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Friday, October 30, 2009

The Panthers are now Dr. Malcolm Crowe - by Big Tex

For those of you who didn't read this post or haven't seen The Sixth Sense, Dr. Malcolm Crowe was Bruce Willis' character in the aforementioned film. Just like Dr. Crowe, the Florida Panthers don't know they're dead (as far as the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs are concerned). With their Game Ten loss to Ottawa, On Goal Analysis calls Florida at TEE TIME - OUT of the playoffs.

Obviously, this is a big disappointment, particularly after the Panthers came this [ ] close to making the playoffs last season, losing the 8th seed in the East to the (unworthy) Montreal Canadiens in a tie-breaker (there's no doubt in my mind that the Cats would've been MUCH more competitive against the Bruins last April). Unfortunately, not only are they NOT building on last season's almost-success, but Florida seems to have taken a step backwards. Key factors in the Panthers' demise:

1. A slow start for David Booth (9GP, 2-1-3, -5), followed by a concussion just as he seemed to be getting in gear.

2. Uneven goaltending. Thus far, Scott Clemmensen has not met expectations raised by his performance in New Jersey last season. Of course, he doesn't have the Devils playing in front of him, either. Tomas Vokoun simply hasn't been good enough for Panthers fans to forget about Craig Anderson.

3. The stats, man, the stats: In every key statistical category considered by OGA, Florida ranks no higher than 19th in the NHL. The two most important categories, however, tell you all you need to know: 2.10 Goals/game (28th) and 3.80 Goals Against/game (29th). In fact, the Panthers rank 28th or lower in 7 of 10 key stats. Ugh.

Though we've called Florida OUT, there's still a sliver of hope. After all, On Goal Analysis' Playoff Qualifying Curve-based calls are only right about 90% of the time, and the Panthers haven't dropped below the level of the PQC-busting 2007-08 Washington Capitals. We'll continue to monitor Florida throughout the season, and let you know if anything changes.

On a personal note, we OGA Boys really enjoyed having Whale4ever, aka Donny, of litterboxcats.com on JabberHockey (the OGA BlogTalkRadio show) last weekend. While we had a rather long list of questions for Donny, the hit on David Booth was (naturally) the primary topic. OGA extends to young Mr. Booth our best wishes for a speedy and full recovery, and not just because we have him on several of our fantasy teams.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

TOR@DAL - OGA at the Game

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Oh, Great. Stars face super-duper Maple Leafs Tonight


OGA's game2watch tonight sees the Toronto Maple Leafs in a rare appearance at the AAC in Dallas.

And the On Goal Analysis crew will be at the game with one representative watching from the Press Box.

For the first time in two years, former Star Niklas Hagman returns to Dallas. Hagman is one of the reasons the Leafs are beginning to play with a little more confidence and had a hat trick in their previous game in Anaheim.

Another item OGA will be watching is the play of the Monster. Remember, when it came down to the wire, Jonas Gustavsson was trying to choose whether to sign with Dallas or Toronto in the off-season. Well, he comes to Dallas at least for tonight. Tonight's game will have some added flare, I am sure.

So now, we have to face the Maple Leafs after they simply roasted the Ducks the other night?

Just great. The Stars, who are not playing poorly, are playing inconsistently as they work to understand and implement their new style and game plan under the new coaching staff.

We haven't seen this many Dallas defensemen charge the net like we have this season since the near-riot of the 10-cent Beer Night in Fort Worth against the Dallas Black Hawks.

The Dallas Stars are currently third in the Pacific with 14 points, only two behind leading Los Angeles. But the Stars have yet two win two games back to back this season. It's early, but don't you know they could use a two-game winning streak?

And don't you know that's exactly what's on the mind of the Toronto Maple Leafs today?

h/t to Frozen War Room

Both teams, coming off of big wins, will be hungry tonight. And the OGA Crew will be on hand to watch, blog, report and tweet the game to you.

Whilst Frozen Pill and Big Tex will indeed be happily planted in the un-cushioned seats, The Colonel will be in the Press Box, courtesy of Pierre McGuire and will be watching the action as TSN brings the game to the TV viewers. So we hope to bring you some unique insight, from various views around the American Airline Center, as we attend the game tonight.

Please join us on The OGA Blogs, follow our Twitter accounts and join us tonight as we surround the game.

And obviously, a huge thanks to Mr. McGuire for hooking a Colonel up.

Follow The Colonel on Twitter here. @Pelican4
Follow Big Tex on Twitter here. @OGAs_BigTex
Follow On Goal Analysis on Twitter here. @ongoalanalysis

And if you happen to be AT the game this evening, click here and let's meet up!

And remember, as always, check our homepage for the latest for where the teams are falling in on the OGA PQC Status Spectrum. You know you need some.

Take me to www.ongoalanalysis.com

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Big Bustin' Dufflin vs The Wild Things

You know, it's just an 'update a previous blogging adventure' kind of day.

If you didn't see it on the page, you have to read Big Tex's update on the 'Game-Winning Save' Theory posted this afternoon.

And then I saw something that required a bit of a retro-fit post, as well...

On two previous occasions, I had found reason to recount the pure hockey splendor of having attended my first live game at Madison Square Garden and watching the fabled Blueshirts step out of the tunnel and emerge on the ice, basked in the spotlight while Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up', cranked to the hilt, lifted the home crowd's cheering at the opening of the 08-09 season to the Hockey Heavens...

It was during our OGA Road Trip, the First where the On Goal Analysis crew traveled to New York for 5 NHL games in 4 days. For a recant of that first, now one year old post, click here. If really interested, you can listen to our archived hockey talk show, where we reminisced on our big Field Trip, on it's first anniversary here.

I revisited my moment of hockey nirvana for a second time here on the blog during the off-season when one thought led to another and I began thinking of the use of modern music to help sell the game.

(I will have an update on that topic coming later in the season, too. And all I'll hint at here is the fact an Austin, Texas 4-piece has dominated the ear-waves for music used to promote NHL hockey the last couple of years...)

But the next day after my second post, I saw the just-released trailer for the new Spike Jonze movie version of Maurice Sendak's childhood classic, 'Where the Wild Things Are'. And they were using 'Wake Up' in the promo. It was a nice little convergence of things I quite enjoy and thought, 'cool.'

Then I see this today. And it all comes full circle. Big Bustin' Dufflin is Max without his Wolf Suit.

Simply Awesome. Go Hockey.

Dustin Byfuglien's glance to the side and smirk at the end of delivering his line lets you know just how much he enjoyed checking that Wild Thing into the glass...and how hard it was for him to keep a straight face.

Seriously, though, I heard the play is under review by the league and there may be an undisclosed fine for Big Buffy to pay in the foreign currency of the Scuderi. Or perhaps a two-game suspension for committing the Ott of War on an unsuspecting hockey Monster.

Unclear message means message not heard. Understand?

But seriously, message way heard with the great commercial previewing the Chicago/Minnesota game. Kudos.

And if you didn't click to read the Frozen Pill August 09 post I referenced above, you missed the video of the live performance of the song, wherein they are joined by David Bowie. Definitely worth a listen if you care for such things as great songs.

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The Game-Winning Save UPDATE - by Big Tex

On the first day of the 2009-10 season, I wrote about a theory I’d developed last season and called it the Game-Winning Save (GWS). For those of you who don’t feel up to reading my original post, here’s GWS in a nutshell:

If a team trails by one goal at any point in the 3rd period and takes a shot which hits the post and does not go in the net, that team loses the game every time.

