Tag Archives: Numbers Game

Numbers Game: Count Your Quarters

It’s December 1st which means all 31 NHL teams have passed the quarter mark of the regular season. Some teams have played almost 30 games while others have barely passed the 20.5 games required for the “quarter of the way through the season” moniker.

In the Western Conference, the Edmonton Oilers are bad, the Colorado Avalanche are okay, the Vegas Golden Knights are good and there’s a very real chance that the Arizona Coyotes barely surpass Colorado’s 22-win 2016-2017 season benchmark of “worst team in the Salary Cap Era”.

Meanwhile in the Eastern Conference, the Tampa Bay Lightning are thundering their way back into dominance over the rest of the league, the Toronto Maple Leafs are the real deal, the Montreal Canadiens are turning a corner after stumbling out the gate and the New Jersey Devils are good– too good.

Oh and then there’s the fact that the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins are quietly in the first wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.

So with everything in mind, let’s use Microsoft Excel to help us predict the rest of the season, shall we?

Unlike my standings projections before the first puck dropped on the season, I haven’t added any Gut Feeling 2.0 to these predictions. There’s going to be some surprises and there’s going to be some things that are way off, considering the fact that an equation cannot predict injuries, streaks or things of that nature. What might look insane now, will look different (hopefully) in another 20 games or so.

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to do another round of this around the All-Star Game.

The moral of the story here is that if you’re off to a bad start, like Edmonton, and you’re running up against a tight salary cap moving forward, it’s never too early to start counting your quarters and figuring out what assets you’ll be able to lose by the trade deadline.

If you’re a good team, like New Jersey, then it’s the perfect time to assess how far you think you’ll go and determine who might be right the addition at or before the deadline that’ll push you further than expected and maybe all the way to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final.

2017-2018 Projected Standings after Two Months

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. y-Tampa Bay Lightning, 101 points (25 GP so far)
  2. x-Boston Bruins, 98 points (23 GP so far)
  3. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 94 points (27 GP so far)
  4. Montreal Canadiens, 92 points (27 GP so far)
  5. Detroit Red Wings, 89 points (26 GP so far)
  6. Ottawa Senators, 88 points (23 GP so far)
  7. Florida Panthers, 78 points (24 GP so far)
  8. Buffalo Sabres, 67 points (25 GP so far)

To keep things short, the Lightning and the Maple Leafs are still the best picks coming out of the Atlantic Division if you have your eyes set on trying to predict which teams might have a deep playoff run in 2018.

The Boston Bruins have been battling injuries all season long and while they’ve kept the pace with their youth-infused lineup, they still have a lot of development to go before they can reach a conference finals run, let alone Stanley Cup Final run. Ottawa’s decline continues to be one of the biggest surprises in the weakest division in the Eastern Conference. Other than that, nothing else is really groundbreaking here.

Metropolitan Division

  1. z-Pittsburgh Penguins, 102 points (26 GP so far)
  2. x-New York Islanders, 98 points (24 GP so far)
  3. x-Washington Capitals, 98 points (26 GP so far)
  4. x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 97 points (25 GP so far)
  5. x-New York Rangers, 97 points (25 GP so far)
  6. New Jersey Devils, 94 points (24 GP so far)
  7. Philadelphia Flyers, 90 points (25 GP so far)
  8. Carolina Hurricanes, 84 points (23 GP so far)

In the Metropolitan Division the Pittsburgh Penguins look to regain their top-notch form as they’ve had a difficult time adjusting to life after Marc-Andre Fleury (and have especially struggled with a decimated defense from the offseason).

The Columbus Blue Jackets are likely to climb in later projections, based on their current performance, but again, since this is only based off of a formula in Microsoft Excel… Columbus will be just fine. They should be an underdog or a dark horse for Stanley Cup contention this season. This division will continue to be the tightest battle all season long, so it wouldn’t be surprising to see New Jersey inside or outside of the picture come April.

Western Conference

Central Division

  1. p-St. Louis Blues, 107 points (25 GP so far)
  2. x-Chicago Blackhawks, 100 points (25 GP so far)
  3. x-Nashville Predators, 98 points (25 GP so far)
  4. x-Winnipeg Jets, 97 points (25 GP so far)
  5. Dallas Stars, 93 points (25 GP so far)
  6. Minnesota Wild, 93 points (25 GP so far)
  7. Colorado Avalanche, 85 points (23 GP so far)

As exciting as the battle for the Metropolitan Division should continue to be this season, the Western Conference’s Central Division has plenty of counterpoints to offer for top-notch divisional battles and Stanley Cup contenders. This is the season for the St. Louis Blues (to at least make a run for the President’s Trophy).

Whether or not St. Louis can go further than their 2016 Western Conference Finals trip went and make it back to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1970, only time can tell. Between the Blues, Nashville Predators and Winnipeg Jets, it’s safe to say one of your Stanley Cup finalists will be from the Central Division.

Pacific Division

  1. y-Vegas Golden Knights, 106 points (24 GP so far)
  2. x-San Jose Sharks, 101 points (23 GP so far)
  3. x-Los Angeles Kings, 99 points (26 GP so far)
  4. x-Anaheim Ducks, 98 points (25 GP so far)
  5. Vancouver Canucks, 90 points (26 GP so far)
  6. Calgary Flames, 89 points (25 GP so far)
  7. Edmonton Oilers, 73 points (26 GP so far)
  8. Arizona Coyotes, 65 points (28 GP so far)

In the biggest surprise this season, the Vegas Golden Knights are not only tracking for a postseason appearance– they’re on the rails to a Pacific Division winning season. Yes, the Los Angeles Kings are the only other hottest team in the Pacific, but there’s something to be said for the San Jose Sharks experience the last few seasons.

