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Monday, August 31, 2009

OGA SPR: The Atlanta Thrashers – The Colonel

Today we bring you The Atlanta Thrashers' Season Preview Report (SPR), the second in our 30-team series...

Last Season versus the PQC: Called at Tee Time – out of the Playoffs – at Game 30 /12 December 2008 and completed the season a 4.1 for the No. 13 slot in the East. This was their third worst attempt since the Lockout and only about a 6% improvement over the last two years. Playing below their post-Lockout average PQC all year, they nevertheless showed some improvement over the last 22 games of the season. OGA stated in last season’s preview report that the tale of Atlanta will be told by Christmas and this was indeed the case. The wheels started coming off the cart after Game 20 where they had a lone OTL to their credit in their next five games and then only averaged 4.83 wins in every 10 games throughout the rest of the season. What they needed was closer to six wins in every 10…

Post-Lockout average PQC and what to expect this season: Atlanta averaged 4.33 against the PQC over the last four seasons with their only trip to the Playoffs in club history ending in a four-game sweep at the hands of the NYR. How do we stack them up against the PQC and know they are on the right path toward the Playoffs this season? During the 2006/7 season – their best one since the Lockout – we knew at game 10 they were going to be in the Playoffs. We think they are an improved team this year, most especially on the blueline, and might just make a run for the No. 8 seed in the East. It will come down to one or two games overall, which your defense must be spot on for or you go home on 12 April. Either way we should know again by Christmas, if not earlier, whether or not the Thrashers are improved enough to make a run Chasing Stanley.

What can you expect from this team going into the 2009/10 season?

Team Play: ISSUE – Surviving An Improved Southeast Division. A glance at the CBS Sports page for the Thrashers shows a projected line pairing of Kovalchuk-Antropov-Armstrong from left to right on No. 1. Wow! In terms of last season, that equals 93 Gs and 97 As which can’t be taken lightly by anybody. Kozlov-White-Crabb are projected as No. 2 which last year was 52-106-158. We’d like to think Bryan Little and Evander Kane are likely to have something to say about the Number 2 – 4 Centermen positions in camp. Plenty of pucks are going to be shot at the opposition’s net this season. Last year’s biggest issue was defense, however, where the team gave up more goals than anybody save Toronto. With good health this season, the defense is going to boast a set of top two pairings that either scored or averaged enough for all of them to project 40 points. Better defense and an improved attack will take pressure off the goalies who are not elite caliber but are certainly very capable of stopping the puck. This team is poised to win more this season, but they have to steal some games from a lot of Eastern teams they did not capture last year. They are likely to see a Caps team like last year’s, Hurricanes that are hungry, an improved Lightning squad, and a status quo, tough Panthers squad so their improvements may only equal more of the same result – we will see as the season unfolds.

Fantasy Value: Atlanta’s top line is a potentially ripe target for fantasy GMs. And if your pool requires you to bring on a rookie, Evander Kane is a good choice if you cannot nab the 2009 NHL Entry Draft’s Number 1 Pick. We also like all four of the projected top defenders. If you are looking at the Thrasher netminders, are in a 10-to-12 team pool, and have the ability to execute trades, wait and see how the goaltender situation falls out for an injury replacement. Goalie Number 1 Kari Lehtonen is a good choice for a depth goalie in later draft rounds but is recovering from back surgery and the team reports they are not in a hurry to rush him back.

Schedule Analysis: ISSUE – Three back-to-back game pairs in the Game 11 – 20 stretch. For a primary analysis of the team’s overall 2009/10 regular season schedule, go to this link.

Next up tomorrow is the Boston Bruins’ 2009/10 SPR…

Take me back to www.ongoalanalysis.com
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OGA SPR: The Anaheim Ducks – The Colonel

This is the first of 30, daily On Goal Analysis Season Preview Reports (SPRs) as we head into training camps and the season. Let's start or look ahead with The Anaheim Ducks...

Last Season versus the Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC): Called at Tee Time – out of the Playoffs – at Game 60 /18 February 2009 but finished at 4.55 with the Western Conference No. 8 seed as one of only six teams to qualify for the Playoffs every year since the Lockout. They played below their average post-Lockout PQC all season, but stand as one of only three teams incorrectly called either IN or OUT of the Playoffs by OGA – a Shot Off The Post – during the 2008/9 season. Their play from Game 41 through 70 was sub-standard, winning only an average of 4.5 games in every 10. It was the Game 71 to 82 stretch that saved their bacon and brought them to within one goal of defeating Detroit.

Post-Lockout average PQC and what to expect this season: Anaheim has a 5.01 PQC average over the last four, post-Lockout seasons. They stand as one of the top three teams in terms of winning play and have won one Stanley Cup Championship since the Stoppage. How do we gauge them against the PQC and know they have charted a proper course toward the playoffs again this season? In their first 10 games, they hover around five wins, sometimes beginning with a dismal start like last season’s 0-4 step off. If they finish the first 10 games with five or less wins, you still will likely not be able to tell until after the Olympics just how the season will turn out for them. But if they have a very strong start, you may see them replicate something more like the 2006/7 season that forces OGA to call them Chasing Stanley – IN the Playoffs – before November rolls around.

So how does this team look heading into the 2009/10 season?

Team Play: ISSUE – “The best defense is a good offense…” The Ducks seem to have solidified their top two lines with proven talent that can score and win games. The Getzlaf-Perry-Ryan line looks to be number one, with a possibility of Lupul(?)-Koivu-Selanne on a second, quite capable scoring line. Other pairings are TBD, but Christensen is likely out until a bit into the regular season and Getzlaf may not play until October as they recover from off-season surgeries. These injuries and line combos to be determined are ‘complimented’ by a less robust defense than last season with two solid pairs and others. These defenders are likely to both jump up into the scoring play and, in the process, likely surrender more SOG against. The good news is their two healthy goalies in the crease are talented enough to save the team’s bacon on many nights and will preserve some W’s. Look for this team to enter the Playoffs for the fifth consecutive time, however, and make it a couple of rounds. It remains to be seen if they will move on to the Conference and/or Stanley Cup Finals.

Fantasy Value: Anaheim has several players with good fantasy value. The entire top line stands as a good choice for forwards this season. You can say the same about Selanne (first choice) and Koivu (second choice) on the second line for Pool depth positions. If the analysis we read is true, Koivu is more the set up man with Selanne the finisher, they click well with each other, and this may be Selanne’s last season, so look for a strong year from him. Lupul is not a bad choice as well, but he would fall farther down our priority list in any pool draft. Scott Niedermayer and/or Ryan Whitney are good choices for your defenders, but we wouldn’t delve too much deeper into the team’s blueline than that. And lean toward Hiller over Giguere if you are taking one of their goalies – scuttlebutt is that Hiller is likely to play more games this season than Giguere will.

Schedule Analysis: ISSUE – Six back-to-back game pairs in the Game 31 – 50 stretch. For a primary analysis of the team’s overall 2009/10 regular season schedule which includes a visit by the 2009 NHL Entry Draft’s Number 1 Pick to the Honda Center, go to this link.

Next up tomorrow is the Atlanta Thrashers’ 2009/10 SPR…

Take me back to ongoalanalysis
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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Can You Hear It? – The Colonel

As an OGA staffer, we have specific teams that we each cover throughout the year. Mine do not include the Flyers and Maple Leafs. But with pardon to my brethren who do speak (write) out on their behalf, I cannot resist a short blog about these feral organizations. This short blog is my anthem to inpending pandemonium…

Did you hear that bone crunching smash into the boards? The ‘Ooofff’ as the open ice check to the solar plexis collapses the diaphragm, forcing all of the air from the lungs. Or knuckles on cheekbone in rapid succession? Is it just me, or can you hear it, too?

I do. And it’s coming from the East. More specifically, from Toronto and Philadelphia.

Make no mistake – there is a fundamental change to Eastern Conference Hockey. Brian Burke’s beginning makeover of the Maple Leafs into the Ducksian-like image he has come to cherish brings a certain joie de nasty to this team’s game that others are either going to have to emulate or suffer. Just close your eyes and think of Burke teams, and, well, you think recently and you recall the nastiness of a Chris Pronger…

Who is now in Philly. Wait. With Ian Laperriere, Daniel Carcillo, Riley Cote, and Aaron Asham amongst others. That’s right, isn’t it? Or was it Schultz, Clarke, MacLeish and Van Impe? I’m confused.

I do know this is not likely to be a simple fracas or mere uproar. So is ‘Donnybrook’ the right term here? Conflagration? Rhubarb, even? I am not sure because the two have not danced yet. I just anticipate in the step a certain crunching of toes.

Maybe mercifully for the teams, there are only four meetings between The Broad Street Bullies and The Bay Street Brutes this coming regular season. But for the Hockey fan who likes their ice with an extra helping of dislodged chicklets, 6 and 14 January, 7 March and 6 April will be some of the roughest nights in the League this season. (Not to mention the Pre-Season’s 17 & 19 September when some will be willing to do a lot to impress enough to earn a spot on a roster that is supposed to define toughness.)

