & Giovanni's Pine of Queens restaurant here at the Holiday Inn LaGuardia. We were thinking hors d'vours and would order 'just a little something' from the menu. Chuck Rose from the Pine of Queens craftily distracted us with some great conversation about sports in general and the NY Rangers in particular as we ordered what turned out to be a HUGE amount of great food. We finished the meal, waddling out, the very picture of the Christmas Goose.

A few minutes to change into game jerseys and we were off to the subway for the ride to Pennsylvania Station and MSG. On the subway, we ran into Vito and Savy, also going to the game. If you are from the south, you come to New York hearing the hipe about New Yorkers being too busy to give you the time of day. We learned form Chuck Rose, Vito and Savy that such beliefs couldn't be farther form the truth. In Vito and Savy's case, they stuck with us on the train, got us right into MSG, and took us to our sections before the game because we were only spread apart by three of them. After the first period, we met Savy again who took us to the best of the two Rangers' merchandise stores (at Gate 75). We could not have been more appreciative of those guys who proved New Yorkers can be just as hospitable as southerners are and/or claim to be.

Attendance at this game for my brother and I was first spoken of in 1980, staring at MSG TV and the Rangers (Fotiu, Beck, Duguay and the like) after we discover Hockey during The Miracle. As we found out, better late than never is an appropriate term. At the risk of repeating some of what Frozen Pill may have already blogged, here are some of my first impressions:

  • The fans are RANGERS fans - LOUD and passionate. Heck, when the team wasn't on the ice yet, we entered the arena with them cheering for their section of the stadium.

  • We got there just in time for the coaching staff and players to be introduced, this being the home opener. There were loud cheers for several players, Coach Renny, and the loudest for Henrick Lundqvist.

  • The ceremonial first puck was dropped by Bathgate, Hall and Graves whose jerseys will be raised to the rafters this season. Drury and Toews took the draw, and in a case of foreshadowing, Drury won.

  • And there were several firsts in MSG:

At the :35 second mark, the first 'POTVIN SUCKS' cheer went up.

There was a flurry at the Rangers' net and Lundqvist made the first save at 1:51 of the 1st period. Korpokowski drew the first penalty of the season at the same time for Hooking.

The first fight of the season was at 4:01 of the 1st with Callahan fighting the 'Hawks Fraser - Callahan won.

The first goal witnessed by my brother and I in MSG (and for the season) came at 6:47 of the 1st by Redden from Drury and Naslund.

The first Chicago goal was by Kane on a spirited and speedy rush by Campbell.

The Rangers also won the second fight of the night and the game with great, overall defense, superior goaltending, and four, well-placed shots. Chicago was the speedier of the two teams, but the Rangers had enough defense when it counted.

Tomorrow is wake up and head out to Washington D.C. for the 'Hawks at the Caps in the Verizon Center. Until then, more to follow...

1. 4.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Jagr Shots at the Bar...

...are all on sale
1. 4.


We are here in NY Attending the home opener (North America) at Madison Square Garden and we are stoked! Now begins a series of mobile blogs on location from 4 Barns,at 5 games in 5 days. Rangers are up 1 - 0 in the first period. Loudest cheers for Lundqvist. This man is loved here. Oh, and first shout of "Potvin Sux" comes at 35 seconds in. Big thanks to our new friends Vito and Savy with whom we rode the E-train to Penn station and got the guided tour into the Garden. New Yorkers...some of the nicest folks around truth be told. Until of course the Hawks want to scrum in the corners...then it appears half the fans want to jump on the ice and have their turn. Love it. And the woman behind me just welcomed Zherdev as Spinderella. More to come after the first...OGA need beer...
1. 4.

OGA is in New York

OGA came by car, plane and trains to the opening of the 08_09 NHL Season. We hit the RBK NHL store at Rockefeller Center. Yes, new duds were purchased and we basked in the glory that is HOCKEY. Oh, and music was provided by the Zambonis. GAME ON!
1. 4.

Thursday, October 9, 2008


1. 4.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Scoring In The Average NHL Game by The Colonel


Here at OGA, we set out to define just what an NHL game looks like in terms of average performance. We wanted to know how teams score in that game and how it plays out so we can share that assessment with you. In the process, we found several, interesting definitions of what we call “The Average NHL Game.”

Just how did we do this? At OGA, we believe the game changed in order of magnitude with the new rules that followed the Lockout year. Then we counted. Heck. AND Dang. There have been 3690 regular season games played in those three years. That’s a lot to study in such detail when we are busy, frantically preparing to launch this site and evaluate the new season. So we chose to take a representative sampling.