Just like the Central Division, Vegas, Los Angeles or San Jose would be safe bets for a deep playoff run. The Anaheim Ducks could make things interesting as they have always done, but there’s really nothing else that looks promising to make a surge in the standings and/or postseason. Sorry Oilers fans.


Need a reminder of what things looked like early in November? Here it is:

Numbers Game: Vegas Through 20 (2017-18)

By now I’m sure you’re all tired of hearing and reading what I have said and written about the Boston Bruins, so let’s check out how some former Bruins– Colin Miller, Reilly Smith and Malcolm Subban— are doing.

The Vegas Golden Knights have redefined what it means to be an expansion team in the modern NHL. They’re leading the Pacific Division at the American Thanksgiving mark, you guys. Clearly this means they’ll be the 2018 Stanley Cup champions and all of my work will be for nothing.

But seriously though, part of me thinks the Golden Knights will for sure make the playoffs. As for how far they’ll go, well, let’s just save us all the surprise of the potential postseason for when it gets here. How’s that sound?

Now without saying too much more, keep in mind my degree is in communication– not math– so blame anything that looks strange on Microsoft Excel instead of me, thanks.

Remember that sometimes what you see below is pure speculation, pure “potential” (*ahem* Alex Tuch) and a bunch of nonsense that all relates to how much a player has played thus far in their career combined with how they’re tracking through the first 20 games the team in Sin City has played.

Here’s a look at how every player in Vegas should pan out over the next 62 games remaining in the 2017-2018 regular season.

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Vegas Golden Knights Projections Through 20 Games (62 Games Remaining)

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Without any real surprises from Jonathan Marchessault, James Neal, David Perron and Reilly Smith, the Golden Knights biggest surprise at forward has been William Karlsson. Karlsson’s hot scoring hands look to continue throughout the season, setting what should be career highs in goals, assists and points (of course).

Tomas Nosek should be fun to watch if you’re into depth scoring.

It’s safe to say that we all expected Colin Miller and Nate Schmidt to emerge as high caliber defensemen, but what’s even more incredible is that they’re doing so while the rest of their teammates on the blue line are also contributing immensely to the assist column.

Sure, it’ll be great to see Deryk Engelland put away a few more pucks in the back of the net than he did last season, but consider the scoring potential of Shea Theodore now that Golden Knights general manager, George McPhee, has done the right thing in regards to calling him up and giving him a go. Clearly Gerard Gallant knows what he’s doing with this one.

Though it wouldn’t hurt to recall Jason Garrison and send Griffin Reinhart to the Chicago Wolves (AHL). Especially since Garrison could actually contribute to the team, while Reinhart sits in the press box as a healthy scratch from night-to-night.

In addition to the pleasant surprises we’ve seen from all of the skaters, consider the impressive depth in the crease the Golden Knights have stockpiled behind the eventual return of Marc-Andre Fleury to fortress in front of the twine.

Malcolm Subban’s settling into a NHL career, while Maxime Lagace— albeit a non-competitor for the backup job currently– should pan out just fine in future years. What a find, Vegas.

If Oscar Dansk can ever make it back to dancing with the NHL level of the game, don’t be surprised to see a few heads turning around the rest of the league and some trade offers being made. Vegas is in good shape to have a plethora of established youth in goal, considering the injuries the Montreal Canadiens are currently facing and/or the potential future goaltender injuries for other teams.

Vegas just might make the playoffs as they continue to stake their claim as “the greatest expansion franchise in league history (if not all major North American professional sports)”.

Oh, and their Corsi is pretty good too, but I digress.


If you’re interested in seeing what was expected before a puck dropped this season, check out my initial projections for the inaugural Vegas Golden Knights season.

Numbers Game: Boston Bruins 2017-2018 Projected Stats

Let’s ignore the first two games of the season that the Boston Bruins have already played and reset the clock to zero, because here’s a look at what is (was?) to be expected heading into this season for every player on the Bruins*.

*With some exceptions of course.

Unknown-7After being eliminated by the Ottawa Senators in the First Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston is looking for a deeper playoff run on the wings of the experience gained from those six extra games in April for David Pastrnak and the rest of their young crew.

Gut feeling dictates that Pastrnak and Brad Marchand will be as much of an offensive force as they were last season for Boston heading into this season, but what does the forecasting function in Microsoft Excel have to say about any of those bold predictions from this offseason on our podcast or otherwise?

As is tradition, my Bruins projections are presented below based on how every player on the roster has performed in their career leading up to this season. Players that have yet to play a game a regular season NHL game are not included in this first round of projections (denoted with “N/A” in most columns), but their stats will be included and accounted for about a quarter of the way through the regular season (roughly 20 games).

Yes, Charlie McAvoy played in the playoffs last season, but the fact of the matter is there is no true way to measure how his regular season will go based off of six career playoff games, wherein the pace of the game and many other variables are inherently different from regular season game-flow.

Or just give me some more time to come up with an excuse a more viable solution for projecting rookie’s stats prior to them taking the ice for the first time at the NHL level.

Sample size must always be kept in mind when glancing over these projections. A player who’s never played more than three career games (like Tommy Cross, for example) will reflect a tremendous value in projected assists if they’ve recorded even just one assist (again, like Providence Bruins all-time leader in games played, Tommy Cross) in those three games. This will fluctuate pending more appearances and/or throughout the season on its own (usually in the downward trend, unless said AHL player cracks the NHL roster full-time).

But for all the jokes, Tommy Cross is an excellent depth-defenseman/top-pair defenseman in the AHL to have. Shouts to him.

