Mar 282013
 

Vancouver Canucks celebrate a goal against the Colorado Avalanche

Photo credit: Vancouver Sun

A few weeks ago, the very thought that Roberto Luongo could be traded by next week’s trade deadline scared many fans. The Canucks were in a slump, having won just 3 of their 11 games, and in part because their $9.3 million goaltending duo of Cory Schneider and Roberto Luongo were battling inconsistency between the pipes. At that time, neither Schneider or Luongo had taken the reigns of the team’s no. 1 goaltending spot. Regardless of their play, on some level, having both in the lineup perhaps provided a sense of safety in numbers.

Before the Canucks’ current 5-game win streak, Schneider, specifically, was struggling. His timing was off and he seemed out of position at times. For a one-month stretch between February 15 and March 19, he was a rather pedestrian 2-3-3 with a 2.82 GAA and a 0.902 save percentage. And let’s not even get into his puckhandling adventures. Obviously, the Canucks’ struggles weren’t all his fault – he wasn’t getting much support from his defense and the team continues to struggle to score – but for that stretch, it seemed like he couldn’t make the big save when the Canucks needed him to, and that had Canucks fans a bit spooked.

Now, that sense of fear appears to have dissipated.

Going into tonight’s game against the last place Colorado Avalanche, Schneider, who will make his 6th consecutive start, is playing his best hockey of the season. He’s won his last 5 starts, which coincides with the Canucks’ 5-game win steak, and has a 0.98 GAA, a 0.962 save percentage and 2 shutouts in those games. Quickly, he’s worked his way back to more expected numbers, and for the season, he now has an 11-5-3 record with a 2.19 GAA (9th in the NHL), a 0.923 save percentage (3rd in the NHL), and 3 shutouts (4th in the NHL).

There will be very little room for error for Schneider if the much-anticipate Luongo trade occurs before the trade deadline. But it’s a great sign to finally see him settle in his role, and certainly, his play is helping alleviate fans’ fears of moving forward with him as the Canucks’ starting goaltender.

Canucks Record

18-9-6, 42 points (2nd in the Northwest Division, 4th in the Western Conference)

Season Series

The Canucks won the most recent meeting last Sunday. The Avs have actually had a dreadful month of March with only 3 wins in 12 games (3-8-1). They’re winless in their last 10 road games (0-7-3) and are dead last in the Western Conference. With 16 games to go, they’re still 10 points out of a playoff spot.

Who’s Hot

PA Parenteau is on a 3-game point streak (2G-3A-5P). He leads the Avs in goals (14) and points (33).

Who’s Not

Milan Hejduk has just 2 points in his last 8 games. Usually a big part of the Avs offense – he’s averaged 25 goals in his past 6 seasons – he’s had trouble finding the net and has just 4 goals and 7 assists in 25 games.

Quickies

  • Keith Ballard has a minor fracture in his foot and won’t play tonight. (Vancouver Province)
  • Roberto Luongo patiently waiting. Sitting and waiting. (Vancouver Sun)
Mar 252013
 

Dale Weise was out of the lineup so Cam Barker was back in. And Keith Ballard was back at forward. What could possibly go wrong?

Actually, it wasn’t too bad.

Against the worst team in the west, Cory Schneider got his fourth consecutive start and the Canucks extended their win streak to 4 games.

For good measure, Keith Ballard also got on the scoreboard with an assist on Alex Burrows’ game-winning goal.

Now on to the game.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Mar 242013
 

Canucks vs Avalanche

Photo credit: canada.com

After the Colorado Avalanche dropped a 5-2 decision to the Dallas Stars yesterday, Avs goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere didn’t mince any words:

“We had a big meeting two or three days ago, a players-only meeting. We talked about some stuff and I thought we had a good response against Dallas at home (Wednesday). Then we have a day off, then come back and practice, and I thought our practice was just awful,” Giguere said. “The effort wasn’t there. We practiced defensive zone coverage, and guys weren’t taking the body and swirling and stuff like that. This is the stuff we have to work on every day. I told a couple of the guys that ‘I don’t think we’ll have a good game today.’ It’s unacceptable. It’s an everyday job. You’ve got to work hard every day. You’ve got to be a lot more desperate than that.”

