Sean Monahan - Proceed with Caution

Kent Wilson
October 11 2013 09:57AM

 

 

Hype is a funny thing.

At first, it's a sort of happy delirium, like a narcotic that smooths the rough edges of reality and suggests a future of boundless optimism and success. When it recedes, however, and the truth is rendered in cruel relief against those impossibly raised expectations, the hang-over can be...unpleasant.

Which brings us to the topic at hand. Sean Monahan has started his NHL career with a bang. Three goals and five points in just four games. He is outscoring much more celebrated offensive talents from his draft season, including Nate MacKinnon, Valery Nichushkin, Aleksandr Barkov and Elias Lindholm. In fact, amongst NHL rookies so far this year, only Tomas Hertl - he of the four goal game - has more points than Calgary's 6th overall pick.

It's been a very long time in Calgary since a forward prospect burst through the doors and established himself as an elite NHLer. The last guy to do it was Jarome Iginla. With him gone and the rebuild in full swing, we're desperate for a new saviour to arrive in Flamestown. Monahan's draft pedigree and his early success have some fashioning hero's garb for the youngster already.

Monahan may actually become that player at some point. But the journey to there from here is a long one with many twists and bumps in the road. His early success is fun and it's encouraging, but it's not necessarily indicative of anything just yet. Like Sven Baertschi's introductory three goal outburst as a 19-year old, Monahan's team leading five points is, at best, a teaser to a much longer film. At worst, it's a run of fortune that will cause Jay Feaster to lament the effect of impossibly raised expectations a year from now. 

Four games is a tiny sample size. And weird things happen in small numbers. Monahan's personal shooting percentage right now is 25%, or about double what you'd expect a competent goal scorer in the NHL to manage. His one-ice SH% (that rate at which all pucks have gone in the net) at even strength this year is a mind-boggling 22% - about 300% higher than the league average (8%) and about 100% higher than Sidney Crosby or a competent PP would manage.

Which is to say, the puck has bounced right (very right) for Monahan in his first four games. As it did for Sven in those first three games. That's not to say the players didn't "deserve" their points in each instance - none of the markers in question were random bounces off of legs or empty-netters. But the NHL is a difficult league and scoring is notoriously fickle. Remember, on-ice SH% almost always regresses towards the mean (8%) on a long-enough time line - which means Monahan isn't going to continue to score at will. Heck, even if he's Sidney Crosby's offensive equal (he's not), Monahan's ES goal frequency is still bound to be cut in half

That's an easy to point to understand conceptually, but an important truth I've learned in writing critically about hockey is that performance almost always equals perception in the general fanship's minds eye. With "offensive results" almost always being a proxy for "performance" (unless a guy is a role player who gets a pass for working hard and trying to hurt the opposition).

Unfortunately, performance does not always equal true talent, since factors like luck and circumstances have a non-trivial effect on outcomes in the league. Results jump up and down around the mean with the bounces, and often, so too do the general sentiments of a player's abilities and value.

There's lots and lots to like about Monahan's game as teenager in this league. He's already poised, methodical and thoughtful, which are hurdles many kids never clear on their way to the show. He's big, strong and looks like he'll be able to play in all areas of the ice. There are reasons to be excited about the player.

But the team and the fans need to proceed with caution. Monahan's output has been goosed by a spike in percentages that is not going to persist. Our evaluation of his talents have therefore been similarly skewed. Very soon, the organization will need to make a decision about whether to send Monahan down to junior or burn a year of his entry-level deal in the show this season. Right now, it seems like a no-brainer to keep him, but the decision makers need to recognize the transient nature of his current output ri and try to project how they would view him if only one puck had gone in for him so far. Or How they'll like the decision to keep him if the kid goes pointless for a 10-game stretch mid-season, which is entirely possible.

I'd suggest Flames fans also need to temper their expectations a bit, because the kid isn't going to score 102 points as a 19 year old rookie and there are going to be rough patches at some point, be it this year if he stays up, or next year when he makes the team full time for sure. Sven Baertschi, who is probably the best pure offensive talent in the Flames pro ranks currently, is now enduring some of the unpleasant consequences of the hype that an early hot streak can cause.

As a fan, I'm enjoying Monahan's impressive run, but also steeling myself for the inevitable downturn. He remains one of the club's most important prospects and is likely a key contributor in the near future, but he still has a long way to go before he truly becomes that guy. 

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Former Nations Overlord. Current FN contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
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#1 schevvy
October 11 2013, 10:37AM
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So you're saying Monahan's NOT going to get 103 points this year?? Damnit Kent. You're the worst. Always so negative...........

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#2 Jeff Lebowski
October 11 2013, 01:24PM
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@Justin Azevedo

I respect your position. I'll read the article but after reading the content here and like minded sites I've noticed this observation:

The advanced stats community opines about the convention, gut feeling etc of traditional hockey analysis. The Brian Burke's of the world. These guys who claim an intuition from being in the game. There is a special insight they have compared to 'outsiders'. On this site, people have complained about Feaster/Weisbrod thinking they're the smartest guys in the room.

But it is the AS community that is doing exactly the same thing. AS seems to give them the idea they have an insight to the game others fail to recognize. Being mad at Feaster/Weisbrod is more about those two thinking they are smarter than the AS community.

