Big game tonight -- Rudy's outlined the stakes below, and I'll be around for the dramatic game comments.
No new cartoon today -- thought I'd lazily go back to a classic.
Instead of previewing tonight's game, though, I thought I'd turn a bit of focus on the ol' Hart Trophy debate, which seems to have basically boiled down to Vancouver's Daniel Sedin vs. Anaheim's Corey Perry. Now I don't care that much whether Perry wins this thing or not; if it was a contract year, I'd be solidly against it, but there's no extension talks coming too soon. Admittedly, I do think it would be kind of cool for the Canuck twins to win it back-to-back, but really either superstar is fine with me. Regardless, it is nice to see the primary candidates coming from outside of the east coast's viewing hours.
Anyways, for today's post, I wanted to narrow in on one aspect of the debate: does the fact that Corey Perry plays in the Pacific Division while Daniel Sedin plays in the Northwest Division affect the scoring race?
On the surface, this seems to be a potentially-compelling question -- the Ducks, after all, play in a division featuring the 7th, 10th, 13th, and 15th-best defensive teams in the league. The Canucks, meanwhile, play in a division featuring the 17th, 18th, 29th, and 30th-best defensive teams in the league. Collectively, Anaheim's division rivals have allowed 827 goals this season, while Vancouver's division rivals have allowed 985 -- there's definitely a difference. (Granted, some of this difference is the result of the Northwest having to play Vancouver so often, so don't take the difference as absolute.)
But how does the divisional dynamic affect our two Hart candidates? Let's take a look at how each player has done in the two divisions, first Perry vs. the Pacific (note: I'm listing teams alphabetically in these tables for easier cross-comparison):
|Corey Perry vs. Pacific||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/gm|
|Los Angeles Kings||4||2||0||2||0.50|
|San Jose Sharks||6||5||6||11||1.83|
Perry's done well against his Pacific rivals this season; he has a higher point-per-game average within the division than outside of it (1.14 points per game). However, he's done a little better against the Northwest opponents that Daniel Sedin plays against:
|Corey Perry vs. Northwest||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/gm|
Even though there's a points-per-game difference, it's pretty slight. Had six of Perry's Pacific Division games been transferred to Northwest opponents, his point total would mathematically increase from 97 points to 98 -- not much of an increase.
After the jump, how would the reverse-switch mathematically affect Daniel Sedin's totals?
Daniel Sedin vs. the Pacific Division, excluding Anaheim -- these are the teams Perry plays against:
|Daniel Sedin vs. Pacific||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/gm|
|Los Angeles Kings||4||3||2||5||1.25|
|San Jose Sharks||4||2||4||6||1.50|
Wowzers -- Daniel has been tearing up the Pacific Division this season. In fact, his anti-Pacific results are significantly better than his scoring rate against the "easier" Northwest:
|Daniel Sedin vs. Northwest
Compared to his Pacific results, this table is underwhelming -- it appears that Daniel Sedin's scoring totals aren't being particularly helped by his division. In fact, if seven of Daniel's northwest games were transferred to be against Perry's Pacific opponents, his points total would mathematically increase -- from 104 to 107. This is because Daniel Sedin feasts on the Pacific -- if you include Anaheim, he has scored more points against the Pacific Division (32 points in 20 games) than against the Northwest division (27 in 23).
So no, it doesn't seem that Daniel's scoring lead can be attributed to feasting on lesser divisional opponents -- he's actually done better against Perry's divisional opponents than his own. And just to complete the cycle, here's their numbers against each other -- Sedin wins this contest, too.
|Head to Head||GP||G||A||Pts||Pts/gm|
|Corey Perry vs. Vancouver||4||2||2||4||1.00|
|Daniel Sedin vs. Anaheim||4||4||3||7||1.75|
All this said, the Hart Trophy is not the Art Ross Trophy -- it will be decided on a varied group of voters based on some varied definition of "valuable", and because of the Ducks' relative situation, it's still definitely possible for Perry to take the award -- if he shines over the next two games, he may even be a front-runner. All I hope that I've shown today is that at least based on results we've seen so far, Daniel has a pretty legitimate scoring title lead even in an easier division. He's putting up very impressive numbers against good defensive teams as well.
Prediction: Why would the Ducks clinch today when they could more dramatically do it tomorrow? :)