Monday, February 2, 2015

Islanders Penalty Kill and What that might mean for the playoffs

The Islanders penalty kill is an issue, but how big of an issue is it, and how much "fix" is needed until some relax about it?

Barring anything totally horrific, the Isles should be a playoff team, with or without their league worse penalty kill, so step one should be hopefully out of the way.

But what happens when they get to the playoffs? How will that penalty kill affect their chances of really making a run?

I looked at just the basic penalty kill percentages of the Stanley Cup Winners and the Runners up for all of the playoffs that have occurred since the lockout. This is a basic snapshot, this doesn't account for shot suppression rates or how each specific goalie did that post season while on the penalty kill, but this should still help us get an idea of where the Isles need to be with their PK% in the playoffs and whether or not we think that they are likely to improve to that number. (Also, the ranks aren't great to use because these teams obviously played longer than all of the others, some first round teams had extremely small samples, etc, but it still helps a bit).

Kings 2014 83.3% 9 Rags 2014 85.4% 3
Hawks 2013 90.8% 3 Bruins 2013 87.0% 4
Kings 2012 92.1% 2 Devils 2012 73.2% 13
Bruins 2011 84.4% 6 Canucks 2011 80.8% 9
Hawks 2010 83.3% 4 Flyers 2010 85.3% 2
Pens 2009 83.3% 5 Wings 2009 73.2% 14
Red Wings 2008 85.7% 4 Pens 2008 87.1% 3
Ducks 2007 86.8% 8 Sens 2007 87.9% 5
Hurricanes 2006 85.4% 6 Oilers 2006 86.1% 4


Based on just these basic numbers, and without figuring out the averages, I think the Isles need to get the PK% up to at least 84-85% during the (hopeful) playoff run.

Is that doable based on their current ~74% PK rate? I don't know. Before the last 8 game horrid stretch, the PK was looking good for the previous 15 games before that (or so).

My hope is that the young PKers like De Haan and Strome will continue to improve, even just a bit, and that guys like Nielsen, Clutterbuck and Grabner get back to the top of their PK games. Halak also has to be steady.

I'd love to have a great PK, but I also don't think that a bad PK is an indictment on how the team is ran, as it can swing pretty quickly. Those shiny possession rates and the fact that the team never takes a shift off tells me the "coaching" and "system" aren't big issues. A few clears against Detroit on Saturday and the PK might look different. That, to me, is individual player issues, not "coaching" (although I don't love Cronin).

We'll see what happens, it's still just February, lots of hockey left and lots of adjustments to be made. 

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Josh Bailey, the 2008 draft, the 9 pick, and why he's not an ECHL player.

Lets all take a look at the 8-10 spots in the draft to get some perspective on what to really expect in this area of the draft. These are going to be objective observations, ESPN used their GVT stat to show that the average production from this spot is extremely low compared to the top three on an average year, but lets look at the actual players taken fom 8-10 since 2000.

8 - Tampa Bay - Nikikta Alexeev - Winger, 159 GPs, 20 goal, 17 assists
9 - Calgary - Brent Krahn - Goalie - 1 Game played
10 - Chicago - Mikhail Yakubov - Center - 53 Games played, 2 goals, 10 assists
Notable miss - Ron Hainsey at 13 Orpik at 18, Justin Williams at 28, and Niklas Kronwall at 28.
Thoughts: Not a great start in finding a star.

8  - Columbus - Pascal Leclaire - Goalie - 173 Games played.
9 - Chicago - Tumo Ruutu - Center - 611 Games 139 Goals, 189 assists, 328 total points
10 - NY Rangers - Dan Blackburn (ha!) - 63 games played
Notable misses - Dan Hamhuis at 12, Ales Hemsky at 13, Kobasew at 14, Umberger at 16
Thoughts: A bit better, just from Ruutu, but still not great.

