The Hockey News

Ducks’ Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf remain an elite NHL duo

The Hockey News
perrygetzlaf

By Dominik Luszczyszyn

They’ve been one of the league’s most dominant duos over the past few years and they’ve kept that going to start this season. The Ducks are one of the top teams in the league once again with an 8-3-0 record, and Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry both – with 12 points – are a big reason why. Together, they’re an elite force.

Over the last five years the two have played together for 4,618 minutes at 5-on-5. In that time they’ve dominated the scoresheet (57.8 percent of the goals) despite being just decent at dominating territory (51.6 percent of shot attempts). Superstars can do that because they can consistently outscore the average NHLer. So Getzlaf and Perry are great together. Duh. Apart is where things get more interesting and could show why the pair is so dominant. Read more

Paralyzed fan gets awesome, heartwarming gift from FHL goalie

The Hockey News
Greg-And-Brenda-StClair

By Chris Kazarian

The legend of the United League’s Danbury Trashers was cemented midway through the team’s first season in a game against the Kalamazoo Wings.

That matchup was marred by a brawl that kicked off when Trashers left winger Brad Wingfield attempted to fight Kalamazoo’s Josh Elzinga, who declined the invitation. As Wingfield skated away, Elzinga grabbed the back of his opponent’s jersey and pulled him over his outstretched leg, breaking Wingfield’s left tibia, fibula and ankle.

Word of the incident quickly spread through the blue-collar Connecticut city, which soon embraced the fighting mentality of the Trashers. And that’s how Greg and Brenda St. Clair were introduced to hockey, enough to motivate them to attend the Trashers next game and eventually become addicted to a sport they previously knew little about. Read more

From Kenya to U.K. to hockey expert – the (almost) unbelievable rise of Chris Kibui

The Hockey News
CHRIS KIBUI (hockeytutorial.com)

BY MATT CARLSON

Chris Kibui, the passionate content creator of Hockey Tutorial, gets some memorable messages, such as this one via Facebook: “I am LOLing, as a Canadian and 15-year hockey player, I would never guess I would be getting skate tips from a British-sounding black man. Awesome video, 100% detail, thank you for posting it, it was a lot of help…”

Kibui isn’t just British-sounding: Hockey Tutorial is based in Cambridge, England. Kibui usually plays 40 miles up the road in Peterborough, a small city that’s home to one of just 55 indoor rinks in the United Kingdom.

“Me being probably the most minute demographic in hockey – black and English from Kenya – it’s pretty interesting the comments that get left,” Kibui said. “But I do enjoy reading them.”

Hockey Tutorial’s equipment review videos provide top-to-bottom analyses with detail and clarity. And Kibui presents everything in crisp, proper English. Read more

Is Barry Trotz a magic man? Early Capitals’ advanced stats say yes

The Hockey News
Barry Trotz (Photo by Patrick McDermott/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn

It’s still too early to make any meaningful judgments, but so far it looks like the Washington Capitals’ biggest problem has been solved.

The Caps have been a notoriously abysmal defensive team for a while now, and missing the playoffs last season meant changes had to be made to the former powerhouse. The biggest one was bringing in coach Barry Trotz, arguably the most reputable defensive coach in the game.

While changing the coach isn’t always the right call, it was clear that Adam Oates wasn’t getting the most out of his players, specifically his best one, Alex Ovechkin. The same can be said for Trotz, who was well past his expiration date in Nashville. Washington and Trotz were a perfect fit. Read more

Why Mikael Backlund is a secret star at center for Calgary

The Hockey News
The advanced statistics show Mikael Backlund's value extends way beyond his point totals. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn

To compete in the West, the most important thing a team needs is depth and star power at center ice. The best of the West, including last year’s Cup-champion Los Angeles Kings, have it in spades, and it’s a huge part of their success. So it should come as no surprise the Flames were pretty much a unanimous choice as the West’s tribute to the Connor McDavid Hunger Games.