For that sample, we looked at 12 games per team (360 total contests), randomly drawn from the October/November 2005, December 2006/January 2007 and March 2008 timeframes with no contests repeated. This is because we have found play is characteristically different, for different teams, in different seasons, and at different times of the year. (That’s a lot of difference...)

And then we further broke down each of those 360 games into five-minute blocks of time within each period, all on the whim of our lead researcher. You know the kind – he sits eating his donut in his cubicle and hollers great ideas over the divider but somehow doesn’t get the research done himself. In my military world, we call him 'The Good Idea Fairy.'

Except in this case, our researcher was on to something (good gut feeling, Tex!)…

Some Interesting Findings

The first observation discovered that defines the average NHL game actually comes from the sum of all 3690 games. It is the fact that NHL teams net an average of almost six goals in each game. This is not a huge revelation but relates to the overall model.

Past the above statement, when charting all goals scored for our 360-game sample in relation to their five-minute time hacks, we discovered an interesting trend as displayed in Figure 1 below:

Figure 1

That’s right – there are two, prominent spikes in scoring over the course of a typical game. Based on the averages from the sample, the first peak is 10.19% of all goals that are scored between 5:01 and 10 minutes of the second period. The second spike comes in the last five minutes of regulation where 10.77% of goals were registered. Over the remainder of the five-minute blocks, the percentage of goals scored averages 7.9% of the total every five minutes, so scoring is relatively ‘even’ for more than 80% of an average game. In mostly minor, measurable amounts, the overall scoring effort fluctuates up and down throughout a game, just like waves crashing on the shore. This is seen by all as those times where teams seem to be playing at an even effort with no scoring (the valleys), punctuated by periods where one team holds a momentum advantage over another that leads to a goal (the peaks). As you can see by the percentages, however, a game’s overall effort – and the result it generates – is still a very close thing.

Even more interesting was what we found at a second glance. Of the 360-game sample, 253 games (70.28%) displayed what OGA calls The Alternate Scoring Response (ASR). In those games, one team responded within the next five-minute block of an opponent’s goal at least once during the course of a game. While not every one of those goals either tied the score or changed who was in the lead, we at OGA believe the ASR is indicative of the intense will to win that resides in the heart of all Hockey players.

But what about that end-of-game spike? It’s all Empty-Netters from pulling the goalie, right? Our sample says that in games where any scoring occurred in the last five minutes of the game, the team that was behind on the scoreboard netted a game-tying goal 81 of 172 times (47.1%). Another 52 times (30.2% of total time), the score going into the last five minutes had more than two goals separating teams, so very rarely, if at all, involved pulling a goalie. That left only 39 instances / 22.7% of all games where empty net goals were scored. (This 360-game sample percentage is higher than the actual NHL statistics for empty net goals scored over the last three seasons where only 16.2% of all 3690 games ended with an empty net goal.)

The Effort As Boxscore

Taking into account the 360-Game Sample, the ASR and Figure 2 above, the ‘average’ game’s scoring as represented in a modified boxscore occurs as in Figure 2 below:

1st Period: In our model, one goal (16.67% of scoring) occurs in the first period between 10 and 15 minutes into the game by Team A. This figure seems to run contrary to a report by NHL.com columnist John Kreiser (see John’s article dated 21 MARCH 2008). Kreiser’s column, however, does not take into account either empty net goals, an undeniable characteristic in about 16% of all games, or statistics from the 2007/8 season. It is likely these statistics added into his calculations would not display much variance. But it is also not lost on OGA that empty net scoring was up in 2007/8 while at the same time scoring was down an overall 10.03% if 2005/6 is used as a baseline measurement.

2nd Period: The first goal scored by Team A – based on the ASR – is countered in the first five minutes of the second period by a goal from Team B. The second period spike indicates another goal is scored toward the end of the 5:01-10:00 block, again based on the ASR, by the opposing Team. These two goals equal 33.33% of all scores in this model.

3rd Period: Team A will add the forth goal of the game to start this stanza. This allows for 29.72% of the time when the ASR does not yield an alternating score. Team B will fight for and tally a score – goal number five – in the 10:00 to 15:00 minute block and will likely be looking to pull their goalie in the last 1:30 of the game in an attempt to tie and force extra periods. By the OGA model, a final goal will be scored in the last five minutes of the game, totaling three in the third (or 50% of the total). The model above shows the goal being scored by Team A and does not indicate if it is an empty net goal. The 360-Game model tells us this will be the case 52.92% of the time. For the rest of the time, it is either not scored, or is a game-tying goal, sending a contest into bonus Hockey time.


