Monday, November 30, 2015

The Flyers Should Trade For Ryan Suter

..okay, not actually. Because he's on my list of players that I don't think we could acquire without trading the captain, and that's not something we should even consider doing. Sorry for the clickbait.

But there was a post this afternoon on SB Nation about Ryan Suter not being happy with his situation in Minnesota. Basically, Suter is a left-handed shot. He's been paired Jonas Brodin recently, and his issue is that Brodin is also a left-handed shot.

That apparently causes issues for Suter (even though he just signed a contract that pays him $98 million), because his partner is thus playing on the weak side. It's easiest to see when you think of a team set up in the offensive zone, or preparing for a breakout from the defensive zone. You always want both defenseman to have their forehand toward the boards, but it's impossible to set up a roster that can always make that happen.

Flyers reference - here are our current pairs:

  • Del Zotto (lefty) and Gudas (righty)
  • Schultz (lefty) and Schenn (righty)
  • Gostisbehere (lefty) and Medvedev/Manning (both lefty)
  • PP1: Gostisbehere (lefty) and Voracek (lefty)
  • PP2: Del Zotto (lefty) and Medvedev/Manning (both lefty)
The first impulse move I'm making right now if I'm Dave Hakstol is swapping Schultz and Ghost, and then immediately looking to trade Schultz for a right-handed shot (or waiving him and sending him to Lehigh Valley in favor of Mark Alt). 

Maybe we should just let it be, though. We have too many left handed shots, and Mark Streit's return won't help because he's a lefty too. Maybe we can swap him for a young right-handed defenseman at the deadline, because it's not something that will be alleviated when Sanheim and Provorov - both also lefties - join the big club. It's only going to get more crowded on that side. 

The Ghost/Manning and Ghost/Meddy lines prove that it's not absolutely necessary to play on your strong side, but that definitely benefits the DZ/Gudas and Sch/Sch pairings. 

This situation also underlines just how much of a baby Ryan Suter is. I mean he's complaining about playing with a Twenty-Two Year Old Future Star Defenseman. Brodin would immediately be our top d-man, or would at least challenge MDZ for the honor. Let Suter trade places with Del Zotto and see if he can carry Gudas around for 25 minutes per game. 

Perhaps Suter is a little disgruntled that he's on a team paying 31, 32, and 33 year old forwards and a 30 year old defensemen (all with No Movement Clauses) a combined $26.4 million per year for this year and next year and that team is just 11-7-4 (12 points behind in their division) and on a three game losing streak. That take could be a little hot, but it's a small reminded that things could always be worse than Philadelphia. 

On Trading A Star Winger For A Top Defenseman

I came across an interesting tweet from FGSB, and it got me in the mood to hunt for a top D-man. Not that I don't love Michael Del Zotto, but the thought of him anchoring the defense for another year or two makes me want to lose my lunch.
We Would Have To Give Up Giroux And A Prospect And That Might Not Even Be Enough

Before we get into the guys that we might actually hypothetically be targeting, we should also cross off the cream of the crop. We don't want this to be like an EA NHL franchise mode with trade override turned on. There are 3 players aged 25-26 that should be untouchable forever:
  • PK Subban, Montreal (26 years old, $9.0 million cap hit)
  • Drew Doughty, Los Angeles (25, $7.0)
  • Erik Karlsson, Ottawa (25, $6.5)
And three more that are just a bit older:
  • Shea Weber, Nashville (30, $7.9)
  • Ryan Suter, Minnesota (30, $7.5)
  • Duncan Keith, Chicago (32, $5.5)
These are the six best defensemen in the league, and I have a really hard time believing that any of these teams would give up their top guy for anything reasonable. Sure, if we offered Giroux and Gostisbehere we could probably snag Doughty - but would that be worth it? Hell no!


We can kind of ignore that first group because it's just not reasonable to try to pry a superstar/franchise-anchor away from any NHL team. The next group is a step down, for sure, but might be available if the cap/contract situations were just right. I'm targeting someone in the 22-28 age range, and I did the Provorov test to compile the list. I asked myself "Would you rather have this guy or Provocop?" and if there was any question, I added them to the list. In order from highest salary to lowest:

  • Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (28, $7.3)
  • Dion Phaneuf, Toronto (30, $7.0)
  • Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis (25, $6.5)
  • Dougie Hamilton, Calgary (22, $5.8)
  • Justin Faulk, Carolina (23, $4.8)
  • Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers (26, $4.7)
  • Chris Tanev, Vancouver (25, $4.5)
  • Jack Johnson, Columbus (28, $4.4)
  • Dmitriy Kulikov, Florida (25, $4.3)
  • Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis (26, $4.3)
  • Marc-Edouard Vlasic, San Jose (28, $4.3)
  • Jonas Brodin, Minnesota (22, $4.2)
  • Adam Larsson, New Jersey (23, $4.2)
  • Jake Gardiner, Toronto (25, $4.0)
  • Jake Muzzin, Los Angeles (26, $4.0)
  • Roman Josi, Nashville (25, $4.0)
  • Cam Fowler, Anaheim (23, $4.0)
  • Marco Scandella, Minnesota (25, $4.0)
  • Alec Martinez, Los Angeles (28, $4.0)
  • Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay (24, $4.0)
  • John Carlson, Washington (25, $4.0)
  • Justin Schultz, Edmonton (25, $3.9)
  • Travis Hamonic, NY Islanders (25, $3.9)
  • Erik Johnson, Colorado (27, $3.8)
  • Luca Sbisa, Vancouver (25, $3.6)
  • Jason Demers, Dallas (27, $3.4)
  • Torey Krug, Boston (24, $3.4)
  • Cody Franson, Buffalo (28, $3.3)
  • Jakub Kindl, Detroit (28, $2.4)
I tried my best to weed out people that are too old for us (or that stink). Beyond that list, I think it's a pipe dream to find defenseman with any more promise than Ivan Provorov. For reference, here is the Flyers defensive cap situation:

Here are three things that are #bad: Streit's contract, Streit's age, MacDonald's contract. It would be nice to have that $10,250,000 in cap room. Glad we got those out of the way. Now let's focus on some targets that could actually anchor the back line (or at least accompany MDZ better than Current Top Pairing Defense Player Radko Gudas).

Maybe We Could Trade Jake Voracek Straight Up

Let's clear one thing up. I think it would be stupid to trade Jake. We have plenty of defensive prospects in the pipeline, and far fewer offensive ones. It would be an impulse move and thankfully I can't see Ron Hextall making anything like it. Now, with that said, the following guys would make me at least consider parting ways with the Blonde Czech. 
  • Alex Pietrangelo, St. Louis
  • Justin Faulk, Carolina 
  • Ryan McDonagh, NY Rangers
  • Roman Josi, Nashville
  • Victor Hedman, Tampa Bay
Those five guys are all sure-fire top pairing defensemen. I started off saying I don't want to trade Jake, but we're here already so let's dive in. Hedman is almost certainly on his way to joining that untouchable group from earlier in the post. That's probably a no-go. Pietrangelo and Josi come from blue lines that are very talented, and could survive if those two were gone. McDonagh captains the Rangers and is the only thing keeping Henrik Lundqvist from playing 1-on-5 in their own end. 

