Thursday, August 27, 2009

I think there's a support group for something like this...

I had to zip through Target today and made the mistake of glancing over at the cards.

This is what I saw staring up at me:

Come on - could you resist that? It says EXTREME VALUE!! It has to be true - and it was only $10! I have to see if there is a CA (Collectors Anonymous) meeting near here...

As long as I bought the box, I may as well show you what was on the inside.

The packs were as follows:
2008-09 Upper Deck Series 1
2006-07 Upper Deck Series 2
2006-07 Fleer Hot Prospects
2006-07 Parkhurst (x2)
2005-06 Upper Deck Victory (x2)
2005-06 Parkhurst
1998-99 Pacific Omega (x4)
1991-92 Pro Set Platinum (x2)
1990-91 Bowman (badly warped)

So was it really an EXTREME VALUE?

Err... not so much. But it *did* have some neat cards.

Let's forget about anything since the end of the lockout - those are all Upper Deck cards and they're pretty boring, I think. Note - Upper Deck also published Fleer and Parkhurst and hold the only license to make hockey cards.

The neat cards are the other three sets - Omega (which I had never seen previously), Pro Set and Bowman.

Okay - the Bowman are crappy too, but I did get one cool card:

Check out the fedora! Did you know he had three hat tricks that year?

Pro Set Platinum has great photography. There is a full bleed (no borders) picture on the front and a different full color picture on the back. You sacrifice any kind of statistics, but still, nice pictures. See the LaFontaine example below.

No chance for the Cobra Kai Dojo!

Pacific Omega was completely new to me, and I really liked the layout. All of the cards appear to be laid out horizontally and have a nice design. There were a few nice rookies in those four packs.

I wouldn't have guessed that 98-99 was Giguere's rookie year.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

More Hockey Cards

So earlier this year, I may have gone a wee bit overboard and bought too many hockey cards. I was thinking I wanted to get a Crosby rookie, but just buying the stupid card would not be NEARLY as much fun as wasting hundreds of dollars in an effort to find one in a pack.

I also thought it would be fun to get hockey stickers and do one of those albums I have such fond memories of from when I was a kid.


You're looking at:
  • 2 boxes of Panini 08-09 stickers
  • 4 boxes of 2005-06 Parkhurst Hobby (for an attempt at the Crosby rookie)
  • 2 boxes of 2006-07 O-Pee-Chee (because they were cheap)
  • 3 boxes of 2007-08 Mini-Jerseys (because they were cheap too, and I use them on the blog... COUGH... rationalization... COUGH...)
  • 1 box of 2007-08 Fleer Ultra Retail (it was free because I bought so much)
The posts over the next few days will be all about these boxes and what was in them.

Before you ask, it was a tremendous waste of money and I enjoyed every minute of opening the cards. Hey - it could be worse - I could be smoking or playing the lottery! At least with the cards, I'll be able to burn them to keep warm once civilization goes under (that and The Wife can scale a tree like no one you've ever seen - fire from the cards and the high-hanging fruit - we'll be all set!)

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Want a Sidney Crosby rookie card?

How about 45 of them?

Here's the auction on ebay.

Not only does this show how insane the card collecting business is these days, it also shows that for the right cards, there can be real money involved.

With 5 days left, this auction is at $6100. That's over $100 per card. It's likely to go much higher before it ends.

Weren't thing much simpler when you had one rookie card to collect, like when Lemieux was a rookie? Okay - I'll grant you that he had two (OPC and Topps), but OPC was sold in Canada. When I was a kid, you bought packs of Topps hockey until you got the Lemieux rookie (or the Roy rookie the next year). How many "rookie" cards can there be for one guy?

Anytime anyone is willing to give me THOUSANDS of dollars for a small pile of cardboard, I have a hard time not taking it. That said, I'd buy this lot if I had the disposable income (The Wife would probably kill me).

Sunday, August 23, 2009

It's almost hockey season...

... because the first hockey cards for 2009-10 have been released!

Upper Deck Victory is the first release this season (as it has been for the past few seasons). You can find the cards at most any big box store (Walmart, Target, etc) or your local grocery store. Heck, there may even still be a card shop near you that is still open (I have no idea if there's one near me - I just get sucked in when I go into the nearest Target).