Additionally, please remember that my degree is in communication, not math, so I am by no means a wizard with numbers in Microsoft Excel and I’m sure my Corsi is terrible. Plus, you’re probably not a front office member or anyone who might have some credibility for statistical reasoning and advanced stats analysis in hockey, so take everything with a grain of salt before you complain that math is ruining “your” sport.

Unless you are some Corsi-god/NHL front office member and you’ve stumbled upon this, in which case, let’s start over. Hello, please ignore the last paragraph, my name is Nick and I’d like a job. Thanks.


On offense, the usual suspects for the Boston Bruins will remain the core components that push the team forward night-in and night-out. Patrice Bergeron should amass another 60-plus point season after having a “down year” last season with only 53 points in 2016-2017.

Pastrnak will lead the Bruins in points according to the latest models with 31-33-64 totals.

While Brad Marchand’s expected 31-29-60 totals this season rank fourth on the team’s projected scoring leaders behind Pastrnak (64), David Krejci (63) and Bergeron (62), it’s easy to imagine Marchand improving from his career best 39 goals, 46 assists (85 points) season last season and shattering his season-entering projections.

Gut Feeling 2.0 seems to point in the direction of Marchand leading in points, based off of last season, and Pastrnak leading in goals (as is shown in these numbers with Pastrnak and Marchand tied for the lead on the Bruins roster with 31 projected goals each this season).

Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano should each right their ships this season coming off of not-so-easy to return from leg injuries last season. Beleskey’s expected 14-16-30 totals would rank as his 3rd best season in his NHL career– with room to gain more ground– since appearing in two games with the Anaheim Ducks in 2008-2009.

Meanwhile, Vatrano (29 points projected in 2017-18), barring another injury, should finally partake in a full-season and become the glue-guy on the third line that he’s been expected to become after being a goal-a-game AHL player in his short career with Providence.

The Boston blue line looks retooled, restocked and ready to go.

Gone are John-Michael Liles, Colin Miller and Joe Morrow; in are the likes of Charlie McAvoy and Paul Postma. Liles has moved on to become a TV analyst for Altitude and Colorado Avalanche broadcasts while still technically an unrestricted free agent. Colin Miller was claimed by the Vegas Golden Knights at the 2017 Expansion Draft and Morrow signed with the rival Montreal Canadiens this offseason after not being tendered a qualifying offer.

McAvoy’s rookie season numbers will come fruition in the next 20 games or so, please give some time for an update on his projections, but until then, know this– he’s the real deal.

Nobody can possibly be the next Bobby Orr for Boston, since there’s only one Bobby Orr after all, but McAvoy likes to move the puck like Orr once did for the Bruins in the late 1960s and 1970s. And McAvoy’s got a tough element to his game too, like legendary Bruins defenseman, Eddie Shore, McAvoy can hit.

Postma is mainly an afterthought, but provides much needed depth for the long run.

Brandon Carlo looks to make an impact in his sophomore season and should continue to absorb any and all knowledge from 40-year-old captain, Zdeno Chara, as a shut-down pair. Yes, Chara is still a good defenseman. He’ll max out around 40 points this season with Carlo carrying more weight and the Bruins offense doing their part in keeping the puck out of the defensive zone to begin with.

Meanwhile, Torey Krug should an average year with 10 goals and 35 assists (45 points). Even an average year for Krug is still a better year than most defensemen.

And in other news, Tuukka Rask is still the number one goaltender for obvious reasons. He’s good.

More on Boston’s goalies as a whole in later posts throughout the season.

For now, Bruce Cassidy‘s Bruins are ready to fly– mostly because of Cassidy’s coaching style that emphasizes going full throttle all the time and not because bears have sprouted wings or anything.

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Numbers Game: 2017-18 Standings Projections

Yes, it’s October.

Yes, it’s too early to make a final standings projection, but I’m going to do it anyway using a pseudo-algorithm called Heart and Grit Gut Feeling 2.0 (combined with the standard Microsoft Excel forecasting formula).

Gut Feeling 2.0 is better than just using the eye test because it combines actual numbers plugged into Microsoft Excel with the complete partial bias of whatever I feel like is the right record, number of points and/or anything shown below for all 31 teams in the NHL.

But seriously, to keep this loosely based in mathematics, I’ve included a range of points that three separate models are indicating (scroll to the bottom), as well as what Gut Feeling 2.0 is telling us.

2017-2018 Projected Final Standings

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

  1. y-Boston Bruins, 101 points
  2. x-Montreal Canadiens, 99 points
  3. x-Tampa Bay Lightning, 98 points
  4. x-Toronto Maple Leafs, 95 points
  5. Ottawa Senators, 93 points
  6. Buffalo Sabres, 90 points
  7. Florida Panthers, 82 points
  8. Detroit Red Wings, 80 points

Predicting the final outcome across the Eastern Conference this year is a lot like playing the lottery– whether you pick your numbers or just do quick picks, your odds of winning are still far, far less than getting struck by lightning twice.

In the Atlantic Division, the Boston Bruins barely beat out the Montreal Canadiens and Tampa Bay Lightning for the regular season division title with 101 points over Montreal’s 99 points and Tampa’s 98 points based on the Gut Feeling 2.0 model. Of course, seeding in the Stanley Cup Playoffs more often than not means nothing. Just like winning the President’s Trophy doesn’t mean much unless you win the Cup.

Given the parity of the Atlantic Division teams, it wouldn’t be surprising to see any of the top-four teams in this model switch places or grab the division crown. Based on expected final standings point-ranges alone, Tampa looks to rebound with ease, while Montreal maintains status quo.

It’s a bit of a surprise, but the Ottawa Senators sit just on the outside looking in, though logic says otherwise. For one team to improve in the division (say, Tampa for example, or the Buffalo Sabres with a healthy, full-season of Jack Eichel), another team must lose. Five points in the final standings is the only difference between 2017-2018 and 2016-2017 for the Sens and ultimately it costs them a postseason appearance.