Josi is the most interesting of this group (and FGSB mentioned his name as I was writing this). He's Swiss, so maybe Mark Streit went to high school with his dad or something. He also plays on a team with Shea Weber, Ryan Ellis, Barrett Jackman, and Seth Jones. Sadly, I think the Preds have a pretty ideal split of the cap between forwards and defensemen, and I'd imagine that Josi's not for sale. 

Justin Faulk is one of my favorite defensemen in all of hockey. He has a sweet mullet, he chips in offensively, and he can physically hold his own against almost anyone. Faulk is 23 and signed for less than $5 million until 2020. For me, personally, myself, I would consider trading Jake for Justin straight up. God I feel dirty for typing that sentence. Let's move on.

Jake Is Too Much To Give Up, What About One Of The Other Guys?

If we're looking to move a winger, there is a big group of guys that is decidedly less good than Jake Voracek. In some order, that group contains Wayne Simmonds, Matt Read, Brayden Schenn, Michael Raffl, and Sam Gagner (that is my order, in terms of how much we'd likely be able to get for them). 

Likewise, there is a big group of guys that is decidedly less talented than the top 10-15 defensemen in the NHL. Maybe we could target them - after all, our current #1 defensemen is somewhere in the neighborhood of 80th in the league in salary, and our highest-paid defensemen has a broken penis and has been on the trading block for a year. 
  • Kevin Shattenkirk, St. Louis
  • Cam Fowler, Anaheim
  • Dougie Hamilton, Calgary
  • Adam Larsson, New Jersey
  • John Carlson, Washington
  • Travis Hamonic, NY Islanders
Simmonds has a No Trade Clause, but let's completely ignore that and assume he's on board with going elsewhere. Hamonic wants to go to Winnipeg to be with his family, which is a shame in the context of this post because he's probably my favorite of this group. I don't know of any individual limitations of the other guys, but there is a larger problem for Simmonds and defensemen of his caliber. 

As a fan I'd have a really hard time parting with Simmer. But it's largely sentimental, and I would expect the GM of each of these teams to demand a lot for their young d-men. That logic on both sides is why I think the number of trades made in the NHL is so low. Both sides want to be blown away in order to move their guys, and that simply can't happen. That's a recipe for a stagnant market.

What About The Guys That Are Crappier Than Wayne Simmonds?

With any player outside of those two groups, you're looking at someone who will be less likely to turn into stud defensemen and more reasonably will just be solid contributors on defense. That's not necessarily a bad thing in the NHL, but the cap inflexibility of the current Flyers means we can't afford to take on any more defensemen (or forwards, or really any money at all). 

Any package involving Matt Read or (more likely) Brayden Schenn is going to bring back the bizarro defenseman version of them, and they'll probably be either so overpaid that they cripple our cap (again), or so crappy that this miserable defense gets even worse. As sad as it would be to move the best winger on the team (who is also a fan favorite), that's the only way to quickly patch the roster with a top defenseman. 

The good news, as always when we're talking about this year's Flyers, is we don't need a patchwork fix. Take a deep breath, watch them at Ottawa tomorrow night, and try to imagine a team that has replaced Streit/Schultz/Gudas/Manning with Provorov/Sanheim/Morin/(Gudas or Manning, probably). 

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

On Adam Schefter And The Philly Media

Earlier this week, ESPN's Adam Schefter inadvertently made headlines for "breaking" the news that Chip Kelly and the Eagles and Philadelphia fans are unhappy and may not be together forever.

Here's the quote, as transcribed by The Big Lead: "The momentum and signs seem to be piling up against a Chip return to Philadelphia. I think both sides are sick of each other. I think the fans are tired of him, I think he’s tired of the situation there – just my read from afar."

The phrase at the end there is really key. He's not claiming to have any inside knowledge, but anyone with half a brain can see that the 4-6 Eagles (coming off a blown lead against Miami and a drubbing by Tampa) are not in a good spot. Naturally, a lot of the blame in being directed toward the General Manager/Head Coach/Offensive Coordinator/Supposed Football Genius Chip Kelly. 

This has been the topic on conversation on Philadelphia's sports radio shows for what feels like months. There was talk about Texas firinig Charlie Strong in September/October and Chip's name was thrown around. Steve Sarkisian was fired from USC on October 12th, and Chip's name came up again. The Titans fired Ken Whisenhunt on November 3rd, and again, Chip's name found its way into that discussion. 

Why is it just turning into a national story now after Schefter's interview on Sirius?

The Sirius NFL account has 76.8 thousand, more than any of the Philly local shows. 

97.5 The Fanatic's main account has 44.8 thousand followers. The morning show (with Anthony Gargano) account has 21.8 thousand. The midday show has 4.5 thousand. Mike Missanelli's personal account has 78.9 thousand. 

94.1 WIP's main account has 59.6 thousand followers. The morning show (with Angelo Cataldi) account has 29.9 thousand. The (insufferable) Josh Innes Show account has 21.4 thousand, and Innes' personal account has 27.9 thousand.  

Adam Schefter has 4.38 million Twitter followers. In terms of people in the American sports world (not leagues or teams or networks), he's behind LeBron James (25.3), Kevin Durant (12.3), and then my list got cut off and I don't want to pay. But Schefty is up there with the big names in the industry. 

And so people pay attention to him saying "Hey maybe this isn't working out and Chip will leave to take one of the college jobs" and everyone FREAKS the fuck out like it's a confirmed story. 


The 97.5 morning show "Bitch & Complain Line" is literally named after Chip Kelly (and has been for more than a month). Mike Miss' Sound Off mailbox is always full of guys complaining about every facet of Chip Kelly and demanding that he goes back to college. Eagles Twitter, every Sunday all the way back to the opening night loss to Atlanta, is nonstop bitching about what Chip's done to the beloved birds. 

The team stinks on the field. The locker room is a mess. The media hates the head coach. The fans are sick of it all. 

But Adam Schefter acknowledging all of that on a national radio show is a story? He himself comes onto the 97.5 morning show every Wednesday (after he drops his daughter off at the school bus) and talks about the Eagles and Chip and gets peppered with questions about Chip leaving or getting fired. 

Schefter was echoing the sentiments of the Philly media (who echo the sentiments of Philly fans). Maybe it's news to the outside world that Chip may be run out of town after this year, but everybody needs to just chill. Schefter wasn't breaking any news to us, but talking on a national show about what he's heard from us, with the limited contact that he has with the Philadelphia market. 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Reviewing The Flyers' Lines That We've Seen The Past Two Weeks

Instead of taking the advice of everyone on Twitter and going back to #college, Dave Hakstol decided to mix things up for last night's game against Carolina.

The only line he kept constant was the Couturier-Read-Simmonds line, which dominated Carolina (at least in terms of possession) two weeks ago. Those three owned the (admittedly kinda shitty) line of Rask-Terry-Nordstrom. Carolina threw a Rask-Lindholm-E. Staal line at the Coots line this time, and Coots and the boys didn't have quite as much success.

With all of the shuffling that has happened recently - both due to injuries and coaching decisions - I wanted to take a look back to examine the lines we've seen Hakstol throw together so far. I'm going back 5 games, all the way back to pre-Ghost, back when Ryan White was still in our hearts every night.

(Note: at some point I'd really love to dive into some more advanced stats and use my Twitter Friend Muneeb Alam's charts, but that's a project for when I get fired another day.)

Capitals, November 12 (Loss, 5-2)

Old faithful. This has been the top line for (what feels like) years. The safest move a Flyers coach can make is throw these three out on the ice and just let them do their thing. There are downsides to that plan, though, and we'll get to them later.