For more about the reasoning behind this, you’ll just have to read the original post. In the meantime, after watching a great many games over the first three weeks of the season, I have some results to report:

GAME 1: (Saturday, 24 OCT) San Jose 4 @ Atlanta 3. Evander Kane scores 40 seconds into the 3rd period to make the score 4-3. 48 seconds later, Rich Peverley hits the post.

GAME 2: (Monday, 26 OCT) Islanders 2 @ Montreal 3 (OT). Montreal leads, 2-1, and with 7:25 remaining in the 3rd, Bruno Gervais hits the post. The Isles score just over three minutes later to tie the game, but Montreal finishes them off in OT.

According to the Accounting Department, that makes two games in which the GWS theory has proven true. It hasn’t been disproven (yet), but there’s always an exception to the rule. If you should happen to see a Game-Winning Save-related event – whether proving or disproving the theory – please let me know, either via email (matt@ongoalanalysis.com) or Tweet (@OGAs_BigTex). Before you go emailing or Tweeting, however, there are a couple of rules to keep in mind:

1. The shot off the post must take place in the 3rd period.
2. At the time of the shot, the shooting team must be trailing by one goal.

Simple, right? So far this season, I’ve only seen the above criteria met in two games. It’s not easy, primarily because shots off the post aren’t normally tracked as a game statistic. What it boils down to, then, is something you have to see with your own eyes, either by watching the game live or in highlights (thank you, NHL Network). I’m going to track this to the best of my ability, but feel free to let me know of any instances you witness of a team either proving or dis-proving the theory. I’ll post more updates as conditions warrant.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Monday, October 26, 2009

25OCT JabberHockey Archived and Available

Yesterday's JabberHockey is archived and ready for the listening. If you weren't able to join us live yesterday, make sure to mark ye calendars for each Sunday at 5.30ET and bookmark the JabberHockey page here so you can join us each week.

Yesterday's broadcast was a dandy. We were joined by Whale4ever from www.litterboxcats.com, the must-read Florida Panthers blog featured on the SB Nation network. Obviously, we had to learn the latest on David Booth and we discussed 'the hit' and the local reaction.

Whale also did a great job bringing us all inside the State of Hockey in Florida - what's new, what's different and how the game is growing.

We even talked about the 'Get Well Soon' card Craig Anderson sends south from Colorado.

And for the first time in the young season, OGA was able to discuss some of our IN/OUT calls made this previous week. It's time to evaluate the teams hitting the 10-game mark and we already have some ideas who you will see in the playoffs next April.

You can listen in on the discussion as OGA claims the Colorado Avalanche have met our PQC criteria for an appearance in the 09-10 NHL Playoffs and we call them at 'Chasing Stanley'.

Now how's that for hanging them out there?

And we have other OGA Calls you might be surprised by. So give a listen, won't you?

Just go to the On Goal Analysis home page and find the archive player half way down the left column. Give ye olde play button the clickity-click and listen in. We appreciate it and think you will, too.

And join us each Sunday on JabberHockey! OGA Knows. And you can, too.

take me to www.ongoalanalysis.com
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Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Colorado Avalanche are...IN?!?!? - by Big Tex

The Colorado Avalanche finished the 2008-09 season dead last in the Western Conference and 28th in the NHL. If you read my Season Preview Report on the Avs, you'll notice that I make no mention whatsoever of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs. In fact, if you told me back in September that Colorado would be the first team called CHASING STANLEY (IN the playoffs) by On Goal Analysis, I would've launched into a classic song:

Well...take an umbrella when you leave the house today, because elephants are a-flyin': With a record of 7-1-2 through their first ten games, the Colorado Avalanche are now CHASING STANLEY!

How can OGA make such a call, you ask? Well, it's fairly simple: The Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC) don't lie, baby. It may be mistaken on occasion, but it never lies outright. Last season, in fact, it was right almost 90% of the time. The OGA Boys will hang their hats (and reputations, such as they are) on that, any day of the week.

If you're not wowed by the PQC (though you should be), consider this: The Avalanche are currently tied for 7th in the NHL in goal scoring, averaging 3.40/gm...They're tied with Calgary and Atlanta for the best Power Play (28.6%)...The Avs' Penalty Kill, at 81.4%, is a respectable 11th...And, last but certainly not least, Colorado is allowing just 2.30 goals/gm (4th). These statistical nuggets, when combined, add up to 1st place in the Western Conference and (according to the PQC) a berth in the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

That's one down, twenty-nine to go. More teams' fates may be decided tonight, and for ten measly bucks, you can get a season subscription to OGA's Daily Tip-In Report (DITR) and be the first kid on your block to know who's IN and who's OUT.

And as long as we're going out on a limb here, I'm going to pick Craig Anderson for the Vezina Trophy. The Avs live or die with him, and so far, they're livin' large.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Friday, October 23, 2009

New York Rangers at Game 10 - by Big Tex

Thursday night, the New York Rangers played their tenth game of the 2009-10 season, which means it's time for a team status report from On Goal Analysis:

After the first furlong, the Rangers are 7-3-0 (14 pts), 2nd in the Atlantic Division (2 pts behind Pittsburgh) and 4th overall in the Eastern Conference. At Game Ten last season, OGA called the Blueshirts CHASING STANLEY- IN the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This season, however, back-to-back home losses to San Jose and New Jersey have given us pause, so we'll call the Rangers SHARPENING SKATES at Game Ten. What does this mean? Well, you could read The Tao of OGA for an explanation, or you could simply finish reading this sentence, which says that it means the Rangers are playing above the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), but just below the level required for us to call (with almost 90% accuracy) them IN the Stanley Cup Playoffs.


The Rangers goal-scoring woes of last season appear to be history, as they're currently potting an average of 3.70 per game (3rd in the NHL). At the other end of the ice, they're only allowing 2.60 per game (5th).

New York's Power Play, which last year was a pitiful 13.9% (29th in the NHL), is currently firing on all cylinders at 27.3% (T - 6th). The Penalty Kill (86.0%, 5th), meanwhile, hasn't dropped off like it was expected to following the offseason departures of Blair Betts and Fredrik Sjostrom.

On an individual level, the Blueshirts have many pluses: Marian Gaborik (10GP, 7-6-13, +5) has been everything Glen Sather could've hoped for, and more (he hasn't missed a game...yet)...Ales Kotalik (10GP, 4-6-10, -3), who's never scored more than 25 goals in a season, is on pace to top 30...Vinny Prospal (10GP, 3-9-12, +5), reunited with coach John Tortorella and playing on Gaborik's line, has found new life in New York. Think he expected this? His player profile photo says it all...Rookie blueliner Michael Del Zotto (10GP, 4-5-9, +1) is just 19 years old, is quarterbacking the Rangers' Power Play, and is improving with every game...The list of "plus" players could go on, but you get the idea: The Rangers, both as a team and as individuals, are playing quite well right now. Before moving on to the minus section, however, I feel compelled to include Wade Redden (10GP, 1-3-4, +3) on this list. Last season, I bagged on him mercilessly, and he earned it. So far in 09-10, however, Redden has been a pleasant surprise. While he will never play at a level high enough to justify his monster contract, Redden has been solid - even dependable - in the early going, and Rangers fans should be pleased.


