Monday, October 31, 2016

College Football Season Prop Recap: Week Nine

So, we have good news and we have bad news in this week's CFB season-long prop bet recap. I guess we should start with the bad news so we can end on a high note.

#12 Florida State Lost To #3 Clemson, 37-34

I mean I guess this is really just minor bad news, because Florida State was mostly dead even before this loss. But now they are completely and totally dead, even after Dalvin Cook ran for 4 touchdowns and the Noles picked off Deshaun Watson twice.

Confidence Level: Officially Dead

#18 Tennessee Lost To South Carolina, 24-21

Saturdays were, in fact, for the Cocks this weekend. Josh Dobbs threw two interceptions (and lost a fumble), Tennessee totaled less than 300 yards of offense, and now they face a serious uphill battle to win the SEC East.

Tennessee (2-3) still has the tiebreakers over Florida (4-1) and Georgia (2-4), and they also have a game with Kentucky (4-2) in two weeks. The Vols need to win their final three conference games (Kentucky, Mizzou, Vanderbilt) and hope that Florida loses to two of their final three (Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU).

There's still a decent amount of hope for Tennessee, but they really didn't do themselves any favors by blowing this game against the Cocks.

Now, can we get a little bit of positivity?

#4 Washington Beat #17 Utah, 31-24

Ho hum, the Huskies kept taking care of business. They've got Cal, Southern Cal, Arizona State, and Washington State left on the schedule. Unless the Huskies blow one of those first three or WSU blows one against Arizona, Cal, or Colorado, that final week showdown will be for first place in the Pac-12 North.

Until then, though, there's nothing we can do except sit around and wait, and wonder why Jake Browning only threw two touchdowns this weekend instead of four.

#16 Oklahoma Beat Kansas, 56-3

And now, we'll end with the best news of all. OU blasting KU was never really a question. They took care of business (and then some).

The big news is Baylor lost to Texas and West Virginia lost to Oklahoma State, so now the Sooners sit alone, undefeated, atop the Big XII standings. They always controlled their own fate, but now they have a bit more breathing room.

It's no cakewalk the rest of the way, though. They travel to Iowa State before hosting Baylor, traveling to West Virginia, and hosting Oklahoma State to close out the season.

Breaking News: Plus-Minus Is Actually Good

We need to talk about something minor that happened this weekend. Yes, the Flyers lost (and then won) and the Eagles blew their game against the Cowboys. But there a million and a half people who are more qualified to break down either and/or both of those games.

I want to talk about Sam Carchidi's article from Friday. It was a defense of plus-minus as an NHL statistic.
Once you get past the "old man yells at cloud" tone of the article, it's an important discussion to have in the hockey world.

Before we get past that though, let's watch the old man yell:
Sorry, analytic heads, but Giroux pays close attention to his plus-minus numbers each game. 
Like Giroux, Hakstol believes there is merit to plus-minus stats, and he says he pays attention to those numbers. 
Provorov, a 19-year-old rookie defenseman, said he respected the plus-minus stat. 
Well, there you have it, folks. Plus-minus is actually a good statistic. Tyler Toffoli was the best player in the NHL last season. Jeff Schultz was the league's best player in 2009-10. Paul Ysebaert was actually better than Mario Lemieux and Mark Messier (and Ray Bourque, and Scott Stevens, and Brett Hull, and Wayne Fucking Gretzky) in 1991-92. 

Now, to be fair, Sam did include a qualifier that leads me to believe he understands that plus-minus has its downsides. From a statistical analysis standpoint, there are a thousand ways to more accurately evaluate play. 

The real moral of his post is this closing line:
Plus-minus isn't the end-all stat, but the fact it unites the five players on the ice toward a common goal - earning a "plus" when they are on a shift together - makes it a part of hockey's culture, whether analytics people like it or not. 
I hate when Twitter Eggs say things like "put down your spreadsheet and watch the game, nerds" because there's room for both cultures to exist. The nerds are going to use their spreadsheets to judge players and teams as accurately as they possibly can. The players on the ice, though, need to be concerned about the stat that most directly impacts the scoreboard on a per-game basis, plus-minus.

So yeah, Sam, I'm glad you broke the news that hockey players are worried about scoring and giving up goals. That's really fucking groundbreaking. It's also a horrible measure of how good individual players are (and how good they will be in the future), which is why Corsi and Fenwick and Expected Goals were created.

Because otherwise you might think that RJ Umberger (-31 as a Flyer) and Zac Rinaldo (-30) were better than Sami Kapanen (-34), and that'd be sacrilegious.

Friday, October 28, 2016

The Flyers Lost To The Coyotes (Again)

Let me summarize last night's Flyers-Coyotes game in one tweet:
Whitey's goal made it 5-3 Arizona, and the two-goal hole was too deep for the Flyers to escape. Wayne Simmonds scored with 15 seconds left in the game, but the Flyers just ran out of time.

It was bad, and all things point to a bad night upcoming against the Penguins tomorrow.

But I want to check one quick statistical thing before we flush this game down the toilet of our collective minds.
How bad was he? And does my expected goals model agree with Charlie?

 Well, based on the number of shots he faced (25), and the division of time between 5-on-5 (38:18) and 4-on-5 (5:57), we would have expected Mason to give up 2.05 goals in last night's game. He gave up five. Let's do a deep dive (GIFs courtesy of Sons Of Penn):

Jamie McGinn, 1-0 Coyotes

People on Twitter make a lot of jokes about Andrew MacDonald retreating on defense. He's revolutionized the retreating game, here allowing Anthony Duclair to walk right into the crease untouched. There would have been a few ways for MacDonald and Shayne Gostisbehere to defend this, and MacDonald chose the path that results in an easy goal for McGinn like 90% of the time.

Oliver Ekman-Larson, 2-0 Coyotes

Let's dig ourselves a hole, boys! This play all stemmed from a phenomenal stick check from Max Domi, which led to the quick turnaround shot by Oliver Ekman-Larson, for which Domi screened Mason beautifully. It all happened in less than a second.

Martin Hanzal, 3-2 Coyotes
I mean come the fuck on, man. How the hell is this guy playing over Nick Schultz, Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim, Robert Haag, Philippe Myers, or Jesper Petterson?

Brad Richardson, 4-2 Coyotes

This goal was a trainwreck. If Provorov hadn't tackled Brad Richardson into Mason, he probably would have been able to brush the puck away and give the second powerplay unit another rush. So I have a hard time blaming Mason for this one. But, in general, having to dive to stop a breakaway while on the powerplay AND down a goal is so far from ideal.

Ryan White, 5-3 Coyotes

Two things. First, that goal is all on Mason, and it really sealed the game for Arizona. And second, we should of kept Whitey.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

I Tweaked My Expected Goals Against Model

This morning, I started to create a formula for Expected Goals Against to try to measure how good a goalie is performing relative to how he should be performing. It factors in shots on goal and time in even strength and penalty kill situations, and I thought it was a decent start.

But the biggest issue I noticed was it didn't account for situations like last night's Flyers-Sabres game where the Sabres scored six seconds into a power play. Obviously that skewed the numbers, and we need a way to include quick success on the power play into our formula.

So, let's dive into some power play numbers.

2015-16 Power Play Statistics

Total power play attempts: 7655
Total power play time: 13254.8 minutes
Total power play shots on goal: 10258
Total power play goals: 1269 (16.58%)

Average time per power play attempt: 1.73 minutes (1:44)
Average shots on goal per power play attempt: 1.340
Average shots on goal per minute of power play time: 0.774
Average goals per power play attempt: 0.166
Average goals per minute of power play time: 0.096
Average power play shooting percentage: 0.124

The old formula is really just a blend between the following two formulas:
A1 = (SOG x .8467 x .4545 x .0219) + (SOG x .8467 x .3243 x .0748) + (SOG x .8467 x .2212 x .1866) + (SOG x .1533 x .1645 x .0328) + (SOG x .1533 x .4798 x .0883) + (SOG x .1533 x .3556 x .2078)
A2 = (5v5TOI x 0.222 x .0219) + (5v5TOI x 0.159 x .0748) + (5v5TOI x .108 x .1866) + (4v5TOI x .127 x .0328) + (4v5TOI x .371 x .0883) + (4v5TOI x .275 x .2078)
Sorry if that's confusing. A1 takes the total shots on goal from the box score and splits it into expected low-, mid-, and high-danger chances for both even strength and penalty kill. A2 takes the time on ice from the box score (both even strength and penalty kill) and calculates the expected shots and then goals against. I average the two together to balance out some of the potential quirks.

This new wrinkle, power play attempts, is going to affect A2. Each segment of the formula is simple:
Time on ice x Average shots on goal generated x Shooting percentage
We calculate that for both kinds of ice time and every danger level of scoring chance, and then we add them all up. But the 4v5 half of the equation doesn't account for quick powerplay goals in a one-game sample. Four minutes of powerplay time is actually better for a goalie than one minute of power play time, because four minutes would (generally) mean two successful penalty kills and one minute would (generally) mean two unsuccessful kills.

So for those three 4v5 segments, we need to adjust for power play attempts against. It's still easy to incorporate, which is really the focus here (any box score will include power play stats), and it'll allow us to work out one huge potential wonky... thing.

Here's what we're doing. We're splitting this into four groups.

