30 Thoughts on the Beach Episode VI: The Debate Returns

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GigantorTheGoalie
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30 Thoughts on the Beach Episode VI: The Debate Returns

Post by GigantorTheGoalie » Sun Apr 24, 2016 11:32 pm

Every year the same two debates always rise up. Firstly which is the better conference? Is it the Eastern Conference or is it the Western Conference. Secondly just how important is goaltending to a team, can a team win it all with a good goalie or do you need a superb goalie? All this and a little bit more is coming up below.

1) East vs. West, why is this such a big debate? It’s a way to provide reason for teams and their GM’s to put their results in perspective when looking at another team.

2) For example, if you are the GM of the Red Wings with 42 points plus are in 10th place in the East and you look over at the Western Conference and see not only the 10th place team there with 27 points but there are only three teams in the West with +42 points then you’ll start getting annoyed that you’re team is getting the results but not the rewards.

3) How do you define though that one conference is better than another? Is it by the talent in each conference? Or maybe how many points or wins a team has? Does the West win more games versus the East or vice versa?

4) For me it doesn’t matter about East vs. West games as the records will usually be around 0.500 with a minor change +/- in the record. The better conference is the conference that provides the best competition.

5) So first we’ll look at flat out wins. In the East there are 8 teams with +20 wins. In the West there are 3 teams with 20 wins (that’s right, not a single team in the West has more than 20 wins as of this article). So that’s 50% of teams in the East with +20 wins and only 22% of teams in the West with 20 wins.

6) How about making the playoffs in the Eastern Conference? Right now if you want to make the playoffs in the East as the last Wild Card team then you will need 98 points on the season. In the West? You’ll only need 89 points to make it into the playoffs.

7) That means in the Eastern Conference you’ll need to win ~5 more games than a team in the West to end up in the same playoff position (8th).

8) Let’s look at some other stats. When playing an Eastern Conference team there’s a 56.3% chance you’ll be playing a team that has scored over 100 goals in total. If you’re playing a Western Conference team the chances you’ll be playing a team that has scored over 100 goals is 42.9%.

9) Overall the Eastern Conference averages 101 goals for per team. In the Western Conference it’s 96.9 goals for per team.

10) Scoring is important. However so is not letting in goals. The Eastern Conference averages 94.9 goals against per team. The Western Conference on the other hand averages 103.9 goals against per team.

11) This isn’t to say though that the Western Conference is completely lacking in competition. There are still a few teams that can and will provide losses to Eastern Conference teams, even the highest Eastern teams.

12) The Colorado Avalanche are currently the highest scoring team in the league averaging 3.80 GF/G

13) The Arizona Coyotes are only 0.2% away from having the best PK in the WHL. They currently sit in 2nd place with 88% on the PK.

14) The Western Conference is also home to 3-out-of-5 of the top scorers in the WHL. The West also has the top scorer in the WHL, Nathan MacKinnon.

15) After going through everything though it’s hard not to come up with the conclusion the difference in competition between the West and the East.

16) If the league were to combine the standings and the 16 best teams made playoffs, 10/16 teams would be from the East. So while standings and points can change, right now the trend is the Eastern Conference holding an advantage over the Western Conference.

17) As always there’s a decent amount of bottom 6/pairing players that are on the trade market. If you need one, generally it’s easy to find one that is available. This season though we’re seeing an oversaturation of the goalie trade market. Right now goalies such as Varlamov, Mason, Berra, Halak, Howard, Dubnyk, and Lehtonen are available or have been at one point.

18) If you’re a team looking at any one of these goalies you’re thinking is “just how important is goaltending to me?”

19) Is it worth spending assets to bring in an average starter that can win you games but could ultimately not make the difference when it matters?

20) Looking at the top 10 teams in the WHL here are the goalies: Ben Bishop, Sergei Bobrovsky, Roberto Loungo, Cory Schnieder, Braden Holtby, Michal Neuvirth, Semyon Varlamov, Anders Nilsson, Henrik Lundqvist, and Jake Allen.

21) Out of those goalies six are elite, three are above average then one goalie is below average.

22) If you look at the top 5 goalies based on SV% (and have played in 60% of their teams games) here are where there teams place: Carey Price/Habs are 9th in the East, Sergei Bobrovsky/Jackets are 2nd in the East, Henrik Lundqvist/Rangers are 6th in the East, Ben Bishop/Lightning are 1st in the East, and Tuukka Rask/Bruins are 7th in the East.

23) Even if you are still on the fence there’s a general movement towards bringing in young elite goalies to become the back bone.

24) There have been three trades involving young goalies with high potential: Vasi to Minnesota, John Gibson to Philadelphia and Jordan Binnington to Toronto.

25) In each trade a high price was paid as Minnesota had to give up Brodin/Granlund, Philadelphia gave up a lottery pick for Gibson and Toronto also paid a first rounder for Jordan Binnington.

26) Despite the high prices paid Vasi and Gibson are as good, or better, than advertised. While Jordan Binnington isn’t on their level yet, he’s a close 3rd.

27) Next question is do we see more teams willing to forgo their veteran starters in order to solidify the net for the next decade?

28) Teams like the Panthers and Senators will be looking at possible options as their goalies are aging into their late 30’s.

29) Will we see overpayments for Robin Lehner or Matt Murray? Is the next goalie that is gambled on going to be Calvin Pickard?

30) Goaltending is still a rather unknown quantity in the WHL. While the Stanley Cup winner was Tuukka Rask it still doesn’t mean that an elite goalie is a must have. There is still the X-Factor of development. Finding a suitable goalie could be as easy as developing a future back-up into a starter. Time will tell just how big of a factor goaltending will be in the WHL. Can old man Loungo provide starter level goaltending or are goalies such as Mrazek/Gibson the ultimate prize?

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