I suppose Giguere’s outburst is a bit understandable. After all, the Avs have lost 5 of their last 6 games and now occupy last place in the Western Conference. Especially after a 20-point improvement between the 2010/2011 and 2011/2012 seasons – they went from 68 to 88 points in 82 games – there was some hope that the Avs could maybe make a push for a playoff spot this season. Now 7 points back of 8th place in the Western Conference and with only 18 games left to play, that hope is slowly fading.

Canucks Record

16-9-6, 38 points (2nd in Northwest Division, 4th in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

Cory Schneider has started the last 3 Canucks games – all wins – and stopped 85 of the 88 shots he faced (0.966 save percentage). In an afternoon matinee against the defending Stanley Cup champions Los Angeles Kings, who had won 12 of their 17 games before facing the Canucks, Schneider stopped all 20 shots he faced for his second shutout of the season.

Who’s Not

After finally breaking an 0-for-35 slump against the Minnesota Wild last week, the Canucks’ powerplay is mired in another lengthy slump. They haven’t scored in their last 11 man-advantages, including 3 PP opportunities against the Kings yesterday. Perhaps Dimitri Filipovic from Canucks Army described it best:

I don’t want to harp on how dreadful the power play looks, because I realize that it’s missing 2 of its most important pieces. I’ll just mention that the team had 3 opportunities, which only generated 2 scoring chances. Both were for the Kings.

Quickies

  • A personal fave column: Canucks Brunch. (Nucks Misconduct)
  • Still trying to figure out if Tony G. is giving AV a hard time for his lineup decisions or giving him a pass because of all his missing players. (Vancouver Province)
  • For those hoping the Canucks’ offense gets a trade deadline boost, who knows if it they’ll come. (Vancouver Province)
Jan 312013
 

After a three-game jaunt through California, the Canucks are back home against the Colorado Avalanche.

I hear Coach V made some sort of goalie announcement. I wonder how that went…

If that wasn’t enough controversy for you, some also seemed to struggle finding the game on TV. I hope it worked out for you.

Read more #TGATT goodness past the jump.

Jan 282013
 

The season didn’t quite start the way Vancouver Canucks fans expected as the Canucks got thumped 7-3 in their season opener against the Anaheim Ducks last week. Rust, timing and lack of execution were clearly evident, but as the week went along the Canucks seemed to start putting in better efforts.

They did lose in the shootout against the young and talented Edmonton Oilers before winning in the shootout against the Calgary Flames. In that win against the Flames, the Canucks were led by one of their best players in the early season – Zack Kassian, who scored a goal on the shootout so dirty and so slick that I think Miika Kiprusoff is still looking for his jockstrap.

A couple of days later, the Canucks redeemed themselves against the Ducks. They went into Anahiem, who was hosting their first home game, and won decisively by a 5-0 score. This game was by far their best of the five they’ve played to-date – they played with a lot of physicality, scored some beautiful and gritty goals, and were buoyed by an excellent goaltending performance from Cory Schneider.

The Canucks then ended the week in San Jose, where they couldn’t take advantage of Ryane Clowe’s meltdowns and numerous powerplay advantages, and couldn’t find any puck luck from the hockey gods (5 posts!) en route to a 4-1 loss.

Who’s Next

Monday, January 28, 2013 at Los Angles Kings (7:30 PM start)

Roberto Luongo will get the start in the building where he lost his starting position in last years playoffs. This will be Bobby Lu’s second start of the season.

With just one win in their first 4 games (1-2-1), the Kings might be experiencing the infamous Stanley Cup hangover. Their official Twitter account may have picked up right from where they left off last season, but the Kings themselves are still struggling to put some wins together.

In the last regular season, the Canucks went 2-1-1 against the Kings. Captain Hank Sedin had 4 points (1G-3A) in 3 games while Anze Kopitar led LA with 4 points in 4 games.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013 vs. Colorado Avalanche (7:00 PM)

This past summer, Gabriel Landeskog was named the Avs’ youngest captain in franchise history. It’s unknown if Landeskog will be in the lineup on Wednesday as he’s still feeling the effects of a big hit he took from Brad Stuart of the Sharks.

Newcomer PA Parenteau has fit right into the Avs system with 2 goals, 1 assist and a team-best plus-4 in 4 games.

The Canucks had Colorado’s number last year, winning all 6 games in the season series. Luongo was in goal for 4 of those wins; Schneider was in net for 2. Hank, Jannik Hansen, Chris Higgins and Kevin Bieksa all had 5 points each against the Avs last season.

