blank'/> THE PUCK REPORT: February 2010

Sunday, February 28, 2010

2010 Olympic Hockey Medals By NHL Team

Of the 276 players competing in the Winter Olympics only 69 left Vancouver with a medal. Of those, most play in the NHL (64) with the remainder skating in the KHL (4) and SEL (1). The medal winners - Canada (G), USA (S), Finland (B) - are sorted below by NHL team.

ANA (7): 3G (Getzlaf, Niedermayer, Perry), 2S (Ryan, Whitney), 2B (S. Koivu, Selanne)
SJS (5): 4G (Boyle, Heatley, Marleau, Thornton), 1S (Pavelski)
CAR (4): 1G (Staal), 1S (Gleason), 2B (Pitkanen, T. Ruutu)
CHI (4): 3G (Keith, Seabrook, Toews), 1S (Kane)
LAK (4): 1G (Doughty), 3S (Brown, J. Johnson, Quick)
CGY (3): 1G (Iginla), 2B (Hagman, Kiprusoff)
MIN (3): 3B (Backstrom, M. Koivu, Miettinen)
NJD (3): 1G (Brodeur), 2S (Langenbrunner, Parise)
NYR (3): 2S (Callahan, Drury), 1B (Jokinen)
PHI (3): 2G (Pronger, Richards), 1B (Timonen)
PIT (3): 2G (Crosby, Fleury), 1S (Orpik)
VAN (3): 1G (Luongo), 1S (Kesler), 1B (Salo)
BOS (2): 1G (Bergeron), 1S (Thomas)
BUF (2): 1S (Miller), 1B (Lydman)
DAL (2): 1G (Morrow), 1B (Lehtinen)
DET (2): 1S (Rafalski), 1B (Filppula)
NAS (2): 1G (Weber), 1S (Suter)
STL (2): 2S (Backes, E. Johnson)
TBL (2): 1S (Malone), 1B (Nittymaki)
COL (1): 1S (Stastny)
CLB (1): 1G (Nash)
OTT (1): 1B (J. Ruutu)
PHX (1): 1B (Lepisto)
TOR (1): 1S (Kessel)

Of the 30 NHL teams that loaned talent to the Winter Games, 23 are welcoming back medalists. Among them, Anaheim leads the medal count (7) with San Jose gathering the most gold (4). Only three teams (Anaheim, Carolina, Vancouver) have players from each medal winner.

Let's hope this isn't the last Winter Olympics with NHL talent.

2010 Olympic Hockey Schedule And Scores

Having analyzed every aspect of men's ice hockey at the 2010 Winter Games in Vancouver, including the Olympic format and schedule and rosters by NHL salary, NHL team and source league, let's review the tournament scores and remaining schedule.

Tournament Seeding
RUS (1), CAN (2), SWE (3), FIN (4)
USA (5), CZE (6), SWI (7), BEL (8)
SLO (9), LAT (10), NOR (11), GER (12)

Preliminary Round Scores
2/16: USA v SWI (3-1), CAN v NOR (8-0), RUS v LAT (8-2)
2/17: FIN v BEL (5-1), SWE v GER (2-0), CZE v SLO (3-1)
2/18: USA v NOR (6-1), SWI v CAN (2-3), SLO v RUS (2-1)
2/19: BEL v SWE (2-4), CZE v LAT (5-2), FIN v GER (5-0)
2/20: NOR v SWI (4-5), LAT v SLO (0-6), GER v BEL (3-5)
2/21: RUS v CZE (4-2), CAN v USA (3-5), SWE v FIN (3-0)

Preliminary Round Standings
USA (1), SWE (2), RUS (3), FIN (4)
CZE (5), CAN (6), SLO (7), SWI (8)
BEL (9), NOR (10), GER (11), LAT (12)

Qualification Scores (5-12, 6-11, 7-10, 8-9)
2/23: CZE v LAT (3-2), CAN v GER (8-2), SLO v NOR (4-3), SWI v BEL (3-2)

Quarterfinal Scores (1 v 8-9, 2 v 7-10, 3 v 6-11, 4 v 5-12)
2/24: USA v SWI (2-0), SWE v SLO (3-4), RUS v CAN (3-7), FIN v CZE (2-0)

Semifinal Scores (1 or 8-9 vs 4 or 5-12, 2 or 7-10 vs 3 or 6-11)
2/26: USA v FIN (6-1), CAN v SLO (3-2)

Bronze Medal Score (Semifinal losers)
2/27: FIN v SLO (5-3)

Gold Medal Score (Semifinal winners)
2/28: USA v CAN (2-3)

Final Standings
CAN (1), USA (2), FIN (3), SLO (4)
SWE (5), RUS (6), CZE (7), SWI (8)
BEL (9), NOR (10), GER (11), LAT (12)

Official schedules and results may be found here with preliminary standings here and playoff brackets and final standings here.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two More Canadian Olympic Hockey Rosters

Charged with picking a 23 man hockey roster for Canada to capture gold at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, GM Steve Yzerman looked to existing NHL forward line combinations and defensive pairings with the usual suspects between the pipes.

Forward: Bergeron, Crosby, Getzlaf, Heatley, Iginla, Marleau, Morrow, Nash, M. Richards, Perry, E. Staal, Thornton, Toews
Defense: Boyle, Doughty, Keith, Neidermayer, Pronger, Seabrook, Weber
Goal: Brodeur, Fleury, Luongo

Blessed with a depth of hockey talent known to no other nation, however, many of the NHL's best were left off the list. In fact, 3 of top 10 in points, 4 of top 16 in goals, 2 of the top 5 in assists, and the top defenseman in goals, assists, and points, all missed the cut. As a case in point, two additional Team Canada rosters are proposed below.

