Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Support The Troops & Bet On The Military Bowl This Afternoon

Bowl season, as a whole, stinks. Most of the teams are bad, most of the stadiums are almost completely empty, and largely the whole month is ESPN trying to sell you a bunch of shit.

But not today.

Today is for the troops. It's the 2016 Military Bowl at the Navy-Marines Stadium in Annapolis.

And it's basically a home game for Temple, for two reasons. First, Maryland is the next state down below Pennsylvania. For a fan base that is most likely on vacation this week, a two-hour drive with no tickets available on Stubhub probably means a decent crowd (for a non-major bowl game, at least).

Second, Temple played both Army and Navy this season. No college football team played more games against The Military this season than Temple. (Notre Dame also played two.)

So, naturally, let's use our knowledge of Philadelphia Football, our love for The Troops, and our hatred for Wake Forest to make some money on a dreary Tuesday afternoon.

Wake Forest Offense

  • 56.6% rushing plays
  • 133.5 rush yards per game (103rd out of 128 schools)
  • 3.4 yards per rush (112th)
  • 43.4% passing plays
  • 157.5 pass yards per game (117th)
  • 5.9 yards per pass attempt (119th)
That all paints the picture of a really bad offense. Wake Forest played three ranked teams this season, and managed to score just 10.3 points per game in those three (6 against Florida State, 12 against Louisville, 13 against Clemson). For what it's worth, they gave up 32.0 points per game to those opponents. That's not great. 

The issue with the Wake Forest offense is simple. They aren't good at anything. I mean those yards per rush and yards per pass stats put them in the company of teams like Kansas, UConn. Boston College, and Virgina. 

Wake Forest Defense
  • 165.0 rushing yards against per game (53rd out of 128 schools)
  • 4.1 yards against per rush attempt (45th)
  • 230.2 passing yards against per game (61st)
  • 7.3 passing yards against per attempt (57th)
Well here's how the Demon Deacons were able to notch wins against Duke (24-14), Indiana (33-28), Syracuse (28-9), and Virginia (27-20). When their opponents are in the class below Ranked (or Elite, or Contender, or Whatever The Fuck You Want To Call The Class Below Alabama), their decent defense can overcome their paltry offense. And, in situations like those four quality wins, they can actually put up a decent amount of points. 

  • Won at Duke, 24-14
  • Won at Indiana, 33-28
  • Lost at NC State, 33-16
  • Won vs Syracuse, 28-9
  • Lost vs Army, 21-13
  • Won vs Virginia, 27-20
  • Lost vs Boston College, 17-14
Average win (4 games): 28.0 to 17.8
Average loss (3 games): 14.3 to 23.7

Temple, as we know, had an elite pass defense this season. They were 2nd in the nation in passing yards against per game, 11th in yards per pass attempt, and 5th in sack percentage. Their rush defense, though not quite as impressive, was still 28th in yards per game against and 29th in yards per attempt against. 

It'd be really cool if any of these seven teams that Wake has played this year matched all or some of that defensive resume. Let's split it into two groups. 

  • Duke: rushing defense 66th/72nd, passing defense 93rd/127th
  • Indiana: rushing defense 20th/42nd, passing defense 31st/48th
  • Syracuse: rushing defense 112th/121st, passing defense 122nd/125th
  • Virginia: rushing defense 75th/75th, passing defense 84th/113th

  • NC State: rushing defense 8th/12th, passing defense 36th/94th
  • Army: rushing defense 37th/62nd, passing defense 4th/34th
  • Boston College: rushing defense 9th/11th, passing defense 45th/62nd
Naturally, nothing was particularly close to Temple's defense. But if we can consider than Indiana game a fluke (5 interceptions for 100 yards and a touchdown will do that), then basically Wake beats bad defenses and loses to good defenses. Temple is, unquestionably, a good defense. I'd project Wake Forest to score between 10-14 points. 

But how many will they allow Temple? We're going to do this whole exercise over in reverse. 

Temple Against Middle-Of-The-Road Defenses

Since Wake Forest is right in the middle tier of college defenses both against the rush (45th/53rd) and against the pass (57th/61st), we're going to see how Temple has done against teams that fall somewhere in that same class. 
  • Lost vs Army, 28-13
    • Army: rushing defense 37th/62nd, passing defense 4th/34th
  • Lost at Penn State, 34-27
    • PSU: rushing defense 31st/44th, passing defense 13th/25th
  • Won vs Charlotte, 48-20
    • Charlotte: rushing defense 40th/57th, passing defense 83rd/124th
  • Won vs. SMU, 45-20
    • SMU: rushing defense 99th/103rd, passing defense 61st/82nd
  • Lost at Memphis, 34-27
    • Memphis: rushing defense 89th/97th, passing defense 32nd/98th
  • Won at UCF, 26-25
    • UCF: rushing defense 33rd/62nd, passing defense 15th/32nd
  • Won vs USF, 46-30
    • USF: rushing defense 83rd/88th, passing defense 73rd/118th
  • Won vs Cincinnati, 34-13
    • UC: rushing defense 42nd/76th, passing defense 60th/75th
  • Won at UConn, 21-0
    • UConn: rushing defense 36th/47th, passing defense 84th/107th
  • Won at Tulane, 31-0
    • Tulane: rushing defense 47th.56th, passing defense 24th/44th
  • Won vs East Carolina, 37-10
    • ECU: rushing defense 109th/118th, passing defense 58th/105th
  • Won at Navy, 34-10
    • Navy: rushing defense 69th/70th, passing defense 86th/122nd
Those two road wins at UConn and Tulane are a really impressive 52-0 combined total over some decent defensive teams. And, for what it's worth, that game against Navy was at the same stadium as this afternoon's game. 

