Sometime last weekend, TSN polled 25 NHL head coaches, 13 in the West and 12 in the East, and asked them to pick one winner and one runner-up in six NHL award categories: the Hart, Vezina, Norris, Calder, Selke and Adams. There were two stipulations placed on the participants: coaches could only pick players in their own conference and they could not select anyone from their own team. Bob McKenzie published the results of the survey yesterday and, to my surprise, the Habs have won over the coaches in the East. Price, Subban, Gallagher, and Therrien were "awarded" the Eastern Vezina, Norris, Calder, and Jack Adams respectively, with P.K. declared the "clear winner" in the conference's Norris "race." In light of the team's recent struggles, hopefully this poll will serve as a reminder that it's truly been a phenomenal season. Even the most optimistic among us viewed the Habs as a "bubble team," while many were very pessimistic about the team's prospects. If you're down on the team, think about where we could be right now, especially considering that our success has hinged on guys like Brendan Gallagher, Rene Bourque, Michael Ryder and Andrei Markov performing above expectations and getting lucky, too. Back-to-back blowouts don't seem so bad now, do they? In summary, cheer up Charlie, enjoy these links, and get psyched for the Pens-Habs game tonight at 7:00 ET!
Habs News and Analysis
- I have quite a bit of roster news for you, dear reader. Brandon Prust will draw into the lineup tonight in Pittsburgh after sitting out Monday's game, for precautionary reasons, with a sore right shoulder. Meanwhile, Michael Ryder is out with an upper body injury. Yannick Weber took Nathan Beaulieu's spot as Davis Drewiske's partner at practice today. Expect Weber to see his first action since March 7th. On the long-term injury front, Raphael Diaz practiced for the second day in a row with the team. Unfortunately for those eager to see him back in the lineup, Diaz is still sporting a no-contact jersey and the team has said that Saturday would be the earliest possible date we'd see him back in the lineup.
- Boucher Scouting's own Christopher Boucher looks at the play-making tendencies of Canadiens players in the defensive zone. Specifically, Boucher breaks down which players are more likely to attempt passes, attempt to dump the puck out, or attempt deke around their opponents. Boucher notes various trends including the fact that wingers are more likely to dump the puck out of the defensive zone than centremen while defensive zone dekeing amongst forwards usually takes place against opposing defensemen on the half-wall. The most surprising stat is that Michael Blunden leads all forwards in attempted dekes in the defensive zone.
Know Your Enemy: Pittsburgh Penguins Edition
- There's not a whole lot of activity on Pittsburgh's roster front. Marc-André Fleury will start while Sidney Crosby, who is not yet practicing with the team, will leave Pittsburgh to attend a family funeral. Everyone else, including the banged-up Evgeni Malkin, is a game time decision.
- Here's a brief preview of tonight's match between the Pens and Habs from NHL.com's Arpon Basu. He notes that the in spite of all their injuries, including Sidney Crosby (jaw), James Neal (concussion), Paul Martin (hand), and Evgeni Malkin (shoulder), the Pens have still won four games in a row and are sporting a 19-2-0 record in their last 21 games.
- Pittsburgh's possession stats have taken a hit this season compared to last and Pens fan "GoPens!" links the change in performance to the loss of Jordan Staal. Although Brandon Sutter is a good player, he simply cannot beat top competition in the way that Jordan Staal can. Sutter's possession numbers this season seem to indicate this fact. "GoPens!" feels that the competition burden should be shifted away from Sutter and onto Evgeni Malkin who is currently being sheltered "as if this is his first year in the league."
General News and Analysis
a cynical cash graban attempt to bring the "stadium experience" to more fans, the NHL is preparing to unveil a series of outdoor games, to complement the Winter Classic, for the 2013-2014 season. Highlights include a Ducks-Kings game at Dodger Stadium, a Devils-Rangers at Yankee Stadium, and a Penguins-Blackhawks game at Soldier Field.
- CBCSports.ca's Doug Harrison has a brief history of ex-Edmonton GM Steve Tambellini's work. I think Tambo deserved more time, and a retooled professional scouting department, before he was relieved of his duties.
- Vice's Thomas Drance feels that when it comes to skill level, Nazem Kadri is closer to Zack Kassian than he is to Doug Gilmour or Wayne Gretzky. Personally, I feel that Drance's piece is rooted in anti-Muslim bias and thus should not be taken seriously, but what can you do?
- Using six years of data, Michael Parkatti of Boys on the Bus examines the randomness, or lack thereof, of team PDO. As Parkatti describes it, PDO is the sum of even strength shooting and EV save percentage that "describe[s] the encapsulated luck of a team." He notes various interesting things including the Habs' status as a "top five PDO team" over the last six seasons and the fact that the PDO of one season has some predictive power over the PDO of the following season.
- Thomas Drance over at Canuck's Army looks at Christian Ehrhoff's staggering WOWYs (with or without you statistics) and makes the case for his Norris nomination alongside P.K. Subban and Kris Letang. Buffalo's Corsi For percentage drops by 10% when Ehrhoff is off the ice and every defenseman on the Sabres posts worse possession numbers when they're away from the German rearguard.
Archive Material and EOTP News
- The fine programmers over at SB Nation HQ have updated the commenting system on their stable of blogs. Posters will now be able to edit comments up to 90 seconds after posting. For the clumsy keyboarders, hotheads, and nincompoops among us, of which I am all three, this is a welcome addition. Also, our code-writing overlords have added the ability to collapse threads without titles and collapse a top level comment with all of its replies. Expect the changes to be added later in the week.