Thursday, April 05, 2007


Flames Game Day

Clinch Night? The Flames are in San Jose to take on the Sharks (830PM MT, RSN West), while the Avalanche are in Vancouver. The Canucks can clinch the NW Division and eliminate the Avs with a win, or the Flames can TCB on their own with a win.

The Sharks, like seemingly every team in the top half of the WC, are pretty hot lately; they have one regulation loss in the past month -- a comeback that fell just short in Carolina. They've won 6 home games in a row -- all in regulation, by a combined score of 26-6, no less! -- but all 6 were against the five teams at the bottom of the West that are currently jostling for lottery position.

A couple of game stories have noted that the Flames' recent regular season record in the Shark Tank is dismal, but I wouldn't call that probative (style tip to Razor): counting the '04 playoffs, I have the Flames as 4-1-1 in their past 6 there. Also, maybe you heard: the Flames have a 4-game road winning streak going...

Since this is the last Sportsnet Flames broadcast of the year, and since I won't be watching the PPV on Sunday night since the game will be meaningless [hold on a minute while I find some wood to touch... OK, I'm back], I thought I'd take this opportunity to rant a bit about Roger Millions.

Actually that's slightly unfair, because the criticism that follows applies to almost all play-by-play and colour guys in varying degrees. I'm also a bit sympathetic -- I'm glad that I don't have their job, or that of a beat reporter. But: Tuesday's broadcast was simply terrible, and I'm not referring to the usual PPV delights like soft and/or pointless email questions, lame polls, achingly boring featurettes, etc..

It was annoying, and it was frustrating. The theme for the night was intensity. Anytime the Flames had a bad shift or two, they needed to play with more intensity; anytime they had a good shift or two, they really increased their intensity there. A guy loses a puck battle? "He needs to come into those battles with more intensity." Wins a puck battle? "He's really competing with a lot of intensity!"

There is no question that effort is important in a professional hockey game in April, as is making smart plays with the puck (focus!). But the acknowledgement of these facts has to be balanced somewhat -- surely -- by acknowledging some other things:

1) The game is being played by two teams; the other guys really want to win, too; and their intensity has some bearing on the outcome.

2) It is a game of percentages, and small margins. Gordie Howe in his prime didn't win possession of the puck along the boards 100% of the time. Not 90%, 80%, or 70% either. In 26 NHL seasons, that's a lot of lost puck battles -- and they weren't always because he didn't want it enough that time.

- The best faceoff team in the league wins them 53.5% of the time; the worst, 47%. I have no doubt that if "puck battles" were reliably measured and recorded, that spread would be about the same. That 6% difference, over the long run, will make a big difference in the number of scoring chances (and goals) that a team creates, and allows. But it's just nutty to look at individual events as having cosmic significance in terms of desire. (Or would you have me believe that Rod Brind'Amour hasn't competed hard enough on the faceoff dot 814 times this year, and counting.)

So that's what's annoying. When the Iginla line applies major pressure on one shift, and then is hemmed in on the next shift, it's simply ludicrous to attribute both results to their intensity level. Ludicrous, and obviously false. For a broadcaster to do so clearly demonstrates that he is using the success of a shift as the determiner for intensity level, and not the other way around... which makes his assessment of intensity pretty meaningless.

What's frustrating is this: I don't know what I'd talk about instead. You can't fill up 3 hours of air time with "That's hockey... it's a 51/49 game... missing the net with 6 shots in a row is essentially random, and nothing else... doesn't matter how good they look on the powerplay, going 3-for-5 is lucky; they could be just as prepared and try just as hard tomorrow and go 0-for-7..." etcetera.

I suppose this isn't to let Millions and Simmer quite off the hook, though. You could always just stick with "describing the action", that seems to work for Jim Hughson. Mistakes are still mistakes, some are worse than others, some more costly. But micro-interpreting every event as a function of intensity is not at all illuminating -- it's incorrect.

Calgary wins 3-2; Colorado loses 5-0; prep for Detroit begins in earnest. Go Flames.


You could always just stick with "describing the action", that seems to work for Jim Hughson

That's exactly it. Millions, not a former NHL player, constantly sounds like he's lecturing the hockey players on what's wrong. Just call the game — it's what you're there for, and it's why Hughson is so good.

Alright, so it looks like the faint hope the boys had of catching Minnesota has completely evaporated (the Wild shut out the greasers 3-0 tonight)...

Did not expect to see McLennan in neet tonight, but he sesems to be holding up alright considering how badly the boys are being outshot...

Now if the Flames pull of the victory tonight, my confidence will be fully restored heading into the playoffs...