I think it's time to start thinking of a name for these three. They play well together in the defensive zone, they attack well with their cycles, and eventually they'll start to get pucks on the net. I'd also like to see them form the core of the second power play unit. The first runs well enough regardless of who's in front, and I think Raffl or Brayden Schenn could stand in. Let's get Simmer his own PP unit.

I miss Ryan White.

Here's where things always start to get hairy. Gagner and Schenn are decent players. Vinny stinks. Throw them together, and the line stinks. It doesn't seem like there was an easy fix for Hakstol to make to solve the problem of this third/fourth line (whatever you want to call it).

Kings, November 17 (Loss, 3-2) and Sharks, November 19 (Loss, 1-0) and Senators, November 21 (Loss, 4-0)

It might seem like I would not be on board with splitting up the line I just called "old faithful" but that would be wrong. I liked Brayden's stint with G and Jake.


The move of Schenn to the first line (and the loss of Ryan White) meant that moving Raf down with the "fourth liners" made the most sense. He certainly held his own with the energy line, and these three possess a lot more talent than people generally give them credit for.

I am on record as saying I like the Laughton-Gagner pair, and these three combine to form a VERY quick line. But I don't know if they have enough size, and they often look pretty overmatched. I'd like to figure out what Leier is/does, because Gagner has silky hands and Laughton has a sneakily good shot. If we can figure out who should play with them (maybe it's Taylor, who knows?) then we can really start to look forward to next summer's cap issues. Sigh.

If you're keeping track, that's four losses in a row and the team combined for just four goals in those games. Obviously those forward groups didn't quite "kill it" or "do good hockeying". So Hakstol shook things up in a big way for last night's game:

Hurricanes, November 23 (Win, 3-2)

I'm starting with the fourth line because they didn't see a whole lot of time. Laughts was battling a possible concussion, Gagner smashed his face on the ice and started bleeding all over the god damn place, and Leier is a rookie that doesn't command a lot of time by himself. We'll have to try this again sometime.

Let's attack all three of these lines. I love the balance. There isn't one of these top three lines that is lacking in defensive or offensive ability. Here's my issue, though: they didn't do anything. Both regulation goals came on special teams. The overtime winner was another powerplay goal.

Let's take some positives from the War On Ice box score. Brayden Schenn had 4 even strength scoring chances, and they were all considered high-danger. Leier, Read, Bellemare, Simmonds, and Gostisbehere also had high-danger chances at 5-on-5. On the power play, Brayden added 3 high-danger chances (including his goal, of course), Read had a high-danger chance, and Ghost scored on a non-high-danger chance.

Let's look at the dark reality of the November 2015 Flyers: they can't score at even strength. We need Giroux and Ghost to link up on the power play, or we need Coots to break something out shorthanded. Offense is not flowing, but we have a group of forwards that should be able to carry possession and limit opposing offenses.

With the exception of the Laughton line, the combinations from last night's game can all play against any line that another team could put on the ice. They may not score three goals per game at even strength (or any goals at even strength), but they should be able to hold the line enough to allow the power play to generate offense.

Relying on the power play for offense isn't, generally speaking, a great plan. But there is another bright spot here. Michael Del Zotto and Shayne Gostisbehere can both obviously hold their own offensively. Mark Streit and Evgeny Medvedev, if they are around, can do the same. Even Luke Schenn, everyone's favorite punching bag, is solid with the puck. Radko Gudas and Brandon Manning are both not-totally-terrible, and I like the potential Bash Bros those two could form as a third pairing.

We have some defensemen that can join the rush and attack. We also have Ivan Provorov and Travis Sanheim waiting to come up, and we know how well those two play offense.

Hakstol's system encourages - or maybe even requires - defensemen to jump into the play to help zone entries and maintain offensive zone possession. That is a progressive, offensive mindset that needs to be coupled with forwards that can backcheck and play defense. We just happen to have a solid group of forwards that are capable in the d-zone, with a potential future roster full of d-men that are solid in the o-zone. It's going to create a great balance once Hakstol works it all out, and I think that's a huge reason he left his perch at North Dakota to coach Hextall's Flyers.

Friday, November 20, 2015

I've Slept On The New NHL All-Star Format

I spent the past two days thinking primarily about the Flyers (sad face) and trying to collect my thoughts on the new NHL All-Star setup. I fired off Wednesday's post basically as soon as they made it official.

I think I nailed two changes that should be made: 2 goalies and 12 skaters per team (instead of 9), and the money should 100% be going to charity. I think it's mind-blowing that more people aren't suggesting that. These guys all make seven figures annually. The million dollar prize, while it sounds big, is smaller (percentage-wise) than a Christmas bonus once you split it between a dozen people.

Personally, I think the "one player per team" rule is a good one - and that's eased by the roster expansion that I support. Every team has at least one player that is worthy of the weekend. There is an argument to be made for just separating the squad into Skaters and Goalies, but it's easier to just say 2 goalies, 4 defensemen, and 8 forwards.

Here's where I would go with the teams. with two days to think about it (and, to be honest, to read a bunch of other people's thoughts to see how dumb I am):


Goalies: Jonathan Quick (LA), Martin Jones (SJ)
Still locks.

Defensemen: Brent Burns (SJ), Drew Doughty (LA), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI), Mark Giordano (CGY)
You can make a case for Anaheim's Cam Fowler, but I went with Giordano instead.

Forwards: Anze Kopitar (LA), Taylor Hall (EDM), Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), Joe Pavelski (SJ), Jeff Carter (LA), The Sedin Twins (VAN), Ryan Getzlaf (ANA)
You can swap Getzlaf out for Corey Perry or Ryan Kesler if you want.

Top Line: Sedin-Sedin-Gaudreau 
You could also have suggested The Kings Line as the top line.


Goalies: Pekka Rinne (NSH), Jake Allen (STL)
Most have been giving the second goalie slot to Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk, who is also a fine option.

Defensemen: Duncan Keith (CHI), Shea Weber (NSH), Dustin Byfuglien (WPG), Ryan Suter (MIN)
Sorry, Alex Pietrangelo.

Forwards: Patrick Kane (CHI), Jonathan Toews (CHI), Tyler Seguin (DAL), Jamie Benn (DAL), Blake Wheeler (WPG), Vladamir Tarasenko (STL), Nathan MacKinnon (COL), Zach Parise (MIN)
I mean.. come on.

Top Line: Kane-Seguin-Benn
You think these three might have some fun the night before the big game?


Goalies: Carey Price (MTL), James Reimer (TOR)
You could swap out Reimer with Ben Bishop or Roberto Luongo or Craig Anderson.

Defensemen: PK Subban (MTL), Erik Karlsson (OTT), Victor Hedman (TB)

Forwards: Jack Eichel (BUF), Patrice Bergeron (BOS), David Krejci (BOS), Max Pacioretty (MTL), Bobby Ryan (OTT), Jaromir Jagr (FLA), Steven Stamkos (TB), Henrik Zetterberg (DET), Gustav Nyquist (DET)
If you want to swap Bergeron out for Krejci's linemate Loui Erikson, I'm fine with it.

Top Line: Stamkos-Pacioretty-Subban
I'm hesitant to include Karlsson at all because he's a noted disliker of 3-on-3. So it's PK on the top line.


