Posts tagged ‘Scott Cullen’

October 20, 2010

Power Rankings Round Up

by Kristine

Welcome back to the Round Up. This week, there’s a lot of focus on stats at THN and TSN, and ESPN rates based on season predictions in addition to play so far.

Actual rank: 8 pts, good for 1st in Pacific, 2nd in West, 5th in league.
Record: 4-1-0. L10: 4-1-0.

ESPN by Pierre LeBrun (Oct 18)
….Stars: 5 this week; 3 last week. “OK, OK … I can’t totally ignore early-season perfection. Brad Richards (UFA July 1) has been on fire, and so has goalie Kari Lehtonen, who is the masked man GM Joe Nieuwendyk is gambling on to turn around the fortunes of this franchise.”
….Of Note: Chicago at 8 this week; 22 last week. “Two weekend victories and Hawks fans can step off the ledge. Two weekend wins by Marty Turco, no less, I might add. The veteran netminder was terrific in both victories.”
….My Thoughts: Let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way. Turco is starting to play better without us, and we’re already playing better without him. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, good! Glad we’re doing better without him because I spent all last season wishing he would go away.  But on the other hand, why does he have to be playing well too? It’s like a breakup. You want to be the one moving on while the other person flounders around without you. Or maybe that’s just me… In any case, I’m happy to see that we’re still at 5th in this week’s ESPN rankings, because LeBrun stated in his intro that he’s ranking teams this week based on his projects “for the rest of the season, too. So no, the Leafs and Stars will not be ranked 1-2.” Fair enough. If that’s his criteria, I am MORE than happy with 5th. That puts us smack in the middle of the playoffs. Just for fun, let’s see how those playoffs would shake out if the league really ends up in the order LeBrun has it in this week.
….Taking into account division leader seeding, the first round in the East would look like this: Capitals (1) vs Thrashers (8); Maple Leafs (2) vs Penguins (7); Flyers (3) vs Lightning (6); Bruins (4) vs Canadiens (5). Some good match-ups there. I’d be interested to see Flyers vs Lightning especially, and the Habs would have a chance to redeem themselves from their first-round loss to the Bruins last year. Then in the West, you would have: Red Wings (1) vs Avalanche (8); Kings (2) vs Sharks (7); Blackhawks (3) vs Canucks (6); Predators (4) vs Stars (5). Kings vs Sharks would be fun, and serve to eliminate a Pacific team right off the bat, like last year with Sharks vs Ducks. I would be okay with facing the Preds in the first round. We were 2-1-1 against them last year and 2-2-0 against them in 08-09.
….This is a pretty useless exercise since there is a looooonnnnggg season still ahead of us and chances are very, very slim that the playoffs will look like this at all. But if anything, it will be interesting to look back and see who’s still on top.

TSN by Scott Cullen (Oct 18)
….Stars: 1 this week; N/A last week. “Such is the dominance of the Stars through four games: while all four games have been wins, two were via shootout and one in overtime, so while it’s a strong start for the Stars, it cannot be overstated how premature these rankings are at this stage of the season. Key Injuries: LW Jamie Benn (concussion).”
….Of Note: Florida at 6 this week; N/A last week. “Such is the nature of the early rankings, the Panthers have recorded shutout wins in half of their games, allowing a total of five goals against in four games. As great as Tomas Vokoun (1.26 GAA, .952 SV%) is, 40 shutouts this season is a longshot. Key Injuries: None.”
….My Thoughts: This is TSN’s first power ranking of the season, and the Stars are first. It’s still weird to me that we were the last unbeaten team in the league (Toronto lost their fifth game about an hour before we did), and I appreciate that we’re getting credit for it around the league. However, Cullen makes a good point – only one of our four wins to start the season was in regulation. We still found ways to win in overtime and the shootout, but I’d really love to stop giving 75% of our opponents an OT point. So how much does our strong start really mean? It’s hard to say. On the one hand, there have been some huge positives in the first five games. I can’t say enough about how solid and calm Lehtonen has been in net so far. The top lines are churning out points like it’s their job (oh, wait…), and the league’s top five in plus-minus are all Stars. Niskanen is actually laying hits on people, Burish has a great energy about him, and overall everyone seems to have a great attitude. But. There’s always one of those, isn’t there? But we can’t overlook the fact that we are dead last in the league with our disastrous PK. Chels put up a great post about how that could improve, but unfortunately for all involved, nobody important cares what we think.
….Another point of concern is that we’re allowing an average of 3.00 goals against per game. That isn’t worst in the league, but it’s close at 21st. Best in the league? The Panthers, who we play tomorrow night, at 1.25 goals against per game. I guess you could consider it lucky that we’re at the top of the league in goals FOR per game (at 3.60), but they’re right behind us with 3.00 G/G. That really doesn’t balance out in our favor. In order to beat them, we’re going to have to take FAR fewer penalties and allow far fewer goals against. One way to do that might be to take a long, hard look at our shots against per game versus shots for per game, a ratio that averages out to 38.0 : 21.8 (second to last and last in the league). If you isolate those stats, it’s amazing that we’re winning hockey games. If there are solutions to these problems, they need to be found quickly.

THN by Adam Proteau (Oct 20)
….Stars: 5 this week; 5 last week. “Only Anaheim averages more shots allowed than Stars’ 38.0”
….Of Note: New Jersey at 29 this week; 29 last week. “Jason Arnott, Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner a combined minus-18.”
….My Thoughts: Oh look, I’m not the only one calling out the Stars on how many shots per game they’re allowing. I don’t even know what else to say about this, other than it needs to change. As far as stats go, I’m just glad not to be a Devils fan. They’ve had a rough start to the season – 1-4-1 – and three of their top players are a combined -18. They aren’t the only ones struggling – even without them, the rest of the team combined is -29. Only four players are pluses (maxing out at +3), four are even, and the rest are at least -1. In contrast, only five Stars are negatives (with -3 being the worst), five are even, and the rest are at least +4. Of course, stats don’t tell the whole story, but they do provide some helpful details. I’d talk more about this, but quite frankly I’m already sick of analyzing numbers. Let’s just hope the Stars can improve a few areas of their game so we don’t have to hear about these things all season.

So there you have it, everyone. Do you agree or disagree with these rankings?

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