Wow! America (Canada, et.al.), be on alert. And be prepared to cover the childrens’ eyes if you are watching and are not from these now fundamentally transformed cities where they will have time to grow into these behemoths. The Surgeon General’s warning will be stamped on your ticket and roll across the TV screen “…Some of these games may not be for the faint of heart….”

To paraphrase George C. Scott’s recreation of General George S. Patton, “…(Hockey). I love it. God help me I do love it so….”
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Saturday, August 29, 2009

The New OGA Web Site: A (Remotely) Guided Tour – The Colonel

As we stated on Ballhype yesterday, On Goal Analysis’ 2009/10 web page was just launched. What is there now, and what is still coming?

At the On Goal Analysis home page, we provide you the end result of our primary work – calling NHL teams IN or OUT of the playoffs as far in advance as possible each season based on our proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC). Last year, we were 89.7% accurate AND an average of 84 days before the mathematical call. By 1 January 2009, we had already made the call on 17 teams. The home page front and center will make these calls as press releases at the end of every team’s 10-game stretch (i.e. Game 10, 20, 30, etc.), and the Western and Eastern Conference standings will reflect the appropriate color code at the top of the page. Daily you will see our last eight blogs, the Picture of the Night, tonight’s and tomorrow’s games (changed at noon EST so the score is up each morning), and our 2009/10 Pool Standings. (More on the OGA Pool in a minute.) Buttons to get to our Blog Talk Radio show, JabberHockey, will be up front, as well as or Favorite Links list and our Twitter interface. From 31 August until 29 September, OGA will launch a daily Season Preview Report for each team in alphabetical order – the jerseys at the bottom of the page will link to their team’s post. Once the season begins, however, this is where you will see OGA’s IN or OUT calls being made.

Wonder what the PQC is all about? From the link at the top of the home page or by going to the Tao of OGA page, you can see what the fuss is all about. This will tell you what the PQC is and highlight our subscription product, The Daily Tip In Report (DTIR). Want to know exactly when a team is sinking fast? When they are on the rise? What will be the call even before it is posted on the home page? For a single contribution of $10, you can get the DTIR delivered to your email Inbox every day (except during the Olympic break) by 10am EST. What do you get for your 10 bucks? Just click on the first instance of the phrase “Daily Tip In Report” or any of the links in the “Our Products” section and you can see an example. As a bonus, this page will carry the top three stats leaders in several categories daily in the sidebars.

Just how accurate was OGA last year? Truth in lending is our key, so our 2008/9 Season Report Card will be posted on 30 September to let you be the judge of our work.

The OGA Store takes you to where you can purchase your DTIR as well as other products we will sell in the future. There is also a link to email us if you are looking for a special analytical requirement – we will be happy to provide you a quote!

Our JabberHockey page will be your link to our weekly(+) JabberHockey radio show on BlogTalk Radio. While this page has “Coming Soon” stamped all over it, ‘Soon’ is right around the corner. Our leadoff show includes the 1st round draft for the OGA Pool powered by PoolExpert.com which includes teams run by some of your favorite Ballhype bloggers. Come here from the home page link for show listings.

We are TOO excited for the upcoming OGA 2009/10 OGA (Fantasy Hockey) Pool. Our OGA Pool page will tell all soon as we draft Round 1 live on September 27th and complete the draft manually for the rest of the rounds by late on September 30th. For our Poolies, this site already has a link that takes them to the Pool Rules and a second one that provides them our spreadsheet of draft-related stats to start mulling over their draft strategy. We will show the draft in its entirety on this page, carry a listing of trades made and add a section for trash talk. Want help from OGA is designing your pool? Email us at shotongoal@ongoalanalysis.com and ask for a specialty product and we will give you a quote.

Our page is rounded out with a link to the OGA Blogs, the ‘Our Staff’ page to tell you who we are, and Privacy and Terms of Use links at the bottom of each page. Folks, we are just about at Training Camp Time, so the long, summer season is almost over. OGA is ready – has been ready – to jump in with both feet. Come to our new home page at www.ongoalanalysis.com and come along for the wild ride that will be the 2009/10 NHL season!
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Friday, August 28, 2009

On Goal Analysis has a NEW WEB SITE!

The new On Goal Analysis revamped website awaits your views and clickies.

Please take a moment today and over the weekend to pop in and check out the revamped OGA website. New look, new pages, new product. New season is coming soon!

Have a tour of the site here and then drop a line at shotongoal@ongoalanalysis.com and let us know what you think.

Or leave ye some comments below.

Also, if you have maintained a link from your site to ours, please link to our new Home page as opposed to The OGA Blog on blogspot. The blogs are available on the ongoalanalysis.com home page via feed informer.

We appreciate your support and comments, too!

Go Friday.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

2009-10 Salary Cap Heroes (Part II) - by Big Tex

On Wednesday, I offered up my picks for the 2009-10 Centers and Wingers who will offer the fantasy hockey (salary cap league) GM the best combination of points and a minimal salary cap hit. Today, I'll break down the Defensemen and Goalies who will earn you critical points without breaking the bank.


Cam Barker, CHI - For what he brings to the table, this kid is underpriced in most cap leagues. He's young, and has yet to play a full season in the NHL. In 68 games last season, Barker posted a noteworthy 6-34-40, -6. Expect his points to increase in 09-10.

Erik Johnson, STL - A one-of-a-kind preseason golf cart accident kept Johnson off the ice for all of 08-09. As a result, his cap hit is on the low side. Expect Johnson to play a significant role in the Blues' renaissance this season.

Zach Bogosian, ATL - Despite playing just 47 games in his rookie season (08-09), Bogosian put up good numbers (9-10-19, +11, 47 PIM, 90 SOG) on a sub-par team. This season, the Thrashers will be an improved team, and Bogosian will improve upon his rookie stats.

Honorable Mention: James Wisniewski, ANA - Wisniewski's stats in 08-09 were solid, despite missing a considerable chunk of the season due to injury: 48GP, 3-21-24, +9. With Chris Pronger gone from the OC, expect Wiz to pick up some of the slack (as well as points).

One to Watch: Jonathan Ericsson, DET - In 19 regular season contests last season, Ericsson posted a rather humble 1-3-4, -1. What got him onto this list was his playoff performance: 22GP, 4-4-8, +9, 25 PIM. If Ericsson can keep that up throughout 09-10, he won't be a "salary cap bargain" next season.


Starting goalies generally aren't cheap, especially if they mind the net for one of last seasons' playoff teams. Thus, the best deals - though not necessarily the cheapest goalies - will be found on teams which didn't make the playoffs in 08-09, but are trending upward heading into this season. To wit:

Mike Smith, TBL - The Lightning will be an improved team this season, and should challenge for the 8th seed in the East. And Smitty will lead (and sometimes) carry them. He'll do well, as long as he doesn't have to play too many back-to-back games. You won't be sorry to have Smith on your team.

Cristobal Huet, CHI - Huet rode the pine much of last season, due to the strong play of Nikolai Khabibulin. The Blackhawks tried to deal Huet and keep Khabibulin this summer, but the Bulin Wall moved to The Great White North and the 'Hawks found no takers for Huet's (rather large) contract. Chicago doesn't have another goalie waiting in the wings, ready to step in and seize the starting job. Thus, Huet is Chicago's #1 goalie by default. For that fact alone, he's quite underpriced.

The Los Angeles Kings' Starting Goalie - Will it be Jonathan Quick or Erik Ersberg? Doesn't matter - just wait until a starter emerges and grab him. The Kings will be an improved club this season, and their (dirt cheap) goalies will make you look good.

Honorable Mention: Marty Turco, DAL - Last season was an aberration. Turco will be better, and the Stars will be back in the playoffs. While Marty's cap hit won't be small, it will be less than most other goalies on playoff-bound clubs. He'll prove to be quite a bargain in 09-10.

One to Watch: Semyon Varlamov, WSH - At this point, it would appear that Jose Theodore will be given every opportunity to keep the starting job in Washington. He will be on a very short leash, however, and Varlamov will take over the moment Theodore stumbles. Put Varlamov on your bench now, and wait; you'll be glad you did.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis
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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Nickelback Skates With Islanders. Ay, There's The Rub...-FP

I went to check out the new Islander's website and found, what appears to be, a gem on the Islanders TV page going back to late July during this long off-season. It may explain 08-09's last-place finish if the Isles have been bringing in 'scabs' from the rock and roll industry to compete for ice time. Let me check this out and see.

Nope. We are okay here. Turns out the Kroeger brothers of the rock band Nickelback skated with some of the Isles extended family (Scott Gordon, Eric Cairns, Garth Snow, etc.) last month before playing a show later in the evening.

But it all seemed too suspicious to pass up without investigation.

In all seriousness, Frozen Pill likes him some Islanders. Having become a recent fan, I've paid attention the last couple of seasons to this team's growing pains. Having two fellow writers on our site who are, and have always been, in love w/ the Blueshirts, it adds some 'discussion points' to our conversations. Besides, it's always fun rooting for the underest of underdogs.