This is a model only, and, as we all know, does not occur as depicted in every game. Such is the constraint of an average model. But the model highlighting the ASR and spikes in scoring is of interest in how we view games. But the revelations of the second period and end-of-game scoring spikes and the Alternate Scoring Response are interesting to contemplate. Even in looking at 2008 NHL Pre-Season games ending on 30 SEPTEMBER, the scoring indicated 40-of-60 games with reportable stats / 66.7% displayed spikes in either the second, and/or end-of-the-third, period, and 29-of-60 / 48.3% of games displayed the ASR.

A study to contemplate direct to you from OGA. If any of you have played and/or coached hockey and know why the scoring spikes or ASR occur, write us and we will present the best responses at a later date.
1. 4.

Friday, October 3, 2008


3 October 2008

So all the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty back together again. Or so the tale goes in TORONTO. Thus, TORONTO embraces the re-build of their team. What other choice do they have? There are cap limits, players who won’t commit, players who won’t allow themselves to be traded and fans who lose sleep seeing their historic hallmark mired in the bottoms of the league they helped build. The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS have missed the playoffs for all three seasons since the lockout. The last time the LEAFS missed the playoffs for three consecutive years was 1926-1928. Danger, Will Robinson. Danger.

But this city wants back in. These fans need it and despite the mass of criticism towards the management (and even government involvement!) there are still men on this team who have given their lives to the idea of one day playing with the world’s elite in the NHL. It minimizes these player’s hard work and desire to not believe these men want more - or are capable of more.

For now, TORONTO swims at the bottom of their pond but they will surface for air. It’s been too long. And since they will be forced to succeed with youth and players who must still prove they belong at the NHL level (never mind the fact they play in the city with the Hockey Hall of Fame), the LEAFS must play with the team they have. So pay attention while the young players turn this club around. You’ll want to say you were there with them all the while, even through the dark days. It may not be this year they re-enter the Cup Quest, but this is the year it begins.

One major distraction persists, though. Mats Sundin won’t commit to return and won’t commit to another team and won’t commit to retiring. We’ll get to that later in the report.

As stated yesterday, this SPR is to be a more optimistic view to the most discussed NHL team and their current woes. But we see the hope of a new day, a new season and a new beginning. It takes a TEAM to compete and qualify for Lord Stanley’s Cup Playoffs. So here in the OGA Season Preview Report we’ll evaluate the team’s performance against the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) in the second half of this blog and discuss how the modern LEAFS turn this season and give OGA all kinds of trouble… and fun.

During the course of the 2007/8 NHL Season:
  • The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS finished -5.0 against the PQC
  • The LEAFS’ finished (you may forget) in middle of the NHL (15th) on Power Play percentage (17.78%)
  • The LEAFS’ finished a not-surprising 29th in the league on Penalty Kill percentage (78.13%)
  • Demonstrating a serious need for effective offense, the team finished 24th (total points) in the league, but 5th in shots-per-game (31.00)
  • The LEAFS’ have not advanced to the Stanley Cup playoffs in the New NHL since the lockout.
In the previous season, OGA was not able to call the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS OUT of post-season play until the end of their 50th game (23 JANUARY 2007). In the two seasons previous to last, OGA had called the LEAFS IN post-season play only to find our forecast incorrect as their play imploded like one of those light bulbs soon to be illegal in Canada. THE LEAFS fall into OGA’s “13% Club” (OGA calls are made with just over 87% accuracy) and this is one reason OGA is excited to evaluate their play. We look forward to the surprises TORONTO may deliver in this new season. So let’s evaluate their historical performance in the New NHL (post-lockout) against the PQC and how it is the LEAFS have proven to be so tricky.

(cont)…We continue our TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS Season Preview with hard stats compared to the OGA-developed Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) and the team’s trends as measured against the PQC. And since this is the final SPR for the Frozen Pill until the first drop of the puck on the new 08-09 NHL season, we will end with some fun.

This team is all over the place but they consistently play below the Curve. Until this trend is reversed, the LEAFS will continue to bear the burden of increased scrutiny from all perspectives. But they, perhaps more than any other team, have tested our PQC analysis to its extreme. In the 07-08 NHL season, OGA was unable to make the call on whether this team was IN or OUT of the playoffs until the 50-game mark where they finished a dreadful -4.0 against the PQC.

