• Sharks take playful jab at advanced stats with Holiday Sweater infographic

    Jared Clinton
    Sharks Holiday Sweater info featured

    If there was ever anything that could end the fierce debate over the importance of advanced statistics and show their absolute importance, it’s this infographic from the San Jose Sharks.

    After releasing their holiday video, the hilarious Holiday Sweater, the Sharks got to work on delivering us this infographic that breaks down everything from the quality of rhymes and average verse length to dog barks and Milli Vanilli, the measure of Sharks that lip synced a teammates verse. It’s great from top to bottom. Read more

  • Preds’ James Neal first player to be named & shamed under NHL’s anti-diving push

    Adam Proteau
    James Neal (Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)

    It is something of an understatement to say Predators winger James Neal has a reputation among NHL players and officials, and it isn’t a good one. Even before he was dealt to Nashville this summer, he became infamous for embellishing and vicious episodes.

    So it wasn’t in the least bit eyebrow-raising to hear Neal was the first NHLer publicly named and fined under the NHL’s new anti-diving legislation. He had already received a warning after a Nov. 13 game against St. Louis, but apparently the message didn’t sink in. Because even the most ardent Preds fan who’s being honest with themselves would have to admit the play for which Neal is being fined (which took place Dec. 13 against the Sharks) is laughably blatant diving: Read more

  • Flames reward coach Bob Hartley with new contract, but tough times are still ahead

    Adam Proteau
    Bob Hartley (Getty Images)

    The Calgary Flames announced Wednesday a multi-year contract extension for head coach Bob Hartley and nobody in their right mind was going to argue with the move. The 54-year-old has exceeded all expectations this season, taking a young group near the top of the NHL standings out of the gate. He’s been a crafty tactician with a keen sense of the personalities in his dressing room, and he’s been able to sell his high-energy approach to his players with a virtually 100 percent buy-in rate. He’s earned a new deal.

    However, once the warm feelings associated with Hartley’s contract die down, it’s more than a little likely Flames fans will come to know the pace their team has established this season was going to be unsustainable. There’s so much to like about the future in Calgary – the play of captain Mark Giordano and T.J. Brodie; their skill and youth at forward (including Johnny Gaudreau, Sean Monahan and Markus Granlund); the prospects who’ve yet to play an NHL game (Sam Bennett, Mark Jankowski) – that it’s easy to look past the problems that still exist with this team.

    And they do exist. Forget the Flames’ current six-game losing streak, and look at the advanced stats: they’re 20th in Fenwick; their Corsi-For is 18th overall; and their Corsi-Against is 29th overall. As well, their overall team depth is lacking: if the injury bug that’s already taken a fair bite out of them continues to feast, Calgary simply doesn’t have a deep enough farm system from which to restock the NHL roster.

    Despite the losing skid, Flames fans have every right to be stoked for Hartley’s achievement and the good times ahead. But with the high level of competition in their conference – and so many lessons still to be learned for their dynamic youngsters – Calgary is still bound for some stretches that will push Hartley’s best days to the back of people’s minds.

  • KHLer Jeff Glass: ‘Players are getting hosed right now’

    Ken Campbell
    Jeff Glass (Photo by Yuliya Dmitrieva/KHL Photo Agency via Getty Images)

    Former Canadian World Junior hero Jeff Glass is on his fifth team in six seasons in Russia and he has seen a lot of both the good and bad of the Kontinental Hockey League. But with the Russian ruble in a freefall and the league in disarray, this is the worst he’s ever seen it.

    With boots on the ground, or at least skates on the ice, Glass puts a face to the stories that have been circulating throughout the hockey world about the KHL lately. Glass, who backstopped the 2005 Canadian junior team to a gold medal, but never played in the NHL, said he is thankful for the opportunity the KHL has given him to continue playing and make lucrative money, but it seems to him the whole thing is teetering on the brink of collapse. Read more

  • Maple Leafs keep winning despite bad advanced stats. How?

