Friday, November 30, 2007


Tavares Watch, Day 330

"...he's got to be played very carefully—he's a big-bodied passenger, one who will neither be very useful in backchecking nor will be the catalyst in the offensive end. He's incredibly strong along the boards and somewhat capable with the puck, but in terms of his overall contribution, it is pretty reliant on his linemates' ability to do most of the skating, defense, and puckhandling for him, and is best utilized against pretty soft competition."

I know what you are thinking and no, Earl isn't talking about Georges Laraque. He's talking about Dustin Penner. In fact, I think a description of Le GG would be more favorable than the one above. What does this mean? It means Kevin Lowe should never be allowed to look at a Ducks roster card, should never be allowed to talk trade with them, shouldn't even be allowed to watch the Disney channel, as far as I'm concerned. Any time he picks up the phone to call them, any time he even mentions the words "Anaheim," "Ducks," "deal" and "good idea," electrical currents should flow into his testicles until he's been knocked unconscious. Kevin Lowe + Anaheim Ducks= Bad, bad news for Oilers fans.

Sooo, anyway...I watched the Flames/Ducks games last night. Three thoughts:

1) The Flames are not a good hockey club. And yes, this actually surprises me. I just assumed they'd wake up at some point this season, but twenty-five games in, they stink. Matt has this one covered.

2) Charlie Simmer really is incoherent. He said several things last night that left me dumbfounded. One was something about a train of track getting back on thought. My favorite was when he started talking about how valuable Jarome Iginla is to the community. Good point. I agree. Only one problem: the discussion was on whether or not Jarmoe would pass Theo Fleury and Al MacInnis on the Flames all-time points list. Stay on target, Charlie! Stay on target!!!

3) There is no bloody way JS Giguere is wearing legal goaltending equipment. No way. I complained about this all night. Sure enough, about half way through the game, Simmer and Millions brought it up. "Awesome," I said, "they are going to nail him." Wrong. What they talked about is how Giguere used to wear the big equipment, how the rules had been changed because of him, and how well he had adapted to the change in rules. All the while, I'm staring at a lacrosse goalie in the Ducks net. There is just no way he's legal. And if he is, the rules need to be changed again. He looked about four times the size of MK Superstar, and MK is 6' 2", 190 pounds. Watch the game tonight. Watch Giguere. I'm telling you. Illegal.

I'm out of commission for the weekend, so I'll pass everyone along to Covered in Oil. The new Oilogosphere drinking game is a fine place to start. Have a great weekend everyone. GOIL!!!


Did somebody mention rock bottom?

Luc Robitaille, described by Duhatschek as rising fast in the L.A. Kings front office, has been thinking outside the box on how to increase scoring:
“If you stick to what the rules are and call them all night – the more power plays there are, the more scoring chances there should be,” said Robitaille.

Super. You know, I'm going to ignore hockey for a while, until (at least) tomorrow night at 8. Bye.


Why yes, it IS panic time

*2005/06 Anaheim Ducks: 8-11-4 thru 23GP
*2005/06 San Jose Sharks: 8-12-4 thru 24GP
*2006/07 Ottawa Senators: 7-11-1 thru 19GP
This is the rather short list of teams post-lockout who have recovered from lousy starts to make the playoffs. It happens, but not very often.

Step 1, such as it is, is Stop Losing So Much. The Ducks didn't have any hyper-torrid streaks, but went 34-13-8 over the next 55 games to clinch playoffs. The Sharks and Sens actually took a while to get really good. The Sens went 10-7-0 over the next 17 to get up to 17-18-1, but then had a 40 game stretch where they only had 5 regulation losses. The Sharks went a good-but-not-Wow! 16-9-4 after acquiring Joe Thornton, but followed that with a 20-5-3 streak (in which Jonathan Cheechoo scored 24 goals) to seize a playoff berth.

Those are basically the two routes the Flames can go to make the playoffs (and note that there's ~ zero chance of being in the Top 8 before February). Either:
It really is that simple. Not easy, but simple.

Thursday, November 29, 2007


Flames Game Night: Stoppable Force meets Movable Object

Ducks @ Flames, 7PM MT, RSN West

Here is how I would describe how the Flames' season has gone so far, as distinct from explaining why:

They have lost games when they were the better team, but haven't won any when they were the lesser team. They have lost games because of outstanding goaltending at the other end, but haven't won any because of outstanding goaltending in their own end. They have lost games because they were killed on special teams, but haven't won any because they dominated in odd-man situations.

The Flames have problems, but they have also had some craptastic puck luck. I keep thinking back to the Wings game on Tuesday (where I'll grant they were probably outplayed, though marginally). I have plenty of respect for Datsyuk and his line -- and his two goals qualify as mistakes by Sarich, especially the first one -- but cripes: going into that game he had 5 goals and a 6.0% shooting percentage. What are the odds that he zings two in right below the crossbar?

Also, when I say the Flames have problems... the goaltending has been the biggest one. There's no way to hem and haw around it.
I hear radio callers wondering if maybe they're giving up fewer shots but better scoring chances, but in the absence of a really good explanation for how and why, I'm sticking with Occam's Razor.

As for tonight's game, the Ducks have some similar problems to the Flames. Both teams have abysmal PP%+PK%, which they then make worse by playing in penalty-filled games and taking more penalties (ANA 1st, CGY 2nd) than any other teams in the league. The only real difference so far is that the Ducks have made it through regulation more, and won some shootouts.

Earl is predicting a 24-2 Calgary victory. If only... I'll go for Calgary 3 (Boyd, Iginla, Phaneuf) Anaheim 0. Go Flames.


BoA's Wide World of Sports (Links)


• Jim Matheson on last night's stinker against the Avs

• Jim Matheson on the need to sign Gilbert Gilbert

• Jim Matheson on the imminent return of San Fernando and Mr. Glass

• David Staples with an Oilers quarterly report card


• Dan Barnes on a giant Stanley Cup

• The New York Times on Jonathan Tavares

• The New York Times on NHL Goal Judges

• The New York Times on blocking shots


• Joe Posnanski on Herschel Walker

• ESPN on Bo Jackson

• Sports Illustrated on Paul Allen

• The New York Times on Carl Pohlad

• Fire Joe Morgan on Torii Hunter

• The Sports Economist on unbalanced schedules and competitive balance

• Malcolm Gladwell on Kenyan runners

Oldies But Goodies

• Michael Lewis on NFL kickers

• The New Yorker on Scott Boras

• Slate on Sports Illustrated

• Joe Posnanski on Bo Jackson

Read any good sports stories lately? Drop a link in the comments section (but please, don't use it to spam/self-promote).

Wednesday, November 28, 2007


Oils, Avs: It's On

No, really. I mean it. Apparently it's on. Tonight. At 7:30. The 29th game against the Avalanche this season. I had no idea. Sorry. This is all you get: we win, we catch the Flames. We lose, we still suck. But that's what we all expected anyway. So it's really a no-lose scenario. Happy? Me too.

I did a short riff on Jesus Christ Superstar this morning. Just a couple lines at the end of a post. But now I'm thinking I could re-write the entire musical about Miikka Kiprusoff (trust me, thanks to a zealous aunt and uncle, I know every word off by heart). It's times like these that I really wish I was in control of the music at Rexall. I'd bust out this song every time MK Superstar let in a goal (which is about every 3.3 minutes right now).

Ahhhhh. I can see it. I can hear it. It. Is. Glorious. GOIL!!!


Misdirected anger

I suspect, though I'm not certain (I hope?), that I'm a somewhat typical hockey fan, in the sense of the highs and lows I go through watching my team play. More specifically, I find that my heart rate is highest, and I'm the twitchiest, when my team is losing a game that they could be winning.

Not deserve to be winning, necessarily, but could be winning. When that's the status of the game, the emotional impact of every little thing that happens on the ice is amplified three or fourfold. I find myself on my feet when the good guys are going north with numbers, and when something bad happens, I just burn.