A1 will be the same: (SOG x .8467 x .4545 x .0219) + (SOG x .8467 x .3243 x .0748) + (SOG x .8467 x .2212 x .1866) + (SOG x .1533 x .1645 x .0328) + (SOG x .1533 x .4798 x .0883) + (SOG x .1533 x .3556 x .2078)

A2 will be split into A2: (5v5TOI x 0.222 x .0219) + (5v5TOI x 0.159 x .0748) + (5v5TOI x .108 x .1866)

..and A3: (4v5TOI x .127 x .0328) + (4v5TOI x .371 x .0883) + (4v5TOI x .275 x .2078). But the change here is going to account for the average length of a power play. It's 1:44 instead of 2:00, and those 16 seconds are a tenth of the length of a minor penalty.

That extra ten percent matters, and so we're going to change A3 to this: (4v5TOI x 1.1 x .127 x .0328) + (4v5TOI x 1.1 x .371 x .0883) + (4v5TOI x 1.1 x .275 x .2078)

I'd also like to announce that I'm going to call this metric Jexpected Goals, because I like to unnecessarily start words with J on things that I create.

Jexpected Goals Report For Flyers-Sabres, 10/25

Philadelphia goalies: 2.41 expected goals, 3 actual goals
Buffalo goalies: 2.92 expected goals, 3 actual goals

The biggest note I'd make, and really the whole reason I decided to write anything about this idea at all, is all 3 actual goals against the Flyers were against Michal Neuvirth (1.42 expected goals) and none of those goals were against Steve Mason (0.97 expected goals).

Was it just a fluke though?

Mason vs. Neuvirth, 2015-16 Regular Season

Mason: 54 games played

  • Total: 3158.8 minutes, 1602 shots against, 132 goals against
  • 5v5: 2404.7 minutes, 1268 shots against, 82 goals against
  • 4v5: 255.0 minutes, 184 shots against, 32 goals against

Neuvirth: 32 games played

  • Total: 1827.9 minutes, 908 shots against, 69 goals against (nice)
  • 5v5: 1376.3 minutes, 674 shots against, 47 goals against
  • 4v5: 198.9 minutes, 156 shots against, 14 goals against

Before I even run it through my Excel sheet, please just note Mason's 0.835 PK save percentage and Neuvirth's 0.910. Yuge discrepancy.

Now, let's do expected goals:

  • Mason: 123.70 expected goals against (missed expectations by 6.71%)
  • Neuvirth: 73.17 expected goals against (beat expectations by 5.70%)

I'm trying to figure out why my model says Mason under-performed last season. Anyone who followed hockey last season knows that Philly had one of the best goalie tandems in the league. That rings especially true during the club's push to the playoffs.

What happened once they got into those playoffs? If you've held on for this long, I'm sure you already know.

Mason vs. Neuvirth, 2015-16 Playoffs

Mason: 3 games played

  • Total: 177.0 minutes, 81 shots against, 12 goals against
  • 5v5: 120.1 minutes, 44 shots against, 4 goals against
  • 4v5: 22.4 minutes, 24 shots against, 7 goals against

Neuvirth: 3 games played

  • Total: 178.6 minutes, 105 shots against, 2 goals against
  • 5v5: 138.5 minutes, 82 shots against, 2 goals against
  • 4v5: 14.6 minutes, 13 shots against, 0 goals against
The great thing about this small sample size is it includes that historic Game 3. It was a 6-1 beatdown in favor of the Capitals, and five of the six Washington goals were of the power play variety. That's going to skew Mason's results, obviously. And I don't have any metrics to judge how the fans performed, but I'm betting they came in a little below expectations for that whole ordeal. 

Expected Goals:
  • Mason: 6.72 expected goals against (missed expectations by 78.57%)
  • Neuvirth: 7.65 expected goals against (beat expectations by 73.86%)
Even if Mason had a manageable night in Game 3 and only allowed one or two powerplay goals, he still underperformed (bigly) relative to both the league average metrics and his regular season numbers. 

Neuvirth, on the other hand, was stellar. Obviously. He kept the Flyers alive for two games longer than they really deserved. 

2015-16 Vezina Candidates

It's driving me nuts that my model said Mason and Neuvirth performed below expectations last season. I'm jumping back in to check some of the top Vezina candidates from last season to see how they stack up. 

The final order for voting, by the way, was Holtby, Bishop, Quick, Luongo, Crawford, Schneider. 

Braden Holtby, Capitals: 66 games played
  • Total: 3846.8 minutes, 1803 shots against, 141 goals against
  • 5v5: 3009.7 minutes
  • 4v5: 338.0 minutes
Ben Bishop, Lightning: 61 games played
  • Total: 3595.3 minutes, 1673 shots against, 123 goals against
  • 5v5: 2768.5 minutes
  • 4v5: 331.5 minutes

Jonathan Quick, Kings: 68 games played
  • Total: 4040.13 minutes, 1820 shots against, 149 goals against
  • 5v5: 3142.9 minutes
  • 4v5: 397.7 minutes
Roberto Luongo, Panthers: 62 games played
  • Total: 3609.0 minutes, 1801 shots against, 141 goals against
  • 5v5: 2763.5 minutes
  • 4v5: 329.8 minutes
Corey Crawford, Blackhawks: 58 games played
  • Total: 3328.3minutes, 1719 shots against, 131 goals against
  • 5v5: 2623.1 minutes
  • 4v5: 281.6 minutes
Cory Schneider, Devils: 58 games played
  • Total: 3422.6 minutes, 1597 shots against, 122 goals against
  • 5v5: 2600.0 minutes
  • 4v5: 333.5 minutes
Expected Goals
  • Holtby: 147.36 (beat expectation by 4.32%)
  • Bishop: 137.31 (beat expectations by 10.42%)
  • Quick: 153.71 (beat expectations by 3.06%)
  • Luongo: 142.41 (beat expectations by 0.99%)
  • Crawford: 133.94 (beat expectations by 2.20%)
  • Schneider: 131.16 (beat expectations by 6.98%)
So they all outperformed their expectations, but Bishop and Schneider were at the head of the pack? That seems to be in line with the general feeling from the hockey analytics community, at least as far as I can recall. 

Neuvirth was in the mix for Vezina candidates on a per-game basis, but he played about half as many games as the big dogs. 


I went into this looking for some proof to back up my "Mason is better than Neuvirth" thinking. I don't think I got it. Oh well.

What we do have is a way to measure goalie performances against standardized past performances, and we have two reasons to think it's legitimately (at least somewhat) useful:

  1. It said Neuvirth outplayed Mason in the playoffs
  2. The top six in Vezina voting all beat expectations


Here's the Excel formulas (because I know I'm going to lose them and want them in the future):

Headers for row 2
SOG 5v5TOI 4v5 TOI SOG Expg 5v5 Expg 4v5 Expg TOI Expg Avg Expg Act Goals Notes

Formula for D3

Formula for E3

Formula for F3

G3 =E3+F3


I Started Trying To Create A New Way To Measure NHL Goalie Performances

Please allow me to preface this post (it's going to be a journey) by saying I'm not a math guy. I'm a sabermetrics guy. We're going to hopefully explore some new sabermetrics that is both sufficiently analytical and easily comprehensible.

And it's all about hockey goalies.

Goals against average is useless. Save percentage can even be kind of deceptive. Vezina trophies are bullshit. We don't have a way to measure goalies, or at least we don't have one that's good enough for me.

So I'm going to use the tools available to me (basically just Corsica) and try to come up with a new goalie measuring formula. Primarily, I want it to include how many shots the goalie faces (accounting for shot quality) and how well they do against those shots.

Some quick statistics notes: I'm using 50 minutes of 5v5 ice time as my minimum because anyone who played less than one game is probably not worth including. I'm going to drop it down to 10 minutes for 4v5 though, because I want to include as much data there as possible.

2015-16 5v5 Goalie Stats

Total time on ice: 115327.1 minutes

All types of chances
  • 105826 shot attempts faced
  • 78521 unblocked shot attempts faced (74.20% of all shot attempts)
  • 56445 shots on goal faced  (53.34% of all shot attempts)
  • 5v5 shots on goal against are 84.67% of shots on goal against
Low-danger chances
  • 25655 shots on goal faced 
  • 45.45% of shots on goal, 24.24% of shot attempts
  • 0.222 shots on goal per minute
  • 0.9791 save percentage (0.0219 goal percentage)
Mid-danger chances
  • 18306 shots on goal faced
  • 32.43% of shots on goal, 17.30% of shot attempts
  • 0.159 shots on goal per minute
  • 0.9252 save percentage (0.0748 goal percentage)
High-danger chances
  • 12484 shots on goal faced
  • 22.12% of shots on goal, 11.80% of shot attempts
  • 0.108 shots on goal per minute
  • 0.8134 save percentage (0.1866 goal percentage)
2015-16 4v5 Goalie Stats

Total time on ice: 13196.9 minutes

All types of chances: 
  • 19273 shot attempts faced
  • 14339 unblocked shot attempts faced (74.40% of all shot attempts)
  • 10216 shots on goal faced (53.01% of all shot attempts)
  • 4v5 shots on goal against are 15.33% of shots on goal against
Low-danger chances
  • 1681 shots on goal faced
  • 16.45% of shots on goal, 8.72% of all shot attempts
  • 0.127 shots on goal per minute
  • 0.9672 save percentage (0.0328 goal percentage)
Mid-danger chances
  • 4902 shots on goal faced
  • 47.98% of shots on goal, 25.43% of all shot attempts
  • 0.371 shots on goal per minute
  • 0.9117 save percentage (0.0883 goal percentage)
High-danger chances
  • 3633 shots on goal faced
  • 35.56% of shots on goal, 18.85% of all shot attempts
  • 0.275 shots on goal per minute
  • 0.7922 save percentage (0.2078 goal percentage)

The relationships between Corsi-Fenwick-Shots largely remains the same between even strength and penalty kill. So, too, does the save percentage in each of the three categories of chances. As you might expect, the penalty kill numbers are a bit worse, but only by two-tenths. Honestly, I would have assumed it was more. 