So I am excited (like so many others) to see Tavares (the OGA-dubbed, 'Long Island Ice T') and the rest of the emerging talent on this team start the new season.

And I honestly couldn't hum you or identify a Nickelback song. The Pill's tastes in music are OTHER and doesn't listen to much tunage on the radio. But I have seen some press that suggests people may have had their fill with this band and want their nickel back.

Having not heard them (to my knowledge), my opinion has been formed by their recent appearances in things hockey I watch.

I saw some interview with them last season where the lead singer, Chad Kroeger- seems like a nice guy - discussed the ice rink he built in his house so he can play hockey. Cool enough by me.

And as for the ever-evolving romance between Arena music and NHL hockey, the OGA boys were able to catch a couple of NY Rangers games at MSG at the start of last season. We sat in the blue seats facing the tunnel at center ice. And when the lights dimmed for the start of the second period and the game's first beer had hit bottom, the Rangers came pouring out onto the ice, bathed in the spotlights, to the cheers of thousands of fans while the sound system blasted The Arcade Fire's Wake Up.

Like the clouds parting and the sun shining through, it was a true moment of hockey heaven.

Perhaps, during the regular season, OGA will examine the role of modern music at crucial, crowd-pleasing moments during NHL hockey games. Used to convey messages to both the fans and the referees after a bad call, I have been sometimes very pleasantly surprised by the song choices.

And then there's the issue of the fading sound of the pipe organ, too.

Wow. There's some writing to be done there. In the meantime, have you too been surprised to hear a song you love but never thought you would hear played during a hockey game (between stops or even during intermissions)?

If so, leave a comment below. Being under the impression they are not surprising, Nickelback songs don't count.

And stay with On Goal Analysis for unique insight, analysis and a new bless-ed website coming soon!

PS - If you didn't click the link for The Arcade Fire's 'Wake Up' up there, I've made it even easier for you. Coz it's worth sharing.

Here is the Wake Up video. If you enjoy, click the link earlier in the post for a live version wherein they are joined by David Bowie. Yes, it's good. Just watch.

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2009-10 Salary Cap Heroes (Part I) - by Big Tex

Though NHL training camps won’t open for another couple of weeks, it’s not too early to start cogitating about your fantasy hockey team. In a recent post, The Colonel listed his top fantasy player from each NHL club. That’s a great place to start, but…what if you’re playing in a Salary Cap league? If you want Ovechkin AND Malkin AND Luongo, fine – but you’re going to have to round out your roster with some bargain basement players in order to come in under the cap. While you often get what you pay for in salary cap leagues, there are some great deals to be had at garage-sale prices. The following is Part I of Big Tex’s list of 2009-10 Salary Cap Heroes – players who should deliver significant bang for your (fantasy) buck:


Steve Stamkos, TBL – Young master Stamkos got off to a slow and somewhat rocky start last season, but really got the hang of NHL hockey in the second half. His misleadingly middling final stats from 08-09 (79GP, 23-23-46, -13)will depress his fantasy cap hit this season. Get him while he’s cheap, as he’s only going to get hotter!

Dave Bolland, CHI – How can the Blackhawks’ 2nd-line centerman be so cheap? Bolland put up decent numbers last season (19-28-47, +19). This season, expect him to start piling up points as soon as Marian Hossa makes it into the lineup, as Bolland will center either Hossa or Patrick Sharp.

Derick Brassard, CLB – Were it not for a season-ending shoulder injury in Game 31, Brass would’ve been teammate Steve Mason’s top challenger for the Calder Memorial Trophy. Brassard’s injury is a cap league managers’ gain, however. Bottom line: He’s the cheapest top line center you’ll find, and he’ll be feeding pucks to Rick Nash and Kristian Huselius all season long.

Honorable Mention: Rich Peverley, ATL – Peverley split last season between Nashville and Atlanta. After a slow start with the Predators, he finished strong with the Thrashers, putting up 13-20-33 in 38 games. Can Peverley pick up in October where he left off in early April? If so, he’ll make you look like the smartest GM in your league.

One to Watch: Artem Anisimov, NYR – You’ll have to pay close attention through pre-season, but…as of right now, it looks like Anisimov will probably center the Rangers’ 3rd line in 09-10. If Brandon Dubinsky stumbles out of the gate, however, this rookie might very well find himself centering Marian Gaborik.


Ville Leino, DET – When Detroit lost the Fabian Brunnstrom sweepstakes last summer, Ville Leino was their consolation prize. This 25-year-old rookie had a good showing in his introduction to the NHL (13 GP, 5-4-9, +5). With this summer’s key departures, Leino will be a fixture on one of the Red Wings’ top two lines. Even without Hossa and Samuelsson, the Wings will be a high-scoring bunch, and Leino may very well prove to be the seasons’ best cap league bargain.

Steve Ott, DAL – Last season, the injury-riddled Stars pressed Otter into service on the top line, filling in for the out-for-the-season Brenden Morrow. He didn’t disappoint, putting up career numbers despite playing just 64 games: 19-27-46, +3, 135 PIM. In 09-10, don’t be surprised to see Ott on the 2nd line with Brad Richards and Loui Eriksson.

Bryan Little, ATL – 2008-09 was a breakthrough season for The Little Sniper That Could, as he exploded for 31-20-51, -5, in 79 GP. Little’s 172 SOG proved 2nd-best in Atlanta, behind only Ilya Kovalchuk’s 275 SOG. While the Thrashers might not make the playoffs in 09-10, they will show improvement, and Bryan Little should make a big noise.

Honorable Mention: T.J. Oshie, STL – The first time I saw Oshie play was in the spring of 2008, in the Frozen Four. I remember going online in between periods to find out which team was smart/lucky enough to draft Oshie, who looked like a man among boys in the NCAA tournament. His rookie season with the Blues didn’t disappoint: 57 GP, 14-25-39, +16. If he can avoid the “sophomore slump”, look out.

One to Watch: Nikita Filatov, CBJ – Though he only played eight games in the NHL last season, Filatov made a splash: The 18-year-old scored four goals in his eight games, including a hat trick against Minnesota. This kid is an enormous talent, and if he ends up on the Blue Jackets’ 2nd line with Antoine Vermette and Jakub Voracek, Columbus might have to print up “Nikita Filatov Calder Trophy Winner” t-shirts next summer.

Tomorrow, the other end of the ice: Defensemen and Goalies.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis
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Monday, August 24, 2009

Hints And Thirty (Or So) Players For Your Fantasy NHL Team, Part II – The Colonel

Yesterday, we published four Hints to preparing for your NHL Fantasy Draft. Today, we give you players from every team we would recommend you consider for your team.

Thirty Players On Thirty Teams

Nothing is guaranteed for players in a season. Injury, slumps, personal issues all play a part in unraveling any recommendation for ‘sure-fire’ fantasy Hockey picks. But here at OGA, we know you all have your favorite team and most likely want someone from that team on your fantasy roster. IOHO, we offer you these top picks from each team with a brief snippet of reasoning…

Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf barely nudges out Corey Perry. Getzlaf had less goals in more games played than Perry, but beat him in points, and almost doubles him in faceoff percentage which leads to more time on the ice (TOI) and almost an extra shift per game.

Atlanta: If it is only one pick, Ilya Kovalchuk is your man here. Five straight years of 40+ goals don’t lie. (But don’t count out the rest of the 1st or 2nd forward lines and the top four defenders either!)

Boston: We flipped a coin on this one. Kessel is probably back, but with rumors that could affect his psyche; Savard is a set-up man, not a finisher; and Chara was tempting on D. But we decided we’d lean toward a Goalie, so recommend Tim Thomas here. Last year’s Vezina Trophy winner is one of the top three goalies to be had.

Buffalo: Ryan Miller has got to be your choice here. No forwards above 70 points last year and a suspect defense this year put the franchise’s playoff weight on his shoulders.

Calgary: Emphasis on this club in 2009/10 is going to be on defense. The prize catch prior to the Entry Draft is our early pick as the hoopla around Jay Bouwmeester will see him on the ice a lot AND with Phaneuf. There will be a lot of points scored from the Flames’ blueline.

Carolina: The best choice here is Eric Staal. No other ‘Cane came close to his combined 50 goals scored in the regular season and Playoffs last year.

Chicago: With Hossa out to start the season, we would pick Jonathan Toews from this team. His 34 goals off of almost 60 less SOG and higher faceoff percentage than Kane indicates greater potential. We ARE Kris Versteeg fans, but assume he will not be on either of the top two lines so will not get as many chances as the team’s captain will.

Colorado: Paul Stastny is your man here. He needs to stay healthy, but he is the best choice in The Mile High City.

Columbus: If you need a LW more than anything else, it is Nash. But for our money, we cannot pass on Steve Mason. Were it not for Tim Thomas, THIS could have been your Vezina Trophy winner for 2009.

Dallas: Brendan Morrow is our choice here. We know, we know. There are barely any stats from last season to make a clear choice. But he personifies grit and determination, and leads by example, with maybe his best efforts displayed under pressure.