Goalies: Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Braden Holtby (WSH)
Lots of people are sticking Marc-Andre Fleury behind Lundqvist, but fuck the Penguins I'm not doing it.

Defensemen: Ryan McDonagh (NYR), Justin Faulk (CAR), Kris Letang (PIT), Johnny Boychuk (NYI)
You can definitely include John Carlson in this group as well.

Forwards: Claude Giroux (PHI), Sidney Crosby (PIT), Evgeny Malkin (PIT), John Tavares (NYI), Alex Ovechkin (WSH), Mats Zuccarello (NYR), Mike Cammalleri (NJD), Brandon Saad (CBJ)
The Metro forward group is where you can really make the "fuck having one player from each team argument" - I tend to think more people would want to see Rick Nash and Nicklas Backstrom or Evgeny Kuznetsov and maybe even Eric Staal instead of Cammalleri and Saad. And TJ Oshie? And Jake Voracek and Derick Brassard and Phil Kessel?

Minor concerns aside, that'll be a fun weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

On Sean Couturier, and a Flyers-Sharks Preview

You guys want to talk some advanced stats to prep for the Flyers-Sharks game tonight? And I'm not talking about Corsi and PDO, either. I'm talking about real in-depth, next-level, spreadsheet-porn advanced stats.

Micah McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) penned this piece today after he took a deeper look into how deployment percentages impact shot creation.

(Side note: he also factors in on-the-fly deployment, which the traditional deployment stat completely ignores. No big deal, but that's like half of the shifts in a hockey game so kind of a huge deal.)

The breakdown is simple: if you start in the offensive zone, you should have a pretty easy time creating shots. As you move to the neutral zone starts (or on-the-fly changes), it becomes a little harder (and more impressive) to create shots. Starting in the defensive zone is, obviously, the hardest.

And so Micah went through all of the NHL players (Excel Macros represent) and calculated their Raw and Adjusted Shot Percentages. It's interesting stuff, and it's especially nice for the Flyers.

For years now, our boy Sean Couturier has been "buried" in the defensive zone and tasked with defending the other team's best line. We use it as an excuse for his less-than-stellar offensive numbers. My first thought when I read Micah's post was "How much has deployment skewed Coots' shot percentage numbers?"

Coots' raw Shot Percentage (Flyers shots/Total shots) for the year so far is 48.4% - less than ideal, because it means they're shooting less than their opponents. When you factor in the adjustment for deployment, that number rises to just 48.7%. To be honest, I expected it to rise over 50. At times, Couturier looks dominant with the puck, and his line with Matt Read and Wayne Simmonds has recently had a lot of success sustaining pressure in the offensive zone.

In the last two games (Carolina and Los Angeles), Couturier has been playing an impressive game with an unfortunate lack of recognition on the scoresheet. Against Carolina:

  • 4 offensive zone starts, 4 defensive zone starts
  • 22 Corsis for, 10 Corsis against
  • 0 goals, 0 assists, +1 goal differential
And LA:
  • 1 offensive zone start, 6 defensive zone starts
  • 8 Corsis for, 7 Corsis against
  • 0 goals, 0 assists, 0 goal differential
My analysis: Dave Hakstol should be fired. 

Yes, the Kings are better than the 'Canes. Yes, the Coots line almost completely nullified the Carter-Lucic-Toffoli line until the very end of the game. But to have a line that generated more than twice the shot attempts against Carolina's second line.. and then make them start in their own zone that much. If you bought the "Berube doesn't use Coots in a way that will allow him to be a star player" line, you want Hakstol to address this discrepancy.  

I'm kidding about firing Hakstol, of course, because I like his system and I think it really works. That's simpleton logic, and the biggest reason the deployment was so different was because LA has a killer second line (while Carolina's.. uh... stinks). 

Against the 'Canes, the Coots line primarily played against the Rask-Terry-Nordstrom line and the Liles-Pesce pair. Rask is second on the Canes in goals and points. It drops off steeply from there. The stats for Terry (2 goals) and Nordstrom (2 assists) are decidedly less impressive. Liles and Pesci each have just one assist, and Liles is sporting a healthy -9 goal differential. They also played a bit against rookie/phenom Noah Hanifin, who held his own (should of drafted). 

I want to take a second here to note how huge it was for Sean's line to be able to avoid the Lindholm-Staal-Staal line and the Faulk-Hainsey pair. Those guys are responsible for most of Carolina's offensive production, and they played mostly against the Giroux line. 

Let's end on a learning point/bright spot for Seany Coots. The Giroux/Voracek line is always going to be the "top line". They are going to draw the other team's best defensive line, and that's going to mean Coots' line gets to play against a less defensive-minded line. In some situations, that line is very talented offensively (Carter-Toffoli-Lucic). In others, it just kind of stinks (Rask-Terry-Nordstrom). I'd love to dive more into whether the teams we've played - and which teams Couturier sat out against - but I'd also love to not get fired from my job, so we'll save that for another day. 

Tonight (Sharks-centric preview), with home ice advantage, I'd expect to see Hakstol match Coots' line up with the Thornton-Pavelski line (Pavelski has scored 10 goals this year). Those two Joes are a *combined +17* so far this season. I imagine Hak wants to shut that down. That means the G line gets matched up with the Marleau line (or maybe the Hertl line depending on how Peter DeBoer operates). G and Jake will also probably draw Paul Martin and Brent Burns, which is a good sign for Coots, Reader, and Simmer. 

The Sharks have a handful of big names and they're tied for 2nd in the Pacific, but they have just 4 points more than the Flyers (10-8-0 against 6-8-4). Vegas says Sharks -135/Flyers +115. Confidence level for tonight: 6.9/10.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

They're Changing The NHL All-Star Game

..we don't quite know how they're changing yet, but all signs point to including everyone's favorite new thing: 3-on-3.

TSN's Bob McKenzie detailed a bunch of possible changes, the short version being converting a 60-minute scrimmage into a bracket of 20 minute 3-on-3 games between Division All-Star Teams.

The biggest issue, of course, is whether anyone will actually try. Bob mentions a cash prize at the end for the team to split up - he says $1 million, but between 10+ players that's basically nothing.

I'd offer a different alternative: keep the cash prize the same, but have each team playing for a charity they support. There are a handful of big-name players that have their own foundations (and causes they support), and I get the feeling that's more incentive than an extra paycheck. Even if you want to split the pot 60/20/10/10 to make sure everyone gets a piece, charity is always a good thing.

We could also turn the charity side of it into a piece of the weekend's festivities, and have a segment of the game's pre-show documenting the All-Stars visiting their respective charities and helping out (and hopefully lighting a fire under their asses to win the money).

Bob suggests 9 skaters and 2 goalies from each division. I'd bump it up to 12 skaters because, let's be honest, three lines isn't enough to realistically play 20 minutes of breakneck 3-on-3 hockey. Bumping the total number of All-Stars from 44 to 56 isn't the end of the world, and screw you if you think that's the deal-breaker. Let's all agree on a minimum of one All-Star from each NHL team.

My first thought as a Flyers fan was "Hey The Metro Might Actually Be Good Here!" Let's look at who would be competing, and we'll work our way West to East to keep you on your toes (FYI, I'd have the West on one side of the bracket and the East on the other):

Pacific Division

Jonathan Quick (LA), Martin Jones (SJ)
These two would be locks. I hope all the divisions are this easy.