I also find that when I'm in this, uh, state, two things that usually don't bother me too much suddenly become rather infuriating.

One is the reffing. It becomes unavoidable for me to starting doing the, "How can [that thing that the other guy just did] not be a penalty when he just called our guy for [doing something that didn't seem as bad] five minutes ago?" Last night it just ended up a bit off-balance, IMO... I'm not quite sure how to articulate this, but it was a situation where the final penalty tally didn't really reflect the balance of illegal/borderline plays. Or put another way, it was a pretty intense game with a fair bit of stickwork and near-dubious hits, and as a whole, I don't see how you could watch it and think the Flames cheated more than the Wings. (I should add that this reflects well on the Wings, i.e. aggressive enough to get me up in arms at times, but disciplined enough to stop just short of anything that would raise the ref's arm.)

The one specific question I do have is why Lilja didn't get an instigator penalty for going after Phaneuf. I've gotten the impression over the past several seasons that this is the prototypical scenario for calling the instigator penalty: Player A cranks Player B1, B2 hunts down A for a fight, B2 gets an instigator. That's how it went for both of Phaneuf's previous fights this season.

I'm pretty agnostic about the instigator penalty in general (though I don't think eliminating it would do squat in terms of protecting star players), but like most rules, I like to be able to understand them and see them applied consistently. Obviously last night, the whole situation hurt the Flames; their comeback prospects (such as they were) were hurt by Phaneuf going off for 5 with 7 minutes left in the game, and they didn't get the PP either, even though under the English definition (if not the NHL one) it was Lilja who instigated the fight.

Anyway... the second thing that goes from annoying to infuriating when the game's not going my way is bad colour commentary, and man was I ready to kick Charlie Simmer in the teeth last night.

As mentioned previously (see first 2 comments), Simmer has a comically romanticized view of his playing days. And as a bonus, it's also totally incoherent! Last night, after a hit from behind on Phaneuf (apparently, at any rate, they never replayed it) he said (I quote from memory): "It goes back to the issue of respect for your fellow players. In the old days, when a guy's back was turned, you'd wait for him to turn towards you, and then hit him." Riiiight.... you know, I don't mind a bit of chit-chat about how things worked better when the players policed themselves -- even though I don't really believe it, and btw there was NHL supplementary discipline in the old days too -- but this statement is clearly bullshit.

And it must be! -- because he regularly contradicts it with statements about how in the old days, players knew how to protect themselves better and not get into vulnerable positions. Why on earth they would have been concerned about this, back in the Golden Age when their opponents were so much more respectful of their safety, is a mystery that will surely be explained in a future telecast.

The real kicker though was after the Filppula goal to make it 5-3. The Flames were carrying the play, and Phaneuf had pinched, gained possession, circled behind the net, and gotten back to the point, whereupon he had a shot blocked and the play changed direction. At that moment, Nystrom and Lombardi were right on top of Osgood, and Nolan was headed toward the net after covering Phaneuf's spot. None of the 3 forwards were able to get back quickly, and Filppula scored as the trailer on a 4-on-2.

Simmer's take: "Well, Dion Phaneuf, it goes back to (yes he does say that a lot) understanding the flow of the game, and knowing when to go and not go."

Seriously Charlie? Phaneuf pinched in, while down a goal, in an effort to sustain zone pressure, and this was a bad decision? Even with the benefit of hindsight, showing that he didn't end up out of position? (Not to mention that if the shot gets through, it's a 2-on-Osgood while two Wings are holding hands over by the circle?) Time to reset my favourite take on this topic:
What's most shocking is how rarely ex-jocks provide this kind of understanding, and how superficial their apparent feel for the game they played can be. The theoretical benefit of having them in the booth is usually more than neutralized, if it's present at all, by their grudges and biases, their need to reassert their hard-won insider status [ding!], and their tiresome espousal of cliches originally developed to ward off reporters [ding ding!]. Since most booth athletes were winners on the field of play, they share a general interest in favouring disingenuous character-based explanations for losing and winning rather than technical ones [ding ding ding ding ding! Charlie Simmer, you are our winner!].

Which reminds me, I have one more TV gripe before I forget. I understand that, to a certain extent, what I'm bitching about here is a matter of taste; there are no doubt people who want little more from their colour analysts than the odd joke and some periodic warm fuzzies about the good old days. I do think though that there is some base level of "helping viewers understand what's going on in the game" that is rightly expected of hockey broadcasts.

Much of it is simply using replays effectively: did that goal deflect off of something, what was that penalty for, where was our d-man on that 3-on-1, etc. -- I suspect that hockey producers agree here.

In Thursday's game against the Hawks, their 1st goal was scored shorthanded when Alex Tanguay stepped onto the bench from the point, letting the puck coast by for a wide open breakaway. It was a strange play. Stranger still, though, was that the TV guys spent zero time attempting to show us why it happened. Presumably he was trying to avoid a Too Many Men penalty -- would he have gotten one, or was he confused? Was another Flame jumping on the ice, then held back?

In a 2.5 hour broadcast of a game that featured a total of 3 goals, these questions were never addressed, let alone answered. Why? If you don't want to bore the majority of your viewers with a bunch of technical blah-blah, then fine, but that even fell short of superficial.

Yep, the Flames have some work to do.


Music To My Ears

The yanking of/injury to Miikka Kiprusoff in the second period. Mixmaster Mike says the goalie was complaining about a sore jaw "hinge" and maybe even have a concussion after being beaned in the melon by a Nicklas Lidstrom slapper. The goalie, meanwhile, said he was feeling fine and he was indeed pulled after the third goal. Hmmm.
--Flames Insider

Northern Alberta Chorus: Fight! Fight! Fight! Fight!
Southern Alberta Chorus: There is no problem here! No problem! No problem!
Northern Alberta Chorus: Pull the goalie! Pull the goalie!
Southern Alberta Chorus: No problem! No problem!
Northern Alberta Chorus: Fire the coach! Fire the coach!
Southern Alberta Chorus: No problem! No problem!
Northern Alberta Chorus: Kiprusoff Superstar, do you think you're worth what they paid your for?! Kiprusoff Superstar, do you think you're what they say you are?! Only want to know! Only want to know! Only want to know, now! I only want to know!

And Scene...

Tuesday, November 27, 2007


Flames Game Night

I make some bad hockey predictions on occasion, but it's not often that I'm embarrassed. This is one of those times. In the wake of the Steve Downie suspension, I allowed myself to believe Colin Campbell's indirect assertions [that's an oxymoron - ed.] that the league was changing the discipline process and cracking down on hits to the head. It was silly, because it's not like it was something I was desperate to cling to; it was more of a "Hey, OK, this should be interesting how it develops."

So I had to laugh -- and blush -- when I read Bob McKenzie's account of the GM conference call yesterday:
On the mega-suspensions of 20 and 25 games to Steve Downie and Jesse Boulerice, respectively: Burke had questioned whether the GMs ever signed off on or were advised of a dramatic change in standards for supplementary discipline, but was told each discipline situation is handled on a case by case basis and that the two big suspensions are not necessarily indicative of a sweeping across the board change to the approach on supplementary discipline.

Shorter version, with an extraneous word clipped out:
...the two big suspensions are not indicative of a sweeping across the board change to the approach on supplementary discipline.

Even shorter version:
Simmer down, Burkie, we haven't changed squat.

For a guy who wrote mere months ago that we need to be more like House MD, I was rather dense. I have no problem with my fellow fans who wish things would change (and am occasionally inclined to agree with them), but they haven't. FYI.

These are the standings, and goal differentials, for the two conferences after 20GP for each team.

I don't really have anything to say about them, but for the past two seasons I've been tracking and posting quarterly results, and I want to continue, as the information can be useful later on.

The Flames are in Detroit to play the Wings tonight (5PM MT, RSN West). No prediction from me, as I quite like Metrognome's.

