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Wednesday, March 31, 2010

31 March Games 2 Watch (G2W) - The Colonel

As the NHL's 2009/10 regular season winds down, there is still jockeying in both the East and West for final playoff seeding. On Goal Analysis will provide you a quick summary of games on the schedule leading up to 11 April that should catch your eye and why...

31 March G2W

FLA @ BUF, 7pm ET

FLA, ladies and gentlemen, are done this season. This game is significant, however, for BUF who, with a win tonight and a PIT loss in regulation or OT/SO, would move into the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

Last 10: The Panthers are only 3-5-2 in their last 10 while the Sabres are 6-3-1, and more recently, 6-1 in their last seven games.

Who's Hot: BUF's last game - a 3-2 win over BOS - saw goals from rookie phenom Tyler Myers (plus an assist), Gaustad and Kennedy and assists from Grier, Roy and Stafford. Goals for FLA in Monday night's 3-2 OT loss to NSH came from Ballard and Weiss (plus an assist), Frolik had two assists, and the remaining assist was from Garrison.

Prediction: If Miller is hot in net tonight, look for a BUF win at home.

CAR @ MTL, 7pm ET

Le Centre Bell best be rockin' tonight as a Metropolit-less Canadiens squad needs a win to continue to move back into 6th place in the East.

Last 10: CAR has to be the hardest team to play against who has only gone 5-4-1 in their last 10 games. They are done as far as the Playoffs go this season, but do not play like it. MTL is 6-2-2 in their last 10 games, but, distressingly, only 1-2-2 in their last five. They need to pick up the pace or risk snatching defeat out of the jaws of victory as BOS and ATL pass them by.

Who's Hot: In MTL's last game (a 4-2 loss to NJD last Saturday), A. Kostitsyn had a goal and an assist, Cammalleri had two assists, Plekanec tallied the other goal and Gomez notched the last assist. CAR beat ATL 4-1 on Monday with two goals from Jokinen, a goal and assist from Sutter, two assists from Whitney, a fourth goal from Cole, and further assists from Pitkanen, Larose, Staal and Carson.

Prediction: Could go either way.

CHI @ MIN, 8pm ET

CHI needs a win tonight to snap out of their three-game losing skid.

Last 10: CHI has slipped its gears, going 3-5-2 in their last 10 games and netting only three points of their last, possible 10. Their motto tonight should be "No more skid marks." MIN comes into tonight's game out of the Playoff running but playing better than CHI at 6-4 of late.

Who's Hot: In last night's 4-2 loss in STL, CHI got goals from Sharp and Hossa and two assists from Toews, all in the 1st period. In contrast on Monday night, MIN's 3-2 win over the LAK came on tallies by Nolan, Burns and Havlat (plus an assist) with two helpers from Koivu and additional ones from Ebbett, Schultz and Zidlicky.

Prediction: IF the 'Hawks do not play a solid game for 60 minutes, this one will go into the books as a MIN victory. The edge should be given to CHI here, though, as they know they need to break the 3-game losing streak for confidence going into the post-season.

ANA @ COL, 9pm ET

Like CHI, the Avalanche have slipped a gear and need a win tonight for the sake of confidence and to keep CGY at bay.

Last 10: COL has struggled lately going 4-5-1 in their last 10, and more recently, 1-3-1 in their last five. ANA will miss the playoff for the first time since the Lockout but are 6-4 in their last 10 and riding a two-game winning streak.

Who's Hot: In COL's 4-3 loss to SJS on Sunday, Mueller potted two and Porter the third goal as Mcleod, Salei, Duchene, Stewart, Cumiskey and Hejduk provided the assists. In ANA's 3-1 defeat of DAL, Bonino, Perry (plus an assist) and Chipchura scored with Selanne, Beleskey, Eminger and Visnovsky getting the helpers.

Prediction: COL needs the win and will squeak this one out.

PHX @ CGY, 9:30pm ET

Perhaps one of the best potential matchups of the night, CGY needs this game to close their gap with COL.

Last 10: CGY has only gone 5-5 in their last 10 and 2-3 in their last five. Playoff-bound PHX, on the other hand, has gone 7-2-1 and is 2-2-1 in their last five.

Who's Hot: CGY played like a team possessed in the 1st Period of their 5-3 win over WSH last Sunday. Kotalik, White (plus an assist), Bouwmeester, Hagman and Bourque (and two assists) scored with further assists coming from Backland (2), Moss, Iginla, Stajan and Conroy. PHX' only goal in last night's 4-1 loss to VAN by Vrbata from Jovanovski and Michalek.

Prediction: CGY should benefit from PHX's second night, back-to-back, road game play. It must be noted, however, that the worst, two-game play PHX has experienced since the Olympics is a loss in regulation followed by one in a shootout. Look for PHX to pull this out and COL to gain a little breathing room.