Friday, February 1, 2013 vs. Chicago Blackhawks (7:00 PM)

Canucks fans have had this Friday night meeting against the Blackhawks circled on their calendar since the schedule was released. The rivalry between these two teams speaks for itself, and these matchups are always some of the most entertaining – and most heated – games of the NHL season. Not like the Canucks need more motivation, but the Blackhawks, having won all of their first 6 games, are one the hottest teams in the league. This will also be the first time that the Canucks will meet Duncan Keith after Keith’s dirty elbow put Daniel out of action at the end of last season. It’s an interesting subplot and we’ll see if anything comes out of it.

Patrick Kane currently leads the ‘Hawks with 9 points (2G-7A) and Marian Hossa leads them with 5 goals.

Last season, the Canucks were 2-1-1 against Chicago. Kane and Hossa led the Hawks with 4 points each in the season series while Hank Sedin had 6 points in their 4 meetings.

Apr 042012
 

With 98% of the NHL season behind us, it’s time to fill in an imaginary awards ballot.

But before we get to that, let’s take a moment to consider two more dead teams:

Calgary Flames

What went wrong: No team had an easier stretch drive schedule among teams fighting for the last Western Conference playoff spots than the Flames did. They failed to reach the post season because they couldn’t score. The Flames as a team are currently 25th in shots on goal per game. They’re 3-9 in shootouts, rivalling Montreal (5-11) and Carolina (0-6) for the league’s worst record in the skills competition. Jarome Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross will finish the year as the team’s lone 20-goal scorers. None of them are consistent (Iginla’s slow starts have become legendary). Calgary sits last in the league in faceoff performance.

What went right: Mikka Kiprusoff carried the team all season with stellar play between the pipes. When finally healthy for the second-half Mark Giordano played well. He has 16 points after the All-Star break and has helped Calgary reach 11th in the NHL on the powerplay. Mike Cammalleri has struggled to stay healthy with the Flames but when dressed has scored at a 30-goal pace.

Off-Season Gameplan: It’s been said in this space more than once, but this aging Calgary team desperately needs a rebuild. After three years of missing the playoffs there’s clearly not enough talent in the lineup to reach the post-season. There isn’t enough organizational depth right now either to create hope for better days in the future. This may the last chance Calgary gets to shop Jarome Iginla before seeing his value depreciate completely on the marketplace.

Winnipeg Jets

What went wrong: There was lots of talk pre-season about what the travel schedule would do to not only the Jets, but other teams in the Southeast Division. Clearly it was a factor for the Manitoba team, as Winnipeg has put together a terrible road record (13-21-5). The penalty kill is below 80%, which hurts a team that’s short-handed a lot (25th worst). As well as Ondrej Pavelec has been at times this season, he tired down the stretch (3.13 goals against in March) and currently ranks 57th in the league in save percentage (.906). Alex Burmistrov was improved this season, but his offensive progression has been slow (just 28 points in year two). Eric Fehr (3 points, 35 games) was a bust, while Tanner Glass (-12) was asked to do too much.

What went right: Blake Wheeler (61 points) and Evander Kane (29 goals) have taken steps forward as top-six, even top-line players. Dustin Byfuglien has had a strong second-half. Off the scrap-heap, Kyle Wellwood has been an effective offensive player (47 points despite just 14:57 per game in ice-time). The MTS Centre has proven to be one of the few home-ice advantages left in the NHL.

Off-Season Gameplan: Continue to build around a very solid core. Veteran depth, particularly the type that could improve the defensive side of Winnipeg’s game, would be helpful. Mark Scheifele will get the Burmistrov treatment next year. If Scheifele’s ready, he could supply enough offense to bring the playoffs back to Manitoba.

***

Now with that little bit of ugly business out of the way, let’s take a quick look at who deserves award recognition for the 2011-2012 NHL season.

Hart Trophy – Evgeni Malkin

Runners-up: Jason Spezza; Henrik Lundqvist

Malkin has been arguably the league’s best player this year. Lundqvist is probably the most valuable, but goalies rarely win this award. A Hart nomination is the feather-in-the-cap to a marvellous season from Jason Spezza.