The observation is: you guys are different sides of the same coin. Both rigid in their thinking and unjustifiably over confident.

The same group of people advocating AS create all the 'evidence' in support of it.

There is something to it (stats). You can't totally ignore it but it's not sophisticated (not using the right math if you will) for the type of event it's attempting to describe (non linear).

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#3 Jeff Lebowski
October 11 2013, 12:02PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

haha oh boy don't pull the "do you watch the games" line on me.

once again, you're getting caught up in the numbers. it doesn't matter how long the puck is on his stick. when he's on the ice, if he has a positive corsi, the team is likely out-possessing (i.e. controlling the play) the other team.

on-the-fly shifts generally even out over the course of a season, which is why we don't put as much focus on them.

unless i'm missing something, corsi tracks exactly what you're looking for.

Not intending to imply you don't watch games. What I'm saying is, there is context that gets lost when looking at stats. That context is extremely meaningful.

What does 'likely' mean?

If you see a negative corsi for 23 what does your brain 'imagine' what happened? He was hemmed in?

I saw a shift against Columbus. Without going into detail he was minus corsi but he dominated the shift. And it was against Gaborik and Wisnewski. He created 2 attempted scoring chances to one weak shot from a non threatening area by Gaborik.

When you read a guy gets 4 SOG how do you imagine he got those? All flying down the wing and ripping it top corner or do some come from neutral zone?

corsi doesn't differentiate the difference in shot quality. Corsi doesn't tell you that context. You are left to add whatever narrative you want. Watching the build up, the unfolding of the play, informs you about the shift. Of course you can't track or remember every detail so what gets left out? What gets included? How much of that is 'noise'?

I don't see the use of a stat that requires me to make so many 'likely' assumptions. I don't like stats that are too noisy.

If a team gets 30 shots on net, how many are in scoring area? How many came from cycles down low, point shots with screens in front and how many are non quality, low percentage? Not likely but exactly?

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#4 McRib
October 11 2013, 11:19AM
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I just don't understand the rational for sending him down?!?! If he needed to work on offensive production was undersized (i.e Sven) or not going to get enough ice... I could see it but Major Junior isn't a place to learn defensive positioning...

Its odd FN is huge on modern advancements in looking at the game through "advanced stats", but are also the biggest old school homers with needing to send people back and "cap management".

Plain and Simple if Sean Monahan was on a better OHL team he would have scored 90+ points and thus have been a Top. 3 pick. No one would be questioning sending him down then, but people cannot fathom keeping a 6th Overall Draft Pick.

Not to mention they are greatly underestimating this kids Hockey IQ, outside of Sam Reinhart no one has even come close for me the past three-four years. The kid is so smart sending him back to a league where he is on a completely different level than everyone will bring very little benefit.

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#5 Jeff Lebowski
October 11 2013, 12:31PM
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@Justin Azevedo

over the course of a season, shot quality does not matter.

"likely" means there's times where he's marginally positive or negative over a game due to one bad shift, but that equals out over the course of 82 games.

That's just it. The stat is directional. It requires a large sample size to tell you anything.

Using it as justification for a 4 game sample or game to game is...non scientific(?).

On one hand, the argument is his counting numbers look good now but it's just a hot or lucky streak.

On the other hand, corsi justifies what I'm seeing. Corsi used in this context (4 game sample) is ok...

That is the very definition of people using stats to tell whatever story they want, the damn lies expression.

If shot quality doesn't matter (over the course of season) why don't teams just shoot the puck as soon as they get it anywhere on the ice - get a turnover in the neutral zone, just fire it from outside the blueline. Like in table hockey.

Why bother to cycle, or play in the offensive zone at all?

Shot quality doesn't matter indeed.

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#6 Kevin R
October 11 2013, 02:34PM
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WTF!!!!!!!!

Jesus, anyone else out there that thinks if the Monahan/Sven line is the best line or most dangerous line on the team, then let the good times roll. So like if it works, lets change it in the name of perceived development. I say BS, if the kid can play & right now has more points than Iginla & Kesler & Marleau & Thornton & many other high profile NHL players, then let him play for crying out loud.

Wolf/Loudog: I don't want to be like the Oilers either, but the big difference is, that when these kids started to lose over & over & over again, year after year, Management chose to keep the lineup the same & roll these kids out for failure over & over & over again. Playing these very talented Oiler kids wasn't the mistake, it was the Oil Managements inability to bring in proper vets to assist in making these kids successful on the ice at the NHL level. 2 very different things. Someone is going to win the Calder trophy, why cant Monahan have that shot if he plays well enough?

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#7 mattyc
October 11 2013, 10:13AM
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Even if you cut his ppg in half, he's still on track for a 50pt. season right now. He's also been averaging 3 shots a game, which is pretty impressive. I wouldn't bet on him finishing the year with +250 shots, but even if he finishes with 150 and regresses to an 8-10% SH%, that's still nothing to sneeze at.

Plus, he's gonna sell so many jerseys.

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#8 Dave
October 11 2013, 10:17AM
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Very good article. I enjoyed reading it. I've been sitting on the fence about whether he should stay or go down to juniors. I think you're right that we need to temper our expectations but I think that he will develop best in the NHL right now. I think he should stay with the flames. Not because he's got 5 points in 4 games but because he's not way over his head in the NHL. I think he's earned a spot on the team and I think he'll develop fine in the NHL.

