Archive for the ‘Observation’ Category

2013 NHL Draft - Portraits

It was one of the best stories on draft day earlier this summer: the New Jersey Devils traded a 7th round pick in 2015 to the Los Angeles Kings for theirs this year – the fourth last pick in the draft – so New Jersey could select Martin Brodeur’s son Anthony.

The internet (and humans with lives everywhere), collectively did this:

WHOAAAA COOOOOL!!

Anthony had a decent year playing for Shattuck St. Mary’s last season, posting a .923 save percentage, so it wasn’t that ridiculous that his name would be called. Buuut if we’re being honest, and we are, he almost certainly wouldn’t have been selected if his Dad’s name wasn’t Marty. Even he wouldn’t deny that. But still, neat story, no harm no foul, there was a cool moment with the father/son hug…you can read all about it here. In sum, neato spadeato.

Only…I’m not so sure his Dad and the Devils did him any favors. They may have actually done the opposite.

I could very well be wrong, but from what I’ve seen getting drafted in the late rounds seems to handcuff a player trying to skate his way to the NHL more than it does propel him. It’s limiting.

Obviously, there are some perks to getting drafted. First, let’s look at the pros of getting selected versus not for your average non-superstar NHL hopeful. Read the rest of this entry »

San Jose Sharks jet

The NHL has released the 2013-14 NHL schedule, which means a couple things: one, it’s July, and July is a stupid sports-less month so this is very important, and two, some fanbases have cause to get upset about getting screwed by the league, which they’ve been dying to do in the absence of real hockey.

Nobody breaks the schedule down better than Dirk Hoag of On The Forecheck, a great Nashville Predators blog. Hoag tracks the mileage of each NHL team and compares it to their miles traveled from previous seasons, while also noting the amount of times each team plays back-to-back games. Understandably, the winning percentage of teams in the second half of back-to-backs isn’t great, so that’s a pretty relevant note to make (we’ll talk a little more about those situations farther down).

First, the most interesting things of note from Hoag’s work:

Most mileage

The San Jose Sharks.

map - san jose sharks (flat)

That’s a massive increase for the Sharks, who were hurt more by League realignment than any other team. That’s over 13,600 miles more than they traveled during the previous full season. The Boston Bruins saw the second biggest increase in travel, adding over 8,600 miles to their 2011-12 total. Read the rest of this entry »

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six

How much weight do you place on a good playoff performance?

If you look back through the Chicago Blackhawks players between 2009 and 2012, Bryan Bickell is 13th out of 28 players (min. 10 GP) in points per game with 0.47. Bickell had 17 points in 23 games in the most recent postseason and is probably going to parlay that into a significant UFA contract.

It won’t be a smart deal, but it’s not like Bickell is a slouch of a player. Over a 5-year period, he’s sixth on the Blackhawks in even strength points per 60, and is 115th in the league, right around Artem Anisimov, Martin Erat and Pierre Parenteau.

There are some teams that won’t have too much hesitation signing Bickell to a few years with a fat paycheque as one of the more productive depth players in the league.

Read the rest of this entry »

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Four

The headline’s a bit dramatic, if only because who the hell knows what happens going forward with injuries and the potential for terrifyingly bad luck, but if everything stays the same as it currently sits, I feel like the Stanley Cup is waiting to be dropped from it’s dunk tank-like perch into Corey Crawford and the Blackhawks’ hands…if he can just throw a couple strikes at the target.

Last night was huge for Chicago. If Boston scores the OT winner they head back to the Windy City with three cracks to beat Chicago once. The Blackhawks would be in full second-guessing themselves mode, having blown multiple leads and having given up six. Quenneville might tinker with the lines, or the lineup as a whole. Crawford is strung up from a sturdy branch. Ray Emery starts answering more questions. The whole thing starts to unravel, because that’s how the reactionary world of sports works.

But winning heals everything, and in the process, the Blackhawks had a barrel full of back-monkeys jump off, which will entirely free their stars up mentally to play the game as they can again. Jonathan Toews starred as The Beast in the Crease and scored for the first time since May, a span of 10 games dating back to the Red Wings’ series. Patrick Kane scored his first goal of the Stanley Cup Final. Patrick Sharp got his second of the Final. Hell, they even scored a powerplay goal.

And further, Marian Hossa made it all the way through the game and now doesn’t have to play again until Saturday, which means he gets an extra day to heal up, and will definitely play in Game 5. Those of you who’ve played through injuries know just how valuable that extra day can be – where the one day off in between contests means you wake up going “Ughhh f*************k, everything hurts,” there’s the potential to feel human with the bonus day in there.

