By 11 years ago
Statistics take a lot of grief, have you noticed?
“Statistics are poisoning hockey!”
Bret Michaels suffered a massive subarachnoid hemorrhage and Puck Probabilities puts the Caps chances at winning this series at 92%. Fine, we’ll put aside Bret (and the fate of Rock of Love 9) for a moment and focus on hockey.
Do the Caps really have a 92% chance of winning the series?
Tonight’s exhilarating win in Montreal was marred by some nonsense. A small, but vocal segment of the Canadiens fan base took it upon themselves to boo the Star-Spangled Banner (also here and here). No one asked the booing throng for their finer details of their political ideology, but it’s safe to say that a seed of anti-American sentiment blossoms in Montreal.
Regardless of the outcome on Wednesday night, this quarterfinal playoff series will soon return to Washington, D.C., and there we will have a choice. Will the Phone Booth return fire, booing “O Canada” from start to finish, or will they take the high road?
Semyon Varlamov takes over for Jose Theodore (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
In his last appearance in net, Jose Theodore allowed two goals on two shots and was subsequently given the hook. Russian boy wonder Semyon Varlamov stepped up and did an acceptable job (.863) in a game fraught with defensive missteps. But now that the Washington Capitals have traveled to the Canadiens’ home territory of Montreal, who should start in net?
The Norris Trophy sounds simple to award: “The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
Not surprisingly, it seems the voters (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association) use how many points a defenseman scores in the season as the “offensive component” when looking for their winner. Since the 1997-8 season, only last year’s winner (Zdeno Chara) has been out of the Top 10 in Points for defensemen – and he wasn’t out by much, ranking 12th.
A defenseman’s Plus/Minus factors in to the voting as the “defensive component.” In the same time frame, all but two winners had a Plus/Minus less than 10 – Nicklas Lidstrom in 2000-1 had a +9 and Rob Blake in 1997-8 had a -3 (the only other winner of the Norris with a negative Plus/Minus was Randy Carlyle in 1980-1). And you would have to go back to when the “Secretary of Defense” won the first of his two Norris Trophies to find another winner with a Plus/Minus not in the double digits.
With the regular season winding down it’s only fitting we should start seeing opinions on who should win the Hart Trophy, “given to the player judged to be the most valuable to his team.”
Edward Fraser feels there are a quintet of contenders while Ken Campbell argues Henrik Sedin deserves to be included in the conversation but doesn’t deserve to win it. Tim Morgan thinks both Gaborik and Lundqvist deserve nominations but when it comes down to it, based on previous voting, it is shaping up to be a two-horse race: Alex Ovechkin and Henrik Sedin. (Sorry Sidney, maybe next year?)
I posted on Twitter (in haste) that I would like to see the Boston Bruins in the first round of the playoffs as the 8th seed, but upon further review, I’m not so sure.
I took a look at the Goals Finished/Goals Allowed for WSH, BOS, NYR and PHI, both on the road and at home, and came up with expected winning percentages for each team. I then used Log5 to predict the Caps chances of winning each game whether it is played at home or on the road.
The expected Win % for the Caps and their possible first round opponents:
For example, if the Caps meet Boston in the first round, Washington has an expected winning percentage at home of .670 while Boston is expected to have a win % of .521 on the road. Using Log5, we can determine that the Caps have a 65% chance of winning a game against Boston at the Verizon Center.
I then figure out the Caps’ win % based on every possible outcome of a 7 game series – and yes, that includes ALL possible combinations for a 7 game series (WWWW, WWLWW, WWWLLW, etc.).
Intuitively I wanted the Caps to face the Marc Savard-less Bruins in the first round, but based on the chances of the Caps winning against Boston in a 7 game series, I have changed my mind. Here’s why:
The Caps have a 78.1% chance of beating Boston in a 7 game series. Not bad, considering that they have a 77.44% chance of beating Philadelphia. But the best case scenario for the Caps, based on probability of winning, is meeting the New York Rangers in the first round – where the probability of winning a 7 game series is 79.25%.
(ed note: Excel gave me wonky %, which have been updated, however NYR remains the best possible opponent)
Brooks Laich is right to be angry. His team has lost four of its last six games when it should be building momentum for the post-season. But I have to respectfully disagree with his argument; the Washington Capitals are indeed coasting.
In the first period of their last two games, the Capitals have mustered only four shots on goal. This statistic is compelling evidence that the team is not focused on the games in front of them. If someone says that the team is “sailing through to the postseason”, that’s what they’re talking about. When the boys start climbing out of the two- or three- goal holes they dig themselves, they play like heroes again. That’s great, but why are they floundering in the first period at all?
[Ed Note: With Peter galavanting in the middle of California for a wedding and Ian scrambling to keep up with all of the Barack The Red happenings, we’re not going to have a gamer tonight covering the Lightning’s 3-2 victory. Who wants to read more about that anyways? Not I. So tonight, we bring you something that has become a growing concern for the crew here at RMNB: the Capitals below average Penalty Kill. Will this do them in when the games really matter? What do you think? Read Neil’s article and let us know in the comments below.]
To misquote Yogi Berra, “95% of hockey is half defense.” Or more precisely, 58.3% defense according to Alan Ryder.
Now whether that is true or not remains to be seen, but what we do know is that goaltending is not the issue for the Caps going into the playoffs – it is their Penalty Killing (PK).
If we look at the teams that won The Cup since the 1979-80 season a distinct pattern emerges:
By 12 years ago
I touched briefly on why I thought the Caps goaltending could get them through a Cup run, and with Jose Theodore’s third shutout of the year I wanted to make his case why he should be the #1 goalie going into the playoffs.
My case is a simple one and is based on two points:
Jose Theodore won the Hart and Vezina Trophy in 2001-02, was named to the 2nd NHL All Star team in that same year. He was an NHL All Star in 2002 and 2004 and won 10 in a row this year during the Caps 14 game win streak. Clearly, Jose has the skill to play goalie at a high level.
By 12 years ago
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