Forward: Bourque, Burrows, Carter, Doan, LeCavalier, Neal, B. Richards, St. Louis, Savard, Smythe, Spezza, Stamkos, Zajac
Defense: Bouwmeester, Green, Phaneuf, Phillips, Regehr, Robidas, Stuart
Goal: Ward, S. Mason, Turco

Forward: Boyes, Briere, Cammalleri, Cleary, Duchene, Fisher, Gagne, Giroux, Pominville, Roy, Sharp, Tavares, Whitney
Defense: Beauchemin, Blake, Campbell, Jovanovski, Mitchell, Myers, M. Staal
Goal: Giguere, C. Mason, Osgood

Taking nothing away from the lower ranked nations in the tournament (Switzerland 7, Belarus 8, Slovakia 9, Latvia 10, Norway 11, Germany 12) and the spirit of international competition, one can't help but wonder how these three Canadian titans might place if afforded the opportunity. Who knows, maybe the second squad would even edge out the first.

Friday, February 12, 2010

2010 Olympic Hockey Format And Schedule

On February 16th, 276 players will suit up for 12 teams, trading their paychecks for patriotism, as the 13 day 30 game tournament for men's ice hockey supremacy at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver begins. An overview of inner-workings of the Olympic affair lies below.

The journey to Vancouver started two years ago with the top nine teams in the 2008 IIHF World Rankings automatically advancing and the remaining three earning their spot through a 20 team qualification tournament. The Olympic dozen were then arranged into three groups:

Group A: Canada (2), USA (5), Switzerland (7), Norway (11)
Group B: Russia (1), Czech Republic (6), Slovakia (9), Latvia (10)
Group C: Sweden (3), Finland (4), Belarus (8), Germany (12)
The 2010 Olympic tournament format has each team playing their group members once in a preliminary round for a total of three games a piece, collecting points in line with the IIHF's three point system (3pts regulation win, 2pts overtime/shootout win, 1pt overtime/shootout loss, zero pts regulation loss).

Upon completion of the preliminary round, teams are reseeded 1 through 12 by group position (i.e., group winners occupy 1st, 2nd, and 3rd, group runner-ups take 4th, 5th, and 6th, etc.) and points. The tiebreaker for teams finishing with the same number of points is (i) head-to-head winner, (ii) better goal differential (GF less GA), (iii) most goals scored, and (iv) 2009 IIHF World Ranking.

The tournament then shifts to a single elimination format with the top four teams (group winners plus the highest ranked group runner-up) advancing directly to the quarterfinals and the remaining eight nations playing in a qualification round (5-12, 6-11, 7-10, 8-9). Qualification champs then faceoff against the awaiting quarterfinalists (1 vs 8-9, 2 vs 7-10, 3 vs 6-11, 4 vs 5-12) with winners advancing to the semifinals (1 or 8-9 vs 4 or 5-12, 2 or 7-10 vs 3 or 6-11). Victors of the semifinals vie for gold leaving the defeated to duel for bronze.

Overtime & Shootout
If a score is tied at the end of regulation, a 4 on 4 sudden death overtime period ensues. The extra frame varies in length by round, providing 5 minutes in preliminary play, 10 minutes during qualifications, quaterfinals, semifinals and the bronze medal game, and 20 minutes for the gold medal match.

If teams are tied at the end of overtime, each coach selects three skaters to take penalty shots in a shootout. The team with the most goals after the six skaters have shot is declared the winner. If no team has an edge after three rounds, the shootout continues on a sudden death basis until one team scores during a round when the other does not.

2/23: Qualifications (5-12, 6-11, 7-10, 8-9)
2/24: Quarterfinals (1 vs 8-9, 2 vs 7-10, 3 vs 6-11, 4 vs 5-12)
2/26: Semifinals (1 or 8-9 vs 4 or 5-12, 2 or 7-10 vs 3 or 6-11)
2/27: Bronze Medal
2/28: Gold Medal

Past Winners
Since the NHL agreed to share its players with the Winter Olympics, six unique nations have made the finals (CZE-RUS, CAN-USA, SWE-FIN) yielding three distinct champions (CZE 1998, CAN 2002, SWE 2006). The league has yet to offer its talent to the 2014 Games in Sochi.

2010 Olympic hockey schedule and scores are available here with standings here.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Statistical Anomaly - New Jersey Devils Offense

First in their division, second in conference, and sixth overall with 72 points, the New Jersey Devils are amongst the league leaders in wins (4th), win % when scoring first (3rd), win % when opponent scores first (4th), win % leading after first period (3rd), win % leading after second period (3rd), points (6th), points per game (4th), goals against per game (1st), shots against per game (2nd), and win % when outshot (1st).

What's unusual is the Devils score fewer goals per game than most (21st), are weak at even strength (23rd), and are mid-pack in shots per game (13th). Their success rests instead with frugal defensive play, timely production, and record-setting goaltending from Martin Brodeur who leads the NHL (both this season and all-time) in wins and shutouts.

If a single move could resolve their offensive shortcomings, last night's acquisition of Ilya Kovalchuk may have done just that. Thus far this season, Kovalchuk has .63 goals per game (5th), 21 even strength goals (5th), and 179 shots (24th) in 49 games. Adding these numbers to New Jersey's totals bumps the team from 2.54 (21st) to 3.17 (4th) in goals per game, 92 (23rd) to 113 (5th) in even strength goals, and 30.2 (13th) to 33.8 (1st) in shots per game (179 shots/49 games = 3.6).

Time will tell if Ilya can maintain his productive pace in New Jersey and whether his individual output directly translates into team improvement. At first blush, however, it looks like Lou got it right.