Detroit: Almost a point-per-game (almost 68 points per year over 78 or so games) says you cannot ignore Nicklas Lidstrom. This team is loaded, but you have to have one of, if not THE, top defender on your wish list.

Edmonton: As a second straight defensive call, we think it best to recommend Sheldon Souray for the Oilers. Averaging over 200 SOG per season in his last three, healthy seasons, he also tied as the team’s leading goal scorer last season. It cannot be missed that over the last two, full seasons he has reversed his exorbitant foray into the minus side of the +/- ledger to boot.

Florida: David Booth is our choice here. Last year’s only 30+ goal scorer, most PP points and GWG’s and the most SOG (246) makes him the mark.

Los Angeles: WOW! This is going to be an exciting team this season! We wanted to recommend the whole first line and the two young defenders. But we said THE top pick. So we are (barely) going with Anze Kopitar over Dustin Brown. Smyth looks to be on Line 2 for starters. And while Brown out-shot Kopitar, they are so close in just about every other category that Anze gets the nod based on averaging a bit more than one minute per game TOI which leads to more chances.

Minnesota: You might have gotten another goalie recommendation from us here, but we are going with Martin Havlat. We know they are going to try and score much and do not yet know if Backstrom has been the beneficiary of a strong defense-first effort out front that will not be the same this season. Havlat’s stats are a bit better than Koivu’s AND he did it logging almost four minutes less TOI per game! Turned loose (and healthy), Havlat could be a 90-100 point player.

Montreal: We are going to roll the (team chemistry) dice here and go with Michael Cammalleri. While we are haring Gomez rumblings, Cammalleri’s 82 points last year comes with more than 250 SOG and only a 17:33 TOI average that is likely low for him this season.

Nashville: While Jason Arnott is your team scoring leader here, we want to recommend Shea Weber. Weber is a top-5 defenseman according to the NHL, scored 23 goals and 53 points with over 250 SOG and logs almost 24 minutes TOI.
New Jersey: Martin Brodeur. Need we say any more here?

Islanders: It is tempting to recommend the 2009 Entry Draft’s Number 1 Pick. You can read why we think he is good for around 60-65 points this season here. But we want to offer you Mark Streit as a great pick from this team. His 53 points, four major penalties, 10 PP points and 25:13 TOI make for a strong resume on the blueline.

Rangers: The only non-question mark position for the Rangers is in goal, so we go with Henrik Lundqvist here.

Ottawa: We are shying away from Heatley here as his status is still too much up in the air. For sure fire picks anyway, we like team captain Daniel Alfredsson. A bit more of a set-up man than a finisher, he is more disciplined and therefore rates the most TOI for this team. That can translate into much more opportunity this season.

Philadelphia: Go with Jeff Carter in Philly. He was awesome with the puck last year in any situation, to include leading the league in short handed goals.
Phoenix: Shane Doan is your top offensive prospect on this team. He is a 30-goal man, had five fighting majors, 10 PP points, 230 SOG and was on the ice for more than 20 minutes per game last year.

Pittsburgh: Not Malkin and Crosby. Why? If you have one of the top three picks in your pool, these two guys are no-brainers and you will have them; if you are past the 3rd pick, you won’t have them. So we would recommend the NHL’s #2 ranked defender, Sergei Gonchar. Playing in only 25 games last season, he nonetheless netted 19 points in more then 25-minutes TOI. He also added another 14 points in the Playoffs and will be the most rested Penguin going into next season. BUUUUTTT… If it comes to light the partially torn MCL in the Playoffs is going to keep him out AND you don’t have one of the first three picks in your draft, go with Marc-Andre Fleury and you will not be disappointed.

San Jose: We want to go with Marleau, but nobody knows how the “C”-ectomy is going to affect his play this season. You cannot go wrong snagging Evgeni Nabokov, however. He is a top-five goalie in anyone’s league.

St. Louis: Go with Brad Boyes here. Sure he was a -20 last season, but that was due in large measure to the harsh early part of the season. His 33 goals/72 points was tops for the team, and he also led the Blues in PP and GW points. If for some reason he is not available, don’t shy away from David Backes. (I know that’s two, but we’ll keep that bonus just between us.)

Tampa Bay: Under the assumption from the last half of last season that he has now got this NHL thing down, we recommend Steven Stamkos as your bit of a sleeper pick. Sure you could go with St. Louis, Lecavalier or the likes of Mike Smith in goal. But we believe Stamkos is going to fly too far under the radar based on last season’s final point total than he should and therefore just might be worth the slight risk.

Toronto: We can’t recommend you ‘The Monster’ because unless he is the second coming of Ken Dryden, he won’t play 50 games this season. We also think Luke Schenn needs a bit more seasoning to be THE dominant defender he is likely to become. So we recommend going with Jason Blake who led the team in scoring and was one of only seven players to register more than 300 SOG last season. He should benefit from a more rough and tumble team and their intimidation factor that GM Bryan Burke is implementing.

Vancouver: Roberto Luongo, hands down. Depending on where YOU rank him, he is probably one of the top two or three goalies in the NHL. You cannot go wrong here with a healthy Luongo.

Washington: Ovie is your no-brainer (see Pittsburgh above). We would recommend a final defender for your team, Mike Green. He is a Phil Coffey, Bobby Orr kinda defender. Thirty-one goals? Seventy-three points? Eighteen PP points? A total of 243 SOG and almost 26 minutes TOI? What’s not to like? Maybe the fact he will go early because he is a more prolific scorer than a lot of forwards. If he survives the second round in your pool, we will be surprised.


So there you have it. We were glad to bring you OGA’s Hints to help you organize for your draft and players to choose from any team’s roster. Good hunting, draft well and good luck winning your league.

And if some of these players stick in your craw, tell us who is the best player to draft from yor favorite team and why in the comments section of this blog…
1. 4.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Hints And Thirty (Or So) Players For Your Fantasy NHL Team, Part I – The Colonel

It’s almost here! The 2009-10 NHL season is almost upon us. (Can I have a ‘Hell Yeah!”?)But with the new season comes the game within the game, Fantasy Hockey.

Ah, the chance to be a GM and wheel and deal without the thought that your next action may be your last...

Don’t get me wrong – there’s still the pressure of getting out, and staying out, in front of your fellow poolies to cross the finish line as the victor. And there might be some consternation if ‘a little wager’ is involved. So this is important stuff of which we speak (blog) today.

I know lots of folks are writing about your next year’s fantasy team. We are no exception here at On Goal Analysis (OGA), especially when you consider our own draft is coming up in September and we are finalizing details to make it all happen. In this blog, we aim to give you a few hints and the top pick for each team in our humble opinion (IOHO) to make your pool experience come out better. Today we will post the Hints and ask you to comment on yours. On Monday, we will post our top players from each time for your drafting consideration.

The Hints

Hint #1 (H1). We like Microsoft Excel. It lets you copy and paste the stats right off of a web page into sortable columns that aid in your drafting activities. We like it so much, we have produced a spreadsheet for all of the OGA poolies for our draft. For a simple instructions on how to put Excel to work for you in your draft(s), email us at shotongoal@ongoalanalysis.com and we will send you our Excel hints.

H2. Do not discount ALL of the stats on your favorite reference page. While we recommend and are using H1 above, we have more stats on or spreadsheet than we calculate pool points for. That is because such subtleties as TOI (Time On The Ice) and Faceoff % can tell you who is likely on the Power Play, Penalty Kill, and on the ice for the last few draws when a game is on the line.

H3. If you have to pick a rookie on your team, here are a couple of guiding factors:

a. The first 15 selections of the 2009 Entry Draft’s first round are potential starters on their teams this season. These are players with real-time talent who will likely play this season unless the team’s cast of veterans is so stacked there is no room for them. Keeping an eye on the blogs/reports from training camp will confirm or deny this theory. But if you draft before the opening of camps, stick with the ‘Top 15’ rule of thumb.

b. OGA did a study and found that players in their first NHL season are good for less than what you see them score/do in other leagues – have a quick read and keep this in mind if you are drafting based on their stats.

c. Think of looking at players still considered a ‘Rookie’ who have some NHL experience but are projected to play all year long this season. Here is your guiding text for determining who falls in this category from the NHL Rule Book: “…To be considered a rookie, a player must not have played in 25 or more NHL games in any preceding seasons, nor in six or more NHL games in each of any two preceding seasons. Any player at least 26 years of age (by September 15th of that season) is not considered a rookie….”