I'm going to aggregate those games. Against teams in the 30th-80th range defensively (Army, UCF, Cincinnati, Connecticut, Tulane), Temple finished 4-1 by an average score of 25.0 to 13.2. Given that the Army game was the first of the season, and that their pass defense is stingier than Wake Forest's, I'm willing to overlook that game. Temple was very solid against middle-of-the-road defenses, especially late in the season. I think they'll eclipse that average of 25 points, probably in the 28-35 range. 

Bovada's Current Odds/Props

Temple -12.5
Over 41 
Tease Temple -6 and Over 34.5
Temple Total Points Over 27
Wake Forest Total Points Under 15

I nailed that preview. 

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Flyers-Devils Preview

It's the Thursday before Christmas. The office is very slow. Most of the people at work are gone for vacation already, and my boss just left the office for the day.

So.. Flyers preview! I'm going to pull most of this, as usual, from HockeyViz and Corsica. You should already know both sites, but you should also subscribe to HockeyViz because it's an amazing website.

Devils Forwards

Let's start up top. The top five Devils in terms of ice time are (in order) Taylor Hall, Mike Cammalleri, Travis Zajac, Kyle Palmieri, and Adam Henrique. Here are the 5v5 metrics for those five guys:

Player  TOI/G  CF% FF% SF% xGF% SCF% GF%
TAYLOR.HALL      15.74 49.93 50.65 50.49 53.84 60.24 41.38
MIKE.CAMMALLERI      14.10 47.34 45.25 46.22 44.07 45.56 55.88
TRAVIS.ZAJAC      13.79 50.7 50 51.09 47.76 47.66 50
KYLE.PALMIERI      12.51 44.44 42.49 42.62 41.19 43.33 55.17
ADAM.HENRIQUE      12.19 46.04 46.13 46.06 45.66 45.69 44.12

It's not all that impressive. Hall is the "All-Star winger" that was the target of the largest trade in Devils history, but he's way below breakeven in terms of on-ice goals. He creates chances, though, but obviously New Jersey anticipated more team success with Hall on the ice. 

SB Nation says that the top five in ice time will fill out the top two lines tonight (which makes sense), and Devils coach John Hynes will have the ability to match either (or neither) of these lines against the Claude Giroux-Jake Voracek-Michael Raffl line. 

But it shouldn't matter. The Flyers shouldn't have an issue generating chances against Corey Schneider tonight. They generally win the Corsi-Fenwick-Shots battle, and they could win those battles in a landslide in this game. The big question is going to be that final column, Goals. Schneider is a beast, and the Flyers will have to generate high-quality chances to beat him. 

Devils Defensemen

Same chart for the blueliners, 5v5 only:

Player TOI/G CF% FF% SF% xGF% SCF% GF%
DAMON.SEVERSON      16.79 49.57 48.95 48.29 47.55 49.62 37.5
ANDY.GREENE      16.32 48.15 47.75 47.64 47.65 53.49 41.46
BEN.LOVEJOY      15.66 44.8 45.2 46.09 45.26 44.95 39.29
KYLE.QUINCEY      14.92 47.34 47.7 47.34 46.37 49.12 45.83
JOHN.MOORE      14.88 44.64 44.34 43.04 42.97 47.01 37.21
So, that's not great. The only player above 50% in ANYTHING is Andy Greene's scoring chances. And he's still below 48% in Expected Goals and below 42% in Actual Goals. Yikes. Yikes yikes yikes yikes. 

Devils Goalie

Corey Schneider is going to steal this one, isn't he?

Colorado State? Quarterback Yards? Win?

Colorado State is favored by 15 points at this moment, so let's try to skew our bets toward that side to start.

Nick Stevens Passing Yards

Since Stevens took over as the full-time quarterback halfway through the season, he's averaged 235.7 passing yards per game. His lowest yardage total was against New Mexico two weeks ago, where he threw for just 164 yards.

I'm going to make an executive decision here and eliminate the New Mexico game. It's really difficult for me to consider that his "bad" game because he completed 9/10 passed for 164 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 0 turnovers. CSU was just up the whole game so they ran the ball, to the point where they had three separate guys run for 100+ yards (and four separate guys ran for touchdowns, including Stevens twice). If anything, that New Mexico game worries me because CSU could dominate Idaho and Stevens could only attempt a dozen passes.

Last week's game against San Diego State was similar. He attempted just 15 passes, and completed 10 of them for 210 yards and 4 touchdowns. That's not a bad game by any interpretation, but in terms of yardage it would probably fall under his total for a betting prop.

The remaining four games saw him total the following passing yardage numbers:

  • 189 yards against Boise State
  • 237 yards against UNLV, 
  • 240 yards against Fresno State 
  • 374 yards against Air Force
Since we're just looking at passing yards, here are how those teams rank in pass defense for the season (there are 128 teams):
  • Boise State: 28th in yards per game (199.5), 7th in yards per attempt (6.0)
  • UNLV: 90th in yards per game (252.2), 98th in yards per attempt (7.9)
  • Fresno State: 8th in yards per game (174.5), 95th in yards per attempt (7.8)
  • Air Force: 99th in yards per game (250.5), 119th in yards per attempt (8.5)
I don't know how Fresno State allows so few yards per game when they allow so many yards per attempt, but it's fair to say that, in games where he three the ball 20+ times, Stevens feasted on weaker pass defenses and struggled somewhat against the only really decent pass defense he faced. 

Idaho ranks 114th in yards per game against (276.8) and 109th in yards per pass attempt against (8.1). That's certainly more on the "feast" side, and so our only worry is CSU blowing out Idaho from the start and running the ball three times as much as they throw it. 

I mean it's definitely a worry, because the five most likely outcomes (and eight of the ten at 20/1 or narrower) involve CSU winning. Is this going to end up like it did against New Mexico and San Diego State for Stevens?

