Alberta-bound Carey Price desperately needs a change in western fortunes

Carey Price (Francois Laplante/Freestyle Photography/Getty Images)

Carey Price may have been a competitive calf roper when he was younger, but as soon as he steps on the ice in Alberta, he plays as though it’s his first rodeo. And if the Montreal Canadiens want to continue their white-hot start to the season, that’s going to have to change in a hurry.

So the most important person on the Montreal Canadiens as they head into a western Canadian road trip in first place in the Eastern Conference might be goaltending coach Stephane Waite. The man who has been most responsible for altering Carey Price’s mental approach to games could have to do some major psychological massaging on Price this week. Read more

Senators, Maple Leafs, Canadiens hold touching tribute following Ottawa shootings

Josh Elliott
Ottawa shooting tribute

For a nation that identifies itself strongly with hockey, it seemed only fitting that Canadians should gather in their rinks and at their TVs to share a healing moment before puck drop Saturday.

The Ottawa Senators, Montreal Canadiens and Toronto Maple Leafs staged a touching simultaneous tribute Saturday night to two soldiers killed in separate, unprovoked attacks in Canada earlier this week. Ottawa took center stage in the tribute, as Senators players stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the visiting New Jersey Devils for a stirring renditions of the Star Spangled Banner and O Canada from anthem singer Lyndon Slewidge.

Fans in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto sang the anthem in a simultaneous blend of English and French, while projectors lit up all three rinks with Canadian flags. Read more

PK Subban’s Halloween costume is a Thriller

Jared Clinton
P.K. Subban (Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images)

In a lot of ways, PK Subban could remind you of a young Michael Jackson: they’re both incredible at what they do, they’re both almost unanimously loved, and they have similar dance moves.

All right, fine, we can’t be sure about that last part, but chances are the young Canadiens defenseman at least busted out a few of his finest MJ impressions at the Habs Halloween bash, where the young superstar donned his finest Thriller attire: Read more

Canadiens super fan returns, and this time Brendan Gallagher is his target

Jared Clinton
Brendan Gallagher

You may know Jay Baruchel from his work in Hollywood with Seth Rogen. You may also know him from shows like Undeclared. He even wrote and co-starred in a hockey movie about lovable enforcer Doug Glatt, called ‘Goon’.

Where you probably haven’t seen Jay Baruchel, however, is in the shower with Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher. Well, here’s your chance:

This is the second video starring real-life Canadiens super fan Baruchel, the first of which featured him getting up close and personal with Habs goaltender Carey Price.

It’s never easy to elicit a good laugh in a 30-second commercial spot, but it looks like the Canadiens and Baruchel have created a bit of magic. Let’s just hope Youppi! can get in on the action at some point. Read more

Milan Lucic feeling the heat after appearing to make lewd gesture at Canadiens fans

Milan Lucic (Getty Images)

Milan Lucic is no stranger to controversy. In fact, the two are fairly familiar with one another at this point. And the Boston Bruins left winger was back in hot water Thursday after appearing to make a lewd gesture and taunt Canadiens fans with a mimed raising of the Stanley Cup.

Lucic’s frustrations boiled over late in Montreal’s 6-4 win over Boston: with 1:20 left, he took a boarding penalty – and once he was in the penalty box, the 26-year-old interacted with fans by…welll, you go ahead and see what you think it was he was doing: Read more

THN Analytics: Slow start? Firing the coach might not be the fix

Randy Carlyle (Getty Images)

As the fervor dies down from the fever pitch of opening games, NHL teams and their fanbases shift into the time-honored ritual of agonizing over early-season results. A few coaches begin to feel the walls close in, and regardless of testaments of faith by upper management, at least one will be fired in the first few months. Do teams carry out these decisions wisely? What kind of measures can help us determine if it’s a good move?

Reaching back to the THN Analytics stats primer, the best team measures we can use relate to regression and possession. For regression we can use “PDO,” or a team’s shooting percentage plus save percentage (for historical comparisons, I only use the first two periods to avoid the effects of “protecting” leads). It’s often expressed as a whole number like 980 or 1000, rather than their actual values of .980 or 1.000. Teams that are far above or below a range of about 990 – 1100 pull heavily (or regress) towards that range the remainder of the season. PDO is a great metric for this kind of study because its measure speaks directly to a team’s success in scoring or preventing goals.

Possession is currently best measured by Fenwick Close, but we can go further back in NHL history by using a team’s shots-for in the first two periods divided by both teams’ shots-for in those periods, called two-period shot percentage or 2pS%. It runs side-by-side with Fenwick Close, has a strong relationship with outscoring, and provides about 50 more years of data.

Using these two measures, we can look at a large body of coaching changes in NHL history. Through 140 coaching changes (minimum 20+ games for each coach), the before-and-after of PDO and possession is telling:

Screen shot 2014-10-16 at 7.42.33 PM

Historically, the changes have barely registered an uptick in possession (that 0.4% is worth a little less than one more goal-for), but that PDO shift would be good for about 14 more goals-for. In other words, NHL teams tend to cut bait when bad luck, not necessarily bad leadership, seemed to be the bigger problem. For comparison’s sake, I also put together a complete list of 97 coaching performances where the coaches had significantly low PDOs through the first 20 games but didn’t get canned: Read more

Carey Price has a celebrity bedroom stalker

Matt Larkin
Actor Jay Baruchel takes his love for the Habs to the extreme in a new ad.

It’s easy to make fun of obligatory promotional videos and commercials involving hockey players. Often, the come off a little wooden, or just plain creepy. Right, Mario?

But this one involving Carey Price and actor Jay Baruchel, who is a diehard Montreal Canadiens fan, is pretty good. Price sells it and Baruchel pulls off the stalker persona nicely. Check out the video, which promotes the Habs fan loyalty program Club 1909:

Read more