With the MLB being on the All-Star Break, the rest of the major sports leagues being in the off-season and there not even being any action from the boring sports, today is supposedly the slowest day of the sports year.
Unless you count the signing of Brandon McMillan,or Mike Ribeiro going to the Preds as Major News there isn’t much going on with the Coyotes either.
(Although I do think McMillan is a good player to keep around, he was solid when he played with Phoenix last year and has a decent chance to make the team).
So, with the hope of stimulating some discussion and/or because I am a crazy ego maniac, here are some random hockey-based opinions I hold, keeping in mind that unless you actually are crazy, new information should be able to sway your opinion on anything, so I reserve the right to change my mind about any or all of what follows at a later date: The Coyotes Will Make the Playoffs
They will. Funny thing is, when teams don’t have any ‘on paper’ first line players, someone always seems to step up. Though the first line is a glaring weakness, the rest of the Coyotes team – Smith in goal, one of the youngest, highest potential defense cores in the league, and a nice set of players to up a really strong bottom 3 lines – matches up better than you’d think (if you don’t pay much attention to Arizona) with the rest of the Western Conference.
My predictions for the following season are that Domi makes the team and wins the Calder, that with increased responsibility and a now unquestionable position as the team’s most talented forward, Mikkel Boeder explodes into the 40 goal scorer he looks like in shootouts, that Oliver Ekman-Larsson finally wins over the league and gets his due as one of its’ best defenseman and that the Coyotes not only make the playoffs, but finish at the top of the Division with the Kings. Faceoffs Are an Overrated Stat
If you watch hockey on TV, you would be forgiven for thinking that facesoffs are one of the biggest deciding factors in a game. The guys on broadcasts – like Glen Healy, who talks about them constantly – love to talk faceoffs. In the media and in conversations, we constantly hear about how so-and-so is such a good player because he is “great on the draw,” but I think its all just something to talk about. Face-offs and their importance are overrated.
I would almost go so far as to say faceoffs don’t even matter.
Now, of course in a scenerio where one team started with the puck every time, they would have a massive advantage, however, in reality, face-offs over time come really close to being 50/50, thus negating their value.
For instance, last year, the best team at faceoffs in the NHL only won 7 more per/100 than the last place team. The Rangers were in the bottom third, and went to the Final.
The following article, with lots of charts and interesting points, makes a good case for a team needing to have a offensive zone faceoff win differential at 5v5 of +40 to equal a goal, and +240 over a year to equal a win: http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2013/10/9/4817802/lies-damn-lies-and-faceoff-percentages
To put that in perspective, Ryan Suter lead all players by being on the ice for 354 O-Zone faceoff wins, but had a differential of only +44, good for only a single goal. (Behindthenet.ca)
Where I think this could matter is that often teams put a specific player on the ice in an important situation to try to win the draw (say in a defensive faceoff, late in a 1 goal game) and usually a second, sometimes out of position player, player who is also good at faceoffs, in case the first guy gets kicked out. I think we can all agree this is a common scenario, but if you actually look into the numbers, it shouldn’t be and it’s frankly bizarre that professional coaches don’t realize this. Based on my own personal logic and about ten minutes of research, it seems it would be optimal to instead put your best 3 defensive forwards on the ice, no matter their faceoff skills, since even the worst guy will win 40% of the faceoffs and the best guy will win just over half of them and then no matter what happens, you are now in the best situation to recover the puck and prevent a goal.
Anyways, I thought this was interesting since faceoffs are such an important concept when people talk hockey, that it’s fun to see that reality and perception differ quiet greatly on something seemingly so basic.
Don’t take my word for it either. Do a google search and read a few articles about the topic if you’re interested. The President’s Trophy
I understand why we care about the Cup winner and forget the league’s first place team, but I think maybe the President’s Trophy winner deserves a little more respect.
In much the same way that we give an value to the paper in your wallet based on a kind of universal acknowledgement, even though it’s not objectively valuable, the Playoffs and Cup Winner are given a value out of proportion to their objective meanings.
Basically, we all decide that we agree that wining the Cup is the ultimate goal of hockey. And that’s fine. Nobody is knocking the playoffs.
However, there is extreme luck and variation in a seven game series – literally anything can happen. That is of course what makes the Playoffs so exciting, but it also means that it’s a horrible way to determine who is the best team, since over a short series, even terrible teams can go on a roll.
Logically speaking, the best team over 82 games (a much large sample size) should be rated higher than a team that got lucky over a much smaller sample size. The Bruins, though they didn’t win the Cup, can mathematically speaking, be considered a superior team to both the Rangers and Kings, who played in the Final.
Now, I don’t actually care and I probably won’t remember that the Bruins were the best regular season team in the 2013-14 season, because like everyone else, the Stanley Cup is what matters to me. That being said, I think we oughta consider that winning the President’s Trophy is equally hard, potentially harder, and that since it’s less lucky, it oughta be valued higher. The Stars Won’t be Great
People seem ready to thrust the Stars into the same conversation as the Bruins, Ducks, Blues, Kings, Penguins and Hawks, but I have reservations.
I don’t think Jason Spezza is as good as he used to be, nor do I think that his addition makes them a powerhouse. I think they’re a good team, but I wouldn’t necessarily think their automatic to make the playoffs. A team with Ovechkin and Backstom missed the Playoffs in the East, so having 3 star forwards is no guarantee. Sure, I’m biased, but I like the Coyotes better in every aspect excepting the first line. Top Five Recording Artists of All Time
The Smiths The Leafs Won’t Suck
You heard it here first: The Leafs will make the playoffs and be the surprise team in hockey of the 2014-15 season because Kadri, Rielly and Gardiner will all finally blossom into star players. International Hockey
It’s boring and outdated. There, I said it. All Star Games
Are the worst.
Thanks for reading. Follow @james_tanner123
This post originally appeared on www.hockeybuzz.com and we thank them for permission to rebroadcast it here.