Taylor Hall (EDM),  Johnny Gaudreau (CGY), Joe Pavelski (SJ), Daniel Sedin (VAN), Jeff Carter (LA)
The top five point scorers in the division, and I'd find it hard to believe anyone has a real problem with them.

Tyler Toffoli (LA), Max Domi (ARI), Anthony Duclair (ARI), Sean Monahan (CGY)
All top ten in goals scored, and again I can't see anyone having an issue.

Brent Burns (SJ), Drew Doughty (LA), Oliver Ekman-Larsson (ARI)
Top three defensemen in terms of points scored and time on ice. Boom. Easy.

That's 4 Kings, 3 Sharks, 1 Canuck, 3 Coyotes, 0 Ducks, 2 Flames, and 1 Oiler. Realistically, one of the Getzlaf/Kesler/Perry trio should replace Duclair. Maybe the Ducks will be better before the All-Star break. They've been very unlucky, especially Kesler (who's currently sporting a 95.98 PDO, per War On Ice),

This team doesn't scare me at all because I am from the East Coast and the West Coast doesn't matter.

(*Editor's note: Admittedly, I don't really follow the West. If you want to pick the biggest names instead of who's had the most success this year, you'd take Kopitar/Doughty/Quick from LA, Jones/Burns and one of Marleau/Pavelski/Thornton from San Jose, The Sedin Twins, Domi, Getzlaf/Perry/Fowler from Anaheim, Gaudreau, and you'd make one of the other Edmonton first overall picks wear a McDavid jersey and pretend Brandon Manning didn't kill the actual Connor McDavid.)

Central Division

Pekka Rinne (NSH), Jake Allen (STL)
You can also make pretty solid cases for Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk and Dallas' Kari Lehtonen. Ultimately, Dubnyk falls just short and Lehtonen hasn't played enough of his team's games.

Patrick Kane (CHI), Tyler Seguin (DAL), Jamie Benn (DAL), Blake Wheeler (WPG)
Same as the Pacific, I just listed off the top point scorers. Wowwee. What a lineup.

Vladamir Tarasenko (STL), Zach Parise (MIN), Jonathan Toews (CHI)
All three of these guys are in the top 20 in the division in goals, but let's be honest - they're all All-Stars regardless of their production.

Shea Weber (NSH), Dustin Byfuglien (WPG), Ryan Suter (MIN), Duncan Keith (CHI)
That is an unbelievably good group of defensemen.

That's only 11 guys, but I wanted to make sure I split it up evenly. It's 2 Stars, 2 Predators, 2 Blues, 2 Wild, 3 Blackhawks, 2 Jets, and 0 Avalanche.

So the last spot goes to Nathan MacKinnon or Matt Duchene or Gabriel Landeskog - take your pick but you can only have one. I'm still bitter about that Flyers game.

Atlantic Division

I'm going to rely less on stats here because I actually know some stuff about the teams in the East. Let's go team-by-team.

Canadiens: Max Pacioretty and PK Subban are locks, as is Carey Price (/his backup Mike Condon, who may or may not be Price in disguise). Brendan Gallagher, Thomas Plekanec, David Desharnais, and Andrei Markov could all be considered as well. The Habs are having a killer start to the season.

Senators: Erik Karlsson and Mark Stone have been racking up assists, and Bobby Ryan and Kyle Turris are scoring goals. Craig Anderson is firmly in the second tier of Atlantic Divison goalies (behind Price, of course).

Red Wings: Again with the fucking Red Wings. It's hard to argue against Henrik Zetterberg, Gustav Nyquist, and Dylan Larkin. Tomas Tatar is also right there. They have no standout defensemen and their goalies split time so I'm keeping them both out. Good. Hate the Red Wings.

Panthers: Jaromir Jagr (born in the month when the FCC regulated that TV providers must carry at least 20 channels - twenty! So goddamn old!) leads this team in goals and points. There are a bunch of no-names that are having decent years, but the next men in line after Jagr are Aaron Ekblad and Roberto Luongo (who is also older than dirt).

Lightning: Stamkos. Hedman. Johnson. We have to draw the line somewhere. Ben Bishop is also in the second tier of goalies.

Bruins: David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron have to be locks for this team. Zdeno Chara is the big name on defense, but Torey Krug has arguably been even better than the big man this year. Tuukka Rask... oops. Should not have drafted for my fantasy team.

Sabres: I'm hesitant to put anyone on this All-Star team except Jack Eichel. Maybe Buffalo will put it together next year! (Right, Buffalo fans?)

Maple Leafs: How could any team be worse than the Sabres, you ask? How about a team with a middle-of-the-pack goalie and a ballot of Dion Phaneuf, Tyler Bozak, James van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly, and Joffrey Lupul? Woof.

The team: Pacioretty, Ryan, Zetterberg, Nyquist, Jagr, Stamkos, Krejci, Bergeron, Eichel, Subban, Karlsson, Hedman, Price, Reimer. That's 2 Habs, 2 Senators, 2 Wings, 1 Panther, 2 Lightning, 2 Bruins, 1 Sabre, and 1 Maple Leaf.

Metropolitan Division

And now, the moment you've been waiting for - your Metro Divison All-Star Lines!

Alex Ovechkin (WSH), John Tavares (NYI), Mats Zuccarello (NYR), Claude Giroux (PHI), Mike Cammalleri (NJD), Evgeni Malkin (PIT), Brandon Saad (CBJ)

Justin Faulk (CAR), Ryan McDonagh (NYR), John Carlson (WSH), Kris Letang (PIT)

Henrik Lundqvist (NYR), Braden Holtby (WSH)

That's 3 Rangers, 3 Capitals, 1 Islander, 1 Penguin, 1 Devil, 1 Flyer, 1 Hurricane, and 1 BJ.

(*Editor's note: The Metro is a loaded division. This hypothetical team is leaving off Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, Kyle Okposo, Johnny Boychuk, Jake Voracek, Shayne Gostisbehere (kidding?), Keith Yandle, Rick Nash, Derick Brassard, Scott Hartnell, Nick Foligno, Adam Henrique, Eric Staal, Phil Kessel, and Sidney Fucking Crosby. In real life, I'd swap Crosby for Carlson.)

The Bracket

I think the Central has a pretty easy time beating the shit out of the Pacific.

The East side is a little more hairy, and as a Metro fan it'd be really nice if we didn't have to include New Jersey or Columbus. Ultimately I don't really know which way it would end up, but I know I'd love to watch those two squads face off, and I'd love to watch the Central team beat them in the final even more.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Flyers-Capitals Recap

The Colorado game was a 1/10 on the Scale Of Goodness. Last night was not a great game, but they certainly were better than Tuesday. Fuck it, they were still pretty horrible though because Flyers.