Since I've been a loud Tanguay defender over the past year, it's only proper for me to point out that he hasn't been that good lately, and needs to be better. Warrener is hurt (wow, I know, who's next -- Ethan Moreau?), so David Hale will be on the blueline... suffice it to say that I hope he's a lot better than he was the last two games he played in Detroit in April.

A Calgary W would be awfully sweet, and could very easily launch them into an excellent string of results from here until Christmas. Go Flames.


The World Needs More Canada

"If the opening ceremonies are intended to be an extension of a city's/country's culture and history, then I am sure the world is going to be hammered over the head with every Canadian symbol possible in 2010.

...the mascot is likely to be an animal with symbolic importance to the region, like a Thunderbird, Orca, Grizzly Bear, polygamist from Bountiful or Vietnam draft-dodging pothead from Nelson."

The 2010 Winter Olympic mascots were unveiled today. They are Miga, Quatchi, Sumi, and Ross Rebagliati. I can only say this: I told you so.

Monday, November 26, 2007


(*cough*) mitochondria!

You a Kids in the Hall fan? I am. I mean, I don't watch it daily on the Comedy Network or anything, but I've certainly seen every episode multiple times.

In August, Doug Maclean held a press conference as a member of a group purchasing the Tampa Bay Lightning, after a poor run as the Blue Jackets GM, which in turn followed a coaching career which was pretty meh with the obvious exception of an SCF appearance.

What do these two things have to do with each other? Nothing, except that every time Doug Maclean's name pops up in the news now, I think of Dave Foley's Bad Doctor sketch from KitH.
One day when we were supposed to be dissecting a frog, I accidentally disassembled my desk. [..] But I didn't worry about it. I figured, how far could you coast on charm? Well, pretty far, actually!

That is all.


Uh-oh. Sounds like somebody's got a case of the Mondays.

• Thanks to Rod for this TSN report on Saint Fernando. The report says he could be ready to play as early as next Sunday. I'm a bit doubtful of that, if only because I saw a SportsNet story on this last week, and both Saint Fernando and MacT said he was still weeks away. The Oilers page still says 2-3 weeks. That would put it closer to Christmas, or early in the New Year. I'd be happy to be wrong, though.

• What is going on with Ethan Moreau? He is still out indefinitely with a fractured left foot. He's played 12 games in two years. I'm starting to get this terrible feeling that we are going to see another return, another injury, and an early retirement. I'd be really happy to be wrong on this one, too.

• BDHS has his thoughts up on the Saturday night game against the Hawks.

• The Oilers have won three games in regulation time this year. Three. They are averaging 2.3 goals a game, and the powerplay is clicking at an 11.2% rate. It's a good thing Kevin Lowe doesn't work in Toronto.

• Speaking of overtime and the shootout, there has been lots of good discussion about whether or not the Oilers should keep Gagner West around. After watching him undress Khabibulin in person on Saturday night, I have to ask: does it matter that he really adds to the Oilers chances of winning during the shootout?

• The Blue Jackets are in town tonight, following wins over both the Wild and the Red Wings. The matchups should be...interesting. That's all I want to commit to, because frankly I'm terrified of seeing The L Column on the ice against Rick Nash.

• Dennis has some thoughts up on tonight's game as well. I forgot Mike Peca was still playing, so it was exciting to see his name in the post. I'll be able to look back fondly at his 23 regular season points with the Oilers. Good times. I'm also surprised that Robert Nilsson is still around. He played for about two seconds Saturday night before having his ass stapled to the bench, so why he draws in is beyond me. This would have been an ideal time to call up Patrick Thoresen, no?


Pot, Meet Kettle

"I'm sick and tired of the fawning broadcast coverage of Oilers games. Recently, Oilers players were given all three stars by the pay-per-view broadcast team -- after a loss! Embarrassing. Pravda was more objective."
--Scott McKeen, Edmonton Journal

That's right, for all your objective, non-fawning, and hard-hitting journalism needs, turn to the Edmonton Journal! This week's feature stories include:

"You need a Downtown Arena because it's close to my House"

"Ryan Smyth is a Greedy Bastard who Urinated on the Muttart Conservatory"

"Why Chris Pronger should have divorced his Wife: The Inside Story"

"Sheldon Souray compares really well to other white, 6-4, 227 pound, left-handed, 3rd Round draft picks from Northeastern Alberta"

"I was Fishing with Cal Nichols this Summer, and I saw him Walk on Water"

"Don't Blame Kevin Lowe: He was going to draft Sidney Crosby until the Penguins got the 1st Overall Pick"

Sunday, November 25, 2007



Rockabye Sweet Baby Jamal. With the help of Lee Stempniak, too. It wasn't a true Stempniaking, as the Blues are a good team, and Mayers isn't an unknown player, but it's still funny. That Blues team has just killed the Alberta teams the past couple years (it feels that way, at least). Always seems to be an afternoon game, too. It's uncanny.

Saturday, November 24, 2007


Oilers versus Hawks, Grabia versus McLean

Okay, the plan is to head to Brewsters downtown for the evening. Pat and I will get there after the game. So probably 10:30-11:00. Thanks to those who came out last night (Allan, Mr. Debakey, Colby). It was a great time. Something something something, hockey game, something something something. GOILERS!

Friday, November 23, 2007


Well, at least panic isn't setting in...

It was one thing when Mike Keenan chucked ace defenceman Dion Phaneuf up front for a couple of power plays during Thursday's game against Chicago.

But it's something else for Keenan to be considering — or least threatening — to give Phaneuf a regular shift as a winger. That's the way it looked at Friday's practice before the team jumped a plane for Denver, with Phaneuf working the left side on a line with Jarome Iginla and Craig Conroy.

This is going to be a real hold-your-breath weekend for Flames fans, as the team is on the road in Denver tomorrow night St. Louis Sunday evening. (I might have said 'cover-your-eyes' weekend, but the Avs game isn't televised and the Blues game is a PPV). Two wins and it's just about like the Flames are back to square one. Two losses -- even if one or both are in OT -- and they are going to be in a non-playoff-sitting hole that it could take six weeks of playing very well to climb out of.

I remain optimistic -- apart from the two SH breakaways and their one 1st-period PP, I don't think the Blackhawks had any scoring chances last night -- but they need to get a few bounces right now, and Kipper has got to start making some big saves. Go Flames.


When 1+1+1+1=3

My Friday morning gift to Matt. It's still a head scratcher. Courtesy of the Flyers homepage.

Oh, and just for giggles, go take a look at Lupul's Quality of Competition and Corsi numbers. Suggestion: start from the bottom and work your way up. It will take much less time.


• Can anyone give me the breakdown for all the opposition Zoolander has points against this year? I mean specific players on the ice for Points For (Points Against would be neat, too). Vic?

Another one for Matt. This one he'll like. On MacT and the shootout: "Each team sent out five shooters on Tuesday, and once again, MacTavish elected to let the visitors shoot first. His preference is to win it on a goal rather than a save."

Thursday, November 22, 2007


Shun the Non-Believer. Shunnnnnn....

Covered in Oil has the game thread tonight. Think of Ryan Smyth every time the PPV cuts to the Oilers new dressing room, and Gene Principe brings up the $4 million the team spent on it. $100,000 to keep a player who wants to stay. OR. $4 million to show that you really do value players, and want them to come/stay. Hmm. Go with the $4 million. Makes sense. This actually feels like it could be turned into a good drinking game, but I don't have time to get into it more. Greenzo out!

Prediction: 4-2, Oil. Gilbert Gilbert, Sanderson, Torres. And Smytty scores one on his own net just to help out his old team. GOIL!!!


Flames Game Day: Youth will be served

**Great Moments in Columnizing. Iain MacIntyre channels Dennis (among many others) in yesterday's Vancouver Sun:
At least Lowe's bold summer spending spree signified something. We just weren't sure what until this week.

