Sunday, February 19, 2012

Boiling Point

Remember Down with Detroit?  They're posting up a storm on Facebook this afternoon, most likely in relation to today's wonderful hockey match between the Detroit Red Wings and the NHL Anti-Wingerees.  Here's (the complete opposite of) my favorite one!

That's right, Thornton!  Step aside and let the WORTHY PLAYERS wear this sacred number.  Praise Jiri Tlusty!  Can I get an amen, Jim Slater!?  Glory, Blair Jones, Hallelujah!

Of course, no Wings-Sharks game is complete without humble recognition of the officiating.

(Getty Images®: Stephen Walkom re-enjoying some White Kessel Umbergers)

This still frustrates me to such a high degree, but I'm not sure why.  I always expect this volatile mix of unbridled loyalty, passion, and ignorance from Wings fans to explode in my face on a game-to-game basis.  I get it: things aren't going to change.  Even with a team that has won 23 in a row at home, currently sits atop the NHL standings, has brought home four championships since 1997 and hasn't missed the postseason since 1990, Wings fans will still find every opposing goal, powerplay, shot on goal, shot off goal, offensive rush, successful line change, and safe team plane landing at Metro Airport to be the work of Jafar-esque officials, Gary Bettman's witchcraft, voodoo carnival magic, or just a statistical impossibility.  


I recognize and respect that the Wings are one of the most successful franchises in all of pro sports, and it is easy for someone to become a fan of a team that consistently plays at an elite level.  This loyalty makes people do and say stupid things, though.  From Flyers fans jumping a military veteran in a Rangers jersey, to the joyous riots in Montreal, and to the ridiculous riot in Vancouver, I can't begin to imagine what this sort of pride feels like.  While Red Wings fandom hasn't become physically cantankerous just yet, I wouldn't be surprised to see the Ren Cen topple into the river if "our boys" ever lose at home again.  Brace yourselves, kids.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

You Fät Pig!

What the shmear?! It's time for the Brooklyn Water Bagel Company PLAYER NOSH!

The real question should be: With a diet including Brooklyn Water Bagel Company bagels, how in God's Greentree Earth is Jack Skille not the greatest physical specimen on the Panthers roster?  I'm thoroughly Stumpel'd.


Those Nashville coaches sure are dumbass dumbasses. Sergei Kostitsyn led the NHL last year in shot percentage. Mind you, he took only 93 shots, but 23 went in. This year, he’s 2nd in the league behind Curtis Glencross. Rotowire gives both the fantasy-hockey-playing public and Nashville brass something to ponder:

Feb 10 Kostitsyn has 15 points (9G, 6A) in his last 17 games since the start of January.

Recommendation: The Preds' coaching staff must be pulling their collective hair out these days, trying to get Kostitsyn to shoot the puck more, as he currently leads the entire NHL in shooting percentage (.246) but his paltry shot total of just 57 doesn't even land him in the top 300. Regardless, he continues to be a very effective point producer for the Preds, skating on the first line with Mike Fisher and Martin Erat.

Yes, clearly, Kostitsyn needs to start firing shots at the net willy-nilly because look at that shot percentage! Kosnipesyn!

Here are two fun lists! You like lists, right?

Goals scored by yearly shot % leader and where they ranked in total shots:

10-11 Kostitsyn 23 (349th)
09-10 Andrew Brunette 25 (229th)
08-09 Ryan Malone 26 (242nd)
07-08 Mike Ribeiro 27 (276th)
06-07 Jordan Staal 29 (219th)
05-06 Alex Tanguay 29 (236th)
03-04 Mark Parrish 24 (278th)
02-03 Milan Hejduk 50 (28th)
01-02 Danny Briere 32 (142nd)
00-01 Gary Roberts 29 (160th)
99-00 Mike Eastwood 19 (333rd)
98-99 Dmitri Khristich 29 (139th)
97-98 Mike Sillinger 21 (250th)

Now, here are the shot % of the league leader in goals along with where they placed in total shots:

10-11 Corey Perry 17.2 (9th)
09-10 Steven Stamkos 17.2 (6th)
Sidney Crosby 17.1 (5th)
08-09 Alexander Ovechkin 10.6 (1st)
07-08 Alexander Ovechkin 14.6(1st)
06-07 Vincent Lecavalier 15.3 (4th)
05-06 Jonathan Cheechoo 17.7 (7th)
03-04 Rick Nash 15.2 (7th)
Ilya Kovalchuk 12.0 (1st)
Jarome Iginla 15.5 (9th)
02-03 Milan Hejduk 20.5 (28th)
01-02 Jarome Iginla 16.7 (4th)
00-01 Pavel Bure 15.4 (1st)
99-00 Pavel Bure 16.1 (1st)
98-99 Teemu Selanne 16.7 (10th)
97-98 Teemu Selanne 19.4 (8th)
Peter Bondra 18.3 (5th)

There might, JUST MIGHT, be some correlation between high shot percentages and low shot totals. I don’t know. The evidence is shaky.

