Back in the summer of 2011, it was pretty difficult to find anybody that would suggest Jonathan Toews was anything but a clutch performer. He was a year removed from a Conn Smythe Trophy and had scored a late shorthanded goal to send Game 7 of the first round series to overtime. Chicago was an 8-seed.
Also in the summer of 2011, there were people who were thrilled that their pre-season prediction had come true. The Miami Heat weren’t a championship team. LeBron James isn’t clutch, you can’t assemble groups of superstars and have them win blah blah blah blah. We’re approaching July in 2013, hockey is still going on for some reason, Jonathan Toews has one goal in his last zillion games and LeChoke and the Heat have repeat as NBA champions.
It’s unreasonable to think that there aren’t players that step their games up in key situations. It is unreasonable to think that we have any way of measuring the difference. There’s such a marginal gap between the quality of players and teams at the highest level of sport that you’d need literally hundreds of games to be able to tell a good player from a not as good player. We have six seasons worth of play-by-play data for individual players and there’s still a lot we don’t know about shooting talent, how players age, and how to effectively measure defence. Read the rest of this entry »
Mention that Jonathan Toews is playing poorly in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and an angry mob of advanced statistics people will march on your home carrying charts and graphs. Mention that Jonathan Toews is playing well in the postseason by pointing toward his Corsi and Fenwick numbers, and old sportswriters will roll their eyes and ask if you pay rent while living in your mom’s basement.
Trying to determine why in the heck a player as good as Toews has one goal in 20 playoff games is about as difficult juggling chainsaws with your feet, only instead of feet, you have stumps smothered in baby oil.
During the regular season, Toews was so good at the sport of hockey that he finished fourth in voting for the Hart Trophy. On the strength of a career-best (pro-rated) 23 goals and 48 points in 47 contests and excellent defensive game that won him the Selke Trophy, the captain of the Chicago Blackhawks also received the third-most first-place votes for the Hart.
The Blackhawks won the Presidents’ Trophy with 131.5 (again, pro-rated, obviously) points, which if you round up ties the 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens for the most in a season. Sure, it happened over the course of 48 games so it doesn’t mean as much, but the Blackhawks put forth the NHL’s most dominant season in nearly four decades, and Toews was a major reason the Blackhawks brought hockey back the way Justin Timberlake brought sexy back in that neither brought anything back because it was already there. Read the rest of this entry »
Post-season narratives are fascinating. Teams don’t win because they’re better than their opponents or even more lucky; they win because they “want it more.” If a goaltender goes on a hot streak in the playoffs, it’s not actually a hot streak; instead, he’s “clutch.” And forwards who go on a scoring tear in the playoffs are said to have an “extra gear” and tend to be highly coveted in free agency (just look at Ville Leino and Joel Ward in recent years).
There are a few players who seem to have stepped up their game in the playoffs this year. Derrick Brassard has a career-high of 47 points, though he scored at a higher rate this season, but now has 10 points in 10 playoff games. Kyle Turris has underwhelmed so far in his career, but 5 goals in 9 playoff games will certainly catch your attention. And Pascal Dupuis certainly scored a lot of goals this season, but 7 in 10 playoff games is something else entirely.
But then there are three players who, unexpectedly, have no goals in the playoffs. Tyler Seguin, Jonathan Toews, and Jaromir Jagr are all very talented players at different stages of their careers. They combined for 55 goals during the regular season, but have yet to find the back of the net in the post-season. Clearly, they must be choke artists who can’t handle the pressure of the playoffs.
You won’t find this commercial on this list, because Kolzig is awesome.
Big-name athletes, like actors, are celebrities. As celebrities, they’re often asked to appear in commercials, either to endorse products or promote their team and their league. Unlike actors, however, the vast majority of them cannot act. At all. This is particularly true of NHL players, most of whom have their personalities surgically removed in Junior and are confused by any dialogue that isn’t “It’s good to get the two points” and “We have to play a full 60 minutes.”
Some directors, however, haven’t figured this out and actually ask NHL players to recite dialogue and emote. This is usually a mistake and NHL players have given some of the worst acting performances in the history of commercials. Here are 10 of them. Anybody expecting Adam Oates’s infamous “Loose Rebounds” commercial, look elsewhere: that’s some great acting with some terrible material.