Wednesday, January 03, 2007


"..I've always known that it was going to take years..."

Wow. I've been real, real skeptical of the received wisdom that the NW Division is close top to bottom, and that it'll come down to the last week. I still think it's more likely than not that a team will pull away, and that a team will plummet, but hey, maybe I'm the idiot. The next closest division top-to-bottom is the SE, where ATL leads FLA by 8.5.

Vancouver looks pretty good, much better than I thought they were after the mid-November Flames comeback at GM Place. They deserved to win the game tonight. I still don't respect Minnesota as a genuine May threat, but how can you dismiss a team that's 17-4-1 at home? Colorado should fall off the cliff one of these years, right? -- except that most of the numbers say that they've probably been underachieving in the standings relative to their underlying numbers (i.e. they've probably been unlucky, and that don't last). And, Edmonton. This is a whole post, surely, but they won the WC last year, and most of the roster & contract moves they've made -- you know, except for the biggest one -- indicate that the plan is to do it again sooner rather than later.

It's crazy, and I don't know what to make of it. A 1-1/2 game spread halfway through the season is just... crazy. Anyway, I finally figured out what the (or, my) problem is with Roger Millions. If I forget to write about it in the next couple of days, remind me.

Also, the refs/league/standards did only about a 50% job of killing what was otherwise an intense and exciting game. I understand the arguments about the slippery slope, and needing a firm standard, but tonight's game objectively would have been better if Magoo and the other guy had let them play. And let me get in my monthly "Tom's right" here:
"We would rather have a missed call than a phantom call. I can tell you that I know the people in the league responsible for overseeing the officiating feel the same way. I know that for a fact." [-- Brendan Shanahan]

This is clearly not a fact. If it was so, we would not have a zillion phantom calls. We would not get a call every time a stick bounces up into a midsection or a hand comes off a stick. [-- TB]

Tom's right! I believe Shanahan about the intent of the Competition Committee, but that is not reality. Sure, maybe wisdom and fairness dictate that it's better to have 10 guilty men go free than one hang in error, but Blackstone didn't have to read stories about how "the reputation of the courts would be shot" if that actually happened.

I could be persuaded otherwise, though. If Shanahan could just have Gary Bettman, Colin Campbell, or Stephen Walkom say (in public) that a missed call is preferable to a phantom call, and outline the obvious reasons why, I promise that a sincere apology will follow shortly thereafter. Bill Walton, once more with feeling:
This is a game, played by men, for the ultimate prize.

Even though the NHL was never perfect, and Walton was (duh) talking about the NBA Championship, this line always seemed best suited for the Stanley Cup. I sure hope it stays that way.

UPDATE: In the comments, Kinger has pointed out that my "chart" is wrong because "the NHL doesn't use MLB style standings". I regret the error. Also, I am compelled to direct you to Kinger's rigorous study demonstrating quite clearly that "Kiprusoff makes a bad team look good". Apparently the Flames are quite an outlier in that they are extremely successful when they allow very few goals, but lose most of their games when they allow a lot of goals. I have written at length on this site that I believe the Flames are good; I regret the error.

Lastly, I realize thanks to Kinger's amusement that the Canucks have not been playing well. The truth is, they have beaten the Flames 3-1, 3-1, 6-5OT, and 3-2 -- and beaten the Oilers 6-2 -- due to some sort of witchcraft imbalance of bodily humours. I regret the error.


Hey Matt, there is something wrong with your chart. Somehow you have Calgary on top of the division, when both Vancouver and Minnesota are ahead of them. I know it's nice to be on top, but the NHL doesn't use MLB style standings.

I also found your praise of the Canucks rather amusing. Funny how they've gotten so much better now that the Flames have dropped three in a row against them.

Edit: 4 in a row...ouch.

I sure don't trust any Canuck lead against the Flames. Thankfully the Canucks didn't "wake up" Iginla tonight like they have in the past :-)

Even though the Canucks are 4-0 against you this year, each of the games has been pretty competitive and relatively exciting. It could just as easily be 4-0 Flames.

It's match-ups like these that almost make me happy for the 8-game inter-division schedule.


An update dedicated to me, complete with praise for my Kiprusoff post! Thanks Matt, I feel so special!

PS: The Canucks are 6-3 in their last 9, and 4 of the 6 victories have came against the Flames.

So, against everyone but the Flames, the Canucks are 2-3 in their last 5.

RED HOT!!1!1!!one!11

So, against everyone but the Flames, the Canucks are 2-3 in their last 5.

That may be so, but two of those three loses came against non-division opponents.
Silver cloud in the dark lining? You betcha!
It's important to get as many points as you can playing division opponents, even more so in the crazy Northwest. The Flames have not exactly been playing bad. In December they went 8-2 if you do not include those four games against Vancouver. In fact, one of their wins came against the Canucks... (I was wrong about being 4-0, the Nucks are actually 4-2!) oh, and then there was that rather impressive victory against the Oil.

As a Canucks fan, I'm a lot more worried about the Flames than I am about the "New and Improved Nedved-led Oilers". :-)

I finally figured out what the (or, my) problem is with Roger Millions.

Singular? Really?

Singular? Really?

He's breathing.

As a Canucks fan, I'm a lot more worried about the Flames than I am about the "New and Improved Nedved-led Oilers". :-)

Well, as an Oilers fan, I'm a lot more worried about the Flames than I am about the New and Improved Naslund-led Canucks. So we're even in that regard.

I'm not even sure why you gave this Kinger fellow the benefit of a response, MF.

That post on Kiprusoff on Kinger's site is hilarious.

Kinger - if you're younger than 13, I apologize. If you're older than that, you're an idiot.

Grabia is running away with his first round Hot Oil Matchup.

On fire, Matt. Your killing today. I hope the NHL adopts GBL. It drives me nuts to hear that Edmonton (say) is in first place by a point and then you look and realize somebody else has 3 games in hand. Unless this is MLB, it's 1981, the Chicago White Sox open their stupid yaps, and Cincinnati is not given the opportunity to play as many games as the Dodgers, those games have to be completed; therefore, "first place" is a dubious concept. Of course, it would require the NHL to adopt a clean concept of W-L, and I fear I won't live that long.

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