In the season previous (06-07) we believed the LEAFS strong start had propelled them to qualifying play by the end of Game 20. A month and a half later (30 DECEMBER 2006), they managed to disqualify themselves from any chance of post-season play. In the 05-06 season, again we thought they were close to playoff qualification by the end of Game 20. By 2 JANUARY 2006 we evaluated their performance against the Curve and called them IN. The LEAFS then proceeded to lose 9 of the next 10 games, forcing OGA to reevaluate. Ten games later, after having lost another 7 out of 10, they had proved us incorrect and disqualified themselves from playoff contention by 4 MARCH 2006.

Thus, the ‘13% Club’ was born. OGA makes the call of IN or OUT as early as the end of OCTOBER each season. We have a formula and this work is not easy. Fortunately, TORONTO makes OGA work more diligently to perfect our PQC…and makes this fun. Surely, that’s how the fans see this trying time in LEAFS history. Fun.

The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS have averaged a PQC Rating of -2.5 the past three seasons.

Remember, it takes a team to win or lose and it is the team’s performance we evaluate on a strictly analytical basis. Any challenge to our methodology is welcome and rest assured, as fans of this game, we can relate to the pain. After viewing our graph below, you will see the LEAFS played a much more consistent game last season (compared to the two years previous) and we expect to see more of the same in the 2008/9 NHL season.

This season, the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS’ first 10 games of the season are played 9 OCTOBER – 29 OCTOBER. Our research indicates they earn a PQC rating of 5.3 during this time frame. The LEAFS will begin play in the 08-09 season with only 2 games of their first 15 against the Western Conference. Seeing their Eastern neighbors for 13 of the first 15 games this year should help the LEAFS with yet another traditionally strong start in play as measured against the PQC, regardless of what comes later.

Some statistics of note to manage your expectations in to late OCTOBER are:
  • Post lockout, the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS’ record in the first 10-game segments is 12-10-8
  • The LEAFS, over the past 3 season, have played in 13 of 30 games requiring OT or a shootout
  • Two of the three LEAFS’ season openers have required OT or a shootout to determine a victor; one resulting in an OT loss, the other resulting in a shoot-out loss. They have lost all 3 season openers
  • Over the previous three seasons, in OCTOBER, the LEAFS have 14 Wins where OT or a shootout was required for the victory
  • The LEAFS have lost all 3 home season-openers since the lockout and in the first 10-game segments have lost 13 of 21 (61.90%) at home
  • The team’s 3-year per-game averages: 3.03 GF and 3.25 GA
OGA will be measuring the LEAFS against their three-average PQC Rating of -2.5 in the first 10 games (as well as with all other NHL teams) in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS Game 10 Report. The G10R will be delivered to our subscription customers by 2PM Central on 30 OCTOBER and available for purchase online by 2PM Central, 31 OCTOBER. See the OGA store for more details HERE. You can also view a sample for our G10R HERE. (Make sure to view all 3 tabs!)

OGA KNOWS. You can, too.

OVER the previous three years (post-lockout), the LEAFS earn a PQC rating of -2.5. They have also earned honorable mention for the following statistics of note to On Goal Analysis:
  • The TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS are 1 of 7 teams to miss post-season play in all three years since the lockout
  • In back-to-back games, TORONTO has 18 Wins and 27 Losses during the previous three seasons showing a trend towards losing in b2b games (67%)
  • On MONDAYS, the MAPLE LEAFS have Won 15 of 21 games (71.43%)
OGA will be measuring their team performance against the PQC online and via our Game Reports available for purchase. For your best value, see our subscription information HERE. In the meantime, stay tuned to The OGA Blog and check out the TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS G10R for a thorough review of the team’s performance as measured against our proprietary PQC.

Now, we promised a little bit of fun to wrap up the Frozen Pill’s On Goal Analysis Season Preview Reports. Enjoy below and then be sure to read all three of today’s SPR releases and keep checking back with us at www.ongoalanalysis.com because OGA KNOWS. Now you can, too.

It’s only a puck until you take one in the teeth. Then, it’s a Frozen Pill...

The recently acquired secret photograph showing the LEAFS’ strategy for the 08-09 season

…And as promised, OGA will never leave you hanging. To conclude the matter previously discussed of the incredible legend that is Mats Sundin….

1. 4.