Well, let's find out. Here's summaries of his three good games:
  • UNLV: CSU dominated the first half 35-0, and Stevens threw just two touchdown passes for the game. But the Rams moved the ball via the air (28 attempts) and the ground (50 attempts) and UNLV really didn't come to life until the game was out of hand in the second half. To be honest, this game is a borderline mirror image of the low-yardage games against UNM and SDSU. UNLV is just really goddamn bad. 
  • Fresno State: Almost exactly the same as the UNLV game, in that the Rams dominated the whole thing and ran the ball twice as much as they threw it (47-26 attempts). 
  • Air Force: This was one of two losses in Stevens' time as starting quarterback this season. The other came against Boise State. Those two teams are polar opposites in terms of pass defense, and even though it was a loss it most certainly would have gone over the number for Stevens' passing yards. He benefited from the game being close and cashed in for 374 (!!) passing yards. 
Of the six games in Stevens' rearview mirror this season, it seems like this game is going to most closely mirror four of them. Those games would be the comfortable victories against UNLV, Fresno State, New Mexico, and San Diego State. In those four games, he threw for 237, 240, 164, and 210 yards. It's not a question of whether Stevens and the Rams offense have the ability to beat opponents through the air - as evidenced by their huge output against The Troops - but they normally win so comfortably that they end up running the ball two-thirds of the time. 

I would expect Colorado State to win tonight by somewhere close to the two-touchdown spread, and based on Idaho's poor pass defense this season I would expect him to finish toward the high end of that 164-210 scale from the other four games this year. 

Let's Take A Quick Look At The Flyers' Most-Used Forward Trios

The Flyers don't have a forward trio with more than 100 minutes played together that is consistently above 50% in advanced metrics. This chart shows everything from Goals down through Expected Goals and Babcocks, all the way down to Corsi and Fenwick.

Your bad news of the day: none of the trios are consistently finishing significantly above 50%.

It's obviously not ideal, but it's a good sign that there are three line combinations (12-28-93, 11-14-93, 76-78-13) that are flirting with 50% across the board. Now we just need to clone Jake Voracek and we'll be set for our big playoff run.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

The Boca Raton Bowl Is Tonight

It's finally here. The biggest non-Playoff bowl game is tonight, live from everyone's grandmother's backyard.

And so, because the name of the bowl is telling us to, let's wet the beak a little bit.

This is the first place I always go on Bovada. It's how I essentially inform all of my decisions about the game. And My Friend Vegas is telling me that Western Kentucky is going to win. They're paying out lower across every segment - close games, blowouts, it's all more likely that WKU is going to come out on top. That's not me telling you any X's and O's or how I think any matchups are going to play out. That's genius oddsmakers and computers saying that, so it might be true. Do yourself a favor and start your ticket with Western Kentucky -6.5 (-110).

The over/under is currently at an even 80 points. If we all bet the over, it's going to end 35-32. If we all bet the under, it's going to end 78-77 after four overtimes. Let's just stay away from that and let our friends lose money on the over (or the under, if you have lame friends).

One score prop I do like from that table above is pairing Memphis by 1-6 points +500 and Western Kentucky by 1-6 points +375. They both pay out a decent amount, and it gives us a pretty wide range of close games that would cash. If you roll in that WKU bet, then Memphis winning by less than a touchdown or WKU winning at all would all result in the beak getting wet.

And, finally, our last section, player props. But it's going to be a long fucking section because we have to look at the offenses (and their competition) and defenses (and their competition). I don't really know how I'm going to do this, so bear with me and let's take a ride.

Memphis Pass Offense

  • Quarterback Riley Ferguson is a junior, and this is the first season he's really played
  • Wide Receiver Anthony Miller is also a junior, but he played last season
  • In the eleven full games that Ferguson played this year, he averaged 300.5 yards per game
  • Naturally, Bovada set Ferguson's line for tonight at exactly 300.5 yards
  • Ferguson's two worst games, in terms of yardage, were a 43-7 victory over Kansas (189 passing yards) and a 34-27 victory over Temple (174). Memphis jumped out to a huge lead against KU and ran the ball almost twice as much as they threw it. I would expect to not have to worry about a situation like this tonight. The Temple game was different, because Memphis didn't hold a lead until the second half. I don't really have a concrete answer for why Ferguson threw for so few yards, but the seven punts and three field goal attempts for Memphis lead me to believe that Temple's defense was able to come up with some big third down stops. 
  • Ferguson's four best games, in terms of yardage, were a 77-3 victory over Bowling Green (359 passing yards), a close 48-44 victory over Houston (409), and two games where Memphis got killed - 48-28 by Ole Miss (343) and 59-30 to Tulsa (349). The big win is pretty straightforward, because Bowling Green just couldn't stop anything. The two losses make sense too, because Memphis was playing catch-up and had to rely more heavily on the passing game. 
The Houston game is the one I want to focus on, because it's basically the anti-Temple game for Ferguson. Both games were close (within one score), and I think those games should be the closest to tonight's game. Why did Ferguson finish with more than twice as many pass yards last week against Houston than he did in October against Temple?

I keep coming back to the 7 punts and 3 field goal attempts that Memphis had against Temple. Against Houston, they punted four times and kicked two field goals. Now I get that four possessions isn't a humongous deal, but it details how Temple's defense was more able to impact the game than Houston's defense. For what it's worth, Temple finished first in the AAC East, and Houston finished fourth in the AAC West.

And now, just in case I'm not already at that point, I'm going to fall off a cliff and compare the total team defenses of Temple, Houston, and Western Kentucky:

  • Temple's defense is 3rd in the nation in yards per game at 275.9 
  • Houston is 13th in the nation but they are more than 40 yards per game worse than Temple (that difference is the same between #13 Houston and #32 Ohio)
  • Western Kentucky is 38th in the nation at 367.8 yards per game
And now let's refine that and just look at passing defense, since that's the whole premise of this prop we're evaluating:
  • Temple is 2nd in the nation at 145.2 pass yards against per game
  • Houston is 54th in the nation at 219.5
  • Western Kentucky is 110th in the nation (out of 128) at 268.7
That settles that, let's throw Riley Ferguson Over 300.5 Yards on the ticket. Maybe go ahead and empty the Bovada account on that one and then buy your girlfriend some extra nice Christmas presents. 

