Thursday, December 14, 2006


Flames Game Day

The Flames kick off their 6-games-in-10-nights road trip tonight in Vancouver against the Canucks (8PM MT, Flames PPV). Again, it's 6 games, not one, so I'm not looking at tonight's game in particular as must-win, but clearly I'm hoping to see Results. Out of 12 points, here's how I figure I'll assess this road trip:
Some miscellany from around TEH INTARWEB:

**Eric Francis had a No Shit! piece on Theo Fleury in the Sun on Tuesday. Theo is running a concrete coatings biz in Calgary. Nut graf:
Although the NHL is now better suited to smaller, faster players, the 5-ft. 6-in. agitator is disgusted by the sanitized version of the game.

"I don't see the game as being fun -- you don't have to get your nose dirty any more," said Fleury.

"You can't be a (jerk) on the ice because there are two officials and 12 guys in Toronto watching every move you make. For a guy like me, I needed that aspect of my game to be effective. The craziness, the intimidation, the unpredictability -- there's no more of that in the game. They've taken personality right out."

I love Fleury, but I am not endorsing his judgement per se. To borrow a phrase, he's still living in a Boys' Own rocket-ship adventure of the mind:
"I know I was a great player, probably one of the top-10 guys that ever played the game. Creative. Electrifying. All that stuff. Yeah, I could have worked harder but I was extremely talented. If I had taken care of myself, I probably could have been better."

What a guy.

**Yesterday I linked to The Forechecker's breakdown of Goal Prevention. It's great stuff, same idea as what Tyler was doing last year with xGA, xSV%, etc.. Basically, the idea is that your team's defense can be broken down into 3 elements relative to the rest of the NHL, all 3 of which will impact GA.
  1. Does your team allow more or fewer total shots than average?
  2. Is the Quality of the shots allowed better or worse than average (Quality being a function of (A) distance from the net and (B) if I understand it correctly, slap/wrist/backhand)?
  3. Does your goaltender stop more or fewer shots than average?
It's very illuminating. The data on the Flames confirmed my own-eyes suspicion: while the allow an average number of shots, they are #1 in Shot Quality Against, and then on top of that Kipper stops a bunch more than average. The Oilers, however, kind of surprised me. They also allow an average number of shots, but are #2 in SQA (maybe they don't need to upgrade the D!), plus Roli is stopping a few extra, which is why they're 7th in the NHL in GAA.

Combining SA and SQA gives you Expected Goals Against, about the best goalie-independent stat on defense you could imagine. The top 3 are DET, DAL, & NJD -- no surprise. CGY is 5th, EDM is 8th. 4th? The freaking L.A. Kings. How bad is your goaltending when your xGA is 4th in the NHL but your actual GA is 26th? Very, very, very bad. The Lightning, who seem like they should be better that 13th in the EC, are also getting torched by this measure.

The goalie who's saving his team the greatest number of goals per game? One Monsieur J-S Giguere. Giggy, Teemu, and 18 guys named Duane? Well, no -- but a slump by (or injury to) Giguere would hurt the Ducks more than I think most people realize.

**That whole defensive breakdown and analysis is somewhat intuitive to semi-serious fans, I think. The offensive one is a bit tougher to get your head around, by which I mean not only is it tougher to reconcile with your biases, but it's tougher to draw conclusions from.

The Oil illustrates this difficulty quite well, I think. By the Forechecker's numbers:
So, for the season to date, the numbers say that the Oilers are not getting enough pucks on the net, nor are they doing it a manner that would promote a lot of scoring, but they are shooting very accurately -- bumping them from 29th to 19th in scoring.

That said, I don't know what that really means. I'd love to think that the high Shoot% is in large part luck, and that if anything the Vaunt will suffer even more... but it could be that the Shoot% is an accurate reflection of their forwards' ability to beat goalies, and that once they start "playing better" (creating better scoring chances, or acquire a D-man who knows how to initiate a breakout, or whatever), their GF/Game will surge upwards. [shrug]

**Tyler has a follow-up to my post yesterday about the discrepancy in home-ice advantage between the two conferences. Yeah, it's hard to explain, but apparently it's not a fluke: it's pretty persistent year-to-year. The likely reason has got to be Travel, doesn't it? Meaning, the relevant concept is not actually Home Ice Advantage but Road Ice Disadvantage: the greater HIA we see in the West is basically a mirage created by the fact that it's much more likely that they're hosting a team on a road trip than a team in the East (who are more likely to be hosting a team that's just there for the evening or night).

I dunno. If I get some energy, I might look for some clues in MLB and the NBA.

**Alert readers may recall that in my season preview, I predicted Sidney Crosby would win the Hart Trophy. Having watched parts of last night's game on TSN, all I have to say is that if he drags that sorry crew into the playoffs, he'll deserve it.

How are otherwise-reasonable Caps bloggers reacting to Sid's 6-point night, I wonder? Hmm... as of noon MT, Eric doesn't have his usual roundup/Man of the Night post up... neither does J.P. -- busy day in the District, I assume? It's not like they're usually sensitive about data points that might possibly maybe suggest that Crosby's a better player than the Ocho. [Disclaimer: I kid. I have no horse in this race, and do not know or care which one's better.]

**Game prediction: Calgary 2, Vancouver 1 -- Amonte in regulation, Iginla extends his goal scoring streak to 7 in OT. Go Flames.


I know I was a great player, probably one of the top-10 guys that ever played the game.

Does he mean inch for inch?