Norris Trophy – Zdeno Chara

Runners-up: Alex Pieterangelo; Erik Karlsson

Chara wins because he’s put forth his strongest offensive season while retaining defensive dominance (+33 leads all d-men). Karlsson’s had a magical season but his defensive play remains average. Under Ken Hitchcock, Alex Pieterangelo has arrived, breaking the 50-point barrier but more importantly playing extremely well defensively night in, night out.

Vezina Trophy – Henrik Lundqvist

Runners-up: Jonathan Quick; Mike Smith

The Rangers success gives Lundqvist the nod over Quick, whose Los Angeles Kings team have been in a playoff dogfight all season. Mike Smith’s career rejuvenation in Phoenix gives him a slight edge over the two St. Louis Blues goalies (Jaroslav Halak and Brian Elliott) who’ve split too much playing time to be considered.

Selke Trophy – Patrice Bergeron

Runners-up: David Backes; Anze Kopitar

Bergeron wins almost 60% of his draws and is one of the league’s premiere penalty killers. Backes has flourished under Ken Hitchcock, leading Blues forwards in goals, points, hits and blocked shots. Kopitar deserves greater recognition, is leading the Kings in points once again but, more importantly to this category, has been Los Angeles best defensive player as well.

Calder Trophy – Gabriel Landeskog

Runners-up: Ryan Nugent-Hopkins; Matt Read

Not only is Landeskog tied for the rookie points lead, but he’s an incredible +23 and has played in all situations for the Avs down the stretch. He’s a future captain. Nugent-Hopkins is the most offensively-gifted rookie, but injuries have prevented him from running away with the freshman scoring crown. Matt Read leads all rookies in goals and has become an important player in the Flyers lineup.

Adams Trophy – Ken Hitchcock

Runners-up: Paul Maclean; John Tortorella

Hitchcock’s turned a middle-of-the-pack team into arguably the best team in the Western Conference. Paul Maclean has done wonders in Ottawa, taking a Sens team destined for a lottery pick into the playoffs. Tortorella’s nomination is a reward for guiding a team that’s out-performed its roster’s talent level all season.

 THOUGHTS ON THE FLY

  • Another take on possible NHL awards, this one from ESPN.
  • Let’s just get this out of the way: Mike Milbury was a joke as a general manager and he’s a joke as a commentator. His take on league affairs is almost always neanderthal and ultra-traditionalist. Attacking Sidney Crosby gets your name in the paper though.
  • This definitely should be on any list of craziest goals of the year. It also epitomizes the difference in heart between the Buffalo Sabres and Toronto Maple Leafs.
  • At this point, wouldn’t it be for the best for everyone if the Washington Capitals missed the playoffs, fired their coach, and re-built their approach around Ovechkin’s offense than see the gutsy Sabres (one of the best teams in the NHL since the All-Star Game) come up short?
  • Quietly, Willie Mitchell’s having one of the best defensive defenseman seasons in the NHL this year. Granted, the ultra-conservative Kings gameplay helps in that regard.
  • Still without a contract, you have to expect the Edmonton Oilers are ready to walk away from Tom Renney. The talk is Todd Nelson, coach of Edmonton’s AHL farm team, will get a long look. Hard to believe he’s the guy who can take this young team to the next level.
  • It’s a small sample size, but the Nashville Predators are 4-3 in Alex Radulov’s seven games. The big Russian has 3 goals, 6 points in that span and has fit extremely well into the lineup.
  • For all of those people ready to anoint the Stanley Cup to Pittsburgh, let’s acknowledge the fact that the Penguins are actually 25th in the NHL in team save percentage. Marc-Andre Fleury, not Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby, will have the biggest say in how far the Penguins go in the playoffs.
  • Speaking of which, the Chicago Blackhawks, for what it’s worth, are 27th in the NHL in team save percentage. Numbers-wise, Chicago’s entering the post-season with the worst goaltending amongst remaining teams.
  • Some other interesting Pre/Post-All-Star Game numbers: Winnipeg was 22nd in league scoring during the first half; 3rd so far in the second half. Buffalo was 25th in the first-half; 5th in the second half. Going the other way, Vancouver was 3rd in the first half scoring-wise; 15th in the second half. Washington was 9th in the first half; 26th in the second half.
  • Defensively, the Bruins have gone from 4th in the first half to 22nd in the second half. Minnesota from 8th in the first half to 25th and Pittsburgh from 10th to 23rd. Improving their defensive play in the second half were teams like Buffalo (26th to 7th), Anaheim (23rd to 8th), Colorado (21st to 5th) and Ottawa (27th to 13th).
Mar 262012
 

[Every week, Caylie King reviews the Canucks week that was and previews the Canucks week ahead.  You can follow Caylie on Twitter (@CayKing).]