At this point, the only team stat worthy of genuine concern is Faceoff Percentage (48.4%, 23rd in the NHL). The Rangers must improve on the draw, both to generate more scoring chances in the offensive zone and to reduce the number of scoring chances allowed in their zone. Because they're scoring goals in bunches, the fact that the Blueshirts are only taking 29.6 shots per game (18th) isn't particularly alarming. It could indicate, however, a need to work on puck possession and sustained pressure in the offensive zone, as they seem to score quite a few goals off the rush.

As for individuals, Chris Higgins (10GP, 0-2-2, Even) is still searching for his first goal as a Ranger, and now finds himself on the 3rd line...Ryan Callahan (10GP, 2-3-5, +2) is doing the little things well, but so far isn't putting as many biscuits in baskets as hoped. To be fair, the Fickle Finger of Fate has been a factor, as in Callahan's broken-up breakaway against the Devils (a great diving poke-check by Oduya)...Michal Rozsival (10GP, 0-3-3, +1) earns a minus for spending the first several games looking like he didn't even want to be on the ice. In Game Ten, however, Rozy looked like a different player. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.


On the road again...New York plays seven of their next ten games on the road, including a three-game swing through Western Canada. Fortunately, the Rangers will have four days off after playing at Vancouver, Edmonton and Calgary, as their next (home) opponent will be the speedy and surprising Atlanta Thrashers. Another bit of good fortune: there are no back-to-backs in this furlong. Other road games are at Montreal, the Islanders, Minnesota and Ottawa. In addition to Atlanta, the Rangers host Phoenix and Boston.

Look for the Blueshirts toughest road tests to come in Edmonton and Calgary. Back at MSG, however, don't expect any of the three games to be easy. This will be a challenging furlong for the Rangers, but from where they stand right now, it won't take much to push them over the top and force OGA to call them CHASING STANLEY at Game 20.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

2010 Winter Classic Preview Tonight!

Tonight, the Bruins, losing talent by the day like a Bear does it in the woods, come into the Wachovia Center to take on the very well rested Philadelphia Flyers in their first meeting of the 09-10 regular season.

Both teams will play in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on New Year's Day (1PM ET) and NHL.com today launched their Winter Classic website in anticipation of tonight's match-up.

If you didn't check out the Winter Classic site last season, make sure to click on the link above and bookmark the page so you can check back often.

The articles, pictures and interviews will get you pumped and ready for the holidays, I tell ya. And just like Halloween turns into Thanksgiving turns into Christmas, the Winter Classic will be upon you sooner than you think.

Last season, they had a webcam trained on the construction of the rink and facilities inside of Wrigley Field on the Winter Classic page for the entire construction process. Very nice to watch it go up and like I said, gets you in the mood for a special day of hockey.

This year, the game is on in Boston's historic Fenway Park. Construction will begin soon and here's a nice article on the 'Ice Man' getting the planning part wrapped up. If you haven't taken a second to imagine the complexities involved in putting an NHL rink inside a football or baseball stadium, it's worth a read. If not already, you will appreciate the dedication to the process.

And OGA will be looking for that webcam again this season, too.

For tonight's match-up, the Bruins come into Philadelphia missing some key ingredients. As everyone points out, Phil Kessel is in Toronto now. But he has yet to play this season due to injury and I am sure Boston has already dealt with the idea of adjusting to NHL life without Phil Kessel.

What they were not prepared for was losing Milan Lucic (broken finger, now on IR) and Marc Savard who will now be out 4-6 weeks with a broken foot. These injuries book-ended trading away Chuck Kobasew to the Wild. Yikes. All of a sudden, the Bruins are looking for some scoring. Time for the youngsters...

For the Flyers, the hockey situation could not be more different. They have played one game in the last 11 days. They are eager and chomping at the bit to get the season back on. The start-stop beginning has seen them flounder a bit (winless in last 3) but tonight gives them the perfect opportunity to get the FlyerExpress rolling. Ten practices over the last eleven days should help.

They will play the first of three games in four nights tonight. Coach John Stevens has put Arron Asham on the second line with Mike Richards and Simon Gagne, hoping to clear up some ice for goalless Gagne to get his season going after a poor start.

Claude Giroux will now play on the third line with rookie James van Riemsdyk. I would keep an eye on this line as they will have a lot of talent on the third line (skating with another tough presence in Ian Laperriere) while Boston will focus on the top two scoring lines. Giroux and van Riemsdyk on the third line could open things up tonight if the combo clicks.

Ray Emery will start his seventh game in a row and tonight's battle will begin the saga leading to the Winter Classic.

All in all, more hockey goodness and just another of the thousands of stories in the fresh, young season. Tonight's game is on the NHL Network so if you don't have Versus, no fear. If you don't have the NHL Network, time to call the carrier.

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com
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Dilemma of the Day: The Early Games

Hockey fans, I have a problem:

Because I have the Center Ice package, rather than GameCenter Live, I can only watch one game at a time (which is good, because I can really only focus on one game at a time). Tonight at 6:00pm EST, the puck drops on THREE games I'd really like to see:

New Jersey @ NY Rangers - As a long-time Rangers fan, I feel compelled to watch my beloved Blueshirts beat the puck outta the hated Devils...which might not be so easy, because both Marian Gaborik and Ryan Callahan could be playing at less than 100%, and New Jersey is undefeated on the road. I don't see the Rangers coming back from their humbling 7-3 loss to the (also hated) Sharks with anything less than a "W", though.

Boston @ Philadelphia - The Bruins arrive in The City of Brotherly Shove without Marc Savard, Shawn Thornton or (gulp) Milan Lucic. Patrice Bergeron will center the B's top line. Think the Flyers are licking their chops? This game should be interesting...and possibly bloody.

Washington @ Atlanta - Ovie meets Kovy, as the Capitals and Thrashers battle tonight for Intergalactic (or at least Southeast Division) Domination. Seriously, if Atlanta wins, they'll wake up tomorrow atop their division. Sure, it's early in the season...but not too early to make your division rivals sweat.

Three games, one lousy TV. Decisions, decisions...

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Top and Bottom 5 on 19 October – The Colonel

You have felt it without truly knowing it: there is a certain character displayed by your favorite team’s play that produces about bursts of energy in which they ‘own’ their opponent. There are many factors that dictate this. Overall team conditioning and stamina may create more dominant goal scoring late in a game. Likewise, a particular coaching system or style might produce a team scoring advantage.

Here at OGA, we thought we’d analyze this for the top and bottom five teams in the NHL as of games completed on 19 October in order to gain some perspective about the disproportional play between winning and losing teams. We were not disappointed as we found two, key differences between the bookends of the NHL standings.

The Top Five

As of 19 October, the top five teams were PIT, NYR, COL, CHI and CGY. These five teams displayed two overall tendencies in terms of scoring. First is that all teams produced multi-minute spans of consecutive time in a one or more periods where at least three goals were scored. Our coined phrase here is ‘Point of Domination’ or PoD. The longest sequential PoD is the 5th through 8th minutes of the 1st period for CGY in which they averaged almost two goals per minute. Specific PoD’s for these teams are listed below:

PIT – Minutes 4 – 6 and 12 – 14/2nd Period and 7 – 9/3rd Period; Avg of 3 G’s
NYR – Minutes 6 – 8/1st Period and 1 – 3, 12 – 14 and 18 – 19/3rd Period; Avg of 3.5 G’s
COL – Minutes 4 – 5/2nd Period; 4 G’s
CHI – Minutes 5 – 7, 9 – 11 and 13 – 14/2nd Period and Minutes 3 – 4/3rd period; Avg of 3.5 G’s
CGY – Minutes 5 – 8 and 10 – 12/1st Period + Minutes 18 – 19/3rd Period; Avg of 5 G’s

Across these PoD’s, a total of only 7 of 56 goals scored (or 12.5% of them) were what we like to call ‘Comeback Goals.’ These are goals netted within five minutes of an opponent’s score as a team pushes to regain momentum in the game. This suggests overall team play was more often dominant than not in their contests.