Apparently, the Oilers are rebuilding. Rebuilding with a payroll nudging the $50.3-million salary cap. Rebuilding without any of the first three Oiler draft picks in 2008 that Lowe surrendered to sign Penner, who had produced three goals in 20 games before facing the Vancouver Canucks Tuesday night. Rebuilding after stating all summer the objective was to win now, although Edmonton is last in the Western Conference.

"We're a young hockey team right now," Lowe said Monday on an Oilers' radio show. "There's no question we're back into a rebuilding situation..."

[...]Asked by a couple of reporters for an interview after the morning skate, Lowe said: "Uh, maybe," then excused himself and didn't return to the dressing room area.

And Bob Stauffer takes to the Edmonton Sun to make a point that he's no doubt been banging like a cheap drum on his radio show: that Lowe and MacT, in sharp contrast to Eskimos coach Danny Maciocia, are the beneficiaries of some comically low expectations. Man, I loved this line:
Fans also seem to understand that general manager Kevin Lowe is limited in what he can do because the Oilers are up against the cap.

Curse those dark forces that somehow got the Oilers up against the cap!

**The O**ogosphere continues to pervade! Admiring dead-tree profiles of Shawn Horcoff yesterday (lede: "He gets no respect, just results.") and Tom Gilbert today.

**More good news for Brian Burke! The Washington Capitals fired Glen Hanlon today and replaced him with former Nova Scotia Oiler Bruce Boudreau -- a guy with a 10+ year coaching record in the minors that is nearly unblemished. This can only be good for the Caps, and what's good for the presently-league-worst Capitals is good for Burke's 1st round draft pick this upcoming summer.

**The Flames host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight (700PM MT, RSN West). This is the first time this season that they've played one of the Norris Division's erstwhile Unholy Trinity, so I'm pretty interested to see what the deal is. Just thumbing through the numbers for the season to-date, and it's fairly clear that the Hawks are still very vulnerable at even strength and have achieved their respectable record on the back of (A) a nice powerplay that ranks #6 overall and #2 on the road, and (B) a league-leading (by a mile) 7 SH goals.

I guess we'll find out tonight if the Flames' PK really has turned some kind of corner (they allowed only 3 shots in 10 SH minutes on Tuesday), or if it was a mirage that was the simple consequence of facing the league's worst Road PP.

At first blush, it would seem that the thing to do on the PP against a team that scores a lot of shorties is to put a defenseman on the point instead of Tanguay, but I think the best move is actually to leave him there. I've hemmed and hawed around this before, but my brief theory on why Alex Tanguay is more effective at EV than on the PP (relatively speaking) is this:
his biggest skill, such as it is, is exploiting defenders who have gotten out of position. He's always looking around; if another Flame beats his man or finds some open space, chances are that Tanguay has noticed, and will get the puck there.

This is less of an advantage on the PP, where -- again, relatively speaking -- defenders are more positionally aware. The top PP producers tend to be either great puckhandlers or guys whose primary skill and instinct is to get into a position to shoot the puck. Tanguay's scouting report does not say "great puckhandler", and his instinct is to get into a position to make a play rather than shoot.

All of which is a long way of saying, in relation to tonight's game: if Patrick Sharp is fancying himself a shorthanded scoring threat, and is inclined to cheat a bit to make it happen, Alex Tanguay is exactly the guy to make him pay for it.

**This just in: TSN's Ice Chips reports, "Dustin Boyd will play tonight for the Flames. Calgary has some issues with the flu, so it's unclear at this point who's coming out of the lineup." It must be because of the flu... there's nothing up on the team site about Boyd's callup, and there has been absolutely no previous hint from the beat reporters that a callup from QC was likely.

However, Scott Cruickshank is confirming... check back there for updates (mainly, who's sick/out); it's not a terribly interesting blog, but he and Lefebvre have been pretty good about getting roster notes posted on game days.

**Prediction: Calgary 3 (Iginla x2, Tanguay) Chicago 0. Go Flames.


Fear and Loathing in Le Edmonton: A Savage Journey to the Heartland of Hockey

"He who makes a beast of himself gets rid of the pain of being a man."

That is correct, Dr. J. Now begone—go dunk on Michael Cooper. Leave Dog and Dr. Skunk alone. It is time for us to slake our thirst for mead and mutton, time to quench our desire for mushrooms and medicinals. It is time for Dog and Dr. Skunk to travel down, down into the murky depths of depravity. But do not fret. Do not worry. Dr. Skunk has this weekend all planned out.........

Edmonton International Airport…assuming he and his Tom Selleck get through security, Dr. Skunk will pick up Dog on Friday afternoon. On the way to getting his luggage, Dog will admire the jumbo “You’re In Oil Country” sign that greets him, as well as the Maritimer slave-women who serve milk and honey sandwiches in containers made from $1000 bills. Welcome to Edmonton, Alberta…

Sam Abouhassan Custom Clothiers…legend has it that The Sather used to take every Oilers rookie to Sam’s shop, where they’d be suited up in new garb. What’s good enough for Slats is good enough for Dr. Skunk. Dog the Rookie will purchase a suit, and then give his own left testicle to Abouhassan as tribute to the tailor’s benevolence...

Boston Pizza…Dog is completely deprived of such succulence in The Hinterland. Here he will be sated on Alberta beef and local spirits. And believe me, he will be pleased…

Mark Messier Trail…we will venture down the path of darkness, like Orpheus in search of lost love. Flames will nip at our heels, with one cupping towards us before fading away. The howling screams of broken-boned Europeans will attempt to deter us, Sirens of despair and unaccomplished glory. But Dog and Dr. Skunk will not be held back. No. We will reach the land of Brother Moose, and there delight in the radiant splendour of the Communion of Saints…

Clare Drake Arenaon this night, the Golden Bears of Alberta will play the Thunderbirds of British Columbia. Dog will have no choice but to admire the Banners of Dominance in the arena. We will not be alone. Other souls will join us, and we will taunt and mock and jeer the T-Birds until they can stand no more, weeping as the Bears roll over them, failed-seekers of CIS success…

RATT…the room at the top of the world. Seat of government to the north. Seat of industry to the east. Seat of roller coaster to the west. It is here that Dog and Dr. Skunk and Cosh and Muhly and all the great men and women of the City of Champions shall spit in the face of their own mortality. And then laugh. We will end the night triumphantly, warmed by hard drink, firm friendship, and the monumental gases of discourse…

University Optical…this is where The Lorieau makes a living, so this is where Dog and Dr. Skunk will begin their Saturn day. We will beg the master to sing to us. We will rend our hair and gnash our teeth until he concedes. When he grants us our wish, and begins to serenade us with the “O’s” and the “Native Lands,” our hearts will be overjoyed, and our delirium tremens will subside. It will be as if a choir of Angels has breathed new life into our lungs, and we will take to the day with vigour and vitality…

The Black Dog Freehouse…we must of course visit here, so that Dog can mingle with and mount his kin. Dog can also then walk the Holy Ground known as Whyte, a land where in 2006 sots and rebel rousers sacrificed blood and dignity for Oil and for Grail. White pickup trucks will litter the streets and avenues, bull nuts dangling from their rears…

Katz Manor…we will look upon it from afar. Dr. Skunk will say to Dog, “I fooled around with that dude once, you know”…

Bearclaw Gallery…to witness the artistry of Aaron Paquette, commenter and friend of the Oilogosphere. Dr. Skunk will encourage Aaron to stroke the lip hair of Dog. Aaron will recoil at the sight of the great beast, and Dr. Skunk will giggle and chuckle and howl at the moon…

Sherlock Holmes Pub…the location of a lost and seemingly forgotten treasure: many, many, MANY pictures of drunken media members from the 80’s. Dog and Dr. Skunk will look at them all, taking pictures of pictures taken of Cole and MacLean and Neale and Hughson and Strachan and Davidson and some guys who wrote for the Sun, and then emailing them all to Jiri Tlusty…