Seriously, Noodles when we need the points this badly (well, I guess using him on Sunday night still needing the W would be a lot worse)?

Go Flames!

Well, the refs suck again tonight, but at least they're sucking equally for both teams. I can live with that.

It was nice to see the end to end play there around the 15 minute mark during the brief period when neither team was in the box. I think the Flames could win that game. I don't think they have much chance in a special teams game against SJ. Here's hoping they can stay out of the box the rest of the way.

Its almost like the refs are in a competition to see who can get out of reffing the playoffs...

Shit! The Sharks just scored...

Not like anybody will notice, but the remember early in the season when Stinktown was lauding their offense, the vaunted offense? Sure they'd have problems with the D till Lowe made a great move to steal a puck moving fiend. As of today the 'vaunt are the worst team in the league in Goals For. Get ready Edmonton; this team is going to miss the playoffs for years.

2-0 now...

So is it Noodles or Kipper in net? CBS Sportsline says McLennan, but they keep on saying Kiprusoff on the radio...

I think we all remember the talk of 'the vaunt'...

Although they totally misrepresented the reference to it in the BofA glossary...

The Edmonton offence has been vauntless all season...

Huselius scores!!!

2-1 for the bad guys still though...

Vancouver sucks, Colorado is leading 3-1 near the end of the third period...

I'd be a lot more comfotable if the boys were to score a goal to start the third...

And seriously, who's in net for the road team tonight?

Go Flames Go... ?

It's definitely Kipper. But this is definitely not looking good right now. Flames are killing off an undisciplined Friesen penalty, and don't seem to have the finish. Who's our Hejduk? Who?

Grier? That was a fuckin' softie. I really didn't want Saturday's game to mean anything, but it's sure looking like it's going to.


Maybe Nashville can lay a pounding to the Avalanche to start off their game, so the battle of Alberta for Saturday will be essentially insignificant before the puck drops...

4-3, Jarome is taking over this game by himself...

Let's go boys, get the game tied up this time!!!

Battle of Alberta! Bring it!

Crap, too little too late again...

Do the Flames honestly think they can play 6 good minutes and expect to win games in the playoffs? (yes, I still think they'll make it). When Hamrlik tried to dump the puck in there at the end and managed to somehow hit a Shark in the knee, that pretty much summed up the last 2 games. An inability to consistently execute very basic plays such as a dump in, or a zone clearing play is the Flames achilles heel this year. So hard to watch.

Anon said:, "As of today the 'vaunt are the worst team in the league in Goals For. Get ready Edmonton; this team is going to miss the playoffs for years."

Wasn't Calgary 3rd worst in GF last season...

But whatever, kick a blind, lame, half-dead homeless person while they're down.

I forgot that the Flames are so good that they've now resorted to having to beat THE WORST TEAM IN THE LEAGUE to clinch a playoff spot and avoid the supremely hot Colorado Avalanche. Good luck ;)


After the games last night, the Avs deserve the final playoff spot, and the Flames clearly don't. That doesn't mean Colorado will get it, but they're definitely playing more like a team that wants the Cup than the Flames are.

Saturday, this Avs fan is rooting for the Oilers all the way!

I think it's cute how Matt comes here and keeps begging and saying oh yeah it's clinch night tonight!!! Then on the other hand the Avs just won't fucking lose and it's just in the last two games the Flames figured out how to win on the road and would anyone, even the most blind of Flames fans, lay money on Cgy to actually be able to take out the Avs on Sunday night if need be?

I didn't think so.

Of course there's no fucking reason in the world that Calgary shouldn't stomp our asses on Sat night. For one thing we couldn't score on Kipper when we had everyone healthy so I can't imagine we'll pop more than one goal on him come Sat night.

That being said that shakes up as an elimination game for the Flames AFAIC. If Col beats Nsh and the Oilers somehow pull one out on the Flames then Calgary's done before they even get on the plane to Col. And speaking of Millions, do you think he's even allowed himself to consider the aforementioned possibility? I suspect he'll pull a Budd Dwyer if Edm takes out the Flames on sat night.

One last thing before I go. I just can't believe anyone would credit that douche Hughson. He's fine and dandy when the Canucks are dead and buried, like say R2 last year between Edm/SJ when he did great work, but if he's calling a game at the time of the year when Van's still alive, and especially if it's a game that might impact the Canucks standing, then he's nearly as bad as Bob Cole. I don't know about anyone else but his orgasmic calls of "Big Bert", "Nazzy" and the lustful way he says "The Twinsssss" are something I soon won't forget.

Hughson Is God.

Clearly the Flames didn't play with enough intensity last night.

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