We have had a lot of fun over the years bashing Yahoo hockey beat writers, particularly Adam Lambert. Its almost as if its too easy. However, in his latest article (here) we think we now understand why he has been such an easy target.
As we opined yesterday with the JDB copycat piece, we are now convinced that NHL hockey articles are nothing more than useless opinion pieces without the context of facts and figures to bolster the opinions of the staff in question (in this case, Yahoo).
Say what you want about what we do here at HFFA. Unlike Yahoo, and many others (but not so much SB Nation), we frame our writings toward a metric, which we have formulated (mostly by hand), in a unique and derivative way, culling data points from a variety of sources, and doing our own thinking within the framework of a philosophy for four years. In that time, we have generally backed up our opinions with numbers. And, on a go-backward basis, our tabulations are second to none.
So in analyzing Lambert’s latest piece, we wish to make the following observations on his commentary…..and answer his rhetorical questions with our numbers:
- Can the Leafs keep outscoring their defensive problems? – the answer is yes, to the tune of third in the conference (+15.52 AB). It would be helpful to point out here that they are 5/10 (50%) 5×4 so far this year. This is a 15 goal per 60 clip. Over 4 games, their other 15 goals have been scored at a healthy 4+ clip 5×5. However, since one of the things we measure is net penalty margin, scoring 11 goals more 5×4 than 5×5 per 60 minutes is a really good way of out scoring any defensive liabilities. We have often opined that winning games 7-6 is just as good as winning them 1-0. Its the net basis that counts.
- Can the Sharks fix their power play? – We think the Sharks are a good but not great playoff bubble team this year (AB – 17.75). Acknowledging that sentiment runs counter to a lot of the punditry, we believe this is the case for the Sharks because of a number of factors; most notably a lack of depth at D (not offense disguised as defense, but real defense), a healthy dose of mistake prone players (Evander Kane, and the Sharks are already 25th in the league in PIM), as well as lack of secondary scoring and/or penalty makers on the third and fourth lines makes SJ a tenuous situation to us. Whereas Toronto can likely routinely outscore their mistakes, the Sharks probably cannot.
- Speaking of which, the article is entitled that it is “reasonable to worry about the Flyers. (AB +2.93)” He cites the loss of JVR as a big deal (and it is, because the Flyers are most effective when the defense is hammering shots from deep and creating chaos in front of the net. PHI got JVR to be that chaos, but now he is injured). Alas, the best laid plans…….. Again, like TOR and SJ, PHI has offensive minded defense, which is OK, as long as your support players do not detract from the mistake minimizers up front. Also, and this is IMPORTANT for the Flyers (which Lambert would not know), is that Sean Couturier must replicate his 2017-18 campaign in order for the Flyers to make the playoffs. He single-handedly was responsible for 9 goals at the margin last year. Without that level of production this year, then yes, it is reasonable to worry about the Flyers, but not because of goal tending alone or the loss of JVR for a few weeks.
As for the other things he mentions, we say
- Florida will not make the playoffs – we have them at -21.38 AB, which is ninth best in the conference. We think they could make it however if they replace Haley, especially if he looks to be the same level of liability he was last year (-9.25 AB)
- OTT and MTL have stabilized their teams from an AB standpoint over last year. Although we expect them to be at the bottom of the conference, we expect they will be competitive (and so far they have been).
- Seabrook and Keith will cost the Hawks 14 goals combined this year. If they were able to trade one or both (good luck), replacements would provide them at least 6 goals better at the margin, as well as 12mm in cap space. Any team that would trade for either of these guys at this stage in their careers would go on our heretics list. lol
- Vancouver doesn’t “suck” (any longer). They may not make the playoffs, but, like MTL and OTT, they have stabilized their mistake problems. They too should be competitive. And when they finish in front of DAL and CHI, don’t say we didn’t tell you so. As for Boeser, he is a decent player (55pts) that is slightly above replacement on VAN (AB -0.81). His career is right where it should be to stay in the NHL for up to a decade, according to our numbers, even if his latter years are as a journeyman.
- We have NJ making the playoffs and EDM not making them (putting Hall with Palmieri and not Bratt is the difference). Why then was Saturday’s game in Europe a surprise to Yahoo? It wasn’t to us, but hey, its only one game. Remember, NJ has a one good top line, a reasonable supporting cast (with only Brian Boyle at the bottom of the league-wide AB class). So they aren’t going to beat themselves….which means that overall they will beat a lot of other teams.
- Lastly, Jonathan Toews has been an excellent player since 2006. However, we believe his fast start this year is not sustainable, since it appears as if his career has been on the down-slope since hitting age 29….which is completely and utterly normal, BTW. Still, he is a 50 point guy, nothing to sneeze at, and right about the replacement line at 20 goals and -3.6AB. However, there’s is the matter of that insane contract. Maybe the Hawks can move it……wow, what a coup that would be.