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Friday, March 26, 2010

JabberHockey: 29 Cities Under Avalanche Watch

SUNDAY, March 28th at 5.30PM ET on JabberHockey:

On this week's JabberHockey, the OGA scoring line host David Driscoll-Carignan of Mile High Hockey.com - the SB Nation blog covering the Colorado Avalanche.

While most analysts are surprised to see the Avs in playoff contention this season, we at OGA called them at CHASING STANLEY (IN the 2010 playoffs) on October 22, 2009. OGA Knows.

And we cannot wait to talk to David about all things Avalanche as they prepare to give their future stars their first taste of NHL playoff action. It's valuable experience the team will build on for years to come.

29 other NHL towns are on notice. And we'll set the beacon call this Sunday.

Join us this Sunday as we examine the teams in playoff contention and give you the OGA insight on this week's JabberHockey.

On Goal Analysis' weekly hockey talk show, JabberHockey is live every Sunday at 5.30PM Eastern. Topics vary each week as we highlight the lamps currently burning up the NHL. Always with a focus on our proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), we offer unique insight into each teams' chances of making post-season play...and the stories to unfold along the way. OGA Knows. And you can, too. Please join us!

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Saturday, March 20, 2010

JabberHockey - The Final 10 (Hockey's own March Madness)

Tomorrow at 5.30PM ET on JabberHockey:

This Sunday we look at the push to conclude the NHL regular season with each team having about 10 games remaining on their schedules.

It also means the OGA Report Card is close to being filled out. The OGA scoring line will give you the last furlong's analysis you've been waiting for on this week's JabberHockey.

Consider how the majority of pre-season analysts picked COL to finish last in the Western conference but OGA called them CHASING STANLEY (in the playoffs!) on October 22nd, 2009. Now you know why it's good to listen to JabberHockey. You can know what OGA Knows.

Join us this Sunday as we examine all teams in playoff contention and give you the OGA insight on this week's JabberHockey.

Join us live via telephone or in the chat room tomorrow at 5.30PM ET!

On Goal Analysis' weekly hockey talk show, JabberHockey is live every Sunday at 5.30PM Eastern. Topics vary each week as we highlight the lamps currently burning up the NHL. Always with a focus on our proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), we offer unique insight into each teams' chances of making post-season play...and the stories to unfold along the way. OGA Knows. And you can, too. Please join us!

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Monday, March 15, 2010

Suspend Or Not Suspend: That Is A Good Question – The Colonel

Richards on Booth. Cooke on Savard. Ovechkin on Campbell. Three hits, three injuries, and, pending judgment about Ovechkin, at least two, un-suspended hits which injured players (with a possible third). Payroll dolled out for no return on a team’s investment. Doctor’s and therapists and media, oh my.

It’s pandemonium run amuck, I say.

Not at all to excuse the actions taken by the hitters in this case, I nonetheless would like to attempt to express the magnitude of the problem from their perspective. Since I am a military man, I do so using as a construct, John Boyd’s OODA Loop.

The Boyd Cycle/OODA Loop

In a nutshell, John Boyd developed the theory of the OODA Loop to explain very quick decision making done while engaged in aerial combat with fighter jets. The four components of the OODA Loop explain how a decision to take action is made and are:

1. Observation

2. Orientation

3. Decision

4. Action

Observation is collecting data using all available senses. For a speeding Hockey player, it is a combination of sight, sound, and memory. In the case of the hits/shoves in question: sight was used to locate an objective – the hittee; sounds were what was ‘seen’ outside of the periphery that indicated where other players and the puck were, or were not, on the ice; and memory told each player after their hours and hours logged playing games on the ice what the hittee could and could not reasonably do – such as pass the puck or turn – before they took action.

These observations allowed the hitters to Orient on their intended target based on their mental perceptions the data gave them.

Having oriented on someone to hit or not hit, they then Decided they would line them up.

And having made the decision, they took Action to deliver the hit.

Three Hits

The issue here is all four of those steps above came in a very compressed space and time and at speeds that are faster than some folks who now discuss it in the media played the game. Again, this is not an excuse for what happened. I offer it merely to point out when the first muscle twitch at the end of step three/in step four above occurred, the players were often times committed.

For Mike Richards, if the decision to hit David Booth was indeed to separate him from the puck, then the orient step in the cycle should not have begun until Booth touched the puck coming up out of his end of the ice. From that moment, Richards skated (all approximately) 95ft in three seconds, or at 34.75 kph/21.59 mph, as he completed the last two steps in the OODA Loop and made contact with David Booth.