H4. Given a 10-Team Pool, the best position to pick your fantasy team from is... THE MIDDLE OF THE PACK. What? Not Number 1? Depending on your pool rules, this is true based on three, basic types of draft ordering:

a. Straight numbering. That means if you draft Number 1, then you are the lucky person at the top of each order. This is the only time it pays to be the highest person on the totem pole.

b. Alternating order. This means the person that was Number 1 in Round 1 is the last pick in Round 2 and the first again in Round 3. If you are number five in this pool, you are always the fifth pick in each round. When you do the math on this method, then you draft before the original Number 1 poolie in every even-numbered round. This method is more fair than the above, but less common.

c. Snake order. This is how OGA’s pool will run this season. Number 1 drafts 1st in Round 1, 10th in Round 2 and then in a sliding order of 5, 6, 7, 8, etc. in subsequent rounds. The true advantage here is to draft in the Number 2 – 5 positions because after the 1st Round, these poolies will draft ahead of the original Number 1 pick all the way up until the 9th Round. So if you are in a modified snake draft, do not fret if you get a middle-round start in Round 1.

There are other Hints to help out poolies – what are your favorites? Just add them in the comments section to this post.

This is the shorter of the two fantasy blogs. Tomorrow will be “Hints And Thirty (Or So) Players For Your Fantasy NHL Team, Part II” right here at www.ongoalanalysis.com . Don’t forget if you need some specifics on H1 above, drop us a line at shotongoal@ongoalanalysis.com. We will see you back here tomorrow...
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Friday, August 21, 2009

Ice Hockey in Hawaii (or, Happy 50th to our 50th State) - Frozen Pill

It's Friday! Oh, the humanity.

The Frozen Pill has been thinking about a couple of the ideas On Goal Analysis brought you last season and about some new, exciting changes we will introduce this coming 09/10 NHL season.(teaser: new website coming very soon!)

So today's post is clanked by a one-timer in ode to and on our 50th State's 50th anniversary of induction into the United States (08/21/1959) - Happy Birthday, Hawaii!

Going through some of our previous ideas, reviewing what works and what doesn't, I started thinking about one of OGA's top goals in our mission statement: Help grow the game of hockey.

And by grow, we mean sharing the good news of Hockey with other people who have yet to drink the elixir that will quickly make hockey the preferred sport for new fans. As the game grows and more younguns become hooked on this fast-paced, competitive, addictive game, the benefits abound for all humanity.

Grand statement? Yep. But the science is out there (as well as common sense) to show that children who learn cooperation through team sports also learn the benefits of winning and losing. Winning feels great and is proof of accomplishment while losing often inspires a harder work ethic, greater dedication and inward reflection. Losers will often improve and morph into winners and vice-versa. But along the way, maturity is gained and life lessons learned.

And many great hockey stories exist in these yearly battles on and off the ice as the youth of today morph into tomorrow's Sidney Tavares. (no disrespect to the Long Island Ice Tcopyright OGA 2009 or Sid the Kid - OGA just loves promotion and it's been a long summer of off-season...)

But in this purple-ink world (coz red is just so mean) we need children playing in local recreational team sports more than ever for the sake of humanity.

For certainly 'hockey humanity' benefits with more people finding this great game, playing, winning, improving and growing up. The rise of the non-traditional market, including the growth of the game in the southern half of the US, is contributing to better competition at all levels of minor and junior level hockey. The highest quality players are facing more competition and the skill levels that now enter the NHL at draft time are becoming more and more impressive.

Big Tex had a great post about the non-traditional market growth earlier this summer and is good reading (along w/ the excellent discussion that commenced in the 'comments' section).

Also, last season, The Colonel posted his thoughts on how the league could eventually expand to Hawaii. That's nuts, isn't it? But read the post here when you are done with this and then see if you still think it's bat$hi+ crazy. You may not.

Consider, also, the hockey programs available at Ice Palace's rink for all hockey lovers, ranging from youth who can skate forward all the way to senior leagues. And to be frank, many of Hawaii's hockey players are transplanted Canadians (as has happened often in the southern US), but those transplants will have children who will play. And perhaps, they in turn will have children of their own, native born to the islands, who will one day get to skate in the NHL.

If it can happen in Dallas, Texas, it might happen in Honolulu.

Another of the OGA ideas floated last season is a little project we launched and may revitalize again this coming season - OGA's Shout! NHL Initiative.

Shout! NHL is OGA's first foray into direct marketing the game to potential new fans. While it provides a rough outline and start to our foray here, we want to find creative ways to bring hockey into more families' lives. We all love to share what we love. And the Great Game has so many intangibles that appeal to people, it's time those of us who are already caught help lure in the other lost fishies to share something we know they too will embrace.

It benefits humanity and all things hockey-goodness.

So, having taken so long to set up this one-timer on the Power Play, (yes, some of you are shouting, 'shoot!'), here's the general idea to tie these themes together... ('shoot!'):

  • 10 Hockey bloggers (the new media, becoming more embraced by sporting leagues everywhere) join forces together to set a date two years out, perhaps after the conclusion of the 2010/2011 NHL season, to meet up in Hawaii. (we have to do this before the world ends on 12/21/2012, the end of the Mayan Calendar, right?)
  • The prerequisites for these bloggers will be a) know how to ice skate and be able to play 'pick-up' level hockey and b) actively promote this initiative to the media, fans and the league and work with a central committee/organization to handle the logistics of the initiative.
  • We will then lobby the NHL and the various teams for 10 skaters who will serve as the event's ambassadors and liaisons. The players will be responsible for promoting the event and working with the writers for the purpose of raising charitable monies and corporate sponsors in order to send 10 children who can play and their families to Hawaii for a week to compete in the 'NHL's Ice Hockey in Hawaii Charity Tournament'.
  • The players can, if they choose, incorporate their favorite charities to participate in an organizational and promotional manner and use their personality to attract donations and attention to the cause.
  • The children chosen could be kids (boys and girls) who play for local leagues across North America and have the proto-typical hockey parents who sacrifice sleep, money and sanity to allow their kids to pursue the game.
  • Hawaii will provide 4 goalies from their local ice leagues to serve as hosts and to inject the local flavor into the game. OGA would suggest Alltop.com's local rink rat goalie who happens to have the perfect hockey name to promote the non-traditional market's growing contributions to the game - Guy Kawasaki.
  • This would give each team 15 skaters (3 lines) and 2 goalies. Maybe we could invite Denis Leary to serve as referee?
  • The NHL should send a camera crew to record all the activities and use the event to promote one of the NHL's intangible measurements - the high caliber and quality of the people who play this game. In addition, shared stories about the hard work and dedication from both the child and the parents in pursuit of the 'hockey life' would serve as inspiration for new kids and parents to the Great Game - not to mention great viewing at NHL.com or on the NHL Network.
  • OGA could produce a comprehensive, online reference guide so interested parties could get linked to local organizations prepared to guide new hockey parents through the process of enrolling their child as well as support networks and local league information.
When discussing my love for this game with people who are only casually familiar with hockey, they are all surprised to learn about the stories of kids who started skating at 3 years of age and parents who were willing to get up at 4AM to get their kiddos to the rink on time for morning practice...for years. For example, the Pill's pediatrician was schooled in West Virginia and now lives in Texas. She and her husband were a billet family for two teenagers from Canada who moved here to play in one of the growing number of Junior hockey leagues in Dallas.

Such stories break the mold of what hockey fans may be familiar with and is inspiring to newbies who may not even be aware of how the billet systems works or that it even exists. There are many wonderful hockey stories of humanity at is finest. This initiative would be a good way to have some of these family's stories shared and these stories should be front and center in the promotion of this event to raise hockey awareness.

Having the game in Hawaii? Well, it's 2 years out and I imagine a lot of hockey fans across the world wouldn't mind saving up for a family vacation in Hawaii with vacation memories of meeting up with some NHL stars and opportunities to contribute to the players' charities of choice or a youth hockey promotional non-profit.

And yes, this idea might be goofy. But it might be more probable than a NHL team in Hawaii. (insert sideways smiley-winky face made w/ punctuation marks to convey a witty jab HERE). That Colonel is a mad scientist.

Who's with me? Is the idea ludicrous or worth pursuing? Post a comment below or feel free to email me at frozenpill@rocketmail.com

And if we can pull it off, let's do it before the planets all align and that Mayan rope serpant (wormhole) blasts its way through the Milky Way with it's polarity shifting blasts of ions into the Earth's core and north becomes south and history becomes geology.

...(I just knew there was an underlying urgency to Big Tex's post about an NHL North/South realignment.)

take me back to ongoalanalysis.com

1. 4.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Civil War on Ice: A North-South Realignment - Big Tex

The dog days of August - post-free agent signing orgy and pre-training camp - comprise hockey's dry season, when we puckheads must dig deep in the interwebs for hockey news worth mentioning. Failing that, our thoughts turn inward...and the "mad (hockey) scientist" deep within many of us rises to the surface. We might ponder the manner in which a rookie's stats in major junior or the AHL could translate into points at the NHL level, or perhaps offer up a sweet video tribute to a recently-retired star...or we might just take this opportunity to realign the National Hockey League, as jpfdeuce over at Raw Charge did.

I must commend Mr. Fontana for his effort. Obviously, any attempt to tinker with divisions, much less entire conferences, would be met with harsh criticism. Like Garth Algar, some folks will always fear change. Personally, while I disagreed with several aspects of the Raw Charge realignment (hereafter referred to as RCR), I had to applaud the outside-the-box thought that went into it. And, of course, it brought out the mad scientist in me.

