Archive for the ‘ Hockey ’ Category

Explaining Tampa Bay

When you’re analyzing a hockey team’s success and trying to predict if it’s sustainable, one of the first things most people point to – rightfully so – is goal differential. Goal differential is a very quick, easy, and effective way to assess a hockey team’s fortunes. Honestly, it’s about as close to an ideal stat as you can get when you’re evaluating a team solely with numbers. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have pitfalls.

 

I believe, though I’m not sure and don’t care to research it, that goal differential came about after run differential rose to prominence in baseball. Since “statheads” are much more prevalent in baseball than they are in hockey – this is mostly because it’s much easier to dissect baseball than it is hockey – you much more frequently hear a team deemed a fluke if their run differential doesn’t quite add up to their record. So you’ll hear how a team that has a, say, +20 run differential at the halfway point yet only a .500 record is about to break out. More often than that, you’ll hear how teams overachieve.

 

The Angels (both from Los Angeles and Anaheim at various points) were frequent victims of this assault on our intelligence. As I said, run/goal differential is an extremely quick and dirty way to analyze a team, but it is definitely dirty. Where it fails is in teams that sit at extreme ends of the style spectrum. The Angels were a team that relied heavily on pitching and, stupidly, on small ball. They did not generate offense and did not allow other teams to generate offense. Since they could not generate offense and pitching is inherently volatile, there were nights when they would get blown out, but they frequently could win games by small margins because they just didn’t give up much. Their success was sustainable, it just didn’t give them lots of big wins.

 

The Lightning sit at the other extreme. They are terrible defensively and they don’t have great goaltending – though Roloson was a deft addition. One of their top defensive pairs has both Randy Jones and Pavel Kubina. That’s horrifying. This isn’t really an affront to them, it’s just what they are and it’s what they had to work with. On the other hand, they are tremendously talented offensively. All of their players can contribute. Even fuckin’ Randy Jones. They have exceptional top end talent (one can even argue that their top end talent has underachieved – LOOKING AT YOU VINNY LECAVALIER AND SIMON GAGNE – thus far). They have very good depth on top of that. This basically means their games generally meet a fork in the road and have two roads to travel:

 

High-octane, high-action games like the thriller against Philly. Generally when they play as well as they can, against teams that can bring similar offensive talents – enhanced by playing against a terrible defense – they will get these enormously entertaining games. They rarely dominate games, though. Even when they control the flow and pace of the game and keep the puck in the opposing team’s zone, they don’t — or weren’t — getting the stops they needed to blow teams out. So even in games that saw them bring their ‘A’ game, they weren’t blowing teams out and helping that goal differential in a positive direction.

 

Basically, the Lightning can beat any team on a given night. I mean, any team can beat any other on a given night, but the Lightning aren’t less likely to beat a good team like Philly or Pittsburgh than, say, Detroit. They can stack up.

 

The other path their games take are games like the 8-1 loss against Pittsburgh, although that was obviously an extreme. Even though they are tremendous offensively, there are nights when they either just won’t have it or will come up against a hot goalie or will play against a dominant goalie and so on. Teams with a good forecheck can definitely hem the Bolts in their own zone. Because they are so bad defensively, they have trouble taking the puck away from a dominant offense. There are also nights when they get stuck in their own zone and just can’t get the critical save to settle the game down. Nights like these affect their goal differential in an extremely adverse fashion, but they aren’t necessarily indicative of the kind of team Tampa is.

 

Think of it this way:  when they’re good, they’re just good. However, when they’re bad, they’re all kinds of awful. Most of this is a result of shoddy goaltending. Yzerman took steps toward correcting this by acquiring Dwayne Roloson, but it certainly doesn’t solve their issues. I mean, come on, he’s like 874 years old. He’s good, but he’s gonna have some really bad nights. Tampa Bay, like Washington the last few years, can win in spite of their goaltending and defense. They bring SO MUCH firepower, that they will win on some nights even when their goaltending just isn’t there. Most teams cannot boast this. However, their goaltending can also lose games on nights that their offense is firing away.

 

Even though they CAN beat any team on a given night, their porous defense makes them susceptible to losing to any team on a given night by a lot. Offense, like pitching in baseball, is volatile. There are stretches when even the best offensive teams just aren’t going to put pucks in the net for whatever reason. There’s much less system and structure relied on in offense, so players can’t just “go back to the system” like they can with defense.

