Friday, November 10, 2006


Flames streak-busting Game Night

The Flames host the 12-0-4 Anaheim Ducks tonight (730PM MST, RSN West), and it should be a goodie. As we all know by now, the Ducks set an NHL record last night in the 6-0 win over the Canucks by earning points in 16 straight games to open the season, passing the mighty '84/85 Oilers.

I understand the general case for new records under a new scoring system, but as it relates to this particular accomplishment -- which is Mighty impressive -- I think "apples to oranges" is stretching it a bit.

The Ducks have 9 regulation Wins, 1 OT Win, 1 OT Loss, 2 S/O Wins, and 3 S/O Losses. The OT Loss is a blemish, I suppose -- there was a period of time (~ '86 to '99?) when the OT losers got nothing. But, they played 5-on-5 then. Perhaps more relevantly, the OT loss was on a Jagr PP goal, and through that same era there's a terribly slim chance that the Francois Beauchemin gets a roughing penalty in the 4th period. I don't have much trouble saying that the Ducks are essentially 9-0-7.

Now, all that said: clearly the Ducks record flatters them a bit. Why no, I don't believe they're going to finish 61-0-21. Earl at the BoC has humbly pointed out their schedule advantages so far, most strikingly that they've only played 4 games to date against '06 playoffs teams, all of which have been at home. (And look at what comes next: home games vs. MIN, CHI, PHI, & PHX).

In other Ducks news (this one's for you Mirtle), perfectly nice player Scott Niedermayer continues to be substantially overrated. Buccigross:
Scott Niedermayer is the MVP of the NHL right now.

And the previous week:
This man is the best player in the NHL right now.

Here are the virtually identical TOI/Gm numbers for Niedermayer and another highly-regarded defenseman on his team (Total / ES / SH / PP):
Here are their basic stats:
I can't imagine I have to tell you which guy has been on for 2 more GA on the PK either. I'll resurrect what I wrote after G5/Rd1 last season, when Iginla was +4 and Niedermatador was -4:
If I could pick one defenseman in the league to retrieve a puck in my own end, under pressure, and get it out safely, I might well pick Niedermayer. The number of times he's confounded Flames forecheckers with a quick, accurate pass in an unexpected direction is pretty impressive. And, the offensive element to his game is clearly a big plus. But if I'm picking a defenseman to neutralize the other team's top line or top scorer, he's a long way down the list.

Numbers aren't everything, but they have to mean something: any explanation of why Niedermayer is more valuable than Pronger (leadership, competitiveness, "controlling the game", etc.) has to account for a difference of 10 goals on the scoresheet. I don't see why people like Butch can't acknowledge that he makes lots of mistakes.

Tonight's the night. Coming off a somewhat effortless big win is not the ideal mindset for playing the Flames at home. I'll guess Calgary scores a couple of early goals, and the 2nd and 3rd periods are fairly uneventful save for a late fight, as they scoot to a 4-1 Win. Go Flames.


I'd love to agree with you Matt, BUT with the Ducks powerplay and the Flames PK, I think we're lucky to get this to a shootout.

I don't understand the apples and oranges thing. I think the Oilers and Ducks achievements are the same.

In the history of NHL hockey, a team that has made it to the end of regulation time has always earned a single point. Even when overtime (and later, the shootout) was introduced, the loser always earned a point. The Oilers had the longest 'undefeated' streak at the start of a season, but never risked a loss in overtime or a shootout. But the achievement is the same, reaching the end of regulation time 15 (or 16) times in a row without losing.

In the 84-85 season when the Oilers had their run, games that were tied in regulation ended as ties. If that team had overtime or shootouts to decide games, it would probably have earned another point or two, but the 'unbeaten in regulation' streak would still have ended with a regulation loss in game 16.

In any case, the Ducks' streak is ending tonight, with a regulation loss in game 17.

Go Flames.

Re: Niedermayer vs. Pronger

I think you got it pegged pretty well, Matt. The scoring rates do not lie.