The cards are pretty basic, as you can see by the scan. I liked a few things about them:
  1. They are bright and colorful to catch your eye.
  2. The back of the card has the pronunciation of the player's name, which is always helpful. It also has the team logo and the vitals for the players (height, weight, shoots and born).
  3. The set is small - 200 cards in the "base set" (that is, any card that is not a rookie and not an insert) so it's easy to collect.
  4. The photography does a nice job with facial expressions, as you can see by the unfortunate expression on Kopitar's face.
I had a few pretty big problems with these, however:
  1. The biggest issue is that the player's position is NOWHERE on the base cards, front or back. If you're aiming this set as an entry level set for kids and adults, and you do manage to pick up a few casual buyers, how can you not put the player's position on the card? It's a pretty glaring oversight that would have been easy to fix.
  2. The stats on the back only show the last 5 seasons. I understand sticking to a format, but if you're going to do that, at least give us something other than the big VICTORY logo on the bottom right eating up real estate.
  3. If you're going to use a photo on the back, make it a different head shot than the front.
  4. I know it's a basic set, but do we really need a "Victory" watermark on every base card? It looks dumb. I'd rather see the entire photo unaltered.

One thing I did like (mostly) was the Stars of the Game insert. These were colorful and looked nice - quite different from the plain white borders of the rest of the set. They're also fun, with a different layout and fonts to grab your attention. They might increase your vocabulary too (see "prodigious"). We need more nice inserts like this to grab your attention, instead of the sleepy "Game Breakers".

All told, they'll never be worth anything financially (except maybe the limited parallel cards, and probably not even those), but if you want a simple set to put together with your kid, or you refuse to grow up, this isn't a bad choice. I'd wait until you can get the boxes really cheap on ebay. You can pick up a box of last year's Victory edition for about $20.00, give or take a few bucks.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Three Stars - Part 5 - Should the MVP be awarded using the Three Stars system?

Consider this: The Three Stars are awarded to the best performers on a nightly basis. The players with the most selections to the Three Stars would figure to be among the best in the league. What if we awarded the MVP to the player who earned the most Star selections?

Here's a chart showing the Star selections by players who earned 20 or more total selections, sorted by the number of selections:

First Second Third Total
S. Crosby 13 8 11 32
Z. Parise 10 11 9 30
H. Lundqvist 9 12 8 29
N. Backstrom (Wild) 10 7 9 26
P. Datsyuk 6 12 8 26
R. Nash 10 4 11 25
A. Ovechkin 14 8 2 24
I. Kovalchuk 8 7 9 24
D. Roloson 13 9 1 23
M. Hossa 13 4 5 22
R. Miller 10 9 3 22
J. Carter 11 6 5 22
E. Malkin 8 10 4 22
P. Rinne 9 8 5 22
M. Koivu 9 7 6 22
T. Thomas 13 3 5 21
S. Mason 11 5 5 21
E. Staal 9 6 6 21
M. Richards 6 9 6 21
M. Savard 7 11 2 20
J. Toews 8 5 7 20
P. Elias 5 9 6 20

Sid clearly leads the way with 32 selections. Zach Parise is a bit of surprise at #2, but he's a solid, consistent performer. The only other surprises for me are the Russians - Geno is way down the list, and Ovechkin was either #1 or not much else. Kovalchuk was named one of the three stars just as many times as Ovechkin - that was also a surprise to me. Best player on a bad team, maybe?

Now, consider if we looked at the same thing, but assigned weights so that a First Star is worth 5 points, a Second Star is worth 3 and a Third Star is worth 1. How would that change things (since the top player in the game should get a bit more credit than the #3 star, right?) This one is sorted by the calculated MVP column.

First Second Third Total MVP
S. Crosby 13 8 11 32 100
A. Ovechkin 14 8 2 24 96
D. Roloson 13 9 1 23 93
Z. Parise 10 11 9 30 92
H. Lundqvist 9 12 8 29 89
M. Hossa 13 4 5 22 82
N. Backstrom (Wild) 10 7 9 26 80
R. Miller 10 9 3 22 80
T. Thomas 13 3 5 21 79
J. Carter 11 6 5 22 78
S. Mason 11 5 5 21 75
C. Mason 12 4 3 19 75
P. Datsyuk 6 12 8 26 74
E. Malkin 8 10 4 22 74
P. Rinne 9 8 5 22 74
R. Nash 10 4 11 25 73
M. Koivu 9 7 6 22 72
I. Kovalchuk 8 7 9 24 70
M. Savard 7 11 2 20 70
E. Staal 9 6 6 21 69
P. Marleau 10 5 4 19 69
R. Getzlaf 9 6 4 19 67
M. Richards 6 9 6 21 63
J. Toews 8 5 7 20 62

Now we see Ovechkin move up. If we took this data and weighted it by games played, the goalies would run away with it. I'm not sure we can consider them in the same discussion as the skaters if we did that.