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#9 icedawg_42
October 11 2013, 10:22AM
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@icedawg_42

Dallas Eakins is doing a real bang up job with that "talent laden" squad to our North...what's Bodog's book on him?

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#10 Captain Ron
October 11 2013, 11:18AM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

luck will run out, will likely get tougher minutes as the season progresses, less pp time with stajan and cammi back, underlying numbers indicate strong sheltering.

also i can totally see a situation where he has 3 or 4 bad games in a row and he gets sat in the press box for some idiotic reason like "it will teach him humility" or some bull justification leading to a post hoc ergo propter hoc situation where nothing of value is accomplished and it just leads to him missing games.

Who cares if he is getting sheltered minutes right now in his development if he is contributing offensively in those minutes? What offensive minded players don't get that when they are just breaking into the league?

The Sedins have been making a living doing that for years.

And your second paragraph? Holy crap dude where did that come from? Talk about pessimism that's a whole new level for me.

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#11 Jeff Lebowski
October 11 2013, 11:30AM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

we track scoring chances on the site. he's +2 for the year.

he plays 3rd and 4th line comp while starting in the ozone 60% of the time.

corsi is a proxy for possession. people get too caught up in the actual number of a player. to me, it looks like he gets out possessed on the ice. the numbers reflect that.

Respectfully, I disagree. He may in fact, start shifts after a whistle in the ozone 60% of the time but there are shifts on the fly as well.

I've noticed shifts against 1st and 2nd lines as well. Also, which D pairings is he seeing? I was at MTL game. 23 saw a lot of 76. He gets some tough minutes from the D used against him.

His game is not like a RNH. He isn't going to hold the puck a lot, he moves it quickly. To the eye it doesn't seem like possession. Regardless of where the shift starts, where does it end? I don't see him getting hemmed in.

All players make mistakes. He's in the league for the first time, learning on the fly. +2 for scoring chances (which I assume doesn't include attempted scoring chance shots- if you follow what I mean- you do all the right things, say cycle the puck, you work a chance but the attempted is blocked or tightly checked-you have to give credit for setting up the attempted chance)seems pretty good!

I've seen 13 min ice time 5 shots. Those 5 shots are coming from the area of ice that opponents defend desperately aka middle of the ice/scoring area.

I've also watched how he defends his scoring area. Minuses are not always because of his poor play. There are some but again he improves.

I'm not going to change any minds that are already made up. It's just, are you actually watching him or are you applying the judgement after the stats come in? And what is the real value of those stats?

Lastly, he's having fun and so am I. I can only imagine how his family feels. Or how staying in the NHL would help him help his family (parents retire, he buys their house etc). These are human beings after all.

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#12 durrrr
October 11 2013, 11:38AM
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@Justin Azevedo

for pete's sake, talk about getting caught up in the numbers... He's a 19 year old rookie making the jump from the OHL 3 games into his professional career, who is being quite sensibly sheltered by Hartley. Why would you expect his numbers to look anything different?

The only reasons to send him down are if he's getting his brains kicked in on the possession stats or if the Flames are unwilling to live with the inevitable rookie mistakes over an 82 game season.

Either this year or next year, Monahan will have to transition to the NHL and it's going to be tough sledding at the start. I honestly don't see how dominating a bunch 160-170 pound 16-17year old boys is going to help him learn how to compete against 200 lbs+ men.

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#13 Schmenkley
October 11 2013, 12:04PM
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@Justin Azevedo

So...you don't factor into this process the coach's thinking about offense?

If I have a faceoff in the opposition end, I'm putting out the guys I feel give me the best chance to create some offense, not purely putting out a guy I feel I need to "shelter".....Monahan being one of the hottest point producers so far this young season, I would give him the nod as well, sheltering be damned.....

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#14 Jeff Lebowski
October 11 2013, 10:55AM
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Interesting points. However, I can't see anything about his scoring chance created rate because FN either doesn't track it or sees little value in tracking it. Either way, to me the analysis on any player is therefore incomplete.

Can advanced stats (the ones used extensively here) tell us how many chances he creates in the scoring area (even attempts, not just actual shots). Does 23 get out on ice, get in ozone and set up attempts in the middle of the ice or other tightly defended areas of the ice? Does the opponent see an increase in scoring chance attempted rate when 23 is on ice? How many shifts does 23 share with the 44-55 D pairing for CGY? That to me is indicative of how he is playing, not goals and assists (although if you look at all his points you see it's not bounces per se but hockey IQ), and NOT CORSI as Lambert tried to emphasize.

Again, I understand value of advanced stats. I realize people mention the limitations of Corsi but after stating limitation they use the stat as evidence to bolster their point. It's just that Corsi would be useful if we were watching professional table top hockey - think about it. Players move north and south, the point is to shoot on net as soon as you get puck, since every inch of the playing area is a prime scoring spot. That's what Corsi seems to imply.

It's not telling you anything interesting.

The way I understand your point is, there will be an inevitable regression to the mean for this player. Don't be blown away by a hot streak. There will be tough periods ahead (some even say 23 is having them now ie -3 games etc). Fair comment.

I look at those 'mistakes' those missed assignments, as NOT bad. It's NOT hurting his development. In fact it's helping.

