Friday, June 15, 2007

NHL Awards

The NHL Awards were presented last night. Earlier I had posted my picks if I had a ballot and my comments when the nominees were announced. Here are the award winners and my comments.

Selke Trophy - Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes He was a deserving winner and the best defensive forward in the regular season. This is a repeat win for him. Had the award been for best defensive forward in the regular season and playoffs, Sami Pahlsson of Anaheim should have won. I had him as the second best defensive forward in the regular season and the best in the playoffs (where Brind'Amour played on a team that didn't qualify for playoffs).

Lady Byng Trophy - Pavel Datsyuk Detroit Red Wings He is another repeat winner. I had Martin St. Louis of Tampa Bay as my pick. St. Louis had a better season, finishing fifth in the league with 102 points, while Datsyuk was 17th with 82. Although one might argue Datsyuk was more sportsmanlike, using the fact he had 20 pims against St Louis's 28, I think that difference is largely explained by ice time. St. Louis lead NHL forwards in ice time, playing 24:09 per game (and all 82 games) while Datsyuk was 36th among forwards with 19:57 per game (in 79 games). That's over 400 extra minutes played for St Louis. If we assume that Datsyuk earned penalty minutes at a constant rate per minute of ice time he plays, he would had had 5 more minutes had he played as much as St. Louis. Using penalty minutes as a benchmark for sportsmanship, there is not enough of an advantage for Datsyuk to make up for the fact that St Louis was a better player.

Adams Trophy - Alain Vigneault Vancouver Canucks A poor choice. The hockey writers don't know how to pick good coaches. Both Jacques Lemaire of Minnesota and Ted Nolan of the NY Islanders went without nominations. Twelve different coaches were named as first place picks on at least one ballot. In the end, the coach of the year is often coach of the most improved team. Vancouver improved a lot, because their goaltending improved. Roberto Luongo is much better than Alex Auld and Dan Cloutier. Vigneault may be a competent coach, but he should have been far from coach of the year this season.

Masterton Trophy - Phil Kessel Boston Bruins Get cancer and win this award. I would have picked Owen Nolan of Phoenix. He didn't get cancer or anything, but he came back and was one of the Coyotes better players after injuries had kept him on the sidelines for two years. As bad as cancer sounds, Kessel was kept out about a month because of it. There is more perseverance and dedication to hockey shown coming back ion Nolan's case, when he could have easily retired, then in Kessel's case.

Calder Trophy - Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins He was the best rookie this season and he won. No big surprise there.

Norris Trophy - Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings This is Lidstrom's fifth Norris Trophy. He is one of the best defencemen ever. Might have been a bit more of a race if Niedermayer and Pronger were not teammates.

Vezina Trophy - Martin Brodeur New Jersey Devils This is his third Vezina Trophy. He was the deserving winner, though Luongo also had an outstanding year.

Hart Trophy - Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Possibly the first of many for him. He was the deserving winner.

Pearson Award - Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins Again the deserving winner and again likely the first of many.

First All Star Team - Alexander Ovechkin Washington Capitals, Sidney Crosby Pittsburgh Penguins, Dany Heatley Ottawa Senators, Nicklas Lidstrom Detroit Red Wings, Scott Niedermayer Anaheim Ducks, Martin Brodeur New Jersey Devils These are the same six I picked. Heatley moves from second team left wing last season to first team right wing this year. A successful switch of wings. That leaves left wing as a weaker position. Though Ovechkin is a good player, he had a worse season then the rest of the first team all star.

Second All Star Team - Thomas Vanek Buffalo Sabres, Vincent LeCavalier Tampa Bay Lightning, Martin St Louis Tampa Bay Lightning, Chris Pronger Anaheim Ducks, Dan Boyle Tampa Bay Lightning, Roberto Luongo Vancouver Canucks I disagreed with three of these picks. I had Joe Thornton of San Jose and Jarome Iginla of Calgary on the forward line instead of LeCavalier and St Louis. This is largely because it was harder to score in the West Conference and East Conference players tended to have inflated offensive totals. I also picked Sergei Gonchar of Pittsburgh over Dan Boyle on defence. Gonchar slightly outscored Boyle and anchored a less porous defence that played in a more competitive division. It is interesting that all three of the players I did not pick all play for Tampa Bay. I think that is over-representation for a team that barely qualified for playoffs. If Tampa really had 3 players good enough for second team all star, they would have done better as a team.

Here are the voting results for the awards and here they are for the all star teams. On my hypothetical ballot, I did not bother to make as many picks as voters do on the actual NHL ballot (5 ranked choices for awards - I only picked three), but if I had cast my ballot it would not have changed the winner of any awards. In fact, it would not have changed the order of finish for any award except the Vezina Trophy, where Miikka Kiprusoff and Henrik Lundqvist tied for third place. I would have broken that tie giving Kiprusoff third place by himself and leaving Lundqvist without a nomination.

Comments:
Rod Brind'Amour Carolina Hurricanes

He was a deserving winner and the best defensive forward in the regular season.


A strong statement, but what's the justification? Votes?

If Brind'Amour was the best defensive forward in the NHL last year, then you gotta figure that Carolina's coach is mishandling his bench--there were 6 Carolina forwards that played more of a defensive role than Brind'Amour, and this is a team that was in the bottom half of the league when it came to goals-allowed.

