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Bravo, NHL

Sure, most folks these days are waxing poetic about the NHL's great fortune in hosting a Detroit vs. Pittsburgh Stanley Cup Final, and yes, I'm looking forward to a dynamic series as much as the next fan. Something over at NHL.com caught my eye today, however, and it makes me want to give the crew over there a standing ovation.

Until now, if you were to comb through their online stats, say be sorting all players in 2007-8 based on goals scored, as you surfed from one page to the next (since each page presents 30 players) the columns would shift around, a deliberate attempt to prevent people from automatically scraping that data off the website. The work could still be done, but it had to be done so by hand (or especially clever scripting), and it was a brutally unnecessary pain in the butt. Going through all the skaters, for example, involved 29 pages that would have to be copied, pasted, and edited in Excel to come up with one coherent list.

Today, while grabbing some info for a look at how faceoffs will play a role in the Stanley Cup Finals (curse you, Alan Ryder, for beating me to the punch!), I needed to gather some information, and noticed some marginal improvements to the NHL stats pages. First off, they've provided easy links at the top of the page to switch between a look at various key stats, like Goals, or Plus/Minus. Previously, you had to navigate back to the main page and try a new query from there. The biggest change, however, is that as you scroll through the listings page by page, the columns no longer shift around! The old "Copy & Paste" is all I needed to seamlessly load up my data cart and happily truck down Analytical Avenue.

Over the last couple months I've had to rebuild a lot of my data after I'd hosed my previous PC, and this subtle change will make that task much easier. Thanks, NHL geeks; it's greatly appreciated.