7 December 2009

Red Wings - Rangers: Disappointment Pending

Yes, another in-game blog for no good reason

This week’s subject: Detroit Red Wings @ New York Rangers in the latest instalment of this highly-competitive (the Rangers roughly 1-for-the-last-145) Original Six match-up.


Thanks to unresolved televisual hardware issues chez LW, tonight’s clash is to be watched via (legit) online stream…As is customary, it turns out I’m getting the non-Rangers broadcast (grr), so I’m faced with FSN Detroit’s Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond

A handful of 3rd/4th liners are highlighted in the preview…As if the Rangers would ever let a few no-name grinders dominate the game…The Wings are apparently 10-1 against the Rangers since 1999, so much better than I thought…Damned if I can remember anything about that “1” though

1st Period

Goaltending match-up: Jimmy Howard vs Henrik Lundqvist…Howard’s idol growing up was apparently Mike Richter – a fine choice…Coincidentally, Lundqvist’s bedroom as a child was covered with posters of Tim Cheveldae…Due to the Titanic NBA clash between the Nets (1-18) and Knicks (5-15) at MSG earlier in the day, bad ice is expected at MSG for possibly the first time in history

Quiet start…Abdelkader takes a roughing penalty six minutes in…A caption shows that we will be watching the best home PP against the worst road PK (the Wings somehow running at less than 70% away from home)…Of course, the penalty is killed off easily, the 2008/09 Rangers PP again appears to be gracing the ice tonight

A huge scramble in Lundqvist’s crease somehow ends up with the puck squirting right across the goal-line, avoiding several waiting sticks and skates…Few decent shots are reaching either goalie though…The Datsyuk/Zetterberg line keeps the puck in the Rangers’ end for what seems like a shift of around 8-9 minutes at even strength…The shift ends with a hooking call against popular ex-Wing, Sean Avery

Redmond wonders if any Swedish is being spoken between Tomas Holmström and Lundqvist as they are inches away from each other during the PP…Hmm, possibly…

  • “Hej, Henke. Tycker du om Basshunter?”
  • “Nej, Homer. Jag hatar honom. Men Roxette är jättebra. Jag kan inte se pucken!”
Lundqvist stands firm against several chances, despite now playing so deep in his goal, he is positioned behind the net-cam…The penalty is killed off

GOAL 1-0 Rangers (15:56)…Behemoth Brian Boyle tips in a centering pass from Chris Higgins…Against type, a strong drive to the net from Boyle gets rewarded as Abdelkader can’t get position on him

1st Intermission

Studio analyst Larry Murphy blames Ericsson for poor coverage and a lack of communication for the goal…Try a different network before blaming your phone, Larry…More references to the bad ice, just in case the 19 minutes of game-time spent by Daniels and Redmond in the first period weren’t quite enough to get the point across…Some brief NBA highlights reveal that the Pistons have a Swedish player!…Is there some sort of special tax break for Swedes in Detroit?

2nd Period

As we come back, a clip of an ovation for the watching Brendan Shanahan is shown…Possibly the only NHL executive to ever get that kind of treatment at MSG…At an early face-off, Avery bumps fellow fan-favourite Todd Bertuzzi a couple of times, saying little but flashing his familiar black gumshield grin…Maybe Sean should pick on somebody who is far more likely to take an undisciplined penalty than the notoriously placid Bertuzzi

Ericsson hooks a streaking Ryan Callahan from behind on a clean breakaway – penalty shot given…Callahan makes a pretty good move on the penalty shot, but Howard extends his left pad just far enough to save at the post…In a rare shift, Enver Lisin gets three shots off, but this merely shows his usual lack of finish…Apparently it is soon the 60th birthday of the Zamboni…of course, rinks were resurfaced in the 1940s by Chris Chelios dragging a metal bar behind him during pre-game warmups

FSN Detroit remind their viewers of the Rangers’ glorious recent history by showing a flashback to the 1994 Cup win…Still no doubt lagging behind the 20 times this will have been shown already tonight on the home MSG coverage (“The MSG Network: Where it’s 1994 every year!”)…Lundqvist makes a big stop on Zetterberg, but still a very quiet game overall, with a lot of offsides…Marc Staal takes a roughing penalty on Holmström (no prizes for guessing the location of the offence)

GOAL 1-1 (11:59)…A pretty routine kill, but four seconds after the penalty expires, Datsyuk squeezes a rebound through Lundqvist

