Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Wednesday Baseball Standings

So, barring an awful collapse or an incredible hot streak (insert that disclaimer in front of most statements in this post), the playoff teams in the West are set, and the rest of the season will be a matter of seeding. As such, I want to look at the East a bit more today.

Buffalo and New Jersey are going to be the top two seeds in the east, and the SE winner will be the 3rd. Ottawa is 20-4-3 in their last 27, with 18 of those wins coming in regulation: they are obviously very good, and will likely be the #4 seed (at worst, they'll be in the 4/5 series).

Pittsburgh tore through January and most of February, but I can't get too excited about their quality. A 14-0-2 streak (and points in every game for 5 weeks) is nothing to sneeze at, but I'm looking at their opponents through that streak right now: a whole 4 of those wins were against playoff teams (Devils, Nashville, Islanders, Dallas in a SO). The rest of the wins were WSHx2, PHIx2, TORx2, CHI, MTL, FLA, & PHX; OT/SO Losses to MTL & BOS.

The intriguing team is the New York Islanders. Not sure how well known this is, but the story for the Isles has been the same all year: very good at even strength, very poor special teams.

There's 7 teams in the league that are excellent at even strength: Sabres, Senators, Red Wings, Predators, Ducks, Flames, and Islanders. Then there's a big drop-off to 8th. This is especially apparent looking at Team +/-, but it's the same 7 looking at the ratio of GF/GA at 5-on-5.

Much like the Flames, the Islanders should probably be in a better position than they are. However, while the Flames have gotten the PP going to a point that they're now 8th in the NHL (they remain 24th on the PK), the Isles are a smelly 25th on the PP and 22nd on the PK. What they really need is a player who can help them on special teams without compromising their solid 5-on-5 play... which brings us back to yesterday's hot topic, doesn't it.

I like the Isles to finish strong, expand that 1-1/2 game cushion, and qualify for the playoffs easily. The kicker is, if they finish too strong, they end up in the 5th seed -- stuck playing Ottawa, who right now looks like the clear best team in the East.

As a bonus, here's a couple of bits from Newsday, the Long Island newspaper, on the Smyth acquisition. Columnist Mark Herrmann:
The Islanders need all the adrenaline they can get. Attendance hasn't been so hot, and television ratings have been in the infomercial range. So it was smart to give up former first-round picks Robert Nilsson and Ryan O'Marra and the first-round pick this year for Smyth, who isn't signed past the end of this season.

He could walk and leave the Islanders with nothing, but so what? He had 31 goals and 22 assists in 53 games for the Oilers. Offensively skilled players don't grow on trees, and they sure don't grow in the Islanders' system.

Today's quiz: Name the last Islanders' No. 1 pick who turned out to be a good scorer for them. Try Pat LaFontaine, chosen in 1983. Nilsson and O'Marra looked more like Dave Chyzowski and Scott Scissons than they resembled LaFontaine.

And the blog -- there's a bunch of updates as things fell into place, but check out the post from right before the deal was announced:
Islanders leading scorer Jason Blake will be in the lineup against Philadlephia tonight. Despite interest from five Western Conference teams in Blake just before the trade deadline, none stepped up to meet the Islanders’ asking price.

But that doesn’t mean the Islanders are done. It’s past the deadline, but something is in the works, and it might be very big. Can’t say right now because it’s not finalized but stay tuned. If it happens, Islanders fans will be dancing for joy.

Well then. I guess I could make a "Both of them?" crack here, but naaahh. Charles Wang has taken some stupid risks in his time, but this one -- regardless of how it works out -- was worth it. They saw an opportunity in the East (correctly), and they saw a way to both address their weaknesses and bolster their strengths with a trade (correctly) to attempt to seize that opportunity. Good for them.


Interesting to note: If you add PP and PK%s, there are 15 teams above 100 and 15 teams below 100. Flames obviously need help with the PK; personel seems not to bad, what about PK coaching? Breaking out just PK stats, Philly seems to have good PK with questionable personel. Who's coaching Phi's PK and are they available?

Interesting to note: If you add PP and PK%s, there are 15 teams above 100 and 15 teams below 100.

Given how the league calculates percentages, this is exactly how it should work, no?

Given how the league calculates percentages, this is exactly how it should work, no?

I think the total of all teams percentages of PP and PK balance, but I don't think that means the split has to be 15/15.

I think the total of all teams percentages of PP and PK balance, but I don't think that means the split has to be 15/15.

I did a bit more thinking and you're right: it's like win percentages in a system that makes sense. You can have a 50-50 split, but it can also be 55-45, depending on how things are weighted at the extremes.

Interesting thing about the PP/PK added percentage thing. Ken Hitchcock said something 10 years ago that I've always thought rang true, and might be even more true in the new NHL.

"For your team to have success, the total of your PP and PK percentages must be 105%"

I am going to call this combined percentage the "Hitchock number". Through last night, here are the Hitchcock numbers of NHL teams:
San Jose 107.1
Montreal 105.9
Vancouver 105.8
Anaheim 104.9
New Jersey 103.1
Minnesota 103.0
Dallas 102.8
NY Rangers 102.6
Nashville 101.8
Colorado 101.3
Edmonton 101.3
Ottawa 101.2
Detroit 101.2
Pittsburgh 100.9
Boston 100.4
Buffalo 99.8
Florida 99.8
Philadelphia 99.4
Calgary 99.3
Carolina 99.2
Washington 98.0
Tampa Bay 97.5
Toronto 97.2
Columbus 96.7
NY Islanders 96.3
St. Louis 95.5
Chicago 95.4
Los Angeles 95.2
Atlanta 94.9
Phoenix 93.2

Above 105, you're doing very well. 100-105 would be considered
"adequate performance". Below 100? Not good enough, especially in the "new" NHL.

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