October 15 2013 11:28AM
via @mnwild, the best white sweaters in the NHL
The Minnesota Wild are an interesting team to follow (I say this about most teams in the NHL, but trust me. It is SUPER true about the Minnesota Wild). Two years after the then-Biggest Debate Ever About The Validity Of Shot Metrics created a giant rift between online folk and Wild fans, Wild management have stressed a puck-possession philosophy, and the early returns are quite good.
It's not good for the Wild in that they've become an unstoppable juggernaut like San Jose or Colorado (note--??) but only the Sharks thus far have taken a higher percentage of shots than Minnesota. It's still remarkably early to judge, but if a team is taking close to 60% of the overall shots after 6 games, you can say with reasonably high confidence that they'll be a plus-possession team for the remainder of the season. At 3-1-2, their record isn't going to turn very many heads, but they're right there among the top teams in the league in the early going.
The "3" in the Wild 3-1-2 record have all come in a row, including a surprisingly close 2-1 win over Buffalo yesterday.
October 12 2013 08:30PM
So, uh, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins fell over in overtime, which led to a three-on-one in overtime with Mason Raymond and Cody Franson, and after a give-and-go, the puck landed on the stick of David Bolland, and he put the winner right through the legs of Devan Dubnyk for the 6-5 winner.
This was one of the weirdest and most entertaining games I've seen in years. Regardless of whether you love the Leafs, hate the Leafs, think the Leafs are going to stink this year or have bought into Randy Carlyle's Great Experiment, it's undeniable that this team is the most fun its been in a long time. The score was 4-4 midway through the third period and the broadcasters were talking like this was a normal occurrence. After an incredible save by Jonathan Bernier on Marc Arcobello that kept Toronto in the game, Joffrey Lupul tied the score with 21 seconds left on the clock, leading to a wide-open, sloppy overtime period that concluded a wide-open, sloppy game.
October 12 2013 11:44AM
The Edmonton Oilers have had a pretty slow start to the season, wins and losses-wise, but there are arguments to be made that the team is actually better off than they have been in quite some time. The team is shooting just 6.8% and getting just .866 goaltending at even strength, but the Oilers have kept their shot differential numbers through each of their first four games relatively even.
Some of Devan Dubnyk's struggles have surely been projected onto Dallas Eakins. Stylistically, one could drum up a narrative that Eakins is the polar opposite of Randy Carlyle. They're both hockey coaches, but Eakins, who quotes the importance of shot differentials in his post-game press conferences and pulls his goalie much earlier than convention (last game against Montreal, Dubnyk was out of the next with 4:33 to go in the third period, the Oilers down by a pair).
Eakins, who has also dressed three low-minute players who can do little more than collect penalty minutes in each of his team's games this season, is also guilty of at least one crime committed by Randy Carlyle. After all, he's a hockey coach, and he's in Edmonton now. He used to be in Toronto.
October 11 2013 12:07PM
I thought I'd made this point in the summer, but it turns out I hadn't. Jonathan Bernier, despite having the same overall save percentage than James Reimer coming into this season, had one of the highest quality start rates between 2007 and 2013, per Rob Vollman in the Hockey Abstract:
October 10 2013 12:34PM
NHL teams are playing at least one game in every city this season, and tonight marks Toronto's visit to Nashville. Fresh off a defeat to the Colorado Avalanche, the Maple Leafs look tonight to earn their first win against a Conference III opponent. The Leafs roster gets a little more inexperienced tonight, with David Broll suiting up for his first ever NHL game, becoming the fourth Leaf this season to do so.
It's tough to drum up interest or storylines between non-conference opponents early on in the season. The Leafs hosted Nathan MacKinnon last time around, so I guess it's fair to say that now they'll be visiting the new home of the No. 1 prospect in the June draft, Seth Jones, who wound up being selected 4th overall. He's found his way onto the first pairing with Shea Weber much faster than anybody anticipated, after Weber's normal partner Roman Josi went down with a concussion.