For Matt Cooke on Marc Savard – and we won’t debate the motives here at all – the calculations are approximately 10 feet and 1 seconds, or seemingly only 10.97 kph/6.82 mph. The issue here is when you figure the physics of it, Cooke and Savard were closing on each other, and closing speed is cumulative. So they were going at a relative, approximately 22 kph/18 mph when they hit. In one second, you could easily say Cooke simply didn’t think – he decided and took action to hit Savard.

And for Ovechkin and Campbell, the entire play took place over a distance of 60 feet in five seconds, or a relative 13.17 kph/8.18 mph. If you look at the sequence of the hit, you will see Ovechkin speed up at the blueline to chase the puck and then, knowing Campbell was going to get there first, he coasts from the faceoff dot through the hit and turn/trip behind the net.

The ‘So What?’

Why give you those numbers? Firstly, in order to get you to suspend your disbelief (and anger) for a moment, I would ask you what kind of trouble can you get into in 3, 1 or 5 seconds? I would offer if you are going through the Observe, Orient, Decide, Action cycle to accomplish something in that short a time span, we are talking something like dropping your cell phone in your car floorboard while driving, leaning down to get it, and having an accident in the process. Happens every day, multiple times, and is why laws are being written to make it illegal to talk while you drive without a hands-free device.

That said, if you are past the anger at the injuries for a moment, you should next come to the question: How do we prevent these types of incidents?

You could slow down the game of Hockey by allowing clutching and grabbing to come back into the game. That is not going to happen, though. The game is exciting when it is played fast and hard.

You might next say players could be educated on when and where to hit in order to avoid such incidents. I would argue first you must define for them what is good and bad play in these cases or you have no proper framework to reference. The definition comes in the form of a rule(s) put in place to define the incorrect behavior and the consequences of taking incorrect actions. (The consequences here, by the way, figure into the Observation, Orient and Decide steps of the OODA Loop so have three potential points where they could aid a player in deciding not to make a dangerous hit.)

The ‘Head Shot’ rule coming out of the GM meetings in Boca Raton would provide definitions for the Richards and Cooke decisions that more or less clearly state the action decided upon is incorrect and will receive punishment. Based on the rule’s definition, players can be shown tape of incidents that fall under this rule’s purview and the consequences can be discussed in the locker/meeting rooms and enforced on the ice/from NHL headquarters.

Ovechkin’s hit on Campbell, however, was not a head shot. He was pushed/hit in the numbers on the back of his sweater. Was there intent to injure? Judging by his actions sitting on the ice down at the goal line near Campbell, I would have to say regret was there immediately. So what do we do here?

I agree it is the kind of choice made in a few seconds that has a very nasty, unwanted ending. I agree a penalty should have been given at the time, popular or unpopular as it may be depending on your perspective. I believe there was NOT intent to injure, so a 5-minute major for the infraction for boarding is probably not overly excessive, but the game misconduct tends to imply intent to injure which is incorrect. Should there maybe be ANOTHER rule about hitting being illegal when you can see the numbers on the back of the sweater? Hmmmm...

And supplemental punishment? The precedent is out there twice already that Ovechkin’s hit is not a suspendable incident.

But just maybe education should be the proper answer here. I would say Richards, Cooke and Ovechkin (and those that come after them) should be sentenced by the NHL to produce a short video taking the other players who would be viewing it through their 3, 1 and 5 second decisions, why they decided to hit the other player, explain what the infraction is, and then state what they believe, rules be damned, a player should think about the actions they took and individually do when in the same situation.


Decisions to take actions in a Hockey game, over very short periods of time and at increasing speeds can in some cases be very damaging. The Boyd Cycle/OODA Loop implies there is a thought process ongoing that can be influenced with proper training of players who don the skates, grab the sticks and go forth to do battle. When the infraction is not a suspendable offense, it should still provide a teaching point of what is proper and improper conduct on the ice. So when Mr. Campbell hands down no games in the owner’s box, there should still be a date set for the player to come in, review the action and go on record as to what is correct and incorrect activity in the game and why.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

JabberHockey - Hockeython

Today, Sunday March 13th, at 5.30PM ET on JabberHockey:

Big Tex reviews his day of bliss parked in Row Couch, Seat 1 and watching 4 consecutive NHL games throughout the day and evening.

He tweeted, he drank good brew, he consumed man-food. And it was good.

Join us for a review of the self-induced hockey madness and an update on how the OGA PQC Status Spectrum is shaping up. And what about those 'dark horse' calls?

Join us live for Open Ice Hits and FanFantasy today at 5.30PM ET!

On Goal Analysis' weekly hockey talk show, JabberHockey is live every Sunday at 5.30PM Eastern. Topics vary each week as we highlight the lamps currently burning up the NHL. Always with a focus on our proprietary Playoff Qualifying Curve (PQC), we offer unique insight into each teams' chances of making post-season play...and the stories to unfold along the way. OGA Knows. And you can, too. Please join us!