PoD-wise, team character also indicates three of the five teams (PIT, CHI and CGY) play a style of game that is hard-charging right from the opening faceoff. The NYR tend to finish a game strong, possibly indicating their conditioning and team drive are superior to their opponents.

The second tendency displayed in scoring was the fact all of these teams generated at least one dominant period of play where they produced double-digit goals while out-pacing their opponents’ scoring by about 1.5 goals to each one allowed. Suffice it to say with a little license taken that a ‘Span of Domination’ – SoD – exists in winning teams’ characteristic play. By team, the SoD’s are:

PIT – 1st and 2nd Periods/1.82 : 1 Goal Differential
NYR – 3rd Period/3 : 1 Goal Differential
COL – 2nd Period/1.75 : 1 Goal Differential
CHI – 2nd Period/1.4 : 1 Goal Differential
CGY – 1st Period/2 : 1 Goal Differential

PIT seems to wear down opponents in the early going where they produce 31% of all scoring in the form of Comeback Goals. The defending Cup Champions therefore attempt to demoralize opponents throughout a game.

The NYR display a tendency to be a strong closer over the seven wins they have earned since the beginning of the season. A full 20% of their scoring comes between Minutes 12 – 18 of the final frame.

COL and CHI owe their success to 2nd period SoD’s that are enough to carry them through to victory. The only later trend visible is a span of a goal every other minute over the middle nine minutes of COL’s 3rd Periods.

And CGY comes out like gang busters in the 1st frame, trailing off more and more each period thereafter except for a three-goal producing effort in the final two minutes of games.

Taken together, the presence of PoD’s and SoD’s are a measure of when team dominance occurs in games for the Top 5 teams in the league.

The Bottom Five

At the other end of the spectrum, your bottom five teams on 19 October were TOR, MIN, NYI, MTL and FLA. Of these clubs, three in particular (MTL, TOR and FLA) displayed a single PoD of three goals each in one period of play. They are:

MTL – Minutes 18 – 19/1st Period; 3 G’s
TOR – Minutes 2 – 4/2nd Period; 3 G’s
FLA – Minutes 17 – 18/3rd Period; 3 G’s

MTL produces an interesting note here. The Canadiens have scored three goals over the 18th and 19th minutes of the 1st Period, and another two goals in the 19th minute of the 2nd period. Could it be that psychologically speaking, they are expending more positive effort in order to secure a less strenuous redress between periods?

Long Island fans should note that of all 10 teams, the Islanders have scored the second most Comeback Goals. This can be taken as a potential sign of a team that does not give up and is on the verge of defending a lead versus chasing one.

Toronto’s was the only PoD that extended for three minutes and was exactly one goal per minute. The remaining two teams did not display any PoD’s. Apparently, a lack of multiple PoDs over one or more periods is an indicator of not being able to compete at the same level as teams leading the League standings.

And as for the SoD, none of the bottom five teams outscore their opponents in any regulation period of play. The NYI have scored as many goals as their opponents in their 2nd Period, and the same is true for MIN in their 3rd period. Both MTL and MIN have outscored their opponents in OT, in both teams’ cases the only games they have won since the start of the season. So our conclusion here is that teams who cannot dominate one or more period’s span of time will have trouble leading the League standings.


In studying how teams score, two evaluation factors stand out. Points of Domination are consecutive minutes of play where three or more goals are scored, producing pressure on opponents that is difficult to overcome. Whether a result of the team’s system of play or conditioning, if it is not present in multiples over one or more period of play, it is not a recipe for a winning percentage of play.

The other key measure is a Span of Domination where a team’s scoring has outpaced their opponent overall for an entire period. Winning teams have at least one period where this is the case, while the bottom five teams do not. Failure to establish an SoD is likely to indicate a team that is not in the top tier of the League.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis

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10.18.09 JabberHockey Archived and Ready

Go to www.ongoalanalysis.com and find the blogtalkradio player half way down the left column under JabberHockey. Click 'play' and have a listen to the OGA Boys discuss current hockey offerings, the games2watch and listen as we revisit our OGA Road Trip, The First where OGA started the 08-09 season in NYC to catch 5 games in 4 days from MSG to the Phone Booth to the Igloo.

While listening, have a gander around the homepage and check out the standings and last night's scores. Also take note of the OGA PQC Status Spectrum above the picture in the middle.

These are the colors of our times. We are nearing the 10-game mark for many of the teams and you are soon to see some of the team names (in the standings) move from the default 'In The Curve' yellow to their newly-earned, proper coded-color in the PQC Status Spectrum.

And once it starts, it doesn't stop. All season long you will see teams on the ice vying for points. But at OGA, we know ahead of time how it translates to their playoff chances. Yes, even now, this early, we can make the call.

Last season, we did so with almost 90% accuracy. Often and early. And it all begins again this week! What will our 09-10 Report Card look like? We'll have to let the games play out to see. But, after you listen to the archived JabberHockey, go to the OGA Report Card page here and see how we fared last season.

For the 2008/9 NHL regular season, On Goal Analysis (OGA) predicted who would be IN or OUT of the playoffs with 89.7% accuracy and an average of 84 days before the same mathematical call. Using On Goal Analysis' proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), teams were analyzed along a minimum standard that equals entry into the 2009 Playoffs and labeled at Chasing Stanley - IN - or at Tee Time - OUT - of post-season action. How did the calls unfold as the season progressed? Find out here…

And if you are wondering how, make sure to read the TAO of OGA.

Also, please remember to join us every Sunday, 5.30 ET for JabberHockey. Our house is open.
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Monday, October 19, 2009

Monday, Monday: Day 49 of the Lockout

The NHL steps back onto the ice tonight after a rare day off, playing three games. Of the three contests, the most compelling (in my not-really-all-that-humble opinion) is San Jose's rare visit to Madison Square Garden. The New York Rangers are red-hot, having tied the best record through eight games in franchise history (7-1-0). San Jose's play has been a bit uneven in the early going (as evidenced by their 4-3-1 record), but Dany Heatley (5G, 5A, +3) has been en fuego. The Rangers, of course, have an answer for Heatley in Marian Gaborik (6G, 6A, +8). Coming into tonight's game, both teams are undefeated when scoring first, so...unless this game is scoreless going into a shootout, that stat is going to change for one team. This is the game to watch tonight, provided you don't have DirecTV (like me, dammit). If you do have DirecTV, this is Day 49 of the Lockout, and you'll have to look to the other two games of the night for your hockey fix:

Los Angeles @ Dallas (8:30pm EST): The Kings' wheels-off road show comes to Dallas. This is the final game of a six-game road trip for Los Angeles, and they've lost the last three. Dallas, meanwhile, is 1-1-1 at home and 0-1-1 when Big Tex is in attendance, so expect the Stars to take full advantage of my absence tonight and kick the Kings while they're down.

