On Women, Sportwriting, and “Just Keep Writing”

People like to give advice. People who have become successful at something love to share their wisdom about how to end up where they are. It’s a kind of humble brag: I did this (I’m special and worth listening to) and you can, too! (but not too special.) It’s also a way of saying that the actions a person took are more important than the context in which they took them.

Recently, a successful hockey writer gave some (as far as I know unsolicited) advice to women and people of color who wanted to become successful at–and get paid for–writing about hockey. It was well-meant but naive and more than a little arrogant. If you don’t like the rules at one site, start your own. Create great content and people will find you. Just do it. That kind of thing. Continue reading

Oh, Captain! What a Day This Could Have Been

Marty St. Louis retired yesterday. It ends not with a bang, but with a whimper, to use a cliche. Everyone knew it was coming. He’d become something of a liability on the ice recently and no offers appeared to materialize on July 1. So the next day, he retired.

When I first heard the news, I simply stopped. I didn’t know what to think or what I really felt. Sadness? Nostalgia? A little bit of schadenfreude–some “serves you right!” ? How about regret? Continue reading

Observations on Drafting Goaltenders

Over the past few years, I’ve been spending my summers immersed in NHL goaltending draft data. In light of the upcoming draft I’ve pulled together some general observations that fans of drafting teams might find interesting. All of this has been published before, mostly at Raw Charge or here at Puckology, although in one instance it was published in Justin Goldman’s latest book, Between Two Worlds. Links are provided below. Continue reading

The Montreal Canadiens Really Are the Underdogs. But….

I find it fascinating how winning changes people’s perceptions of a team’s actual strengths. Take the 2014-15 Montreal Canadiens, for instance. They won 50 games, the Atlantic Division title, and a first-round series. And somehow, it gets forgotten that they have been, at least over the long haul, not very good as a team.

You’d think they were good, looking at their roster. They should be good. And yet, there is virtually no measure by which the Montreal Canadiens are actually a better team than the Tampa Bay Lightning. In every single measure of process, they are worse. [All data and graphs are from War On Ice and are 5v5 Score-Adjusted, including playoffs.]

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CWHL/NWHL: Competition is Good, War is not

Not even a month ago, on March 26, a new women’s professional hockey league was announced: the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL). The arrival of this new, US-based league had sparked intense interest and discussion among women’s hockey fans. It has also sparked anxiety and hostility in some quarters. While the former is positive, the latter is not.

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Adjusting for Shot Quality: Gudlevskis and the Syracuse Crunch, Pt. II

Last time I looked briefly at some elements of shot quality and their effect on Kristers Gudlevskis’s statistics. I used Steve Valiquette’s Red/Green shot criteria as a baseline, though I did add my own twist to it. Rather than repeat all of that again, I’ll recommend that if you’re unfamiliar or need a refresher you take a moment to look that over as the following is based on concepts explained there.

In the meantime, I have added three more games from the early part of the Crunch’s season and Steve Valiquette has also added a few more tidbits of trends at the NHL level that help give context to the numbers I’ve uncovered for the Crunch.Two of these games were Gudlevskis’s games. One was Andrei Vasilevskiy’s. This gives me a sample that is mostly concerned with the kinds of shots seen by Gudlevskis. Continue reading

Kristers Gudlevskis, the Syracuse Crunch, and Shot Quality

When the Tampa Bay Lightning assigned Kristers Gudlevskis to the Syracuse Crunch this past September, it was with the intention that he work on his consistency from game to game. They wanted him to learn how to be good even when he was not at his personal best.

There’s another caveat here, however, and that is that Gudlevskis has to learn how to be good even when the team in front of him is playing at their worst. The particular mix of chances that the Syracuse Crunch are allowing does affect Gudlevskis’s overall save percentage and Gudlevskis’s particular vulnerabilities are reinforcing that. Thus, when defense is good, goaltending is good and when defense falters, goaltending falters. Continue reading

Just Give Pekka Rinne the Vezina Already

You could be forgiven for doubting. It wasn’t at all clear whether Pekka Rinne would be able to return to the form that had garnered him two Vezina nominations. A lingering hip problem in 2012-13 that probably led him to put up his lowest save percentage in five years. Surgery, followed by post-surgical complications followed by even worse performance in March and into April. And he turned 32 this November. Everyone had questions. Continue reading