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Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Vancouver Canucks: Going Home

In case you forgot what the home jerseys looked like.

Wednesday night, the Vancouver Canucks' Olympics-induced fourteen-game road trip (well, eight games, two weeks off, then six games) came to an end with a 4-3 shootout loss in Phoenix. When the 2009-2010 NHL schedule was released last summer, a collective gasp! escaped the lips/keyboards of hockey pundits everywhere...well, almost everywhere. Fourteen consecutive road games was considered by most to be a tremendous hardship for the Canucks (though a blogger who shall remain nameless predicted on a certain radio show that the 'Nucks would return from their road trip atop the Northwest Division).

As anyone who can read a standings table can see, Vancouver is, indeed, in first place in the Northwest, following an 8-5-1 road trip which shall henceforth be known as Daniel & Henrik's Excellent Adventure. At this point, I believe I'll step away from the keyboard for a moment and strut around the room.

*cue music*

Okay, I'm back. With that out of my system, I must admit to being a bit surprised by Vancouver's 4-1-1 post-Olympic record, especially since that stretch featured two back-to-back sets and four (possibly five) games against playoff-bound opponents...until I remembered these words of wisdom from a blogger of note:

"...the road is a great place for a team to come together and shake off the rust after a two-week layoff."

After two weeks off, getting out on the road (and away from all the distractions/comforts of home) allowed teams to quickly re-focus. It wasn't just the Canucks, either: The first three nights after the Olympic break, road teams compiled a record of 13-6-0. The Moral of the Story is this: Lengthy road trips can be a good thing...especially if you have as much talent as the Vancouver Canucks.

Now, let's see what kind of reception Ryan "I HATE Team Canada" Kesler gets from the hometown fans Saturday night...Should be a great way to wrap up my #Hockeython.

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.
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Wednesday, March 10, 2010

#Hockeython Saturday! and Other Nuggets

Forgive me, hockey fans, for I have sinned: It's been...(counting on fingers and toes)...several weeks since my last post. I took a little vacation from blogging for the Olympics (slightly off-topic: Does the first "C" in CNBC stand for "Curling"? Should the Games have been called "THE 2010 INTERNATIONAL CURLING TOURNAMENT and other assorted events"?), and non-hockey-related issues have kept me away from the keyboard. At long last, I'm back, and I'm here to stay. Before I get to the primary topic of today's post, I have a couple of nuggets to share:

Remember my Game-Winning Save Theory? Well, the score is now 13-4 in favor of the Theory. For those too lazy to follow the link, what this means is that 17 times this season, I've seen one-goal games in the 3rd period in which the trailing team rang a shot off the post, and that team has lost the game 13 times. Thus, the Game-Winning Save Theory is accurate 76.5% of the time, which is somewhat less than my original prediction of 100%. I guess that's why they call them "theories", rather than "facts". Still, it's good enough to make for at least a minute or two of interesting conversation.

Tonight, Los Angeles is at Chicago, while Vancouver wraps up their "epic 14-game road trip" in Phoenix. Can anyone out there remember the last time either Kings-Blackhawks or Canucks-Coyotes, at this late stage of the season, was considered a compelling matchup? These are strange days, indeed...

And now, the main reason for this post:

I don't know about y'all, but since the Olympic break, I've struggled to get back into the swing of things, NHL-wise. Since foreign languages are best learned through immersion (i.e., surrounding yourself with people who only speak that language), I've come up with an NHL immersion strategy for myself: This Saturday, 13 MARCH, courtesy of the Scheduling Gods, NHL Center Ice, and an understanding-and-supportive-to-a-fault fiancee, I will be watching four games in their entirety, back-to-back-to-back-to-back. The schedule is as follows:

GAME 1: (1:00pm EST) Chicago@Philadelphia
GAME 2: (4:00pm EST) Florida@San Jose
GAME 3: (7:00pm EST) Buffalo@Detroit OR St.Louis@Columbus; Game-time decision
GAME 4: (10:00pm EST) Ottawa@Vancouver

Along the way, I'll be blogging and/or Tweeting (#Hockeython) from Row Couch, Seat 1. Follow along (@OGAs_BigTex) and, in addition to my commentary on the games themselves, you'll learn such factoids as:

What is the optimum time for an in-period bathroom break?
What beer goes best with Florida@San Jose?
While we know that man cannot live on bread alone, what about chips & queso?
...and more!

Feel free to join in this Saturday. Whether you're doing the full #Hockeython, a half-#Hockeython, or just one game, take some time to immerse yourself and re-connect with the 2009-10 NHL season. It's gonna be fun, kids!

Take me back to On Goal Analysis.