Tuesday, September 20, 2005


Take your best shot, indeed

Here's the Calgary Sun, on yesterday's shootout drills at Flames practice:
Only one puck got past Kiprusoff -- a top-shelf shot from Brandon Prust. The Finn looked great gliding from side to side, kicking away some attempts and poking away others.
"Kipper is amazing. He's so quick and he reads it well," said Iginla.

Early prediction: the Hart Trophy winner for the 2005/06 season will be a goaltender.

As I've noted previously (and I think this is obvious to the statistically literate), the large majority of NHL teams will be pretty close to 50/50 this year in shootouts. Insofar as it's an executable strategy, getting to the end of regulation with at least a tie will be much more important than being an excellent shootout team.

That said, some team in the league is going to have the best shootout record, and some team will have the worst. Furthermore, even if the distribution of shootout wins is random (i.e. non-talent-related), it's better than even money that one of the Top 3 shootout teams will also be a division winner - one of the league's best teams (let's call it, um, Team F).

On top of the credit Team F's goaltender would already get for a strong team record, now he will also be getting a tremendous amount of extra love for stoning all those breakaway shooters for the extra point.

The Hart Trophy winner this year will be a goalie for a high playoff seed whose team is something like 10-3 in shootouts. I don't see any way around it.

GRATUITOUS ADDENDUM: I see someone's not too anxious to position himself as a frontrunner for the Hart.


I think we've heard this refrain before.

"With Roman Turek and Jamie McLennan in the nets the Flames likely have the most sound goaltending tandem we've seen in Calgary since Rick Wamsley backed Mike Vernon to a Stanley Cup."

Ohhhhh, mercy.

I also think you're wrong about this one.

Given the increased number of powerplays, every goaltender's numbers are going to look worse than usual. Plus, no matter how many skaters you stone, there is never any doubt who the goat is in a shootout loss - the goaltender.

At the same time, goal scorer's numbers are going to look better than usual. The fact that at least some of those top goal scorers are also going to be dynamite at shootouts means that they are going to get even more love than normal.

Prediction: Hart Trophy goes to a high scoring skater on a high seeded playoff team.

I did think about that. Re: powerplays, I'm still saying I'll believe it when I see it, so I'm not ready to stipulate that offensive numbers will be a lot higher OR that goalie stats will be a lot worse.

And as for the SO, if some very good team goes 10-3 in shootouts, what's the most shootout goals any player on that team scores? 4? Mayyybe 5? The team's goalie is going to get the most credit for shootout wins, and by a wide margin, I'd say.

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