8 - Minnesota - Pierre Marc-Bouchard - Center - 593 Games played, 110 Goals, 246 assists, 356 points
9 - Florida - Petr Taticek - Center - 3 Games played. No goals or assists.
10 - Calgary - Eric Nystrom - Left Wing - 473 games played. 59 Goals (4 in 1 game this year), 42 assists, 101 points.
Notable misses: Ballard at 11, Semin at 13,  Steen at 24, Cam Ward at 25.
Thoughts: Won't say anything bad about Nystrom, PMB has had a good career, no above average players yet though.

(best draft ever)
8 - Atlanta - Braydon Coburn (traded by Atlanta for Zhitnik rental!)- Defensemen - 560 Games, 36 goals, 118 assists.
9 - Calgary - Dion Phaneuf - Defensemen - 667 Games played, 114 goals, 255 assists.
10- Montreal - Andrei Kostitsyn  - Right Wing - 398 games, 103 goals, 119 assists.
Notable misses, where to start (Rags picked Jessiman at 12!) Carter at 11, Seabrook at 14, Robert Nillson (ha!) at 15, Parise, Fehr, Getzlaf, mark Stuart, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Corey Perry
Thoughts: Thanks Milbury.

8 - Columbus - Alexandre Picard - Left Wing  - 67 Games played. 0 goals, 2 assists.
9 - Ananheim - Ladislav Smid - Defensemen - 524 games, 12 goals 57 assists.
10 - Atlanta - Boris Valabik - Defensemen - 80 games, 0 goals, 7 assists.
Notable misses:  Stafford at 13, Radulov at 15, Zajac at 20, Cory Schneider at 26, Mike Green at 29
Thoughts: Smid is a nice player, but again, not much there.

8 - San Jose - Devin Setoguchi - Right Wing - 452 games, 127 goals, 121 assists, 248 points
9 - Ottawa - Briane Lee - Defensemen  - 209 Games, 5 goals, 31 assists, 46 points
10 - Vancouver - Luc Bourdon - Defensemen - 36 games  - 2 goals, 0 assists. 2 points.
Notable misses: Kopitar at 11, Marc Staal at 12, Ryan O'marra at 15 (thanks Milbuiry), Oshie at 24, Rask at 21, Cogliano at 25, Niksanen at 28
Thoughts: Setoguchi started hot on Thorton's wing, not much since then. another bad draft for these picks.

8 - Phoenix - Peter Mueller - Center - 297 games, 63 goals, 97 assists, 160 points
9 - Minnesota - James Sheppard - Center - 319 games, 14 goals, 54 assists, 68 points
10 - Florida - Michael Frolik - Left Wing - 417 games, 75 goals, 111 assists, 186 points.
Notable misses: Bernier at 11, Bryan Little at 12, Grabner at 14, Giroux at 22, Varlamov at 23, Berglund at 25
Thoughts: At least these teams got some games out of these players, but Frolik was the best of them, and far from a great player.

8 - Boston - Zach Hamill - Center - 20 games. 0 goals, 4 assists
9 - San Jose - Logan Couture - Center - 285 games, 108 goals, 103 assists, 211 points
10 - Florida - Keaton Ellerby  - Defensemen - 205 games, 4 goals, 22 assists.
Notable misses: McDonagh at 12, Shattenkirk at 14, Pacioretty at 22, Perron at 26.
Thoughts: Couture is awesome, best player in this slot from 2000-2007 so far.

5 - Toronto - Luke Schenn - Defensemen - 421 games, 21 goals, 76 assists, 97 points
6 - Columbus - Nikita Filatov - Left Wing - 53 games, 6 goals, 8 assists, 14 points
7 - Nashville - Colin Wilson - Center 377 gmes, 52 goals, 77 assists, 130 points
8 - Phoenix - Mikkel Boedker - Left Wing - 324 games, 50 goals, 86 assists, 136 points
9 - NY Islanders - Joshua Bailey - Center - 393 games, 64 goals, 102 assists - 166 points
10 - Vancouver - Cody Hodgson - Center - 197 games, 51 goals, 61 assists, 112 points
Notable misses: Karlsson at 15, Gardiner at 17, Eberle at 22, John Carlson at 27.
Thoughts: Well here we are. Added the 5-8 picks for context, because we traded from 5 down to 9 that year. I'm fine with not taking Schenn or Filatove. You could argue Colin Wilson might be better, but not by any significant amount. Boedker is emerging a bit now, but we would have ran him out of town by now, I love Hodgson in the OHL, but he's asked off of a good Vancouver team, and has put up some points with a lot of ice time and PP time in Buffalo, he probably doesn't get those minutes on a good team. 70 of his 112 points came with big ice time on bad teams, 5 years into his career.

