TIL (Today I Learned):
- The Montreal Canadiens may lose home ice advantage to the Tampa Bay Lightning, for their first round series against....the Lightning. The Atlantic Division rivals are separated by one point in the standings, (MTL - 98, TBL - 97) with Tampa having two games (Columbus, Washington) remaining, while Montreal only has one (NYR). Even if both teams win out the rest of the season, Tampa still takes second in the Atlantic and home ice advantage over Montreal in the first round of the post-season. The Canadiens are probably re-thinking their decision to sit Price, Markov, and Emelin in their 3-2 OT loss to Chicago on Wednesday, as winning that game would have clinched second place in the Atlantic for them (They have more regulation + overtime wins (ROW) this year, which is the NHL's tie breaker in terms of playoff seeding). It would definitely be a tough blow to lose home ice advantage like that.
- The Panthers need a high-caliber goalie coach. Semyon Varlamov credits his year with the Avalanche (41 wins and .927 SV%) to the changes made to his style and positioning by his goaltending coach in Colorado. It seems the coach helped him turn around from being a borderline bust in Washington to an elite level NHL 'tender in Colorado. The Panthers could definitely use such a boost for prospects such as Michael Houser.
Stuff to Look at
With 2013-14 being coined by NHL.com as the season of analytics, we take a quick look at some in depth stats and interesting points that can be made about them. (stats via extraskater.com)
- Nathan MacKinnon is good. Like, really really good. The kid has 63 points through 80 games, and the stats aren't necessarily inflated. Looking at some of his usage stats, he starts his shifts in each zone about equally (31.8% in the offensive, 37.1% in the neutral zone, and 31.1% in the defensive), and he hasn't seen tons of powerplay production (only 27% of his points are off of the powerplay). His on ice shooting percentage is 12.3% (Crosby at his best is around 14%, though he has dropped to 11% this year due to the injuries in Pittsburgh's lineup). His average Quality of Competition (QoC) is 28.8%, while his Quality of Teammates (QoT) is only 1.8% higher, at 30.6%. He is playing on a good team, but he isn't playing against incredibly weak opponents. He isn't being sheltered from defensive zone responsibilities. He's making the players around him better (the on ice shooting percentage isn't indicative of luck; Mackinnon definitely has the skillset to be just a half step behind Crosby in terms of talent and production). All signs of a budding elite level NHL superstar. Final conclusion? Mackinnon is really, really good. And the Avalanche got lucky, being able to draft over the Panthers.
- Ondrej Palat is either going to fizz out next year or be remembered as one of the biggest draft steals in recent history, as his scouting report doesn't post him in the same talent caliber as MacKinnon, even though his stats are very similar.
- Pension Plan Puppets knows what they're talking about in terms of advanced statistics. Take a look into their recent series on the dismal myths told about their current coach, Randy Carlyle.
- On that note, not one Maple Leaf who played at least 8 games (10% of the season) started the majority of their shifts in the offensive zone. Not one. By comparison, the Panthers have 18 players who have played at least 8 games and started the majority of their shifts in the offensive zone. I don't know about you, but to me, that sounds like a ridiculously pathetic stat.
- There are definitely reasons as to why certain teams (Colorado, Anaheim, Pittsburgh, to name a few) may make unexpected exits from the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year. SB Nation's Adam Gretz has the "why", and the teams most likely to beat them.
- I really cannot get over that buzzer-beater OT goal by Minnesota's Justin Holl.