But if any major injuries occur to teams ahead of the Senators or Sabres, then expect either Ottawa or Buffalo to be ready to take their place.

When it comes to 2018 Stanley Cup Playoff success, you might want to consider cashing in on the Lightning and Toronto Maple Leafs to at least make it to the Second Round.

Metropolitan Division

  1. z-Pittsburgh Penguins, 107 points
  2. x-Washington Capitals, 106 points
  3. x-New York Rangers, 103 points
  4. x-Columbus Blue Jackets, 102 points
  5. New York Islanders, 92 points
  6. Carolina Hurricanes, 92 points
  7. Philadelphia Flyers, 91 points
  8. New Jersey Devils, 84 points

The 2017-2018 final standings in the Metropolitan Division look similar to the 2016-2017 final standings in the Metropolitan Division. This is no accident. The top teams, Pittsburgh, Washington and the New York Rangers, remain dominant in their regular season play. Even the Columbus Blue Jackets, despite a six-point setback from their franchise best 50-win, 108-point season last year, remain a competitive team that should cross the 100-point plateau for two-seasons in a row under John Tortorella’s guise.

Whereas the Washington Capitals do not clinch the President’s Trophy in the 2017-2018 season and instead falter by 12 points compared to last season, the Carolina Hurricanes show improvement in their money-puck roster mentality, but ultimately the giants of the Metropolitan Divsion (the two-time defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins, to be specific) prove too much for them to handle this season, though a 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs run seems imminent.

Somehow the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers remain stagnant this season, but the New Jersey Devils make the largest leap in points (from 70 points in ’16-’17 to 84 points in ’17-’18) as the rest of the division evens out.

Look for Pittsburgh to advance to the Second Round and yet another entertaining Rangers-Capitals matchup in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Western Conference

Central Division

  1. y-Chicago Blackhawks, 102 points
  2. x-St. Louis Blues, 101 points
  3. x-Nashville Predators, 97 points
  4. x-Dallas Stars, 96 points
  5. x-Minnesota Wild, 95 points
  6. Winnipeg Jets, 87 points
  7. Colorado Avalanche, 82 points

Look, the Dallas Stars have tremendous talent on their expected first line of Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Alexander Radulov, but even with Ben Bishop as their starting goaltender the Stars aren’t the best team in the Central Division.

Instead, the annual “how do they keep doing this all the time? oh, right, they have Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Duncan Keith and Corey Crawford still” Chicago Blackhawks will just come out on top of the St. Louis Blues who look to improve from last season with a reinforced offense (hello, Brayden Schenn) and more experience on the blue line.

The Nashville Predators, in all their glory with four incredibly deep forward lines, the best defense (on paper) and an elite starting goalie in Pekka Rinne, surprisingly fall short of winning the division coming off of their 2017 Stanley Cup Final run. Nashville will be in better playoff position heading into the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, given they won’t be the last team to clinch in the Western Conference, and they should be destined for another Western Conference Finals run, at least.

The Minnesota Wild are the winners of the consolation “hey the other division didn’t have four-quality playoff teams” prize and will clinch the second Western Conference wild card spot with 95 points in 2017-18– one season removed from a 49-25-8 record and 106 point, 2nd place finish in the Central Division.

Finally, the Colorado Avalanche couldn’t possibly have a season worse than they did last season, though they’re still poised to finish behind the Winnipeg Jets for last place in the division.

Pacific Division

  1. p-Edmonton Oilers, 112 points
  2. x-Anaheim Ducks, 109 points
  3. x-San Jose Sharks, 99 points
  4. Los Angeles Kings, 92 points
  5. Calgary Flames, 85 points
  6. Vancouver Canucks, 83 points
  7. Arizona Coyotes, 78 points
  8. Vegas Golden Knights, 72 points

Gut Feeling 2.0 never lies and the numbers don’t lie either. The Edmonton Oilers will be the top team in the Pacific Division when all is said and done this season. Better yet, the Oilers will be this season’s President’s Trophy winners– something that hasn’t happened since the days of some guy wearing a jersey with the number “99” on the back of it skated around the ice.

Other than Edmonton overtaking the Anaheim Ducks for first overall, there are virtually no changes in the Pacific Division standings. San Jose will knock at the door of a 100-point season for the third season in a row, only to fall a point short (for the second season in a row).

While Los Angeles Kings fans may be disappointed this season, if anything, missing the playoffs for one more season should give them enough time to develop and recover from their offseason roster moves while GM Rob Blake figures out the reins and plans the path back to Stanley Cup glory.

Things are coming together for the Arizona Coyotes. They won’t be a bad team; they’re just a victim of circumstance. Unfortunately, that circumstance dictates that it’s going to take one more season for the chemistry to work out as general manager, John Chayka, addresses the growing depth on offense (both in prospect development and with the addition of Derek Stepan this offseason), while building a stable core of defensemen and capable young goalies in Antti Raanta and Louis Domingue.

Meanwhile the Vancouver Canucks and Calgary Flames go through their own growing pains for another season.

Luckily for the Vegas Golden Knights, there’s no pressure to play better than last season, mostly because this is their inaugural season, so it can’t be worse than before!

Look for Edmonton to make noise in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs, going as deep as the Western Conference Finals– at least. Likewise, the Sharks seem ready for a better fight in the postseason than last season.

