May 2, 2014

steve laidlaw


What a game! You're telling me we get potentially six more of these? Dear Diary, Jackpot.


Despite taking a 2-0 lead into the third period I never got the vibe that the Canadiens were the better team in this one. Be it puck luck, well-timed checking or brilliant goaltending by Carey Price the Bruins had a tough time converting some brilliant opportunities.


They finally got the lid off in the third, which is when they took full control winning the shot battle 14-6 in the third and owning the chances. Somehow, the shots probably don't even tell the full story. You'd have to look at Corsi or Fenwick numbers because the Bruins had a number of glorious opportunities which they either fanned on or simply missed the net. Sure enough, the advanced numbers paint a picture of dominance. The Bruins controlled much of the play last night.


It continued into overtime where the Bruins looked like they might end it at least a dozen times. Price cranked it up another notch in the extra frame to keep the Canadiens alive. I get the vibe he'll need to play this way all series if the Habs are to win. But I also believe he can do it, which is why I picked them to take the series. And yes, I have in fact put my money where my mouth is on this.


In all, Price stopped 48 of 51 shots. Insane.



Let's not understate some of the fearless work by the rest of the Habs roster though. They blocked 30 shots themselves.


And how about PK Subban? Scores his first two goals of the playoffs, including the double-OT winner to draw first blood. Your reigning Norris Trophy winner ladies and gentlemen. Montreal is going to have to give him all of the money. All of it.


Rene Bourque had another active game but please do not overrate him going into next season. He's looking like this year's Bryan Bickell. Enjoy what he's doing now but don't expect that to continue for 82 games next season. Actually, don't even expect 82 games from him.




Rich Peverley still doesn't know if he'll return to the Stars. Understandable.




Interesting look at how the Chicago Blackhawks use analytics:

"What we do is different," Bowman said. "I think it's better, but I guess it's a matter of opinion. It's also a competitive advantage. That stuff's readily available, but what we have is more proprietary. Which is why I'm really trying not to talk about it. I think what we do gives us an advantage over other teams. They might say I'm wrong, but we're pretty confident that what we have works."


What I gathered is that they are utilizing numbers like shot differential, Corsi, Fenwick, etc. but are adding specific measures to add context. This way they can figure out which players are best suited to which roles and create optimal lineups through both player acquisition and lineup deployment.


They may be gaining a real advantage this way or it may be irrelevant. What I appreciate is that regardless of the methodology they have continuity throughout the organization. The GM and the coach are on the same page, employing the same numbers. You don't always get that. The Blackhawks have definitely become a model franchise.




Wayne Gretzky to the Capitals? Say no more. I'm on board.




Patrick Roy's early goalie pulls are gaining attention:

“Some guys are a little more patient than other guys are, but Patrick [pulls the goalie] the earliest I’ve seen in the games,” Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “Some guys are a minute, some guys are a minute-and-a-half, but Patrick’s at least two, which has worked for him. So, it’s proof that you can do it and it works.”


I love it. I think it's brilliant. Studies have shown that teams should be much more aggressive in pulling their goaltenders when down.


After watching the Blackhawks in 2013, when they went on that ridiculous undefeated run to open the season, which included several late-game rallies with the goalie pulled, I somewhat jokingly wondered why they bothered to play with a goalie at all. Honestly, the Blackhawks at 6-on-5 were unreasonably good.


I don't think you could actually get away with never playing a goalie but are there situations beyond desperation where it might be beneficial to yank the goalie? Say on an offensive zone faceoff with your stars out there and a tired opponent unable to change after an icing? I'd love to see a maverick coach try this out at a lower level. The results could be interesting.




Lots of goodies in Elliotte Friedman's latest 30 Thoughts:

17. It’s too late to do anything about it now, but was Anders Lindback‘s development hurt most by lack of North American playing time? He came over from Sweden in 2010 and played 102 games (including playoffs) in four years. That includes just 27 appearances his rookie season and never was an AHL starter. Look at the other goalies in these playoffs who came from overseas. Sergei Bobrovsky played 60 NHL games his first year; Henrik Lundqvist, 56. Guys who were in both the NHL and AHL included Tuukka Rask (59), Kari Lehtonen (53), Frederik Andersen (47), Ilya Bryzgalov & Semyon Varlamov (46) and Antti Niemi (43). Jimmy Howard played more than 200 AHL games before snaring Detroit’s net.



Sean McIndoe lets you know which bandwagon to jump on now that there are only eight teams left.




Follow me on Twitter @SteveLaidlaw.


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