The silver lining of the "best" teams getting blown out of the Stanley Cup playoffs is that the World Cup of Hockey gets to pick-up their players. The players have to volunteer of course and some may not want to after being denied their NHL dream.
So far eight NHL teams have been eliminated from the playoffs. That frees up about 176 more experienced NHL players.
10 Have joined Canada's team
Other rosters have not been posted to the IIHF website yet.
Because of the coincidental timing the World Cup is often seen in North America as the poorer cousin to the Stanley Cup. That is unfortunate. The players are playing for nothing but their nation's gratitude and their own pride plus the love of the game. That makes for some great viewing and I encourage all hockey fans to watch.
My thoughts on Coach's Corner 04-30-19.
Don was in a fight back in the day.
Don always says: don't put your stick in the way when your goalie can see the shot. Columbus goal. Bad D.
Highlights of Mrazek over the weekend. He got injured and McElhinney took over and won Carolina the game. Good backup goalie - you need one.
The Centreman at faceoffs needs to take charge.
On to Esso Cup, girl's hockey. Great goal highlight. Telus cup, boys celebrating a win.
That was it. The edition was light. Not much to add and, really, no comment..
Players call it "puck luck". The direction and distance of a deflected shot. The height and energy of a bounce, the trajectory of a wobbly shot. Each of those factors can discriminate between a goal and a shot or a successful vs errant pass. The speed of the game renders these physics based variations extremely hard to predict or control. Great players can do amazing things with that frozen rubber disc but even they have their limits.
Other opportunities for luck to alter the outcome of games are injuries, illness, missed penalty calls and equipment failures. Those $300 sticks are lightweight and facilitate more powerful shots. What they don't do is vibrate like the old wooden sticks did when cracks began to form. The new composites will develop a micro crack and perform just fine until they catastrophically fail while the player attempts a slapshot. Wooden sticks would occasionally fail like that but mostly they would develop a small crack first and "buzz" when stressed. Players would recognize failure was imminent and trade their "twig" for a new one as soon as they could.
Puck luck can and does determine who wins an individual game. That is why all playoff series are best of seven. Any game in which the margin of victory is one goal may have been just a lucky outcome for the winner. Unfortunately for analysts there is almost no way to tell for certain how much luck was involved. Great goalies make plays that can be easily mistaken for luck. They also suffer from bad luck. Likewise with the players. Wayne Greztky famously said "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take", tacitly admitting that even The Great One benefited from puck luck on occasion.
Missed penalty calls and equipment failures also influence individual games, probably less so than puck luck but it is impossible to tell by how much.
Injuries and illness effect series and multiple regular season games. The effects of injuries can be estimated if an analyst wants to check the roster for every game and has accurate information about why players are sidelined. Illness is a different matter. A player too ill to play is a scratch but one that is just slightly ill or playing ill because others cannot play at all will be an easy opponent to beat.
All of this luck eventually influences the standings and can easily determine which teams make the playoffs and which don't. For instance this year Montreal won 44 of 82 games and failed to make the playoffs. The team that did make the playoffs just ahead of them is the Columbus Blue Jackets who won 47. Their regular season records for wins, losses and overtime losses are: Montreal 44, 30, 8 for 96 points. Columbus 47, 31, 4 for 98 points. Columbus won three more games than Montreal - a 6 point lead. However Montreal lost four more games in OT than Columbus did, picking up 4 points. Had Montreal lost just three more games in OT vs Regulation they would have gone to the playoffs instead of Columbus. Remember that OT games are decided by one goal. Puck Luck could easily explain all of those outcomes. Like wise regulation time wins decided by 1 goal. Since most teams will pull their goalie in the dying minutes trying to overcome 1 goal deficits, one could argue that many 2 goal margins of victory are really just the product of puck luck.
Like I wrote above, it is well nigh impossible to separate the contributions of luck from those of skill. The difference between Montreal heading for the golf course and Columbus getting the opportunity to sweep Tampa Bay could very easily be just dumb luck. Likewise for just about all of the four wild card teams. Yet all four wildcards survived the first round, a best of seven series set up to minimize the influence of luck.
The NHL really does have a high degree of parity. If they sustain it, hockey pools will never be the same.
It is interesting to note how the remaining 8 teams vying for the Stanley Cup rank in viability as a business.