Vancouver @ Edmonton (9:00pm EST): The injury-depleted Canucks (3-4-0) limp into Edmonton for an intra-Canada skirmish. The Oilers (4-2-1) are reaping the benefits of a rejuvenated Dustin Penner (5G, 4A, +5) (Honorable Mention: Mike Comrie (3G, 3A, +4) ), while the Canucks enter the game with 50% fewer Sedins than normal. Team Captain Roberto Luongo will have to stand tall in the crease if Vancouver hopes to earn a point (or two) tonight.

This looks to be a big week across the league, as On Goal Analysis could POTENTIALLY call as many as FOURTEEN TEAMS either IN or OUT of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by Sunday, 25 Oct. That's right: the fates of almost half the NHL could be decided this week. How do we know what we know? Check out 'The Tao of OGA' for an explanation, and our 2008-09 Report Card to see our results.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Friday, October 16, 2009

JabberHockey this Sunday, 5.30PM EDT -OCT18

Take a moment to mark your calendars for this Sunday's episode of JabberHockey, On Goal Analysis' weekly hockey talk show on blogtalkradio.com. We go live on Sunday, October 18th, 2009 at 5.30PM EDT.

That equates to other times in the world on Sunday, so you may need to do a little digging of your own to nail that down. But here' s how to make it easy - click on the JabberHockey page here and set an email reminder.

You will get an email, reminding you of our show before the start time when you check 'Remind Me' under UPCOMING EPISODES. . And we'd like to have you join us.

This Sunday, OGA's 1st scoring line revisits the anniversary of the First OGA Road Trip - our journey at the opening of the 08-09 season to the East Coast to take in 5 games in 4 days. The double-matinee on Columbus Day last year was a highlight as was the 'drive from downtown Manhattan to DC in rush hour traffic to catch a Capitals game and then drive back to NYC after the game' portion of the trip.

We'll also revisit the 3 (or was it 4?) games chosen on last week's episode as ones to watch...and if they they warranted the recomendation. We'll discuss games2watch for the upcoming week as well as an extended session of 'FanFantasy', the weekly roundtable on fantasy hockey.

Listen and/or call in with any comments about your favorite team or the game at large. We love it all. Please join us!

take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Day-to-Day (concussion)

Just a quick post here on two of the Frozen Pill's teams. While peeking at some standings and points and fantasy league results, two thoughts occurred:

Thought 1. Awesome game last night in Carolina. I can't wait to watch this one again on the NHL GameCenter Live archive player when available. And folks who may have been tuned in to other games (or the folks in Nashville who may have just simply turned their TVs off) should make sure they have seen this dandy save on the ice last night...(below)

Thought 2. Haven't we had enough of politicians lately? What the dickens is so Dickensy-hard about getting a privately-funded, job-creating, real-estate stabilizing huge influx of goodness into that field where they want to put the Lighthouse (where the old building already is).

So, in betwixt deciding whether or not to use free-agency to build an all-rookie team for the OGA Pool (in order to keep my contribution to the season-fun interesting) I thought I would pass along a little highlight action and a little ranting. And perhaps a little fantasy delusion or two as I scour the NHL for rookies and young-guns to blow up my team with...

A Shot, A Save. Goalie-Cam Scores

Here is a nice little save from Cam Ward in last night's duel between last season's Eastern Conference finalists, PIT@CAR. This was one of the games the Frozen Pill picked to watch on last Sunday's JabberHockey and it was indeed a tasty bit of hockey. The two teams had a chance to get re-acquainted for the new 09-10 regular season and it almost appeared as if Ward and the Penguins' Bill Guerin tried to shake hands - stick to glove.

We at least know a quick-moving puck was exchanged:

Watch Guerin's expression when Ward makes the save.
Guerin: (looking to heaven) Dear, God... (looking down at Cam Ward) Nice Save.

And Ward made 35 others as well to try to keep the 'Canes in it. It took the sixth Penguin shooter in the shoot-out to decide this one. Proper props out to Goalie-Cam for an excellent performance last night.


The Frozen Pill hyped up last season's playoff performer Jussi Jokinin as one fantasy player to watch (Under the Radar) this season since he will be settled and starting the campaign fresh after joining Carolina last season. So far, he leads the 'Canes in points (5) with 2 goals and 3 assists and still merits your attention.

But Eric Staal fans can also take heart...especially those of us who have him skating on our fantasy teams. A bit of a respitory bug (read: muscle tightness) had moved its way through the Carolina locker room and Staal may not have been playing at 100%. But we all know he is a great player and will put up points...even after slow starts like last season. Besides, he's second on the team in shots (23) and you just know those Staal wristers are going to start hitting their target sooner rather than later. Keep the faith and don't keep him on your bench.


A RANT. Begin Trasmission

The Lighthouse Project hangs in peril while a small band of low-level politicians continue to push against the idea of a complete make-over and revitalization to the community and those around it.
Sounds like a Trade Federation Blockade to me. Assuming huge chunks of change, mostly put up by a group of private citizens in a capital venture to create a premier destination as an investment (and the resulting job creation) is exactly what the folks in the Town of Hempstead don't want - the city council should reconsider whether they are serving the needs of their constituents or their own preferred interests.

Time to put away the petty and start to rebuild. The New York Islanders ON the island is a piece of history and a legacy they should not be so quick to dismiss. Eventually, our representatives, the 'guardians' of our future, will need to go Up or Down on the Lighthouse Project and stop fretting over nuance when there is some life to live on Long Island. End Transmission.


Meanwhile, look at left wing Matt Moulson go. With all the attention on the Long Island Ice-T, the sneaker coming in at exactly pick 263rd overall (9th round) in the 2003 NHL entry draft, Moulson leads the Isles with 17 shots and is a team-leading +3. That's a plus 3. He has two goals and two assists and might just be worth keeping an eye on as a free agent in your deeper fantasy leagues. Believe it or not, if things turn better for the Island, an eventual Rick DiPietro return may spark something interesting this season and the Isles are looking for goal scorers to open up play. Don't neglect them on your scouting ventures.

Lastly, OGA would like to remind you to use the blogtalkradio.com tool (just under the title of the Upcoming Episode) to set an email reminder for JabberHockey, coming this and every Sunday at 5.30PM Eastern.

And please see an example of the Daily Tip-In Report (DTIR) OGA provides you each and every day to keep you in the know. OGA Knows and you can, too. For $10.00 you get the DTIR subscription for the entire season and the soul-warming confidence you get when you support small business.

It's the economy, stupids. Build it.

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com
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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Colorado: Playing with the Freedom of Low Expectations

The following email arrived early this morning:

Big Tex,
I just glanced at the Western Conference standings, and I saw the Colorado Avalanche in the number one slot. Are the standings in alphabetical order, or is this just a typo? Please help – this is hurting my brain.

Mike B.

Well, Mike, what you’re seeing is neither a typo nor the result of an alphabetization of the standings: Simply put, it’s what happens when a team plays with something I like to call the “Freedom of Low Expectations”. By that, I mean that the team has no hope (expectation) of qualifying for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, so there is no pressure on them to perform. In the absence of pressure, the team plays only for pride and/or for love of the game. They can take chances, as a loss carries with it no serious consequences. Meanwhile, most of their opponents are still battling for a playoff spot, so they grip their sticks tighter and take few (if any) chances, playing with a grim determination which barely masks their fear of failure (pretty good hockey psychobabble for a Native Texan who majored in Rangeland Ecology and Management, eh?). When those two teams meet, the one with nothing to lose often has a distinct advantage.

