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Premium Article Front Office Focus (04/01)

April 1, 2011
Dropping The Puck
April Fools' Day

by Kent Wilson

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Gabriel Desjardins kicks off April Fools Day by posting this tongue-in-cheek acquiescence of "shot quality" in the NHL.

His revelation is a facetious one, of course, even though Gabe used to be a proponent of the shot quality metric. Although he still has yet to come across a study that convinces him shot quality exists as a persistent talent at the team level in the league, there's no doubt this argument will continue to rage amongst stats-heads.

Over at Silver Seven, Peter Raaymaker discusses the Senators newest addition, Stephane Da Costa. The undrafted college player was hotly pursued recently thanks to back-to-back 45 point seasons for Merrimack in the NCAA.

Every year, a new undrafted wunderkind grabs the NHL's attention. Recent examples include Jonas Gustavsson and Fabian Brunnstrom. Given their lack of success in the league so far, they probably aren't the most favorable examples for Senators fans. That said, Da Costa's perceived value isn't based on just a single season of notable results. The 5'11" center led his team in scoring in each of the last two seasons and was also the best point-getter on the Sioux City Musketeers of the USHL before jumping into the college game. With three consecutive years of noteworthy numbers, there's a much greater chance that Da Costa is the real deal.

Speaking of centers, here's my own article on the Flames' Daymond Langkow, who is set to make his return to the active roster tonight versus the Blues. Langkow suffered cracked vertebrae in a fluke incident last March that saw him get hit in the neck by an Ian White point shot.

The story of his return is a good one on a basic, human level but also good news for the Flames. Langkow had become Brent Sutter's shut-down center of choice last year and he was managing some Selke-caliber underlying numbers in that role before getting hurt. If he can get back to 100% by next season, the Flames will have a much deeper line-up down the middle.

Finally, JLikens of the excellent Objective NHL blog looks at factors which moderate minor penalties and determines that officiating bias plays a large role in inflating penalties for trailing teams. Based on three years of data, JLikens shows that the expected penalty ratio for trailing teams is just over 50% (.502), but that the actual ratio of 54. 5% is well clear of that number. Now the question is: do referees inflate a losing team's power play opportunities due to some unconscious sympathy for the losing team? Or are they instructed by some shadowy cabal at the head of the league to keep things close? Some conspiracy theorists, bolstered by the Colin Campbell email controversy, might argue the latter. Personally, I'm guessing it's just an artifact of the natural human tendency to root for the underdog.

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<< Previous Article
Angles and Caroms (03/31)
<< Previous Column
Dropping The Puck (03/26)
Next Column >>
Dropping The Puck (04/10)
Next Article >>
Premium Article Front Office Focus (04/01)

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