Plausible ranges in points based on three separate models (math done in Microsoft Excel alone– no Gut Feeling 2.0 added) for the 2017-2018 season:

Atlantic Division

Boston Bruins (94-101), Buffalo Sabres (67-84), Detroit Red Wings (86-101), Florida Panthers (84-92), Montreal Canadiens (93-99), Ottawa Senators (91-92), Tampa Bay Lightning (89-98), Toronto Maple Leafs (80-90)

Metropolitan Division

Carolina Hurricanes (81-87), Columbus Blue Jackets (84-92), New Jersey Devils (77-92), New York Islanders (84-97), New York Rangers (98-103), Philadelphia Flyers (90-92), Pittsburgh Penguins (105-108), Washington Capitals (102-119)

Central Division

Chicago Blackhawks (100-107), Colorado Avalanche (65-84), Dallas Stars (92-94), Minnesota Wild (93-97), Nashville Predators (94-97), St. Louis Blues (97-106), Winnipeg Jets (83-87)

Pacific Division

Anaheim Ducks (101-109), Arizona Coyotes (74-83), Calgary Flames (85-90), Edmonton Oilers (74-87), Los Angeles Kings (90-96), San Jose Sharks (99-104), Vancouver Canucks (72-95), Vegas Golden Knights (69-75)

Numbers Game: Ranking the NHL Mascots (5-1)

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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Blades is definitely mascot goals if you want to make the top five. (Photo by Brian Babineau/ Getty Images)

5. Blades- Boston Bruins

Blades is a fierce looking mascot with a big heart deep inside. Trust me, from personal experience, Blades is really nice, despite what nightmares he may give you. The Bruins hit one out of the park when they introduced Blades, a bruin (which is an old English word for “bear”, look it up) that has luscious blue eyes.

Additionally, Blades is less sarcastic than The Bear, Boston’s unofficial mascot that they use in plenty of marketing schemes who helps fit the New England stereotype of being tough and a diehard fan of Rene Rancourt.

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Slapshot is a great mascot for the Capitals, but enough with the drum, Slapshot, we’re trying to watch the game. (Photo via @Caps_Slapshot)

4. Slapshot- Washington Capitals

Nothing screams patriotism than a bald eagle representing your hockey franchise that plays in Washington, D.C. Nothing. Slapshot is an excellent mascot. Seriously. Well done. Props to you, Washington Capitals, you remembered to give your wicked cool mascot pants and all.

My only complaint (like with any mascot) is the drum. I hate those during play and they’re pretty tacky if your fan base can’t rally themselves and must be provoked to cheer or chant. Okay, rant over, please don’t hate me Capitals fans. It’s nothing against you, just something about sports that I’ve observed over the years.

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Wild Wing, you make my heart sing. (Photo via @WildWing_93)

3. Wild Wing- Anaheim Ducks

The California teams sweep the podium in my ranking of the NHL’s mascots and for good reason. To some, Wild Wing could rank higher or lower, but to me, Wild Wing comes in at number three. Look, this is a quality mascot. I have no complaints other than minor qualms about Wild Wing’s lack of pants and such. And if you claim he’s wearing pants and that they’re white. Newsflash, IT’S AFTER LABOR DAY.

As an aside, I’ve never seen the Mighty Ducks or any of the sequels. No, I won’t watch them because you tell me I have to in order to be a real ’90s kid, hockey fan or whatever.

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S.J. Sharkie + Brent Burns forever. True love does exist. (Photo via @sjsharkie)

2. S.J. Sharkie- San Jose Sharks

What other mascot tries to eat everyone they meet? Anyone? Anyone? I didn’t think so. S.J. Sharkie not only rappels from the rafters (and gets stuck every now and then), but likes to offer his bite instead of a handshake as a formal greeting. Simply put, S.J. Sharkie is on the shortlist of mascots I wouldn’t mind having at my birthday party sometime.

No amount of Metallica could keep the Shark Tank rocking on its own. S.J. Sharkie is the heart and soul of SAP Center and he knows how to keep it loud all the time. Party at S.J. Sharkie’s everyone.

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Bailey is truly the pride of the pack. He is the king of mascots. (Photo via @BaileyLAKings)

1. Bailey- Los Angeles Kings

Bailey reigns supreme over all of the other mascots in the NHL. He’s got the royal look down with the heart of a lion. Though lions are typically menacing, Bailey’s actually pretty amiable. The Los Angeles Kings really outdid themselves with the creation and implementation of Bailey as their mascot.

Named after the Kings’s pro scouting director, Garnet “Ace” Bailey, who was tragically killed when United Airlines Flight 175 hit the south tower on 9/11, the Los Angeles franchise turned the tragedy and mourning of a coworker, mentor, friend and family member into part of the organization’s legacy forever. What better way to memorialize a man like “Ace” Bailey than by making him the most approachable mascot in the NHL?

Numbers Game: Ranking the Mascots of the NHL (15-11)

By: Nick Lanciani

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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You’ve been Thunderbug-ed. (Photo by Scott Audette/ Getty Images)

15. Thunderbug- Tampa Bay Lightning

If it weren’t for Tampa’s third jerseys (which, thank you very much, adidas for doing something about them, even though I’m usually a fan of alternates), Thunderbug might be higher up in my rankings, but unfortunately even Thunderbug can’t pull off looking stunning in those “Bolts” jerseys.

Look, Tampa actually did a great job coming up with a mascot that works in more ways than one. Thunderbug’s name implies both the sound that occurs after lightning in a thunderstorm, as well as a synonym for “lightning bug”, or as normal people call them, “fireflies”. Thunderbug’s aesthetics might seem a little outdated, however, but I’ll let it pass since it could always be worse.

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Tommy Hawk has a Twitter. Again I ask, what is it with mascots having Twitter accounts? (Photo via @BhawkTommyHawk)

14. Tommy Hawk- Chicago Blackhawks

Not bad, but not great either. Tommy Hawk is okay, but I’m sure we’ll all be giving him some points for feeling bad about what happened in Minnesota the other night. Actually, come to think of it, Nordy, you’ve been retroactively downgraded to last place in these rankings. That’s right, Stormy, you’ve been called up. Don’t get used to it.

