Eyes On The Prize Mailbag

Where do these two slot in on the Hamilton Bulldogs depth chart? Find out inside. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Welcome to the first ever EOTP mailbag where the editors of the site, including myself, will take your questions and answer them to the best of our abilities.

Since this is the first week, we don't have too many questions to answer, but being that this is EOTP, the answers will likely be long. I'll be running this feature to start, so the questions will be coming to me directly, but if you have a question for a specific contributor or for all of us it will certainly be passed on.

Hopefully this feature will continue to grow as our community gets bigger, so ask us anything about the Montreal Canadiens or hockey in general!

Hello Andrew

Could you suggest ways any of us readers could start to do their own analysis? For instance, it would be great to know the best places to get data, some techniques such as software (Excel?), references to some good stats authors such as your recent post about Eric T, and perhaps occasionally make EOTP stats post transparent (eg. click here and you get the step by step method). Of course there are many other possibilities, but essentially the question is how does a novice start?

Ted in Nova Scotia

Hey Ted! This is a big question so you're going to get a big answer. The most user friendly place to get data is Behind The Net, which we all use. From there you can organize the data by team, by games played, by position, and by season. After that you can choose what data you want displayed.

I use excel to organize my own data and play with numbers, and I have a program that takes game by game data from the internet and organizes it for me in an excel sheet to use as well. It's surprising what you can learn just playing with the numbers a bit.

For good stats authors, the best place currently is NHL Numbers where many well regarded stat heads have congregated including Eric T, Jonathan Willis, Thomas Drance, Kent Wilson, Cam Charron, Derek Zona and Benjamin Wendorf. The creator of Behind The Net, and advanced stat guru, Gabriel Desjardins also writes for the Winnipeg Jets SB Nation blog Arctic Ice Hockey under the name Hawerchuk. For Habs scoring chances the best place is En Attendant Les Nordiques by Olivier Bouchard. It's in French, but even if you don't read French the data is easy to understand. Another good one is Tyler Dellow at mc79hockey. All of these people are coming up with new and interesting ways to analyze the game.

We try to make our methodologies as transparent as possible, and easily digestible, but this is something we're going to continue trying to work on. This is one reason why the glossary for advanced stats is permanently linked on the home page on the right hand side.

To start as a novice all you really need to do is read. We've got some articles on EOTP that explain the statistics and how to use them and why they're important. My recommendation is to start out with things like Corsi and Fenwick which are basically just shot measurements. Another cool exercise is to record a game on your PVR, watch it and write down who you thought outplayed who and why. After that re-watch the game but pause it to record scoring chances. A scoring chance is any shot on the net or shot that misses the net from the so-called home plate area:

Homeplate_medium

You may find your perceptions change a little bit. Other than that, my only suggestion is to read everything that interests you! -Andrew

Andrew,

I've been following your site for about four years now but as I'm an old fart and not into Facebook, Twitter and the other modern communications devices I've never commented. Glad to get this email address just so I could say how much I've enjoyed all the work that you and the others have put into this quality Habs site. I've been a Habs fan since growing up in the mid 1950's with the big Forum calendar on the kitchen wall and seeing the team picture of Les Canadiens with the Stanley Cup. For a few years there I thought that every team posed with the Stanley Cup for their yearly picture.

I've enjoyed most of the new systems that your writers are using to dissect player evaluation but I really missed last year the loss of the original guy - sorry forget his name - comes from getting old - who gave his summation of the game immediately after and often during the game.

George in Fredericton, NB

Thanks for the praise, George! Really appreciated. We all miss what Robert L (the original guy) brought to the site. We still do game recaps and bang them out as fast as possible. We also have started to get much more involved in game threads, but we don't do the game blog thing, we just hang around in the comments section and communicate with the readers.

Kevin van Steendelaar will be getting a bit of relief on the game threads and game recaps this year as we all pitch in, which will allow him to write some posts on Habs history, which he used to do for his old blog, and something Robert L was known for. Francis Bouchard also helps out in that regard behind the scenes, so hopefully that will bring some more content similar to what you miss. -Andrew

Hey EOTP Crew,

Assuming that Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges and P.K. Subban remain healthy, which other defenseman would you place in the top 4 to start the season?

@fakeScottGomez on twitter or Bobby F on EOTP

Personally I'd be slotting Alexei Emelin into that spot to see if he can work on Markov's right side if he gets a little consistency. I think he has the best tools of the remaining defensemen on the roster and his physicality distracts opponents from Markov which could keep people from keying on that very precarious knee. However you asked the whole crew, so I'll get some other answers as well. -Andrew

Emelin. Markov made Mike Komisarek an All-Star, I am interested to see what he can do with fatso. -Chris Boyle

I think Emelin has to be the guy. -Stephan Cooper

Emelin will get the first shot, and is the most likely to have it in the long run, but considering Gorges' ability to play the right side as well I could see a left side defenseman become the #4, particularly Tomas Kaberle. A Markov - Subban first pairing followed by Kaberle - Gorges could be a possibility if Emelin struggles. Raphael Diaz is another that could get a look.

There are a lot of possible configurations. I don't think it's automatic that Gorges - Subban is the top pairing for Therrien. Whatever his top pairing is, it will have to have Subban on the right side, though. -Bruce Peter

It's been mentioned before, I believe by Andrew, that Kaberle has had a plethora of coaches in the last few years. I would be curious how he holds up for a full season under one coach in Montreal. But top-4 for him seems unlikely. It will probably go to Emelin.

Oh and by a full season , I mean 82 games, not what is now more inevitable with a December start. -Kevin van Steendelaar

Hey EOTP,

Hamilton Bulldogs will see a lot of fresh faces this year. Who do you see being on the opening day roster for Hamilton?

Thanks

@robmyatt

Hey Rob. How appropriate to get a Bulldogs question with a lockout seeming to loom over the NHL season. Who will be on the opening day roster is hard to know, especially since some guys from the NHL could play there if the lockout drags into the season. Assuming the NHL gets a full season, here's the depth chart as we understand it for Hamilton:

Left Wing Center Right Wing
Aaron Palushaj Joonas Nattinen Louis Leblanc
Blake Geoffrion Michael Bournival Brendan Gallagher
Michael Blunden Gabriel Dumont Patrick Holland
Philippe Lefebvre
Steven Quailer
Ian Schultz
Alexander Avtsin
Alain Berger
Left Defense Right Defense
Frederic St-Denis Brendan Nash
Nathan Beaulieu Morgan Ellis
Jarred Tinordi Greg Pateryn
Kyle Hagel Joe Stejskal
Goaltenders
Cedrick Desjardins
Robert Mayer

To balance the lineup I've put a couple natural right wingers on the left side, as both Palushaj and Blunden have played on the left side often. However we don't yet know how Sylvain Lefebvre will organize his team or if he'll use a player like Leblanc as a center. There's also the possibility that any of Palushaj, Leblanc, Gallagher or Bournival make the Habs and aren't a big part of the Bulldogs season. If this is the team Lefebvre gets however, it's one hell of a stacked AHL team. Probably the best team Hamilton has had, by far, since the Calder Cup win in 2006. They're also a very young team though, so we should temper expectations.

And remember that this is a weekly feature and to email your questions to habseyesontheprize@gmail.com

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