Overtime Broiler and Taproom…this is merely an advance scouting exercise. Will it be a suitable location for post-game libations? Will there be Cougars for the Dog to bite? Will we get in without black leather jackets and thinning hair? Is that Mickey Rourke Dr. Skunk sees in the corner? So many questions, so little time…

Rexall Place…Mecca. As we approach on Wayne Gretzky Drive, Dog will stick his head out the window, sniffing the air and wagging his tongue. He will be so excited getting out of the car, Dr. Skunk will have to put him on a leash. We will get our picture taken in front of the statue of The Great One, and Dog will pee on His leg. We will run away from members of the Canadian Armed Forces, who do not understand that Dog is urinating out of love. Inside, it will be Literally. Crush. We will not care. Dog has already gone to the bathroom. Dog will look for merchandise while Dr. Skunk checks out the goods. Five Stanley Cup banners overlook the rink, silent testaments to history. Yet it is the rookies Dog and Dr. Skunk look forward to watching. Gagner West, Cogs, and Gilbert Gilbert. Kane and Toews, too. Four of the five are twenty or under. The game will be excellent. The seats will be, too. The Oil will win, and the fanatics will spill out of Rexall, drunk on victory and overpriced beer…

Downtown… we will meet up with the others, having barely escaped the wrath of roving gangs of Hobo Terrorists. The night will become a blur, as liquids and toxins fill our bellies. During a moment of lucidity, Dog will look over at Dr. Skunk, and tears will well up in his eyes. He will get on his knees and worship the awesomeness of Dr. Skunk. Dr. Skunk will tap Dog on the shoulder—like a King granting Knighthood—and then will utter the most solemn of words to his loyal hound: “Get the fuck up, Pat. You’re embarrassing me."

Wednesday, November 21, 2007


Wednesday Morning Talking Points

• The Oilers powerplay
• Whether Zach L. Stortini's nickname should be changed to "Shutdown"/the apparent genius of MacT
• The continued awesomeness of Shawn Horcoff and Gilbert Gilbert
• The Robbing of Master Samwise: A Two-Part Story
• The new Terms of Battle

UPDATE: Bonus talking points from Matt:
• 10 of the 15 teams in the Western Conference are between 2 and 4 games over .500 (setting aside the boring OTL debate for now). Detroit is well above that range, and CGY, PHX, LAK, and EDM are below it. What does this mean? Is the quality gap really that narrow? Is it correct to say that four months from now, the standings will look absolutely nothing like they do now, with the likely exception of the #1 slot? And even if they don't, will they still be so compressed?


Terms of Battle, 2007-2008

Here are the new Terms of Battle. If we missed anything, let us know. We bumped some terms off because they are no longer in common usage, but they are still available for viewing in the archived Terms of Battle. Those can be accessed at the bottom of this post or in the sidebar on the main page.

Term: The Oilogosphere
Definition: The world-wide collection of Oilers blogs. Coined by Mudcrutch.

Nickname: Scorcoff
Also Known As: Shawn Horcoff. Believed to be coined by Gary B.

Term: Crosby
Definition: Crosby. May be substituted for any Crosby, CROSBY, crosby, Crosby, Crosby, or Crosby!

Definition: Celebrating a goal by Shawn Horcoff. Coined by Lowetide.

Nickname: Mr. Glass
Also Known As: Ethan Moreau, Chopper.

Nickname: L Column
Also Known As: Zach Stortini, Zach L. Stortini, The L. Coined by Lowetide and Mike W.

Nickname: Gilbert Gilbert
Also Known As: Tom Gilbert, Brad Gilbert.

Term: Garnage
Definition: A bad call. Coined by Mike W.

Term: The Peter Forsberg Hat-trick
Definition: A goal, an assist, and a debilitating injury.

Term: The Edmonton Handshake/Whyte Ave How-do-you-do?
Definition: Getting knifed. Coined by Pleasure Motors.

Term: In The Midst
Definition: Exaggerating a streak to either the benefit of your team or the detriment of their opponents/rivals.

Nickname: Goddamn these injurioesa=asdnmlkSNn jk
Definition: Frustrating Oilers injuries. Coined by Mike W.

Term: The Edmontoby Petersoilers
Definition: March 2007 version of the Oilers, where role player and offensive void Toby Petersen killed penalties, manned the point on the PP, helped Joey Moss fold towels, etc. etc. Coined by Gary B.

Term: Colin Campbell Wheel of Justice
Definition: The method by which the length of NHL suspensions is determined. Coined by Rob Kerr, made famous by Matt Fenwick.

Term: Beard Mojo
Definition: The collective beard power of the Oilogosphere during the 2006 Stanley Cup run.

Term: Master Samwise
Also Known As: Sam Gagner, Proudfoot Proudfeet!, Gagner West. Coined by Pleasure Motors.

Term: Hobo Terrorists
Definition: Downtown Edmontonians.

Term: Literally. Crush.
Definition: Rexall Place.

Term: Shun the Non-Believer
Definition: An expression directed at those cynical of Oilers management, the Edmonton Investors Group, and Mayor Stephen Mandel. Coined by Littlefury.

Term: Candy Mountain
Definition: The proposed downtown arena.

Term: (spits)
Definition: Disgust at uttering the words, "Calgary" and "Flames," especially during the playoffs. Coined by Pleasure Motors.

Term: Le
Definition: Adding the French "the" to anything you say so as to make it sound more poetic, poignant and Canadian. Coined by Le Loxy.

Term: The Torres Blindspot
Definition: The curious inability to see a player directly in your line of view. Coined by Metrognome.

Term: The Laws of Mosses
Definition: A two minute tripping penalty that leads to a fine and suspension.

Term: Torres Vision
Definition: An ability to see the puck carrier to the exclusion of all human barriers.

Term: Brazilian Wax
Definition: Robyn Regehr's intentional attempts to injure Ales Hemsky.

Nickname: Hot Doorknob
Also Known As: Allan Rourke. Coined by Mike W. and Chris!.

Nickname: Joffrey Zoolander
Also Known As: Joffrey Lupul.

Nickname: Andrea Susan
Also Known As: Andrei Zyuzin. Up to you, but if you're a foreign player, there's something to be said for Anglicizing the pronunciation of your name right off the plane.

Term: The Most Exciting Play In Hockey
Definition: A Flames empty-net goal, serving to further pad their statistical offensive dominance over the Oilers. Now broadened out to mean all empty-net goals scored by the Oilers or Flames. Coined by Vic Ferrari.

Nickname: Ketchup
Also Known As: Teemu Selanne.

Nickname: Saint Fernando
Also Known As: Fernando Pisani, 34, San Fernando, My Cousin Fernando Pisani, Pantsani, The Patron Saint of Lost Hockey Causes.

Nickname: The Hockey Jesus
Also Known As: Robbie Schremp, Robimus Prime, Popcorn, Sugartits

Nickname: Le GG
Also Known As: Georges Laraque, Georges, Georgie, BG. Coined by Mike W.

Nickname: Pinto
Also Known As: Ales Hemsky, Pinto Hemsky, Hemmer Time. Coined by Mudcrutch.

Nickname: Jarmoe
Also Known As: Jarome Iginla.

Term: Phaneufed
Definition: To be kept away from the other team's star players. Coined by Vic Ferrari.

Nickname: Anonymouse
Definition: Any cowardly commenter who drops in, says something stupid or insulting, but doesn't sign in under a real or assumed name. Perfectly visualized by Mike W.

Term: Squeee!
Definition: An exclamation of joy from fangirls/puck bunnies. Used to perfection at Hot Oil.

Term: Stempniaked
Definition: To be unexpectedly defeated by the singular efforts of an until then unknown player on a sub-standard team (spectacular art by Chris de Groat here).

Term: Vaunted/The Vaunt
Definition: The Oilers offence. Coined by Peter.

