- Hockey Rambling
- Written by Darren Kennedy
Thoughts on Ken Holland, John Carlson, and Reggie Dunlop
I made the mistake yesterday of letting it slip on twitter that I’ve never seen the movie Slap Shot. Now, this didn’t strike me as that BIG of an issue. There are a lot of films out there in the universe, and Hollywood has the annoying tendency of pumping out more and more before you’ve had a chance to catch up.
As one man, and being subject to the physical constraints of being one man, it seemed reasonable that I wouldn’t have seen every hockey or sports movie ever made. Apparently not everyone agreed – I actually lost followers yesterday! With some citing that they could no longer trust my advice.
Of course there are plenty of other classics that helped create plenty sports cinema nostalgia – Youngblood, Mighty Ducks, and more recently, Miracle. My parents literally had to ban my brothers and me from watching the Ducks’ VHS. For a number of years my favourite hockey player was Gordon Bombay.
In any event, I’m going to trudge out into the retail world and find myself a copy of Slap Shot. Sometime in the next few weeks I’ll check back with a review, and maybe some fantasy analysis on Reggie Dunlop and the fellas.
Let us ramble…
Personally, I’ve always had mixed feelings on the adoration often heaped upon him and his staff over nearly two decades. There’s no denying the results – they’re spectacular. Their playoff streak and cup rings speak for themselves. But I can’t help but wonder how much the presence of Lidstrom – arguably the second best defencemen of all-time – impacted Holland’s trajectory as a manager. Being able to build your roster around 25 to 30 minutes a night from the future Hall-of-Famer afforded Holland a luxury that virtually no other team had.
I’ll concede that he still had to do his due diligence in putting together a supporting cast – no easy feat.
With Lidstrom now retired and the NHL marching towards the inevitably of advanced statistics and more complex scouting techniques, I wonder how much of an advantage Detroit will carry forward. Despite his resume, we may learn more about his managerial abilities over the next four years than we did in the previous twenty.
I’ve been on a bit of a John Carlson kick these past few days. Finished fourth among blueliners in shots (208) and tied for 25th in the entire league for powerplay points (22). Don’t get over zealous and draft him in the top 10 or something, but there’s value to be had here.
There is a tonne of fantastic work being done on the impact of zone entries in hockey. Much of it is changing the fundamental way we view the value of dump-ins versus controlled possession when entering the attacking zone.
From a fantasy perspective, this could be an important tool when evaluating players in the future. Since, at least from what I’ve read, the best offensive players are quite often the ones with terrific zone entry numbers.
Broad Street Hockey delved deeper into the Flyers and looked at which players are best at gaining the zone. Here is a tidbit:
…it seems pretty evident that this season, Voracek seemed to take on the role of that top line's primary puck-carrier. This is maybe not surprising when you consider their styles of play -- Voracek's combination of size, speed, and puck-possession ability makes for a deadly combination in this area
Voracek’s numbers last year were hurt by the protracted slump he and Giroux endured to the start the season. I’d expect better things in 2014-15.
Flipping through some stats from 2013-14 it was surprising to notice that only three players (Ovechkin, Sharp, and Kessel) shot more than 300 times.
That seemed exceedingly low to me, so I took a look back at some previous seasons.
Here is the number of 300 plus shooters since 2008 (excluding the lockout):
In all likelihood this year was simply an anomaly, with a few guys coming in slightly below 300. OR MAYBE I’VE STUMBLED ONTO A NEW GAME CHANGING TREND IN FANTASY!!… yeah, it’s probably nothing. That is unless it continues downward this coming year.
Poor Marian Hossa. Not only is arguably the most underrated superstar of his generation (995 points in 1090 games), he also doesn’t get nearly the respect he deserves in fantasy circles.
Granted, 36 isn’t young (he’ll be that old in January), but he did manage to finish with the 10th best goals per 60 minutes rate in the league last year. Ahead of names like Kessel, Sharp, Kane, and Crosby.
If he can stay healthy, there is no reason that 30 goals, 35 assists, and 240 shots isn’t attainable.
Sean McIndoe continues to deliver the goods over at Grantland, penning an article on The NHL’s Explosive 80s. It also revealed how little I know about hockey history. Apparently Kent Nilsson is ninth on the NHL’s all-time points per game list. If you’re asking who Kent Nilsson is, don’t worry, you’re not alone.
I’m making the not-so-difficult assumption that if you’re reading this (in the middle of summer) you’re probably a pretty avid fan, regularly watching a couple NHL games per week in season. But are you watching the right games?
One question that frequently comes up during the summer is how do I become better at fantasy hockey? Doing research and reading as much as you possibly can is the first step, of course. Although the second step, sometimes used as an insult towards those using advanced statistics, is to “watch the games, man.”
And not simply those of your favourite team or guys already on your fantasy roster. If it’s a random Tuesday in November maybe you should toss on the Carolina and Nashville game. It might end in a one to nothing shootout, which will be painful, but you’ll learn things. Sometimes when you don’t have a rooting interest it’s a lot easier to watch the entire game, objectively, and notice who is making an impact.
You don’t have to be a professional scout to pick up on which players are slotting in on scoring lines and who is getting opportunities. Even if you don’t come across the next Jamie Benn or Claude Giroux, you’ll at least gain a better understanding of what’s happening around the league.
In honor of the ‘guys that poolies never watch too closely’ club, here is a pretty one-timer goal from Nashville’s Craig Smith (he of 52 points in 79 games).
Darren Kennedy (@fantasyhockeydk) is a contributor for Dobber Hockey and McKeen’s. He’ll talk about anything… except Kovalchuk. Never, ever, Kovalchuck.