Mistakes just show you where you need to improve. They should be embraced. The remarkable thing with 23, is he doesn't seem to make the same ones twice. Even in game. He self corrects rather quickly. Another way to describe this is called progression. He puts in the work and improves. Watching him, not assessing and waiting for the regression to mean, is how you ACCURATELY assess this progression.

And this to me is the key point. Is he progressing? Hartley has said, there is still a lot of Junior plays in his game. Mistakes really. Is the answer to removing the junior mistakes to send him back to junior? Really?

I'm not as adamant that he should stay. I really think the full 9 should be used but after those you see has he corrected the errors and is he still creating scoring chances in 13 min of ice time?

-As a note, my intention is not to ridicule the use of advanced stats. I deeply respect the curiosity, just questioning how advanced they really are, I mean linear regressions, means etc for a non linear dynamic system (what hockey is)? Somebody should employ the brains at the Santa Fe Institute if you really wanted interesting data.

Of course, I am no expert. I might be too simple. Or I might be bang on. Troy award was on fan. He said interesting things about how they track player on ice performance hint: scoring chances. Something to think about

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#15 icedawg_42
October 11 2013, 10:18AM
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@walter white

This Bodog thing: what a load of crap. Unreal. Hartley had this team on the same page before preseason started - aka, look at their conditioning. So far they've come screaming out of the gate playing like a team, and playing hard (regardless of a plethora of defensive mistakes). The guy has had zero chance to implement his system with the lockout season, the team is in full rebuild mode, and in the first year. Has only a handful of legit NHL vets - and he's on the chopping block? I think Flames management is a bit more savvy than that. Hmmm..yeah, lets go get Iron Mike, cause this team needs a task master to whip them into shape. What a joke.

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#16 SVENSANITY
October 11 2013, 10:23AM
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Good Article Kent. Not what I was expecting.

I agree all of these are valid points and if any fans have the expectation of Monahan keeping this torrid pace up for the rest of the season then I yeah I can see what you mean by how they'd be disappointed. I recognize it's not sustainable. Like I said to a fellow twitterer the other day. No one should be expected to maintain a SH% into the 20's that's ludicrous.

The fact that he has started that high is an indication that the kid has some offensive upside and he can make some things happen. I am interested to see like everyone else, however, how he responds the first time he struggles. That will be the true test.

All that's left and what his staying or going comes down to for me is this. How will the coaches and management respond when he does struggle? If they can ride it out and let him struggle but continue to coach him through it and stick by him then he should stay. If they aren't comfortable doing that then he should go back to junior. I personally as others have mentioned feel that the finer things Sean will need to work on and develop cannot be further improved in the OHL. Is the OHL conducive to learning a more rounded and solid defensive game? not in my opinion. Will the OHL help him improve his face off percentage? Not in my opinion. He needs to play against NHLers and with NHLers to learn the tips and tricks in the face off. He needs to be there to feel the pressure from 6'3 215LLB guys on the forecheck or cycle hemming him into his own zone deep. He needs to learn that as a centre it's his job to support the D when they are trapped behind our net and that HE has to come out with the puck and put up the boards and get it out of the zone. And as far as I am concerned that is what he has to learn and the best place for him to do that and grow is in the big league.

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#17 McRib
October 11 2013, 11:26AM
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@icedawg_42

No Kent actually didn't, but everyone else at FN has the past two-three months. Daniel Tkaczuk is also a very similar 6th overall pick that was a junior star. The Flames sent him back down to the OHL two years in a row after he put up 93 points his draft year... What did that do for us we completely stalled his development then destroyed his confidence in the AHL the +3 season. If history tells us anything with past prospects it would be to keep Sean Monahan. I've talked to OHL scouts about Daniel Tkaczuk they to this day are all blown away he never panned out. He is constantly amoung the biggest suprise busts in history if you talk to scouts, he clearly got far too comfortable with pace of play in Junior. Three years of OHL is enough for Sean Monahan, let him make mistakes at the NHL level we can afford it (We want Sam Reinhart correct?) and his Hockey IQ will make it a quick learning curve.

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#18 kittensandcookies
October 11 2013, 12:01PM
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He's probably going to stay up.

The cap's going up and the owners have always been fine with spending up to the cap. It's only money to them. Hey it's not like CNRL spends money on stuff like, say, pipeline spill cleanup.

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#19 Drewski
October 11 2013, 02:44PM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

the issue is if that happens it will likely be after the 9 game mark so it really doesn't matter.

also i look forward to the day where people actually say why they disagree with me instead of just blindly mashing the trash button on my comments.

I think we mash that button for a good reason. I understand we need to temper our expectations and no I don't think he will be a ppg for the rest of the year...but did you honestly think he would look this good through 4 games? Advanced stats aside, to the eye I like the way he is playing.

I like your comments and articles. But there seems to be a condescending air to a lot of them. Is Feaster the best gm around? Definitely not. But do I think you/Jeremy/lambert would do a better job? Not a snow ball's chance in hell. So lets be happy the flames don't look nearly as bad as expected and get back to making fun of the loveable losers to the north.

So there ya go. Now I will continue to mash

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#20 Captain Ron
October 11 2013, 04:19PM
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Jeff Lebowski wrote:

I respect your position. I'll read the article but after reading the content here and like minded sites I've noticed this observation:

The advanced stats community opines about the convention, gut feeling etc of traditional hockey analysis. The Brian Burke's of the world. These guys who claim an intuition from being in the game. There is a special insight they have compared to 'outsiders'. On this site, people have complained about Feaster/Weisbrod thinking they're the smartest guys in the room.