8 - Dallas - Scott Glennie - Center - 1 game. 0 goals, 0 assists
9- Ottawa - Jared Cowen - Defensemen - 151 games, 11 goals, 21 assists, 32 points
10- Edmonton - Magnus Paajarvi-Svensson - 207 games, 32 goals, 38 assists, 70 points.
Notable misses: DeHaan at 12, Kulikov at 14, Leddy at 16, This draft is still relatively new, so more misses will emerge as time goes on, because there are some good players in this first round.
Thoughts: I think Cowen might be one of the better players in this study, I was a big fan of his pre-draft, because he was a big, mean sonuvagun in junior hockey. The other two didn't exactly work out.

8 - Atlanta - Alexander Burmistrov - Center - 194 games, 23 goals, 35 assists, 58 points
9 - Minnesota - Mikael Granlund - Forward - 81 games, 8 goals, 35 assists, 43 points.
10 - NY Rangers - Dylan McIlrath - Defensemen - 2 games, 0 goals, 0 assists
Notable misses: Cam Fowler at 12, Jaden Schwartz at 13, Tarasenko at 16, Kuznetsove at 26, Vistenin at 27, The Reverend at 30.
Thoughts: Too early to really judge this draft, but Granlund is likely to become a really good player

2011  (second best draft after 2003 to me, very deep 1st round)
8 - Philadelphia - Sean Couturier - Center - 190 games, 27 goals, 49 assists, 76 points
9 - Boston - Dougie Hamilton - Defensemen - 91 games, 12 goals, 23 assists, 35 points
10 - Minnesota - Jonas Brodan - Defensemen - 109 games, 10 goals, 18 assists.
Notable misses: Nobody stands out yet, but the draft was relatively recent.
Thoughts: This group of players is probably the best 3 player group of this study. Time might make some of these guys look even better, or worse. I would take all three over Bailey, but it is still early in their careers.

Summary: The draft sucks. That 2008 draft sucked after the 4th pick. So in moving down, we got a few more lottery tickets that eventually allowed us to pick Hamonic. Also, take a look at how many really good teams missed completely in these draft spots, but surprise, surprise, they spent and were able to cover up the mistake.

So from 2000 through 2011, Phaneuf, Couture, Granlund, and Hamilton are better choices at the 9 spot, leaving Bailey right in the middle of players drafted in this spot. The argument can be made that he isn't a star and we should cut him loose, but then there is an argument that his floor is 30 points plus good possession, with the clear skill to produce more, and he's an NHL player. If he is played out of the lineup by young guys in the next 2 years, so be it, but that isn't the case This pick is the disaster that some make it out to be if Bailey played a dozen games in the league Bailey's agent got him that contract because he built a good case that Bailey is a solid NHL player, not because he pulled a hood over Snow's head (which I think many believe to be the case). I could also argue that "when the games mattered" last season, Bailey showed up, remember the 2-1 win in Boston where he scored both goals? His playoff stats weren't great, but the great Matt Moulson was demoted and Bailey took his spot, and that line kept flying (with Boyes), Bailey was on the ice for the beautiful Tavares game 4 winner

So I don't write this to argue that Bailey should be a top 6 player, I write to argue that the draft pick wasn't a disaster, compared to what was taken before him, and what has been taken at the 9 spot in recent draft history. Also, it would seem reasonable as fans to focus on where a good defensemen or goalie can come form, instead of single-mindedly hoping and only being satisfied when Josh Bailey is playing for the Vityaz in Russia next year. I want to look at other 3rd lines on really good teams and show you lots of Josh Bailey type players to argue that he has a spot on a good Islanders team, but I don't have the patience right now.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

The Future

Look, I will never criticize a fan of the team for being fed up that this franchise has been in the gutter for so long, if it was any other franchise in American sports, I would most likely agree, but as we know, the Islanders are far from any other franchise.

