NHL.com has "gathered 10 writers and television personalities" to rank the top eight players, coaches, and managers in various categories in their "8 Debate" series. This week, the site's head coach rankings have been released. IIHF Triple Crown Club member (winner of a Stanley Cup, Olympic Gold, and an IIHF World Championship) Mike Babcock has been named as the best coach in the NHL today. In light of Chris' research on Fenwick from the last five years, which showed the Wings, especially the 07/08 edition of the team, to be unholy possession terrors, it's hard to argue with the selection. That being said, I feel as if Ken Hitchcock did not get his just deserts in the polling. In spite of possession stats above .500 with the Columbus Blue Jackets in three seasons and posting fantastic possession numbers with the Blues last year, the current coach in St. Louis only placed in the top 3 on one of the eight lists. I feel that he's worthy of more recognition, what do you guys think? While you let that question marinate in your minds, here are some fine hockey links to keep you occupied.
Habs News and Analysis
- The Habs are off today, so there's not much roster news to report. Michel Therrien has told the Montreal Gazette that he's hopeful Tomas Plekanec will be back in the lineup by Saturday. Meanwhile, Michael Ryder attributes a lot of his success on the season to playing with Brian Gionta and Plekanec. As mentioned yesterday, Rene Bourque and Raphael Diaz are progressing, but there seems to be little chance either will play this weekend.
- Here's a summary of last night's game from a Jets fan's perspective, care of TJ Maughan of Arctic Ice Hockey. He notes that the loss last night, coupled with Washington's shootout win, has dropped the Jets from third in the conference to tenth.
- Nucks Misconduct's Sean Zandberg had a run in with a man claiming to be Nathan Beaulieu's grandfather at a bar in 100 Mile House, B.C. Apparently, this fellow did not represent the fan base very well, getting drunk and shooting his mouth off about Montreal's 24 Stanley Cups. Although to some, drunken, antiquated arrogance probably represents Habs fans perfectly. Zandberg asks his readership whether the Cancuks will win the Stanley Cup before the Habs do. I'd like to get your thoughts on that question too.
General News and Analysis
- HockeyAnalysis.com's David Johnson takes Chris' Fenwick research and expands on it. He compares close Fenwick percentages of recent playoff teams to Goals For percentages. He notes that EV Close GF% is "probably a better metric than" close FF% when it comes to predicting playoff success. However, in this shortened season Johnson notes that luck may be skewing GF% to the point of reduced usefulness.
- Scott Reynolds notes that Oilers-related playoff optimism is probably misguided. Edmonton's shot differential is "currently dead last in the NHL by a wide margin" at -5.5 per game. Since 00/01, only one team has made the playoffs getting out shot by 4.5 shots per game or more.
- Using YouTube clips and comments, Battle of California's Megalodon presents a brief history of Raffi Torres violence.
- An anonymous Oilers fan draws on his/her own experiences to make some predictions about Calgary's impending rebuild. From the scapegoating of veterans, to the belief that "bottoming out" is the only way to find "true" success, the author predicts ghastly things for the Flames' fan base.
- Backhand Shelf's Justin Bourne uses an example from the Edmonton Oilers - Vancouver Cancuks game last night to teach us how to keep track of our man in the defensive zone.
- IIHF.com's Andrew Podnieks looks at the love affair between the Governor Generals of Canada and hockey. From 6th Governor General Lord Stanley of Preston to 12th Governor General (and his lovely wife) Lord Byng of Vimy, Canada has some prominent political ties to the game.
Archive Material and EOTP News
- Our very own Matt Drake has a history article coming down the pipe. Why not put yourself in a nostalgic mood and watch this CBC profile on the last days of the Montreal Forum from 1996?