But it is the AS community that is doing exactly the same thing. AS seems to give them the idea they have an insight to the game others fail to recognize. Being mad at Feaster/Weisbrod is more about those two thinking they are smarter than the AS community.

The observation is: you guys are different sides of the same coin. Both rigid in their thinking and unjustifiably over confident.

The same group of people advocating AS create all the 'evidence' in support of it.

There is something to it (stats). You can't totally ignore it but it's not sophisticated (not using the right math if you will) for the type of event it's attempting to describe (non linear).

Excellent comment Jeff.

I mostly agree with your take on advanced stats. You put this in perspective in a way that I probably couldn't have.

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#21 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 10:05AM
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if he stays the entire season i'd be shocked if he broke 35 points.

he needs to go back.

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#23 mattyc
October 11 2013, 10:14AM
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Justin Azevedo wrote:

if he stays the entire season i'd be shocked if he broke 35 points.

he needs to go back.

Why would you be shocked?

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#24 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 10:15AM
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@mattyc

luck will run out, will likely get tougher minutes as the season progresses, less pp time with stajan and cammi back, underlying numbers indicate strong sheltering.

also i can totally see a situation where he has 3 or 4 bad games in a row and he gets sat in the press box for some idiotic reason like "it will teach him humility" or some bull justification leading to a post hoc ergo propter hoc situation where nothing of value is accomplished and it just leads to him missing games.

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#25 Dave
October 11 2013, 10:58AM
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I'm also curious about how he's adjusting to pro life outside the rink. Does he have team mentors and who are they? How is he in the dressing room? at practices? I think it's just as important how you focus off the rink that determines whether you should stay or go back to juniors. All this stuff is what the coaches and trainers see daily. In the end I'm going to trust their decision. In two years the flames have gone from a team that I cheer for but reluctantly watch because they are so frustrating to a team that I love to cheer for AND watch. I believe the management and coaches are doing an excellent job rebuilding the team and keeping the "winning culture." I won't agree with all their decisions but overall they've drafted exceptionally well, changed the identity of the team, moved players that needed to be moved and most importantly creating a lot of competition for each roster spot.

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#26 piscera.infada
October 11 2013, 12:08PM
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@Justin Azevedo

Look, I understand the argument. I just don't agree.

There's no need to be patronizing and absolutist. We're not talking science here. Sorry if it's just your writing style, I'm sure we could have a few beers and enjoy a lively debate, but your comments on this particular thread remind me of the episode of South Park where everyone starts smelling their own farts. How do they smell?

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#27 loudogYYC
October 11 2013, 12:31PM
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I honestly can't believe we have readers here at FN that think Monahan should stay up. We've just spent the last 3 years pointing and laughing at Edmonton, watching them f*ck up their rebuild, and now people want to take the same steps that got them in this new mess?

The Oilers are about to get into the same cap trouble all the top teams are in, except they haven't won a playoff round since 2006. Why the hell would any Flames fan want the same thing??

Return him to junior let him become dominant and even more confident while rounding out his game, and once he passes that test with flying colors make him an NHLer. Period.

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#28 MWflames
October 11 2013, 01:40PM
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Just a few of my thoughts of where Monahan is at:

1. Yup, he is scoring at ridiculous pace. Also, I don't think many people believe this pace is actually sustainable. We've also seen him create a fair bit of offence in his first 4 games which is the encouraging part. The fact that he has a few goals and few assists so far (regardless of how lucky he has been) just helps demonstrate that the offence he is creating and supporting is of NHL calibre and effectiveness. And by that I mean, he isn't just doing fancy selfish plays that look good and worked at the OHL level, but likely fail to create any traction at the NHL level.

2. I also think analysing his first few games isn't worth too much value: You have to expect he's been totally jittery, nervous and pumped up on adrenaline for at least the first 2 or 3 games. This is going to lead to some decisions and risks he might not usually make in which we see goals for and against. Tonight marks his 5th game and his 3rd game in a row at home. You have believe his comfort level is leaps and bounds ahead of where he was in Washington and Columbus. What I want to see over the next 5 games is a positive progression towards better decision making and comfort level. If that's the case I have no doubt he's the 3rd best centre in this organisation and is ready for the NHL.

3. A few things to keep in mind about Monahan: He's a month away from this being his draft +2 year in which it's perfectly acceptable for high pedigree prospects to start their NHL career. He's already completed 3 years of junior which, IIRC, is pretty rare for a player in Monahan's position. Also IMO, he's definitely physically and mentally mature enough for the NHL. Is there actually anything left for him in junior? - I'm leaning towards nope, no there isn't. I just think these are some positives and factors towards keeping Monahan up.

4. I really just don't see many red flags right now (if any at all). My biggest concern about keeping him up is minutes. Fortunately, we know Hartley really likes this kid. At the same time, there is no way he is kept up if Hartley is like "um ya, I think I should be able to get him 10 minutes of ice time this year."