 

This does not make them an inherently bad team. It just means that they’re a different kind of successful. Their wins are legitimate. Their offense is capable of winning games on its own. Their defense is also capable of losing games on its own. They’re definitely a bipolar team, but their success is legitimate (in my opinion anyway). They won’t blow you away, they will give up lots of goals, but they’ll be able to outscore you on a pretty regular basis, even if it’s only by a goal.

http://www.sportsoverdose.com/thumbs/jonathan-quick-32-nhl.jpg 

Explaining Tampa Bay

 

When you’re analyzing hockey team’s success and trying to predict if it’s sustainable, one of the first things most people point to – rightfully so – is goal differential. Goal differential is a very quick, easy, and effective way to assess a hockey team’s fortunes. Honestly, it’s about as close to an ideal stat as you can get when you’re evaluating a team solely with numbers. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t have pitfalls.

 

I believe, though I’m not sure and don’t care to research it, that goal differential came about after run differential rose to prominence in baseball. Since “statheads” are much more prevalent in baseball than they are in hockey – this is mostly because it’s much easier to dissect baseball than it is hockey – you much more frequently hear a team deemed a fluke if their run differential doesn’t quite add up to their record. So you’ll hear how a team that has a, say, +20 run differential at the halfway point yet only a .500 record is about to break out. More often than that, you’ll hear how teams overachieve.

 

The Angels (both from Los Angeles and Anaheim at various points) were frequent victims of this assault on our intelligence. As I said, run/goal differential is an extremely quick and dirty way to analyze a team, but it is definitely dirty. Where it fails is in teams that sit at extreme ends of the style spectrum. The Angels were a team that relied heavily on pitching and, stupidly, on small ball. They did not generate offense and did not allow other teams to generate offense. Since they could not generate offense and pitching is inherently volatile, there were nights when they would get blown out, but they frequently could win games by small margins because they just didn’t give up much. Their success was sustainable, it just didn’t give them lots of big wins.

 

The Lightning sit at the other extreme. They are terrible defensively and they don’t have great goaltending – though Roloson was a deft addition. One of their best defensive pairs has both Randy Jones and Pavel Kubina. That’s horrifying. This isn’t really an affront to them, it’s just what they are and it’s what they had to work with. On the other hand, they are tremendously talented offensively. All of their players can contribute. Even fuckin’ Randy Jones. They have exceptional top end talent (one can even argue that their top end talent has underachieved – LOOKING AT YOU VINNY LECAVALIER AND SIMON GAGNE – thus far). They have very good depth on top of that. This basically means their games generally have two courses of action:

 

High-octane, high-action games like the thriller against Philly. Generally when they play as well as they can, against teams that can bring similar offensive talents – enhanced by playing against a terrible defense – they will get these enormously entertaining games. They rarely dominate games, though. Even when they control the flow and pace of the game and keep the puck in the opposing team’s zone, they don’t, or weren’t, getting the stops they needed to blow teams out. So even in games that saw them bring their ‘A’ game, they weren’t blowing teams out and helping that goal differential in a positive direction.

 

Basically, the Lightning can beat any team on a given night. I mean, any team can, but the Lightning aren’t less likely to beat a good team like Philly or Pittsburgh than, say, Detroit. They can stack up.

 

The other path their games take are games like the 8-1 loss against Pittsburgh, although that was obviously an extreme. Even though they are tremendous offensively, there are nights when they either just won’t have it or will come up against a hot goalie or will play against a dominant goalie and so on. Teams with a good forecheck can definitely hem the Bolts in their own zone. Because they are so bad defensively, they have trouble taking the puck away. There are also nights when they get stuck in their own zone and just can’t get the critical save to settle the game down. Nights like these affect their goal differential in an extremely adverse fashion, but they aren’t necessarily indicative of the kind of team Tampa is.

 

Think of it this way. When they’re good, they’re just good. However, when they’re bad, they’re all kinds of awful. Most of this is a result of shoddy goaltending. Yzerman took steps toward correcting this by acquiring Dwayne Roloson, but it certainly doesn’t solve their issues. I mean, come on, he’s like 874 years old. He’s good, but he’s gonna have some really bad nights. Tampa Bay, like Washington the last few years, can win in spite of their goaltending and defense. They bring SO MUCH firepower, that they will win on some nights even when their goaltending just isn’t there. Most teams cannot boast this. However, their goaltending can also lose games on nights that their offense is firing away.

 

Even though they CAN beat any team on a given night, their porous defense makes them susceptible to losing to any team on a given night by a lot. Offense, like pitching in baseball, is volatile. There are stretches when even the best offensive teams just aren’t going to put pucks in the net for whatever reason. There’s much less system and structure relied on in offense, so players can’t just “go back to the system” like they can with defense.

 

This does not make them an inherently bad team. It just means that they’re a different kind of successful. Their wins are legitimate. Their offense is capable of winning games on its own. Their defense is also capable of losing games on its own. They’re definitely a bipolar team, but their success is legitimate (in my opinion anyway). They won’t blow you away, they will give up lots of goals, but they’ll be able to outscore you on a pretty regular basis, even if it’s only by a goal.