Friday, September 28, 2007

 

Good question, wrong answer

John Buccigross picks Calgary to finish 6th in the WC, and takes aim at Alex Tanguay:
...There is no excuse for Tanguay not to be a double-digit power-play scorer. Five power-play goals is unacceptable.

This is where Mike "3:10 to Lethbridge" Keenan can help with a confrontational preseason pep talk to Mr. Tanguay.

"Alex, you are gutless. You need to get in high-traffic areas and take a beating sometimes and score more power-play goals. You have plenty of quality padding and a Ford F-250 windshield across your face. You are hurting yourself, your teammates and your family name by your soft play. Now, get in there or I will call you out in the media and I will take away your ice time and your future earning power. You make $5.3 million a year and I have no idea why. You almost make as much as Martin St. Louis, who has 10 times your courage and conviction. Is this how you want to be remembered? Because that's how you will be remembered by everyone you've ever played with. [...]"

I basically agree with Butch's first two sentences there -- it's a mystery, and not the fun kind, why Tanguay isn't more productive on the PP. But the rest is a pretty outrageous drive-by slur, and, even minus the hyperbole and character assassination, at least 5 kinds of wrong.

1) Tanguay, as noted on this site ad nauseam, is an extremely productive player at even-strength. He led the Western Conference in EV Pts/60 (led the league amongst non-Sabres). As Butch is quite aware, generally a PP involves one fewer player on the ice, which is at least enough to make you think twice about whether "traffic" is Tanguay's problem on the PP.

2) Here are the 15 most productive forwards in the NHL last season, ranked by PP Pts/60 (min. 180 minutes):
SAKU KOIVU, SIDNEY CROSBY, JOE THORNTON, TEEMU SELANNE, MARIAN GABORIK, STEPHEN WEISS, PATRICK MARLEAU, MARC SAVARD, RYAN GETZLAF, JOZEF STUMPEL, MICHAEL RYDER, ANDREW BRUNETTE, PETER FORSBERG, KRISTIAN HUSELIUS, PAUL STASTNY

Your mileage may vary, but if I was looking for a common characteristic among these players, the first thing to mind would NOT be "guys most willing to head to the high traffic areas to take a beating".

3) I have never seen Tanguay shy away from contact. As noted in the playoffs, he was plenty physical.

4) I have never read anything from an ex-teammate calling Tanguay soft.

5) Tanguay is just an effing outstanding passer. Since he's not a flashy puckhandler, it's tough to appreciate, but really: he spent most of last season getting the puck in open ice to the only guy the opposition really cared about defending. He sees the ice and makes decisions exceedingly fast; he is the proverbial one step ahead. As such, it would be awfully tough to justify standing him in front of the net to take cross-checks as a sound PP strategy.

Considering how many words Butch has spent slobbering over what a unique and beautiful player Scott Niedermayer is, I'm actually pretty shocked that he's so down on Tanguay. This cat plays the game differently, and is bloody effective doing it.

Uh, except on the powerplay. Why is that? I don't know... maybe he's the hockey analogue to the basketball player who can exploit man-to-man defense but not zone. What I do know is that Buccigross' diagnosis, and his prescription, are way, way off.

PS: I have nothing bad to say about Martin ("Ten Times") St. Louis, but when you put EV and PP rates together, Tanguay is more productive. MSL's totals are higher because of (A) quite a bit more ice time (which I grant could demonstrate heart), and (B) a bunch of SH points on what was otherwise the 3rd-worst PK team in the NHL, which I'm pretty sure doesn't.

PPS: Also, Butch picks 4 NW teams to makes the playoffs, and in 2nd, 5th, 6th, and 7th no less. I think this is only mathematically possible if the Oil goes 0-32 in the Northwest, but he picked them 12th. (And used Barry Manilow to do it. Just saying.)