5. The (amusing) Corsi argument: Generally I like the stats. I think they paint a good picture, and help depict what teams are made of. Unfortunately, I can't support a whole lot of weight being put into advanced stats for Monahan at this time. Why? I just think that his situation is a dark and relatively uncharted corner of the hockey world that have vastly more underlining reasons for success or lack there of other than just hockey. Things that just can't be narrowed down to a statistical science. Things like: Attitude, maturity, nervousness, and the fact he's 4 games into his rookie season, he's 18 and playing on a team that really has no advanced statistical reasoning for it's outcome thus far. Correct me if I'm wrong on that last point.

As a fan I want to watch him play for the rest of season. I'm just looking forward to how he progresses over 5 games. From seeing what I have and if he's continues to trend upwards over the next few games I gotta say he should be here.

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#29 Derzie
October 11 2013, 03:21PM
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My position is this: I like his play. He is playing as good or better than a lot of his peers. I don't care at all how much Murray Edwards pays him and when. He seems to have outgrown junior. The AHL is a booby prize league for high end guys. Let him play. He'll be good, and he'll be bad. Just like every other hockey player.

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#30 coachedpotatoe
October 11 2013, 04:16PM
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I have to admit that I don't really understand all of the stats talk that people use here. I have tried to read much of what you created but find it rather boring so I tune it out, others love it and see it's purpose so I'm okay with it. However I do know many coaches who don't like to many stats; stats are often something more important to players and their agents. A good coach will have a feel for what is going on and the stats will just be used to confirm these beliefs; a useful tool. However a good coach will also go with his/her gut feeling at times and frequently be right, coaches today would make a mistake not to at least investigate all of these types of stats and see what is useful to them and their situation. I heard a long time ago that stats can be made to defend any position you want and are created by liers and lawyers to prove their point. So we can look at all the Monahan stats we want and come to different conclusions. For me it comes down to this will his development be better at the OHL or the NHL. The conclusion I have come to is he would be best developed playing here unless over the next 5 games it becomes evident that he is struggling.( I was originally a 9 and done guy) Playing against boys in OHL will not speed up his development but pad his stats, here he will make mistakes but be surrounded by some pretty solid vets who will help him (this is different than what has happened in Edmonton and he is a different player than RNH of Hall). Hartley, his staff, Feaster and Burke have a difficult task ahead of themselves regarding this young man. He does have a bright future.

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#31 icedawg_42
October 11 2013, 10:09AM
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I'm glad you brought up Sven - cause this is the exact same kinda hype that I think has done some (hopefully short term) damage to the kid. Watching Monahan there is no doubt that this guy is special and I believe he will indeed be the face of the franchise - but I'm 100% on board with you in that he'll need to grow into that, and that will take some time.

I think the same attitude has to be taken with the team overall. I ABSOLUTELY LOVE the fact that as of this morning the Flames sit 8th overall and the cOilers sit 29th, but come-on..that's not going to last. Hopefully the team and the individuals on it will be able to roll with the punches when they hit some adversity. In the meantime I'm enjoying the ride - which is something I can say about watching the Flames for the first time in a long time.

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#32 SVENSANITY
October 11 2013, 10:31AM
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@SVENSANITY

Let's see how many super star talents we can accumulate and waste single handedly. -- Edmonton a philosophy of losing.

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#33 TRAV
October 11 2013, 10:49AM
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Caution of expectations is good advice for Flames fans. Having said that I also think that after years of sluggish effort and a below average on ice product, Flames fans should also enjoy the moment while its here. Celebrating exciting play and great results is what makes it fun to be a fan!

I would be very interested to see an in depth article evaluating what Monahan needs to work on. ie: defensive coverage, faceoffs etc. I then would be interested to read various perspectives about where he can best learn and develop. Is the coaching better in the NHL? What might the conditions need to be to develop at this level? Who has been successful in the past and what was their team makeup? Who might be considered a similar kind of player and what was their path? (both successful and un) I think that both Justin and Ryan or on record as saying send the kid back. What are other writers perspectives and has this changed or what might it take to change their mind? By that I mean is there nothing that a 19 year old could so that would convince you that staying up is best for his development or are you seeing things in his play/ numbers that are informing your decision?

Finally that Bodog line is laughable. One of the things that I was most impressed with in camp was the teaching that Hartley did. He almost always is having side conversations with players helping them with positioning etc. From my vantage he is both a good motivator and teacher.

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#34 DoubleDIon
October 11 2013, 11:17AM
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@Kent Wilson

I agree with you entirely on the regressing to the mean Kent. Monahan is not going to continue to score at anywhere close to his current rate unless the underlying numbers have an upward trend.

I guess my question is can he continue to be a productive NHLer throughout the course of the season? At least productive enough to earn top 9 minutes. If he can get on the ice for 15+ per game I think he'll develop best at the NHL level. If he can't, then I think he'll develop best in junior. For me, his development trumps the entry level year, so if he's good enough I say keep him up even though I'm generally not an advocate of keeping Junior aged players with the big club. I make an exception for guys like Monahan, Barkov, Mackinnon, Yakupov and Hall because of their physical maturity. They are NHL sized. Guys like RNH, Drouin and Gagner would be/have been hampered long term because the skill set is there, but they aren't physically ready yet.

That said, 4 games isn't a big enough sample size. I like the Flames approach, wait the full 9 games and make your decision with as much info as you can. If you could wait 25 games I'd like that even better. Unfortunately you can't. Monahan competes hard and wants to do the right things. His desire to be a 200 foot player is commendable and I think he'll learn best how to be that player at the NHL level if he can stay above water with the big boys.