What makes Colorado’s case unusual is that the “Freedom of Low Expectations” is the third stage of the season for a non-playoff team, and isn’t normally reached until February (at the earliest). What are the three stages, you ask? Read on:

STAGE I: Early season playoff possibilities = pressure. The 2008-09 Atlanta Thrashers are an excellent example. Through Game 28 (when they were called at Tee Time by OGA), the Thrashers felt the pressure to perform – to strive for a playoff spot – while simultaneously adjusting to a new coach and system. They didn’t fare well, posting a record of 9-15-4, and being called OUT of the playoffs by OGA on 12 DEC 2008

STAGE II: The Bruce Willis/Sixth Sense Stage. During Games 29-54, the pressure placed on the Thrashers increased, because just like Bruce Willis in The Sixth Sense, they didn’t know they were dead (no, there wasn’t a Spoiler Alert. If you haven’t seen the movie by now, you never will). During this stage, Atlanta went 9-16-1.

STAGE III: The Freedom of Low Expectations. Shortly before their mathematical elimination from the playoffs on 21 FEB 2009 (Game 60), the Thrashers must’ve seen the writing on the wall/figured out that rather shocking plot twist, as their play improved dramatically. In Games 55-82, Atlanta posted a very respectable record of 17-10-1, surprising several playoff-bound clubs who expected them to simply roll over.

The entire Colorado organization has known since 12 APR 2009 that the 2009-10 season would be dedicated to rebuilding. The only expectation the rest of the NHL had for the Avs coming into this season was for them to battle Phoenix for last place in the Western Conference. Now, six games in, the Colorado Avalanche have taken full advantage of the Freedom of Low Expectations and sit atop the West with a record of 4-1-1. In the weeks and months to come, it will be interesting to watch the Avs as either A) They start to believe they’ve got a shot at a playoff berth and increase the pressure on themselves accordingly, B) The rest of the NHL starts taking Colorado seriously, or C) Both.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Character Test for Calgary - by Big Tex

Was the Chicago Blackhawks’ epic (6-5-overtime-comeback-from-a-5-0-deficit) win over the Calgary Flames the best Columbus Day game ever? I’m just askin’, because I have DirecTV and the game was on Versus, so…I can say that I thoroughly enjoyed watching the Rangers (metaphorically) pull down the Maple Leafs’ pants and spank them in front of an enthusiastic MSG crowd. In between periods of that game, I caught chunks of a hard-fought Lightning win over the cross-state rival Panthers, as well as a bit of the Penguins-Senators game. All in all, a pretty good night of hockey…except for missing the game on Versus. Are you listening, DirecTV? I ain’t happy.

While the young ‘Hawks should pat themselves on the back for turning a humiliating home rout into the greatest comeback in franchise history (tied for greatest comeback in NHL history), the fact that Cristobal Huet surrendered 3 goals in 53 seconds is definitely cause for concern. Equally concerning is the performance of backup Antti Niemi, who looked (based on the two goals he allowed) completely unprepared to play hockey Monday night. All blame for Calgary’s five goals shouldn’t lie with Chicago’s goalie tandem, but neither one turned in a confidence-inspiring performance. What’s Manny Legace’s phone number?

On the flip side, at least Chicago can look back on this night as a character test passed with flying colors. Calgary, on the other hand, has nothing but questions and regret. Seriously, in the National Hockey League, how do you blow a 5-0 lead? As a result of the Flames’ Columbus Day Massacre, tonight’s game in Columbus represents a serious character test for Calgary. Final score aside, the way the Flames play against the Blue Jackets will go a long way towards answering the “Contender or Pretender?” question. Without a doubt, Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock watched the Flames-Hawks game, and will have his team “dug in” and ready for an all-out assault from an angry Flames team. In Sunday’s JabberHockey broadcast, I picked Calgary at Columbus as my Game of the Week, primarily for the match-up of Calgary’s top-ranked PP (43.8%) against Columbus’ top-ranked PK (94.4%). Monday night's meltdown, however, only makes tonight's game much more interesting.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Monday, October 12, 2009

JabberHockey Archived and Ready!

If you weren't able to catch yesterday's edition of JabberHockey, the On Goal Analysis weekly hockey talk show on blogtalkradio, please go to our home page where you can listen to the archived podcast of yesterday's show.

Just go to www.ongoalanalysis.com and look on the left-hand column, about half way down for the player. Click 'Play' and listen as the OGA Boys discuss the ongoing hockey story in Phoenix with a twist. We asked OdinMercer for his take on what is rarely heard - the local story.

OdinMercer of Five For Howling, the featured Phoenix Coyotes blog on the SBNation network, joined us for a solid, enlightening conversation about the start of the Coyotes' season as well as efforts to keep the team in Phoenix - and what hockey means to the local community.

Please have a listen and also make sure to join us each Sunday on JabberHockey at 5.30PM Eastern every week where we discuss what's currently burning barns in the NHL, our PQC and what OGA Knows. We also discuss a little fantasy hockey each week so there really is something for everyone.

Unless, of course, you don't like hockey and would prefer we discuss 3-legged puppy dogs. Then you're just out of luck. But I'm sure we could work it in somehow...

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com
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Saturday, October 10, 2009

A Testament To Parity – The Colonel

Tuesday night, 6 October has been my favorite night of the new NHL season so far.

That’s because NHL night number six serves as a testament to NHL parity. We say this because of seven games: two were decided by one goal; two won in OT; two more went to a SO; and the last game was a two-goal, see-saw decision. What may be causing this parity, you ask? We can only respond with ‘…Several things.’

Parity Reason #1 (P.R.1) – New Coaches and Coaching Staff

Some of this is inevitably due to the fact many teams are playing under a new coach and system and it takes time and game situation knowledge to make the adjustments more ‘normal’ to players on the ice. On 6 October, seven of the 14 teams playing were doing so under a new coach and staff.

P.R. #2 – Goaltending

Firstly, you have an issue with goaltending. The likes of none other than Brodeur, Luongo and Nabokov who normally reign supreme in the NHL have been a good measure less than stellar. When they are winning, their teams are practically unbeatable. As of 6 October, however, VAN was 0-3 with Luongo getting the gaff in one game, NJD was 0-2, and SJS was 1-1 with Nabokov pulled in the 2nd Period of the 6 October Sharks/Kings game. The question for this P.R. is when will these netminders find their sea legs and change the early fortunes of their teams? Luongo may have answered with his solid performance on the 7th of October, but Nabokov is still erratic and Brodeur’s only victory required a Shootout against Tampa Bay.

P.R. #3 – Goal Scoring

The average winning margin through 6 October was 1.84375 goals per game. Interestingly, 22 of 59 games (37.3%) through 6 October were decided by two goals or less. Just for reference, last season’s first six nights yielded an average winning margin of 1.8387 goals per game with 26 of 31 games (or 83.9%) decided by two or less goals. Sounds like last season was more ‘pare,’ but it is also not lost on OGA that three of seven games included a point in the game where one team came back from a two-goal deficit to make the game interesting. The OTT @ TOR game ended 2 – 1 in a SO where no two-goal deficit was ever reached. But the remaining three games never held more than a one-goal deficit between opponents at any given time.

P.R. #4 – Special Teams/Circumstances

Through the games of 9 October, 63 of 306 goals – 20.6% - have been scored by one or the other special teams on the ice. On the night of the 6th, 26 of 49 total goals (53.1%) were scored some way other than even strength and in regulation time.

