Thursday, February 21, 2013

How Does Stamkos Get Scoring Chances?

Everyone knows that Steven Stamkos is probably the most prolific sniper in the NHL right now. 60 goals last year speaks for itself. However, out west, we don't get to see Tampa play that much, we see Stamkos' goals on the highlights sometimes, and everyone knows about his "spot" where he'll one-time a pass home from the top of the left circle, but game-to-game and shift-to-shift we don't know a ton about him. I thought I'd investigate a little further into what makes Stamkos such a sniper, and how he's able to insert himself into such an abundance of opportunities at both even-strength and on the powerplay. I watched a few Lightning games —against the Rangers and Leafs at home and against the Devils and Panthers on the road— and collected clips in order to determine how he is able to generate those chances.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jarmo Kekalainen: Amateur Scouting and Sustained Success

The Columbus Blue Jackets hiring of Jarmo Kekalainen is probably one of the most intriguing sports executive hirings to me in the last little while. I've been a fan for quite some time. I don't think I really need to do a profile on his backstory, you can find that plenty of places. Like here and here. I'm going to bend this hiring to both reflect a bit back on Jarmo's past performance, and expand a bit on some of the processes involved in building a team that can sustain competitiveness.

The Best Shutdown Defenseman You've Never Heard Of: Mike Weaver

Over the last little while, I've been getting more and more interested in the statistical side of the game. I still don't think it has nearly close to the value as in baseball (might do another post on this later), but a lot of the work being done out there is pretty interesting and noteworthy. One thing in particular I've been drawn to are the player usage charts put out by Rob Vollman of ESPN and Hockey Prospectus. As great and as interesting as stats are, nothing in hockey is ever going to replace watching players with your own two eyes; it goes without saying that the dressing room, make-up, and character (of both a team and it's individual players), are paramount to success in a sport where everybody's actions have such an effect on one another. However, statistics might be able to turn us on to something we may have missed, either due to our own biases, not seeing a player enough, the fact we can only pay attention to so many things at once, or any variety of other reasons. The possibility that statistics might uncover a tiny sliver of benefit that can be leveraged to a team's advantage is reason enough to at least keep tabs on them, in my mind at least.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Oilers PP: High Slot Play

As I've been watching the games lately, I've been noticing the Oilers PP is getting much less effective. While the conversion rate remains high, aesthetically, it's simply lacking movement and shot generation. I'll probably dive into powerplays in general in a little more detail later on. But for now, I'll just stick to a little wrinkle that I think the Oilers could use on their powerplay.