NHL Roundtable: Good and bad surprises; new stat NHL needs most
Every Wednesday, a trio of SI.com staffers sits down for a discussion of the hockey world's hot button issues. This week, Brian Cazeneuve, Sam Page and I talk about early-season surprises and disappointments, the Avalanche's race to the basement and the next big fancystat. First up:
Now that we're through the first 10 game segment of the season, what player or team rates as your biggest surprise and your biggest disappointment?
Speaking of MacKinnon, Colorado is just six points out of first place in the Central, but it's also two points out of the Western Conference cellar. So what is this team? A title contender off to a bad start? Or a bottom-tier club weighed down by bad defense and a worse system?
You've been put in charge of gathering stats by the league and given free reign to add one new measurement to this season's package. What's it going to be?PAGE:
MUIR: That's not entirely true. The league tracked zone time for a couple of years, but since the system wasn't set up to capture which team was in control of the puck the data wasn't all that revealing. But you're right about the desire for the stat. That's the one number that would be the most compelling to the largest audience. Me, though, I'd like to see pass completions tracked. The ability to move the puck effectively is not only the key to possession, but also to generating scoring chances. A pass completions number would be a great tool for evaluating the effectiveness of defensemen as the spearheads of the transition game, and also for the forwards who excel at creating opportunities in the offensive zone.
CAZENEUVE: Another stat? The NHL is trending towards having too many stats as it is. Having said that, as long as we’re overdosing on numbers, I’d be curious about all comparisons between what a player does during the regular season and what he does in the playoffs. Compare his point totals, his plus-minus, his Corsi numbers and so on from the games that really count to the ones that fill out the schedule. Playoff hockey is such a different animal than some pass through Winnipeg in January. I'd be curious to see how those numbers would evaluate a guy like Justin Williams.
MUIR: Too many stats? Get ready for a barrage of hate mail from the numbers nerds, old timer. But honestly, you raise a fair question there: How deep does the average fan care to dive statistically, and how far should the NHL go to appease the vocal but (statistically) tiny minority that wants every element of the game quantified and fed to them in graph form? We'll have to save that one for another day ...