3 October 2008

What a difference a year makes. In 06-07, the Canucks finished 1st in the Northwest Division and lost to Anaheim in the Conference Semifinals. In 07-08, Vancouver missed the playoffs. What happened, and what can be expected in 08-09?

In the three seasons since the Lockout, Vancouver has only qualified for postseason play once, in the 06-07 season. They have finished an average of +.5 against the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC). That average is somewhat misleading, however, as 06-07 was the only season in the last three in which the Canucks have finished above the PQC (+5.5).

Of note from last season:

· Vancouver was 7th in the NHL in Goals Against/Game (2.51), but 23rd in Goals For/Game (2.52)

· They tied Chicago for the best Win Percentage when leading after 2 periods (.931)

· The Canucks were 25th in the league in Win Percentage when allowing the first goal (.225)

· Just six players finished the season with 10+ goals

· Vancouver used eleven different defensemen in 07-08
The Canucks’ woes last season were rooted in their injury-plagued defensive corps. Chemistry is just as important among defensive pairs as it is with forward lines, and Vancouver had far too many injuries to d-men to allow that chemistry to develop. This forced an already-thin group of forwards to focus more on defense, which in turn led to fewer scoring chances and/or goals for the Canucks. “For want of a nail, a shoe was lost, for want of a shoe, a horse was lost…” So went last season for Vancouver.

In the offseason, the Canucks chose an interesting route to effect change, beginning with replacing GM Dave Nonis with Mike Gillis, who chose to retain Head Coach Alain Vigneault. Team captain (since 2000) Markus Naslund and Brendan Morrison were allowed to depart via free agency, and “Johnny Canuck”, himself – Trevor Linden – retired. To fill some of the holes up front, Pavol Demitra, Steve Bernier and Kyle Wellwood were brought in. Much more will be expected of Ryan Kesler, as well, if Vancouver is to have a legitimate shot at a playoff berth in 08-09.

The Canucks’ first ten games of the season are played 9 – 30 OCTOBER. Our research indicatesthat through the first ten games, Vancouver earns an average PQC rating of 6.0 and about 12 points in the NHL standings. In 07-08, Vancouver started slow and was -1 against the Curve at Game 10. The Canucks then surged above the PQC over Games 11 – 40, putting them on the bubble for a playoff berth. After Game 40, however, injury woes along the blueline began to impact team performance, and the Canucks slipped back down to the PQC for good. Interestingly, of the 27 teams for which OGA made a call prior to their mathematical clinch or elimination, Vancouver was the last team in the NHL to be called OUT by OGA in 07-08, on 1 APRIL.

Some statistics of note for OCTOBER:
  • Post-Lockout, the Canucks are a combined 17-11-2 through the first ten games
  • Vancouver opens at home against Calgary on 9 OCTOBER, then embarks upon a six-game road trip (18-18-5 on road last season)
  • The Canucks’ record through the first ten games has fallen each year, from 8-1-1 in 05-06 to 5-4-1 in 06-07 and 4-6 in 07-08
OGA will be measuring the Canucks against their average PQC rating of 6.0, as well as against other NHL teams, in order to provide you more in-depth analysis with Vancouver’s Game 10 Report, due to season subscribers by 2PM CST on 31 OCTOBER, and available for order from ongoalanalysis.com by 2PM CST on 1 NOVEMBER. (See a sample G10R here…)

In perhaps the most interesting off-season move of all, the Canucks designated goalie Roberto Luongo team captain. While NHL rules forbid goalies to actually wear the “C”, it is indicative of Luongo’s status as both an on- and off-ice leader and the cornerstone of the franchise. Last season, Luongo strapped the team to his back and carried them to within three points of a playoff berth. In 08-09, with a healthy blueline corps and consistent secondary scoring, the superstar goalie shouldn’t have to do all the heavy lifting to get a rejuvenated Vancouver club into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Well, that concludes OGA’s Season Preview Reports. Tomorrow, the puck drops in Stockholm and Prague, and as Sherlock Holmes said, “The game is afoot!” Check out The OGA Blogs throughout the season for in-depth analysis of all 30 NHL teams, and don’t miss our G10R’s for each team. On average, OGA will call six teams IN or OUT of the playoffs by the end of OCTOBER, and you’ll hear it first in the G10R!

Until tomorrow, Big Tex says, “Try the sweet potato pie, and wash it down with the ice-cold beverage of your choice!”

TAKE ME BACK TO www.ongoalanalysis.com