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#35 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 11:42AM
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@durrrr

when taking his minutes in the correct context, he is getting his brains kicked in.

if he has to go through the transition regardless, why not save a year of his elc and get a better player in year 3 of his first contract rather than year 1 of his second?

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#36 Schmenkley
October 11 2013, 12:12PM
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@Justin Azevedo

Hah!

Holycherry-pickedanalysis Batman!!

sheesh!

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#37 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 12:16PM
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@Schmenkley

that doesn't make sense.

fact: his zs% is around 60%.

fact: players with higher zone starts have better opportunities at scoring and possessing the puck.

fact: monahan's stats are not as good as they should be with that zs%.

fact: his scoring stats are being boosted by luck.

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#38 Big Ell
October 11 2013, 12:56PM
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From http://www.quanthockey.com/nhl/player-age/18-year-old-nhl-players.html

18-Year Old NHL Players with similar draft position to Monahan who played more than 40 games.

1983-84 Andrew McBain (8) 1983-84 Cam Neely (9) 1987-88 Dave Archiblad (6) 1990-91 Jaromir Jagr (5) 1995-96 Radek Dvorak (10) 1998-99 Manny Malhotra (7) 1999-00 Tim Conolly (5) 2000-01 Scott Hartnell (6) 2002-03 Pierre-Marc Bouchard (8) 2007-08 Sam Gagner (6) 2010-11 Jeff Skinner (7)

How can anyone be certain that it was beneficial or detrimental to these players development that they played as 18 year olds.

18-Year Old NHL players returned to development team after 8-9 games.

2005-06 Gilbert Brule (6) 2008-09 Nikita Filatov (6) 2010-11 Nino Niederreiter (5) 2011-12 Mark Scheifele (7) 2011-12 Mika Zibanejad (6)

I guess it is too early to judge these players and the sample size is insignificant.

No point really, just thought it was interesting.

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#39 kittensandcookies
October 11 2013, 04:37PM
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What advanced stats needs are imaginary numbers, like eleventeen and thirty-twelve.

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#40 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 10:47AM
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icedawg_42 wrote:

I would say that if Monahan starts getting 4th line minutes and linemates, I'll be among the first storming the gates demanding he get sent down. And Schevvy - be careful there, you don't wanna call down TEH thunder!

the issue is if that happens it will likely be after the 9 game mark so it really doesn't matter.

also i look forward to the day where people actually say why they disagree with me instead of just blindly mashing the trash button on my comments.

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#41 They're $hittie
October 11 2013, 10:52AM
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Kent Wilson wrote:

I've been really pleasantly surprised by his overall game. Already a very complete player.

I just don't hope he's kept up because he's scoring at will right now.

Complete player? Isnt he getting eating alive in corsi? Minus player despite being the leading scorer.

Things are pointing to luck and powerplay here. Not consistency and even strength production.

I think you meant to say shows signs of becoming a complete player.

And as a non flames fan I can say I think he will be one, but this article has hit it on the head.

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#42 Captain Ron
October 11 2013, 10:59AM
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The last time I was this optimistic about a young center in his first season in the NHL I was watching Dale Hawerchuck who was also 18 I think when he broke into the league. He went on to score 45 goals and 103 points in his rookie year.

I have to agree that Monahan likely won't keep up his current pace but he could get 50 points or more if he stays all season. After watching him live in the first few home games there is no question he can play in the NHL. Listening to him talk you know he wants to stay here too. I will be very surprised if he is sent back to junior after 9 games.

Man how badly did this team need a center like him on the roster? I know it is early but you just know this kid is no bust and will be a huge part of the team going forward.

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#43 oldtimehockey4
October 11 2013, 11:06AM
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I wish we had 20 games to look at this guy. Every game he makes me second guess wanting to send him back to junior. Corey Pronman said it best on twitter, how is it a good thing to keep someone in 9th grade when he should be in 12th? Just because he would dominate those 9th graders doesn't mean it would help his development, because he wouldn't be pushed like he is up here in the NHL.

It really sucks that 9 games is all the Flames have to make a decision, because it truly is too small of a sample size. Like you said in the article, players go through stretches of 10 games where they light the world on fire or go pointless, and it's not necessarily indicative of their true talent.

Saying all that, I am really starting to lean to keep him, as the only part of his game that does look like it still needs work is his defensive game. As he's already shown that he's a dominate 3 zone player in the OHL, putting him back there to work on his defensive play is counterproductive. You need to have him learn how to defend men while playing against men. It's always better in all facets of life to challenge someone then let them be content at a lower level.

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#44 icedawg_42
October 11 2013, 11:23AM
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@McRib

I didn't get the sense from the article that Kent was saying "send him down" - rather "don't be too hard on the kid when his numbers regress" - I myself am a proponent of keeping him around, but I think we should all caution against believing he should be kept up because of his offensive production. There have been some very good arguments on here about keeping him around to learn the pro game around adults, on and off the ice - with which I wholeheartedly agree. There's plenty of precedent that makes people gunshy about bringing up a prospect too soon, so I understand that sentiment - but this kid ain't no Rico Fata - I think that's already obvious.