Comments:

Last season Philadelphia went: 4 W,20 L,1 OTW,7 OTL [17 Points] against their own division.
Atlantic had 4 in: 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th

Mathematically, due to the nature of the NHL point system (2 or 3 point games), almost anything is possible. However there are a number of things that are unlikely to occur.
 


I think the shames have more problems than people think. Tonight they put the full squad up against a Vancouver team minus the Sedins, Morrison, Naslund, Ohlund and Luongo and they can't even eek out a home win. And to think that Edmonton will do that bad against the NW is ridiculous because even in their slide last year the only games they won in the final 20 were ones against the NW division...Calgary and Colorado to be precise.

Let's GO Oilers..Calgary still sucks!!!!!!

Go Hemsky Go!!!
 


Buccigross is a moron who doesn't actually watch any hockey from the west. I can assure you that his conclusions regarding Tanguay's poor PP performance likely stem from an analysis the likes of: "Hmm low PP goals eh? He's French so he must be soft, let's have at 'er!"

Don't read him, just don't. Has he predicted Atlanta to win the cup yet? He's always been on the verge in years past.
 


Buccigross is a douche, I don't think he's ever written anything with any real subbstance.

I stopped reading him a long time ago. Right around the time I stumbled upon BoA and the rest of the Oilogosphere...
 


Buccigross is a douche, I don't think he's ever written anything with any real subbstance.

I concur.

He tries to make up for a lack of general hockey knowledge with use of a catchy theme for his season preview.

Pathetic. The only major US sports news service hockey writer worth reading is SI.com's Allan Muir. Darren Eliot, John Buccigross.....these guys are hacks.
 


Last season Philadelphia went: 4 W,20 L,1 OTW,7 OTL [17 Points] against their own division.
Atlantic had 4 in: 2nd, 5th, 6th, 8th


I think that pretty much proves Matt's point; one team would have to be ridiculously awful in division games for four clubs to get in.
 


If he used song lyrics once in a while, it would be an amusing device--but it is just annoying to get them all the time. Not everything in life has a soundtrack on your iPod, Bucci.

Has he predicted Atlanta to win the cup yet? He's always been on the verge in years past.

San Jose to win the conference this year, figuring they are out of excuses and have playoff experience now--although some of it involves folding like a cheap tent under adversity. I guess if you keep making the same pick over and over eventually it will be right, or you will get locked into a padded room.
 


That guy claims to watch a lot of hockey but it must all go over his head because he doesn't have a fucking clue.
 


People change and it's been a long time, but there are some interesting comments from Craig MacTavish on his days as a player in St. Louis with Mike Keenan coaching. From the Edmonton Journal:

In his final seasons, MacTavish watched his coaches all the more closely, looking for strategies that worked and recognizing ones that didn't, such as the way Mike Keenan, MacTavish's coach in New York and St. Louis, handled losing.

"His biggest weakness was his inability -- and it might be his biggest strength -- to rationalize defeat. ... It's hockey, and there are times as a team that you play well and you lose, and he had a hard time differentiating that from the times that you played poorly and lost."

A negative atmosphere would pervade, with the coach ripping into players. "I hated that as a player, just the negative energy, like everybody is walking on egg shells. You can't prepare for a game like that."
 


Interesting take on Keenan.

It reminds me about something I read regarding Bill Laimbeer and his demeanor as a basketball coach. He was know as a tough/abrasive/dirty player, but as a coach he isn't a screamer at all. He was asked about it in an interview, and said that screaming never impressed him as a player, because he wasn't a misbehaving child, but a grown man, and wanted to be spoken to like an adult. That's why he doesn't act psycotic as a coach. He sees his players as adults and professionals, and treats them accordingly.
 


"His biggest weakness was his inability -- and it might be his biggest strength -- to rationalize defeat. ... It's hockey, and there are times as a team that you play well and you lose, and he had a hard time differentiating that from the times that you played poorly and lost."

That's a great quote. Probably 95% of sports fans out there would do well to take this to heart. Sometimes it just isn't your day.
 


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