A win! Ducks at Blue Jackets
A win again! Ducks at Flyers
A…loss? In overtime? Bah. Points! Ducks at Bruins
A slaughtering! Ducks at Sabres
The Anaheim Ducks come out of week five with a record of 3-0-1. An alternative way of recording this is the Ducks went 1-3-0 in injuries, with Saku Koivu dropping in Columbus, Teemu Selanne falling in Philadelphia, and Sami Vatanen coming out early in Boston.
As of the end of the week, Anaheim had reported 71 "man games lost." This represents team-reported injuries minus any "healthy" scratches that may in fact be hiding injury. The Ducks' MGL only rises after week five, keeping the club at third in most games lost to injurious happenings among the teams who report this info officially, which at present is 27 teams.
Let's look at the past Pizzametric ratings I've given. Remember: this is the most advanced statistic in the world. It means two things: 1. the more pizza slices one enjoys, the closer one is to the deity of his/her choosing; 2. slices of pizza equate to driving offense.
A couple notes. Penner gets a bump for somehow being the weirdest paradox in existence: slow, lumbering, and a total driver of offense and IHOP sales. I'm bumping up Cogliano because of late, he's been outstanding - and I was really sad when Pierre McGuire picked Cogs to slobber over against the Rangers the other night. [Ed. Note: Well said. - Kyle] I'm bumping up Allen because in week five, his games against the Flyers and Sabres specifically were much improved.
Jakob Silfverberg 4P-Met
Mathieu Perreault 5P-Met --> 6P-Met
Cam Fowler 6P-Met
Dustin Penner 3P-Met --> 6P-Met
Ben Lovejoy 5P-Met
Andrew Cogliano 4P-Met --> 5P-Met
Sami Vatanen 2P-Met
Hampus Lindholm 3P-Met
Bryan Allen 2P-Met --> 3P-Met
Here's a new rating!
Daniel Winnik, LW (3P-Met) - Winnik is a serviceable left winger who can also play center. When Koivu is in the lineup, Winnik is usually part of that above average checking line along with Cogliano. Lately he's been playing with some of everyone in a variety of roles but remains a reliable PK option in a jam.
Winnik is a bit deceptive in the offensive zone. He doesn't generally put up a bunch of points, but he tends to cycle well and create opportunities for those he's put with. In week five, Winnik was a positive player (he drove more shot attempts than he allowed when on the ice), although he had a tougher time against the Jackets - likely due to the injury bug and Boudreau swapping lines.
Against the Sabres, he had an assist, so he's slamming three slices and feeling pretty good about his Movember ‘stache.
On account of the many injured Ducks and young fill-ins, fan discussion has invariably turned toward trades and future contracts. This is my voice on the matter. I am a professional pizza eater.
Popular convention, when 17 forwards have dressed for 12 forward positions and the team is winning despite it, is to begin putting guys up on the imaginary trading block, aka "speculating!" Let's get rid of Player A so that up-and-coming Player B can play more. Maybe prospect Player C, who clearly can't get into the lineup over Players A and B, can be dealt to get [insert desired position].
In the hard salary cap system of hockey, this is unwise. The literal belief in these moves, I mean. Speculation is totally awesome.
The NHL has a very strong minor league system in place with the AHL. In previous generations, the talent gap between the two leagues was wide. This is less true today. The main difference between "the A" and the big league is still speed, whereas previously it was speed and talent.
The talent is there now as the game has grown outside Canada. More young athletes participate in it, and the game is truly a world "winter" sport now. There's a lot more players to choose from, as well as bigger systems in place to find them.
So the speed of the game is the only real difference - not just how fast guys are skating-wise, but how fast guys think the game. Gaps close quicker, puck battles engaged faster, shots get off sooner, passes come in crisper. All of it is the same skill, just executed quicker.
Many fans fall in love with a young guy and assume his short-term production or play makes him automatically better than an older, veteran counterpart - especially when the young guy is filling in for the injured vet. While fun as speculation, it is risky to root for the vet's removal in favor of the younger guy permanently and in a realistic sense. We have no true measurement of the long-term consistency of a young player, whereas we more or less know what an older player offers.
In this way, a more patient organizational stance is smarter even though it isn't as fun. Let the younger player build up a portfolio of consistent play - in the AHL, where loads of talented players play hockey. Let that kid play big minutes and a key role and begin to build consistency, so that when the organization is at the proper place to consider contracts and positions, he can submit a much better resume.
Rushing a skilled guy into the lineup to play lesser minutes is a mistake. Bringing up a scoring winger and playing him in a more checking role might help round out his game in time, but conversely he's not working on his scoring - and scoring is still a skill that needs constant refinement and work, like anything else. Why not work on his scoring and checking game at the minor league level?
This team has supreme talent at the top - Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Cam Fowler, Francois Beauchemin, Jonas Hiller, Saku Koivu, Teemu Selanne. Those minutes aren't going to anyone short of an outright better player, because those guys are the better players. Note: the player listed in italics made me cringe when typing. He's been really good thus far, to my surprise.
Having depth talent playing at all levels is good. It sets the organization up for long-term success over short-term gains. It is the difference between winning a Cup once and then having massive inconsistency in the years following or being in contention year-after-year. (See: Anaheim post 2007, Chicago post 2010.) In the same way that possessing the puck boosts the team's chances of creating luck and scoring, having more talent organization-wide boosts the chance the team has to win again.
Depth is the pizza of organizational success! Because like pizza, more depth at every level is better.
So anyway, Saku Koivu, Jonas Hiller, and a second rounder for _______, right?