When you score a lot of goals and have a high shot percentage, it’s because you’re taking quality shots. IF YOU THROW EVERY PUCK AT THE NET YES YOU WILL SCORE MORE GOALS BUT YOUR SHOT PERCENTAGE WILL DECREASE AND YOU WILL BE SERGEI BEREZIN NOT SERGEI KOSTITSYN.

If I take one shot and it goes in that doesn't mean if I keep shooting I'll end up with a scenario where # of shots=# of goals. I'm not Mr. Perfect.

But what do I know? I never played in the NHL like Rotowire. Sergei Kostitsyn might just have a really accurate shot and he needs to unleash!

Feb 7 LW Sergei Kostitsyn scored a goal off a skate deflection in the second period. He has 15 points in his last 16 games.


Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Soggy Depends® Sports News of the Hoary Type

The 36 year old Evgeni Nabokov recently became the 26th tender to hit the 300 win marker and described it in his words as "Awesome." This is a milestone that the 35 year old Miikka Kiprusoff will be going after tonight against San Jose. Without a doubt in my mind, both of these men pee a little when they sneeze.

Speaking of hip surgery, Lleyton Hewitt, 30, and a dinosaur, according to tennis god Brad Gilbert, is going to be making his 32nd appearance for Australia in the Fed Cup against China. This will equal the mark set by FORMER world No. 19 Todd Woodbridge, 40, who retired due to the invention of the tennis ball.

Coming back to hockey, in his last start and loss on Feb. 7 to the LA Kings, Dwayne Roloson, 42, learned modern day hockey pucks are made of vulcanized rubber, not wood, as previously used in the late 1800s when he earned his last shutout. Expect a resurgence in fantasy relevance.

P.S. Gordie Howe still has dementia.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Nitpicking a Nitpicker.

HOLD ON, guys. I have breaking news: Sam Gagner recorded 4 goals and 4 assists against the Blackhawks on Thursday. Gagner's eight points bring him into a tie with Brett Gretzky and Starbucks Coffey for the franchise record for points in a single game. Isn't that impressive? Isn't it more impressive that I'm the first internet writer to report this awesome offensive performance? Fuck, man, I rule.

Okay, never mind, I far from rule. Sam has suddenly become the talk of the hockey world after this performance, though. Can he put together career season after putting up 11 points in his last two games? With his heightened trade value, should Edmonton consider shipping him for who would immediately become their best defenseman? Does Dave still enforce a curfew upon him?

But, again, HOLD ON, guys. I'm not sure how this happened, but the doorman accidentally allowed Buzz Killington into the party.

It was one for the ages to be sure. Too bad it should never have happened.

Is this because Reptar on Ice was originally scheduled for that evening? That would have been a show for the (early 20-somethings) ages, too.

That’s because even though Gagner was credited with eight points in the game, he should have only earned seven. Don’t believe me? Watch the replay of the Oilers third goal of the game, the one scored by defenseman Ryan Whitney.

Don't believe you? It's not so much about believing you, but whether I actually give a shit. You post this article four days after the game, way beyond the allowed time for the league to make any official scoring changes. At this point, why even write about it? Oh well. Keep trying to convince me, Kenny.

Gagner gains the Chicago Blackhawks zone with speed and cuts to the middle of the slot. That’s when Blackhawks defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson knocks the puck off his stick. Then David Bolland of the Blackhawks pounces on the loose puck and tries to clear the zone. But he fails to do so and the puck ends up on Whitney’s stick before the Oilers defenseman blasts it from the blueline past Chicago goalie Corey Crawford.

Dave Bolland, jungle panther, attempts to pounce upon the puck, only to get distracted by a laser pointer being shined upon Ryan Jones' back. You call it pouncing, which could indicate possession (perhaps some playful biting and scratching, as well) but I see a desperate attempt to clear the puck, which I've never considered to be possession.

Any way you look at it, there’s no way Gagner deserves an assist on that goal. Two Blackhawks touched the puck between Gagner and Whitney, with Bolland clearly having the puck on his stick before committing the giveaway. That goes against rule 33.2 which governs goals and assists, which says: “An assist is awarded to the player or players (maximum two) who touches the puck prior to the goal scorer, provided no defender plays or possesses the puck in between.” (Italics mine.)