    Matt Larkin
    The Leafs believe a "quality over quantity" approach to offense and defense is the key to their strong start. (Getty Images)

    Cliches are the hallmark of lazy writers, but the Toronto Maple Leafs warrant an act of laziness, as one cliche fits too darned perfectly: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

    The front office makeup tells us the Leafs have changed. Brendan Shanahan, 29-year-old analytical whiz Kyle Dubas (who “politely passed” on participating in this story) and Mark Hunter now share decisions with Dave Nonis and had no affiliation with the franchise a year ago. The team makeup tells us the Leafs have changed, too. Randy Carlyle’s glorified three-line system, which gave fourth-liners Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren a few shifts a game, is extinct. Peter Holland gets full-time NHL work now and off-season additions like Mike Santorelli and Daniel Winnik have turned Toronto into a true 12-forward operation.

    The standings, for now, emphatically tell us the Leafs have changed. They sit 19-9-3, seven points up on ninth place in the Eastern Conference and winners of six straight games. They lead the NHL in goals per game. They’ve beaten Chicago, Anaheim and Los Angeles this season, albeit at home.

    The more wins pile up, the more difficult it is for even the Grinchiest of pessimists to write this team off and insist its almost-annual swoon is coming. That said, I encourage these Grinches to try, as they’ll find plenty of alarm bells to jingle.

    The very reason certain pundits didn’t buy Toronto’s 2012-13 playoff run or fast start in 2013-14 was, of course, analytics. They had an artificially high shooting percentage. They ranked among the league’s worst teams in metrics like Corsi, meaning the majority of pucks, including those that were blocked and missed the net, went toward their own goal. They depended too much on goaltending.

    Flash forward a year later to the piping-hot Leafs, and you get this friendly quip from center Nazem Kadri after Tuesday night’s 6-2 shellacking of the Ducks:

    “Obviously the shot total’s got to get down, but the way Bernie’s been playing, he’s got those. (he laughs and smiles at Jonathan Bernier, sitting beside him). “So I don’t think we’re too worried about that. But I think coming back, we’re keeping them to the outside most of the time.”

    It’s a funny comment, and you have to love Kadri’s honesty, but it’s telling, isn’t it? Allowing high shot totals. Relying on Bernier to bail the team out. Sounds. Familiar.

    Read more

  • Hilarious, gigantic Mrs. Claus helps Panthers brighten kids’ spirits at children’s hospital

    Jared Clinton
    Panthers Santa Claus featured

    With Christmas fast approaching, Santa Claus, Mrs. Claus and one giant, bearded elf stopped by Florida’s Chris Evert Children’s Hospital to help brighten the holidays for a few sick children.

    We haven’t brushed up on our holiday reading yet, but we’re not sure that Mrs. Claus was ever 6-foot-6 with size 13 feet. But we could be wrong. Take a look as a few Panthers players stop by the hospital to lift spirits: Read more

  • CHL Top Prospects Game: Who are the stars and snubs?

    Ryan Kennedy
    Alexandre Carrier (Photo by Francois Laplante/FreestylePhoto/Getty Images)

    The CHL Top Prospects Game will be held Jan. 22 in St. Catharines, Ont., at the new home of the Ontario League’s Niagara IceDogs. Don Cherry and Bobby Orr will serve as coaches and yes, Connor McDavid made the cut. With only 40 roster spots available, not every CHLer up for the 2015 draft could be chosen and while there weren’t any huge omissions this year, some players certainly had strong cases for inclusion. So who are the stars and snubs for the game?

    Read more

  • Why we should’ve seen the Florida Panthers’ strong start coming

    Jared Clinton
    Panthers Winning featured

    Before the season began, betting site Sports Interaction was taking wagers on whether or not the Florida Panthers could eclipse 74.5 points this season. It appears smart money was on the over, as with more than 50 games remaining the Panthers are on pace to rack up 96 points and a potential playoff berth.

    But these Panthers are vastly different than the team that was iced last season’s, basement team that floundered due to soft goaltending and bad 5-on-5 play. These aren’t the Panthers you’re used to seeing, and, come April, don’t be surprised if the Panthers are playing an 83rd game. Read more