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#45 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 12:17PM
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@cccsberg

not quite. corsi measures everyone on the ice with the player - so even if he only has 2 or 3 shots in a game but scores on one of them, the other 4 guys on the ice might not score with 40 corsi attempts. thus, his sh% stays high but his corsi number also increases.

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#46 Justin Azevedo
October 11 2013, 12:23PM
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@piscera.infada

but it is a science. the fact that there is a cap makes it so.

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#47 the-wolf
October 11 2013, 01:47PM
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loudogYYC wrote:

I honestly can't believe we have readers here at FN that think Monahan should stay up. We've just spent the last 3 years pointing and laughing at Edmonton, watching them f*ck up their rebuild, and now people want to take the same steps that got them in this new mess?

The Oilers are about to get into the same cap trouble all the top teams are in, except they haven't won a playoff round since 2006. Why the hell would any Flames fan want the same thing??

Return him to junior let him become dominant and even more confident while rounding out his game, and once he passes that test with flying colors make him an NHLer. Period.

I've pointed out the same before as well. Funny how people change their minds when it's their own player - any and every excuse. Where Edmonton was stupid, in Calgary it's just money. People don't seem to get the concept of how hard it is to build a Cup worthy team under a salary cap.

I've stated before that I have to eat a little bit of crow on how well Monahan has played so far and that's with me being one of his biggest boosters at draft time. The signs are all good. But Kent and Justin are absolutely right that a lot of the arguments people are making are really just based around his point totals. As Kent said, what if he just had one goal?

So now I'm at the point where I'll get off the fence. The underlying numbers show he needs improvement. Going back to junior isn't just about dominating teenagers offensively. It's about playing a ton of minutes in every situation and excelling in all areas of the ice. Working dilligently on everything he's been instructed to work on from Flames' staff. That's easier to do at a slower pace of play. It's how one learns technique. Stellar play in all 3 zones is a skill and you don't develop skills in a full blast environment.

The one down point is that Monahan is already so big and strong. With that I concede, he's an older pick and is already 19 (or soon) so the argument of maturing physically is moot with him (though his skating still needs work).

At the end of the day I'll err on the side of caution. I just don't see it hurting him to go down and it certainly won't hurt the cap situation.

The Daniel Tkaczuk situation btw, is totally different. DT was not nearly as mature physically and was not ready for the NHL at 18. He ended junior with 105 points and had 25 goals and 66 points in 80 games inhis first year in the AHL. He also had 11 points inhis first 19 NHL games.It was a major concussion that did DT in. He was never the same again to the point that he couldn't even replicate his AHL numbers. Oranges and apples there.

So if Monahan does stay up I won't be annoyed because he's come further faster than I thought. And while I don't see him hitting a wall as hard as some youngsters do after hot starts, I still come down on the side of more minutes played being greater than quality of competition at this point. After all, next season he'll face that anyways.

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#48 the-wolf
October 11 2013, 01:53PM
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Parallex wrote:

"There seems to be so much concern on this site about burning a year of ECL but how/where on the Flames has that been an issue in the past?"

... There has been no opportunity for this too be an issue. The Flames have not had a junior eligible prospect start the year with the team since the cap was introduced.

Ultimately it will become an issue because if he's kept up he'll end up getting paid more early then need be... to the Flames today that makes no difference but to a later interation of the Flames (one that spends to the Cap) it will be an issue as it will for at least one year eat up cap space that otherwise might have gone to enhancing the team elsewhere.

The only people that keeping Monahan up will help will be the fans that are like so many kids in December that don't have the patience to wait until Christmas to unwrap the new toys.

You make a very astute point here. People keep pointing to the fact that ownership will spend to the max as a positive, a justification for burning a year off the ELC.

In fact, it's the opposite. It's that sort of mind set that will catch up to the team down the road when they have to start renewing contracts. If the Flames spent well under the max as part of their own internal cap, then they would have a large cushion.

Edmonton has already seen just how fast that cushion shrinks.

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#49 the-wolf
October 11 2013, 01:58PM
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I find some of these arguments regarding advanced stats amusing. Look, I can't pretend to agree with every stat argument trotted out by every writer here at FN. But here's the thing:

1) Stats are what FN is sort of all about, so complaining about articles based around stats is pointless.

2) You either subscribe to the stats or you don't. One can't use Corsi and Fenwick, etc. to support their position when those stats back it and then turn around and kick those same stats in the teeth when those same stats suddenly don't support their position.

It's one or the other, you either buy into them or you don't becuase the methods for collecting them and calculating them don't change.

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#50 durrr
October 11 2013, 03:36PM
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@Justin Azevedo

I understand perfectly well what "zone start" means and how it is used, thanks.

As I understand it, the "scoring chances" statistic is recorded by... you? This is not a centrally recorded statistic by an independent observer and it is not widely available? By the way, what exactly defines a scoring chance?

If you've been making the point of sending Monahan down and you are the one recording scoring chances, is it possible you are introducing a bias into your own data?

Hockey is such a subjective game with elements of chaos, luck and skill that even "advanced statistics" are simplistic, blunt instruments at best. On their own, I generally take these things with a grain of salt. The points you are making are based on 2 statistical categories (scoring chance differential and zone starts) from a 4 game sample size of data of uncertain reliability, so you'll have to excuse me if I'm not entirely sold on your arguments here.

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