In a slideshow predicting the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs written just 10 days ago, I had the Nashville Predators making it to the Finals after an epic Western Conference run involving three seven-game series.
So much has changed in 10 days that I will be doing all new predictions by the end of the week.
The Detroit Red Wings are spiraling out of control and have a better chance to finish fourth than first. The Dallas Stars have had their winning streak snapped and the San Jose Sharks may have turned a corner from their disastrous five weeks that began in early February. The Calgary Flames have cooled off and the Colorado Avalanche are red hot.
Then the Predators, who had already added Hal Gill, Andrei Kostytsin and Paul Gaustad at the trade deadline, received big news: Alexander Radulov, a 26-goal, 32-assist NHL forward in 2007-08 that they lost to Russia’s Kontinental Hockey League that summer, is on a team eliminated from his league’s playoffs. He wants to come back to the NHL to fulfill the last year of his entry-level contract.
Radulov is in a unique situation: Because he is under contract and remained on the roster as a suspended player, he can be added to their active roster after the deadline without having to clear re-entry waivers and be eligible for the playoffs. He is expected to be active as soon as Thursday.
In other words, the Predators get a top-six forward for the playoff run without having to give anything up and no one can stop them from adding him. While they will have to count nine games and the playoffs as a full year and allow Radulov to be eligible for free agency, it is well worth it.
Shea Weber and Ryan Suter make up arguably the best defensive pair in the game and the Predators have enough serviceable players on the blue line behind them. They have one of the best goalies in the world. The one weakness they had was a lack of top-six forwards.
They still do not have any truly elite forwards. But David Legwand, Martin Erat, Mike Fisher, Patric Hornqvist, the Kostytsin brothers and Gaustad already gave them enough skill to bleed to their third line. Adding Radulov gives them more forward depth than any other team in the league.
They already have the best work ethic and receive the best coaching. They are hungry. They have learned to win playoff series.
This team may not finish better than the fourth seed, but they no longer have to pull off the big upset to make it through the Western Conference. Thanks to their intangible advantage over the Canucks, they are now the team to beat out west.
The trade-off for allowing Radulov to count two-plus months as a full season is it obviously improves their best chance ever to win a Stanley Cup. Yet this move could pay dividends down the road, too: A deep run and proximate payday makes him and both blue line studs more likely to stay this offseason. The extra revenue and excitement generated might even help them afford at least two of them next season.
For a decade, this team could not get out of the first round and was on the verge of bankruptcy. Even for the first half of this season, they had the lowest payroll in the league (currently they are fifth-lowest). In a few months, they may have a set themselves up to be contenders for years to come.
Flames Fire Bill Peters Following Racist Epithet Scandal
The Calgary Flames have fired head coach Bill Peters four days after a former player came forward and claimed that the Peters directed racial epithets toward him while they were in the minors 10 years ago, according to ESPN’s Emily Kaplan.
Akim Aliu, who played for Peters in 2009-2010 for the Chicago Blackhawks’ AHL affiliate Rockford Ice Hogs, tweeted on Monday night that Peters “dropped the N bomb several times towards me in the dressing room in my rookie year because he didn’t like my choice of music.”
Peters, who was hired by the Flames this past offseason, penned a letter of apology for the incident to general manager Brad Treliving, saying that the comments were made “moment of frustration.”
“Although it was an isolated and immediately regrettable incident, I take responsibility for what I said,” Peters, 53, wrote.
Aliu says that he found Peters’ letter of apology to the Flames “misleading, insincere and concerning”, adding that he won’t comment further on the matter until he met with the NHL as part of their investigation into the incident.
“This investigation we’re doing, I know everyone wants this done immediately and the world we live in is immediate,” Treliving said. “I hope you can appreciate we’re trying to do everything we possibly can to make sure we get it right and get all the information that needs to be gotten.’
Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, who was an assistant on Peters’s staff when the incident happened, said earlier this week that the incident “for sure happened.”
“Management handled it directly and never heard of it again and never saw anything else after that,” Brind’Amour said. “So it was definitely dealt with, in my opinion, correctly … We’ve definitely moved past that.”
A report from TSN’s Frank Seravalli, that dropped on Tuesday, included Aliu’s Rockford teammates — Simon Pepin and Peter MacArthur, who both corroborated Aliu’s account.
Aliu says that he was in charge of the music in the locker room for the morning skate and when Peters walked in he said:”I’m sick of hearing this n—–s f—ing other n—–s in the a– stuff.”
“He then walked out like nothing ever happened,” Aliu told TSN. “You could hear a pin drop in the room, everything went dead silent. I just sat down in my stall, didn’t say a word.”