First, seeing "fans" wearing the jersey inside out at the game Saturday was infuriating. Did we watch the last few 24/7 series? Remember all of those times they made a point of not stepping on the team crest/logo in the middle of the locker-room? O, and the "protestors" support the players but are going against management/ownership, ok, but what does disparaging the crest have to do with them? By wearing that jersey like that, you are dumping on everything that was good about the franchise. If you value the "team" above all else, how the hell do you justify such a stupid form of protest? Wear a shirt with Wang or Snow's name crossed off, but wearing a jersey inside out shows you have zero understanding of hockey culture or those players on the ice you claim to support.

Second, as annoying as picking in the top 3 again this year will be (hey Colorado and Tampa picked top 3 three times in 4 years and they're doing OK), I can't get too despondent because the real fact is that this franchise is essentially getting a reboot in about 95 regular season games. Brooklyn is far from perfect, that arena scares me with the seats (i think they'll do some demolition this summer to fix some of the seats), but to act like this will continue with the cap floor, etc, in Brooklyn just isn't logical. I hate it, but based on attendance and revenue, spending and circumventing the cap is at least semi-understandable at the NVMC. That will not be the case in Brooklyn, I don't think the NHL will allow it after a year or two, and in Brooklyn, there will be potential buyers for the team, which is not the case right now, which makes the chants for "wang must sell" so maddeningly stupid. I also think that it is logical and I wouldn't be surprised to see the team make an effort to add about 10-15 million dollars to the payroll this off-season to create some momentum going into Brooklyn. If your response is that "It's Wang, he won't spend", well then look at 10 years ago, fact is that he did spend at one point in time and again, Brooklyn is a radical change to this franchise.

So in summary, I understand being mad, but I can think of 5 points in the last 5 years that would have been more appropriate times for a legitimate protest (DP shenanigans, Tim Thomas, Brian Rolston, Nino cap crap, no goalie last summer), not after the GM actually takes a risk to add significant talent (even though i'm not a Vanek fan, even before his comments made tonight) after fans have been pining about "moving past prospects and adding to the roster". More than happy to hear your thoughts and comments, but again, this is not going to be "same old Islanders" in under 100 games (though I pray to Bossy that the jersey never is touched).

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Isles v Sharks - 12.10.13 - Post Game Thoughts Islanders

1. Poulin. Repaid some faith I've had in him. See my post from a few days ago. Hopefully that was just a cramp or a hamstring pull. That knee injury from when he first came up scares me. I thought he may have been "Dipietro'd" on that play . The puck marks on Poulin's jersey were hilarious to see.

2. Tavares, not much more needs to be said. Nice to see him win that faceoff back to Okposo, that's an important part of JT's game.

3. Ness - He really stepped up in the second half of that game. Funny to see a new level of confidence skating with the puck from 55 against such a good team. His value will be in able to skate like that every game. I remember reading scouting reports saying that was his strength at Minn.

4. deHaan. First, his play has just been great. Smooth, gets rid of the puck quick. Hits guys in stride. Nice to see. Taking a huge load off of Hamonic and MacDonad's shoulders.

5. Grabner looked more active. Baby steps hopefully.

6. The Sharks are good. Top two lines are big, fast, skilled, impressive team.

7. Last thought, I'm fine with a happy reaction after tying it and then winning, but they better not come out flat against PHX on Thursday acting like they accomplished something. This isn't the same PHX team they blew the doors off of in October.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Bouchard Waiver

Thoughts on waiving Bouchard

A few comments on the choice to waive Bouchard....

I understand that something had to change this roster with the hope up recalling Strome, but I'm not exactly sold on the choice to waive Bouchard.

