I was at the ACC on Saturday night to cover a highly entertaining contest between the Maple Leafs and the Senators.
Yeah, yeah, I know, nobody cares.
Question: What do Devan Dubnyk, James Reimer and Tim Thomas have in common? I mean beyond the fact that all three were totally and thoroughly ventilated on Saturday?
Answer: All three remain reasonably likely to post above average seasons as starting goaltenders.
It's an 82 game season. We all know this. Yet we all also love to draw big sweeping inferences from the first week of games. Hell, it's human nature to give greater weight to one's first impressions. Which is why I'll spend much of these ramblings doing just that.
But before I do, let's offer up a qualifier. We don't know much about the quality of any teams at this point in the season, and it'll take a few weeks before things begin to shake out.
In the meantime our impulse to label random chance which occurs early in the season as "indicative" of anything really is shoddy, and will lead one astray. This is true in fantasy and more generally as a hockey fan who likes to be right about stuff.
In game 66 some of the guys who were stellar on Saturday - like Jaroslav Halak or Kari Lehtonen - will have crappy games, while Dubnyk, Reimer and Thomas are crushing it. And no one will remember the first weekend of the season.
The Tampa Bay Lightning spat in the face of PDO on Saturday. Unfathomable that they emerged from that lopsided contest against the Blackhawks with two points. Truly.
Are you ready to live in a world where the Minnesota Wild are fancy-stats darlings? Because that dawn is nigh, my friends.
First the Minnesota Wild out-corsi'd the Kings on Thursday (and lost). Then they controlled 51 shot attempts to 26 for the Ducks at 5on5 on Saturday night (and lost). Granted the Wild were playing from behind for most of the game, and the score effects adjusted stats suggest a much more even affair...
But the point remains that the Wild have a chance to be a legitimate good team this season. I thought that before the season started and have seen nothing to dissuade me of that likelihood in week one.
They're still a quality second-line away from slaying either of St. Louis or Chicago in the playoffs, however.
I highly, highly recommend extraskater.com, a new fancy stat resource that came about during the offseason and has had something of a coming out party this week. The game recaps are particularly user friendly and visually appealing, which hopefully will make these numbers more accessible and interesting to skeptical hockey fans.
Every year around this time I get to fantasizing about playing in a fantasy hockey league where shot differential is a category. Ultimately the players who would become most valuable as a result are the best players on good teams anyway (the Malkins, Sedins, Toews', Thorntons, Bergerons and Kopitars etc.), and isn't that sort of the point?
Another category that would make a lot of sense is penalty differential. Or even just "drawn penalties." Treating PIMs like a positive is pretty silly at this point, and I think more fantasy managers are realizing that every year. Drawing penalties on the other hand is a meaningful skill, and something that helps teams win actual hockey fans. It would be cool to play in a fantasy league that took that into account.
In a fancy-stat fantasy league Dustin Brown is a first round pick.
I'm in theScore's news editor fantasy league this year and that's it. It's matchup style with G, A, PPP, Hits, SOG, W, GAA and SV% as cats. I picked 20th out of 20, and each team goes 15 players deep. Obviously seeing as how I picked real late, my club is really shallow on top-end talent. I also probably should've invested more in goal (but we only had one G slot) too.
But at least I got Radko Gudas, and Gudas is to the 2013-14 NHL fantasy season, what Rockets center Omer Asik was to the 2012-13 NBA fantasy season. To be more specific about I mean by that comparison: Gudas is (like Asik was last season) a quality player with unbelievable rate stats who was obviously going to see his ice-time explode this season. Four hits and a +1 on Saturday!
I wasn't smart enough target Gudas myself, frankly. Luckily I read Terry Campkin every Sunday, so he was on my radar.
You should probably read Campkin on Sunday's too.
With Alex Burrows on the shelf for 2-3 weeks, Jannik Hansen looks like he'll be the forward in Vancouver who caddies the twins. Obviously Hansen won't get you power-play points, but he'll give you hits, points, shots and plus/minus when he's playing on Vancouver's top-line and it looks like he will through October.
I just bring this up as a waiver wire suggestion. Hansen scored a goal on Saturday, added 6 PIM and 4 hits in his first game on the top-line. He's also owned in 5% of Yahoo leagues currently, so yeah, probably worth keeping an eye on.
How good has that Galchenyuk, Gallagher, Eller line been this week? Some of it is a mirage for sure (the Canadiens are scoring on one of every five even-strength shots with Galchenyuk on the ice so far), but Montreal is crushing play with those three on the ice. They did it last season too, so it's not just a two game thing.
I could see those three posting first line forward point production this season (I consider a first line forward to be a ~55 point guy).
I'll just leave this here because it's hilarious. It's too early in the season for this to really matter, and I'm sure Buffalo's possession numbers will regress over the next 23 games or so. But wow.
Thomas Drance is a news editor at theScore.