The Vancouver Canucks started off their recently-concluded 4-game road trip by being shutout 2-0 against the Minnesota Wild. Cory Schneider played a solid game in Minnesota but the team in front of him just couldn’t bury the puck.

Then, after trying to find their game for well over a month, the Canucks seemed to turn the corner against rival Chicago Blackhawks. Unfortunately, it was a dirty, cheap Duncan Keith elbow on Daniel Sedin that ignited the fire. Keith, of course, was suspended for 5 regular season games, but at this point in the season, we can only hope and pray that Daniel makes a full recovery.

With Daniel out indefinitely, the Canucks beat the Dallas Stars 2-1 (backstopped by another solid effort by Schneider) and came back from a 2-0 deficit to beat the playoff-hungry Colorado Avalanche.

Canucks Record

75 GP, 45-21-9, 99 points (1st in Northwest Division, 2nd in Western Conference)

Who’s Hot

For his lackluster play, Mason Raymond was scratched 4 games ago.

Message received.

Since watching the Wild game from the press box, May Ray has responded positively and has made the most of his opportunity replace Daniel Sedin and playing on the top line with Henrik Sedin.

He’s scored in consecutive games and has been noticeable in his last 3 games. He’s using his speed, he’s shooting the puck, and he’s getting himself to the front of the net.

Who’s Not

Max Lapierre is pointless in his last 15 games and he hasn’t scored in his last 21 games. Maybe it’s because he had a scorching start to the season, but his lack of production recently has been noticeable.

At least, Lappy is still a big part of the 4th line and still gets under the skin of the opposing players. He’s not known for his offensive prowess, but it would be nice for him to chip in the odd offense once in a while.

Who’s Next

Monday, March 26, 2012 vs. Los Angeles Kings (7:00 PM start, home)

The Los Angeles Kings roll into Rogers Arena having won 6 of their last 7 games; their minor speed bump game was a 4-2 loss to the Boston Bruins last Saturday. The Kings are one of 5 teams engaged in a heated battle for one of the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. They are currently holding onto the 8th playoff spot as of today.

The Kings will look to win the season serious against the Canucks as they play for the final time this regular season; the Kings have won 2 of the 3 previous meetings.

Anze Kopitar leads all Kings skaters with 4 points (1G-3A) in the season series. He’s hit the scoresheet in 10 of his last 13 games (7G-7A-14P). He also leads the Kings this season in goals (24), assists (41) and points (65).

Wednesday, March 28, 2012 vs. Colorado Avalanche (7:00 PM start, home)

The Canucks and Colorado Avalanche met just three days ago as the Canucks came back from a 2-0 deficit and won 3-2 in overtime. Like the Kings, they are among the 5 teams with a realistic chance of snagging one of the two final playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Avs are currently tied in points for the final spot, but sit in 10th place due to having played more games than the teams above them.

The Canucks will look to sweep the season series; they’ve won all 5 previous meeting between the two teams.

Jannik Hansen, Kevin Bieksa and Henrik Sedin all have 5 points against the Avs. David Jones, Milan Hejduk and Paul Stastny all have 2 points in the season series. Also, newly-acquired Jamie McGinn was quite noticeable for the Avs in Saturday’s match-up. He’s been a huge pickup for the team, and as some analysts say, one of the biggest impact trade deadline impact acquisitions in the league; in his last 11 games in an Avs jersey, he has 12 points (8G-4A).

Friday, March 30, 2012 vs. Dallas Stars (7:00 PM start, home)

By virtue of leading the Pacific Division, the Dallas Stars are currently occupy 3rd place in the tight Western Conference. However, if they falter at all in the next 7 games, they can just as easily find themselves in 7th place – or out of the playoffs altogether – as their division rivals Phoenix Coyotes are only a point behind and the Los Angeles Kings and San Jose Sharks are only 2 points back.

The Stars lead the season series 2-1; however, the Canucks won their last meeting on a Kevin Bieksa game-winner. Mike Ribeiro has 5 points (3G-2A) to pace the Stars, while while Chris Higgins has 4 points (1G-3A) to lead the Canucks.