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Carlton the Bear? More like Classy the Bear. (Photo via @CarltonTheBear)

13. Carlton the Bear- Toronto Maple Leafs

Pure. Simple. Classic. Carlton the Bear is like a basic cup of coffee that Starbucks “dresses up” and charges you more for. Then again, what do I know, I’m more of a Dunkin’ guy myself and I drink coffee about one or two times a year. Anyway, the point is this, the Toronto Maple Leaf’s mascot is a classic. Named after the street the old Maple Leaf Gardens sat on, Carlton the Bear ties in the history of the Maple Leafs with the culture of hockey (and Canada) so elegantly.

Bonus points for being a polar bear, as well.

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Louie! Honestly, he’s not that bad looking, people. (Photo via @LouieSTLBlues)

12. Louie- St. Louis Blues

Say what you will about Louie, but again, the polar bear theme is always a win (to me anyway). He’s fuzzy, he’s friendly, Louie is a decent mascot and a great representative of the game. I mean, seriously, what little kid wouldn’t want to cozy up with Louie for a hug or a photo?

It’s not always about having menacing mascots that will bit your opponent’s head off, you guys. Louie is chill. Louie is laid back. St. Louis, you’ve outdone yourselves, as usual.

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Mick E. Moose is a tremendous upgrade from Benny, the original Jets mascot (though he’s cool, he can hangout anytime). (Photo via @MickEMoose_00)

11. Mick E. Moose- Winnipeg Jets

Mick E. Moose would have made my top-ten, if it weren’t for his creepy, gigantic, smile.

Other than that, Mick E. Moose is a delightful call up from the AHL’s Manitoba Moose. Aside from my vendetta against Mick E. Moose’s smile, I don’t have much else to say for you, Winnipeg. Nice job overall, Jets.

Numbers Game: Ranking the Mascots of the NHL (20-16)

By: Nick Lanciani

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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Viktor E. Ratt (left) and Stanley C. Panther (right) would be a winning combo if Viktor E. Ratt retired. (Photo via @FlaPanthersCARE)

20. Stanley C. Panther/ Viktor E. Ratt- Florida Panthers

If it weren’t for Viktor E. Ratt’s existence, Stanley C. Panther might have cracked the top ten. But since Viktor E. Ratt exists, I was generous enough to at least include them in the top-20. Look, I understand Vikor E. Ratt’s significance, given the history and tradition behind Florida Panthers fans tossing plastic rats on the ice, but one mascot is enough. Leave the 1996 inspired rat behind. Please.

As for Stanley C. Panther, he’s average. Despite being rather plain looking, he has a clean aesthetic and ties in perfectly with the Florida Panthers as an organization (aside from, you know, his existence as a Florida panther, the endangered animal and an extension of the brand).

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Victor E. Green definitely stands out in a crowd. (Photo via Dallas Stars)

19. Victor E. Green- Dallas Stars

An ode to the man who moved the North Stars to Dallas or simply an ode to their jersey color, you decide, but Victor E. Green is a pretty solid, lovable, alien. The fact of the matter is that he is too lovable. While I give the Dallas Stars props for joining the mascot bandwagon however long ago (it was pretty recent, but not as recent as Hunter’s arrival with the Edmonton Oilers), an alien is a bit far fetched, unless your team is located in the same state as Area 51 (hello, Vegas Golden Knights employees who are reading this, please take my idea and run with it).

Kudos to the Stars, though, for the wonderful mascot bio that notes Victor E. Green’s relationship status as “[a]lienated” and his birthplace as “[a] galaxy far, far away” (Star Wars > Star Trek, come at me, nerds). Minus five points for being too similar to a MLB mascot, though.

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Harvey the Hound, giving me nightmares, since forever for some reason. (Photo by Derek Leung/ Getty Images)

18. Harvey the Hound- Calgary Flames

Craig MacTavish isn’t a fan of Harvey the Hound, just ask that 2003 playoff game where he ripped out Harvey the Hound’s tongue (look it up on YouTube on your own time). Fun fact, Harvey the Hound is the oldest mascot in the NHL. Because of that, he gets some brownie points and rises in my ranking. But also because of that and his much needed spin through the washing machine or whatever, he gets downgraded a few spots.

Look, I have no real complaints about Harvey the Hound here other than the costume should probably be dry cleaned and maybe modernized a bit. And no, despite what you may be thinking, Scorch wasn’t better.

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Gnash looks smashing, despite the fact that the baby blue went better with the silver that was once rampant in Nashville’s jerseys. (Photo by Matt Zambonin/ Freestyle Photo/ Getty Images)

17. Gnash- Nashville Predators

Got to say, not a huge fan of the baby blue, but otherwise Gnash fits the bill perfectly for the Predators. I mean, simply put, there’s not much else to say about this mascot. So 17th it is.

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If it’s from New Jersey it better be Bruce Springsteen or else– so not this guy. Nice try, New Jersey. (Photo via @NJDevil00)

16. N.J. Devil- New Jersey Devils

Some people say N.J. Devil is one of the greatest mascots in sports. I am not “some people”. It might be unfair to hold their uniforms against them, but there’s just something that seems unoriginal about New Jersey’s mascot. What’s with the mustache? Why haven’t they changed their jerseys (or at least added a third jersey) in ages?

It’s New Jersey, why don’t they just dress up one of Bruce Springsteen’s guitars and call it their mascot? Better yet, just get Bruce Springsteen himself to show up at every game. Maybe then the recent lackluster attendance problem will be solved.