So new coaches and systems, goaltending issues, goal scoring methods and special teams or circumstances combined to make 6 October a night of parity in the NHL. Wow!

Highly entertained, we at OGA ask the NHL for nights like 6 October!
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Friday, October 9, 2009

JabberHockey Show Outline for Sunday, 11 OCT 5.30PM Eastern

This Sunday, OGA's weekly hockey talk show, JabberHockey will feature OdinMercer, Editor-in-Chief for the excellent Phoenix Coyotes blog, FiveforHowling.com - one of the featured NHL blogs of the SBNation.

We will begin the show with OdinMercer's recap of Saturday's home-opener in Phoenix - where hockey matters.

Saturday night's tilt will bring out the wild dogs and OdinMercer will be with us to share his thoughts on Phoenix's first look at new coach, Dave Tippett and this team's forming identity - that of the potentially roaming pack who have nothing to lose and a team to forge.

We also want to know just what it will take to keep hockey in the desert and what grass-roots movements are in place (or forming) to ensure a continued NHL presence and growth of the game, in general, in this non-traditional market.

And we really like the fact we will discuss all this the day after Phoenix's SOLD-OUT 'White Out' Opener in the desert.

The OGA Boys will then spend the rest of the hour discussing our Stand-Out games of the previous week and how all 30 teams' are performing as measured against OGA's proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC).

Which teams are moving up on the PQC Status Spectrum (Sharpening Skates, anyone?) and which teams are Dusting off Clubs so early in the season? Each game brings OGA a little closer to knowing and we like to share.

We will then round out the show with one game we are each looking forward to in the coming week and also some fantasy hockey analysis. This week, we continue our discussion from our last show on just what does constitute a fair fantasy trade offer for Alex Ovechkin.

Please go to the JabberHockey show page and set yourself an email reminder to join us on Sunday, October 11th at 5.30PM Eastern for what promises to be a barn-burner...in the desert!

And please remember to visit www.ongoalanalysis.com every day throughout the season for scores, blogging and the ever-changing PQC Status Spectrum!

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

First Impressions: Monday Night

Only two games in Hockeyland last night, but what games they were...

Rangers 3 @ Devils 2

New Jersey scores just 1:10 into the game, and Blueshirts' coach John Tortorella uses his only timeout fourteen seconds later to (stealing a line from A Christmas Story here) weave a tapestry of obscenity for (at) his team. The wakeup call was just what New York needed: They went 2-for-6 on the Power Play en route to a 3-2 win at the Rock.

Impressions: First, I have DirecTV, so my impressions are based on highlights and game recaps (dammit). Second, I'm a big fan of Torts' timeout tirade. Obviously, it was effective. Third...the RANGERS scored TWO Power Play Goals? The RANGERS scored TWO Power Play Goals! Don't question it; just say, "Thank you", and move on. Fourth, rookie d-man Del Zotto has a PPG and a helper, and rookie d-man Gilroy scores the game-winner. It's early, but it feels good, baby.

Blue Jackets 5 @ Canucks 3

The Vancouver Canucks entered their home opener after losing to division-rival Calgary, 5-3, and getting smoked by Colorado(!?!?), 3-0. Chang (or is it Eng?) Sedin scores the game's first goal, and the crowd holsters their sidearms. Columbus ties the game in the final minute of the first period, then chases Roberto Luongo from the crease with three goals in under four minutes early in the middle frame. The Jackets then go into a defensive shell and wait for VAN to pull within one, which they do at 7:37 of the third. Columbus puts the game away with a PPG at 16:03, and Canucks fans are placed on suicide watch.

Impressions: First, I have the Center Ice package, so I DID get to watch this game. Second, the Blue Jackets' first PP of the game featured a plethora of what Donnie Shulzhoffer called "that tippy-tappy-tic-tack passing", which was quite pretty but ultimately pointless. Like Shulzhoffer, Jackets' coach Ken Hitchcock is not a fan of that sort of play, either, and he let his team know it: On subsequent Power Plays, Columbus simply moved the puck out to the point and let Tyutin put it on net, with good result. Third, I added Sergei Shirokov to my fantasy roster based on his pre-season greatness, but I found myself wondering if he was a healthy scratch until the third period. Fourth, if Columbus can play all season long with the combination of skill and grit they displayed last night, they WILL make some noise in the playoffs next April (and possibly May). Fifth, while I think it's far too early to panic in Vancouver, I'm wondering if management is considering Denis Savard-ing coach Alain Vigneault. Regardless, the Canucks as a whole (and Vigneault in particular) are now firmly planted on the hot seat...in early October.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis
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Monday, October 5, 2009

One Or Three Things For 10 Teams – The Colonel

Game (is definitely) on! The first weekend of the 2009-10 Regular Season has come and gone and we have found a few interesting things here at On Goal Analysis to blog about. In this case, it is about any key notes for the 10 teams I cover (ANA, ATL, BUF, EDM, MIN, NJD, OTT, STL, TBL and WSH) and any trends shown by STL and WSH who have played more than one game so far. And I will close out with emphasis on any games of note to watch this week.

10 Teams in 10 Minutes:

Anaheim. The Ducks opened with a loss. Does this make you nervous? Since The Lockout, they are 2-2-1 in opening games. More specifically, they have begun the first five games over the previous two seasons with one win last year and one win and a SOL the year prior. Three W’s and two SOL’s in 2006/7 equals 4-1 in the first five, so keep the faith, Ducks fans.

Atlanta. OK. You got us. We were completely fooled by your 2-3-1 preseason play. Out came the Thrashers with Captain Kovalchuk in the lead. An impressive win, with only two road games at the end of the week to play. Let’s hope the longer time between games does not throw off ATL’s battle rhythm.

Buffalo. The Sabres’ experiment of playing without off-season additions of note has begun. Tim Connolly’s PPG during the second minute of the 1st Period seemed to send a message before MTL netminder Price shut them down. They need to continue to throw 30+ SOG per game at their opponent, however, and things might just go their way.

Edmonton. The Battle For Alberta I is complete with no joy at the final buzzer. The forwards came to play, however, responding in less than five minutes of playing time to CGY’s 1st and 3rd game, and led off scoring in the 3rd. Character is definitely there – the W’s just need to come with the hard work.

Minnesota. The Wild’s first and only goal of the night came on the PP from the top line’s forwards. Playing a defensive juggernaut, MIN still managed 33 SOG, an improvement of 5.5 over last season’s per-game average. You will be seeing much more of Brunette-Koivu-Havlat on the scoresheet throughout the season.

New Jersey. Martin Brodeur’s 1000th game was spoiled by five GA and a loss to red hot PHI. Look for Brodeur to come out much harder in net tonight, especially since it is against New York. If the past is an indicator, however, it may be a difficult row to hoe as NJ is 1(OTW)-3 in Game 2s since the Lockout.

Ottawa. Ottawa failed to get a point for the first time in a season opener since the Lockout. They are 4-1 in Game 2’s as well, but this season’s Game 2 is at Canadian rival TOR. The last goal of Game 1 was a character goal, scored when the game was well decided and by the youngsters. So possibly we ARE seeing a change in the locker room’s character.

St. Louis. WOW! 2-0 to start the season, and both victories over Division rival DET to boot. Most Monday talk shows agree the weekend showed them that STL simply looked like the stronger team. At least against DET, the Blues like the middle period most. Even more specifically, four of nine of their goals were scored in minutes 12 – 14 of the 2nd Period. Since all were even strength, it is not an indicator of DET lapses of discipline equaling penalties and PP opportunities. Instead, it is potentially a point in the game where the Blues have extra zip in their skates. I will continue to monitor the team for this kind of trend.