But yeah, he sure is famous.
 
Brind'Amour had so much ice time. He played defensive roles, offensive roles and everything in between. When you average out his ice time, you find that he played against average opposition and that some scrub who had no power play time and many less minutes will appear to play a more defensive role, but its just a misuse of statistics (you are using averages instead of totals).

Brind'Amour was on the ice during all the key defensive situations in Carolina, but his averages are not so great because he played so many other isutations too.
 
Brind'Amour was on the ice during all the key defensive situations in Carolina, but his averages are not so great because he played so many other situations too.

Sorry I'm pulling statistics I haven't published yet, but let's look at two examples of key defensive situations: playing 5-on-5 against Jagr and playing 5-on-5 against Crosby.

Brind'Amour played 26 of 62 minutes against Jagr (42%) and 14 of 44 minutes against Crosby (32%), much lower numbers than Pandolfo or Pahlsson showed. Were those other situations not key?

Why would the best defensive forward in the regular season not be used more in those key situations, I wonder? Coach is an idiot?
 
Were those other situations not key?

I dont know. Depends on other factors for example the score of the game. I know that whenever I watch Carolina and its what I comnsider a key situation, Brind'Amour is out there.
 
I know that whenever I watch Carolina and its what I consider a key situation, Brind'Amour is out there.

That doesn't do much to differentiate Brind'Amour from Pahlsson or Pandolfo, though.

And despite his less-difficult minutes, Rod has the worst GA/60 minutes of the three. In fact, Carolina as a team has a better 5-on-5 GAA in the minutes Brind'Amour does NOT play than the minutes he does.

But thank goodness for eyeballs, I guess.
 
In fact, Carolina as a team has a better 5-on-5 GAA in the minutes Brind'Amour does NOT play than the minutes he does.


Not having seen the statistics, my first guess is this is because he is playing harder minutes then the average Hurricane player.

I have never seen somebody fresh off a Stanley Cup win trying to play the victim this fast (Pahlsson got jobbed out his his award). I am sure you are a firm Pahlsson believer. I am too. I think he was the best defensive forward if you include the playoffs.

I would like to know how Pahlsson did 5 on 5 compared to the rest of the Ducks. Wouldn't surprise me if that stat doesn't make him look that good either (we know he is good). Its hard to measure defence statistically.
 
I have never seen somebody fresh off a Stanley Cup win trying to play the victim this fast (Pahlsson got jobbed out his his award).

I'm actually of the mind that Pandolfo should have won it (goal prevention is tougher in the east), but definitely I think of the 3 Brind'Amour was the worst candidate. He didn't demonstrate to me that he was the best defensive forward on his team, let alone the league.

I would like to know how Pahlsson did 5 on 5 compared to the rest of the Ducks. Wouldn't surprise me if that stat doesn't make him look that good either (we know he is good).

You are right, but Pahlsson's minutes are demonstrably tougher than Brind'Amour's. These numbers are where Pandolfo really shines, but I'll give you all three nominees (numbers courtesy of Behind the Net:

Pahlsson 5-on-5
(opponent ranking: 10 of 676,
teammate ranking: 674 of 676)
GA/60 minutes on the ice: 2.39
GA/60 minutes off the ice: 2.21

Pandolfo 5-on-5
(opponent ranking: 2 of 676,
teammate ranking: 569 of 676)
GA/60 minutes on the ice: 1.95
GA/60 minutes off the ice: 2.40

Brind'Amour 5-on-5
(opponent ranking: 214 of 676,
teammate ranking: 236 of 676)
GA/60 minutes on the ice: 3.10
GA/60 minutes off the ice: 3.05

It's hard to measure defence statistically.

Sure, but it is getting easier to see who is playing defensive minutes and who is not. Stats are getting much more refined in describing the context of a player's results, which I think can apply here.

Pahlsson and Pandolfo both are playing among the toughest even-strength minutes in the league with among the worst-ranking producing linemates in the league. Brind'Amour's minutes and linemates are a lot more pedestrian, ranking 7th among Hurricane forwards in terms of average difficulty. Yeah, Brind'Amour's numbers look better on the surface, but he's not producing them in the same context as Pahlsson or Pandolfo.

I guess my beef boils down to this: if a player is not being used as a key defensive option on his team, by what rationale is it decided that he's the best defensive option in the league?
 
Brind'Amour's ice time doesn't appear as tough because he plays so much. He plays the tough minutes and the easy ones too.

That is the big fact which is obscured by those numbers.

In order to play the toughest minutes in the NHL by those numbers, you must not play easy minutes too or that ruins your ranking.
 
Brind'Amour's ice time doesn't appear as tough because he plays so much. He plays the tough minutes and the easy ones too.

So answer this: if it's demonstrable that Pandolfo, while playing tougher minutes with regularity, does improve his team's defensive numbers, and it's also demonstrable that Brind'Amour, while playing easy and tough minutes interchangeably, does not improve his team's defensive numbers, why is Brind'Amour a better choice?

I'm really struggling to even see how Brind'Amour qualifies as the best defensive forward on Carolina, let alone the league. Telling me that he plays easy minutes doesn't answer that.
 
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