The only real caveat is I'm sure SN's defensive numbers would get a boost if he were paired with no-nonsense vet O'Donnell instead of big-hit Beauchemin, but that's pretty tough to quantify.

The main thing though (why Bucci and others are deceived) is that the eyes are so drawn to SN. Three times a game he's behind the opponents' net, then he flies back to beat the rush the other way.

SN's play is sexy, CP's play is brutally effective. Aw, but why even choose any more? That's a debate for yesteryear.

Both teams lose when the league ends the game after a 99 round shootout fails to decide a 0-0 tie.

The early Norris voting has Niedermayer and Pronger running No. 1 and 2... but you're right Matt — why Niedermayer is getting more of the pub than Pronger right now is beyond me. (GlobeSports' Trophy Tracker has Niedermayer up there in the Hart voting as well.)

Good post Matt, you're right I think. The closer you look at the numbers the clearer that becomes.

At 5on5 only: Pronger is +9 and -3.

He's playing the lion's share of the tough minutes as well, though as you say the Duck's schedule hasn't exactly been murderer's row.

As a point of reference (since even legally blind casual hockey fans surely notice that Carlyle jumps through hoops to avoid Teemu playing against good players and is hell bent on Pahlsson's line doing the heavy lifting whenever he can manage it)

Pronger's 5on5 numbers while on the ice with Teemu:
+0 and -0

And while on the ice with Sami:
+8 and -3

Damn, the guy is off to an incredible start. When you're outscoring the other team's best players at that clip, and you've got Teemu 'in the hole', as Dennis would say. Then you're going to win some games.

I'm an Oilers fan though. And I'll be cheering for Calgary tonight for the first time in memory.

And while on the ice with Sami:
+8 and -3

This will be strong ammunition for my new campaign:

to rename the Selke Trophy to the more appropriate Pahlsson Trophy

Right off the bat, kudos to Flames fans for boo-ing the Orbs formerly known as Power.

two goals already!

I can't believe I'm rooting so hard for the flames right now...but against the Ducks (formerly known as Mighty) whaddya gonna do?

I find the Flames to be a very heartwarming team right now. It's just touching to see Pronger being booed.

Yeah! Happy to be wrong in my prediction as the PK holds on. Matt, you're in the zone with these last few predictions.

The +4/+12 comparison is especially damning when set against the Ducks goal differential of +16 EV (before tonight). That means that there's about +80 to go around, split between 20-odd players. +4 is a very average performance indeed.

Rob is +6, by the way. I'm reminded of the play-by-play man's comment when Dino Baggio was substituted in the 1994 World Cup final: "They've substituted the wrong Baggio!"

Yup, no question that the Apostate is extraordinary. God I hate him.

Oh shit. The Flames are up to these tricks again?

Good game, ya damn Kipper.

You're starting to scare me with these near bulls-eye predicitons Matt.

Decent game tonight, though the Flames break-out still makes me want to pull my hair out. They need to figure out how to get possession of the puck a bit more rather than chasing it around the boards for most of the game.

That said, nice to see the PK is back on track. The PP however is another story...

I missed the first two goals and was chasing two jamfaced little'uns around for the rest, but looks like things are starting to align a little.

A few observations:

- Nice stickless shotblocking effort by Tanguay. I realize we're not paying him $5MM/year to flail at our own blueline, but at least it shows he's not mailing it in (all the time).

- PK got a couple of breaks, but overall held up better than their rating.

- Disturbing but appropriate boos for Pronger at every touch. Profoundly subtle indication of true Calgary loyalty - Edmonton licks grundle but don't take it outside the BofA. If Calgary ever had a key guy leave due to civic incompatibility, as has understandably happened to Edmonton regularly, I'd hope Oilfans would react the same way. Shit, we even booed Comrie.

- Miikka's baacckk

I'm glad the Flames won tonight.

There, I said it.

Not me. Fuck 'em. A-B-C, baby, no matter what the extenuating circumstances.

That was some sweet payback. Nice to see Bryzgalov get chased, even if it was about 6 months too late.

If I'd have been there, I'd have booed Pronger too.

Go Flames.

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