Saturday, November 5, 2011

October Trends, A Week Late and Possibly A Dollar Short

I don't know if there was an equivalent in hockey for all you Canadian readers, but as a child I loved summer Sundays. That was the day the newspaper printed the statistics of all the baseball teams. Some guy I never heard of was hitting .353 - fascinating! Why's so and so hitting so poorly? It's easy to forget what it was like without having access to all the information you want, all the time. We're so awash in data that talking heads are constantly spinning narratives about what a particular hot or cold streak means. Well, I'm here to tell you what they actually mean.

I was doing some clicking around for this year so far, now that we're more than an eighth of the way through the NHL season - narratives are already emerging. I intend to make this a monthly column, and next time I won't think of the idea on the 4th of the month.

The Red Wings Stink Right Now

Will This Continue? No

Why: The beginning of the season is when people notice things. A team on a 105 point pace having a mediocre 10 game stretch in February gets noticed, but it's not alarming. That team is still a big favorite to make the playoffs. Anyway, the Wings' problem is simple - they're getting the shots but they're not going in. It's almost impossible to win consistently in this league shooting 5% at even strength, as the Wings are so far this year. During the Wings' losing streak, they're shooting 1.9% at evens - it's almost impossible to win this way.

Since I wrote the above, the Wings spanked the Anaheim Ducks, both on the scoreboard and territorially. They're going to be just fine.

Michael Grabner Is Perhaps Not The Tactical Genius I Thought He Was

Will This Continue? Yes

Why: Fortune favors the bold; predictors of others' fortunes doubly so. That's an Edward De Vere original quote that I just made up. Whatever the case, Michael Grabner's having a rough start to the season. 11 games, 3 goals, 0 assists, -4. What's most alarming are Grabner's 17 shots on goal through his first 11 games. I think Grabner will continue to be a play driver and dangerous forward, but I am not convinced that he is an elite player. I would not be shocked to see him end this year with 35 points over a full season.

Manny Malhotra Is Looking Like The Player The Rangers Threw Away for Martin Rucinsky

Will This Continue? Kind Of

Why: Manny Malhotra currently has 0 goals and is a -10 on the season. Last year, many close observers of hockey felt he should win the Selke Trophy. Malhotra starts his shifts in the defensive zone more often than just about any player in hockey - right now he has a Zone Start of 24.8%. Last year somehow he was a plus player in spite of this usage, but that was in part because of a .944 SV% while on the ice at even strength. I don't expect that to continue - while Malhotra will likely finish the year at or around -10 (right now his SV% ON is .844), it's really difficult to maintain a positive plus-minus when you're behind the eight ball that often.

Trends To Watch Out For:

Anaheim and Nashville do not look like playoff teams so far this year
While the Leafs are riding a ridiculous hot streak, they are also better than last season
Evander Kane just might be ready to break out
Triumph might write his post about playoff teams' records against non-playoff teams

6 comments:

  1. The one caveat I'd give on Nashville would be the injuries which dogged them over the first 8 games or so. No Mike Fisher, no Martin Erat, and a hobbled Patric Hornqvist.

    For a team whose weakness is at forward, that turned a hole into a gaping chasm for a couple weeks.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Geoff,

    Jagr is pretty clearly sustainably awesome.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Really liked this idea and article, looking forward to the next ones! You already mentioned Toronto, other overperformers for me would be Fla, Edm, Dal, Min so thoughts on them would be cool.

    ReplyDelete
  4. what are you looking at when you say Kane is ready to break out?

    ReplyDelete