I've long been an advocate of swapping Dallas and Colorado, simply to get the Stars out of the Pacific Division (hate those 9:30 starts on school nights!). The RCR got me to thinking about much more radical changes, however. The following is what I came up with:

The New (but not necessarily Improved) NHL:

Northern Conference
Stan Smyl Division: SJS, VAN, EDM, CGY, MIN
Rick Vaive Division: CHI, DET, TOR, OTW, MTL
Barry Beck Division: NYR, NYI, NJD, BUF, BOS

Southern Conference
Robbie Ftorek Division: LAK, ANA, PHX, COL, STL
Gilles Gratton Division: DAL, CAR, ATL, TBL, FLA
Larry Goodenough Division: NSH, WSH, CBJ, PIT, PHI

By dividing the NHL into Northern and Southern conferences, I had hoped to re-create the American Civil War, only on ice...Or maybe I just wanted to spread out the burden of travel currently shouldered by the Western Conference (and get Dallas the hell out of the Pacific Division). In this alignment, most regional/divisional rivalries are preserved. Undoubtedly, the concentration of all six Canadian clubs AND the Original Six in one conference will be met with both cheers and jeers. I can hear the detractors now: "With all the Canadian clubs and the Original Six in the Northern Conference, why would anyone watch (or care about) the Southern Conference?" My answer to that is simple: Because the Southern Conference has Ovechkin, Malkin and Crosby.

So that's my two cents on realigning the NHL. It's definitely new, but is it improved? You be the judge.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis
1. 4.

Monday, August 17, 2009


Radio Caller: “…And I predict the Rangers will beat the Capitals in five.”

Radio Host: “Are you high? The Capitals will take this series. I don’t care if they are down two games. Next caller, IF they have any common sense, please….”

Sound familiar? Yep, that’s EVERY post-season. Every expert knows how it will go before it ends.

But how did you do predicting the 2009 Playoff series? Were you like our own Big Tex who went 11-4? Better or worse?

If you were not the best prognosticator, we did the research to give you some justification for your difficulties. This analysis compares what the “Average Playoffs” (AP) looked like prior to this season – the historically subliminal model that helped you determine calls this past season – with what actually happened.

The AP

We examined how the four rounds of the post-season for 2006 – 2008 played out in order to get a common ‘character’ for each round which we call The AP. Our focus was on the number of games played to win a series and the total number of games played overall. Here is a summary of the AP going into this past season’s Playoffs:

Post-Lockout Round 1

Out of a total of 24 series, this round displayed a rather predictable AP of a single 4-Game series, two-to-three 5-Game series, two-to-three 6-Game series, and one-to-two 7-Game series. The 4-Gamers imply there might be mismatch, possibly with the Number 8 versus Number 1 seed match-up. The similar, larger numbers of 5- and 6-Gamers show us what is closest to average, or match-ups with more parity. And the number of 7-Gamers might rest in, say, the Number 4 versus Number 5 seed pairing. Overall, it also took closer to six games to decide series. Simple, right?

Actually, the 2008 first round 4-Gamer was OTT at PIT, or No. 7 versus No 2, but a noticeably sliding Ottawa that played .443 from 4 January until the end of the regular season was not destined to go far anyway. The other two 4-Gamers were both No. 3 versus No. 6, and all three were played in the Eastern Conference. That Eastern average was also a noticeable 5.33 games to decide series. The Western Conference average number of games to close out Round 1 series is 5.92 with no 4-Gamers from 2006 through 2008.

Post-Lockout Round 2

Out of a total of 12 Round 2 series, the AP calls for one 4-Gamer, about two 5-Gamers and one 6-Gamer. No Round 2 match-ups since the Stoppage went to a Game 7. The average number of games to close out this round is right about five. This could mean Round 2 draws are a bit lopsided. Could several lower seeds have prevailed in Round 1 only to be spanked in the next Round by more dominant teams?

The facts show that on average in Round 2 the No. 5 seed played at No. 2 and No. 6 took on No. 3. There were approximately nine standing points (SPs) of separation between contenders with a greater number of SPs between Nos 5 & 2 than Nos 3 & 6. Both the Eastern and Western average number of games to close out series was 5.17 games with the only two 4-Gamers coming from out West.

Post-Lockout Round 3

In six total Round 3 series study tells us one game each should be a 5- and 6-game series. There had been no 4-Gamers and only one 7-Gamer. So closing out series in this round looked about like the six games in Round 1. All in all, an exciting, mare ‘pare’ set of contests.

Doing the math indicates on average the No. 4 or 5 seed played No. 2 for the Conference finals. And it took both the East and West 5.67 games to close out this round.

Post-Lockout Round 4

The 2006-8 AP says it takes six games to crown a post-Lockout Stanley Cup Champion. Analysis also says the Eastern No 2 or 3 seed played the Western No 3 or 4 seed. But tell you the answer is always six games to decide the Finals and leave it at that? That would be incorrect. They ended in 7, 5 and 6 games, chronologically speaking, so going into 2009 you should have just tossed a coin. Most predictors called for the 7-Gamer we default to when we think a series’ contestants are closely matched.

Post-Lockout Subliminals

So three Playoff seasons implanted in your mind a basic pattern of play – the AP – for what you were about to see in April of this past year. You went into the 2009 Playoffs steeped in the knowledge that you are looking at something like one sweep back East, three each 5- and 6-Gamers, and one 7-Gamer in Round 1. Most Eastern games will be decided around Game 5 and by Game 6 in the West. In Round 2, series will take about five games, but any sweeps will show up out West. Round 3 will take about as long to finish series as in Round 1 with the Eastern No 2 or 3 poised to play the Western No. 3 or 4 finisher. And your Finals would take six games with the slight nod going to the Western team to raise Lord Stanley’s Cup.

Too easy! Put 2009 in the books before the first post-season puck drop.

And then there was the 2009 Playoffs…

Here is the chart that shows how it all turned out:

If you were counting on history to provide your Nostradamus-like 2009 Playoff predications, you were screwed. It’s OK. Most of us took it on the chin here and there. Here’s a Summary of what ran contrary to the averages:

• Round 1 was flooded with the same number of 4-Gamers that were experienced in all first rounds combined since the Lockout. Where there were none before, two-of-three were experienced out West. To simply say this was uncharacteristic minimizes this reality. We did not hear or read ANYBODY that claimed three of eight Round 1 series would be sweeps.

• The first round also held no 5-game series, but the average of two-to-three was likely consumed in the 4-Gamers.

• The 44 total games to finish Round 1 were just like in 2006 and 2007. They were, however, four less total than in 2008. So if your memory is shorter term, you would have entered Round 2 thinking it should have started a couple days later.

• Round 2 was all wrong. The three 7-Gamers were completely incongruent with the AP. The post-Lockout Round 2 had never had any 7-Gamers before this trio.

• The distance between team seedings for the 2009 Round 2 looks most like the one in 2007. Parity in post=season capability, tempo and emotion, however, saw the difference in the number of games to close out the series rise to an average of 6.75 games in 2009 versus only 5.5 in 2007.

• Round 3 “…(Did) not compute…” either. The Round 3 series in 2009 were finished by Game 5 with one of the two being a 4-Gamer. It practically made everyone think they blinked and missed something in Round 2. The team that put down the Devils and the Conference Champions? Gone in four? And a tough Chicago team eliminated in five when Detroit was only one goal short of a defeat at the hands of Anaheim in their previous series? Maybe a Round 3 with an average of at least one full close-out game per series less than the previous three is simply nature seeking equilibrium for the extended Round 2.

• And there is nothing to say about the 2009 Finals except that we all got our money’s worth.


It is our hope you now feel better about any of your issues with picking how the 2009 Playoff series would come out. Your theories and rationale on what was likely to happen was based on your historical experience, the AP. And when it came to 2009, 2006 through 2008 lied to you. They set you – all of us – up.

We heard a saying once that went something like, “…If you’re gonna be wrong, do it in style….” I should think the 2009 Playoffs fit that bill.
1. 4.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Moose Out Front Should Have Told You - Frozen Pill


Fortunately, we're in the heat of summer and THE PARK IS NOT CLOSED! I am sure they are not repairing every ride at the same time. And somebody owes us a little fun.

Please join On Goal Analysis (OGA) in our fantasy hockey pool for the 2009/10 NHL regular season. We are looking for some hockey bloggers who would be interested in playing some fantasy hockey!

If you write for/publish a blog covering any aspect of hockey, drop a line to frozenpill@rocketmail.com or direct message us on twitter.

We are looking to rearrange our own little comfy corner of the sweet, sweet addiction sometimes referred to as fantasy hockey. And at the same time, gather up some some fellow communers at the First Church of Hockey for dialogue, ideas and maybe even some quote-worthy chirping.

The time draws nigh and we are finalizing our rule-set now and will be ready to share with interested players soon. We will have something special planned for the draft and plan to do some fun follow up with analysis and discussion with the writer-players in the pool as the season plays out.