And last but certainly not least (I know I already said finally, we're going bonus section here), the most exciting football bet. The total yardage of the longest touchdown (from either side) is set at 67.5 yards. 

Now, keep in mind that Bovada's team point lines are at 44 and 37.5, so we're anticipating like 8-10 touchdowns. WKU has running backs who've scored 85 and 59 yard touchdowns this year, and receivers who have scored from 87, 80, 61, and 54 yards out (they also have a guy who caught a 74-yard non-touchdown). As a team, they scored 80 total touchdowns this season. 

Memphis has running backs who've scored from 71 and 45 yards, plus another with a 51-yard non-touchdown. Their receivers have scored from 84 and 67 yards. As a team, they totaled 101 offensive touchdowns. 

That's a bunch of meaningless stats because you know we're betting the Longest Touchdown Over 67.5 Yards

Thursday, December 15, 2016

I Fucked Around With Some Blueline Stats

As usual, I saw a tweet about something completely not related to the Flyers and it made me curious about a Flyers-related topic. Today's food for thought came from Sportsnet's Chris Johnston:
You can interpret that as Babcock shitting on Corsi if you want, and then you can laugh at all of the nerds, but I think the real truth there is that the whole thing is a lot more complex.

Obviously, based on Babcock's quote, the Hockey Twitter charts and graphs and stuff that strictly rely on Corsi are going to differ from what NHL coaches evaluate to ice their lineups. The Maple Leafs' Hunlak pairing is largely trash, at least according to the analytics community. They are probably trash according to a lot of communities, and that's why they combine to make less than $3.5 million per season even though they're both well beyond entry-level and RFA contracts.

(Side note: please note, Hockey Internet Community, that a third pairing defenseman who makes a million bucks a year doesn't have to be an elite play-driver or shutdown blueliner. You need role players too, especially in a league with a salary cap. Everyone can't be PK Subban.)

So I went on Corsica and narrowed the Skaters section down to defensemen who have played 300+ minutes this season. I then did a little bit of sabermetrics to add up Babcock's preferred stats, "did the puck go in or did they get scoring chances against?"

I combined Scoring Chances and Expected Goals. I used the Per 60 metrics because our list of "regular" defensemen ranges from Duncan Keith's 577 minutes to Paul Postma's 302 minutes. Per 60 seems to be the most fair and simple way to account for that.

And I chose Expected Goals instead of Actual Goals for two reasons. First, I wanted to factor out goaltender play, because goalies are weird and I don't think we should punish defensemen who play in front of a goalie who is worse than someone else's goalie (via HockeyViz):

In total, we have 154 defensemen on our list. Six of those 154 happen to play for the Philadelphia Flyers. But before we put the Philly spin on it, let's look at who is Good and Bad around the league.

Most Scoring Chances And Expected Goals For Per 60

Player Pos Team SC+xGF/60
5 IAN.COLE D PIT 15.02
10 BRENT.BURNS D S.J 14.36

I'm going to be honest, I had no idea Polak was going to appear on any of the lists that were good. This is offensive defensemen, though, so naturally the list also includes names like Letang and Burns. 

Fewest Scoring Chances And Expected Goals Against Per 60

Player Pos Team SC+xGA/60
17 IAN.COLE D PIT 8.76
21 P.K..SUBBAN D NSH 8.93
I extended this list out to 22 to include Subban and Tyutin to basically prove that none of this means anything. But in terms of shutdown blueliners, this list nails it in some areas and whiffs in others. Vlasic, Shattenkirk, Josi, yeah, sure. But it was my understanding that Josh Gorges and Rasmus Ristolainen were two of the worst defensemen in the whole league? Maybe I was mistaken?

Best Scoring Chance And Expected Goals For Percentage ("Babcock Percentage")

Player Pos Team SC+xGF%
1 IAN.COLE D PIT 63.2%
14 P.K..SUBBAN D NSH 57.1%
22 MARC.VLASIC D S.J 56.0%
29 JAKE.MUZZIN D L.A 55.0%
I blew this list all the way out to 31 to include everyone at 55% or better. And, again, the Pittsburgh and Toronto guys seem to be getting a huge bump. Matthew Benning, in all likelihood, is not the fifth best defenseman in the NHL. 

But there are a lot of names in this mix that are almost always among the list of best defensemen - Stralman, Josi, Subban, McDonagh, Shattenkirk, Weber, Vlasic, Martinez (kind of?), Letang. I guess it's not necessarily a horrible statistic to look at, but obviously something weird is going on that allows Roman Fucking Polak to be included right in the middle of those perennial All-Stars and guys that are supremely underrated. 

Best Difference Between Actual On Ice Goals For Percentage And "Babcock Percentage"

Player Pos Team SC+xGF% GF% GF%Rel
1 BRENT.SEABROOK D CHI 45.1% 69.3% 24.2%
2 NATHAN.BEAULIEU D MTL 44.8% 68.7% 23.9%
3 DENNIS.SEIDENBERG D NYI 50.4% 70.0% 19.6%
4 KARL.ALZNER D WSH 43.5% 61.5% 18.0%
5 SHEA.WEBER D MTL 56.0% 73.8% 17.8%
6 YOHANN.AUVITU D N.J 43.5% 60.1% 16.6%
7 GUSTAV.FORSLING D CHI 41.4% 57.8% 16.5%
8 BRIAN.CAMPBELL D CHI 46.8% 62.9% 16.1%
9 CALVIN.DE HAAN D NYI 51.0% 66.6% 15.6%
10 DUNCAN.KEITH D CHI 45.8% 60.8% 15.0%
11 MATT.NISKANEN D WSH 45.8% 59.9% 14.1%
12 RYAN.SUTER D MIN 51.9% 65.8% 13.9%
13 MARKUS.NUTIVAARA D CBJ 50.0% 63.1% 13.1%
14 MARK.GIORDANO D CGY 49.4% 62.5% 13.1%
15 NIKITA.NESTEROV D T.B 44.8% 57.9% 13.1%
16 ALEX.GOLIGOSKI D ARI 32.2% 44.7% 12.4%
17 KRIS.RUSSELL D EDM 47.1% 59.3% 12.2%
18 DAVID.SAVARD D CBJ 53.6% 65.6% 12.1%
19 JARED.SPURGEON D MIN 55.0% 66.8% 11.7%
20 DERYK.ENGELLAND D CGY 46.9% 58.6% 11.7%
21 DMITRY.ORLOV D WSH 49.3% 59.4% 10.1%
22 BROOKS.ORPIK D WSH 52.5% 62.5% 10.1%
These are the guys that, for whatever reason, are on the ice more than their scoring chance and expected goal metrics would lead you to think they would be. There almost has to be a Team Shooting Percentage element to this, especially because Chicago, Montreal, Washington, and the Islanders appear so frequently (those four teams have 12 of the 22 names on the list). 

