Roberto Luongo and Ryan Kesler had terrific seasons for the Vancouver Canucks, but can they continue it through the post-season? (Getty Images)
Monday morning musings for your dining and dancing pleasure with only two more sleeps to go until the most wonderful time of the year:
• We should find out very quickly whether or not the Vancouver Canucks deserve to be considered a serious Stanley Cup contender. In fact, the first round should just about do it.
The Chicago Blackhawks will not be an easy out. They are the defending Stanley Cup champion and have given the Canucks a case of the yips each of the past two playoffs. But the Canucks should be thrilled they drew the Blackhawks, who backed into the playoffs on the last day of the season, in the first round of the post-season.
The Canucks have a number of post-season demons that need to be exorcised and who better to do it against than the team that has knocked them out each of the past two seasons?
It says here if the Canucks can get past Chicago in the first round, which they should, there will be no stopping them the rest of the way. The Blackhawks are clearly not the same team that won the Stanley Cup a year ago and the Canucks are not the same fragile bunch that lost to them. And if they can tick beating the Blackhawks off their playoff “to-do” list, their confidence will be fortified all the more.
• Adam Foote? For the Hall of Fame? The Hockey Hall of Fame? Seriously?
No sooner had Foote announced his retirement from a wonderful 19-year career than the debate began to surface concerning whether or not he should be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame.
We can only hope this debate ends quickly. Foote was many things – a fierce competitor, a winner in both the NHL and the Olympics, great guy, outstanding leader, terrific defensive defenseman – but Hall of Famer is not one of them. In fact, in the opinion of this corner, he’s not even within shouting distance.
Offense, of course, isn’t everything, but we’re talking about a guy who averaged 16 points a season and never got more than 31.
As a defensive defenseman, he was one of the best of his era, but he was never close, even at the height of his career, to being a Norris Trophy winner or member of a first or second all-star teams. This is unlike Rod Langway, who won two Norris Trophies and earned two first- and one second-team all-star berths playing the same role as Foote.
The Hall of Fame should be reserved for the truly great players, not just the really good ones.
• Quick personal predictions for the first round of the playoffs: Washington in five; Buffalo in six; Montreal in seven; Pittsburgh in seven; Vancouver in six; San Jose in five; Detroit in five; Anaheim in seven.
• There was no Sidney Crosby or Alex Ovechkin in the group, but the crop of rookies was as strong collectively as it has been in years. It produced three 30-goal scorers up front, a 30-game winner in goal and five defensemen with at least 30 points. The two defense spots on the all-rookie team will be difficult to choose with Kevin Shattenkirk, Cam Fowler, P.K. Subban and John Carlson all deserving of the honor.
• Only in Toronto could a sixth straight season out of the playoffs be considered a success. From this corner, there is nothing to suggest the Maple Leafs’ late-season surge was anything more than the same smoke-and-mirrors act we’ve seen from this team before. I’ll begin to take the Leafs seriously when they’re two points out of a playoff spot in January.
Anyone who thinks all this team needs is a few tweaks here and there to become a playoff contender is kidding himself.
On that note, the same coach who always talks about blue-and-white disease – whereby excitement levels don’t always correlate to actual team or player achievement – is the same one who will likely receive an extension despite the fact he has never coached a playoff game for this franchise. Ron Wilson, in fact, went out of his way to tell goalie James Reimer not to “listen to all the baloney” and not to pose for a statue this summer.
Funny lines to be sure, but the reality is there is no such thing as blue-and-white disease. It’s a convenient excuse this regime likes to pull out to hide the fact it has yet to put a consistently contending team on the ice.
It’s a label that insults the fan base’s intelligence, largely because out of the other side of their mouths they talk about all the pressure of playing in the Toronto market. They can’t have it both ways.
• The New Jersey Devils will never return to form until they find someone other than Jacques Lemaire or Larry Robinson who can get through to their players. Those two aren’t coming back and the last time we checked, Guy Lafleur, Steve Shutt, Ken Dryden, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe weren’t interested in getting into coaching.
When it came to producing offense this season, Daniel Sedin and Martin St-Louis were the elite of the NHL in both quantity and quality.
That’s because they not only finished 1-2 in NHL scoring, but were the top two in Campbellnomics, a stat unique to THN.com that measures situational scoring and important offensive contributions.
Here at THN.com we don’t ask how. In fact, we don’t even ask how many. What we really want to know is how many actually mattered? We’re not interested in which player scored the sixth goal in a 6-2 win, but we do want to give credit to the player who opened the scoring.
Here’s how it works: The first thing you have to realize in this system is that goals are worth one point and assists are worth half a point. So there is a bias toward players who score goals as opposed to set-up men. That’s because we think goals are more important than assists. It’s an age-old argument, but it’s our statistic and that’s the way we do it around here.
Instead of simply giving one point for a goal and half for an assist, an emphasis is put on goals that are scored during crucial times of a game. Players receive one point for scoring the first goal of a game; a goal that puts his team ahead in a game or pulls his team into a tie in the game; a comeback goal (which must be part of a succession of goals that leads to a tie); a game-winning goal; an overtime goal; and, a shootout goal. Players receive half a point for assists on those goals.
So, a player who scores the first goal of the game automatically receives two points in Campbellnomics - one for the first goal of the game and one for putting his team ahead in the game. A player who scores an overtime or shootout winner receives three points - one for putting his team ahead, one for the game winner and one for the overtime/shootout goal. If a player scores the game-winner in a 1-0 shootout victory, he receives four points - one for the first goal of the game, one for putting his team ahead, one for the game-winner and one for the shootout goal.
Another wrinkle unique to Campbellnomics is how we consider game-winning goals. In this system, a game-winning goal is the goal that puts a team ahead in a game to stay, not the one that provides the margin of victory. So if a team wins a game 3-1 after jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the first goal of the game, not the second, is considered the winner.
Is Campbellnomics the perfect stat? Of course not. Players on winning teams have more opportunities to score big goals and usually do better in this stat. We realize it has built-in flaws, but it’s the best way we’ve been able to come up with that recognizes goals scored during crucial times in a game.
And, as you can see, the results sometimes vary greatly from the conventional NHL statistics. For example, Jarome Iginla finished sixth in NHL scoring, but is nowhere to be found in the top 25 in Campbellnomics. Conversely, Jarret Stoll was 145th in NHL scoring and was fifth on his own team, but was tied for 20th in scoring according to Campbellnomics.