Numbers Game: Ranking the mascots of the NHL (25-21)

By: Nick Lanciani

The following is a continuation of the ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

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Why, just why? Sparky the Dragon’s on Twitter kids (@SparkyNYI).

25. Sparky the Dragon- New York Islanders

Sparky the Dragon double-dipped as the mascot of the Islanders, wearing blue and orange during Islanders games, and pink, red and black for the New York Dragons (Arena Football) team until 2009. This mascot made sense for the Dragons, considering, hello, Sparky the Dragon is a dragon. But unfortunately for minority Isles owner, Charles Wang (who also owned the New York Dragons), you can’t always get what you want from applying one thing to satisfy two needs.

What was so wrong about the Gorton’s fisherman era Islanders? Honestly, just take that concept and make it a walking thing that creeps on people– I mean, takes pictures with fans and ensures everyone is having a good time at Barclays Center. Plus, the 90s are cool again and most likely every hipster in Brooklyn would flock to an arena that’s ill-fitted for hockey to 1) learn who the Islanders are and 2) dig the on fleek colors of the fisherman (is that what they say now?).

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Come to think of it, what’s with mascots on Twitter anyway? Photo via @NordyWild on Twitter (Nordy’s Official Account)

24. Nordy- Minnesota Wild

Everyone says Nordy looks like Alex from Madagascar and while I won’t disagree, I will say that Nordy looks pretty bad. It doesn’t help that the Wild applied their bear logo across his face, for starters. Plus his mane is a bit unkempt.

Come to think of it, I don’t really know what really makes Nordy quite an unattractive mascot. Maybe it’s his number. I mean, 18,001 is a bit much to fit on a jersey. Plus his smile just screams “help me”, “get me out of here” or something along those lines. Minnesota made an attempt. That’s good. He is a lot less creepy than some mascots in the MLB (looking at you– actually, all of the MLB mascots except for Wally the Green Monster). But for NHL mascots, Nordy doesn’t rank quite as well.

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“Go stand next to him! He won’t bite– actually, Billy, I’m not sure if he bites,” me if I was a parent. (Photo via Andy Delvin/ Oilers Entertainment Group)

23. Hunter- Edmonton Oilers

Shouts to the Edmonton Oilers for finally introducing a mascot to their organization for their first time in franchise history this season. Hunter’s namesake comes from the original owner of the then Alberta Oilers of the World Hockey Association, Bill Hunter.

But that’s about it for cutesy comments about this sure to devour anyone in its path looking mascot. Look, Hunter’s a great name for the Oilers considering it pays homage to the aforementioned Bill Hunter, but it’s probably not a great name for a lynx that for sure is a carnivore and hunts things. I don’t know, maybe it’s just me or something. Regardless, Edmonton, you tried. Am I glad you finally have a mascot, yes. It’s just a little… creepy.

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Bernie’s eyes will haunt you in your sleep. (Photo via Colorado Avalanche)

22. Bernie the St. Bernard- Colorado Avalanche

The Colorado Avalanche have been feeling the Bern since they switched up their mascot from Howler the Yeti to Bernie the St. Bernard in 2009. For the first few years of Bernie’s existence, I could live with the change.

Yet, as I grow older, I become more nostalgic and cranky towards change. Howler the Yeti was better. Even in the franchise’s days as the Québec Nordiques, whatever this thing was that was the Nordiques mascot was better than this alien-looking dog (look at Bernie’s eyes and tell me he’s not something from Area 51, speaking of which, there’s an idea for you, Vegas Golden Knights, give us an alien). And what’s with the barrel, Bernie? What are you hiding from us and how did you get that past security?

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Could be worse. (Photo via Christian Petersen/ Getty Images North America)

21. Howler- Arizona Coyotes

Howler isn’t all that bad, just not that great. He’s average. The kind of mascot that you can be proud of, but wish could do more. Put him in a kachina jersey all year and he’d probably jump up 20 spots in my rankings.

Other than that, I really don’t have any reason why Howler fits in at 21st overall. He just does. Maybe it’s his face. Yeah, come to think of it, his face kind of bothers me. It’s almost too perfect and kind of oddly angled to a point for a nose. That thing’s probably sharp and could poke out someone’s eye. Minus 10 points for safety.

Numbers Game: Ranking the mascots of the NHL (30-26)

By: Nick Lanciani

The following is a ranking of all of the mascots in the NHL, based on the list of NHL mascots Wikipedia page.

Vegas_Golden_Knights_logo.png*Bonus: 31. Vegas Golden Knights

It might be a bit of a savage move (as woke teens these days say) to place the newest expansion team that hasn’t even played a game yet last on the list, but I did it anyway. The point is this, compared with the teams that have been around since before the Vegas franchise was born, this organization better wow me with a mascot design of the 21st century that speaks “we’re better than all of the other teams ranked in this post today, because we at least have a mascot and some of them don’t and/or have ugly ones”.

But hey, no hard feelings if you don’t, Vegas, I understand you guys need a little longer to find yourselves (or at least an end to the trademark dispute regarding your name). Best of luck in 2017!

New York Rangers Logo30. New York Rangers

Seriously, how could you be 90-years-old and not have a mascot for perhaps one of the easiest nicknames to create a mascot based off of? Or at the very least, just put a giant apple somewhere in MSG, similar to the New York Mets’s apple back in the days of Shea Stadium, put some giant eyes on it and claim that it ties into the franchise being in “The Big Apple” or something. I mean, really.