This is where it gets a little tricky, and I can (faintly) understand why Campbell feels this way. From what I've learned and always known through watching hockey, playing the puck and possessing the puck are the same damn thing. To commit either actions would mean said player must have full control over the puck. If Bolland were able to cradle the puck and stick-handle, that would be possession. If Hjalmarsson controlled the puck, rather than getting a piece of it on his one-handed stick-check, that would be playing the puck. Since Bolland was able to get two hands on his stick and attempt to dump the puck, Campbell assumes that Chicago controlled the play. It's close, but Bolland didn't establish control on that play. Sven, Dacque, Marbles; would anyone care to attempt to validate my claim? I need at least eight people to agree with me, although Campbell would probably mistake Dacque to be a Sedin, which would mean that he isn't human, but a hockey robot incapable of forming opinions. Then I'd only have seven people agreeing with me, which isn't special at all.

Despite that, Gagner was awarded an assist on the ice by the referee, but that’s not where the mistake was made. Every goal scored in the NHL is reviewed by the official scorer, who would have had plenty of opportunity to watch the replay before coming up with the official scoring play. How anyone could see a goal under those circumstances and still award an assist to Gagner is beyond comprehension. In fact, it’s right in the same rule that the official scorer’s duties and responsibilities are spelled out. The rule also reads: “The official scorer shall award the points for the goals and assists and his decision shall be final. The official scorer shall use the video goal judge system to verify the proper awarding of goals and assists.”

If the official scorer awarded Gagner with an assist on that play, then it's the right call. It was the same call on the ice, as well. Why does this matter so much to you, Ken? Do you truly care about the legitimacy of Gretzky and Coffey's shared record, or were you just trying to crank out another fresh article before lunchtime? So far, with two referees and an official scorer on my side, I'm up to three people who agree with me. Fuck yes!

Need more evidence? Actually it was provided in a game that was played that very same night. In the Dallas Stars 5-2 loss to the San Jose Sharks, Stars defenseman Trevor Daley makes a long pass to Steve Ott, which bounces off Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle before coming back to Ott, who shoots it in the net. Daley was not awarded an assist on that play.

This is where I'd like to thank Nicholas Monak for renewing his account this season. All I had to do was watch the replay for Ott's goal (so conveniently omitted from the highlight provided by Ken) to see that Dan Boyle shot this puck into his own net. Need more evidence?

(You are gazing into the pixels of proper criticism)

Commentary from that replay:

"(Ott)'s going to come up and he's going to beat Dan Boyle, and Dan Boyle shoots this puck into his own net."

While I couldn't find this spelled out for us in Rule 78 (Goals), I'm slightly certain that there are no assists awarded for own goals. Dan Boyle didn't even pass it to anyone first, that selfish fuck. Anyway, Daley didn't receive an assist and that was, again, the right call by the official scorer. Are we done yet, Mr. Campbell?

Go ahead, accuse us of being nitpickers and killjoys here, but this was a franchise record-tying event we’re talking about. Of course, the official scorer had no way of knowing things would turn out the way they did when the third goal was scored, but when you watch the replay there’s still no excuse for awarding Gagner an assist. (A long-time NHL observer came to precisely the same conclusion when he reviewed the goal, by the way.)

Oh yeah? Who was it? Nick Kypreos? PJ Stock? Bryan Berard? Yourself? I have no idea what you mean by "A long-time NHL observer". I've "observed" the NHL for almost twenty years, so perhaps I know a thing or three. Also, even if the official scorer had some way of knowing about the outcome of that game beforehand, it wouldn't have made a difference. I expect that he reviewed the play with proper understanding of rule 33.2, thus designating the correct award of an assist to Gagner.

Since the official scorer’s decision is final, there’s no way the assist can be taken away from Gagner, nor should it at this point. After all, players have scored at least eight points in a game 13 times previously in NHL history and there’s a chance they could have received phantom points as well. Wayne Gretzky scored eight points on two occasions in the 1983-84 season and the joke around the league then was that Gretzky received an assist for every goal scored in Alberta.

Yet, you still decided to write an article about it. If fans, official scorers, and "observers" were fine with occasional phantom points back then, it shouldn't be a catastrophe if one is awarded now. Regardless, there were no phantom points on that play. Sam Gagner earned eight points that evening. I'm happy for him, as you should be, too (and if not, then you just shouldn't care).

But had the points on that goal been properly awarded in the first place using video technology the league has embraced, there would be no reason to point it out because Gagner would have finished the evening with seven points.

Poor Trevor Daley.

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