Mailbag: Coastal Shots and Character Counts


The Marlies are off until Monday. I have a weird High School reunion-esque thing to go to today, and probably have little time to do much else other than write a mailbag. In unrelated news, hey have this mailbag!

…that sounded selfish. The mailbag shouldn’t be the “Jeff is too distracted to do research” thing. Besides, I like answering questions. I just really suck at these introduction paragraphs. That’s what it really comes down to. You’re probably better off just hitting “read more”, or scrolling down. I know I’m going to do that right… now.

To submit a question, send me a tweetemail meask me, or leave a comment.

Do the Marlies always play like they did tonight? like.. a Leafs lite?

This of course comes because Toronto was outshot 50-19 in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals (and won 5-1). The short answer is no, and the long answer is “not entirely”.

Possession numbers for the AHL don’t really exist. Most numbers for the AHL really exist, come to think of it. I even have to calculate my shooting percentages manually, which says a lot about where this league needs to grow in terms of being a resource to the public. In lieu of possession stats, I use Shots For Percentage, and the Marlies are a 49% team this season in that regard. 

In a 75 game sample provided by the team (I’m not sure why one regular season game is missing), you’ll find something interesting. Going into the third period, the Marlies have lead the game on 32 occasions, compared to trailing 23 times and being tied 20.  This compares to an even split after one period. If the Marlies are cementing their leads in the second, this gives at least a period where the other team is trying to trail, and the third period SF% is….

49%. The actual weakest period for the Marlies is the first, where they shoot 47.9% of the pucks on net, and convert at a lower rate than the other periods (7.4% vs 10.6 in the second, 11.1 in the third, and 24.4 in overtime). Maybe they’re just a slow start team? I don’t know. It’s hard to say.

In any event, Game 1 is an outlier. They had the lead for most of the game, were up by 3 with 33 minutes to go, and Texas, who are dominant enough as it is, spent about a quarter of the game with an extra attacker on the ice (both with powerplays and pulled goalies).

what do you think of Spott as a coach? Lots of wins but team seems to be outshot regularly.  Does he have NHL potential

First off, big ups to @tdiddyslim, the first person to use the #TLNMailbag hashtag in a tweet since I originally tried to make it a thing in February.

Now, in response to the question that kind of ties into the above, it’s complicated. First, despite being overshot overall on the season, It’s a 34 to 38 split in terms of outshooting and being outshot. Hardly the 65 times the Leafs were outshot this year. As well, most of them are by a handful of pucks. There’s likely a truth, however, to the idea that they get heavily outshot more often than they heavily outshoot, but I don’t have the numbers on hand.

As for Spott himself, it’s really hard to say. His team does seem to be more organized compared to what Carlyle employs with the Leafs, and they appear to be better at breaking out, but we’re also talking about a team with an elite player (league relative) at every major position. When you have Spencer Abbott up front, TJ Brennan on the point, and Drew MacIntyre in net, it’s easy to fly up the standings above your expectations. It’s like taking Bergeron, Chara, and Rask from the Bruins and dropping them into the Calgary Flames.

He seems to be doing a lot of good things, and he’s a pleasure to talk to from a media perspective, but I’m not prepared to say whether the team is a product of him or vice-versa just yet.

Is it just me or is there a real lack of credit given in the Memorial cup often to the team from the WHL?

For the record, I know next no nothing about junior hockey, so I’m not giving credit to any teams. I think the Guelph Storm are cool because I went to a game there this year, but actually wanted the Knights to win because Nazem Kadri and John Tavares played for them. I showed my commitment to these teams by not watching a second of the tournament yet. I’m not proud of it, but I’d like to make it clear that I’m far from an expert on the topic.

I can believe the lack of credit exists, though. It’s simple east coast bias, which gets extrapolated when two of the three leagues are on the east coast. I think the phenomenon is starting to fade with the internet allowing for easier game consumption and discussion, but until there’s as many people with clout in the West Coast hyping up their prospects as there are here, it won’t happen. 

Host cities don’t help either. The tournament was almost entirely hosted in Ontario and Quebec until 25 years ago, and seems to have only made it west of Saskatchewan five times in that period (two of those being in the US). So the part of the media that is involved with broadcasting (often more local) play into that as well.

Hey Jeff, has there been anymore news on Reims??? I really hope there’s something good, he deserves it? Notice that as predicted Reims is doing great now that he has a better team to share the workload with… GO REIMS GO!

There hasn’t been any news in terms of contract extension or trade speculation, nor do I expect any until close to the draft. That said, I don’t think that I’d consider his play with Team Canada “doing great now”. Yes, he had a winning record, and it’s good when teams give their goalies goal support, but he finished the tournament with a 0.911 Save Percentage, which is exactly what he ended up with playing for Toronto this year.

The person who tweets for the LA Kings is great, makes amazing PR, Do you think the NHL should have more people like him? Would it help expand the market/fan base of the NHL? Does it really make a difference?

I don’t think that being good at social media is going to make somebody like the sport. There’s a chance that somebody stumbles on a tweet that is both funny/informative and easy for the non-fan to understand, and feels the need to do more research on the team, but the reality is that a situation like that isn’t exactly common. These accounts are made to retain fans and keep them engaged in a hockey state of mind as much as possible. At best, you can influence an undecided neutral hockey fan to pick “your” team, but that’s another best case scenario.

As for the need to have more people like the LA Kings staff? I just want the social media people to be themselves. They should have a general idea of how their platforms work in terms of personality, and be relatively in touch with the times, but Community Managers shouldn’t change who they are to replicate what others do. When the Kings first emerged on the Twitter scene, a bunch of teams decided to try being exactly like them. Even the Maple Leafs took made a brief switch from “just a bunch of information” to “we’re gonna be edgy”, and as much as I like the people at MLSE’s Digital Department, it was really cringe-worthy. They’ve toned it down since and found a level that suits them. 

Basically, fun social media is for engaging already established fans more than they would normally be engaged more so than it is for attracting new ones, and I’d rather have no personality than forced personality. If you can find the right community manager, then sure, but don’t make them into something they aren’t in attempt to appeal to “the youth”. You’ll look like this.