Archive for the ‘Hypothesizing’ Category

The very fact that Colby Armstrong is allowing himself to be punched in the head is, in itself, paradoxical.

“But you didn’t have to hit him.”

“Ellen, he had his head down. He was coming through the middle with his head down. Guy does that, he’s gonna get hit.”

“No, he’s not. Not necessarily. He’s only going to get hit if you choose to hit him.”

M sighs heavily. Everything M does, he does heavily. He’s a big man, more than six feet, more than two hundred pounds. Now on the far side of thirty, he’s gone a bit soft at the midsection, but you can still see the shadow of the player he used to be, when he was young and dreamed of making the pros. That player, although he’s mostly faded now, must have been a terror. Even now, M inspires a little dread among the people he plays with. He’s one of those guys who’ll always be muscular, always be strong, no matter how little effort he puts in. His temper is short and his hockey values are very, very traditional.

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Yesterday morning, early-ish, while most of us were still drinking our coffee and doing crossword puzzles and clandestinely watching videos of cats in adorable predicaments while thinking vaguely that perhaps we ought to start working, the Montreal Canadiens fired Pierre Gauthier. Like every move the Habs have made this year, the timing was a little odd- five games before the end of the season? Really?- but as hockey-management theater it could not have been more different from the odd way Gauthier made his moves. Gauthier got rid of people in the early evenings, on game days, sometimes even during games. Geoff Molson does his firing before lunch, dammit.

Gauthier, apparently, knew it was coming a few days in advance. If he’d been paying attention, he probably should have seen it coming months ago. Faced with a struggling team, he’d made a host of sweeping, sudden changes; the most clichéd kind of a panic moves. Such things are a gamble for any GM: if they work out, you look assertive and leaderly; if they fail, you look like an idiot. Gauthier’s moves were virtually all disasters that turned what might have been a one-season slump into what may well be a multi-year rebuild.  He went from being considered one of the League’s most boring GMs to one of its most incompetent in the space of a few months. Montreal is not Edmonton, you don’t screw up hockey that bad in our town and pay nothing.  Dude’s been toast since Cammalleri was.

And so now, as earlier this year, the Canadiens are looking to replace someone in a suit-wearing position, and as it was with Martin, language is going to be an issue.

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Mattias Tedenby is genuinely shocked by the force of Ryan White's hustle

“You find that you have peace of mind and can enjoy yourself, get more sleep and rest when you know that it was a 100 percent effort that you gave- win or lose.”

- Gordie Howe

“I always hear you coming after me, every time. Tssh-tssh-tssh.” She imitates the sound of my skates, their short, thunky hiss. Other people’s strides sound long, sinuous and dangerous, like anacondas on the hunt. Mine sound like an angry kitten with hiccups.

“Trying to forecheck.” I gasp, between gulps of water. Trying to forecheck her, more accurately, which is a lost cause. Her skating is so much more fluid and economical, her angles so much clearer that I cannot possibly pressure her in any meaningful way. The moment I get to her, coming all the way up the ice with my bitter choppy strides, she’s gone, or the puck is gone, and I’m going back the other way.

“Yeah, yeah,” the instructor nods a bit. “You’re trying really hard.”

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The Mona Lisa

“Sometimes Messier’s skates feel like broken galoshes; sometimes they feel like Mercury’s wings, and he doesn’t know why. It has nothing to do with their sharpening, tightening, the make of the skates, or his health or attitude. It is simply true.”
-Ken Dryden, Home Game

It began with Jaroslav Halak.

You remember this story. In 2010 the Montreal Canadiens, as is their custom in recent years, squeezed into the playoffs as an 8th seed. In doing so, they drew as their opponent the Washington Capitals. The Capitals were not then the troubled, fragmented franchise they’ve since become, but an offensive powerhouse that ripped up the League in storm and fury. As a first-round opponent, Montreal seemed likely to be hardly more than a speed bump. The smart money and virtually all the pundits said the same thing: Washington in 4 or 5. No contest.

So obviously when the Canadiens won the series in seven games it caused some cognitive dissonance for the hockey world. Journalists scrambled for explanations, and a lot of previously untested narratives were floated in quick succession. There was talk of dressing room camaraderie, of steely determination and unshakable resolve. There were tales of Martin’s cold, calculating defensive system and the players’ willingness to buy into it. Although both the shot counts and the scoring chances went heavily against Montreal, there was speculation that the Canadiens won perhaps by keeping the Capitals to the perimeter, or stifling breakaways, or somehow getting inside Ovechkin’s head.

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"The good 'ol days"

For those of you unfamiliar with the saga, a quick recap: Alexander Radulov was drafted by the Nashville Predators in 2004, 15th overall.

He signed a three-year entry-level deal with Preds after his years in the QMJHL (152 points in his final season there), started in the AHL with Milwaukee in 06-07, and got called up after compiling 18 points in 11 games. He put up 37 points the rest of that season with Nashville (64 games), and went on to put up 58 in his sophomore season.

He still had a year left on that entry-level deal, and looked poised to seriously breakout….when he signed a three-year deal in Russia.

Thus, in order to come back to play in North America, he’d have to play out the third year of his entry-level deal with the Predators.

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As someone who played enough hockey to see the inner-workings of depth charts, I’ve come to feel like this is worth talking about:

Do GMs and coaches ever purposely tinker with their players’ numbers to sign them to lower contracts?

I’m not saying they ever actually change their stats, I’m saying that in my opinion (and that of @JCiocco14), sometimes coaches will “bury” players in the depth chart early in their NHL (or AHL) careers until they can lock them up on some longer term deal, when they can officially unleash them on the world.

Case in point: Claude Giroux.

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In theory, it’s quite possible. Actually, it’s quite logical.

The fine writers over at released their take on who should be in, and who should be out for the 2012 NHL all-star game in Ottawa, and Ovy was the noticeable abscence. He’s become a name you just assume will be a part of the event no matter what kind of season he’s having.

But if you really look at his numbers and the way things shake down…is it possible to justify having him in the game this year? I’m not so sure it is.

It’s tough to argue with the list that left him on the outside looking in. Here’s Corey Masisak explaining the rules they went by to create it:

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