Now they’ve got two of three games in the Madhouse on Madison. Everything would be peachy and perfect if it weren’t for this one large, scary elephant hiding behind the dresser:

The hell is up with all those low-glove goals on Corey Crawford? Is this a thing? Is shooting there like using The Cheat Move in NHL ’94? Read the rest of this entry »

2013 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game One

After the first period of Game 2, the Boston Bruins must’ve filed into the dressing room, plunked down in their stalls and exhaled a sigh of relief like a tornado had cruised through their town yet somehow skipped their neighborhood (fittingly, an actual tornado had done something similar during the first game). They had been outshot by a whopping margin, 19-4, but only found themselves down a goal thanks to the splendiferous goaltending of one of the league’s best, Tuukka Rask (“Two u’s, two k’s, two points,” as Bruins’ announcer Jack Edwards likes to say in the regular season).

As the Bruins emerged from their storm cellar to play the second period, something started to happen. The clouds thinned and parted a bit, and the play started to shift. The Bruins out-shot the Blackhawks 8-4, 8-5, and 8-6 respectively in the 2nd, 3rd, and overtime period, and eventually left the state of Illinois with a satisfying split.

If Generic Goalie A is in net for Boston, that likely doesn’t happen.

I have no idea if the phenomenon I’m about to describe happened to Chicago, because speculating on the mental state of an entire hockey club from my desk in another country is borderline ridiculous, but it did cross my mind when watching: Tuukka Rask might’ve “stopped” some shots in 2nd, 3rd and OT by discouraging players from ever taking them with saves earlier in the game. Read the rest of this entry »

Boston Bruins v Pittsburgh Penguins - Game Two

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have a problem.

Wait– that probably doesn’t come off right in text form.

The Pittsburgh Penguins don’t have A problem. The Pittsburgh Penguins have problems. Like, we’re talking Jay-Z numbers, up around the 99 range. And despite the fact that, much like the aforementioned rapper, a “b***h” counts for zero of them, that total is enough to be cause for concern.

When your team has so many issues that you’re not sure where to start and it’s not the pre-season, I’m of the mind that it’s time to give the other team some credit. The Boston Bruins went into Pittsburgh and dismantled them. They walked in on a bomb and diffused it without so much as sweating a drop and they had excess time to spare. And for that, they have team discipline to thank.

Discipline, for a hockey team, can mean a lot of things. Coaches talk about getting players to “buy in,” which basically means “give up what you’re instincts are telling you on the defensive side of the puck, and actually do what we’re asking you to do.” Most players have the defensive instincts of a dog chasing a tennis ball. “PUCKPUCKPUCK THERE’STHEPUCKOMG PUCKPUCKPUCK.” When things aren’t going well it’s easy to step out of the system and chase it. But when things are working, it just reinforces behaviour that makes your team tougher to play. “Hey, if I just stand here, the puck comes to me a lot.”

Boston’s making it hard on Pittsburgh by being disciplined in a number of different areas. Read the rest of this entry »

From pgdigs.tumblr.com, via Chris Lund. Jagr arriving in Pittsburgh on June 20th, 1990.

Jagr arriving in Pittsburgh on June 20th, 1990. From pgdigs.tumblr.com, via Chris Lund.

I find Jaromir Jagr immensely fascinating.

There’s the skill that’s taken him to 8th all-time in NHL scoring. I’ve described him as the metal frame that makes up one of those quick-assemble gazebos: he can be compact and portable, then quickly become wide and lanky, holding off defenders without a thought while deciding what to do with the puck. That’s him in his present form though, as his younger days were more about dangles, sharp cuts and general domination.

There’s the personality, which we get in flashes of greatness, occasionally muddled with surliness.

There’s the mystique, and what I presume to be general selfishness. How could he sign with the Flyers? What goes on in this man’s head?

And through all that, there’s the general air of zero f***s given, as if none of this – his legacy in Pittsburgh, in the NHL, or as a person – ever crosses his mind. He is who he is and he does what he does. And sadly, he doesn’t have too many NHL games left in him after being a part of nearly 1600 total.

He’ll be returning to Pittsburgh with the Bruins this weekend, and there’s no guaranteeing he’ll be back there as a player again after this upcoming series. I have a hunch he could be a real problem for the Pens. Either way, we should probably enjoy it as much as I enjoy the picture at the top of this post. Or hell, as much as I enjoy this amazing outfit of Jagr’s.┬áThe NHL hasn’t seen too many like him.