The biggest disparity is the frequency of shot creation, especially of the mid- and high-danger varieties. Teams generate 233% more mid-danger chances and 255% more high-danger chances on the power play than they do at even strength. 

How The Fuck Do I Turn This Into A Formula

Bear with me while I try to figure out a way to turn this into a formula that we can apply to traditional box scores. 

Attempt 1

We're going to start wide here, and just create a formula to plug shots on goal into.

We're then going to multiply that by our expected percentage of those shots that are on the powerplay (and then by the quality that we expect those 5v5 and 4v5 shots to be). That'll be our expected goals total. 

The nuts and bolts of this is (shots on goal) x (% of shots that are 5v5 or 4v5) x (% of shots that are low, mid, or high danger) x (the goal percentage of that particular strength/danger) 

A1 = (SOG x .8467 x .4545 x .0219) + (SOG x .8467 x .3243 x .0748) + (SOG x .8467 x .2212 x .1866) + (SOG x .1533 x .1645 x .0328) + (SOG x .1533 x .4798 x .0883) + (SOG x .1533 x .3556 x .2078)

So if you don't attempt a shot, the expected goals is 0. That's a good sign. Each shot is worth about 0.083 expected goals, so ten shots expects 0.8 goals and thirty shots expects 2.5 goals. 

Twelve shots per goal doesn't seem like a terrible ratio, but this is obviously a very simple formula that doesn't take into account the actual on-ice happenings of the game. For example, a goalie facing a lot of high-danger chances is going to look bad based on this formula. We could always adjust the percentages based on the actual distribution of dangers, but that's tricky and time-consuming. 

For season-long measurements, this formula would work. On a night-to-night basis, though, too much changes from game to game for this to really be an effective tool. 

Attempt 2

The two assumptions we can't make on a game-to-game basis are (1) danger and (2) percentage of power play shots. 

With this second attempt, I'm going to try to tackle the 5v5/4v5 issue. 

The formula skeleton is based on minutes played, both at even strength and on the penalty kill.

A2 = (5v5TOI x 0.222 x .0219) + (5v5TOI x 0.159 x .0748) + (5v5TOI x .108 x .1866) + (4v5TOI x .127 x .0328) + (4v5TOI x .371 x .0883) + (4v5TOI x .275 x .2078)

This formula ends up being a scale, from Totally Even Strength All Game (2.21 expected goals) to Totally Killing A Penalty All Game (5.64 expected goals). I'm trying to wrap my head around that 4v5 number being so low, but 2.21 seems fair at even strength and power plays are generally about twice as effective at shot generation, so it makes sense. 

Most games will end with about 2 expected 5v5 goals against and about 1 expected 4v5 goal against, which also makes sense. 

Attempt 3

And now we have to deal with the final piece of this puzzle. Some defenses are good and hold the opposition to low-quality shots from the outside. Other defenses are not as good and allow a disproportionate amount of high-danger chances. 

Short of just plugging in the counts for low-, mid-, and high-danger shots against, is there any way we can factor that in? I don't really see how. So I'm not going to try. 

Attempt 4

Are you ready to take this next level? I'm going combine the SOG formula (which measures shot count but not quality) and the TOI formula (which measures quality of icetime but not shot count). 

They should end up hedging each other. I think. Shots are generally good. Powerplay time is generally good. Both of those things together should mean good things for expected goals. 

This isn't going to be perfect because we aren't accounting for shot quality, but the only three variables we need here are shots on goal, 5v5 ice time, and 4v5 ice time. Plug 'em in and fire it up!

A game with 30 shots on goal against, 50 mins of 5v5 ice time, and 5 mins of 4v5 ice time would result in an Expected Goals of 2.40. Bump it to 40 shots against, 48 minutes of 5v5 time, and 10 minutes of 4v5 time and it rises up to 3.01 expected goals. 

Let's apply that to the Flyers and Sabres goalies last night:
SOG SOG Expg 5v5TOI 5v5 Expg 4v5 TOI 4v5 Expg TOI Expg Avg Expg Act Goals Notes
27 2.23 54.9 2.03 5.52 0.52 2.55 2.39 3 10/25 both PHI goalies
17 1.40 28.78 1.06 3.52 0.33 1.39 1.40 3 10/25 Neuvirth
10 0.83 24.7 0.91 2 0.19 1.10 0.96 0 10/25 Mason
44 3.63 49.64 1.83 3.58 0.34 2.17 2.90 3 10/25 Nilsson
I am sorry if that looks like shit for you. Let's break that down into segments:
  • Shots on goal: Nilsson got buried, and actually performed better than he should have since he got pummeled (score effects is a real thing). Neuvirth gave up twice as many goals as he should have based on shots, and Mason came in to relieve him and kept a clean sheet. Mason had an easier time because he faced less shots (again, score effects), but Neuvirth under-performed and Mason over-performed. 
  • 5v5 time on ice: Somehow I came up with different totals for 5v5 ice time across the teams. This isn't perfect, especially because Corsica doesn't give you the goalie's ice time. 
  • 4v5 time on ice: Neuvirth got stuck killing several penalties to Mason's single one, and I'm thinking I need to tweak that Expg formula for penalty kill scenarios. Three and a half minutes of time only results in a third of a goal? The tweak has to somehow factor in power play opportunities (and not just minutes), I guess. Buffalo had a six-second powerplay last night that resulted in a goal (it would translate to 0.01 expected goals). 
  • Average expected goals: Even with the kinks, the model projected the Flyers would win 2.90-2.39. They won, in a shootout, 4-3. So we're close. This means the Flyers goalies (primarily Mason) did better than expected, and Nilsson did about what he was expected to do. That seems fair. 
  • Maybe we just need to bump up the impact of powerplays by somehow including power play attempts. I'll tackle that after lunch. 

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

CapFriendly Released An Expansion Draft Tool

First things first, RIP General Fanager.

But let's all welcome Ca[Friendly to our lives. They're kicking off this season by releasing an expansion draft tool. It allows you to go through each team's list of potentially-protected players, select who you expect them to keep, and then draft a team of the unprotected scraps.

I did it, and here's who I ended up with as the Las Vegas Sand Knights.


Dustin Brown - Eric Staal - Matt Beleskey
Ondrej Palat - Darren Helm - Jussi Jokinen
Dmitrij Jaskin - Oskar Lindberg - Marko Dano
Lars Eller - Casey Cizikas - Ryan White
William Karlsson

We have a good mix in terms of age and talent here. A couple of guys on the tail end of their careers mixed with some young guys with a lot of potential.


Cam Fowler - Mattias Ekholm
Justin Braun - Radko Gudas
Jyrki Jokipakka - Trevor van Riemsdyk
Nikita Zadorov

To be completely honest with you, I'm not sure if any of these defensemen are good.


Marc-Andre Fleury
Jhonas Enroth

I expect Fleury to waive him No Movement Clause and allow himself to be exposed for Las Vegas.

A Few Other Notes

  • Tampa is locked into protecting Stamkos, Callahan, and Filppula. They'll use their 3 defenseman spots on Hedman (definitely), Stralman (probably), and Sustr/Nesterov (one of the two). They have 4 forward spots to try to squeeze Kucherov, Killorn, Johnson, Palat, Namestnikov, and Drouin. They have to let someone go, and both Johnson & Palat are due big contracts next summer. Maybe Killorn's contract scares them and they expose him, but Tampa is losing a big-named forward. 
  • Similarly, Anaheim is going to lose a defenseman. Regardless of whether they protect 7/3/1 or 8/2, they will lose one of these four guys: Lindholm, Vatanen, Fowler, Despres. They're all in their mid-twenties at manageable cap hits, and it's going to make for a nice addition to LV. 
  • The Coyotes could survive with only protecting Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Anthony Duclair, and Tobias Rieder. Everyone beyond those three is either already protected or completely expendable. Maybe we can give them a carbon credit for their extra unused spots?
  • I think the Red Wings are going to expose Henrik Zetterberg. He's already 36, and he's on the books for upwards of $6 million per year until he's 41. If they elect to keep him, it means they're giving up one of either Tatar, Sheahan, Mantha, or Athanasiou to save Zetterberg. 
  • Two of the three Rangers defense spots are taken by Marc Staal and Dan Girardi's No Movement Clauses. I feel like that's always worth a mention. 
The Flyers

And finally, let's bring it on home to Philadelphia. We know they're protecting these guys:
  • Forward: Giroux, Voracek, Schenn, Couturier, Simmonds, Raffl
  • Defense: Gostisbehere, Del Zotto
That leaves one forward spots and one defense spot for these litters:
  • Forward: Read, Weise, Laughton, Cousins
  • Defense: MacDonald, Gudas, Manning
The forward spot will come down to the scorching hot year that Read is on pace for against the potential of 22-year-old Laughton and 23-year-old Cousins. Weise will probably be exposed, and maybe his 4-year contract will be long enough for Vegas to pass on him. 

