March 06 2013 03:15PM
Photo Credit: CANADIAN PRESS/DARRYL DYCK
The Vancouver Canucks are ninth in the National Hockey League in points, yet fifth in puck-possession. After a couple of years of tracking this sort of stuff, I don't even feel it's necessary to link all the math that shows a team's Fenwick record is more predictive of the team's future results than its actual win-loss record. A teams' hockey ability isn't best measured in how many games it wins, but in how many shots it's able to direct towards the net versus its opponents.
What determines wins and losses after the shots have been accounted for? Voodoo, really. Sometimes they call voodoo "goaltending" and even though it's the position played that's the easiest to track, it's almost impossible to predict how a goaltender will do in any given year.
February 26 2013 03:43PM
The Canucks are an elite team even without beating up on inferior Northwest Division clubs
With all the talk about re-alignment, some of it has focused on the "man, the Canucks are going to be moved to a division with real hockey teams?" It's been unfair for the last several years that no opponent in hockey's Northwest Division has really given the Canucks any competition whatsoever for the division crown.
February 24 2013 06:50PM
Photo Dave Reginek via NHLInteractive
A game recap isn't really necessary. The small, underlying events that define a single game have little meaning in the long run. Every botched zone exit, every giveaway, every blown coverage, every solitary, unrecorded play that somehow led to a scoring chance for or against gains anonymity the next day. At some point, people will forget what plays, exactly, Jason Garrison or Keith Ballard made that cost the Vancouver Canucks in their game against the Detroit Red Wings, they will just remember the plays existed. The recording of microstats is simply objective note-taking, and we don't even have those.
We don't record the plays that led to certain events for or against. More developed hockey blogs are built prominently around recording zone exits and entries. Some teams track puck touches and passes to get a more accurate read on the things their team does. There is a problem when you watch a hockey game of confirmation bias, that you will perceive things only as you want them to be seen. If you showed a person a hockey game with all the scoring plays clipped out, it is unlikely they would have been able to tell which team won.
Had all the scoring plays been clipped out of the Canucks and Wings game, it would be 0-0 headed to overtime. Unfortunately, it was 8-3.
February 19 2013 09:55AM
I live in my parents' basement, but sometimes I get to escape upstairs and watch a hockey game.
It's weird to feel emotionally detached from the Vancouver Canucks, but after a year of having written about pretty much every team in the league, there's no real worry for me to watch a game or not. More often than not I'll watch when it's convenient. It's not that anything the organization has done that sucked all the hockey fan out of me, it's that there's just so much more I have to do, and especially on a Sunday night, I'd prefer to spend an evening reading than watching hockey.
But the Canucks happened to be playing the St. Louis Blues, a team that I find super interesting given how good they are with puck-possession and how bad they are in goal. Last season was odd, since Brian Elliott was all-world and he wasn't supposed to be. This season he's been poor, Jaroslav Halak has been hurt, and Jake Allen is carrying the reigns in the absence of both 'tenders.
February 12 2013 08:08AM
Harry How, Getty Images
Last night I was reading Thomas Drance's bit on Manny Malhotra's matchups, and it got me thinking about what Malhotra's role is with the Canucks right now. David Johnson pointed out in a piece over at his indispensable website HockeyAnalysis that while Malhotra gets a lot of defensive zone face-offs, he gets them against very weak competition.
That much is true, and Malhotra, as much as I'd love to say differently because I absolutely love the guy, hasn't been very good since coming back from that eye injury sustained in the first year of his three-year deal. That's a shame because since then, the third line centre spot in Vancouver has been open to all comers meanwhile Malhotra has the distinction of being the highest paid fourth line centreman in the league.
Using a rigid zone start system like the Vancouver Canucks do actually makes it easier for opposing teams to line match on the road as they know who you are likely to be putting on the ice depending on where the face off is. If the San Jose Sharks want to avoid a Thornton against Malhotra matchup, just don’t start Thornton in the offensive zone.
I call it "zone matching", by the way, the process of setting up your players in certain zones on the ice. I can see it being effective in road games where you don't get the last change—while Johnson is right in that it makes your lineup and deployments more predictable, it also allows a road coach to control a situation. Read on past the jump.