September 19 2016 08:45AM
(Kevin Sousa / USA Today Sports)
When the World Cup of Hockey was announced immediately there were snickers and guffaws about Team North America, and doubts about their ability to hang with international hockey's big boys. When they had a few strong outings in the pre-tournament games against Europe, the doubters loudly expressed that their success was a mirage: caused by beating an inferior opponent in games that didn't matter.
When the "real" games begin, North America's in trouble, they said.
The Under-24 squad opened the round robin with an emphatic 4-1 victory over Finland, currently ranked 3rd in the hockey world by the International Ice Hockey Federation.
September 18 2016 05:12PM
Many of the Leafs' rookies got their last chance to impress against their own age and skill level today, in the third and final exhibition matchup for the blue and white in their annual London, Ontario mini-tournament. Standing in the way of their potential perfect record were the Pittsburgh Penguins, who certainly made the process difficult, but the youngsters persevered and got the result they wanted in sudden death.
September 18 2016 12:00PM
My friends, the preliminary games are in the books and it's finally time for Team North America to get to work, and for our Nation-wide coverage to begin. The nice part about cheering for Team North America is that this team provides one of the few opportunities for Nation Network readers to come together and support the same team... well... unless you're a Canucks fan. Sorry, CanucksArmy.
September 18 2016 08:38AM
Recently, an hockey analytics conference was held at Rochester Institute of Technology (known as RITHAC). There were multiple very interesting presentations by smart and interesting people among the analytics community, nice enough to share their smart-ness with the rest of us SMRT people.
I want to focus today on the presentation made by Micah Black McCurdy on Gold Drafting, an oft-debated model for how to determine draft order. Specifically, I want to look at how it would have affected the Leafs' past drafts.
You can view the presentation slides here, but to summarize: the idea is that draft order is determined by the number of points a team earns after they've been eliminated from the playoffs. This, in theory, removes the incentive to build an intentionally bad team, as that team will get eclipsed in "gold points" by teams that are bad by circumstance and are still trying. Some may remember it was a theory proposed by Shane Doan earlier in the 2015-16 season, but the idea had been floated around hockey communities certainly before that.
September 17 2016 10:03PM
Photo Credit: Kevin Souza/USA TODAY SPORTS
It's opening day at the World Cup of Hockey, and all the gloom, doom, debates, and debacles have been thrown out the window. Whether this oddball event makes any sense is irrelevant; all that matters is that the puck is on the ice, and so are the world's best.
"World's best" is a key phrase there. As always, the pressure is higher for Canada to succeed than anybody else. They're the perennial Olympic powerhouse, and while the average degree of difficulty has tilted up, a team with a tradition of dominance should be able to shake such a roadblock off.
If today's game was any indication, they're going to have no trouble doing just that, as they cruised to an easy 6-0 win against the Czech Republic.