The Pens, Flyers and Red Wings are the only teams with two forwards each on the list.

Pretty interesting way to think about it, eh? It certainly casts Geno is a slightly different light. Keep in mind that I'm not saying he didn't deserve to be one of the finalists for MVP this year - I think he did - but if we look at things differently, we can see that Sid was just as valuable (maybe more so) than Geno.

Next week I'll probably move onto a new topic. Maybe the refs again. That's always fun. I'm also interested in whether specific linesman affect the faceoff % for a team like the Pens. No idea on where that one will lead... but it might be worth looking.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Three Stars - Part 4 - Road Losers

Losing on the road is not unusual in the NHL. Out of the 1230 NHL games in 2008-09, the road team won just 543 for a winning percentage of about 44%.

When you lose on the road, you need to be prepared to get no respect from the media in the arena where you're playing. Some teams, however, get more respect than others. Here's the chart showing the number of players, by team, that was named one of the Three Stars when their team lost on road.

Take special notice of the Kings and Lightning near the top - these were not good teams last year, yet they earned notice more frequently than some more talented team. Did they play better road games?

The Sharks were tops, which makes me think they engender respect (even grudging respect) when they play on the road.

The team with the least respect? That would be your Toronto Maple Leafs, followed closely by the Thrashers and Senators.

I'd be interested to see how goal differential played into this (ie, you would think the teams at the top would have played closer games on the road), but I'm a bit too lazy to figure that out right now.

Road Stars Road Losses Road Ratio
Sharks 11 20 0.55
Kings 12 25 0.48
Flyers 10 21 0.48
Oilers 10 21 0.48
Ducks 9 19 0.47
Lightning 13 29 0.45
Blue Jackets 11 25 0.44
Rangers 10 24 0.42
Red Wings 7 17 0.41
Capitals 8 20 0.40
Penguins 8 21 0.38
Wild 9 24 0.38
Hurricanes 8 22 0.36
Panthers 8 22 0.36
Predators 9 25 0.36
Stars 9 25 0.36
Islanders 11 31 0.35
Bruins 6 17 0.35
Canucks 7 20 0.35
Sabres 8 23 0.35
Flames 7 22 0.32
Blues 7 23 0.30
Avalanche 8 27 0.30
Coyotes 8 28 0.29
Devils 5 18 0.28
Blackhawks 5 19 0.26
Canadiens 6 24 0.25
Senators 6 27 0.22
Thrashers 6 29 0.21
Maple Leafs 4 23 0.17

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Three Stars - Part 3 - Unfair to the Habs?

Okay - maybe I was a bit unfair in presenting the WAAAAHHHH!!! award to the Montreal Canadiens because they named their player the #1 star 6 times in a loss. Let's take a look at some of the surrounding numbers and see if we can get a better measure of who should really earn that distinction.

So what I'm going to show here is:
  • The number of times the home media voted their own guy one of the three stars in a home loss.
  • The number of home losses for each team.
  • The ratio of stars to losses. The higher the ratio, the more the media seemed to be clueless to reality.
If you want to see a departure from reality, check out the Minnesota Wild and the Anaheim Ducks. In nearly half of their home losses, the Ducks had two of the three stars on the night. The Wild were somehow worse - they had two of the three stars in 13 of their 18 home losses!

The four media groups that are the best at saying "Hey - we lost the game!" are shown at the bottom of the chart - they are Pittsburgh, Washington (boy that one hurts to say), the Rangers and Carolina. Carolina is insane about it - their number seemed WAY too small, but I double-checked - they really only awarded their guy one of the three stars in a home loss three times all season.

Home Stars Home Losses Home Ratio
Wild 31 18 1.72
Ducks 30 21 1.43
Flames 19 14 1.36
Bruins 16 12 1.33
Kings 26 23 1.13
Blackhawks 19 17 1.12
Canadiens 19 17 1.12
Coyotes 20 18 1.11
Lightning 31 29 1.07
Oilers 24 23 1.04
Thrashers 24 23 1.04
Canucks 17 17 1.00
Flyers 17 17 1.00
Red Wings 14 14 1.00
Senators 19 19 1.00
Devils 12 13 0.92
Stars 19 21 0.90
Sharks 8 9 0.89
Maple Leafs 22 25 0.88
Panthers 15 19 0.79
Blues 14 18 0.78
Predators 13 17 0.76
Blue Jackets 12 16 0.75
Avalanche 17 23 0.74
Sabres 13 18 0.72
Islanders 15 24 0.63
Penguins 10 16 0.63
Capitals 6 12 0.50
Rangers 6 15 0.40
Hurricanes 3 15 0.20

Based on the further data, and as much as it pains me to do it, I'm going to rescind my WAAAAHHHH!!! Award from the Canadiens (though they are still the Eastern Conference Champs in that regard), and award it to the Minnesota Wild.