Victoria native, Jamie Benn is having a career year in Dallas despite a few games this season. Already, he’s reached a career-high in goals (24), assists (35) and points (59). He is second in Dallas in team scoring.

Saturday, March 24, 2012 vs. Calgary Flames (7:00 PM start, home)

Currently 3 points out of the final playoff position in the Western Conference and with only 6 games left, the Calgary Flames’ playoff hopes are slimly alive. They made a similar push last season but ultimately fell short of a playoff spot.

Both teams have won 2 games each in the season series. Alex Tanguay leads all Flames skaters with 2 goals, while David Booth leads the Canucks with 5 poitns (2G-3A).

It’s no surprise that Captain Jarome Iginla is having another solid campaign and is leading the Flames in goals (31) and points (62). Iggy has reached the 30-goal plateau in his last 11 seasons.

Mar 212012
 

The Globe and Mail report that Patrick Roy is waiting in the wings to take over the Montreal Canadiens after this season is not unexpected.

Rumours for months have made it seem like a Quebec-centric bidding war has developed between the Habs and prospective Nordiques franchise over the services of Mr. Roy.

Interestingly though, yesterday’s news turned my inbox into a debate over the merits of Patrick Roy. Not necessarily his merits behind the bench or in the executive suite, but on the ice.

The question was – who was a better goalie, Ken Dryden or Patrick Roy?

It’s the type of question that has fueled hockey talk in living rooms, sports bars and in online forums. It’s also the type of question that really can’t be answered, since:

a) It’s a question of comparing different eras;

b) Dryden’s career was short and excellent on a dynasty team, while Roy played roughly two decades for average-to-excellent teams;

c) Roy revolutionized the position while Dryden revolutionized how to look bored during game-action;

d) Statistics available for Roy’s career are far more available than those for Dryden.

This last point is most challenging, since a quick scan online reveals only fewa season’s worth of save percentages are available for Dryden.

But there ARE a few season’s worth of save percentages available, and with that there’s enough to try and take a “scientific” stab at this question.

First up, let’s take a look at the modern season stats we do have for Ken Dryden:

AgeYearRecordMinutesGoals AgainstSavesGAASVPCT
231970-716-0-032792001.650.957
271974-7530-9-16332014914402.690.906
281975-7642-10-8358012115312.030.927
291976-7741-6-8327511713422.140.920
301977-7837-7-7307110512312.050.921
311978-7930-10-7281410810842.300.909

Now let’s grab Patrick Roy’s seasons at the same age:

AgeYearRecordMinutesGoals AgainstSavesGAASVPCT
231988-8933-5-6274411311152.470.908
271992-9331-25-5359519216223.20.894
281993-9435-17-11386716117952.500.918
291994-9517-20-6256612712302.970.906
301995-9634-24-2356516516322.780.908
311996-9738-15-7369814317182.320.923

Clearly, the numbers above suggest Dryden is the superior netminder.

However, the numbers don’t take into account the different eras, nor do they take into account the strength of Dryden’s Habs vs. Roy’s Montreal/Colorado teams. Let’s do both.

First, let’s equalize their eras. We know that historically the NHL averages roughly 6.17 goals per game. We also know the number of goals-per-game the NHL averaged in each of Dryden and Roy’s seasons.

Given this knowledge, we can do the following math to equalize their different eras: (actual goals against) / [(season’s goals-per-game/historical goals-per-game average)] = “new era-equal” goals against.

How does this impact the numbers? Again, Dryden seems to have a clear advantage over Roy:

Ken DrydenGAASVPCTPatrick RoyGAASVPCT
1970-711.630.9581988-892.030.923
1974-752.420.9151992-932.710.909
1975-761.830.9341993-942.370.922
1976-771.990.9261994-953.060.904
1977-781.910.9261995-962.720.910
1978-792.020.921996-972.450.919

Those are microscopic numbers for Ken Dryden, but they don’t take into consideration the strength of Dryden’s team.

We’ll try to compensate for the different strengths of teams by equalizing the shots-on-goal each goalie faced. Amazingly, the average number of shots on goal per team per NHL game has remained static over the years. The average number of shots faced in 2010-11 per game, per goalie was 30.411. Let’s use the 30.411 figure and apply it the era-equalized goals against to see what both goalies would look like playing in the “same era,” facing the “same number of shots.”