The league median for shooting percentage is 8.9%. Chicago is sitting at 9.18%, Montreal 10.38%, and the Islanders and Capitals are both right around that league average. So maybe I'm just a fucking idiot. 

How, then, have Seidenberg, Alzner, De Haan, Niskanen, Orlov, and Orpik all managed to outperform their scoring chance and expected goals numbers? I'm going to get super sidetracked here and try to see if teammate quality is our answer. 

New York Islanders
  • Calvin De Haan and Dennis Seidenberg play together, and they get the ice time (and competition) that you'd expect of a second- or third-pairing of blueliners. I'm drawing a blank on this one. Moving on!
Washington Capitals
  • Karl Alzner and Matt Niskanen are the Caps' top pair. They routinely get matched against their opponents' top pair and (even moreso) top line, but their quality of teammates is a bit more heavy toward the top of the Caps' depth chart. Again, I don't quite get it. 
  • Dmitry Orlov primarily plays with John Carlson, and I guess they'd be the second pairing. Their deployment is exactly what you'd expect for a second pairing. 
  • Brooks Orpik primarily plays with Nate Schmidt, and the third pairing is used as a third pairing. 
  • So, if you're keeping score at home, all four of the Caps that made our list aren't particularly sheltered and the team doesn't shoot a particularly high percentage, but they are all on the ice for about 10% more goals than we would project based on scoring chances and expected goals. 
We're going to cut that part and just move on to The Flyer's. 

The Philadelphia Flyers Defensemen

These ranks are all out of the 154 defensemen who have played 300+ minutes at 5v5. 

Scoring Chances Plus Expected Goals For Per 60 (Babcocks For Per 60)
  • 1. Jake Gardiner (TOR), 18.01
  • 67. Shayne Gostisbehere, 11.19
  • 111. Radko Gudas, 9.54
  • 112. Andrew MacDonald, 9.47
  • 131. Mark Streit, 8.73
  • 139. Ivan Provorov, 8.18
  • 142. Brandon Manning, 7.95
  • 154. Yohann Auvitu (NJ), 6.59
For a team that I thought was a pretty high-octane offense, those numbers are not great. They might even be bad. Ghost is the only player in the top half of the league (and the top two-thirds). 

Scoring Chances Plus Expected Goals Against Per 60 (Babcocks Against Per 60)
  • 1. Matt Dumba (MIN), 7.26
  • 36. Radko Gudas, 9.53
  • 41. Andrew MacDonald, 9.61
  • 65. Brandon Manning, 10.19
  • 82. Ivan Provorov, 10.94
  • 93. Shayne Gostisbehere, 11.38
  • 143. Mark Streit, 13.17
  • 154. Alex Goligoski (ARI), 17.65
Here's where the Flyers defensemen are going to (kind of) shine. Gudas and MacDonald are both in the top third, and Manning/Provorov/Gostisbehere are in the middle third. Mark Streit is bad at defending, but maybe pairing him with Gudas once he returns from injury will help that. 

Babcock For Percentage
  • 1. Ian Cole (PIT), 63.2%
  • 79. Radko Gudas, 50.03%
  • 85. Andrew MacDonald, 49.63%
  • 87. Shayne Gostisbehere, 49.58%
  • 135. Brandon Manning, 43.83%
  • 140. Ivan Provorov, 42.78%
  • 148. Mark Streit, 39.86%
  • 154. Alex Goligoski (ARI), 32.2%
So, basically, there are three Flyers that are about breakeven in Babcock-ing. MacDonald and Gostisbehere have primarily played together this season, so it would make sense that their metrics are almost identical. But Gudas has played nearly all of his 5v5 minutes with either Streit, Manning, Or Provorov. How can he be above breakeven when his three usual partners are six or seven (or ten) percentage points back?

The answer is simple: Radko Gudas is a really fucking solid NHL defenseman. Nearly every player in the Flyers lineup is worse without Gudas. Gostisbehere is the only exception so far this year, and my guess would be that's related to Ghost being more sheltered than Gudas. 

And as for our prized young Future Norris Candidate, let me make the following excuse for Provorov. As you can see below, he's playing the minutes of a first-pairing defenseman, primarily with second-and third-line forwards as teammates, and he's consistently facing the opposition's top line and top defenseman (because, you know, he's the Flyers number one all-around defenseman). He's fine. 

Friday, December 9, 2016

I'm Ready To Ease Up On Dave Hakstol

I have some serious crow to eat this morning. Last night's Flyers-Oilers game was, obviously, a shit-ton of fun. But going into it, I was becoming critical of almost every lineup decision that was made by Coach Dave Hakstol.

He's scratched Michael Raffl and Shayne Gostisbehere. He's overused Andrew MacDonald, Chris Vandevelde, and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. He's refused to allow any of his goalies to become the full-time guy.

