Wednesday, February 7, 2007

Musings over noodles

Seriously. I'm having pasta as I write this.

Just responding to some interesting discussion about shootouts and how abysmal we are in them. This was going to be a comment further down but it got out of hand. Now, I deal with numbers too much during the day to really do a bang-up job of this, but here goes.

Bottom line: I don't mind when we lose shootouts. Yeah, the extra point would be nice, but I like the big-picture implications better.

Not that I claim to understand the Flames' braintrust all that well, but I've just had an interesting time combing over Calgary's OT/SO stats for the last two seasons. Let me also isolate Minnesota, as a team that is seemingly our polar opposite in this regard, and happens to be ranked first in extra-time wins this season in the league.

TeamGP W (extra time) L (extra time)

Two factors go into the fact that Calgary's extra-time record is ranked 28th in the league this season and LAST OVERALL last season. Part of the reason our record is so poor is that we're plain bad in extra time. With Tuesday's game vs Chicago a prime example.

But the other part of this, is that we're built to win games in regulation. So we don't play very many games in extra time, compared to most other teams in the league. Last year - the team that led this category (Dallas) played 10 more games in extra time than we did. You can see how many more of Minnesota's games have gone there than ours this year. And surprise - the more often you do this, the more your record improves. Go figure. If it weren't so late at night, I could probably find a fairly good correlation between the number of times teams go into shootouts, and a rise in win percentage in shootouts.

So we have two teams here. Minnesota, who's decided it's worth it to invest a lot of time into winning shootouts (hello, Petteri Nummelin). So now they don't play to win, they play to tie games. So now half their games go to extra time, and half their wins come from extra time. And then there's Calgary, who's apparently decided to screw it with the whole shootout business, and just go for the regulation win (or nothing, apparently).

So, does that extra point matter so much? We're all nervous looking at this logjam in the NW. If we'd won all our extra-time games, that's seven more points. It's a lot of room in this division. If we'd won half (more reasonable, heh)'d be an extra four or five.

But what if Minnesota had spent more time working on winning in regulation? That is a mind-boggling 18(!) points which wouldn't be up for grabs as a result of extra time. Sure, they aren't all being snapped up by divisional opponents. But say, if half were (given the stupidity of the schedule, but that's another rant for another day) ...that's 9 points. If a quarter were...that's still...four or five.

I'd say in terms of standings, we're still about where we left off.

But time spent working on the shootout, or spent turning Kipper or Noodles into a shootout specialist, is time spent away from working on stuff we're good at. And stuff we're good at will probably get us further into the playoffs than any skills we'd hone by working on shootout stuff.

Should we take pains to make sure we get two points out of the deal than one? I'm not sure it's worth the effort, so long as their play the rest of the time ensures that a regulation win is within reach.

Emotionally...yes... win the damn thing! But really... I think we can live with it.

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