First, I understand he has not produced in the stat column (something 11 of his fellow 12 bottom 3 line forwards have in common), but Bouchard brought an element that not too many guys on this team have. He was able to first, make and receive passes, as well as stick-handle in tight spots when needed. (Lets see which forwards would have finished that goal against Pitt or even the short side goal he had, yes it's sad I have to reflect on 1 or 2 goals, as none of the bottom 3 line forwards have scored lately). I understand that Regin was a center, and he can move around with Brock easier in the roster shuffle, but Regin shut hasn't shown enough to warrant staying on the roster. As has been mentioned on recently (i'll cite when I find it again), Regin has been a downgrade from Reasoner, most noticeably, in the faceoff circle, where this has been getting destroyed game in and game out. If he produced a few more points, I could get past the faceoffs, but if you aren't scoring, you have to do something else to help. Last year, and even when the team was playing OK two years ago, it was a nice start when Tavares was winning around 53-54% of faceoffs and then Reasoner was also following up with the ability to win faceoffs. It's a big problem on both special teams and I'm sure has a link to the poor performance on each (more so on Penalty Kill). Regin, also is on a $750k one year deal, he was not exactly in high demand last offseason, and is arguably replaceable even in our own system (Sundstrom). Bouchard, on the other hand, has produced in the NHL, and was supposed to be on the top line. My overall thought is that the talent level of the roster took a step back with this move. 

On the other hand, it appears Strome is likely moving up. I think he is ready to get his shot. I think he should start on the third line and be at least on the second power play. Let him work his way up the lineup, placing him on the second line, and creating unwarranted expectations ins't fair to Strome, or the team. As far as development, it was important in my eyes to keep him in the AHL for as long as possible, and his production in the AHL cannot be ignored. 

Another thought, I don't think the fact that the players surrounding him in the draft are all in the NHL suggests that he should be as well, because if you take a deeper look at the top 10 from 2011, the players picked around Strome haven't exactly torn up the league. Larsson has had a rocky transition in NJ (after starting in NHL), Zibanejad, at 6th, has bounced back and forth between the Sens and baby Sens, without producing much (besides shooting a hole through Nabakov's glove). Further, Sheifele, while hailing from a great Canadian team that obviously produces and nurtures players better than the Nino trading Islanders, has 3 NHL goals in 41 games. If Strome has that output through 41 games I think we will be yelling from rooftops about how we're "Baileying" Strome. If you look up in the draft, RNH has produced, but even then, he's had issues with the physical aspects of the league. Landeskog appears to be the best two way guy so far, and is justifying that draft spot. Huberdeau has had the a start in the league that I think we as Isanders fans should be happy with if Strome can replicate. Coutierer has had a great start, on good teams, and has been able to work his way up the line up and do a good job. (path I hope Strome takes as well). 
So in summary of that rant, I don't think Strome not playing in the NHL yet and everyone around him playing warrants thinking he should be in the league, because the next two players drafter after Strome have not exactly set the league on fire, and should have had more development time. While the players ahead of Strome have done a nice job, there were generally considered better prospects at draft time. 

And last, on developing Strome, I'm not sure what more games in the AHL, at this point, would do for him. I understand he's not a big forward, but he's not going to "fill on" in the next year. He's producing at such a rate in the AHL that offensively he's earned a look, and that should resonate with the younger prospects - if you produce, you play. It's a welcome departure from the paths of Nino and Bailey. 

Let's hope for a good game tonight, as well as seeing the same defensive pairs, and a bounce off the post into the goal and not right back out. 

Thursday, December 5, 2013

What did we do to deserve this?

My right now solution to stabilize this mess. 