Well, the goalie thing kind of sorted itself out when Michal Neuvirth got injured. Steve Mason (and Anthony Stolarz for that one game, don't forget about him) are on a 7-game winning streak. Despite the fact that it obviously wasn't Hakstol's decision to have one goalie with NHL experience in his lineup, I feel comfortable assuming that he's learned that he has to let Mason be the guy even when Neuvirth comes back.

About a month ago, I took a deep dive into the shallow end of why Hakstol never scratches Chris Vandevelde. It's really simple: the Flyers give up less powerplay goals against when Vandevelde is killing penalties.

The Raffl scratching seemed to kick the Austrian winger into high gear, and the decision to leave him off of Team Europe for the World Cup seems more and more foolish every day.

The Gostisbehere scratching, while it seemed to be for a moderately different reason, sent Flyers Twitter into a frenzy. But it wasn't unjustified, as the "sophomore slump" seems like it might actually be happening to Ghost right now during this win streak.

(Editor's note: Charlie O'Connor has some metrics to help put your mind at ease here, and I tend to agree that this "slump" is him falling back to earth after an unsustainably magical rookie campaign. He hasn't completely fallen off a cliff, but I think it's just a lack of heroic late-game goals that everyone saw a thousand times on Twitter the following day. But Ghost is on pace for about half his goal total from last year, about the same number of assists, and less power play points. That's got to be a little bit concerning for all of us, right?)

And if there was a defense of Bellemare's huge role in the lineup before last night's game, it would be the injuries to Sean Couturier and Matt Read. Losing Read takes away a winger who had helped elevate Bellemare's play, and losing Couturier means that Bellemare's now the second-best center on the team.

So, naturally, we should throw him into the deep end against the most talented young player in the world, the top college free agent from last season, and one of the most imposing power forwards in modern NHL history? Dave Hakstol, WATER YOU DOING?
..or so I thought, going into the game. As you can see in Micah's chart, that 76-78-13-47-9 unit didn't exactly "win" the Corsi battle. You might even be able to get away with the phrase "caved in" during the 12 minutes those two units spent against each other.

But Corsi is stupid and bad, especially when you consider it in the context of a super-high-powered line like Edmonton's first and a super-not-high-powered line like Philadelphia's third (fourth?).  Essentially, the Bellemare-Vandevelde line's plan was to force play to the outside in their defensive zone and try like hell to keep the puck at the opposite end of the ice when they could.

And holy shit, they actually did it. The Lucic-McDavid-Caggiula line finished at 0.38 on-ice expected goals. The "shot attempts" might have been plentiful, but they were almost all weak attempts. That line even underperformed their expected goals figure, because all three were held off the scoresheet at 5-on-5 (McDavid's goal was on the power play and his assist was shorthanded).

Oh, by the way, Bellemare also scored, beating McDavid to his shooting lane.

Less severely than the Let's-Glue-Bellemare-To-McDavid decision, I was critical in the pre-game of Hakstol's decision to bench Michael Del Zotto instead of Mark Streit. So, of course:
This isn't a game recap, though. I just want to take some time out of our Friday morning to discuss the possibility that the guy who has been playing and coaching hockey his whole life, and was vigorously recruited by Ron Hextall - who hired him in spite of the fact that they have the same goddamn last name and it's super confusing - is a Good Hockey Coach?

His decisions, to this point, have all been defensible. Some of those defenses have been more "long-term" than others (like a week, for instance), but from this point forward I want to try my hardest to trust Hakstol the same way I trust Hextall.

The streak is at seven, and let's go out and make it eight against the 6th-place Stars tomorrow afternoon.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Girls On The New Season Of The Bachelor Are... Interesting

ABC announced who's going to be competing for the love of "handsome software salesman" Nick this season, and right off the bat I'd like to say that I hate Nick's hair. I didn't watch his season of the Bachelorette, I know he fucked some chick over bigtime on Bachelor In Paradise, but really all I know about him right now is that his hair SUCKS.

Anyway, here are the 65 girls that are going to be competing for the right to blow him in the fantasy suite. I've combed through their bios to include one fun fact about each of them. I'm also going to include pictures "when applicable."


Hometown: Secaucus, NJ
Occupation: Aspiring Dolphin Trainer
Tattoos: Yes. I have an Aries symbol on my wrist and "smile with the rising sun" on my left hip.
What is the most outrageous thing you have ever done? Move to Miami alone!

I don't want to be offensive to the state of New Jersey. I don't want to jump to conclusions about females so early in this post.

But fuck it, we're going there.

The dolphin trainer with the words of wisdom hip tattoo who was raised in New Jersey and then moved to Miami might be the most likely person ever in any scenario to get way too drunk, fight someone, and then sexually assault the bachelor.


Occupation: Model
Height: 5'7"
What's your worst date memory? A guy putting down the name as "Batman" while we waited for a table. So immature.

You aren't a real model unless you're taller than 5'10", everyone knows that. And if you don't get a kick out of people giving a fake name at Starbucks or while waiting for a table then fuck you. 


I sincerely look forward to seeing this GIF tweeted 50,000 times every time they show Astird's name on the television. 


What are you most afraid of? Dying alone and just getting old and wrinkly.

Why don't we tone that crushing despair meter down a little bit?


Tattoos: Celtic knot that means eternity on my right foot
All-time favorite movies: Zoolander, How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days, Shawshank Redemption
If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? Pineapple: Hawaiian, delicious, tropical, and pretty.
What is your favorite television show & why? Friends. I watch a million reruns and it never gets old.
What's your guiltiest pleasure of any kind? Big Mac Meal from McDonalds

This is all just so boring. Please mark me down as being OUT on Briana. 


How much do you like camping? A lot! As long as it's not cold outside
If you really wanted to impress a man what would you do? Cook him dinner. Because food is the way to a man's heart.

These answers might be cliche, but they are the correct cliche answers. 