MacDonald is obviously not getting protected, so it's Gudas (at $3.35 million until 2020) or Manning (at $975k until 2018). If Manning continues his play from this first stretch of the season and Gudas takes another dumb suspension this year, you may be looking at Expansion Draft Protected Brandon Manning in June. 

And then obviously we'll protect Steve Mason when we extend him in December. Obviously. 

College Football Season Prop Recap: Week Eight

We are past the halfway point of the college football season. It's starting to get cold outside (for real this time) and hockey season is in full swing. That means it's time for big boy football, when it's so cold that you might even catch a football player wearing long sleeves. 

This time of year is when winners are decided, and we're about five weeks from knowing whether our four teams (Washington, Florida State, Oklahoma, and Tennessee) are going to be the winners of their respective divisions. Let's see how we did:

#5 Washington Had A Bye Week

With Ohio State's loss, the Huskies moved up to #4. Next week against Utah should be their last game against a ranked team, but it should be noted that USC (November 12th) and Washington State (November 25th) also received votes this week. 

Regardless, the Huskies should finish up undefeated and clinch the Pac-12 North. It may end up coming down to that final-week showdown with Washington State. 

Edit: Washington did not have a bye week. They actually throttled Oregon State. Whatever. Everything else in this section was true. 

#16 Oklahoma Beat Texas Tech, 66-59

You almost have to respect the Big 12's commitment to just never playing any defense ever. I mean these teams combined for 125 points. That's like three times as many points as an NFL game. Fuck the field position battle, the Big 12 is decided by who can hold their opponent to a field goal once. And then both teams just score touchdowns on every other drive. 

Thankfully, Oklahoma's been thriving in that sort of environment. They're undefeated, as are Baylor and West Virginia. Those three have games against Kansas, Texas, and Oklahoma State on Saturday, and they should all continue rolling along until their round robin matchups next month. 

#13 Florida State and #18 Tennessee Had Bye Weeks

(And yes, I double checked these two to make sure.)

FSU moved up a spot to #12 because Houston lost, and Tennessee remained at #18 because Utah leapfrogged them. 

We've talked at length over the past several weeks about how FSU can't really win the ACC Atlantic. After the 'Noles lose to Clemson this weekend, that will be official. 

As for the Vols, they are currently officially in 3rd place in the SEC East. Here's how those standings look:
  1. #14 Florida (3-1) - games remaining against Georgia, Arkansas, South Carolina, LSU
  2. Kentucky (3-2) - games remaining against Mizzou, Georgia, Tennessee
  3. #18 Tennessee (2-2) - games remaining against S. Carolina, Kentucky, Mizzou, Vanderbilt
  4. Georgia (2-3) - games remaining against Florida, Kentucky, Auburn
  5. Vanderbilt (1-3) - games remaining against Auburn, Ole Miss, Mizzou, Tennessee
  6. South Carolina (1-4) - games remaining against Tennessee, Mizzou, Florida
  7. Mizzou (0-3) - games remaining against Kentucky, S. Carolina, Vandy, Tennessee, Arkansas
I would project the final seven to look like this:
  1. Tennessee (5-3)
  2. Florida (5-3)
  3. Kentucky (4-4)
  4. Georgia (3-5)
  5. South Carolina (2-6)
  6. Vanderbilt (2-6)
  7. Mizzou (0-8)

Monday, October 24, 2016

Breaking News: Jaromir Jagr Is Jake Voracek's Father

As usual, this started with one tweet. This afternoon, it was my internet friend Jordie throwing some great hockey #content up on Barstool:
It's a cute story, and I love when the backup goalie is not actually a real professional goalie.

But the most important piece of Jordie's blog was this part:
Sidenote: this blog and the Jagr blog from earlier today got me to thinking. There has to be at least one illegitimate child out there that Jaromir Jagr has fathered. Considering he’s been playing professional hockey for 26 years, there’s a good chance that kid is of age to be playing in the NHL now too. I wonder who he is.
Ha ha what a funny joke, right?

Until you realize that Jagr does have a bastard son, and that son does play in the NHL. It's Jake Voracek.

Image result for jagr voracek


Hockey talent aside, they are both listed in the 6'2 to 6'3 range, and they both play at around 220 pounds. They're both lefthanded, and they both use their huge butts to help keep control of the puck.

But this is all just a coincidence, right? I mean Rick Nash fits basically the same description, except he's worse than Jagr and Voracek (obviously).


Both Jagr and Voracek are from the Czech Republic (though when they were both born it was still Czechoslovakia). They were even born in the same town, Kladno, which Wikipedia tells me has a population of about 69 thousand people. For reference, Kladno is about half the size of Syracuse, New York and Topeka, Kansas. Philadelphia has almost a million and a half more residents than Kladno.

The point is, it's a very small town. But maybe it's just a hockey hotbed like that place from Victor Hedman's awesome Players Tribune article. Why can't two players come from the same city two decades apart?

If you can bury that negativity and open your mind to a quick conspiracy, please:

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Hypothetical Timeline

It's December 1988.

Jaromir Jagr is in the midst of his first full season with Hockey Club Kladno's top-level professional hockey team. He's only 16, but he'll be 17 in February. If you know anything about Jaromir Jagr, you know he's been a Sex Haver since a very young age.

As the story would go, Jagr pumped a baby into a red-haired girl from Kladno sometime around Christmas. He would go on to finish his first season with HC Kladno, dominate the following season, and get drafted by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the summer of 1990.

Nine months after that Christmastime bone session, that girl from Kladno gave birth to a baby boy. She named him Jakub, and (if you can believe it) he turned out to be pretty fucking awesome at hockey. For what it's worth, Jake Voracek's father is not listed anywhere on his Wikipedia page.

Jake joined HC Kladno's youth program in 2002 when he was only 13, and he worked his way up to playing a game for the top-level team in the 2005-06 season. He then joined the Canadian junior league and traveled from Halifax to Columbus to Philadelphia.

Present Day

Jagr is still in the NHL at age 44. Voracek is (hopefully) in the middle of his prime at age 27. They've combined to play for more than 2,200 NHL games and score close to 900 goals. It's a beautiful father-and-son tale, and it gets even better.

That fabled hockey club that gave both of these men their start, HC Kladno? Jagr now owns it.The club's President is Jagr's father (who is also Voracek's grandfather).


Until someone shows me a paternity test that proves that Jaromir Jagr is not Jake Voracek's father, there is simply too much circumstantial evidence for me to not wholeheartedly believe that these two are members of hockey familial royalty like the Howes and Sutters and Stastnys.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

I Traced Marian Hossa's Career To Find Out The Best Lineups He's Played With

As is often the case in this space, I saw a tweet this afternoon and it spun me down a rabbit hole of learning new things.  Today, it was actually two tweets:

Marian Hossa started in the NHL in 1997 at age 19. For reference, stop me if you've heard this before, Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov were both born in 1997 and they made their NHL debuts last week at age 19.

Hossa spent 7 seasons in Ottawa to start his career, and is working on his 8th season in Chicago right now. In between, he spent time in Atlanta, Pittsburgh, and Detroit. He's totaled 1240 games, 500 goals, 593 assists, and 620 penalty minutes.

And, one would think, he's played along some incredibly talented teammates over the past two decades. Bang, that's where we're heading right now. Let's put together the best lineups that Hossa has ever been a part of.

I'm giving myself some leeway here and combining teams that were largely similar into one mega-team, so bear with me. Let's dive in.

1997-2001 Ottawa Senators

Winger: Shawn McEachern (4 seasons, 309 games, 116 goals, 227 points)
Center: Alexei Yashin (3 seasons, 246 games, 117 goals, 254 points)
Winger: Daniel Alfredsson (4 seasons, 238 games, 73 goals, 207 points)

Defense: Wade Redden (4 seasons, 311 games, 36 goals, 134 points)
Defense: Jason York (4 seasons, 305 games, 21 goals, 103 points)

Goalie: Ron Tugnutt (3 seasons, 129 games, .910 save percentage)
Goalie: Patrick Lalime (2 seasons, 98 games, .911 save percentage)

The biggest cheat here is the goalie situation, because Tugnutt basically passed the torch to Lalime during the 1990-2000 season. The second biggest cheat here is I didn't actually include Hossa.

But the most important part of this whole section is I didn't realize that Alexei Yashin's time in Ottawa was such a dumpster fire. Take it away, Wikipedia:
Yashin's relationship with the Ottawa Senators reached a new low after the 1998–99 season. Yashin refused to honor the final year of his contract and demanded a raise (he would have earned $3.6 million that year, compared to other star centerman like Steve Yzerman and Joe Sakic who made $6–7 million).When the Senators refused, he demanded a trade. The Senators refused to trade Yashin, instead stripping him of his captaincy and handing it to Daniel Alfredsson. When Yashin still refused to report, the Senators suspended him for the rest of the 1999–2000 NHL season.  
Yashin attempted to sign with a team in Switzerland, but the IIHF suspended him from playing internationally until the dispute was resolved. After the season, an NHL arbitrator refused to grant Yashin the free agent status he claimed to have earned, instead tolling his contract for another season on the grounds that Yashin owed the Senators the final year of his contract if he ever returned to the NHL.  
Yashin returned to the Senators for the 2000–01 season. Despite being jeered by the crowd in every NHL arena, including Ottawa, Yashin had a solid regular season offensively. Yashin had a poor series and did not attend the final team meeting, held after the Senators' early playoff exit.
2001-2004 Ottawa Senators

Winger: Alfredsson (3 seasons, 233 games, 96 goals, 229 points)
Center: Radek Bonk (3 seasons, 218 games, 59 goals, 168 points)
Winger: Hossa (3 seasons, 241 games, 112 goals, 228 points)

Defense: Redden (3 seasons, 236 games, 36 goals, 122 points)
Defense: Zdeno Chara (3 seasons, 228 games, 35 goals, 103 points)

Goalie: Lalime (3 seasons, 185 games, .906 save percentage)

Bonk replaced Yashin in this lineup after Yashin was traded to the Islanders for Chara. Does Radek Bonk probably get a bump in the history books because of his time spent with these other great players? Probably. But he has a first ballot Hall Of Fame hockey name.