Philadelphia Flyers Logo29. Philadelphia Flyers

The only reason why the Flyers rank higher than the Rangers here is simply because they are about 40 years younger and had a short-lived mascot in the mid-70s. Currently, Philadelphia doesn’t have a mascot, which is something that, similar to the Rangers, is an easy fix. Put an old airplane pilot helmet on some scruffy looking thing and call him “Phil” or “Flyer” or literally anything. You give me the name, I’ll draw you the look, now pay me, Flyers.

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Via @NHLStormy on Twitter. That’s right, kids, Stormy has his own Twitter account.

28. Stormy- Carolina Hurricanes

Look, I’m all for the name. I’m all for the Hurricanes doing well, because I want to see every franchise succeed in some way. However, I draw the line with making a pig your mascot. I get it, the bacon/pork industry is huge in North Carolina, but the best thing you could come up with after replacing the mascot-god that was Pucky the Whale is a pig? A pig. And not a very good looking pig at that.

Seems kind of amateurish to me, but what do I know? I’m not a mascot inventor. It’s one thing to just move the goal horn with the team, but it probably would’ve been an okay idea to transfer the likeness of Pucky the Whale to the Hurricanes back in 1997.

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What’s up with the electric green and bright yellow, folks? (Photo by Matt Zambonin/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)

27. Stinger- Columbus Blue Jackets

Original, yes. Bright green, yes. Fits in with the color palette of the organization? No. The obvious play on words here, implying the thing that buzzes in the air and stings people (bees) makes a decent transition in concept. The reality, does not.

At the very least, Columbus, you made the right choice in getting rid of the short-lived Boomer the Cannon. That thing was definitely not PG, no matter how you try to slice it.

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Al the Octopus can’t even walk around Joe Louis Arena and do, you know, actual mascot things. (Photo by Dave Reginek/Getty Images)

26. Al the Octopus- Detroit Red Wings

Arguably, this one should be lower, but I’ll give the Red Wings a little bit of a pass for the sake of the meaning behind this one. An octopus has eight legs and we’ve all heard the story of how these creatures ended up flying onto the ice in Detroit back in the day (and still to this day, by virtue of 25 consecutive years of making the playoffs), but this “mascot” is just a giant thing that they lower and raise from the rafters of Joe Louis Arena before games.

Not that cool, to be honest. It would be cool if they at least made a walking mascot counterpart, then maybe the octopus duo would receive a higher grade. Then again, maybe just don’t ruin everything by having Little Caesar walk around as the official mascot of the Red Wings next year at the new Little Caesar Arena, mmkay?

 

Numbers Game: Top-5 Pending RFA Goalies

By: Nick Lanciani

12:01 PM ET on July 1st (precisely) marks the start of the NHL’s free agency period, so of course, you’ve found yourself scavenging the Internet for the freshest hot takes and the best indications of where players will end up. Likewise, you probably just want to know who’s available out there (and I’m not talking about Tinder).

Well fear not, because I’m here to set things straight with a short series of posts about the Top-5 free agents in every category you can think of (UFA forwardsUFA defensemenUFA goaliesRFA forwards, RFA defensemen and RFA goalies) in this latest edition of Numbers Game posts. RFAs are fun, RFAs are cool, but here’s the thing, other general managers will hate you forever apparently if you offer sheet one of their guys. Also, shouts to you if you’re still reading these. That shows commitment. And heart. And grit. I’ll be done with these— for now.

Down the Frozen River- Smaller Circular Logo

1. G Petr Mrazek (27-16-0-6, 2.33 GAA, .921 SV% with the Detroit Red Wings)- $737,500 cap hit, 23 years old

Petr Mrazek is the only starting goaltender of this bunch and he’s due for a payday with the Detroit Red Wings. The only problem is, they still have Jimmy Howard and are paying him a bunch. So while Mrazek’s in the waitroom, you might as well give him a call if you’re a GM that needs a starting goalie that hasn’t even reached his full potential or tapped into his best play.

2. G Darcy Kuemper (6-7-0-5, 2.43 GAA, .915 SV% with the Minnesota Wild)- $1.250 million cap hit, 25 years old

The Minnesota Wild would be smart to keep Darcy Kuemper around long enough to turn him into a valuable asset that they could cash in, which sounds exactly like what they’re planning on doing. Let’s just say that Kuemper’s not a starter if Devan Dubnyk goes down with an injury, but until you find a rental replacement, he’ll be able to hold you over.

3. G Calvin Pickard (7-6-0-1, 2.56 GAA, .922 SV% with the Colorado Avalanche)- $850,500 cap hit, 23 years old

Calvin Pickard has the chance to be a decent backup, but is nowhere near the projections of taking over the number one spot in Colorado just yet. In a related story, the Avalanche should really keep him and get him a defense, just in case Semyon Varlamov gets hurt again and/or Pickard plays better than Varlamov for whatever reason.

4. G Anders Nilsson (10-13-0-2, 3.12 GAA, .901 SV% with the Edmonton Oilers/St. Louis Blues)- $1.000 million, 25 years old

Anders Nilsson has played in 52 career NHL games over three seasons and has never ended a season with a GAA less than 2.75, so yeah, offer sheet him all you want. Whoever owns him would be glad to get a 7th rounder (at best).

5. G Kristers Gudlevskis (0-0-0-1, 1.00 GAA, .969 SV% with the Tampa Bay Lightning)- $608,333 cap hit, 23 years old

Kristers Gudlevskis has had two solid starts to his NHL career as the presumptive backup to Andrei Vasilevskiy once the Tampa Bay Lightning eventually (probably) move Ben Bishop or lose him at the 2017 expansion draft to Las Vegas.

Honorable Mention

Me if I were still playing DekHockey (I forget my stats, good GAA, decent SV%)- $0 cap hit

I mean, seriously, there’s only 14 RFA goalies available (if that by 12:01) and there’s hardly enough to make a top-5 from them.