He must. He was dynamite, but that's ridiculous.

The Over/Under on ES goals for this game might be 1.

You want the reason why LA is doing so poorly relative to their EGA?

Three words:

Dan fucking Cloutier.

How the HELL did they give him a two-year contract? He's going off to Conklinland after this contract is up. Hell, LA is in rebuilding mode anyways, they should buy his ass out this summer and save themselves a year of viewing misery.

Oh, and Fleury's "top ten" quote indicates to me that he's back on the sauce.

Oh, and FWIW, the Flames will go 3-2-1 on this roadtrip.

Dan Cloutier; If I was a Canuck fan, I'd weep over the lost opportunity that team had when Nazzy and Bert were actually doing something and Jovo was a net plus and not a minus. I thought it was criminal how they blew their window on a second rate goalie who, for some reason, the coach loved because he was 'competitive'?! But everyone in 'Couver said, "goaltending isn't the problem". Goaltending isn't always the problem but it is always the solution.

As much as I hate the Vancouver Canucks, I'll say it:

That team SHOULD have made the Cup final in 2003. Plain and simple.

When Theo was a Flame he was one of my most favoritest players ever. A week after he was gone, I hated him as much as anyone ever hates a hockey player.

He always had a pretty exagerrated view of his own importance. And he screwed up his gift. There's about 50 Flames numbers I'd like to see retired before his.

Oh, and Go Flames tonight.

As much as I hate the Vancouver Canucks, I'll say it: That team SHOULD have made the Cup final in 2003. Plain and simple.

I'll call bullshit. Detroit should have made the '03 cup final, not the stupid Nucks. Play those playoffs 100 more times and I'm guessing Detroit's cup champ most of the time.

I can sorta believe the Oilers would rank that high in that particular metric. As good as Roli's been, there have also been games where the Oilers have essentially pitched a shutout. Off the top of my head I can name games like the first one vs the Flames, HNIC win vs the Caps and the win vs Car. The Oilers can be the best in the biz at keeping guys out of the slot and the vast majority of shots to the outside.

I know I was a great player, probably one of the top-10 guys that ever played the game... Alberta Senior AAA, Chinook League. The Horse Lake Thunder haven't been the same since he left.

Flames 4-1...Hamrlik, Lombardi, Kobasew, Iginla

Hey, uhm, doesn't that other Alberta team play tonight too?

Or have the Oil fans already given up on the rest of the season?

Go Flames!

Interesting post!

So, for the season to date, the numbers say that the Oilers are not getting enough pucks on the net, nor are they doing it a manner that would promote a lot of scoring, but they are shooting very accurately -- bumping them from 29th to 19th in scoring.

If those numbers have weight it's a scary thought. If this is the Oiler's offence while it's lucky then I'm a little worried for the future. Granted, missing 3 of your top 9 has got to be a bitch...

I wonder though if there could possibly be a hockey reason for it? Again, assuming the numbers hold some truth to them... it would be fun if bloody unlikely to believe that, say, the discrepancy comes from #94 significantly increasing the effectiveness of long-distance shots because he's always in front of the net.

At this point re: my understanding of those offenseive numbers it's all fluff but it's interesting fluff IMO.

Has anybody else mentioned how Nashville's current record has been built largely on the road? They got a shit load of home games ahead.

I agree, the results of the offensive analysis aren't nearly as clear as the defensive ones. Perhaps the variance in shooting percentage has more to do with the quality of opposing goaltenders, particularly in light of the unbalanced schedule?

I dunno, got a lot more head-scratching to do on that one...

Lombardi: WOW!

2-1 Van City and the Oil win. You bitches might want to reconsider the NW Division Championship Parade that you're clearly teetering on the edge of planning.

Don't usually post on the Flames Game Day posts, but I want to congratulate Grabia on his masterful ploy to skip the game-day-preview entirely.

Matt Greene scores his first of the year, on what would have been the goal of the game.

Would have been if not for Horcoff showing the he-only-scores-on-umpteen-bounces crowd by literally scoring a goal all by himself.

My hat is off to you, Oilers blogger.

Regarding Crosby.... not to take anything away from his achievement, but he played against an AHL team last night. Philly is absolutely horrible. Defense is not even a word they recognize as belonging in the english language, and their goaltending would be better if they just turned the net around and had opposing teams bank off the boards.


Let's go 'Nucks!

uh oh Flamers...looks like the Oilers brought some vaunt tonight;)

Will the Flames road suction continue unabated???

Uh, go Dys?

Turns out the Flames still have to actually WIN before they take first place in the standings.

You bitches

Uhh, Snoop Crutchey Crutch, your pimpmobile is double parked. (fo shizzle)

So much for the Flaming Vaunt.

You gotta love those hockey gods and their timing. Just as Matt was laying on the hubris thick and heavy, the Flames dump one in Vancouver and the Oilers win. I love it.

I used to think the blog posts were pretty interesting...but holy hell is it amusing to read these comments and observing Flames and Oil fans have at each other.

[Used to seeing Sens and Leafs fans have at each other...and let's just say it's not so much semi-witty banter as expletive laced 'my-daddy-can-beat-up-your-daddy' tirades.]

Go Canucks Go!

Naslund > Iginla
Luongo > Kipper


/end drunken idiocy

As an Oilers fan, I ascairred. What will WE DO with this new-found Flames offense? Seriously, I haven't slept a wink all night. Lordy.

If the McCarty line doesn't get you then the Friesen line will.

it's good to be the oil kings of the north west.

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