  1. Fire the coach. I'm Capuano's biggest fan. And I think this team needs stability in the leadership positions for credibility. And look what bad coaching did to Duchene in Colorado, no problems like that for Capuano and Tavares. But 5 ROW is 5 ROW. And from an untrained eye, they don't seem to have changed the forward strategy much even with a horrible defense. That's all coaching. 
  2. If somehow possible, trade Vanek in a deal for a defender. A real defender. Someone has to need a 35ish goal scorer. Include Bailey in exchange for another change of scene player. Bailey is another favorite of mine, but he's slow, not making skill plays anymore, not checking. 
  3. If Vanek gone, put Nelson on 1st line. He looked great and the PP worked when Vanek was injured. 
  4. Cut Regin. Call up Strome. Shuffle Strome, Grabner, Nielsen, Clutterbuck, Bouchard, C. MacDonald and whoever they get for Bailey. 
  5. Run with Anders Nilsson in goal. I'm sorry, but I can't blame the St. Louis goals on him. Ya, the rebound in front of Roy wasn't great, but Roy had to dig that out while two defenders decided not to clear it. Backes walked in and took an uncontested shot from the blue-line. Pajavri was just doing a stick-handling drill in the crease thanks to the defense. 
  6. Keep DeHaan around 20 mins. DO NOT over-extend him like A.MacDonald and Hamonic. 
  7. Dial back Hamonic and A.MacDonald. They are shot. You don't even notice Hamomic on the ice. There are maybe 7 Defensemen in the whole league who can really handle 25+ minutes a game. There's no shame in 3 and 47 being 20 minute defensemen. It's bad coaching and management to over-expose them so bad, regardless of injuries. 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Back at it - Trying this out again - Islanders pre-game and Mets thoughts

Trying to start this blog up again to just write a little bit and put my opinion out there in the interwebs.
First I'll start with the Islanders....

Worries about the team

  - not being able to impose their game enough, when it works, it puts other teams, good teams, on their heels
 - The "soft" shots. Frustrating watching opponents get good looks in the middle so easily and some of our shots just fluttering in from the side
  - getting pucks out of the defensive zone is a fire drill most of the time, i dont get it
  - allowing tons of shots from high shooting % areas
  - DP - why not let him get reps and try to work the rust of in the AHL? if accountability is a new theme, letting DP slide after that game isn't fair

What I still like about the team

   - the fact they draw so many penalties, in the past we complained that they didn't draw calls, but this year they've been drawing penalties through hard work and skating, and often, outplaying the opposition
  - Cizikas -faceoffs, physicality, skill, it's a nice mix and I think he's going to be a key cog moving forward.
  - KO coming around, nice play to set up the goal against Ottawa, I think we'll see more of that
  - Finley when used in nuetral matchups i.e. not versus a gaborik type player w speed
 - coaching still, motivation aside

What I would change
  - get Hickey involved, he can possess the puck and move it
 - need some more size, see detroit mixing size with puck possession
 - run that 4th line more, it's not really a 4th line, balance minutes between 2,3,4 lines
 - lay off the pedal with AMAC and Hammer, these Dmen arent much better or worse then eachother, nobody is heads above anyone else right now - let the playing time reflect that, and see if a pair can differentiate themselves, because Amac and Hammer look worn down already.
 - let the guys in the minors continue to "overcook" - I think Sundstrom, based just on pedigree, is most ready, playing in Swedish pro league set him up better than WHL or NCAA, the +11 rating also looks nice
 - 30 goal season by Nino sets up nicely for next fall and a 65 pt season by Nelson, same with letting Persson get more ice time
-I'm not too worried about the Kid Goalies - bc of the penalty issues, seems like a lot of goals are given up while down a man, I think Poulin can can be a huge lift if he was called up tomorrow.

 - Rafael Montero - relax, let him pitch, look at what happened to Mejia when he was the "out oft he blue" savior in spring training.
 - Den Dekker - let him have time to adjust, he's done it before, strikeouts will always be a problem, but if the coaching staff can show him that he's a big leaguer with his glove, regardless of homers (make him just make contact more, don't worry about power) so if he loses all of his homers and just doesn't become an auto strikeout - then he can be a big leaguer - see Parra in Arizona, and if he can get his approach under control, then maybe he can adjust to get his power back, who knows, maybe they're saying the same thing down in FLA.