Archive for the ‘Rant’ Category

(Brian Babineau, Getty Images)

(Brian Babineau, Getty Images)

I’m tired of being told that hits and blocked shots don’t matter. The best advanced stats bloggers generally refrain from saying it outright, but I’ve heard the sentiment too many times. I’m also tired because it’s hard to get sleep when you’ve got a newborn and a toddler, but that’s a side issue.

As I spent some time wondering why the idea of hits and blocked shots not mattering bothered me so much, I started to relate it to the shot quality debate. Many proponents of advanced stats will tell you that shot quality doesn’t matter and that shot quantity is far more important. It’s understandable why many traditionalist take issue with hockey analytics when they’re told that shot quality, hits, and blocked shots are unimportant when all three can play a vital role in the outcome of a game.

It’s clear to me that all three do, in fact, matter and that looking at hits and blocked shots in the same light as the shot quality versus shot quantity debate can shed some light on why.

Read the rest of this entry »

129304407 - Bill Smith

The series definitely will not be decided by who can make the goofiest face. (Bill Smith, Getty Images)

The Stanley Cup Final kicks off on Wednesday, because what better time to start the biggest playoff series of the year? At this point, you’ve been practically buried in series previews, many of which will try to boil the matchup down to a few key elements. This series will come down to goaltending, one will claim, while another will trumpet secondary scoring as what will determine the end result.

Really, it’s essentially impossible to predict. I can, however, tell you some things that won’t matter. So here are three things that, despite claims to the contrary, this series definitely won’t boil down to:

Who wants it more

Here is a cliché that needs to die a painful death, preferably scripted by George R.R. Martin.

It usually gets brought out at the conclusion of a game or series, sometimes even by the players themselves. Asked to explain how they won, they might respond, We just wanted it more, as if the player just finished reading The SecretThe power of positive thinking propelled the puck into the net, you see. Read the rest of this entry »

Should of learned to take a hit in peewee. #shouldof

Should of learned to take a hit in peewee. #shouldof

Over the weekend, Hockey Canada came to a fairly overdue decision about hitting in minor hockey:

Body-checking rule change approved at 2013 Hockey Canada Annual General Meeting

-A modification to playing rule 6.2b was approved, removing body-checking from Peewee levels and below within leagues governed by Hockey Canada, starting in 2013-14.

-In addition to this rule change, a work group has been directed to build a mandatory national checking and instructional resource program to support the progressive implementation of checking skills at the Novice to Peewee levels to better prepare players for body-checking at the Bantam and Midget level.

Don Cherry, naturally, slammed the decision as the “politically correct” way to go, shrugging off the reasoning for the decision that Ron MacLean provided. Cherry waxed with “I don’t understand” in response to number of reported injuries at the bantam levels in Québec, where peewee body-checking isn’t allowed, and Alberta, where it was allowed. Read the rest of this entry »

165544597 - Steve Babineau

(Steve Babineau, Getty Images)

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

(Claus Anderson, Getty Images)

(Claus Anderson, Getty Images)

This year is the 20th anniversary of both the seminal NHL ’94 and the last time a Canadian team won the Stanley Cup. Way back in 1993, the Montreal Canadiens, with Patrick Roy in net and Jacques Demers behind the bench, defeated the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings in five games for their NHL-record 24th Stanley Cup as a franchise.

18 seasons have come and gone since then. Canadian teams have come close since — the Canucks made it to game seven of the Finals twice, the Flames and Oilers once each, and the Senators lost in five games — but haven’t been able to carve their names into the Cup itself.

As a result, every year around playoff time, the debate rages over who will be “Canada’s Team,” the marginally non-racist version of the “Great White Hope” that will battle for the pride of Canada and wrest the Stanley Cup from the evil clutches of the United States. For the first time since the 2005-06 season, there are four Canadian teams in the playoffs and thus four claimants to the throne. Who will be Canada’s Team? Who?

How about none of them, since the entire concept is idiotic.

Read the rest of this entry »

(Abelimages, Getty Images)

(Abelimages, Getty Images)

Early Wednesday morning, Damien Cox caused a minor stir online with a tweet about a trade offer the Maple Leafs supposedly made for Roberto Luongo at the 2012 draft that Mike Gillis turned down. It had everything Cox could want in 140 characters: two of the biggest hockey markets in Canada, one of the hottest players in the NHL in Nazem Kadri, the ongoing intrigue of the Luongo trade saga, and even a snide put down of an NHL General Manager.

There’s only one problem: none of it was true. For such a brief little story, it had a remarkable number of holes in it. It’s the Andrew Raycroft of tweets, if you will. For starters, the Canucks were never offered a package of Kadri, Bozak and a pick at the draft. The rumour at the time was that Luke Schenn was the player offered by Brian Burke and Gillis, understandably, balked.

In fact, the Leafs never offered Kadri, Bozak, and a pick; instead, that was what Gillis reportedly asked for in a trade for Luongo from the Leafs. So, at no point could the Canucks have had Kadri, Bozak, and a pick for Luongo, because Burke and Nonis said no to that offer. What actually happened is the complete opposite of what Damien Cox said.

What’s worse is that Cox knew it wasn’t true. Actually, what’s even worse is that people believed him.

Read the rest of this entry »

Whenever there’s a fight in a hockey game, invariably one of three things will happen:

1 – The player who won the fight sees his team score in the next five minutes

At this point, the goal is credited to the fighter, who did a sufficient job rallying his troops with his fists, bringing his scorers to life, and pumping them with the necessary amount of confidence to get the goal.

2 – The player who lost the fight sees his team score in the next five minutes

Now the broadcasters are crediting the lost fighter with the goal. You see, they saw their teammate sacrifice his face for them. That’s, really, what got the team going. They felt like they just couldn’t lose it for their teammate after he’d put himself in harm’s way for the team.

3 – Nothing, in which case the matter is forgotten about completely

A broadcast will completely forget about a fight if it fails to have any impact on the game. This happens in most cases after a scrap, but are consistently ignored when a commentator tries to make the illogical link between fighting and wins.

Read the rest of this entry »