Saturday, June 20, 2009

How much scoring is coming back?

Thursday it was age, yesterday was NCAA games played, today its goal/pts as a % returning next season compared to the last four Badger teams. I was surprised by a few of these numbers.

Returning Goal Scoring (% of pts returning)

2005/06: 124/127 = 97.6% (97.7%)
2006/07: 64/145 = 42.8% (43.9%)
2007/08: 47/93 = 50.5% (52.5%)
2008/09: 90/114 = 78.9% (70.5%)
2009/10: 112/131 = 85.5% (80.6%)

When I started this, I didn’t think I’d learn so much about the past several seasons. I really wanted to compare next year’s team w/ the 2006 Champions, w/ everything else just being filler.

The 2006 Championship team only lost 3 goals scored from the previous season! That is amazing! Nothing like having all your best players back from a team that was pretty good the season before.

W/ all the data now in play, I’ll draw a conclusion about the 06/07 team. The team was older and had a ton of NCAA games under their belt, but the deathblow they couldn’t overcome was the stat above, the team returned less than half of their scoring from the previous season. Had Pavelski OR Earl returned roughly 16% more of the goal scoring would have came back w/ them. This has been hashed over in many places, but their early departures could not easily be cured. That freshman class that will be seniors next season, didn’t really contribute much offensively, (Davies the exception) even Geoffrion was a frosh bust. Mitchell and Bohmbach have turned into offensive threats now, but were nothing to replace Pavs and Earl when they departed for the pros.

The 06/07 team was one spot away from the NCAA tourney in the PWR and would have made it had they not changed the formula and this while scoring a pathetic 2.27 goals/game. The greatness that is Brian Elliott is that much more obvious.

The 07/08 team started at a disadvantage as well. There wasn’t much scoring the previous season and those that did score (Dowell, Joudrey & Skille) were gone. Couple that w/ how young that team was and the lack of experience they had, and I almost think they overachieved by making the NCAA Tourney. All the #1 picks in the world don’t do much when on paper there wasn’t much returning to help them. McBain, Mitchell and Geoffrion all come into there own which was the difference. If only Skille had stayed one more season; I often wonder what the line Geoffrion/Turris/Skille could have done.

Last season the cards were lined up for a successful season…and we see where that went.

Looking at these indicators, next season’s team has a lot going for it. They are the oldest team since the Championship team, they have a lot of experience in games played and they return 85.5% of the goal scoring from last season. McBain is a big loss on the blue line, but there are four guys ready to step up into that role.

The indicators didn’t look bad last season either, so I don’t know what to say. It’s obvious the team lacked something which does not have any statistical value to it. What caused all the 3rd period meltdowns? Lack of leadership? Poor coaching at critical times? The Hockey gods being pissed about something and taking it out on the Cardinal and White? Global Warming? Whatever it is, heading into next season, I’m not worried about this team scoring goals (3.28 goals/game last season, 3rd in the WCHA), nor the defense and goaltending. All the indications are that the pieces are in place for a highly successful season, w/ a run at the MacNaughton Cup and an NCAA berth as givens. Givens if the talented team last season hadn’t been missing that “something” important that separated them from a berth in the NCAA tourney by the slimmest of margins.

Doubt has been lodged in the hearts of all Badger fans now; the team needs to come out early and remove it from the vocabulary.

Coming up, one last comparison of returning offense w/ the Badgers WCHA foes.