Sunday, August 10, 2008

Is The New Schedule Format A Good Thing For Fleury?

As you should already know by now, the NHL has made some highly desired changes to the regular season schedule format for the upcoming season. Without getting into too many specifics, it basically boils down to each team playing fewer games within their division and facing every team in the NHL at least once.

This change got me to thinking... is this a good thing for Marc-Andre Fleury and the Pittsburgh Penguins? I know the Pens have done pretty well against their Atlantic Division foes the last two years (their performance obviously boosted by going 8-0 against the Flyers in 2007-08). At the same time I would argue that the Atlantic Division is the toughest in hockey from top to bottom and the Pens should benefit from playing more outside the division. With that in mind, let's take a look at MAF's performance to get a little insight on how the new schedule might impact his performance. I am only going to use stats from the last two regular seasons as I feel Fleury's play before that doesn't relate much to the upcoming season based both on MAF's improvement and the team in front of him.

  • vs. Atlantic Division: 44 GP, 26-13-5, 2.51 GAA, .916 SV%, 3 SO
  • vs. rest of Eastern Conference: 45 GP, 24-10-6, 2.86 GAA, .907 SV%, 6 SO
  • vs. Western Conference: 13 GP, 9-3-0, 2.91 GAA, .904 SV%, 0 SO
So what do all of those numbers mean? First, clearly Fleury and the Penguins have performed very well on all fronts in the last two seasons. Second, I think the added games against the Western Conference are going to prove to be beneficial to MAF and the boys. I do not put too much into the fact that MAF's numbers are worse against the Western Conference, and choose to focus on the 9-3-0 record. I think the numbers are less significant because those are games against teams that are less familiar to the Pens, so they are likely to have a less detailed defensive game plan going in. I also think that the Atlantic Division is the best defensive division in hockey, which will play into MAF's stronger numbers in those games, not to mention Fleury's level of familiarity against those teams.

The bottom line for me is this; the Penguins are one of the best teams (if not the best team) in the Eastern Conference. That means that they should be successful regardless of the opposition. Having said that, I think more games out of the Atlantic Division will only be a good thing for the Pens and Marc-Andre Fleury. Fleury's stats may take a bit of a hit as he takes on more teams that he is not used to seeing, but at the end of the day the win total is the only stat I care about, and MAF's total there should be just fine.

1 comment:

Eric K said...

great site you have going about the Flower. it's unreal how gruelingly long this offseason has become.

check me out at Experiencing the Evolution (www.pensevolution.blogspot.com) if you get a minute... I added you to the blogroll.

Take it easy, and Let's GO Pens
-Eric