Mike Del Zotto springs Higgins on another clean break, but Howard comes up with a big save…Still few great chances at either end as the period winds down…Marián Gáborík, in particular, has not been able to show much so far

2nd Intermission

Murphy suggests that Ericsson is lacking in confidence at the moment…Certainly, nobody would be stopping him in the street to ask for an autograph on the evidence of the first two periods…We are treated to a brief Shanahan interview…He says he starts his new job in the morning – no word on how long he has to fetch coffee for Gary Bettman and Bill Daly before progressing onto bigger things

3rd Period

Back-to-back stops early in the period by Lundqvist on Zetterberg and Datsyuk…Brad Stuart crushes Artem Anisimov with a clean hit at the blue line…As much as I think the blame on head shots that typically goes to the victim is way overblown, Anisimov really has to keep his head up in those situations…Zetterberg sticks his knee out a bit and catches Avery…sold a little bit by Avery, but clearly a penalty (it must be if the refs call something in Avery’s favour), despite the odd claims from Daniels and Redmond that it was a hip-check

During the PP, Aleš Kotalík misses a wide open goal on a broken play…Again, no success on the PP, but soon after, Bertuzzi comes through with the expected undisciplined penalty, clipping MDZ in the face with his stick…Another PP, another missed open goal – this time, Avery failing to finish by the crease following a rare passing play by the weak second unit

After a whole 28 seconds at even strength, the Wings go short again, Kris Draper called for tripping…by now, Redmond is railing against the inconsistency of the calls…On the bright side, the WIngs’ road PK is now running above the 70% mark…It increases further after another 2008 PP retrospective from the Rangers

Redmond remarks that the players “are playing like they have brooms in their hands”…I think it’s another reference to the effects of the bad ice, but he won’t know that the Rangers forwards always look like that…Avery drives hard to the net from the left-wing, leading to some confusion over where the puck ended up, as Avery claims a goal…A good time to go to commercials then…As we come back, the replay shows that the puck just bounced into the side netting from the outside

GOAL 2-1 Red Wings (17:57)…A pretty sickening blow as Cleary flings one into Lundqvist’s pads from a horrid angle, the puck somehow pinballing between his feet into the goal…We’ve seen far too many of these from Lundqvist this year – so this is what it’s like to be let down by your goalie…The play was started in the Wings’ end by a typically smooth defensive play and breakout pass by Nick Lidström

The Rangers soon empty the net, but Michal Rozsival is quickly forced into taking an interference penalty to prevent a breakaway and likely ENG for the Wings…Chances over?

GOAL 3-1 Red Wings (19:53)…Draper pots an empty netter on the PP, an assist going to the linesman blocking a Ranger pass up the boards for Draper to pounce on


A dull game in all…not a whole lot going on for long stretches

Another reasonable effort from the Rangers, much improved from the mess of the games a week or two ago, but they remain a team without an identity…They needed to tighten up and have (and now look much more like Tom Renney’s outfit than Team Torts), but pretty much nobody is scoring and they are getting killed by soft goals

The Wings finally win a game that I watch at the fourth attempt this year…Still not hugely impressive, aside from the defensive job they did on Gáborík and the performance of Howard, who is looking like an NHL goalie now (or at least filling the Ty Conklin role until Chris Osgood gets past this season’s regular season troubles)…Too many turnovers and a game that would have been lost to any number of teams with some better scorers

2 December 2009

The Pain Game

Injury stats update – November 2009

[Looking for more up-to-date figures? For my latest update, try HERE.]

This is my second look for the 2009/10 regular season at which teams have been hit hardest by injuries by trying to place a value on the games missed by players due to injury/illness.

(The corresponding analysis as at the end of October 2009 can be viewed HERE.)

The concept again - multiply each game missed by a player by his 2009/10 cap charge, then take the aggregate of these figures for each team and divide by 82. This indicator of value lost to a team by injury/illness is called CHIP (Cap Hit of Injured Players).

Exciting new developments...

Following up on one or two suggestions that time on ice per game could be a better (or at least a different) indicator of player "value", I've made an attempt at illustrating a similar metric based on TOI/G alongside the CHIP numbers.

While acknowledging cap charge is a less than perfect measure of player, with a number of limitations and inconsistencies, I'm not totally sold on TOI/G as being any better overall (Tom Poti is more valuable to the Capitals than Alex Ovechkin. Discuss.) - it does provide a decent comparison and the results do vary from the CHIP rankings somewhat.

