Wednesday, April 09, 2008


Flames Game Day

Ah, the playoffs, when everything that frustrates you about the hockey media gets that much worse...

There is a LOT of consensus, amongst the pros and bloggers alike, on who will be advancing out of this first round. That probably means that there'll be a ton of upsets, but then again, I said this exact same thing last year.

In the East, I see there being four "tiers" of quality:

1st: Pittsburgh
2nd: Montreal, Washington, New Jersey, Rangers
3rd: Philadelphia, Boston
4th: Ottawa

Pittsburgh finished 2nd overall without Crosby for 29 games and without Hossa for 70 games. Philadelphia and Boston get put below the other four because they lose the EV scoring chance battle too often. And Ottawa is last because, if you disregard the first 20 games of the season, they're the worst team in the playoffs.

So yeah, I think the Pens will handle Ottawa pretty easily. I also think the Caps will win comfortably: they look likely to outchance and outshoot the Flyers every game, they have a good goalie, and they have a good coach, whereas I think Philly's coach is a dipshit.

I actually give the Bruins a chance at beating the Habs, though not enough to predict it; basically, I'm reluctant to pick any team whose outscoring relies so heavily on special teams. And I have no idea who will win Devils/Rags, though whoever does will have a good shot at beating Montreal in the 2nd round (if the Habs get there) or Pittsburgh, who ought to win the East but might be harmed by the fact that they have a coach who I wouldn't trust to get my garbage bags to the end of the driveway, let alone navigate 3 playoff rounds.

My Detroit-love has been well-logged on this site, they shouldn't have much trouble with Nashville even though I think the Preds are a pretty good team. I'd love to pick the Stars to beat the Ducks, but I can't think of a single rational reason to do so, so no.

On Avs/Wild, the PP/PK difference this season was so slanted towards the Wild, I'd almost pick them on the basis of that and the extra home game, even though Colorado was the better 5v5 team. And injuries don't account for all of it, either: the Avs PP was brutal even before Sakic, Smyth and Stastny went down.

However: adding Forsberg to the Avs side (only one of the best PP players of the past 10+ years) and deleting Schultz from the Wild side may well entire neutralize this advantage that Minnesota ought to have. I think the Avs D kinda sucks even with Foote, but I'll pick them anyway. And of course, we have Flames in 6.

It begins! at 8PM MT in San Jose. CBC is the network, Coach Simpson and our friend Mark Lee are the broadcast team. Things I'd like to see, but don't expect to:
Things I do expect to see:
Calgary 2 (Langkow, Moss)
San Jose 1 (Cheechoo)

Go Flames.


Speaking of penalties taken/drawn ratios - check out Sarich's...


I know, I know...he plays much tougher competition than Primeau. But still, that's just ugly.

Another great post, Matt. You're on fire lately, brother.

As for the series, I'm torn. On the one hand, it's the San Jose Sharks. On the other, it's the San Jose Sharks. Anything could happen in this one. Le sigh.

Go Team Canada???

I'm pumped.

One of the great things about the NHL playoffs (which makes them different than many other sports) is that there are always upsets in Round. Sometimes big ones.

It's easy to make predictions going in, but by the end of Round one, everyone's bracket is in tatters. I will say, without fear of possibly being wrong, that the top 4 seed in each conference will not advance to the next round.

A seven seed probably will, and it ain't going to be Ottawa. That just leaves the Flames.

Go Flames.

Pumped indeed. FUCKING PLAYOFFS!!!

Good luck Flames fans, but I also hope you lose.

Does that even make sense?

That Sarich number worries me. That's the kind of thing I would take advantage of if I were coaching the Sharks. Play a fast winger against Sarich every shift, and make hay on the PP.

There was a game earlier in the season (I don't remember which one) where we completely shut down the Shark PP. Whatever we were doing, it never allowed San Jose to enter the zone. Maybe we can duplicate that?

Go Flames!

That was the first game in San Jose; Sharks were carrying the play for the first two periods, except for when they went on the powerplay and they unquestionably were worse.

Though that was pre-Campbell, and their PP point man was Carle or something.

That was also the weird game where the Sharks completely let up, or something, partway thru the 3rd.

Sigh. I really miss WOO FUCKING PLAYOFFS!!!

That Sarich number worries me. That's the kind of thing I would take advantage of if I were coaching the Sharks. Play a fast winger against Sarich every shift, and make hay on the PP.

Do you think NHL coaches are even looking at the more advanced statistics like these? Based on the ridiculous comments that many former coaches (now turned media types) make, I'm sort of under the impression they just rely on gut feeling and hope for the best.

Flames 6 Sharks 4 tonight with an empty netter is my call.

Do you think NHL coaches are even looking at the more advanced statistics like these? Based on the ridiculous comments that many former coaches (now turned media types) make, I'm sort of under the impression they just rely on gut feeling and hope for the best.