Also, if you are simply a fan of ongoalanalysis.com and The Colonel and Big Tex's hockey musings, or a friend of ours on BallHype, we would like to invite you to be the first fan to contact us for joining in the hOckeybLoggerspOol (tip to the Colonel).

Obviously, there is no cost involved...just the commitment for the season to try and kick the Colonel's arse.

Again, you can email frozenpill@rocketmail.com, message us on the Twit or even leave comments below...just provide us a way of getting back to ye.

And yes, your Mommy said you can come out and play. No need to check. JOIN US!

TAKE ME TO ongoalanalysis.com (tease: new site coming soon!)

1. 4.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009


As we all know, hockey's dog days are here. I was searching for something worth commenting on - something not involving a certain Blackhawks winger now known as "20 Cent". Lo and behold, I found this (h/t to The New York Rangers Blog).

It seems Nikolai Zherdev, late of the Rangers, hasn't signed with a KHL club after all, and his agent has been in contact with Nashville Predators' GM David Poile. Simply put, the enigmatic Zherdev would provide desperately-needed scoring for the goal-starved Predators, who managed just 2.52 Goals/Gm last season (24th in the NHL). Just three Nashvillians topped 20 goals in 08-09, so the addition of another 20+ goal man would be most welcome.

Given the rise of the Columbus Blue Jackets and the resurgence of the St. Louis Blues, the Predators must pull something out of the free agent pond in order to compete for a playoff spot. Considering Nashville's financial limitations and the talent available at this point in the off-season, Zherdev would be a very nice pickup for The Only Team in the Central Division NOT in the 08-09 Playoffs.

Does Z like country music? Doubtful...but he apparently wants to keep playing hockey in North America. The young (potential) sniper has been tried and found wanting by both the Blue Jackets and Rangers - two of the lowest-scoring teams in the NHL last year. He's rapidly running out of options. Music City might very well be Zherdev's last shot at an NHL career.

I'm certain that the feelings of both the Predators and Zherdev towards each other and this (possible) marriage of convenience are summed up quite nicely by the great Charlie Robison. Who knows? It might just work.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis
1. 4.

Monday, August 10, 2009


So there I was on draft day listening to commentary about which players currently being chosen may see their way onto their NHL club this season and what they could bring. The interesting thing I caught is as one breath mentioned they could make that difference on their new team, it was logically bolstered in the next gasp by their stats from their previous years in a league decidedly not the NHL. Is that logic flawed? Were we led astray?

Yes and yes. But only if we do not understand how the previous years in college, juniors, the AHL, Europe, etc translate into NHL Year 1 will we be confused. Since nobody gave us a translation, OGA provides that here in order to manage your expectations with rookies this season.

In this analysis, we looked at 30 players, both past and present, and what they did in their last year prior to the pros versus NHL Year 1. We then compare the average results to the top five draft picks from the 2009 Entry Draft.

The Data Group

For this study, we studied players at every position. They came from out of NHL history, Europe, college, juniors and the AHL in their last year before turning pro. For skaters, we only compared goals, assists and PIMs; for goalies, just wins and goals against. In that comparison, we looked for, and provide here, a percentage of change in statistics. An admittedly uncomplicated study, this one still to an extent gauges the rough difference in output from the last, pre-Pro, and first NHL, seasons.

In order to acquire that percentage of difference when a player often times did not play the same number of games between years, we extrapolated. We love the term ‘extrapolate’ because it implies that critics are going to tear off a strap of your behind for your interpretation of something not so straightforward. To get our magic numbers though, we simply:

1. Divided the largest number of GP by the smallest to get a percentage of GP; then we

2. Multiplied all of the statistics from the lowest GP season by the percentage to see if the player played an equal number of games in both leagues, how much those stats would be worth

(Email us for a copy of the raw data at shotongoal@ongoalanalysis.com .)

Here is a rundown of the rather interesting findings for NHL Year 1:

• All but five players displayed a drop in output in NHL Year 1 and two of those ‘gainers’ held a 0% difference

• Best average change: Maurice “Rocket” Richard with a +75.28%; this stat is a little different from all of the others because there are no juniors/college/etc. stats prior to NHL Year 1 for The Rocket; so we compared his 16 games on the ‘42-’43 Canadiens with the 46 games played for Les Habs the following season.

• Worst average change: David Booth with a –55.98%

• Average change in output for NHL Year 1 for ALL players: –19.46%

• Average change in output for NHL Year 1 for ALL players minus the highest and lowest averages: –21.54%

• Average change in output for NHL Year 1 for goalies: –6.99%

The first bullet above is interesting for a couple of reasons. The five players not displaying a drop off in numbers are The Rocket, Wayne Gretzky and three goalies. The Rocket’s math indicated simply what most people always said about him – he got better as time went on. For instance, his ’42-’43 totals of 5 Gs, 6 As, and 4 PIMs when extrapolated out from 16 games to the same 46 he played the next season become 14-17-12. The following season’s 46 games, however, saw him go 32-33-45, a positive change of just over +75% in a year. After The Rocket: Billy Smith of legendary crease defending fame with the Islanders improved +22.44%; Wayne Gretzky was a +20.6%; and Scott Clemmensen and Roberto Luongo broke even. More on the goalies below.

Panthers fans should not hurl warm beer at David Booth (or us for that matter) and call for his immediate trade for the almost-negative-56% change. He simply has the worst percentage of change out of these 30 players – there have been more than 5000 professional Hockey players in the history of the NHL and chances are somebody beats him in this category.

For all 30 players in our data sample, the average change was almost –19.5%. Some notable drops:

Mario Lemieux –51.5% (but still with 100 points in his rookie season)

Steven Stamkos –50.15% (last year’s #1 entry draftee)

Bobby Orr –32.45% (“What?” you ask, but you know how he turned out)

Todd Bertuzzi –32.4% (A scoring machine in juniors)

Sidney Crosby –28.5% (Youngest NHL team captain in history and Cup winner)

Many data samples throw out your highest and lowest numbers because they often times skew the results. When we did so, the 28 players left gave us an average change that was a –21.45%. You might like to average the two and say something like “…The average difference a player’s statistics will display in NHL Year 1 is 20.5 percent less than his last year before turning pro….” For the purposes of the rest of this study, and in our heads when we look at somebody coming up to the NHL, we will round it off to a manageable –20% under the assumption a study of hundreds of more players would yield more positive differences.

And goalies took special note here because of the one positive, two zeros, and others that were relatively low in change when coming up for NHL Year 1. We looked at Roberto Luongo, Scott Clemmensen, Martin Biron, Martin Brodeur, Billy Smith, Marty Turco, Dominik Hasek, Jacques Plante and Gump Worsley. Some really great netminders here. Their overall average difference when coming up was only a –6.99% in Wins and Goals Against. This suggests that for the really good goalies, they are already well seasoned when brought forward. This only makes sense because, as we have always said, the only player who can single-handedly win a game in the goalie. So for any new goalies arriving on the roster, we would go with expectations about 7% less than before they got there.

The Future

There are many who think the top five players chosen in the 2009 Entry Draft stand a better chance of making their club than not. Let’s assume they do and you wanted to see how they would do if this were NHL Year 1 compared to last year based on a –20% rule. Here’s what you would expect:

John Tavares = 46 Goals; 37 Assists; 43 PIMs. Really? That high, you say? It could happen depending on a lot of factors, but, based on the team as a whole, is probably more like 30 Goals and 35 Assists this next season.

Victor Hedman = 13 Goals; 29 Assists; 113 PIMs. For this to happen, he has a farther stretch to go coming off the bigger ice surface and adjusting to North American hockey. These numbers would also require the team to catch fire and Hedman to play on the PP’s first unit. But somewhere between 30 and 40 points is within the realm of the possible.

Matt Duchene = 25 Goals; 38 Assists; 34 PIMs. This is possible, but he would need to be one of the top three centers and get some PP time. Look for him to score more like 40 total points with good ice time.

Evander Kane = 38 Goals; 38 Assists; 77 PIMs. If he can do this on the third of fourth line, Atlanta will be very happy, both on the scoreboard and at the turnstiles. Our hedge, however, only gives him about 30 Goals and 25 Assists if he plays all season long.

Brayden Schenn = 26 Goals; 45 Assists; 70 PIMs. Not as likely to be that high for the total. For our part, we think the Kings are an improved team this season. But Schenn would likely be a third or fourth liner if he makes the club out of camp. OGA says 20 Goals and 25 Assists is a more reasonable figure.


In our study, we found that fans can count on a Rookie in NHL Year 1 to provide about 80% of the scoring and PIMs that they produced in their final year of the previous league. Maybe more importantly, teams drafting players should be exceedingly happy if that prospect comes up for his turn with the big club and produces numbers that high given some greats and the fact they couldn’t hit the 80% plateau their first season. We also found it is wise to expect goalies coming up do so at a high caliber and are only off on Wins and Goals Against by about 7%.

