Sunday, November 30, 2008

NFL Writing by Peter King

I know it's a definite departure from the hockey subject matter I've written about on this blog, but the recent Sports Illustrated article "What The 'backer Sees" is good enough for me to deviate from the past and include here.

Written by Peter King (he of the "Monday Morning Quarterback" columns on, it's an extremely interesting look at how Tampa Bay Buccaneers all-pro linebacker Derrick Brooks approaches his matchups in each game and the amount of study he puts in. As a professional hobby of sorts, Brooks actually scouts college players who he would likely be going up against several years down the line.

Fascinating topic and features very detailed and insightful writing by King.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Sharks Shot Differentials with >1 Goal Lead

Interesting question raised below about how a >1 goal lead impacts shots on goal...


Alan Mello has left a new comment on your post "San Jose Sharks Team: Nov 14 Point in Time":

Thinking about your post and reflecting on my experiences with the Sharks, something came to mind. I remember many Sharks games where the Sharks were badly beaten (think Penguins in the 90's), yet the Sharks outshot their opponent.

I wonder if the "New NHL" has changed this. In the old days of clutching and grabbing, when you had a lead, you could just clamp down, not worry about scoring again, and just limit the opponent to long shots.

But in the "New NHL" where "no lead is safe", the strategy may be different. Since, in most of the old games that I was refering to, the Sharks were behind by more than a goal in the first period, I wonder what the stats would look like in today's world. When a team is more than a goal ahead after the first period, do they tend to outshoot their opponent?


My initial reaction would be that the Sharks have done well this year precisely because they continue to at least hold their own in shot differential once they have the lead, but it's always good to examine the #s. Here's what they say...

16-3-1 record.

2 games (both wins) with a lead of >1 goal after the first period.
Average -.8 shots for the second and third periods of these two games.
Average +.5 goals for the second and third periods of these two games.
Conclusion... took a big lead early and then held their own for the wins.

6 games (both wins) with a lead of >1 goal after the second period.
Average -3.5 shots for the third period of these six games.
Average +.2 goals for the third period of these six games.
Conclusion... big lead after two and then held their own for the wins, but the comment about the trailing team having more shots does seem to hold true.

Interesting... not statistically "the whole story", but interesting.

Dallas Stars Hockey: Yikes

Team Captain Brenden Morrow out for the season. Stick a fork in and turn them over... they're done.

Or, will Sean Avery assume the leadership mantle? Yea... about that. I don't think Mike Modano will be nominating him to wear the C in Morrow's absence.

Friday, November 14, 2008

San Jose Sharks Team: Nov 14 Point in Time

Sakes alive. I knew that the Sharks looked good thus far this season and wrote in my post a few days ago the team shots and goals stats, but they've gone and outdone themselves the last two games.

This team that as of the aforementioned two games ago was leading the league in both most shots for and fewest shots against put up the following #s against Nashville and then Calgary.

Shots For/Against: 57-29
Shots For/Against: 46-24

Even more interesting was how the Sharks started the game. The following is just the aggregate first and second periods from each game:

Shots For/Against: 43-18
Shots For/Against: 35-13

That the Nashville game wound up as an OTL loss (with the Calgary game a 6-1 victory) seems secondary to the shot totals and the way the Sharks are playing right now... keeping in mind of course that when the playoffs start, shot totals are NOT secondary to wins and losses.

With two lines scoring in bunches and the defense firing the puck at the net, the offense appears to be tuned up well and as for the D... the player who seems to have done the worst as a regular skater is Douglas Murray, and I'd say he's played pretty well.

Again, this is all preparation for the playoffs, but at this point I don't think there could be a realistic wish for the team to be playing much better.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Sharks Shot & Goal Differentials

Shots on goal... what they tell you about a game is an interesting question.

I've been told by a fellow Sharks fan that they don't really tell you a lot... the logic behind this would be that if a team in losing in the 3rd, they'll likely have a lot of shots, but... still wind up with the loss.