2005-2008 Atlanta Thrashers (RIP)

Winger: Ilya Kovalchuk (3 seasons, 239 games, 146 goals, 261 points)
Center(?): Hossa (2.5 seasons, 222 games, 108 goals, 248 points)
Winger: Vyacheslav Kozlov (3 seasons, 245 games, 70 goals, 192 points)

Defense: Niclas Havelid (3 seasons, 240 games, 8 goals, 67 points)
Defense: Greg de Vries (2 seasons, 164 games, 10 goals, 59 points)

Goalie: Kari Lehtonen (3 seasons, 154 games, .944 save percentage)

Admittedly, the defensive pickings on these teams were slim. De Vries signed with Nashville before the final season of this group (and he was admittedly overpaid, which is why he got included in the Hossa-To-Atlanta deal in the first place). Hossa only had one year of Toby Enstrom in Atlanta, and he had less than a full season's worth of games with Alexei Zhitnik and (haha, get ready) Braydon Coburn.

And oh by the way, Age 22-24 Kari Lehtonen was a bit better than the current version, right?

2007-2008 Pittsburgh Penguins

Winger: Petr Sykora (1 season, 81 games, 28 goals, 63 points)
Center: Evgeni Malkin (1 season, 82 games, 47 goals, 106 points)
Winger: Ryan Malone (1 season, 77 games, 27 goals, 51 points)

Defense: Sergei Gonchar (1 season, 78 games, 12 goals, 65 points)
Defense: Ryan Whitney (1 season, 76 games, 12 goals, 40 points)

Goalie: Marc-Andre Fleury (1 season, 35 games, .921 save percentage, 14-6 record in the playoffs)
Goalie: Ty Conklin (1 season, 33 games, .923 save percentage)
Goalie: Dany Sabourin (1 season, 24 games, .904 save percentage)

I left Crosby out because I hate his guts he missed most of the games during Hossa's tenure. I also left Hossa out because he played just a dozen regular season games before the playoff run to the Stanley Cup Finals.

That Malkin line really carried the Pens, but this was a season where Pittsburgh was led by a 21 year old Russian with 102 points in 82 games and a 20 year old Canadian with 72 points in 53 games. Era-adjusted inflation aside, that's fucking absurd.

This team also had 19-year-old Jordan Staal, 20-year-old Kris Letang, and 22-year-old Alex Goligoski. It's almost embarrassing that they only won one Cup before Overpaid Free Agents Kessel/Hagelin arrived, New York Yankees style.

2008-09 Detroit Red Wings

Winger: Pavel Datsyuk (1 season, 81 games, 32 goals, 97 points)
Center: Henrik Zetterberg (1 season, 77 games, 31 goals, 73 points)
Winger: Marian Hossa (1 season, 74 games, 40 goals, 71 points)

Defense: Nicklas Lidstrom (1 season, 78 games, 16 goals, 59 points)
Defense: Brian Rafalski (1 season, 78 games, 10 goals, 59 points)
Defense: Niklas Kronwall (1 season, 80 games, 6 goals, 51 points)

Goalie: Chris Osgood (1 season, 46 games, .887 save percentage, 15-8 record in the playoffs)
Goalie: Ty Conklin (1 season, 40 games, .909 save percentage)

I couldn't decide between Rafalski and Kronwall and it seems like Mike Babcock couldn't decide between Osgood and Conklin. This team is a real doozy, in that it also featured Chris Chelios, Kris Draper, Kirk Maltby, and Darren McCarty in one last-ditch effort to win another Cup.

As the legend goes, Hossa joined them after losing to them the previous season when he was in Pittsburgh. So, naturally, the 2009 Stanley Cup was won by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Life's funny sometimes.

2009-2015 Chicago Blackhawks

Winger: Patrick Kane (6 seasons, 414 games, 159 goals, 415 points)
Center: Jonathan Toews (6 seasons, 419 games, 165 goals, 383 points)
Winger: Patrick Sharp (6 seasons, 408 games, 148 goals, 347 points)
Winger: Marian Hossa (6 seasons, 397 games, 147 goals, 337 points)

Defense: Duncan Keith (6 seasons, 444 games, 44 goals, 287 points)
Defense: Brent Seabrook (6 seasons, 449 games, 45 goals, 204 points)

Goalie: Corey Crawford (5 full seasons, 261 games, .917 save percentage)

2015-2017 Chicago Blackhawks

Winger: Patrick Kane (1 season and change, 86 games, 47 goals, 112 points)
Center: Jonathan Toews (1 season and change, 84 games, 28 goals, 59 points)
Winger: Antemi Panarin (1 season and change, 84 games, 32 goals, 80 points)

Defense: Duncan Keith (1 season and change, 71 games, 9 goals, 47 points)
Defense: Brent Seabrook (1 season and change, 85 games, 15 goals, 54 points)

Goalie: Corey Crawford (1 season and change, 61 games, .923 save percentage)

You can really run this whole dynasty as one group, because those six skaters and Crawford could be surrounded by a bunch of 11th graders and they'd probably still win at least two Cups. That 2009-10 team included guys named Versteeg, Brouwer, Ladd, Campbell, Byfuglien, Madden, and Hjalmarsson.

I chose to split the dynasty here for two reasons: Patrick Sharp and Artemi Panarin. Those are the two major changes that affect the Hawks roster. Sharp leaving (and Hossa's gradual age-related decline) open the door for another top winger, and Panarin is almost certainly that guy for the foreseeable future.

Going forward, Hossa's signed with Chicago through the 2020-21 season. His salary drops to $1 million (with a cap hit of $5.275 million), so he's prime trade bait if Chicago looks to move him to one of the fabled "cap floor" teams. There's also the potential that the Hawks could get hit with some cap recapture penalties if Hossa retires before 2021, similarly to how Shea Weber can really fuck Nashville if he retires early.

This latest version of the Blackhawks core will likely be the one Hossa ends his career with. He's a no-brainer Hall of Famer, and it's not a coincidence that he's played alongside some of the league's best players over the past 20 years.

He's a five-time All-Star and a three-time Stanley Cup Champion. He's in the top 50 of the all-time goals list and the top 60 of the all-time points list. He's first among active players (and 13th all-time) in shorthanded goals. His career similarity scores bring up names like Robitaille, Messier, Shanahan, and Richard.

Thanks, Marian Hossa, for scoring such a monumental goal against the Flyers and sending me down this journey of reliving your career. It's been fun. 

The Flyers Lost To The Blackhawks, And The Sky Is Falling (Plus Flyers Lineup Volume 2)

Last night, the Flyers traveled to Chicago for their third game of the season (and the Blackhawks' fourth). It was a very entertaining game, and it's largely what the NHL seems to be targeting in terms of goal generation.

But for Flyers fans - and specifically Flyers Twitter - everything went wrong. Goaltending, defending, lineup decisions, coaching, everything just totally came off the rails. Or so said the various people who say things on Twitter.

I wanted to take a closer look at the game (courtesy of Sons Of Penn's GIF Rewind and Corsica's Game Recap) to see how much the Flyers' season is really crumbling after just three games.

The Kane-Panarin-Anisimov Line Combined For Five Goals

Granted, one was a powerplay goal and another was an into an empty net, but there are a lot of hockey games where both teams don't combine for five goals. It's tough to overcome one trio lighting the lamp five times.

But this was the best line in hockey last year, and it's going to be the best line in hockey again this year. Let's look at the goals.

Kane's First
On-ice for the Flyers: Couturier, Konecny, Voracek, Streit, Provorov

This may look like a penalty kill for the Flyers, but it was just a case of everyone forgetting about the most talented player on the Blackhawks and leaving him all alone facing an empty half of the net. Then everyone overreacted and left him the other side of the net open, and Patrick Kane does not miss those wraparound goals. Largely, this goal was caused by poor positioning by the Streit-Provorov pair, and by a lack of defensive help from the forwards. (Yes, I understand that I basically just blamed everyone on the ice.)

Panarin's First
On-ice for the Flyers: Bellemare, Gordon, MacDonald, Schultz

This one actually was a penalty kill, and it showed how flawed that unit can be. Seabrook put his slap-pass on the money to Panarin, and (as we'll see later) that's a shot that he usually pots.

Anisimov's First
On-ice for the Flyers: Giroux, Simmonds, Read, Streit, Provorov

Bad turnover from Provorov. Bad backcheck by all of the forwards. Great passing from that goddamn Hawks line.