The expectation here is that, for Dryden, his goals against should be higher. The Canadiens of his era were a solid defensive team that gave up anywhere from 25-28 shots on goal per game. For Roy, we expect his numbers to remain relatively the same, as he regularly faced over the course of his career 30 shots against per game.

Ken DrydenPatrick Roy
AgeOld GAAOld SVPCTNEW GAANEW SVPCTOld GAAOld SVPCTNEW GAANEW SVPCT
231.650.9571.300.9582.470.9082.340.923
272.690.9062.590.9153.200.8942.770.909
282.030.9272.020.9342.500.9182.390.922
292.140.9202.270.9262.970.9062.920.904
302.050.9212.240.9262.780.9082.740.910
312.300.9092.450.9202.320.9232.460.919

The expected kind of happened, although not to the degree imagined. Dryden’s goals against went up, but they were still far superior to Roy’s numbers.

This hasn’t been the most perfect study for a variety of reasons, including the fact that quality of scoring chances couldn’t be taken into consideration (those numbers don’t exist to my knowledge), and we only looked at a select few seasons of each goalie.

Nonetheless, when the numbers are modified to put each goalie into the “same era” against the “same number of shots,” it’s clear the Dryden vs. Roy debate is really no debate at all.

THOUGHTS ON THE FLY

  • Last week, we took a look at the terrific battle for the 7th and 8th playoff spots in the Western Conference. There’s still a race going on in the Eastern Conference between Washington, Florida, Winnipeg and Buffalo for the 3rd and 8th spots respectively. However, surprises seem far less likely to happen.
  • Of the four teams, Florida plays the weakest opponents (a .508 winning percentage heading into last night’s Philadelphia game). The Panthers reaching the playoffs seems like a sure thing.
  • The Jets have the toughest schedule, playing teams with a .572 winning percentage (including last night’s Pittsburgh game). They also play 6 of their last 9 games on the road, where they’ve struggled (11-20-4). It sure seems like the lights of the MTS Centre will be dark come playoff time.
  • Having said that, of the four teams in the discussion the Jets have been the highest scoring team over their last 20 games, potting 3.25 goals per game. Unfortunately for them, they’ve given up the most goals as well, averaging 3.15 goals against per game.
  • Blake Wheeler has become the big straw stirring the Jets drink, with 26 points in 23 games since the All-Star Game. Bryan Little has also come alive, with 10 goals and 19 points over the same period. Not to be out-done, Dustin Byfuglien has been a point-per-game player from the defense as well with 22 points in 22 games.
  • On paper, it’s hard to see how the Washington Capitals are still in the playoff race. They’re 9-9-2 over their last 20 games, giving up an average of 2.90 goals against per game while only scoring 2.40 goals per game. 5 of their last 9 games are at home though, where they have had good success this season (23-10-3). That should be enough to squeak them into the playoffs.
  • The wildcard here are the Buffalo Sabres. They’re 6-2-2 in their past 10 games and 11-5-4 in their past 20, putting the pressure on a Caps team that’s spinning its wheels. A March 27th game on the road against Washington looms large. If Buffalo wants to make the playoffs, they not only need to win that game, but improve on their current 12-9-5 record against their remaining opponents.
  • Reasons for Buffalo’s surge since the All-Star Game: Tyler Myers is +11 since the break; With 19 points each over the same period, Tyler Ennis and Drew Stafford have given the Sabres scoring depth; Ryan Miller has a 2.02 goals against and .932 save percentage in 23 post All-Star game appearances. (Editor’s note: What? No mention of Cody Hodgson? /sarcasm – J.J.)
  • Evgeni Malkin is the first NHL player to score 5 or more points in a game 4 times in one season since 1995–96. During the 1995-96 season, Mario Lemieux did it 6 times for the Pittsburgh Penguins, while Peter Forsberg did it 4 times for the Colorado Avalanche.
  • How is it possible that Ryan Getzlaf has just 9 goals this year?
  • Other prominent players who may not hit 10-goals this year: Brandon Dubinsky (8); Kyle Turris (8); Mason Raymond (8); Michal Handzus (7); Dustin Penner (7); Paul Gaustad (7); Ville Leino (6); Brian Rolston (6); Mike Knuble (6).
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