A quick summary of the new metric:

  • TOI/G (through games played on 30 November) replaces cap charge as the measure of value in the calculation
  • For goalies, TOI/G has been worked out as Total Minutes Played / Games Dressed For - i.e. a goalie playing every minute of 75% of the games, zero in the rest, would end up with a TOI/G of 45 minutes (or close to it, once you factor in OT and so on)
  • This arguably overstates the worth of starting goalies somewhat, but it's simple and you could equally argue that a workhorse goalie is the hardest position to replace, so it's fair for them to have a much higher TOI/G figure
  • Where a player hasn't played all year (e.g. Pavol Demitra, Mike Van Ryn) or where a player fairly clearly has a reduced TOI/G figure due to getting injured in their only game or one of very few games (Andrei Markov, Kurt Sauer), I've used TOI/G from last season (or further back if necessary)
  • For each player, multiply games missed by TOI/G to get (for a more palatable name) Cumulative Minutes of Injured Player (CMIP)
  • Take the aggregate of CMIP for the team and divide by games played by the team to arrive at AMIP (Average Minutes of Injured Players) - it feels more understandable expressing this metric as an average per game (whereas CHIP is a running total)
The figures...

The table below shows:

  • Total CHIP for each team over the first two months of the 2009/10 regular season (through games played on 30 November)
  • The player who has contributed most to the team's CHIP figure
  • The number of players with a CHIP contribution of over $250,000 (think of it as being equivalent to a $1m player missing 20 games or a $4m player missing five games)
  • Movement in CHIP ranking since 31 October
  • AMIP for each team over the same period (e.g. an AMIP of 40:00 could be seen as the team missing two 20-minute per game players for every game this season)

10 second analysis...

Something in the water in Canada this year? The Flames are seemingly immune from the troubles afflicting their western Canadian brethren - being first in line at the clinic does have some advantages, it seems.

As bad as the Oilers and Canucks have had it, both teams are still behind the pace of the worst hit teams from last year - the Blues ended up with a CHIP figure for the year in excess of $16m. While the CHIP figures are pretty close for the two teams (the Canucks are actually marginally ahead on a per-game basis), the AMIP figures show a much bigger "win" for the Oilers. This appears to be largely due to a greater number of minute-munching defensemen getting hurt compared to the Canucks, whose biggest CHIP contributions come from Demitra and Daniel Sedin, who play less than top-four D-men.

Two teams that stand out as having inflated AMIP numbers relative to the CHIP ranking are the Thrashers and Islanders. Both of these teams have had starting goalies out for the whole year - though trying to find a season where Lehtonen and DiPietro have some sort of consistent appearance history to base a reliable TOI/G on is a task in itself...

Conversely, the Rangers fall down the rankings on the AMIP basis - perhaps suggesting some of their players have grossly inflated cap numbers. Who knew?

The Panthers will surely rise up both tables quickly if Keith "Slasher" Ballard can't remedy his directional anger issues.

The next lists are the top 30 individual CHIP and CMIP contributions:

Markov continues to lead the CHIP race but the brotherhood of injury-prone goalies leaps ahead of him on the CMIP basis.


  • Figures include (and are arguably distorted by) some players on long-term IR, such as Mike Rathje (there’s a fair argument that Rathje shouldn’t be on here, since I can’t imagine he’ll either play again or that the Flyers are missing him - and his TOI/G number from 1973/74 when he last played is clearly overstating his value a touch). They do exclude a few minor-leaguers who are or had been on the NHL club’s IR since pre-season
  • There are undoubtedly a few inaccuracies and inconsistencies in there - I did the best I could with the information out there. Some corrections are picked up month-to-month too
  • The cap figure doesn't really correlate very well to the "worth" of a player in some cases, e.g. where rookie bonuses are included this year, where players are seeing out an old (underpaid or rookie) contract or where players are horrendously overpaid
  • Also, for any player who was acquired on re-entry waivers (e.g. Sean Avery, Randy Jones), the cap hit will only reflect that for their current team, i.e. 50% of the player’s full cap hit (shared between his current and old teams)
  • I've once again stuck a full team-by-team listing of games missed and CHIP/CMIP numbers by each player on the web HERE
  • Injury/games/TOI info courtesy of tsn.ca and nhl.com
  • Cap info courtesy of hockeybuzz.com and capgeek.com