Here are some bright spots:

  • Claude scored a powerplay goal!
  • The Coots line (with Schenn/Schultz and Gudas/Del Zotto) did a really good job against the Ovechkin line. Oshie scored a goal where he was absolutely wide open 1 foot in front of the net, but one lapse for this team isn't bad. If you had told me we would be holding that line to 1 goal, I would have assumed the Flyers would win. 
  • The fourth line also scored a goal. 
  • Ryan White fought a guy. 
  • Despite behind held completely off the scoresheet (again), there were a handful of moments last night where Jake Voracek impressed me. His contract doesn't worry me at all, but you can see the team is trying to force his first goal of the season. That will calm down, and we'll be left with one of the more talented wingers in the league. 
  • I don't think Steve Mason had a bad game. It's tough to call goaltending a "bright spot" when you lose 5-2, but there weren't any other saves that a reasonable person could have expected Mase to make. 
And the negatives:
  • As a team, the boys in orange combined for 20 shots. We should be aiming for about twice that many. 
  • That Backstrom line dominated the G line (and Medvedev/Streit) at even strength. We loaded up with offensive-minded players, and it just flat out wasn't good enough. I think we need to end that strategy and balance our lines. 
  • The Schenn/Gagner/Lecavalier experiment also has to end. They got matched up with Washington's fourth line all night and didn't generate anything. Literally not even a single scoring chance. 
  • After the second time he fell down on his own last night (and between the bullshit cross-checking and hooking penalties he took), I found myself thinking that Michael Raffl kind of stinks. He's the Chris Kunitz of this team: he seems a lot better than he is because he plays with the best playmaker on the team. 
  • Brayden Schenn won just 38% of his faceoffs last night, and Scott Laughton won just 25%. I understand that those are small sample sizes, but woof. 
Flyers Lineup Volume 7

The Brandan Shanahan Line
White - Giroux - Vandevelde
We saw it for about 5 seconds last night when Claude stayed out a little too late. I got my hopes up that he would stay out for an extra 30 seconds just to see what happened, but he didn't and I was sad. I know we'll probably never see these three together, but I've overthought it so much that I'm convinced it would work. The Giroux-White 2-on-1 was not ideal, but neither was the Giroux-Voracek 2-on-1 or any other 2-on-1 we've seen this season. 

The Coots Line
Read - Couturier - Voracek
My twitter friend Jake Fahringer has been tweeting about putting Jake on Coots' wing for like a month, and I'm finally convinced. I want to see it. Jake, for all of his offensive success last year, is a bruising forward. I have to see it. 

Hopefully This Line Can Score Goals
Gagner - Schenn - Simmonds
Gagner is a playmaker. Simmonds is a banger. Brayden is lowkey pretty talented but he hasn't quite found his niche. Well B, we're giving you your own line. Try not to fuck it up!

You Pick Three
Raffl - Laughton - Bellemare - Lecavalier - Umberger
(Puts gun in mouth.)

The Universal Studios Orlando Pair
Del Zotto - Gudas
They actually looked "good" last night (in quotes because this is the 2015-16 Flyers). I didn't see anything that made me want to vomit. They combine to have a nice mix of skill and physicality, and that makes for a decent d-pair. 

The CDs Are Released For Sale In Germany Pair
Medvedev - Schultz
I didn't see anything terrible from Schultz (he was trailing Chimera on one of his goals, but that was a flukey play). He is what he is - kinda shitty, but he tries hard and it seems like his teammates like him. Oh well. Medvedev, on the other hand, is a goddamn wizard with the puck. He's really entertaining, and his fakeout moves seem to be rubbing off on the other defensemen, especially (looks around the room) (whispers) Gudas. 

Streit - Schenn
Streit, it seems, lacks the ability to play with puck-dominant defensemen like Del Zotto and Medvedev. He gets Luke Schenn as his dance partner because Gudas plays well with DZ and because Schultz doesn't play well with anybody. So you're welcome, Mark, because we found you the perfect partner/scapegoat. 

Fun fact time: When Mark Streit was born, it was the 1977-78 NHL season. That year's All-Star team was Ken Dryden, Denis Potvin, Brad Park, Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies, and Guy LaFleur. 

Luke Schenn was born during the 1989-90 NHL season. That year, the All-Star team was Patrick Roy, Ray Bourque, Al MacInnis, Mark Messier, Brett Hull, and Luc Robataille. 

Maybe it's the millennial in me, but I think the 89-90 team would cream the 77-78 team. right?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Flyers Lineup Volume 6

Not good.

That's where I'd place the Flyers on the scale from "good" to "not good". 

Through 7 or 8 games, the boys in orange and black were in a good spot. They had beaten the Blackhawks, Bruins, and Rangers. They took a point from the Lightning game. They got creamed by the Panthers, but bounced right back and shut the same team out in their next game. Even the 8th game of the year - an overtime loss to the Sabres - was okay. They were sitting at 4-2-2 and looking like they might be able to make some noise this year. 

And now that dream is dead. Losses to the Devils, Sabres, Canucks, Oilers, and Flames made for a pretty awful road trip. Closing it out with a win at Winnipeg helped, but they follow it up with one of the most pathetic hockey games I can remember watching. 

There were a few mild bright spots. The Giroux line fared okay against Colorado's top pair of defensemen. We did a decent job overall of handling their bottom three forward lines. That Duchene-Landeskog-MacKinnon line, though. We threw our two best defensemen and our best defensive forward line at them, and it just flat out didn't work. They were dominant, and the box score reflects it. Duchene scored twice and had one assist, and the other two each had an assist.

I can't wait to match those same scrubs against Ovechkin, Kuznetsov, and Oshie! Claude me one time:

 Let's switch gears and talk about how we're going to fix this dumpster fire. My new theory: Dave Hakstol was an only child. He's playing guys on lines with people who are 4 or 6 or 10 (hey Vinny) years younger than them. Nobody wants to hang out with their little brother's friends.

Here's what we're going to do:

Born During The 1987-88 Season (Brendan Shanahan's First Year In The NHL)
Vandevelde (3/15/87) - Giroux (1/12/88) - White (3/17/88)
A lot of heart with this unit. And that's what we need out of a first line. I also happen to believe that all three of these guys are underrated and underutilized. Vandy has more skill than a typical fourth liner, and White always seems to play up to G's level when they're together. This also frees up Raffl and Voracek to play on more specialized/sheltered lines.

Born During The 1990s (God Damn Millennials)
Schenn (8/22/91) - Couturier (12/7/92) - Read (6/14/86)
We're starting to get away from the birthday thing here, because Reader is like five years older than the other two (and not actually born in the 90's), but he and Coots have always played like they're twins. That leaves us with an interesting decision on the other wing: Schenn (16 months older than Couturier) or Bellemare (15 months older than Read). Ultimately I think Bellemare is more of an old man and my vision of this line was that they should all be familiar with Tinder and Periscope. Give me Matt Read here, because I get the sense he Snapchats pictures of his cock to chicks all the time.

Born During The American Revolution 
Umberger (5/3/82) - Bellemare (3/6/85) - Lecavalier (4/21/80)
Sorry, Pebs. Here's the thing: this line doesn't have to be generating a million goals. They can play a smart (kinda physical) game and basically act like a fourth line. It's a shame that two fourth line wingers combine to make almost eight figures, but that's just how it goes sometimes when your franchise is a goddamn mess.

Here Is What The Fuck We Have Left
Raffl (12/1/88) - Laughton (5/30/94) - Voracek (8/15/89) - Gagner (8/10/89) - Cousins (7/20/93)
Couple things here. Who would have guessed Raffl was older than Voracek? Not me. Voracek and Gagner were born in the same week, which is a cool fun fact. As for what we're actually going to do here, I think you have to go with a rotation until the fans finally boo Lacavalier so much that he decides to just retire.

This was a stupid exercise. I know that. But it doesn't matter anyway, so maybe it really is best to throw a bunch of guys with similar birthdays in a boat together and see if they float. As for the defensemen, here are my pairings:

Mark Streit Was Legitimately Born In The 1970s 
Streit (12/11/77)

August 1982 (CDs Are Released For Sale In Germany)
Medvedev (8/27/82) - Schultz (8/25/82)
Birthday friends! Also a decent pairing, if you're judging based on what the Flyers have looked like this season.

