blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: March 2009

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Tale Of NHL Stick Tape

In the old days everyone wrapped their blade in black. Howe, Orr, Gretzky, all the greats, all the bad asses, everyone. At some point white tape entered the fray yielding today's relatively even split between the two.

Ovechkin, Malkin, Kovalchuk, Semin, Kane, Alfredsson, Spezza, Heatley, Stamkos, and Daniel and Henrik Sedin roll white while Crosby, Zetterberg, Thornton, Iginla, Datsyuk, Savard, Lecavalier, Marleau, Parise, Backstrom, and Carter are sticking with black.

On the blueline Niedermayer, Lidstrom, Chara, Streit, and Green are the ebony to Pronger, Kronwall, Phaneuf, Ohlund, and Bouwmeester's ivory.

With no discernible trends by nationality, age, team or position it's safe to assume stick tape color remains the purview of personal preference.

The NHL may, however, be in for a colorful future as Rule 19(a) provides "adhesive tape of any color may be wrapped around the stick at any place for the purpose of reinforcement or to improve control of the puck". Look for the remainder of the rainbow coming to a rink near you.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

NHL's Southeast Earning Their Seeding

Beginning in the 1993-94 season, NHL playoff seeding has followed a conference format with division winners being assured one of the top three spots in the standings regardless of their regular season point totals. No division has benefited more from this system than the Southeast.

Only three times in the past 14 seasons have Southeasterners amassed enough points to finish among the top three in their conference. In fact, only six times have they placed in the top four earning home ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Regardless, every year a team from down south opens the playoffs at home.

Year: Points ---- Seeding
2008: WAS 7th --- 3rd
2007: ATL 6th ---- 3rd
2006: CAR 2nd --- 2nd
2004: TBL 1st ----- 1st
2003: TBL 6th ---- 3rd
2002: CAR 7th ---- 3rd
2001: WAS 7th ---- 3rd
2000: WAS 3rd --- 2nd
1999: CAR 8th ---- 3rd
1998: WAS 4th --- 3rd
1997: FLA 4th ---- 3rd
1996: FLA 4th ---- 3rd
1995: WAS 6th --- 3rd
1994: WAS 7th --- 3rd

This year the Capitals are on pace to be the fourth Southeast team in 15 seasons to earn their seeding. In fact, the division has a shot at duplicating their 1996 feat of fielding three teams in the postseason.

Southeast division, represent, represent.

Any day could be your last.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

NHL Tavares Projections - 20 Games to Play

On June 26, the team picking first in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft will likely select John Tavares. While every team that misses the playoffs participates in the lottery to determine its selection order, only the bottom five are eligible for the number one pick.

The chart below extrapolates final standings projections based on each tanking team's winning percentage over 62 games and the past 10 games.

62 Game Pace vs. 10 Game Pace
30. NYI: 60'''''''''''''''''''''30. NYI: 61
29. ATL: 66'''''''''''''''''''''29. TBL: 66
28. TBL: 69'''''''''''''''''''''28. ATL: 68
27. OTT: 74'''''''''''''''''''''27. COL: 69
26. COL: 75'''''''''''''''''''''26. PHO: 71
25. PHO: 78'''''''''''''''''''25. LAK: 73
24. TOR: 79''''''''''''''''''''24. OTT: 76
23. LAK: 81''''''''''''''''''''23. DAL: 77
22. STL: 85'''''''''''''''''''''22. ANA: 85
21. NSH: 85''''''''''''''''''''21. TOR: 86

Another wrinkle in landing the big prize is one's chances increase the worse one finishes. The 30th place team has a 48.2% chance of capturing the first overall pick, with the odds decreasing significantly from there (29th=18.8%, 28th=14.2%, 27th=10.7%, 26th=8.1%).

The moral of the story is every loss counts. NYI has been consistently catastrophic all year and TBL (-3), COL (-6), PHO (-7), and LAK (-8) are trending down nicely. ATL (+2), OTT (+2), and TOR (+7), on the other hand, are going the wrong way.

Buckle up! With 20 games to play, the race is on.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

2009 NHL Playoff Projections - 20 Games to Play

With 62 games down and 20 to go, the playoff picture is taking shape. Where teams finish on April 12 will be determined by the pace at which they collect points for the rest of the season. The chart below extrapolates projected standings based on each team's winning percentage over the first 62 games and the past 10 games.

62 Game Projected Pace vs. Past 10 Game Projected Pace
1. BOS: 122'''''''''''1. BOS: 112''''''''''''1. SJS: 123'''''''''''''1. DET: 120
2. NJD: 110''''''''''2. NJD: 111'''''''''''2. DET: 119'''''''''''2. SJS: 117
3. WAS: 110'''''''''3. WAS: 109'''''''''3. CGY: 106''''''''''3. CGY: 112
4. PHI: 103''''''''''4. PHI: 104'''''''''''4. CHI: 107''''''''''''4. CHI: 107
5. MTL: 97'''''''''''5. FLA: 94''''''''''''''5. VAN: 95''''''''''''5. VAN: 104
6. FLA: 93''''''''''''6. PIT: 92''''''''''''''6. CLB: 90'''''''''''''6. CLB: 98
7. NYR: 93''''''''''7. MTL: 91'''''''''''''7. EDM: 89'''''''''''7. STL: 92
8. BUF: 91''''''''''8. CAR: 91'''''''''''''8. ANA: 86''''''''''8. EDM: 91

9. CAR: 88'''''''''9. BUF: 89'''''''''''''9. MIN: 86''''''''''''9. NSH: 86
10. PIT: 87'''''''''10. TOR: 86'''''''''''10. DAL: 86''''''''''10. ANA: 85
11. TOR: 79'''''''''11. NYR: 84'''''''''''11. NSH: 85'''''''''''11. MIN: 81
12. OTT: 74''''''''12. OTT: 76'''''''''''''12. STL: 85'''''''''''12. DAL: 77
13. TBL: 69'''''''''13. ATL: 68''''''''''''13. LAK: 81''''''''''''13. LAK: 73
14. ATL: 66'''''''''14. TBL: 66''''''''''''14. PHO: 78'''''''''''14. PHO: 71
15. NYI: 60''''''''''15. NYI: 61''''''''''''15. COL: 75'''''''''''''15. COL: 69

If teams continue to collect points at their past 10 game rate as opposed to their 62 game pace, some will benefit (VAN +9/CLB +8/STL +7/TOR +7/CLG +6/PIT +5) while others will suffer (BOS -10/NYR -9/DAL -9/LAK -8/PHO -7/MTL -6/COL -6/SJS -6/MIN -5).

For CAR, PIT, and STL to make the playoffs, they must maintain their past 10 game pace. Conversely, NYR, BUF, and ANA must revert to their 62 game percentage to qualify for the post season.

With 40 possible points remaining in the final 20 games, mathematically most teams remain alive (assuming a 90 point playoff cutoff). These projections, however, tell quite a different story.