Daily Archives: Dec 3, 2018

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The Buffalo Sabres have been the talk of the NHL through the first quarter of the season. Much of the conversation has been driven by the franchise record tying 10-game winning streak, which came to an end in the middle of a stretch that included six games in nine nights, and back to back games on the road.

From an analytics standpoint, there are weaknesses in the Sabres’ game that may be starting to show through. But I came to praise Caesar, not to bury him. Caesar, in this case, is the Sabres, who have been slightly toppled after reaching the pinnacle of the standings. At this writing, Buffalo is a nested doll of thirds – third in the Atlantic Division, third in the Eastern Conference, and third in the NHL.

Some of their success can be attributed to unexpectedly good goaltending. Accounting for more, perhaps, is the resurgent career of forward Jeff Skinner and the chemistry he’s generated with captain Jack Eichel and just about anyone else that ends up on the team’s top line.

While these aspects were certainly the theme of the streak, Buffalo’s developing depth lines have also played a huge role for the team. It’s a welcome change from the early going, which saw forwards like Tage Thompson and Remi Elie spend extended periods of time in the press box.

Since returning to the lineup on a regular basis, both have been contributing on the scoresheet, which appears to be building confidence in the pair of depth players. Thompson has six points in his last ten games, four of which are primary points; he’s got 1.11 primary points per 60 minutes of ice time. He’s also playing better than expected defensively; though his 38.89 goals-for percentage is low, it is better than the 37.98 expected goals-for percentage.

Though Elie’s time is slightly more limited, the young forward is making the most of it. With .97 P1/60, he’s rocking a straight 50 goals-for percentage – 12 points better than his expected goals-for percentage. Both players have a PDO over 100.

Data sets are limited by time on ice, of course. But it’s a huge step up from last year, where players like Jordan Nolan and Scott Wilson averaged about the same ice time per game, with lower production and much worse possession metrics.

Obviously, this iteration of the Sabres is vastly different from the last several seasons.

Increased scoring at the top of the lineup builds team confidence, and gives the depth players a boost. The opposite is also true, though; so many of Buffalo’s wins over the ten-game stretch were by one point. This depth scoring means a lot in those close games, and it was something that the team was sorely lacking in its previous failed campaigns.

As the season moves forward, there will likely be a reasonable regression to the mean.

The Sabres are punching up hard, and building a points cushion now that will certainly be useful in the playoff race later on. It is good to see that the team can depend on the contributions of its depth players to help push them through the inevitable close games that will define the team in the end.

    PARIS (Reuters) – France’s Iliad is including a Netflix subscription and Amazon’s voice assistant Alexa among the key features of its new set-top box as it seeks to revive declining sales, chief executive Thomas Reynaud said on Tuesday.

    The telecoms operator’s much-awaited new set-top box, dubbed Freebox Delta and designed by Jasper Morrison, will also contained an improved internet speed and data storage, as well as the audio technology of French start-up firm Devialet.

    The Freebox Delta is offered at a price of 49.99 euros ($57) per month, roughly 10 euros more than the previous version, which dates from 2010 and also bundles television, internet and fixed telephone services.

    Another box with fewer services, dubbed Freebox One, will start at a price of 29.99 euros per month for the first year.

    (The story corrects to read “for the first year” in last paragraph, not two years)

    Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Sudip Kar-Gupta

    London (Reuters) – Deflating hopes of a swift resolution to the Sino-U.S. trade war knocked world stocks off three-week highs on Tuesday, while growing fears the U.S economy could be headed for recession sooner than expected weighed on the dollar.

    The rapprochement between U.S. President Donald Trump and China’s Xi Jinping at the weekend G20 meeting had fired up markets on Monday. But the upbeat mood quickly dissipated on skepticism that Washington and Beijing can resolve deep-seated differences on trade in the agreed-upon three-month negotiating window.

    Adding to market woes, was an inversion of the short end of the U.S. yield curve which raised the specter of a possible U.S. recession.

    Following declines on Asian bourses, where Japan’s Nikkei stock index closed 2.4 percent lower, the mood was somber in Europe with the wider blue chip index slipping 0.3 percent. Frankfurt’s DAX and Paris’ CAC 40 fell 0.6 percent while MSCI’s index of world stocks declined 0.1 percent.

    “The initial relief rally was never going to last. Investors need more detail now in order for that risk on sentiment to survive,” said Jasper Lawler, head of research at London Capital Group. “So far that detail has not been coming through and investors have more questions than answers.”

    There was confusion over when the 90-day period, during which the U.S. and China would hold off on imposing more tariffs, would start. A White House official said it started on Dec. 1, while earlier, White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow told reporters it would start on Jan. 1.

    Moreover, none of the commitments that U.S. officials said had been given by China – including reducing its 40 percent tariffs on autos – were agreed to in writing and specifics had yet to be hammered out.

    Meanwhile the U.S. yield curve focused investors’ minds. The curve between U.S. three-year and five-year and between two-year and five-year paper inverted on Monday – the first parts of the Treasury yield curve to invert since the financial crisis, excluding very short-dated debt.

    Analysts expect the two-year, 10-year yield curve – seen as a predictor of a U.S. recession – to follow suit.

    On Tuesday, the yield on benchmark 10-year Treasury notes was at 2.95 percent compared with its U.S. Monday close of 2.99 percent. And the spread between 10-year and two-year Treasury yields tightened to around 13 basis points – hitting its narrowest level since July 2007.

    “The focus is now shifting to the inverted U.S. bond yield curve which has negative connotations, while implying the U.S. economy is heading towards what was only a few weeks ago an improbable economic slowdown,” said Stephen Innes, head of trading for APAC at Oanda.

    “Now, even recessionary fear is starting to raise its ugly head.”

    However, analysts said U.S. manufacturing data released on Monday pointed to a stronger economic outlook, with new orders a “key driver” in boosting activity.

    Graphic: U.S. yield curve inversion – tmsnrt.rs/2RvJ6J5

    Meanwhile oil prices extended gains, adding to Monday’s 4 percent surge as investors bet a key OPEC meeting on Thursday could deliver supply cuts.

    U.S. crude and Brent crude added 1.6 percent to $53.82 and $62.7 per barrel respectively. [O/R]

    SOFTER DOLLAR

    The dollar weakened against major currencies, weighed down by falling U.S. bond yields.

    The dollar index, which tracks the greenback against a basket of peers, softened 0.5 percent to 96.53, while the euro added 0.6 percent to $1.1416.

    The dollar also weakened 0.8 percent against the Japanese yen and fell more than 0.5 percent to its weakest level since September against the offshore Chinese yuan to 6.83 yuan.

    Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell was scheduled to testify on Wednesday to a congressional Joint Economic Committee, but the hearing was postponed because of a national day of mourning for U.S. President George H.W. Bush, who died on Friday.

    The dollar came under pressure last week on Powell’s comments that rates were nearing neutral levels, which markets widely interpreted as signaling a slowdown in the Fed’s rate-hike cycle.

    Meanwhile sterling was back on the Brexit rollercoaster, rallying sharply after the EU’s top legal adviser said Britain had the right to withdraw its Brexit notice.

    This was a bounce back from two-month lows it hit in early trade against the dollar on concern about British parliamentary approval for a proposed Brexit deal.

    The pound last stood 0.7 percent firmer at $1.2814 while weakening 0.2 percent against the euro to 89.10 pence.

    Spot gold jumped on the weaker dollar, trading up 0.5 percent at $1,237.24 per ounce. [GOL/]

    Reporting by Karin Strohecker; Additional reporting by Andrew Galbraith ; Editing by Andrew Heavens

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