Term: Blender
Definition: Craig MacTavish's propensity for mixing and changing linemates.

Definition: Go Oilers!


Terms of Battle, 2005-2006
Terms of Battle, 2006-2007

Tuesday, November 20, 2007


The L Column: Canucks vs. Oilers

Thoughts on Zach L. Stortini matching up against the Two Queens/Sedins tonight? Does it determine whether you watch the game with a stress ball in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other? Or is that already a foregone conclusion with this team? Let's discuss.


Flames Game Day: im a 16 h8r

**The Flames host the Colorado Avalanche tonight (730PM MT, Flames PPV). This will be the 4th time they've played each other this season, and they tangle again in Denver on Saturday.

So Calgary plays the Avs 5 times in the first 23 games of the season. They also played them 6 times in the final 25 games of last season. So over a stretch of 48 regular season games, these two teams will have met 11 times. 11 out of 48. The CFL only has 8 teams (and a slightly unbalanced schedule to boot), and it's impossible for two teams to play each other any more than that.

**Following up on last night's post, I think it's actually possible that Keenan will start Curtis McElhinney tonight. Yesterday he was called up from The QC and Keetley was sent back. C-Mac's goals allowed in his past 6 starts (consecutive, btw): 2, 1, 2, 1, 1, 0. 161 saves on 167 shots (0.964 SV%). So:
To me that all adds up to the backup starting tonight, and then one of Saturday or Sunday (Sat. if he beats the Avs tonight, Sun. if he doesn't)

**Dept. of Things That Make Dion Phaneuf More Expensive: Ryan Getzlaf signs a 5 X $5.3M extension with the Ducks.

**Looks like both Mark Smith and Eric Godard will be in the lineup tonight, as Marcus Nilson is likely out with a concussion. He got it from Trevor Linden on Sunday evening; Linden received a 2-minute boarding penalty (gotta hand it to the Canucks, they're making their boarding penalties count).

Now, it so happens that I pretty much despise Trevor Linden, and have for his entire career (save for about 10 minutes after his tying goal on Hasek in the 1998 Olympic semis). I know he has done a bunch of charity stuff -- he's the first guy I ever heard of who had his own luxury box for the local Tiny Tims to take in a game -- but man, he looks like such an unhappy prick most of the time. His eyes never betray any emotion, but I always get the impression that it's not because he's stoic, but rather because there's nothing in there.

Reflecting on this, the question of whether he's going to be elected to the HHOF some day crossed my mind. The less tangible stuff not related to individual career accomplishments: long-time captain, good hard-nosed Canadian boy (plus), no Stanley Cup (minus), volunteered a lot of his time to the NHLPA (uh, neutral?).

So then I ambled over to hockeydb to check out his career numbers -- off the top of my head, I had no idea what they were other than I was fairly sure he didn't have 500 goals.

As it turns out, he has 1337GP, 369G-489A-858Pts. What stunned me, though, is that the last season in which he scored 20 goals was 1995-96. 12 years ago! He's been a 3rd/4th line role player and "leadership guy" for more than 10 full seasons!

At any rate, while Canucks fans can no doubt look forward to his #16 flapping from the rafters of the Garage, I doubt we'll ever have to see his joyless expression on a HOF plaque.

**Prediction: Curtis McElhinney gets the start, improves on his NHL career SV% of 0.500, and gets his first career win. Calgary 4 Colorado 2. Go Flames.

Monday, November 19, 2007


And another thing

MetroGnome at Five Hole Fanatics posted a quarter-pole summary a few hours before me, and covers all the bases. He puts more effort into seeing the negative, and believe me I mean that as a compliment. On that note, consider this my registered objection to the 0.5 figure here, even though I appreciate the "somewhat amusing" props.

A line in MG's conclusion got me thinking:
...there needs to be some kind of marked improvement in this club very quickly or Keenan won't be immune to criticism for much longer.

Indeed... then I remembered this Marty York bit from Friday:
“It may just be that a guy like Keenan has a counter-productive effect on contemporary players,” an [addle-pated -ed.] NHL assistant coach told me. “A few years ago, he might have been able to get away with his hardnosed approach. Maybe not any more. Players have changed. They’re richer. They have chips on their shoulders. They resent it if they think they're not getting treated the way professional adults should be … If things don’t improve in Calgary, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mike replaced by the all-star game.”

What's funny about this is not Marty York gossiping about a team at the other end of the country playing his 3rd or 4th favourite sport, nor is it that the unnamed NHL AC seems to think Darryl Sutter is now George Steinbrenner circa 1980. It's that the AC's take on the alleged problem is the exact opposite of what anyone who has watched any Flames hockey this season can see plainly. That is:

The players whose futures in hockey are the most secure (have a rich long-term contract, or are about to get one) are by and large the ones who are performing well. The players who are underachieving are by and large the ones who might be on their last NHL contract. If there is a Roger Dorn (or Dorns) in the Flames' clubhouse, who the hell is it?

Which brings us to the primary exception: Kipper. He has 35 million guaranteed U.S. dollars coming to him starting in July '08, and he's had a rough first quarter. Hey, remember how when Keenan was hired, a big worry was that he plays mind games with his goalies? You know, he jerks them around and is quick with the hook? So far, Kipper has started every game, and has been pulled but twice: on both occasions the game was out of hand. Sooo.... you see where I'm going with this?

It would seem to me to be a no-lose proposition to either (A) start the backup in a game where the schedule would strongly suggest Kipper in the net, or (B) give him a quick hook when he lets in a save-able goal. I'm sure 34 is going to recover from whatever's bothering him this season, but sometimes an obvious and deliberate slight has a way of... clarifying the task at hand.


Flames thru 20

Note: scroll to the bottom for the cumulative numbers; these are for Games 11-20 exclusively. Numbers for Games 1-10 here.

Record: 3-6-1 (2-3-1 Home, 1-3-0 Road)
3 Regulation Wins, 0 OT/SO Wins, 6 Regulation Losses, 1 OT Loss, 0 SO Losses

Scoring & Preventing Goals:
Much like their record, there is nothing here to like. Their penalty killing looks less atrocious than in the 1st 10 games, but it's not, really: they were equally inept down by a man, but had more success down two men (no goals against in 165secs of 3-on-5). Their PP scoring was worse, their EV scoring was worse, and their EV Goals Against was worse. Just about a clean sweep!

Player Rates:

(Click to enlarge; sorted by ESP/60) The discussion regarding which centre to put with which wingers is ongoing, but any questions regarding whether Mike Keenan likes and trusts Lombardi as a hockey player have been answered. As shown, Lombardi's +4 is one of only two positive +/- rates over this stretch (the Warrener was +1 in 6GP), and last night, he spent more time on the ice than any other Flames forward.

Silver Linings? Yeah, although I suppose it depends on how you want to look at it. What follows are a bunch of "records" for the Flames thru 20, shown as [Flames had more -- Opp't had more -- Equal]. For instance, in total goals scored, Flames are 8-11-1; outscored the opponent 8 times, been outscored 11 times, and scored the same # of goals once (the one shootout game). Hope that's clear enough.

Special Teams goals (including 6-on-5):
= 3-10-7
Even Strength goals:
= 11-8-1
Total Shots on goal:
= 10-7-3
Special Teams Shots on Goal:
= 11-8-1
Even Strength Shots on Goal:
= 11-9-0
Even Strength Shots Directed at the Net (Shots (incl. Goals) + Missed Shots):
= 12-6-2
Even Strength Shots Directed at the Net *including* Shots that are Blocked:
= 16-2-2

I guess the first thing this reinforces is how badly the Flames are getting trashed on special teams. They have only prevented the opposition from scoring a PP goal 3 times in 20 games, and 2 of those were against the league's worst PP (btw, Craig Simpson? My apologies, I guess it wasn't all you).