While this made sense to me for 3rd period shot differential, I became interested in digging into the #s to see what they would say... and here it is (through 16 games):

13-3 W-L record
average shots for and against
3.2-2.4 average goals for and against

Impressive #s all, but here's the detail behind them.

1st Period
12-8 average shots for and against
0.8-1.0 average goals for and against

2nd Period
14-8 average shots for and against
1.3-0.5 average goals for and against

3rd Period
11-9 average shots for and against
1.1-0.9 average goals for and against

* The #s below do not include OT shots/goals, just those from the first 3 periods

If you look at these to try to tell how the Sharks are playing thus far this season, the breakdown by period seems to be as follows:

1st Period: Starting fairly well with a slight shot advantage and slight goal disadvantage.
2nd Period: Pouring it on with fairly significant advantages in both shots and goals.
3rd Period: Finishing with slight advantages in both shots and goals. This becomes impressive, though, when you consider that the #s tend to show the Sharks leading entering the 3rd... (with said consideration taking a page from said fellow Sharks fan).

So... this shows how the Sharks have played thus far. As to the question of shots as an indicator... I think they do matter quite a bit in both the 1st and 2nd periods (can't score if you don't shoot). In the 3rd period, I think good teams (i.e. those who have the lead after 2) prove themselves good by holding their own in the shot differential department.

As an aside... if someone would like the Excel file containing the raw data which went into these calculations, just let me know.

Final aside... shots for tonight's game #17 of the season were 57 for SJ and 29 for Nashville... with a final score in OT of 4-3 in favor of the Predators. Well, that's the way it goes sometimes and I feel comfortable saying that on average the Sharks will win most games they're leading in shots 43-18 after 2 periods.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

"Saved" by Jack Falla

This is the first time I've ever published the same post to both this and my writing blog (, but it's also the first book I've read on hockey in years...

"Saved" by acclaimed hockey writer Jack Falla is a fictional look at a goalie in the NHL and blends in stories of family, commitment and life around a hockey tale.

While I would say that the book probably is a bit longer than need be, it did make me interested to learn about and read more from the author...

Jack Falla passed away in September 2008 at the age of 64. His career included stints writing for Sports Illustrated and more recently teaching communications at Boston University.

Some of his most well known writing was about his backyard rink in Massachusetts and can be found in his book "Home Ice: Reflections on Backyard Rinks and Frozen Ponds" or in a condensed version at this link to the story "How and Why to Build a Backyard Rink". Early in 2008, Falla also came out with the book "Open Ice: Reflections & Confessions of a Hockey Lifer" discussing his life spent around the sport he loved.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Power Rankings... Once More

Well, whadda ya' know... Nov 4 came and provided us with a new President (can learn all about it here on my writing blog) AS WELL AS new team atop the NHL Power Rankings from both Scott Wraight at CNNSI and Ross McKeon at Yahoo! Sports.

Prior to going to Wraight or McKeon's listings to see who's ranked #1 (for now), here's a clue... the team name rhymes with Sparks, you know... as in America Idol winner Jordin (daughter of Phillippi) Sparks.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Let's Get it Started in Here...

Written here a few days ago was "Power Rankings Revisited"... a look how the teams I arbitrarily perceived to have the best shot at the Cup have fared in month one.

While I felt that it mattered to have a good start (or in the odd case of Anaheim, a terrible first five games followed by excellent second five), I'm now inclined to think it matters even more after reading "Down and Out: The numbers show that a weak October haunts teams that have Stanley Cup ambitions" from the Nov 3 issue of Sports Illustrated. One point made in the the article is that a fast start to the season establishes a team's confidence so that they can emerge fairly unscathed from any low ebbs that the season may provide (as happened with Detroit last spring).

Tieing this idea to the current (as of last Tuesday) Power Rankings from Scott Wraight at CNNSI and Ross McKeon at Yahoo! Sports, teams that aren't towards the top of the the rankings now may well have a tough go at getting there come next June.