Panarin's Second
On-ice for the Flyers: Couturier, Voracek, Konecny, Provorov, Streit

That's on Provorov. I had to mansplain why that play was so bad from him, and it's a pretty simple explanation: it's a high-risk move to carry the puck in between four defenders, and it's even higher-risk to do that as a defenseman when you're potentially giving up a 2-on-1. And then, when that 2-on-1 is the Art Ross Trophy and Calder Trophy winners from last year, you're toast.

Anisimov's Second
On-ice for the Flyers: That 6-on-5 unit that plays without a goalie

Nothing you can do here. Chicago throws out one of the most well-coached and well-led units, and it's tough to beat them.

So, overall, we saw a lot of the Kane-Panarin-Anisimov line against Nineteen-Year-Old Rookie Ivan Provorov. Is he now no longer NHL-ready because he and Mark Streit got torched? He'll stop doing that fucking carry-in move through traffic. He'll certainly work on his positioning in the defensive end. This will hopefully get better:

And, most importantly, he won't have to play against that fucking trio again.

Skies Falling: 2/4
Image result for sky is fallingImage result for sky is falling

One Reason That Maybe We're Not All Going To Die: He's 19. When I was 19 I got blackout drunk for nine nights in a row to celebrate Labor Day. We can all improve.

Steve Mason And Michal Neuvirth Kind Of Might Stink Now

Neuvirth played the first half of the game, and he allowed 4 goals on 16 shots. His 0.750 save percentage is.. sub-optimal.

Mason came in as a reliever after the fourth goal, and allowed 2 goals of his own on 11 shots. His 0.818 save percentage, though it was a touch better than Neuvirth's, is still well below where it needed to be.

But, as hockey is a team sport, how many of these seven goals can realistically be blamed on the goaltender?

  1. Kane - Hey defense, maybe guard this fucking guy
  2. Rasmussen - Hey Ivan, bad play dude
  3. Panarin - Hey defense, get in the fucking passing lane
  4. Hossa- That one was on Neuvirth (see below)
  5. Anisimov - Nothing any goalie could have done
  6. Panarin - Uhhh maybe try to prevent Kane-Panarin 2-on-1's
  7. Anisimov - Empty netter
You can't blame either goalie too much for getting fucked by their defense five times. This one from Neuvirth (Hossa's 500th career goal) was the only one that I have an issue with:

We aren't banking on this goalie tandem to be able to stop unchallenged cross-ice one-timers. The defense has to shore up, and it will once we get our two best defensemen back from suspension/injury.

Skies Falling: 1/4
Image result for sky is falling

One Reason That Maybe We're Not All Going To Die: Last year, the Flyers allowed seven goals to the Florida Panthers and only managed to score one. That was worse than this, and the team rebounded over the course of the season.

Dave Hakstol Benched Nick Cousins

It's not just that Coach Hak left Cousins out of the lineup. It's that he replaced him with players who are (significantly) worse.

The bottom six last night was Read-Bellemare-Weise and Vandevelde-Gordon-Lyubimov. Other than Read, who was promoted to first-line duty following Michael Raffl's injury, I can't recall a single play that any of them made that was good.

Bellemare excelled in the World Cup. Dale Weise signed a four-year contract this summer. Gordon and Lyubimov were also offseason acquisitions. Chris Vandevelde went to North Dakota, I guess.

But NONE OF THEM have looked as aggressive or as talented as Cousins, and to sit him in favor of all five of them is absolutely fucking mind blowing.

At 5-on-5 play, here were their stat lines (5v5 time on ice, Fenwick for/against, Goals for/against):

  • Weise: 12.8 minutes, 5 FF, 2 FA, 0 GF, 0 GA
  • Bellemare: 11.1 minutes, 4 FF, 6 FA, 0 GF, 0 GA
  • Lyubimov: 10.5 minutes, 5 FF, 5 FA, 0 GF, 1 GA
  • Vandevelde: 8.5 minutes, 3 FF, 8 FA, 0 GF, 1 GA
  • Gordon: 6.0 minutes, 2 FF, 3 FA, 0 GF, 1 GA
Weise actually didn't have a bad night, but he played the same amount of time at even strength as Jake Fucking Voracek. Come on. 

If they don't re-insert Cousins (along with the returning-from-suspension Brayden Schenn) into the lineup and drop two of these guys into the press box, I am going to be mad online. That'll bump this up by at least one Chicken Little, and probably two Chicken Littles. 

3/4 Skies Are Falling

Image result for sky is fallingImage result for sky is fallingImage result for sky is falling

One Reason That Maybe We're Not All Going To Die: Maybe Hakstol saw what he needed to see last night. Maybe he knows that the squad looked pretty fucking pathetic last night, and they need a boost of energy. Maybe he reads this and sees my next section...

Flyers Lineup Volume 2


Am I maybe overreacting to how good Matt Read looked last night? I mean, maybe. If this balance doesn't work, or if the Giroux line struggles, then we flip Read and Schenn and get a little more top-heavy.

We still have our penalty kill and power play units, only now we roll three lines that can legitimately generate offense and a fourth that is extremely sound defensively. What am I missing here? Why is that not the lineup?

Monday, October 17, 2016

College Football Season Prop Recap: Week Seven

It was quite an up-and-down weekend for your boys. We had teams all over the place, and we have some good things and bad things to recap. We'll start with the easiest one.

#5 Washington Had A Bye Week

The Huskies remain fifth in the nation in this week's ranking. They trail the following teams:

  • #1 Alabama (host #6 Texas A&M this week)
  • #3 Clemson (bye this week, then travel to #13 FSU next week)
  • #2 Ohio State and #4 Michigan (play head-to-head the final week of the season)
Alabama will probably win out, and Clemson and one of those Big Ten teams probably will do, but there's a very real chance Washington could get into the playoff at the end of this season. 

Following this bye week, the Huskies have a manageable (but challenging) road to an undefeated season. If Washington and Washington State both run the table, they will play head-to-head the last week of the season for the Pac 12 North title, and possibly a playoff spot for the Huskies. 

Confidence level: High

#9 Tennessee Lost To #1 Alabama, 49-10


I mean, yeah, sure, Alabama is its own beast and they're halfway through an undefeated championship season. But losing by 39 points - to anyone - when you're trying to win the SEC East is not a great look. 

(Stephen A. Smith voice) However.

There are two things saving the Vols chances of winning the division and cashing our bet. 

First, they don't play any more ranked teams this year. South Carolina, Tennessee Tech, Kentucky, Mizzou, Vanderbilt. That's 5-0, and it moves them to 10-2 for the year (7-2 in the SEC). 

Second, they own the tiebreakers over both Florida and Georgia. So if all three of those teams finish 7-2 in the conference, Tennessee wins. Georgia lost to Vanderbilt this week, so we can just go ahead and pronounce them dead. It's not a two-horse race in the East. 

Florida's sitting at 3-1 in the SEC, currently atop the division. But their schedule the rest of the way is Georgia, #17 Arkansas, South Carolina, #25 LSU, #13 FSU. That's immensely more difficult than Tennessee's path, and I think we're gucci. 

Confidence level: High 

#14 Florida State Beat Wake Forest, 17-6

Only willing by 11 doesn't concern me because Wake's defense has actually been pretty good at limiting opposing offenses this year. 

What does concern me is Florida State trails Louisville by one game and Clemson by two games, and Louisville already has the tiebreaker over the Seminoles. 

Here's what has to happen for Florida State to win the ACC Atlantic:
  • FSU beats Clemson head-to-head on 10/29
  • FSU wins out in conference play against NC State, Boston College, and Syracuse
  • Clemson loses to at least one of Syracuse, Pitt, and Wake Forest
  • Louisville loses to at least two of NC State, Virgina, Boston College, and Wake Forest
What are the odds that all four of those things happen? Sky high, right?

Confidence level: Low

#19 Oklahoma Beat Kansas State, 38-17

Ho hum, Oklahoma put up a bunch of points and beat a team they were supposed to beat. They have to keep chugging along until mid-November, when they play Baylor and West Virginia back-to-back for the division. 

All three teams are undefeated in conference play (Oklahoma's two losses were to Houston and Ohio State, which won't hurt them for the purposes of our bet). They're in a class of their own, and they should all handily beat everyone else in the conference. 

It's a three-team round robin for the Big 12 title, and we're less than a month away from round one. 

Confidence Level: Like A Tiger, Waiting In The Tall Grass

Friday, October 14, 2016

Flyers Season Preview

This is going to be a very exciting season. Ron Hextall's rebuild seems to continue to be a year ahead of schedule, and the infusion of youth (via Travis Konecny and Ivan Provorov) should spark some of the more experienced players to return to their peaks.

The Schenn-Giroux-Simmonds line? Bangarang.

The Konecny-Couturier-Voracek line? Your boy needs new shorts every time I think about it.

The bottom six that can create offense and play responsible defensive hockey? That's less exciting than the top six but still undeniably a good attribute.

Del Zotto-Gudas-Gostisbehere? We are in here.

Streit-Schultz-Manning? That's not terrible.

Andrew MacDonald? Fire him into the sun, that will be enjoyable for us at least.

Travis Konecny? Ivan Provorov? I just changed my shorts and I already need a new pair.

The folks over at Broad Street Hockey broke their preview down into three section:

As we usually do here, I'm just going to steal their whole entire format to kill some time at work. 

Individual Player Numbers

Claude Giroux over/under 69.5 points?