The Most surprising member of the gang of eight is Columbus. The Blue Jackets were expected to be road kill on Tampa Bay's streak to the mug. Their playoff success hides their financial distress. They are the 3rd least valuable franchise with the cheapest tickets and they still can't fill the arena in a city that has no other major professional sport team.
The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the defending Stanley Cup Champions but are the 6th least valued franchise.
Colorado is taking on San Jose after knocking off division leader Calgary. They are the 8th least valuable franchise.
The New York Islanders are the weaklings of the crowded New York sports market with a lowly 10th lowest valuation in the NHL. I have them as one of the two current favorites to take Lord Stanley's Goblet.
The St Louis Blues are the 15th least valuable team, they are serious contenders in the Western Conference after knocking off Winnipeg.
Perennial also rans San Jose are in the middle of the pack valuation wise sitting at 15th highest
Dallas upset lower valued Nashville while sitting at 14th highest in value as an NHL franchise.
The Boston Bruins are the only "original six" team left in the playoffs. They rank 5th highest in value partly because of reliable sellouts of their own building.
Clearly franchise value is not correlated with wins on the ice. What other anomalies demonstrate this?
A real surprise is that the erstwhile favorites for this year, Tampa Bay is the 11th least valuable NHL team in spite of having the best regular season record by far over the last six years. What do we call people who live in Tampa Bay? I don't know but it certainly isn't "Hockey Fans"
The Edmonton Oilers with one of the worst records over the last six years are ranked 13th in value. How do they do this? Regular sellouts at premium prices. Their only local competition is the Canadian Football League franchise Edmonton Eskimos.
The Montreal Canadiens, the team with a league leading 24 Stanley Cups have not won a championship since 1993, the last Canadian team to win it. Despite a middle of the road record the last 6 years and missing the playoffs two consecutive years they are the 3rd highest valued team at $1.3 billion US.
Toronto, just knocked out by the Bruins in yet another Game 7 loss are second at $1.45 billion. Their last Stanley Cup win was in 1967. It was their 11th cup, making them the 2nd place franchise in terms of Championships.
The New York Rangers are number one in value at $1.55 billion. They are a middle of the pack team over the last 6 years and have not made the playoffs in the last two. Their last Stanley Cup was in 1994 and it was their first since 1940, their fourth ever.
Perhaps this year's crop of Cinderella teams will spark the US bloom that has been the dream of the NHL since Gary Bettman took over as commissioner. Probably not. Only one team will win the cup. Tampa won it in 2004, went through a brief slump but has charged back to become the top team over the last six years. Yet they and Florida are both in a division with Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa, Boston and Buffalo so they can draw winter sunseekers from those cities to Lightning home games. Visiting team fans occasionally outnumber the home team.
The second round of the playoffs start tonight after another historical milestone has been laid down. All divisional winners have been eliminated from the playoffs for the first time in NHL history. The defending Stanley Cup Champion Capitols were the last to fall. As hockey pools across North America fill with the tears of the fans who drafted deep into the favorites, the remaining contenders count their luck and dream of their future winnings.
Lots of great hockey left and if we recede to the mean, my money is on Boston or New York Islanders. Well not really. I am not a gambler.
I thought it appropriate that the first ever Hockey post on Zapread should be about an historic event in the NHL.
The Tampa Bay Lightning finished the season with the fourth highest point total in NHL history. The three higher totals belonged to the Montreal Canadiens (twice) who went on to win the Stanley Cup both times. Detroit Red Wings were the other team with a higher point total. They lost in the Conference final (3rd round of the playoffs). TB won the right to a first round match against the team with the lowest point total to make the playoffs. In their 19 year history the Columbus Blue Jackets had only made the playoffs twice before, losing in the first round both times.
Last night TB became the highest finishing regular season team to be swept out of the playoffs in the first round. They not only failed to win a game, they never led after the end of the 2nd period of the first game. They jumped to a 3-0 lead in that one only to lose 4-3. The best they could muster after that was to briefly tie the score at 3 in the fourth game. Their season ended with an 8 second vignette when, down 7-3 they lost the faceoff. Columbus fired the puck lazily toward the TB goalie where he stood still to receive it with his skates while the defence and forwards skated in circles watching their glorious season wind down to an inglorious end.
They coulda bin contendas! See ya next year 'Bolts! Enjoy the golf season.