October 05 2011 08:08PM
One thing that tends to pop up around this time of year is posts and articles about the output one can reasonably expect from the main players for the upcoming year. Of course, if you take a trip to your local messageboard you will quickly discover that expectations are usually actually quite unreasonable - in part because fans hopes spring eternal in the off-season and in part because people tend to project skaters totals outwards based on, say career totals (+10-25% or so), rather than probable role on the club.
October 05 2011 10:49AM
When rookie defenceman T.J. Brodie was among the scoring leaders on last year’s Abbotsford Heat, it was the culmination of two totally opposite story lines. It was somewhat of an indictment of the Heat, which as we all know by now, were dead last in the AHL in goals scored last season.
October 05 2011 06:17AM
(One sometimes overlooked aspect of the Flames big turn around last year was their improvement on the man advantage. The club went from bottom-third to top-10 very rapidly. I asked JaredL of the excellent analytic blog Driving Play to investigate whether that improvement was due to luck, ability or circumstance and what it might portend for this year. This is what he found)
Kent asked me to step away from my usual home at Driving Play to write an article on the Flames' improvement on the power play last season. Analyzing special teams is a tricky business, much more so than even-strength play. The sample sizes are drastically smaller; the Flames averaged over 49 minutes per game at even strength compared to about 6:25 on the power play and 5:42 killing penalties. They are also irregular - one game you might be on the power play just once and another you might get 10 opportunities. Despite all that, we can use shooting stats to get some insight into what was going on out there.
October 04 2011 03:32PM
The Calgary Flames have headed west to Banff for three days during their week off prior to Saturday's regular season opener against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Good news had Jarome Iginla and Brendan Morrison back on the ice taking part in full practice, with neither guy wearing yellow "no-contact" jerseys. The bad news had Mikael Backlund not on the ice after having surgery to repair a broken finger.
October 04 2011 02:30PM
10/11 finish: 62 points, Dead last
Key Players: Hemsky, Horcoff, Whitney, Eberle, Hall
Additions: Sutton, Eager, Barker, Smyth, Hordichuk, Belanger, RNH
Subtractions: MacIntyre, Reddox, Fraser, Stortini, Jacques, Foster, Vandermeer
Cap Position: About $8M in space
Projected finish: in the conference's bottom four
It's neither rivalry nor spite that compels me to say the Oilers are - or at least were - awful. They've been the worst unit in the entire NHL for two years running and were only marginally better than that for several seasons prior. The period between Edmonton's unlikely cup run and now has been the gloomiest valley for a franchise that experienced a lot of peaks in it's history. One wonders how long the city's memories of former glory will continue to sell hope for the club and it's decision makers.