Thursday, November 30, 2006

Kickin' it old school

So I'm driving back from Home Depot tonight (gotta get those LED Christmas lights for the house. Usually Home Depot makes for a pretty nice little Saturday - buy some wallpaper, maybe get some flooring, stuff like that. Maybe Bed, Bath, & Beyond if we have enough time) and I flip on AM640 to check the score in the Leaf game. It's 1-0 Atlanta in the second.

Given the Leafs total and complete inability to come back in any meaningful way this season (0-5-1 when trailing after 1 - that's a .000 win percentage for anyone scoring at home; 1-9-2 when trailing after 2 - a sizzling .083 winning percentage) I figured game over.

And how.

Got home just as the third started and could only laugh at how bad the Leafs looked. I kept expecting to see Tom Watt behind the bench. Or Doug Carpenter (although if Carpenter was behind the bench the Leafs would have lost 9-4).

I'm going to beat a dead horse here: isn't this team built from the back end out? A team that's tough to play against? Isn't this the most expensive defensive core in the NHL? Consider this: depending on how many goals the Coyotes and Kings give up tonight the Leafs might have coughed up the second most goals in the NHL (***update: as of December 1, the Leafs are 26th in total goals against. Twelve goals are separating the Leafs from the dead-last Flyers.)

That’s quite the peer group my beloved Blue and White have fallen in with. I don’t know about you other Leaf fans, but I’m not so crazy about the Buds hanging around with the Flyers, Panthers, Kings and Coyotes down in the basement. And what’s Carolina doing traveling with that crowd?

There's a great lesson in stats/economics about predictive markets - e.g. that if a crowd estimates how many pennies are in a jar, buy and sell shares on oscar nominees, or offer advice on what the correct and final answer is - their collective wisdom is spot on. Before this season started, all the experts said the Leafs would have trouble scoring and that they wouldn't make the playoffs. Average together all their estimates...

I'm wondering if anyone with more of a statistical bent than yours truly would be able (or willing) to look at the rate of comeback wins this year as compared to last.

Part of the "New NHL" sizzle was the notion that no lead was safe. Teams could no longer get up one or two goals and count on the win. I'd love to know if there was any truth in that notion - were there in fact more come from behind wins last year than in previous seasons? In turn, how is this young season looking in terms of leads holding up.

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