Tampa Bay. Defeated by ATL, the Lightning were down 4-0 mid-way through the 2nd Period and fought their way back to a 4-3 deficit before succumbing to a PPG and a Kovalchuk goal not even a minute-and-a-half later. The score sheet indicated all of the Lightning’s big names (St. Louis, Hedman, Ohlund, Stamkos, Lecavalier and Tanguay), so there is no need to panic after only one game.

Washington. The Caps have two complete with two W’s to their credit. Going into tonight’s games, they also have the top three scoring players in the Eastern Conference in the form of Ovechkin, Laich and Semin. It’s only been two games, but they are showing themselves to be a 1st-Half team. By that I mean seven of 10 Goals scored have all been before the conclusion of the 10th minute in the 2nd Period. Curiously, in that same period of the time the GWG for Washington had also already been scored. While TOR made the game interesting in the last half, BOS never really was in it for the season opener. This is another trend I am going to monitor.

This Week, In Closing

And in closing, I would like to underscore a few games of interest this week I mentioned in a blgo sent to The Scores Report for publication:

Tuesday, 6 October and Saturday, 10 October where TBL plays two intra-divisional games against CAR.

There are two tilts of note on Thursday, 8 October. CGY @ EDM is big because of the pure emotion The Battle of Alberta (II) brings. Also, NYR @ WSH is their first meeting since the Rangers’ Game 7 Eastern Conference semi-finals ouster and Donald Brashear plays his first game against his old teammates.

And on Saturday, 10 October you should watch ANA @ PHI for two reasons. First is that they will be somewhat fatigued playing in their third game in five nights on the road. The main reason people will watch this game is because it will be Chris Pronger taking on his old team for the first time.

So game on, folks! Get to the store for the chips and beverages and settle into the chair IF you are not going to the arena. I’ll be back next week with analysis more in depth in nature because we will have had several more games to contemplate.

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com
1. 4.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

On Goal Analysis Launches JabberHockey!

Please join us Sunday, October 4th at 5.30PM EDT for our premiere episode of JabberHockey, On Goal Analysis' weekly Hockey ChatCast on Blog Talk Radio.

Go here and set a reminder for our show and please tune in as the OGA Boys cover the extended opening weekend of the NHL 2009-10 regular season.

On this week's ChatCast, we will discuss our 2008-09 regular season Report Card - the one we're not afraid to bring home. We will discuss in detail how OGA was able to call teams IN or OUT of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, on average, 84 days before the mathematical call was made. And we did so with 90% accuracy.

How do we do what we do? Well, we can't give away the farm, but we will peel back the curtain a bit on our proprietary PQC - the Curve we found teams must play along (or above), lest OGA be forced to call them at Tee Time.

Our weekly JabberHockey talk show and the daily DTIR are your season seats to are our unique insight into which teams will qualify for the 09-10 playoffs. And it's not too early to start thinking about it. OGA knows...and you can, too.

We will also discuss Big Tex's theory regarding the Game-Winning Save. Get a preview of the discussion by reading his post here.

Also, OGA will discuss just exactly what constitutes a fair trade proposal for Alex Ovechkin in your fantasy league. You may be amused to know someone in an OGA-played league actually proposed a trade for his Gr8ness and the proposal was accepted.

But what happened when the rest of the GMs had a chance to vote on the proposed trade? And who were the players offered in return for OV-1? You'll have to listen in to find out...

Tune in today at 5.30 PM EDT for all this and also our analysis of the start of the new season. We invite you to not only tune in, but call and discuss any little thing that tweaks your hockey membranes in this jubilant time of year. The heat is subsiding outside, but is getting cranked in frozen barns across North America and Europe. Hockey is upon us.

Bookmark us and listen at www.blogtalkradio.com/jabberhockey every week for our unique hockey analysis and insight. And please join the conversation by calling during our show - (347) 857-4848. We hope to hear you there.

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Testing a Theory: Game-Winning Save - by Big Tex

Okay, so the first draft of this blog died a merciful death when I realized that it sounded like I was writing a scholarly piece for The Scientific Journal of Hockey Statistical Analysis for People Who are to Hockey Statistics as Trekkies are to Star Trek. While anyone who has memorized the Corsi Ratings for the entire 2007-2008 Tampa Bay Lightning roster would’ve eaten that stuff up, I felt that a rather large segment of the hockey-loving populace – about 98% (+/- 2 percentage points) – would stop reading as soon as they hit the first references to sample size and game segment subsets. After a failed attempt to crumple up my monitor and throw it in the wastebasket (in retrospect, I should’ve just opened up a new Word .doc), I began again, in a much more reader-friendly format:

Last season, I watched more hockey than ever before (thank you, NHL Center Ice!). As the season progressed, I became aware of a particular trend, which is summarized best by the following statement:

If a team is trailing by one goal at any point in the 3rd period and takes a shot which beats the goalie but rings off the post, that team (the team which hit the post) loses the game…EVERY SINGLE TIME.

In game after game, I saw this scenario play out. Remember Game Seven of the Stanley Cup Finals? The Penguins’ post came up big in that one. Many a Game-Winning Save was made by an alert goalpost last season…more than I can recall, in fact.

***NOTE: I realize the term, “Game-Winning Save,” is ridiculous, as there’s no such creature. If a goalie stops 24 of 26 shots in a 3-2 win, how can you decide which of his 24 saves was the “GWS”? You can’t. Also, shots which hit the post don’t count as either shots or saves, officially speaking. I’ve decided, however, that GWS is much easier to manage than a Shot Off the Post in a One-Goal Game (SOPOGG), and much more family-friendly than a Post-Interdicted Scoring Shot (PISS)…although the headline, “Heatley takes a PISS in 3rd; Sharks lose to Stars, 4-3” holds a certain appeal…but I digress. Game-Winning Saves they shall be.***

Once I noticed this trend, the three-year-old in me asked the obvious question: Why? Why does hitting a post when down by a goal in the 3rd period guarantee a loss for the shooting team/guarantee a win for the defending team? After much rumination on the subject, I came up with a theory:

A glance at goalie save percentages in the NHL (Chris Osgood excepted) indicates shooters will only beat goalies on about one in ten shots. Factoring in shots off the post reduces goalie save percentages slightly, which improves the shooters’ odds somewhat – say to three in twenty shots. A goalie will only be beaten a finite number of times in a game, so a shot off the post is not merely a save, but a GOAL DENIED…and in a one-goal game, it’s the Game-Winning Save, every time.

This all makes perfect sense to me, but I’ve had all summer to think about it. Starting today – 1 October 09 – I intend to test this theory. All season long, I’m going to keep track of one-goal games I watch in which the trailing team hits a post in the 3rd period. I’ll post the results periodically, or if I can get enough hockey fans to send me the Game-Winning Saves they witness, I’ll find some space on the On Goal Analysis home page to keep a running total. If you’d like to test this theory with me, email me at shotoffthepost@ongoalanalysis.com with the date, teams, final score, and a very brief explanation (if needed), like: 1OCT, VAN 3,CGY 2. 2 posts for CGY. Or, if email is too “20th century” for you, send me a Tweet ( @OGAs_BigTex). And if you should happen to watch a game which proves this theory wrong, I really want to hear about that.

And now, all I can say is…GAME ON, BABY!!!

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