Here you go, Minnesota - you deserve it!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Three Stars - Part 2 - Homers!

So does the winning team always get the First Star? Normally you'd have to say that's the case, but sometimes things don't go the way you'd expect.

There were 12 games in the NHL in 2008-09 where the home team won the game but the road team got the #1 Star. The interesting thing is that all of the games went to overtime. It happened 3 times in Colorado and twice in New Jersey (no more than once the other 7 locations).

There were 63 games during the 2008-09 season where the home team LOST but still gave one of their own the #1 Star. I was pretty surprised at the distribution - I thought there would be a few places with 2 or 3 games (maybe 4) and have it pretty evenly spread out. That wasn't the case - 26 of the 63 were from just 5 arenas. I think we've found our homers.

This one deserves a bit more detail and a special Award. Without further ado, here's the data:
Ducks 6
Canadiens 6
Coyotes 5
Wild 5
Lightning 5
Oilers 4
Kings 3
Canucks 3
Flames 3
Senators 3
Maple Leafs 2
Blues 2
Avalanche 2
Bruins 2
Red Wings 1
Thrashers 1
Predators 1
Sharks 1
Flyers 1
Penguins 1
Stars 1
Sabres 1
Islanders 1
Devils 1
Capitals 1
Blackhawks 1

You can see the good folks in Anaheim and Montreal are tied at the top with 6 times each. Since I need to break the tie to present the WAAAAHHHH!!!! award, I'm going with familiarity.

The 2008-09 WAAAAHHHHH!!! award goes to the media folks in Montreal, for awarding their guy the #1 Star even when their team lost the game. Hey - if he was really the best player on the night, wouldn't he have won the game?

Monday, August 10, 2009

Three Stars - Part 1 - The Basics

So to start off our look at the three stars, I'm listing (roughly) the top 10 in each of the three categories (First Star, Second Star and Third Star). Have a look at these, and see below for my thoughts.

A few quick notes about the data:
  • I wrote the software that accumulated the data, so it's possible that there are mistakes.
  • It's based off of public box scores on big sports sites.
  • There were four game where I was unable to locate the three stars of the game. Other than that, I have them all.
Here are the players who have been Third Star 8 or more times in 2008-09
R. Nash 11
S. Crosby 11
N. Backstrom (Wild) 9
I. Kovalchuk 9
J. Arnott 9
Z. Parise 9
A. Hemsky 8
D. Boyle 8
H. Lundqvist 8
P. Datsyuk 8
S. Hartnell 8

Here are the players who have been Second Star 9 or more times in 2008-09
H. Lundqvist 12
P. Datsyuk 12
M. Havlat 11
M. Savard 11
Z. Parise 11
E. Malkin 10
D. Roloson 9
M. Modano 9
M. Richards 9
P. Elias 9
R. Miller 9

Here are the players who have been First Star 10 or more times in 2008-09
A. Ovechkin 14
D. Roloson 13
M. Hossa 13
S. Crosby 13
T. Thomas 13
C. Mason 12
J. Carter 11
S. Mason 11
N. Backstrom (Wild) 10
K. Lehtonen 10
M. Kiprusoff 10
P. Marleau 10
R. Miller 10
R. Nash 10
Z. Parise 10

A few points:
  • Kind of interesting on the number of goalies, and the complete lack of defensemen, especially for First Star. Not too surprising when you think about it.
  • What was surprising was that Dwayne Roloson was the First Star 13 times last year. This is a guy that only won 28 games with just one shutout all year. Maybe they were all at home. That's something we'll look at later in the series - whether or not there's a home bias.

Saturday, August 08, 2009

New Posts Coming! Fun with numbers!

We're starting to get to the end of the off-season, but we still have a ways to go. Not much going on in the hockey world, so I thought we could have some fun with numbers.

Starting Monday there will be a series of posts about the statistics from last season. Last time I did this, a few years ago, I focused on the refs. I might get to them again, but this time I'm starting with the three stars system.

I'm curious about a few things:
  1. Who was named the #1, #2 and #3 star most often?
  2. What if we used the star system as the basis for awarding the MVP?
  3. Is there a hometown bias? Is it worse in some arenas than others?
I know the star system is fairly meaningless, but it should still be fun!

Part 1 will be up on Monday.