However, you will note that this is not due to getting outshot. Neither is it a discipline thing; they have taken 105 penalties and drawn 95, which is pretty close. The problem is some combination of getting out-goaltended, giving up too many high quality shots, and taking too many low quality shots.

The other thing is the two versions of the Corsi +/- at the end. I've been pondering this since it first came up, and this is where I'm at:

**The most interesting use of the Corsi metric is as a proxy for scoring chances for and against. I understand the concern that it doesn't really tell you about the quality of the chances, but at the same time, I don't see it as being different than any other stat in that sense.

Just taking goals as an easy example: the number of goals a player has scored in a season is not quite the definitive word on how good a goal-scorer he is. It doesn't tell you whether he's had any extremely lucky or unlucky bounces, or whether he's done it against the Zetterbergs and Lidstroms, or the Laperrieres and Lileses(es). But for the most part, the guys at the top of the leaderboard are the best goal-scorers, and the guys at the bottom are the worst.

For the most part, the teams (and players) who are directing the most shots at the net are going to be the ones who are getting the most scoring chances.

**As a proxy for scoring chances for & against, I think it works best if blocked shots are excluded. With blocked shots included, I figure it's a good proxy for zone time, or Where The Puck Is, which is interesting in and of itself. But if the NHL actually kept track of zone time, I wouldn't want to use that as a proxy for scoring chances, because then I'd be explicitly equating Player A, who can create chances out of O-zone possession, with Player B, who cannot. Why would I want to do that? It fails to apply Vic's famous common sense.

My other logic is here is viewing it from the perspective of the defending team. Blocking shots is better defense than not; creating traffic in shooting lanes is better defense than not; forcing the attacking team to keep the puck to the outside is better defense than not. If you treat blocked shots like a scoring chance, rather than a prevented scoring chance, then you are failing to credit the defensive team for doing these things that clearly prevent goals.

Consider the instance of Jarome Iginla coming down the right wing on a partial break and winding up. If he hits the post (or scores, or Luongo has to make a beauty glove save), then this obviously qualifies as a scoring chance. But if Willie Mitchell gets his stick out and deflects the puck up into the netting, I don't think it does -- and I'd be wary of any metric that deliberately treats these two things as equal. Your mileage may vary.

**What does this all mean for the Flames? I think what it means is that there's nowhere to go but up. There is nothing that would indicate that results should get worse at EV, only numbers that show they should stay the same, or get better. Past that, I think they've had some bad luck, and I mean luck in the rather technical context of what Tyler illustrates as Type I and Type II luck. Mainly:
But we shall certainly see. Go Flames.

Cumulative (Games 1 thru 20)


The Oilogosphere

David Staples has written a story on the Oilogosphere for today's Edmonton Journal. Covered in Oil, mc79Hockey, Irreverent Oil Fans, Hot Oil, Lowetide and BoA are all featured (Mirtle and Cosh make appearances, too). An article on the fine ladies of Hot Oil is in the sidebar, and an extended interview with Tyler Dellow of mc79Hockey is up on Staples' site. It appears that more extended interviews with Oiloggers will appear there (on Staples' site), so stay tuned. I'm a little worried now about all the things I said during my conversation with Staples. Some of the things I said in the main article are bad enough, and we talked for at least an hour. It being early is my only excuse. Caffeine hadn't yet cranked up the volume on the "no talk dumb" button.

Many thanks to Staples for putting in the time and effort to learn about our little world. The only complaint I would have, content-wise ("Sacamano" is spelled incorrectly, and there are no web addresses for the sites in the story), is in including the forums, boards and static sites in a definition of the Oilogosphere. Myself, I think of the Oilogosphere as a much more restricted group than that. I think of it as a community of posters, commenters and readers tied specifically to a select number of Oilers blogs. But that might just be my own understanding. Other card carriers may disagree.

Thanks, as well, to the Journal for putting in a picture of me that I can stand (and to Larry Wong for taking one). It was my biggest fear in doing the story, and I am pleased that I can actually tolerate looking at myself. Phew. David has also agreed to do an interview with Matt and I for this site (which we hope to get to soon), and I want to thank him in advance for that. Thanks to the other members of the Oilogosphere--bloggers, commenters, voyeurs--as well as our Honorary Member, Mr. Matt Fenwick. Lastly, welcome to all who have found their way to the Battle of Alberta and the Oilogosphere. Matt, Sacamano and I hope you enjoy. Here is a trusty link explaining more about this site, one on the Oilogosphere as a whole, as well as last season's Glossary of Terms (a new one will be up later this week). There's also a handy blogroll to the left, which will point you towards some other excellent hockey blogs. Oh, and for any Flames fans who have found their way here...welcome...I guess.


Saturday, November 17, 2007


Battle Night

The Rubber Match
Calgary Flames (7-8-3) @ Edmonton Oilers (7-11-1)
8 p.m., Hockey Night in Canada

The Northwest Passage
Oilers: 4-5-1 in last 10 games; 3-7-1 against NW Division
Flames: 3-6-1 in last 10 games; 3-4-3 against NW Division

The Streaks
• Losers of five in a row, the Flames have fired off one consecutive win since then.
• The Oilers were in the midst of a ten-game winning streak until they faced the Mild on Thursday night; they have now lost one in a row, and thirty of their past forty.

The Goalie Controversies
Mathieu Garon: 4-2; 2.42 GAA; .915 SV%
Dwayne Roloson: 3-9-1; 3.21 GAA; .890 SV%
Miikka Kiprusoff: 7-83; 3:12 GAA; .887 SV%
Third Catchers: 33:00 minutes total TOI

The Oilers 12th Forward (TOI)
November 15: Stortini (06:03)
November 14: Stortini (08:05)
November 10: Stortini (02: 22)
November 8: Stortini (01:18)
November 5: Stortini (04:43)
November 2: Pouliot (07:35)
October 30: Jacques (03:49)
October 28: Jacques (04:28)
October 27: Jacques (04:05)
October 25: Pouliot (07:01)
October 23: Jacques (06:48)
October 20: Jacques (06:49)
October 18: Schremp (03: 12)
October 13: Stortini (07: 48)
October 12: Nilsson (05:43)
October 10: Jacques (08:20)
October 8: Sanderson (10:10)
October 6: Gagner (09:52)
October 4: Jacques (03:46)

Total Points from 12th forward in 19 games: 1 assist (Gagner, October 6th)

Other TOI notes: looks like Gagner, Sanderson have worked themselves out of the doghouse they were in in early November; Tarnstrom and Gilbert Gilbert have being getting more and more ice time, and appear to be handling it quite nicely (I admit to not looking at Quality of Opposition).

The Former-Player-Turned-Colour-Guy Clichés of the Game
Oil: use speed; play well in own zone; score more goals than Flames
Flames: play physical; get pucks deep; give up fewer goals than Oilers

The Prediction
4-2, Oilers. Torres, Cogliano, Dvorak, and Horcoff. Langkow and Aucoin for the Flames.


Friday, November 16, 2007


More on blogs

Christy Finn has a good post up on bloggers and media over at Girl With a Puck. It's a little different from my post earlier this week; it deals with access for non-MSM bloggers, for example, something I spent zero time discussing. It also talks about the blogger/journalist distinction, whereas I focused on the MSM/non-MSM distinction. I'm interested in the categories, myself. For example, at what point does a non-MSM fan blogger become an MSM journalist blogger? Is it when they get access? How does it all mix and match? Or are the distinctions just dumb? And so on and so on.

The most interesting quote in the story, of course, comes from Ducks GM Brian Burke:

"With a journalist, I know they’ve had some training. I know there will be a fact checker and an editor to keep them accountable. I will know what to expect from [journalists] because if they take a bribe or report false information, they’ll get fired. With bloggers, there’s no safeguard and no guarantees. That will change when one of them gets hit with a libel lawsuit, because one blogger is going to be careless with the fact and they’re going to get nailed. A lot of people will cite the first amendment and call blogging “freedom of speech,” but that doesn’t mean they don’t have a responsibility to be factually correct."

