Thursday, December 22, 2005


Olympian Oilers

The Oil only have three Olympians this time around. Smyth and Pronger for Canada, and Hemsky for the Czech Republic.

It is somewhat suprising that Dvorak was left of the Czech team -- especially considering how well he has played for them in the past -- including scoring a pretty huge overtime goal in the World Championship semi-final. I imagine his groin was a concern, but still . . .

The fantastic news (for Oilers fans) is that Jussi didn't get picked for the Finnish team.

The last time we sent a goalie to the Olympics he came back . . . altered.



But surely the bigger news is that the presumptive Finnish #1--a certain M. Kiprusoff--isn't going to Turin either.

Kiprusoff has inflammation of the hip and upon advice from doctors will use the period during the Olympics to help heal the injured area.

What's this now? "Inflammation" suggests that the doctors don't know the cause and can't treat the injury; it hints at a possibility of arthritis; and hips are hard to treat even when you do know what's going on. Plus I think we'll be seeing a little more of Phillippe "Not As Good As Bob" Sauve over the next few months. The only real question is, do you think Matt's worried yet?

Ask me once the real story comes out a bit more. The initial report I heard on the radio -- "Wants to let it heal in February, but in the meantime it won't affect his play or his workload" -- is self-evidently utter bullshit. He either needs more rest, or he doesn't. Clearly he believes it's (A) affecting his play, and (B) that the effect will get worse, not better, over time. That, in general, is bad news for Flames fans.

There is a glass-half-full-or-so way of looking at it, though, which you'll no doubt be surprised to learn is the way I'm leaning. I think Kipper plays too much, and Sauve needs to play more. This forces that to happen, or ought to.

A 3-week rest in February, plus a reduced workload (say two-thirds of games) until then and hopefully afterwards, equals a better Kipper come playoff time. That's my belief, anyway.

I'm guessing the Flames beat Vancouver tomorrow night; if they announce tomorrow morning that Flip Sauve will be starting for the Flames, I'm no less confident whatsoever (likely facing Maxime Ouellet doesn't hurt...).

P.S. everyone remembers that the Flames got it going last season after trading for Kipper ~15 games into the season. A lot fewer people remember that he missed 6 full weeks in midseason, after the Flames had scratched into a playoff position. They held that position, with Turek and Jamie McLennan splitting the goaltending duties.

Kipper is the Flames' best or 2nd-best player; he's not the whole team, regardless of what Chris! says.

Roman Turek's not walking through that door, son.

On the statistical evidence, if you replace Kiprusoff with an average goalie--i.e., someone significantly better than, say, Jussi Markkanen--you end up with a hypothetical team roughly equidistant in quality fom Phoenix and Columbus. I believe most objective observers outside Calgary would agree with this assessment. The question is how well Sauve can be expected to play--because, as you say, the official story on Kiprusoff is bullshit.

(Either way it's totally awesome that we are talking about this)

Poor Salo.

It amazes me that fans of a team populated by the likes of Ulanov and Cross and sporting a #1 center named "Horcoff" and 3 #2 (or worse) goaltenders casually toss out epithets regarding the Flames "roster of pluggers". "Hey kettle!" said the pot, "you sure a deep shade of black!"

madcrutch, you are doing some fine work, some fine work.

I've been meaning to ask you, a while back at HF I thought I remembered you pulling up some numbers reflecting the "toughness" of icetime (i.e., who is playing how many minutes against the other team's top lines), but I can't find it now.

79, I don't see why you would insist that it's 'goaltending' rather than 'defense' that the Flames bank on.

Even if you were to cite stats on Shots Allowed or something, which you haven't, I still wouldn't be convinced that Flames success depends on goaltending, rather than the team as a whole keeping the puck out of their own net. SV% is a good stat, but it's not definitive by any means.

That's awesome; do you have it posted on Teh Intarweb somewhere? Because it also begs some interesting other questions. For example, if Flames goalies are 30 points ahead of Oiler goalies on 9-13 foot shots, but even on (say) 30-35 foot shots, what does this mean? There's probably 8 ways I could think of to account for that, all of which might be wrong.

Like you say, it's tough to account for everything. And again, their are many elements that contribute to good goaltending. "Talent of the Goalie" is by far the most important one, but it's not the only one, and when you're talking about 3% being a major discrepancy, well, it gets tougher.

Thanks for the contributions and the data. Go Flames!

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