Players who meet these marks are the average of the best talent to lace up skates and lug a stick onto the ice. To expect more than that is to overestimate what is most likely to happen with this young talent.
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Saturday, August 8, 2009


What is a GM, really? That evil management guy who trades away your favorite player(s). Yeah, the skater whose customized jersey you paid 200 bones for. And the pugilist whose name you yell loudest from the rafters when he drops his gloves and puts up mits. GM?! Yah! Boo! Hiss, even!

In terms of the GM’s and what they are actually doing in the off-season besides plotting how you will have to purchase another sweater, have you taken a look at the Anaheim Ducks’ salary cap lately? What can that team’s leadership still do this (Summer) season?

According to www.nhlnumbers.com the Ducks have:

• $5.67M of cap space left. This is a bit of a misnomer going into training camp as they could carry 10% over The Cap up to some point just before the regular season opens and then have to unload some salary.

• There are 16 forwards under salary. Brad Larsen and Rob Niedermayer (UFAs) remain unsigned for a total of about $2.5M in 2008/9 dollars. (Niedermayer cost $1.5M more than Larsen last year.)

• Eight defensemen are signed with Brett Festerling (RFA) and Bret Hedican (UFA) hanging out to a combined tune of about $1.35M in terms of 2008/9 salary.

• Jonas Hiller and J.S. Giguere are both signed, but David LeNeveu needs a contract beginning at $600K from last year’s take.

So for a cool $4.45M, everyone on the roster could be signed, done deal, no worries for the season, with some cap space change to boot.


But stop for just a second. There are some things to consider here.

It is arguable whether or not the priority is to sign David LeNeveu for a third goalie, or Festerling and/or Hedican to increase the defensive roster from eight to 10. I would personally say the Bret(t)s need to be signed first. Only two defensemen – Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger – played in all of Anaheim’s 82 games last season. In terms of needing depth in the D, that is what the FBI would call ‘A Clue.’ So (arbitrarily) say the going rate is a 20% raise, and if both are signed, that’s $1.62M. LeNeveu needs to go on paper as well in case anything happens to goalies No 1 & 2. With the same raise as above, we are now talking about $2.34M gone.

I could see Brad Larsen possibly signed for about $750K. Rob Niedermayer is another story. He is probably more in the realm of $2.5 – 3M (some might call this a discount). Using the worst case, we are talking $6.09M, total. They are still a bit less than $150K below the Cap + 10% rule. Going there, however, would force the same situation as Bobby Ryan last year who should have been up with the club from jump street but had to wait 18 games to get there.

So all things considered, is the issue merely the dollars? We can’t pretend to believe it is that simple. For the most part, signing everyone but Rob Niedermayer to a contract that is only a 20% raise would still properly reward them for their service (as long as you are not one of these players’ agents). So you are likely asking them to take less than they might get on a team that REALLY needs their talents and simultaneously asking Rob Niedermayer to cough up a home town discount. For the sacrifice of the others still unsigned, and in the spirit of teamwork, a GM might easily feel justified to ask, “…Rob, a little help here, huh?...”

That doesn’t even delve off into the owner-imposed budget laid at the feet of the GM with which to build the team. While fans in the know on numbers might step up and say, “…Hey, you spent fifty-seven-point-five million last year! Let’s get cracking, now! Come on! LET’S GO DU-UCKS! LET’S GO DU-UCKS!...” And $57.5M got Anaheim within one goal and one series of the Finals, that singular reason the skates are laced up long after the feet, arms and fingers involved in the lacing are tired and worn. With Le Economique Poo being experienced everywhere maybe ownership just doesn’t have $57.5M this year. Heck, they only spent a bit over $51M in the 07/08 season.

And we might add that, with the crew that is left, and as long as it met with League rules, we would want to work up all of these last contracts and announce them as a package because the big point could be publically made that ‘all of these men present today sacrificed for the good of the team to get this done.’

I also am thinking the linchpin in all this is the in actuality the signing of Rob Niedermayer. Sure you can bump up his contract this season with bonuses that do not hit The Cap, but if he is your prize catch here, then you want him first so you can see what is left for the rest.

Having said all of this, here is my SWAG at what happens. The Ducks’ GM gets Rob Niedermayer to a number close to what a player of his caliber can live with, but not what the team cannot live without. His signing also solves any potential nagging bur under his brother’s saddle even though, as professionals, everyone understands it is just business. (It is still your blood, kin brother we are talking about.) With Niedermayer a done deal, at least one of the two defenders and LeNeuve fall to paper. For our money, the emphasis would be on the last defender if we had the budget for it. After him comes Larsen (or not depending on the budget).

You could just as easily see one each defender and forward unsigned. Or Rob Niedermayer unsigned and all of the others under contract, which would probably not be management’s first choice as a course of action.

So no easy task here, then. But obviously why the statement ‘clubs are artificially deflating the market to force the players to pay the bill’ is so much a load of poppycock.

Wanna be GM for a day? There’s more to it than simply cashing a check…
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Thursday, August 6, 2009

"Who's Got JR?" A Video Tribute - Frozen Pill

This post was going to be for the San Jose Sharks Off-Season Update. However, with yesterday's retirement of Jeremy Roenick after 1363 NHL games played over 20 seasons, this post shall be a quick tribute to the end of the Era of JR. Considered by many as the current ambassador of hockey, JR was also the NHL's rock star long before Ovie-1 hit the scene in DC.

In his younger years, he was brash and mouthy and brought less-than-fond attention to himself and the game at times. But as Roenick matured through the years, he brought a certain passion to the game through his play and conduct that could enamor even the most ardent fan of the opposing team on any given night. And Jeremy would be the first to discuss (and has many times) the difference between the player he was and the player he would become in his later years.

And whether you loved or hated him, Jeremy was simply fun and embodied something unique...a bridge between the players of yesteryear's gritty hockey games and the new, flashy skill of today's NHL.

Agitator, Great American goal-scorer and entertainer, I give you JR. A man tough enough to hit Bob Probert, curiously play with his broken jaw on the bench...and white-man dance in front of thousands of viewers. Enjoy this tribute to some of Jeremy's 'other' hockey moments.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009


As long-time readers know, I don't normally cover the Dallas Stars - they're on the Frozen Pill's beat. I live in Dallas, though, and am a Stars fan (except when they're playing the Rangers). I purchased my partial-season ticket plan today, and thought this would be a good time to offer up some constructive criticism regarding the Stars' 2009-2010 home schedule.

Guess who's NOT coming to dinner?

I'll give you a hint: The Rangers, Capitals and Penguins. This season, I won't get to see my favorite team, the most exciting player in the NHL today, or the defending Stanley Cup Champs in person. These were my top three must-see games in 08-09, but they're not an option this season. Lower on my list, Les Habitants are the only Canadian club not flying into DFW during the coming season (I'm not a Habs fan - I just miss Bob Gainey). In short, this is garbage. Every team should play a home-and-home set against every team in the opposing conference every year.

The "Consolation Prizes"

When picking the games for my partial plan, I struggled to find ten games I really wanted to see in person. Chicago was a no-brainer, but I only selected the first of their two appearances - the second time the Blackhawks visit Dallas is Game 81, and I seriously doubt this game will have any real meaning for either club. Boston, Detroit's 2nd visit (wish their 1st stop wasn't right before Christmas), and a Night-Before-Thanksgiving tilt with the much-improved Blues received automatic bids, as did both Columbus games (I cover the Blue Jackets for OGA...and miss Ken Hitchcock).

Those were the first six games that caught my eye. Upon further review of the Stars' schedule, I decided to get tickets for the first Dallas appearances of Messrs. Hedman and Tavares. Two games remained, which I left up to my son. Tex Jr. picked the perpetually-rebuilding Toronto Maple Leafs and the Philadelphia Prongers. I didn't ask why he picked those games; I just assumed he wanted to hear Celena Rae sing "O Canada" at least once this season, and he figured the Philly game would be phun.

My Personal Boycott

At this point, you might be saying to yourself, "Tex, those look like decent choices, but...how could you pass on all twelve games against division rivals San Jose, Anaheim, Los Angeles and Phoenix?" This is my personal boycott: I won't pay to watch the Stars play any of these teams, because the Dallas Stars don't belong in the Pacific Division. I've emailed the NHL on this subject, and I even sent Gary Bettman a globe, to no avail.

In a logical world, Vancouver would be in the Pacific, given that waves from that ocean crash against property in that city. I understand, however, the desire to keep the three western Canadian teams together. Fine. Put Colorado in the Pacific, and move the Stars into the Northwest Division. Dallas has a good playoff history with Edmonton, a love-hate relationship with Minnesota, a vendetta against Vancouver, and I will never forget the fact that, in exchange for the Stars' current GM, Dallas sent Jarome Iginla to Calgary when the Flames really wanted Todd Harvey. Yes, the Dallas Stars could easily make themselves at home in the Northwest Division. Until that happens, I'm not buying ticket one to a Stars' divisional game. Are you listening, Gary? This is where do my best Denis Lemieux impression, shouting, "Trade me right f***ing now!", and hanging up the phone.

Trade me back to On Goal Analysis right f***ing now