Hometown: Tulsa, OK
Tattoos: Yes, one on my wrist. The life of Jesus in symbols.
If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? A grapefruit!
What's your guilty pleasure television show? I used to watch DWTS and then pause the TV and practice all of the dance moves



A video posted by Corinne Olympios (@colympios) on

What's your guilty pleasure TV show? Frasier

I am very much into Corinne just strictly based on looks, but this answer kind of threw me for a loop. What kind of 24-year-old hot chick enjoys Frasier?

Danielle L. 

Tattoos: A lotus on the back of my neck, and two butterfly tattoos – one on the back of each ankle.
All-time favorite movies: A Walk to Remember, Love Actually, The Notebook
Who do you admire most in the world and why? I admire Chrissy Teigen. She's gorgeous, strong willed, and unapologetically herself. She and John Legend are couple goals!

Danielle L. was cast to play the role of "every fucking 27 year old girl to ever exist" and I personally think the producers nailed it. 

Danielle M. 

When and why did you leave your hometown? I lost my fiancรฉ and I needed to start fresh somewhere.
What is the most outrageous thing you have ever done? Moved to Nashville and put myself back together.

I think Danielle M. (who is 31) is the oldest member of the bunch, and she's also almost definitely gotten closer to marriage than anyone else. Have some tissues ready for the scene where she tells her story, because that'll certainly be a heartbreaker. 


Where do you meet guys? In the last few years I've met most guys at work or online via dating apps like Tinder and Bumble.

It's crazy that she now has to go on a dating show. Usually Dating Apps Like Tinder And Bumble are a great way to find a steady relationship. 


Where do you meet guys? I've been into dating apps like Bumble and Hinge lately. I'd prefer to meet through mutual friends or in front of millions of weekly viewers. :)

Look at Elizabeth making jokes! That's a good sign. 

What is your greatest achievement to date? Not just one thing. My life has been a journey of achievements that only I would appreciate.

Nevermind. Nope!


What's the most embarrassing thing you listen to? I am not embarrassed of anything I listen to and I openly am a Belieber.
What's your guiltiest pleasure of any kind? Picking my nose while driving. I can't help it and for some reason it's always in my car.
If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? A grape so I would get better with age.

Here's either your winner or your next Bachelorette. I think everyone in America is already in love with her. 


Hometown: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
Do you have any phobias? I'm not into butterflies at all.

Well she definitely won't be as funny as Canadian Daniel from last year - in any context, starting a sentence with "so let's say you're Hitler" is hysterical - but at least we'll get some good Pardon My Take content out of her. 

Ida Marie

I was kind of all over the place reading through Ida Marie's bio. Her name is a pain in the ass, and her answers had me feeling just about every emotion that I am capable of feeling. 

Tattoos? Yes, on my ribs, my dad's date of birth in roman numerals.
This is a complete, utter, indefensible, psychopath move. Unless her dad passed away, this is maybe the most alarming tattoo that's existed on a person who is not addicted to hard drugs.

What is your favorite all-time book and why?: I need to read more books.
Who is your favorite author?: Again, I need to read more books.

I just included these two questions because, ABC, why the fuck did they get included in her bio?

What's your biggest date fear?: Falling or getting food stuck in my teeth.
'Oh, you know, I'm scared of overextending myself and not succeeding, leaving me with no financial stability and no clear path for my life, all alone by myself in the world. Or getting parsley in my teeth.'

If you could be any fruit or vegetable, what would you be?: Strawberry – they are sexual and taste great with wine.

(Sexually suggestive emoji)


Occupation: Chef
Hometown: New Orleans, LA
Do you follow a specific diet (i.e. vegetarian, macrobiotic, etc.)?: Pesco-pollo-lacto-ovo-paro-tarian.

Look for Jaimi next season on Whatever Cooking Show Runs On The ABC Family Of Networks!

Jasmine B. 

Occupation: Flight Attendant
If you could be any animal, which one would you be and why? An owl, so I could fly.

For someone who is constantly Doing Flight, she should probably realize that there are thousands of other things that fly and almost all of them are either faster, tougher, or more attractive than owls. 

Jasmine G. 

If you could be someone else for just one day, who would it be and why? Guy Fieri. He can cook. He gets to travel and eat food from all over the country and he is hilarious!

This is the correct response to this question. 


If you could be someone else for just one day, who would it be and why? Steven Hawking just to know what it's like to have a brain like that!

And on the other end of the spectrum, this is the worst answer in the history of this question. 


This is a great way to find out which of your friends are Riley Reid fans: just say "hey, what do you think of Kristina from The Bachelor?"


Lacey is very boring. My prediction is she'll be axed on the first night unless she has a dress that snaps necks. 


Age: 30
Occupation: Law School Graduate

Law school graduate but not a practicing lawyer. Hmmm. 


Occupation: Food Truck Owner
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

It's going to sound sarcastic but I really truly mean it when I say Michelle is living the dream. 


What is the longest relationship you have been in and why didn't it work out? Four years. He became addicted to pain pills.

I'm trying to picture the venn diagram of guys who date cute Asian girls and also get addicted to painkillers, and I'm drawing a blank on what the fuck that guy looks like. 


Age: 31
Occupation: Attorney

Suck it, Lauren. 

What's your biggest regret you've had to date? Focusing too much on my career.
What are you most afraid of? That I've missed out on my chance at finding love.

Welp, I guess you can't win. 


How good of a cook are you? Terrible!

I read that in the Donald Trump Twitter Voice and now I can't stop laughing. 


Occupation: Grade School Teacher

Another meh contestant. She's probably gone on the first night. 


Tattoos: Yes, an elephant on my back, flowers on my side, bows on the backs of my ankles
If you could be a fictional character, who would you be and why? This may be extra girly, but I would want to be Ariel. She's a mermaid! Plus she has amazing hair and a seashell bra.

Well, Susannah, I think I am most definitely picking up what you're putting down here. 


What's the most outrageous thing you have ever done? Streaking

Just something to keep in mind throughout her time on the show. 


If you could be any fruit or vegetable, which one would you be? An onion because they're a stable item and can be found all year round.