June 1990 (Universal Studios Orlando Opens)
Manning (6/4/90) - Gudas (6/5/90) - Del Zotto (6/24/90)
Guys, this is great news! Now, instead of "Oh no why are 3 and 23 on the ice together? They both stink!" we can say "Hey those guys were both born the same month than Universal Orlando opened!" The Flyers are fixed!

The Trading Block
Schenn (11/2/89) - MacDonald (9/7/88)
I call these two The Trading Block sarcastically, because (1) I think Luke is a valuable defenseman and (2) nobody in the world will ever trade for Andrew MacDonald's contract until the trade deadline before it expires.

The Only Reasons For Hope
Alt (10/18/91) - Morin (7/12/95) - Hagg (2/8/95)
Sanheim (3/29/96) - Provorov (1/13/97)
Gostisbehere (4/20/93) (nice)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Tuesday Night MACtion Preview: Toledo @ Central Michigan

To simplify this game, Toledo is a run-based offense (5.3 yards per attempt, 222.9 yards per game, 16 rushing touchdowns) that ranks top 3 in the conference in rushing and bottom 3 in passing. CMU is a pass-based offense (296.2 yards per game, 20 touchdown passes) that ranks in the top 3 in passing and is dead last in rushing.

I love these games because we'll see how Toledo has handled good passing teams, how CMU has handled good rushing teams, and then figure out where we can make a bunch of money. At the time of me writing this, the line is Toledo -4.5.

Toledo against the pass:

  • Arkansas: 32/53 attempts, 412 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception (they average 280.2 yards, 2.3 touchdowns, 0.6 interceptions)
  • Iowa State: 26/43, 274 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions (239.2 yards, 1.6 touchdowns, 1.0 interceptions)
  • Arkansas State: don't pay attention to this game, they aren't a real school
  • Ball State: 23/37, 236 yards, 1 touchdown, 0 interceptions (221.8 yards, 1.4 touchdowns, 0.6 interceptions)
  • Kent State: don't pay attention to this game, they're the worst passing team in the MAC
  • Eastern Michigan: 25/39, 205 yards, 0 touchdowns, 1 interception (218.3 yards, 1.4 touchdowns, 1.4 interceptions)
  • UMass: 27/49, 240 yards, 4 touchdowns, 1 interception (293.0 yards, 1.9 touchdowns, 1.0 interceptions)
  • Northern Illinois: 16/25, 277 yards, 2 touchdowns, 1 interception (236.1 yards, 1.7 touchdowns, 0.6 interceptions)
UMass is right behind CMU in terms of passing yards in the conference, but CMU throws the ball more efficiently. It's important to note that Toledo won that game despite giving up 4 touchdown passes (Toledo QB Phillip Ely threw 5). 

Overall, with the exception of the UMass game, Toledo's defense does a good job of containing against the pass. In every game listed above (and the two not listed), they've held opponents to under or around their averages in passing yards and touchdowns. That's why they're a road favorite tonight. 

Central Michigan against the two MAC teams similar to Toledo's running game:

  • Northern Illinois: 59 carries, 211 yards, 3.6 yards per carry, 2 touchdowns (they average 47.4 carries, 207.0 yards, 4.4 yards per carry, 2.8 touchdowns)
  • Western Michigan: 41 carries, 215 yards, 5.2 yards per carry, 1 touchdown (39.6 carries, 208/2 yards, 5.3 yards per carry, 2.1 touchdowns)
I want to note that WMU's quarterback had a near-perfect day, with 15 completions on 22 attempts for 262 yards, 4 touchdowns, and a bananas 94.1 QBR. I'm going to make a mental note to bet on them in the future, because they lost to Michigan State and Ohio State, flubbed a game at Georgia Southern, and have creamed almost everyone else. My man Clay Travis loves Bowling Green this year, but BGSU travels to WMU tomorrow night, and I like the Broncos as a 3-point home dog. 

Back to the game at hand, though, and I like Toledo here. I almost like them too much - this feels like a CMU line, but I don't think Toledo has a problem covering 4.5 at all. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Quick Flyers-Oilers Recap (And Lineup Volume 5)

I stayed up for Monday's game and I wanted to get a quick nap in last night between work and the Flyers' game. I laid down around 7 and I didn't wake up until 4.

But it looks like I didn't miss much! Here's a few quick thoughts:

1. Woof
Not good. As I was walking into the office, a co-worker said, "Man, what's wrong with those Flyers?" I just kind of nodded and grumbled.

2. One Bright Spot From The Box Score
In Couturier's extended absence, the Laughton-Read-Simmonds line has really thrived. Last night on my way home from work I was listening to 94.1 (because there was a commercial on 97.5 - I'm usually a Fanatic guy) and a caller legitimately said this:

I wouldn't go that far, primarily because Claude Giroux is the perfect captain. But Simmonds deserves the A and this line does do a lot of grit/heart-type things. Poke checks in the offensive zone, nice passes to set up good attempts, and a lot of intangibles.

3. Another Bright Spot From The Box Score
Nugent-Hopkins and Hall were both the first pick in the NHL Draft. It's not like the Flyers are out here giving up goals to scrub players (scrub teams maybe, but the talent is there).

This is a big spin zone point for me: yeah, we stink, and our defense largely looks incapable of playing professional hockey, but at least other teams are better than us? I don't even fucking know.

4. Flyers Lineup Volume 5 (Coots Back, Bellemare and Medvedev Still Out)

Raffl - Giroux - Voracek
Read - Laughton - Simmonds
Gagner - Couturier - Schenn
White - Vandevelde - Umberger/Lecavalier (this will obviously be Bellemare's line when he returns)

Streit - Schultz
Del Zotto - Schenn
Gudas by himself
Brandon Manning (scratched)

The forward lines will be fine once everyone comes back. The defense pairings are completely fucked. We will be able to move Streit and Schenn (although I feel strongly that we should keep Luke, and I've been shouting that from the rooftops for a while now). We won't be able to move Schultz or MacDonald (remember him?). Gudas and Manning need work, but more than anything they need to be paired with someone who is better than what we currently have to offer.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Monday Night Recap: Colts @ Panthers

Last night's game turned out to be a lot more exciting than I had imagined. I was thinking the Panthers' defense was going to stifle to the Colts all game, and they did up until the fourth quarter. Indy's first four drives of the game were a fumble, an interception, and two punts. Indy's final drive of the game ended in an interception (which immediately led to the game-winning field goal).

The game was exciting enough on its own, but everyone knows it's even more fun when you have a little action. Here's how we made out:

First Half Total Under 23 Points -115 (Win)
Easy. Panther field goal, Panther touchdown, Colt field goal, Colt field goal. I didn't expect there to be four scores of any kind, but three of the four being field goals matches up perfectly with the stats behind this bet.

First Score Of The Game: Carolina Touchdown +130 (Loss)
When the Colts fumbled the ball at their own 20 yard line, I expected Cam and the boys to be able to punch it in and crush this bet. Instead, they ran for 3 yards and threw 2 incompletions, then kicked a field goal. That stunk.