It's good to see that lawyer Burke is aware of things called "laws," because he didn't seem to be headed that way with his "no safeguard and no guarantees" comment. Personally, I liked the "bribe" comment most. I'm a blogger. I blog. That means I'm apparently open to persuasion. What could a team possibly offer me that would make me write more favourably about them? Free tickets? A press pass? Nice seats at the top of the arena? Some free popcorn and coffee? Access to the players? Hanging with good looking millionaires by a pool in Los Angeles? The ability to sit in the dressing room and watch half-nude celebrity studs play ping pong? Hmm. Yes, I suppose that might make me feel grateful, even special, and I then might be inclined to be less critical of a player, coach or general manager. I could see that. Thank God that doesn't happen with journalists, then. Think of the type of compromised stories we'd be getting.

The fact is, Burke isn't concerned with ethics. Anyone who's listened to him talk for more than ten minutes understands that. He'd insult a plant for being too green. He's concerned with control. Most of the teams have a controlled relationship with their media partners, and that's how they want it to stay. The only reason we are seeing teams in the U.S. move to embrace the non-MSM blogs is because they have no choice. They have no other media partners. That's not to slight the work being done by the guys and gals running those blogs. They are doing some fantastic stuff. But if they were in any of the six Canadian cities with an NHL franchise, they wouldn't be getting access to the teams. There's little incentive for the Canadian teams to provide that access when every newspaper in town wants to cover them extensively, even to the point of attempting their own, mostly tame, mostly leashed, and mostly derivative blogs. Simple, yes, but true.


Friday Baseball Standings

How about that. Ranked baseball-style (by Win%), the Western Conference has all 5 Norris teams in the playoffs, only two teams from the Smythe Division, and but one from the Silicone Tits Division.

And in the Who Cares Until June conference, note that the gap between 1st and 2nd is the same as the gap between 2nd and 9th. Yes, it appears that the Senators are pretty good.

**Battle of Alberta Rd. 3 tomorrow night!!**

I'm heading up to Calgary this afternoon, as my baby chicken's first birthday is going to be celebrated at her paternal grandparents' compound in the Northwest.

I may get some smack up before tomorrow's game, or I may not. In today's Herald, Mike Keenan cleared up the goaltending situation for this weekend's back-to-back:

"It's not a priority as far as working one goalie in over another," said Keenan. "It's what Kiprusoff can handle, how you feel he can deal with situations that arise like this. Many goalies are capable of handling back-to-back games... It's not a concern of mine if we have to put in one of the younger goalies."

OK, I lied. No matter; the good guys are going to bring down the hammer at SkyRex. Go Flames.


I think I'm fine with this

Sheldon Souray's arm has fallen off, and he's out forever indefinitely. Funny thing is, he has no history of injuries, so there's no way management could have predicted this when they acquired him. It's just shocking. It really is. Shocking.

Photo taken from


Survey Says, Besuboru!

Little off-topic here, but are any readers out there fans of Yakyu, also known as Japanese baseball? I've been doing some reading on it--Robert Whiting's You Gotta Have Wa--and I've decided it's going to be my new sport/league/fetish of choice. I've found a few neat web pages, and I'm currently deciding between the Seibu Lions and Hanshin Tigers as my official team (the Lions because owner Yoshiaki Tsutsumi's first love is hockey, the Tigers because they are considered the Boston Red Sex of Japanese baseball). But I'm looking for a few other things, including:

1) Online viewing of games.
2) Other websites covering the sport. I think the sites I have found will provide box scores and such, but I just want to make sure I'm not missing something.
3) Places to purchase merchandise. I've found an online store, but are there any places in Edmonton or Western Canada that sell this stuff?
4) Video games. I know some exist, but are they available for purchase or download in North America? I figure this would be the easiest way to immerse myself into the sport.
5) Just someone to talk to about the sport, which, by all accounts that I've ever read, is a very different game than the one played in our neck of the woods.

Anyhoo, I thought I'd just throw this out there, as Friday is usually a slower day. I'm guessing there has to be at least two or three readers who have either spent time in Japan or are living there now.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Flames Today

**Caught a bit of a discussion on the radio yesterday afternoon about the position between Iginla and Tanguay, and while it was by no means fascinating, there was some food for thought.

The guys were talking about Matthew Lombardi's late-game turn as the nominal #1 centre against Minnesota, and whether it's time to give him a run in that spot on a semi-permanent basis. Dave Rowe was saying Yes, because (a) Conroy is not producing and (b) Lombardi's speed is wasted playing with Nolan and Nystrom (or whoever is on the 3rd line wings). His co-host -- recent convert from the dark side Dean Molberg -- was sort of inclined to agree with him, but brought up the fact that if Conroy is centering the 3rd line, then it likely becomes even more of an offensive black hole than it already is, since Lombardi's speed is the one and only thing that ever creates chances for that line.

My practical question -- which I really don't know the answer to -- is whether the advantages that Lombardi would bring to the Iginla line (the speed, and better touch around the net) would be cancelled out or even outweighed by the disadvantages, i.e. the ways in which Conroy might still be a better player than Lombardi. Specifically, Conroy is probably still stronger on the puck and better in the low cycle. While he's not creating a lot of scoring chances per se, he is still doing a nice job of keeping the puck in the other guy's end... and this is how plenty of Flames goals end up happening. Tanguay gets possession, Iginla moves to some open real estate, Tanguay exploits an opponent overcommitting or just otherwise out of position, pass, shoot, score.

The line would almost definitely be more dangerous in transition with Lombardi, and I think it's now safe to say that Lombardi is a more effective backchecker than Conroy, but what would be lost? Dunno.

**It's by no means a given, but, this weekend the Flames will presumably be starting a goaltender other than Kipper for the first time this season. They play the late HNIC game in Edmonton, and then again 22 hours later in Vancouver.

Matt Keetley has been manning the end of the Flames bench for a couple of weeks now, but if I were to guess I'd say that McElhinney will be called back up for this start.

It wasn't looking good for Curtis Mac a couple of weeks ago. He subbed in for Kipper late in the 2nd period of the San Jose game, and apart from allowing 1 goal on 2 shots, he looked very uncomfortable handling the puck. So after that game, he gets sent to QC to get some game work, and Keetley comes up. And the first game in QC? C-Mac allows 5 goals on 8 shots and gets yanked halfway thru the 2nd. Tres mal.

However, it looks like he's gotten it back together. In his last 4 starts, he is 3-1-0 with a GAA of 1.47 and a SV% of 0.949 (6 GA on 118 shots).

I'd actually like to see him start the Edmonton game (Garon! McElhinney! It's Hockey Night in Canada...). Even when Kipper has been at the top of his game he's struggled at Reachall; also, it removes the coaching temptation to change plans and start Kipper back-to-back in Vancouver if it looks like a must-win game... which they all do, always.

**Penalty Killing: I remain concerned that this will be a Flames bugaboo all year. They're allowing too many shots, too many high-quality shots, and Kipper isn't stopping enough of them.

As you can see at the left (*5-on-3s are excluded, **I reposted this table, the original left off the MIN game), while the defensive games of Phaneuf and Lombardi have been markedly better at EV this season, their PK results are still poor.

They've allowed at least one 5-on-4 goal in 13 out of 17 games this season. They had little choice but to look at their 4/5 success rate against MIN Tuesday as a small victory; meanwhile, Columbus(!) has killed something like 36 of their last 37 penalties at home.

If the PK is going to improve in any significant way, it will involve an improved Kipper. Here's his numbers by situation over the past few seasons:

That says a lot. His PKSV% is down 37 points from last season, when the Flames' PK was, as you may recall, also shitty.

**Finally, a decent little update on the minor league squad from Allan Cameron. I'm glad the coach has optimism to spare, because the stats page sure doesn't give me any.

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