Wednesday, April 19, 2006

If I Had An Award Ballot

Since the NHL season is over, it is time to think about the regular season awards. If I had a ballot here is who I would vote for as the top three candidates for the awards (note this is a different question from who I think will win the awards).

Selke Trophy - 1. Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes 2. Brian Rolston Minnesota Wild 3. Martin Gelinas Florida Panthers

The Selke is the trophy whose nominees are the least likely to be NHL superstars. Being one of the best defensive forwards in the NHL - while valuable - often does not make you the best forward on your own team. Here is why I support Brind'Amour and here is an explanation of why Rolston is an excellent candidate.

Lady Byng Trophy - 1. Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings 2. Brad Richards Tampa Bay Lightning 3. Jason Spezza Ottawa Senators

Like the Selke, being a sportmanlike player often does not make you the best player on your team. Here is why I support Datsyuk.

Adams Trophy - 1. Jacques Lemaire Minnesota Wild 2. Tom Renney New York Rangers 3. Ken Hitchcock Philadelphia Flyers

I strongly disagree with the common method of picking coach of the year as coach of the most improved team. Here is why I support Jacques Lemaire for this award.

Calder Trophy - 1. Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals 2. Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins 3. Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers

There was a rookie crop this year. In a weaker season any of these nominees as well as a couple others (Phaneuf for example) could win this award. Here is why I support Ovechkin.

Norris Trophy - 1. Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings 2. Sergei Zubov Dallas Stars 3. Scott Niedermayer Anaheim Mighty Ducks

Here is why I support Lidstrom.

Vezina Trophy - 1. Miikka Kiprusoff Calgary Flames 2. Tomas Vokoun Nashville Predators 3. Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers

Here is why I support Kiprusoff.

Hart Trophy - 1. Jaromir Jagr New York Rangers 2. Joe Thornton San Jose Sharks 3. Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings

Here is my forecasting of the MVP race. It has gotten even tighter since I wrote that with Thornton winning the scoring title. I support Jagr largely because he has a much higher goal total. I think Thornton gets some support for the wrong reasons.

All Star Teams First Team - Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals, Joe Thornton San Jose Sharks, Jaromir Jagr New York Rangers, Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings, Sergei Zubov Dallas Stars, Miikka Kiprusoff Calgary Flames
Second Team - Dany Heatley Ottawa Senators, Eric Staal Carolina Hurricanes, Daniel Alfredsson Ottawa Senators, Scott Niedermayer Anaheim Mighty Ducks, Wade Redden Ottawa Senators, Tomas Vokoun Nashville Predators
Third Team - Ilya Kovalchuk Atlanta Thrashers, Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins, Jonathan Cheechoo San Jose Sharks, Zdeno Chara Ottawa Senators, Mathieu Schneider Detroit Red Wings, Henrik Lundqvist New York Rangers

Jock Lemaire's team played very well defensively, but also underperformed their PYTHAG record by a whole lot. Once I do the basic PYTHAG analysis, I would probably say Minnesota is one of the worst teams in that regard.
And the conclusion to that is that Minnesota was unlucky to not have done better this year?
Well, one of the theories about the Pythag in the baseball world is that it could be a sign of good/bad managing.

It's very hard to deduce from a single season (and I forget how the Wild did in previous years), but I don't believe luck would be the only factor in a team underperforming their pythag to a large degree that the Wild apparently did.
What I have seen of Pythag analysis is that it doesn't correlate with anything from year to year. A team that does well one year, may do poorly the next and vice versa.

Its probably worth a study or two. Maybe in the summertime.

In general, I tend to view a team that underperforms as unlucky and by doing nothing they almost always improve the next year and a team that overperforms as lucky and by doing nothing they almost always drop the next year.

I don't think this says anything about coaching quality.
Well, a couple of things...

1. If a team constantly under or over performs their pythag, it's usually a flag of bad/good management. Yes, teams tend to regress to the mean naturally (which is another use of the Pythag method), but team's that don't are worth a second look.

2. There was so much change between the pre and post-lockout that it made the pythag kind of useless to compare to previous seasons. The shootout will also play havoc with the damn thing. A team could simply be 'unlucky' to lose a lot of shootouts and it'll whack their record. The only thing I can think of, for the moment, is to treat it all equally and disregard the shootout records for the first attempt. Once I get a little time, I'll whip it together (unless someone does it first)
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