I think this is a terrible answer, but now as I'm typing and considering I guess her reasoning makes sense? Nope, upon further review no girl ever should want to be a fucking onion. 


Occupation: Pilates Instructor
Height: 5'8"
What are your favorite sports? Hockey, golf, dance, and football.
What are your favorite foods? Fresh fruits, dark chocolate, pancakes, French fries

I think you have to have Whitney near the top (if not at the top) of your list of favorites. I'm anxious to see her in person, because if this isn't just a flattering picture and she's actually a knockout then we can just go ahead and cancel the whole thing. 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

There Will Be #FutureFlyers At The World Juniors

Welcome to December! It is finally cold outside, and that means that the ice sport is starting to heat up. The Flyers are on a winning streak, the World Junior Championship is on the horizon, and everything is good in the world of hockey.

And, oh yeah, about that World Junior Championship, there are going to be a ton of Flyers prospects in attendance.

Let's get a few quick ones out of the way first.

Czech Republic, Slovakia, Switzerland, Denmark, Latvia

I don't see any sort of evaluation camp or preliminary roster for these five countries, but I guess we should note that forward David Kase should be a big contributor to the Czech team. I don't believe any Future Flyers will represent the other four countries, but of course I could always be wrong.

Image result for david kase flyers
Czech forward David Kase

Let's start with Canada, because it would be impolite to begin anywhere but the host nation. Carter Hart will probably be their primary goalie, because he's been the best goalie in all of Canadian juniors with a 1.65 GAA and a .937 save percentage. This is Canada, though, so the guys behind him (Tampa Bay's Connor Ingram and Montreal's Michael McNiven) are solid in their own right.

Philippe Myers was also invited to evaluation camp, and his showing in the NHL preseason this year has lead us to expect him to make the team. If Canada decides to play three left-handed shots and three right-handed shots on the blueline, Myers will certainly make the team. Even if they don't give any extra weight to the handedness, I would fully expect Myers (the biggest guy invited to the camp) to be a big eater of minutes. Myers is a huge credit to the Flyers' scouting department, in that as an undrafted free agent he will be playing in a defensive unit alongside four first round picks and three second round picks - and he'll probably beat some of those guys out for a roster spot.

Image result for carter hart flyers
Canadian goalie and frequent #NumberOneHockeyBoy Carter Hart 
United States

We'll stay in North America to take a quick look at the American team, but it'll be a quick one for two reasons. First, their defense is very weak and their offense isn't strong enough for them to usurp Canada.

Second, the only invitee from the Flyers organization is Kieffer Bellows (should of drafted) Ohio State's Tanner Laczynski, who was a sixth round pick. He's killing it at OSU this year, but he's competing against guys named Kunin, Boeser, Bracco, White, Keller, Brown, Bellows, and DeBrincat, so he's decidedly in the second tier of American forwards for this tournament.

Ohio State Buckeye Tanner Laczynski

Let's cross the Atlantic Ocean now and look at the other crown jewel of the Flyers' 2016 draft (Hart is the first jewel, at least for now). German Rubstov (pronounced rubs-off) is one of a handful of "names I have heard" on the Russian preliminary roster.

Here are some other names that you might have come across if you loosely follow Canadian juniors: Dallas' Denis Guryanov, Toronto's Nikita Korostelev, Nashville's Yakov Trenin, Montreal's Mikhail Sergachyov, the Rangers' Sergei Zborovsky, and Washington's Ilya Samsonov (who will be their primary goalie).

A lot of the team hasn't been drafted to the NHL, either because they're too young or because they have no interest in coming to North America. Thankfully, that doesn't appear to be the case with Rubtsov and Mikhail Vorobyov, who haven't signed entry-level contracts yet but will be on North American ice later this month.

One last note about Russia, a quick fun fact I found while looking up who the hell is going to play on the team. They have one kid named Artyom Artyomov, which, hello, awesome name. And they have another kid named Artyom Volkov, who shares his full name with a Belarus-ian hockey player who is nine months younger than him. Russia!

Image result for german rubtsov flyers
Russian center Her-Man Rubs-Off

I don't think anyone on this Finland team is in the Flyers organization.  Again, though, please always take everything I say about anything with a grain of salt.

Image result for felix sandstrom flyers


We're going to end on a (hopefully) high note here, potentially even higher for Flyers fans than the Canadian team that will feature our top under-22 goalie and the best righthanded defenseman in our pipeline.

This Sweden team, though the headlines are dominated by Buffalo's Alex Nylander, could end up featuring Felix Sandstrom in net if he can beat out Pittsburgh's Filip Gustavsson for the starting job. That would be a huge win, both as a benchmark of Sandstrom's progress since being drafted 70th overall in 2015 and as a little "Fuck you" to the Penguins.

But, even moreso than Sandstrom, Oskar Lindblom is going to prove something regardless of whether he ends up playing for Sweden. If he does, he'll likely be a top-line forward with Nylander and maybe Minnesota's Joel Eriksson Ek. That line will dominate Group A and they'll be a hell of a lot of fun to watch.

But, hear me out, it might actually be better for Flyers fans if Lindblom doesn't play in the World Juniors. Last season, as a 19 year old, Lindblom was a half-a-point-per-game player in the SHL (Sweden's highest division) and nearly a point-per-game player in a brief stint in the AHL. This season, he's scored 24 points in 24 games as a 20 year old. That would be a point-per-game pace, for all of you non-math guys.

He's second in the entire Swedish league in scoring, and he's the primary reason that his team (Brynas) is tied for second. The other guys in the top ten in scoring leaguewide are 28, 33, 26, 26, 32, 29, 30, 24, and 25 years old. He's playing with full-grown men, beating them, and he's going to end up being so crucial to his team that they can't afford to lose him for two weeks to lend him to Sweden's junior team. How fucking great is that? See you in Pennsylvania next year, Oskar.

Image result for oskar lindblom flyers
Swedish forward/Future Flyer Oskar Lindblom