He scored just 67 points last year, but I think the consensus is he's going to improve on that number pretty substantially. The quality of the second line and the bottom six means Giroux has less of a load to handle - especially defensively - and can focus his attention (and energy) on creating offense at 5v5 and on the power play. 

Verdict: Over

Shayne Gostisbehere over/under 48.5 points?

Am I missing something here? He scored 48 points in just 64 games last year, and he's going to take on an even bigger role this year than he did last year. The power play production will still be there, and if he's ultimately paired with Michael Del Zotto then there is going to be a LOT of offense happening when they're on the ice. This one should be easy. 

Verdict: Over

Sean Couturier over/under 49.5 points?

That line comes from his 50-point pace last season (he missed some time due to injury). Clearing 40 points would give him a career high, and based on the preseason I'd expect him to have enough success with Voracek and Konecny that he becomes the 50 point player that so many goddamn idiots on the internet desperately need him to be. I think this one is a lot closer than the Giroux/Ghost props, but I like the potential of the second line and the second (Konecny-led) power play unit. 

Verdict: Over

Brayden Schenn over/under 52.5 points?

Schenn goes as Giroux goes. They'll spend their time on the same line and the same powerplay unit, and their success is undeniably intertwined. I'm nervous that he'd finish under this mark, but only because the internet will freak the fuck out and say we shouldn't have signed him to an extension. But if we have G going over 70, I think that drags Schenner up in to the high 50's. 

Verdict: Over

Ivan Provorov over/under 21 minutes average time on ice?

Last season, Del Zotto averaged 23.3 minutes, Streit averaged 21.8, Gostisbehere and MacDonald averaged 20.0, Gudas averaged 19.8, Schultz averaged 17.9, and Manning averaged 16.5. 

While Del Zotto and Gudas are out, I expect Dave Hakstol to rely heavily on the Ghost-MacDonald and Provorov-Streit pairings. Once the top pair returns from injury/suspension, I still expect Provorov to be on the second pairing. Over the course of the season, I would expect that to leave him just below 21 minutes. There's only so much time to go around. 

Verdict: Under

Steve Mason over/under 49.5 appearances?

Get the fuck out of my face with this fake goalie controversy. 

Verdict: Over

Wayne Simmonds over/under 13.5 power play goals?

Hear me out on this one. I think Simmonds will score more than he did last year, but I think he'll fall back a bit in terms of power play scoring. First, I think the second unit is going to have enough success that they'll steal a decent percentage of the first unit's goals. And second, I think the team really needs to get Jake Voracek cooking this year, and power play attention is one way to achieve that. Love you, Wayne, but I think it might be single digits in the PPG column this year. 

Verdict: Under

Sanheim/Morin combined over/under 0.5 NHL games played before 1/1/2017?

It seems like every Flyers fan has different ideas (and plans) for these two young defensemen. They both show flashes of NHL readiness, though those flashes are very different. Morin is generally solid in his own end, and his physical tools are undeniable. Sanheim's tools are also undeniable, though they almost exclusively reveal themselves on the offensive end of the ice. 

The answer to this prop comes down to one question: do Sanheim/Morin outplay fellow Phantoms TJ Brennan/Will O'Neill to the point where Hextall feels comfortable calling them up as injury fill-ins? I think not, and I think this is a full AHL season for both of them. 

Verdict: Under

Power play percentage plus penalty kill percentage over/under 100.7?

Last season, the power play was successful 18.9% of the time (11th in the league) and the penalty kill was successful 80.5% of the time (20th in the league). That's a total of 99.4, and I expect both units to improve this season. The top seven penalty-killing teams in the league are above 84%. I don't know if the improvement for the Flyers will be that steep, but it'll be enough to get over this 100.7 line. 

Verdict: Over

Over/under 40.5 goals from all Flyers defensemen?

Ghost scored 17 last year, Del Zotto has scored 10 twice in his career, and Streit's decline still has him averaging about 10 goals per season during his time in Philadelphia. The issue is even if those three duplicate their best (reasonable) seasons, they still need help from Provorov, Manning, MacDonald, and Schultz. That's too many things that have to go right. 

Verdict: Under

Over/under 8.5 points in the 8 games against the Capitals and Penguins?

Two home games and two road games against each team. A lot of hatred to go around between all three teams. 

Can I saw something outrageous though? The Caps-Pens game on NBCSN last night gave me a lot of hope for the season. That was supposed to be a big rivalry night between two teams that hate each other and want to beat the shit out of each other. They were lazy, their passes weren't crisp, and the goaltending was largely poor. 

Sidney Crosby is concussed, the Penguins Cup run was a fluke, and the Capitals are all too fucking lazy. The Flyers might sweep all 16 points from these eight games. 

Verdict: Over.

Over/under 6.5 shootout losses for the Flyers?

I'm going to let my internet friend Kurt answer this one:
UNDER. I feel like Charlie Brown going to kick the football here, but this is the year that the Flyers don’t totally blow at the shootout. This is the year.
Charlie Brown is eventually going to kick the shit out of that football.

Over/under 1.5 trades made during the season?

The trendy thing to say here is "oh yeah they'll trade Schultz and Streit and call up Sanheim and Morin" but that is a bad opinion. This team is better than last year's team, and they're in a position to make a playoff run. Why are they going to be shedding veteran blueline depth for mid-level draft picks? Even if you can get a second round pick for Streit (you can't) and a third round pick for Schultz (hahahaha), wouldn't you rather have those two guys around to take a shot this Spring?

Verdict: Under

Over/under 0.5 contract extensions given to Steve Mason & Michal Neuvirth during the season?

There are three strategies here:

  1. Extend both Mason and Neuvirth, and keep Stolarz in the AHL for the forseeable future
  2. Extend Mason, and roll with a Mason/Stolarz tandem going forward
  3. Extend Neuvirth, and utilize him as the 1B to Stolarz' 1A going forward
There is not a "let's just have Stolarz without any sort of backup or insurance plan and see where that takes us."

Verdict: Over

Over/under 3.5 home playoff games this season?

Ah, this is really the biggest question of them all, isn't it? We hosted three last year. One of them went well, one of them went poorly, and one of them will forever be mentioned along with batteries, Santa Claus, and That Dickhead Rangers Fan Outside Of Geno's Who Got Beat Up. 

There's no doubt that we should improve on last year's performance, both in the regular season and postseason. The biggest issue is the Metro Division playoffs are going to go through both Washington and Pittsburgh. That's a daunting pair to face back-to-back, no matter how much I can pretend they both stink. 

I'd be an asshole if I went under here, so let's fire up that second round playoff series. 

Verdict: Over

Travis Konecny

They split The Kid (TK, get it?) into his own preview post on BSH. They polled their readers about how many Games, Goals, and Assists they think Konecny will total. The final tallies were 71 games, 18 goals, and 28 assists (for 46 points). 

They followed the Konecny prediction with a very handy chart that featured every player in the last 6 years to debut in his Draft+2 year. The "average" season for all of those guys was 66 games, 10 goals, and 24 points. The "average" for guys that I consider good was 61 games, 11 goals, 16 assists, and 27 points. For TK to have the best season ever of any of those guys, he'd play 82 games and finish with 24 goals, 29 assists, and 53 points. Flyers fans expect him to be pretty damn close to the best 19 year old since 2010. 

We'll see how that goes. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Breaking Down's Top 50 Players List

This afternoon, my internet friend Dom (who made all of the season previews for THN that you can read if you scroll down) released an alternative to the traditional annual Best Hockey Player lists. Unlike and THN and the major media outlets, Dom compiled his list without any real inside sources. There are no GMs or players or media members, it's just the most talented Hockey Twitter Guys. The whole post can be found on Hockey Graphs (dot) com, but I'm going to dig into the list and split it into tiers.

The Best Hockey Player In The World

1. Sidney Crosby, Penguins (average rank 1.2)

I think literally everyone except one person ranked him number one. So, this one was easy. 

Update: I'm not going to name who this was, but he's out with a concussion now so we're going to cut him the fuck out of our list entirely.

Really Elite: In The Top 10 More Than Half The Time

2. Erik Karlsson, Senators (5.0)
3. Connor McDavid, Oilers (6.3)
4. Patrice Bergeron, Bruins (8.1)
5. Jamie Benn, Stars (8.1)
6. Anze Kopitar, Kings (9.2)

Let me lay the Doughty/Karlsson debate from last year to rest quickly: it was almost exclusively a debate between passionate old school fans that valued Doughty's traits and new school analytics fans that valued Karlsson's traits. They were two staunch groups that thought everything about the other group was wrong. It's not unlike this year's election, actually, which is terrifying because guess which of those two defensemen won the Norris Trophy last season.

.....aaaaanyway let's talk about the variety of players that this group encompasses. Defensive stalwarts. Offensive powerhouses. Explosive blueline playmakers. That's one of the great things about hockey - there are a million ways to be elite.

Elite: In The Top 10 A Third Of The Time Or More

7. John Tavares, Islanders (11.5)
8. Vladimir Tarasenko, Blues (11.5)
9. Tyler Seguin, Stars (11.7)
10. Aleksandr Ovechkin, Capitals (12.3)
11. Evgeni Malkin, Penguins (13.1)
12. Joe Thornton, Sharks (14.0)
13. Victor Hedman, Lightning (15.9)
14. Carey Price, Canadiens (18.1)
15. Henrik Lundqvist, Rangers (19.3)

The Stars' dynamic duo are the highest-ranked tandem on the list, followed closely (sort of) by the Penguins' top two centermen.