On paper they look like they have one of the worst groups of centers in the league (we ranked their centers 29th in our season preview, ahead of only Buffalo), but on the ice that’s not entirely true. That’s because the Flames have a top center in their lineup who could be the West’s best-kept secret: Mikael Backlund.

Up until last season, the 24th overall pick in 2007 had been flying way under the radar, spending most of his time toiling on the Flames’ third line. But he made a huge jump last year and, by the end of the season, he became a fixture at the top of the depth chart. He even spent some time on the top power play and penalty-killing units.

“I’ve seen him over the years and I really thought last year his game took a significant step forward,” said Flames GM Brad Treliving. “He was a really impactful player here, especially down the stretch. He was a consistent guy last year, but I look at his games after Christmas — and I’ve gone back and watched all the games when I got here — he really just jumps off the map at you.”

Read more

Book Review: Hockey Abstract

The Hockey News
Brad Marchand (Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

By Dom Luszczyszyn
@omgitsdomi

Inspired by Bill James’ Baseball Abstract of the 1980s, Rob Vollman, one of the founding writers for Hockey Prospectus and the creator of player-usage charts, set out to create something similar for hockey, a sport that’s still lagging behind in the advanced stats world.

In the first version of Hockey Abstract, released last year, Vollman went over the basics. For his recently released second version, he went bigger and better, delivering entirely new content and enlisting two colleagues from Hockey Prospectus, Tom Awad and Iain Fyffe, to provide analysis.

The best of their work has Awad showing what makes good players good by grouping them into tiers based on ice time and looking at the differences in shot attempts and goals across the tiers. For Fyffe, it’s his deduction of what it takes to make the Hall of Fame and his prediction for which current players have the best shot (‘Sid’ and ‘Ovie’ can pretty much retire today and punch their ticket into the Hall of Fame).

Most of the book, though, is centered on everyday fan questions, but the answers aren’t as typical. Who’s the best goal-scorer? Well, that depends on who scores the most per 60 minutes, while accounting for manpower, usage, linemates and competition. Who’s the best penalty killer? Look at who suppresses shot attempts best relative to the rest of his team, while also accounting for who he’s up against.

These types of questions are a staple of Hockey Abstract. The best of them was an examination of who the biggest rat in the league was, which introduces a hilarious stat called “dirty rat penalty minutes.” The player who led the league last season is who you might expect: Brad Marchand.

How Vollman and company tackle these questions, though, is where the book really shines. Each answer promotes meaningful discussions on the topic at hand rather than rigid conclusions. Every angle is taken into account and arguments are presented in a clear, concise way that provides thorough and insightful observations about the sport. On top of that, the book is heavy on graphs and charts, making it much easier to visualize the concepts being outlined.

The book also contains analytic essays for every team that look at how each team fares in various categories including possession, goaltending, special teams and depth, culminating with a big-picture outlook of how that team stands from an analytics perspective.

With the second edition of Hockey Abstract, Vollman has created an essential resource for not just numbers junkies but also curious newbies ready to dive in to the growing world of hockey analytics.

Hockey Abstact

Join our Twitter party with TSN’s Bob McKenzie

The Hockey News
bob

Come join us as we welcome one of our own back into the house.

Former THN editor in chief Bob McKenzie sits down with our writers and editors to chat via Twitter on Tuesday, Oct. 14. The TSN Hockey Insider, whose book Hockey Confidential launches that day, will also field question from followers.

Check it out on Tuesday @TheHockeyNews.

When: October 14 from noon-1 p.m. EDT
Where: Follow us @TheHockeyNews and use #THNLive
What: Ask Bob McKenzie questions about the world of hockey.

THN’s AHL 2014-15 regular season predictions

The Hockey News

After taking home last year’s American League championship, the Texas Stars look to go back-to-back. Spoiler Alert: they’re our favorites in the West, but the competition is stiff – and as any fan of the AHL knows, things can get wild very quickly. Picking the standings is a tough chore, but we’re up to the challenge.

 

EASTAHL Read more