Frank Gore To Score A Touchdown +125 (Loss)
Coby Fleener To Score A Touchdown +250 (Win)
I have to pat myself on the back here, I nailed Fleener. The Panthers have had trouble with big receivers, and he was the most likely guy to fill that role. Looking back, I should have also considered Andre Johnson (6'3"), because he also scored.

Jonathan Stewart To Score A Touchdown -125 (Win)
Cam Newton To Score A Touchdown +100 (Win)
Greg Olsen To Score A Touchdown +110 (Win)
Ted Ginn To Score A Touchdown +150 (Loss)
I was trying to find a GIF or a Vine of Ted Ginn's drop from last night that would have ended up being a touchdown. I couldn't find it (I didn't look too hard, to be honest), but I did see a million links to other horrible drops. Keep that in mind next time you want to risk your money on him.

Panthers -7 (Loss)
My rationale behind picking the Cats last night was the following Vegas lines: Luck to throw an interception -275 (preposterously high, but he went and threw 3 last night), Luck over 2 touchdowns +110 (it's tough to win as a team like the Colts if you don't throw more than 2 touchdowns), and the Team Totals for Indy (20) and Carolina (29).

Last night: 5-4
Monday Nights: 23-28
Thursday Nights: 12-14-2
Ultimately, the Panthers failed to cover because Cam Newton wasn't good enough. I don't know if that counts as a hot take or not, but he put up fraud numbers. Compare his traditional stats to Luck:

  • Luck: 23/47, 231 yards (4.9 yards per attempt), 2 touchdowns, 3 interceptions
  • Newton: 16/35, 248 yards (7.1 yards per attempt), 2 touchdowns, 1 interception
When you get into advanced stats (I don't even really know if QB Rating counts as advanced because it's just based on those traditional numbers), Newton outplayed Luck 76.8 to 50.9. 

But when you get into QBR - which is actually at least a little advanced because we're now factoring in the likelihood of scoring points and winning games - Luck was a pretty terrible 34.8. Newton was even worse, at 33.9. 

Maybe Cam can ride his defense to some success this season like he's done so far. But Carolina's 7-0 has come against these guys:
  • Jaguars (2-5, -60 point differential)
  • Texans (3-5, -31)
  • Saints (4-4, -21)
  • Buccaneers (3-4, -36)
  • Seahawks (4-4, +27, third place in the NFC West)
  •  Eagles (3-4, +23, third place in the NFC East)
  • Colts (3-5, -30)
This is a fraud team, and the Packers -2 at Carolina is a steal next week. I love betting on a good team that just got smacked, and I love betting against an overrated team. I may bet my car on GB next weekend. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Monday Night Football Preview: Colts @ Panthers

It's a bleak time for us. We can't afford food. We can't afford beer. I have a Blackberry so I can't even drive with Uber (dot com) to make some extra life-changing money. Here's how we've fared so far on weeknight games:

Monday Nights: 18-24
Thursday Nights: 12-14-2

We aren't going to make up 8 wins tonight, but we need some momentum for the second half of the season. That's the logic we're using, and it also applies perfectly to the Philadelphia Eagles. 

Through 7 games, the Colts are a meager 3-4 and have disappointed everyone who considered them a real contender. The Panthers, on the other hand, have blown past expectations and have started the season undefeated through 6 games. 

For tonight's matchup, I'm going to throw out some fun stats to brighten your Monday morning (and then follow it up with some related bets to ruin your Monday night).

Fun Stat #1: In first halves, the Colts have thrown for just 5.6 yards per attempt, 4 touchdowns and 4 interceptions, have a QB rating of just 69.2. They have just 1 first half rushing touchdown and 2 fumbles. In second halves, they've thrown for 7.3 yards per attempt and 10 touchdowns (and 5 interceptions). The rushing attack has also seen a little more success in the second half, but the jump isn't as significant because the Colts stink and are always playing from behind. 

Along the same lines, you would expect Carolina to have more rushing success in the second halves of their victories. They've certainly relied more on the run in second halves (106 attempts to 91 first-half attempts), but they've only scored 1 more touchdown in the second half than the first, and their yards per rush drop from 5.2 in the first half to 3.8 in the second. However, their passing attack improves from 4 touchdowns/5 interceptions/5.9 yards per attempt in the first half to 5 touchdowns/2 interceptions/8.3 yards per attempt in the second. 

The Colts' defense has 5 interceptions in first halves so far, compared to just 2 in the second half. The Panthers' D has 3 in the first half and 6 in the second, which is certainly helped by the fact that they are usually winning (and forcing the other team into obvious passing situations). 

Related Bet #1: First half under 23 (-115). The total for the game is 46 points, so this first half under feels like a steal. 

Fun Stat #2: There is an enormous gap between the payouts for First Score Of The Game:
  • Colts Safety (+5000) and Panthers Safety (+5000) aren't going to happen
  • Colts Field Goal (+400)
  • Panthers Field Goal (+325)
  • Colts Touchdown (+300)
  • Panthers Touchdown (+130)
Related Bet #2: How more obvious can it be? Vegas knows what's going to happen. Midas whale profit off it - Carolina TD +130, please and thank you. 

Fun Stat #3: The Panthers have allowed just 5 passing touchdowns and 6 rushing touchdowns through 6 games. Vegas expects Andrew Luck to throw 1 or 2 touchdowns, and they expect TY Hilton (and to a slightly lesser extent, Donte Moncrief) to have a big night. 

Frank Gore has all 3 rushing touchdown for Indianapolis this year. Moncrief (5) and Hilton (3) lead the team in receiving touchdowns, and Fleener/Johnson/Dorsett/Allen/Whalen have each caught one. 

Related Bet #3: Gore (+125), Hilton (+125), and Moncrief (+175) are the only bets I'd even consider making on this side. Few running backs have had a lot of success against Carolina, but they've given up touchdowns to Doug Martin, Marshawn Lynch, and Ryan Mathews the past 3 weeks. I wish Gore's prop paid more, but it's a decent bet. 

Teams have been able to have some balanced success against Carolina this year, and they got torched by Vincent Jackson (6'5", 230 pounds) and Jimmy Graham (6'7", 265 pounds). The Colts don't have a wide receiver who fits that mold, but Coby Fleener (+250, 6'6", 251 pounds) seems a likely target if coach Pagano saw the same Box Scores that I did. 

Fun Stat #4: The Colts, on the other hand, have allowed 12 passing touchdowns and 8 rushing touchdowns through 7 games. Vegas expects Cam Newtown to throw more than one touchdown, and they expect Jonathan Stewart and Greg Olsen to have a big night. 

Newton (4) and Stewart (2) have done most of the scoring on the ground, and Mike Tolbert has a touchdown too. Through the air, Ted Ginn (3) and Olsen (3) are the most frequent touchdown scorers. Tolbert, Corey Brown, and Holy Crap Jerrico Cotchery Is Still In The NFL have all also caught one touchdown. 

Related Bet #4: Stewart (-125) and Newton (+100) don't pay as much as you'd like, and you can say the same about Olsen (+110). Even Ted Ginn - who was going to be my Wild Card - pays just +150. I think we have to pick two of those four, but I'm having a tough time deciding so I'm just going to fire away with all four. 

Fun Stat #5: Look at the touchdown props for the Carolina players. Look at Andrew Luck -275 to throw an interception and just +110 to go over 2 touchdowns. Look at the Team Points lines for Indy (20) and Carolina (27). Vegas loves the Panthers tonight, and so do I. 

Related Bet #5: Panthers -7