“This isn’t me being bitter. I sat on this a really, really long time. It broke my heart, I think it made my career go downhill before it started,” Aliu said. “This isn’t to the degree of Kaepernick by any means, but if you play the race card, it’s most likely the end of your career.”
“What am I going to say? I was 20 years old and a first-year pro. I was too scared to speak up,” Aliu said. “I beat myself up every day over it.”
Finding Clues in Hockey Stats – How to Successfully Bet on the NHL
The advancement of hockey is pretty impressive. Players used to come from Minnesota and Detroit. Now, it’s a completely different story. Hockey players are recruited from all over and they’re respected for their game and wisdom. Those who are willing to put some effort into handicapping the NHL are rewarded big time. Indeed, NHL betting will never reach the same level as other important sports, like basketball, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not worth wagering on the games. Advanced stats can make you more successful when betting on hockey. Keep on reading to discover the most valuable stats for bettors.
This advanced stat is used to measure the overall number of shots while playing at even strength. Approximately 75% of shots taken throughout an NHL season are at even strength, so it doesn’t come as a surprise. Fenwick is the same as Corsi, the only difference being that it doesn’t take into consideration blocked shots. Why? Simply because blocking shots is a skill, not a string of random events. As a rule, a hockey team’s CF% and FF% are close. If you’re curious to know what’s with the weird name, find out that Fenwick is named after Matt Fenwick, a blogger for the Calgary Flames. Mr. Fenwick can be found on Twitter.
According to the experts at ATS, expected goals is a relatively new metric in data analysis. This advanced metric allows you to get a better understanding of the goal scoring opportunities that are created. A team that is trailing, say, 3-0 will obviously up its game and score more goals. Expected goals is particularly helpful when it comes to predicting future scoring because it focuses on shot attempts. You can use 2 metrics, namely Corsi and xG, to evaluate teams and players. Fenwick and Corsi consider shot attempts, they don’t consider the quality of the shots. xG takes into account shot location and uses league-wide averages.
PDO is a shooting percentage, combined with a save percentage. You can use it with Corsi or Fenwick to handicap team strength. To get the number you need, add the team’s 5v5 SH% and 5v5 SV%, and then multiply the result by 10. You can use the advanced stat for individual players, but keep in mind that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It’s not uncommon to see PDO regression drive results in the NHL. Most teams regress to the mean.
Corsi refers to the value of the entire team and it counts for the total number of shots at the net and against at even strength. It’s an indirect measure for offensive zone position. If the team directs the puck towards the net, it’s a Corsi For. If the other team does that, it’s a Corsi Against. It’s important not to overestimate the value of Corsi. You’ll have a shortsighted view of the game or worse, underestimate the factors that lead to wins and losses. Numerous things in a hockey game are worth your attention, so it’s difficult to know on which one to focus on first. Anyway, Corsi isn’t a fancy stat. It’s a number that helps you approximate puck possession and, implicitly, forecast future success.
Capitals’ Garnet Hathaway Ejected After Spitting on Ducks’ Erik Gudbranson
Washington Capitals forward Garnet Hathaway was tossed from Wednesday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks for spitting on Ducks’ defenseman Erik Gudbranson during a brawl that took place during the second period.
“That’s about as low as you dig a pit, really,” Gudbranson said (h/t ESPN). “It’s a bad thing to do. It’s something you just don’t do in a game, and he did it.”
When discussing the incident after the game, Hathaway expressed remorse for his actions.
“Unfortunately, spit came out of my mouth after I got sucker-punched, and it went onto him,” Hathaway said. “It has no place. It was an emotional play by me. You don’t plan any of that stuff in your head, and it was a quick reaction and unfortunately the wrong one for me to a sucker punch.”
The brawl was brewing for most of the chippy game, and things boiled over with 33.4 seconds left in the second period when Capitals forward Brendan Leipsic leveled Ducks’ Derek Grant behind the net, which set off a series of fights between the team’s fourth lines, and eventually involved all 10 players on the ice.
“It just escalated,” Ducks’ defenseman Brendan Guhle said. “It for sure was in the works. There were scrums all night. Guys were going after each other. That’s how it goes sometimes.”
“These games can get physical, and they can get nasty,” Ducks coach Dallas Eakins said. “These guys’ll throw down, drop their gloves. That stuff goes on in the game, but what I saw there I haven’t seen; I think I’ve been in pro hockey 30 years, maybe, and I’ve never seen that before. It’s just something you don’t see in the game.”
The loss of Hathaway to suspension will be a devastating blow to the Caps’ roster moving forward.
“It seems like it’s been a constant equation for us the last little while here,” Capitals’ head coach Todd Reirden said. “[We’ll] see where we’re at in terms of injured players and [the] potential situation here with whatever the league does. It’s out of my hands now.”
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