I want to draw attention to the fact that Victor Hedman is the most important Tampa Bay player, decidedly ahead of Steven Stamkos (who dropped 20 spots on this list from last year to this year).

And, of course, the goalies that are tasked with bailing their teams out basically every night. Have fun this year, Carey and Hank!

Great: Someone Ranked Them In The Top Ten

16. Joe Pavelski, Sharks (20.4)
17. Jonathan Toews, Blackhawks (20.7)
18, Patrick Kane, Blackhawks (21.7)
19. Johnny Gaudreau, Flames (21.8)
20. PK Subban, Predators (21.8)
21. Mark Giordano, Flames (26.9)
22. Drew Doughty, Kings (28.2)
23. Taylor Hall, Devils (28.7)
24. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Coyotes (28.9)

Initially, my thought was most of these guys (Toews/Kane specifically) seem like they should be ranked higher. But I'm on board with them being in this group instead of one of the two above it, especially when you consider contracts in a salary cap world. The same logic applies to Subban.

If You're A Fan Of This Guy's Team, You're Mad That He's Not Higher: Average Ranking Of 42 Or Better

25. Brent Burns, Sharks (30.5)
26. Steven Stamkos, Lightning (30.6)
27. Blake Wheeler, Jets (31.0)
28. Kris Letang, Penguins (31.6)
29. Filip Forsberg, Predators (33.2)
30. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning (33.2)
31. Corey Schneider, Devils (33.5)
32. Brad Marchand, Bruins (34.2)
33. Ryan Getzlaf, Ducks (34.6)
34. Jakub Voracek, Flyers (37.3)
35. John Klingberg, Stars (39.3)
36. Matt Duchene, Avalanche (40.2)
37. Nicklas Backstrom, Capitals (40.2)
38. Max Pacioretty, Canadiens (40.6)
39. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Capitals (40.8)
40. Claude Giroux, Flyers (41.4)

Why yes, that is in fact a curious place for me to draw my line. It's a godamn JOKE that Voracek and Giroux are this low on the list, I said to myself, before trying to figure out who I was going to bump and realizing that I really can't justify bumping more than a couple of names. This is a really good league, and we just need to hope that Giroux/Voracek carry their lines this season and shoot up in next year's list.

The Sharks, Lightning, and Penguins are the first three teams to have three players named, and thus it's really no surprise to anybody that those are three of the teams all had a good deal of success last season. Elite players matter in the playoffs, as evidenced by the Chicago Blackhawks' recent run of success despite turning over half of their roster annually.

Good: The Rest Of The List

41. Hampus Lindholm, Ducks (42.2)
42. Nathan MacKinnon, Avalanche (42.4)
43. Duncan Keith, Blackhawks (43.1)
44. Tyler Toffoli, Kings (43.3)
45. Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Sharks (43.5)
46. Logan Couture, Sharks (43.7)
47. Anton Stralman, Lightning (43.9)
48. Ryan O'Reilly, Sabres (44.4)
49. Aleksandr Barkov, Panthers (44.5)
50. Roman Josi, Predators (44.6)

That means we have no players from the following groups:

  • A: Maple Leafs, Coyotes, Hurricanes
  • B. Canucks, Wild, Blue Jackets
  • C: Red Wings
Let's say you have to be a fan of one of those top two groups. (The Red Wings are a huge question mark for me.) Do you pick the rosters full of young talent who will probably feature on this list prominently in the next 3-5 years? Or would you prefer the rosters of guys who might have been on this year in the past but have relatively few prospects for the future?

In addition to making fun of those six teams, we can also make fun of the teams with only one representative on the Top Fifty list:
  • Atlantic: Senators, Sabres, Panthers
  • Metropolitan: Islanders, Rangers
  • Central: Blues, Jets
  • Pacific: Oilers
Credit to the Sens and Oilers though, because I'd rather have a top-three guy in the whole league than an overrated group of young guys like the Panthers have. 

Summarizing THN's Metropolitan Division Preview

If you've ever read anything I've written about hockey, I always save the Metropolitan Division for last so I can end the post with a huge rant (or just a general tangent) about the Flyers.

THN really indulged me on this one, because they ended their season previews with the Washington Capitals, meaning I had no choice but to end on the Metro. Here's the link to the THN previews, and here are the links to my summaries of the Atlantic, Central, and Pacific divisions.

Two quick housekeeping notes/things to take care of. All of these great charts come from Dom:

And another Twitter friend is hosting a semi-fantasy-hockey-thing:
Projected Metropolitan Division Standings
  1. Pittsburgh (96.1% chance of making the playoffs)
  2. Washington (87.3%)
  3. Philadelphia (69%)(nice)
  4. NY Islanders (51.8%)
  5. NY Rangers (45.1%)
  6. Columbus (32.3%)
  7. Carolina (9.1%)
  8. New Jersey (7.6%)
As rough of a year as it's going to be for Carolina and New Jersey, it's probably worse to be a Columbus fan right now. You know the Blue Jackets aren't going to make any noise this season, they're probably going to fire their coach, and they're locked into their mostly-aging, mostly-overpaid core for the rest of this decade. 

Also, uh, how about those Flyers?

Best Forwards In The Division
  1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh (1.96 GSAR/60, 3.3 GSVA)
  2. Aleksandr Ovechkin, Washington (1.88, 3.1)
  3. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh (1.59, 2.6)
  4. Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh (1.64, 2.4)
  5. Jake Voracek, Philadelphia (1.48, 2.4)
  6. John Tavares, NY Islanders (1.44, 2.4)
  7. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia (1.41, 2.4)
  8. Taylor Hall, New Jersey (1.37, 2.2)
  9. Brandon Saad, Columbus (1.31, 2.0)
  10. Wayne Simmonds, Philadelphia (1.28, 1.9)
  11. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington (1.21, 1.9)
  12. Nicklas Backstrom (1.17, 1.9)
  13. Rick Nash, NY Rangers (1.14, 1.7)
  14. Nick Foligno, Columbus (1.08, 1.6)
  15. Derek Stepan, NY Rangers (1.06, 1.6)
  16. TJ Oshie, Washington (1.02, 1.6)
  17. Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus (1.25, 1.5)
  18. Jeff Skinner, Carolina (0.98, 1.5)
  19. Phil Kessel, Pittsburgh (0.96, 1.5)
  20. Max Zuccarello, NY Rangers (0.95, 1.5)
  21. Jordan Staal, Carolina (0.93, 1.5)
The Crosby-Ovechkin-Malkin trio at the top of that list shouldn't surprise anybody, but there are a few names on that list that we might not have expected. Patric Hornqvist, for example, is probably more important to the Penguins than anyone on the famous HBK line. Oliver Bjorkstrand has just 12 NHL games under his belt, but Columbus is going to rely on him to become a piece of their future if they ever want to actually have a future. 

I also think it's interesting that Tavares, Giroux, Hall, and Saad are in the same neighborhood. Those guys will all be tasked with carrying the load for their teams (though it's definitely nice, as a Flyers fan, to have Voracek and Simmonds sandwiching that group).

Best Defensemen In The Division
  1. Kris Letang, Pittsburgh (1.18, 2.6)
  2. Justin Faulk, Carolina (0.91, 1.9)
  3. Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia (0.99, 1.8)
  4. John Carlson, Washington (0.80, 1.6)
  5. Johnny Boychuk, NY Islanders (0.82, 1.5)
  6. Nick Leddy, NY Islanders (0.69, 1.3)
The Devils, Blue Jackets, and Rangers do not have anyone who rates as a Number One Defenseman. That is.... sub-optimal. 

This measurement is very clearly coming from an offensive focus though, because those top four (Gostisbehere especially) are attack-minded defenseman. It's hard to quantify, but steady, balanced minute-eaters like Michael Del Zotto, Travis Hamonic, Ryan McDonagh, and Seth Jones are probably undervalued by Dom's metric. 

Best Goalies In The Division
  1. Corey Schneider, New Jersey (0.22, 2.7)
  2. Braden Holtby, Washington (0.19, 2.4)
  3. Henrik Lundqvist, NY Rangers (0.15, 1.9)
I think I was predicting there would be five goalies from the Metro that rated as "Top Ten" but maybe there aren't ten goalies in that class? Steve Mason (0.17, 1.7) is right on the heels of that group, as are Roberto Luongo (0.15, 1.6), Semyon Varlamov (0.16, 1.7), and Cam Talbot (0.16, 1.7). 

Worst Players In The Division, Starting Lineup
Winger: Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Philadelphia (-0.73, -0.7)
Center: Jay McClement, Carolina (-0.93, -0.9)
Winger: David Clarkson, Columbus (-0.57, -0.5)

Defenseman: Dan Girardi, NY Rangers (-0.36, -0.6)
Defenseman: Jon Merrill, New Jersey (-0.39, -0.6)

Goalie: Cam Ward, Carolina (-0.07, -0.6)

In keeping with tradition, here is a fun fact: Ward signed a two-year extension this summer with a cap hit of $3.3 million and a No Trade Clause. 

An additional note for this section. I'm surprised at how poorly Bellemare rates, especially since he had a very good showing at the World Cup. I think most people around the Flyers expect him to prove that last season, he was dragged down by Ryan White and Chris Vandevelde. This year, he should see most of his time on the ice playing with guys with considerably more skill. 

Here are the full rankings/projections: