Earlier this morning I was talking with my boss about a Systems Analyst post I’m working on when he made an interesting observation: hockey analysts seem far more prone to point out errors and tear down players than build them up, which they do in other sports. You’ll often see an NHL team score a goal, and the immediate reflex of the talking head is to highlight where the breakdown happened. I’ve also heard people complain that our analysts are quick to shred our stars when they’re struggling (Mike Milbury on Alex Ovechkin comes to mind here), whereas other sports see their announcers and writers go to great lengths to prop them up.
In basketball, if a player naps on his coverage and LeBron gets a break and throws down a dunk, all you ever see, all you ever hear about, is that dunk. “The athleticism!” The blown coverage gets swept under the rug.
But there’s a reason why in hockey we’re far more likely to point out that an opportunity was a direct result of an error on defense: from an offensive standpoint, hockey is kind of about making the other team f***-up as much as possible, and finishing when that happens.
The intense defensive scrutiny isn’t because hockey analysts are more vindictive or don’t want players to get credit or are jealous of the guys’ wives or something. For the most part, our analysts just know what they’re looking for. Not that other sports’ commentators don’t, but consider: hockey simply doesn’t have the indefensible shots that other sports do. A perfectly executed fade-away jumper in basketball basically can’t be stopped, so credit to the shooter. You can make a great pitch in baseball and it can still get hit out of the park, so credit to the hitter. A perfectly thrown-and-caught quick slant in football is just about impossible to stop from happening, so hey, nice pass and catch.
In our sport, you have to make people miss. There is no even-strength goal without an oops, or at the very least, a That Could’ve Been Done Better. Read the rest of this entry »
This was one of the more telling quotes of the day in the wake of Doug Wilson trading Douglas Murray to the Pittsburgh Penguins for two second round picks (the second being a conditional one based on Murray re-signing in Pitt).
“We have tremendous respect for Douglas as a hockey player and a person. He has been a warrior for our hockey club for the past eight seasons and he has been in the Sharks family for the past 14 years. This deal places Douglas in a quality situation which he deserves.”
He was happy to get Douglas Murray somewhere where he’d, y’know, have a chance to win.
Mike Smith has taken his goaltender right of contact immunity too far.
When the puck goes behind the net and the opposing team is going to be first on it, Smith likes to leave his net to play the puck away from them, but then he likes to take away any conceivable lane for the forechecker to skate through to avoid plowing him. And when they do take a piece, holy smokes, it looks like Scott Stevens himself headed behind the net with ill will and trucked him Lindros-style.
I will say: it’s not like guys are fully trying to avoid him or anything (he’s out there and a goalie, so…yeah), just funny that it continually happens to him, no?
Here’s what happened last night, Alex Edler edition:
Edler doesn’t exactly try not to hit him, but where’s he supposed to go? Jump the back of the net?
I’m not setting out to trash Anaheim or anything, because frankly, the Ducks are really freaking good. They’re second overall in the NHL with 46 points, they’re 7-0-3 and their last 10, and they’ve only lost three games in regulation this entire season. They just re-signed Getzlaf and Perry, they have some young talent, good goaltending, you get the picture.
But they’re not the Chicago Blackhawks.
I was looking at where they ranked in some statistical categories in the NHL given that the first place Blackhawks are heading into their rink to play them tonight, and as great as they’ve been, they just can’t touch ‘em. Read the rest of this entry »
He’s even getting stopped by Ilya Bryzalov. Yikes.
For Travis Zajac, it’s gotten to the point where I’m not even mad, I’m impressed. It’s tough to avoid points when you get that much ice time.
Since the New Jersey Devils signed the young center to an eight-year, 46 million dollar contract ($5.75M cap hit through 2021) on January 16th, he’s been nothing short of hot garbage.
I mean, the phrasing is a little harsh, but seriously, let’s talk:
He averages over 20 minutes of ice time a night, a number only surpassed by Ilya Kovalchuk amongst Devils’ forwards. And, he’s played in all 27 of the Devils games this season. Some quick math, and that’s 540 minutes, or nine hours on the ice.
He has four goals and four assists for eight points, good for tenth on the team. That’s tied with Steve Bernier, and trailing Stephen Gionta and Ryan Carter, who combine to earn 36% of Zajac’s salary (totalling $2.112M between them).
In their last five games they’ve earned just a single point, while handing two to Washington, Winnipeg, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Boston. Hell, in their last 12 contests, they’ve only grabbed two points twice. That is not good.
It looks like Anders Lindback might miss Nashville. Or, at least, Shea Weber. (Scott Audette, Getty Images)
It’s not easy becoming an NHL team’s number one goaltender. There are only 30 positions available and hundreds of goaltenders looking for their shot. Talented young goaltending prospects often find themselves starting out in the ECHL, simply because there’s no room on a team’s AHL affiliate. Players gradually work their way up the depth chart until they finally get called up to the big club — and end up as the perennial backup, stuck behind an aging incumbent or an undrafted Finnish phenom.
Getting a chance to finally take centre stage and stand in the spotlight as a team’s go-to goaltender is a rare opportunity. At the start of this season, five goaltenders were given that opportunity after spending last season as a backup: Cory Schneider, Anders Lindback, Sergei Bobrovsky, Braden Holtby, and Tuukka Rask. The results so far have been mixed.