No doubt. But even before checking the numbers I knew Sarich took many penalties just from watching all the games. If Keenan hasn't noticed, he's not paying attention. of course, when it comes to the Flames back-end he doesn't have much choice anyways, so it's not really going to effect Sarich's position or ice-time Im sure.

All the best to the Calgary Flames this evening.

5 minutes in, Flames up 2 - egg.

This series is over. The Sharks are done.

Go Flames. Go Predators.

And there's Sarich, beaten to the outside.

Nice start by the Flames though.

I hope it's not going to be one of those nights for Sarich.

As we've seen this year...when he's bad, he's BAD.

Nice to see the Conroy/Yelle/Moos 3rd line, though. And the quick start was a pleasant surprise.

all the Sarich talk seems pretty apropos right now.

Good game so far...

I hate these games where the puck sticks to Kipper like this....

Beauty start, really. Moss looks like more of a player all the time, good stuff happens with the puck when he's around.

I'm also very psyched to see the spring in Phaneuf's step. (And to hear him booed by the SJ crowd. Yeah, that'll bother him.)

Yeah, I was actually impressed by all the guys of Moss-caliber that period (Hale, Nystrom, etc.).

Hopefully Phaneuf wasn't too hurt by that Grier collision.

Good first period by my expectations. That Sharks PP I hope has showed everyone the difference between Kipper and Nabokov.

I'm listening to the game not watching, but I noticed that our PK has two distinct phases. If a we let the opposition get set up, things go badly. But if we turn them back at the blueline, or get into a dump and clear cycle (they dump, we clear), we can shut down teams. It's certainly different from what most teams do to us, where we're allowed to set up and pass around the perimeter, but not much else.

Shift times are surprisingly even for the Flames. Godard seems to be the only one who is sitting, even though his one shift actually generated a scoring chance. Godard (:47) and Nystrom (3:24) are the only two under 4 minutes. I'm not aware of any one group getting pinned so far, which is a good sign. If we can roll 3 2/3 lines without an appreciable increase in shots against, we should be able to finish hard in the third, especially if we can pick up early leads like tonight.

I am so glad we're playing the Sharks instead of Detroit or Anaheim. Hope is a beautiful thing.

By the way, if Game 1 is anything to go by, the Col-Min Series is going to be the one to watch.

Ryan Smyth penalty shot!


Brian Campbell the guy who made all the difference just got powned by the Flames' big guy.

Go Iggy

Matt: I have figured out why I really like SJ's chances in this series: I think their forwards -- while not all being "name" guys -- win the battle when it comes to facing the Flames D.

Michalek is just blowing by guys down his wing and Marleau's an absolute handful. Also, Clowe threatens to do the most damage to the Flames by a Newfoundlander since Daniel Ryder.

Great start by the Flames as they got the jump by scoring a goal in a junk-vs-junk line match and then Nabby fucks the intial PP shot and Iginla makes a great play to bat it over to Ugly for the goal.

Speaking of Ugly, the kid's a great player considering counting stats for his age but he's so fucking overrated in terms of talking about actual defensemen who can play both ways. I mean, I know he's just about to turn 23 but people forget and put him in the class with real D and he doesn't doesn't belong there.

On the matching:

- Wilson has this thing going where he's still up for the Grier-Mitchell-Rissmiller vs Iginla but then he's being sneaky and he's having the Joe T. line come out to face a tiring Jarmoe.

- Marleau and Co are absolutely owning whomever is playing against them.

Finally, I was super impressed with the Flames forecheck at the start of the game and if the Sharks have warts, it's on their D. But I don't think anyone thinks the Flames can stand any significant amount of time being spent in their zone. SJ seems poised to operate the same way Col does to Edm: just throw pucks to the net and bang away. Clowe in particular has been a force.

These are first period thoughts; thought I posted them and then went back to watching the 2nd but the stupid fucking word verification thought otherwise;)

Stephane Yelle, offensive juggernaut.

I think hacking on Phaneuf for not being a "real" defenseman is overrated myself.

He's got his warts, clearly. But, you know...23 years-old. Perhaps his game will never fill-in and he'll remain the 15+ goal, 60 point, 26 minute/night guy he is now. And I can probably live with that.

Outside of the Cgy PP -- didn't see that because I happened upon the Min game just as the play transpired that lead to the 94 PS -- I had SJ outchancing Cgy in that period by 9-6. Cgy notched the last three chances but SJ was owning before that. Of course Cgy also had some bad luck after they hit the post after an awful series of plays by Semenov.

Some other things:

- I'll have to watch more closely to see how they're doing it but the Flames are owning Joe T and he's having zero impact. Just before Campbell made that stupid play on the second Yelle goal, I was thinking how neither Campbell nor Thornton were making any kind of a difference.

- Speaking of that Campbell play, if I were a Sharks fan right now -- and I guess I am:) -- I would be really pissed off at how they went away from working down low and then started throwing the puck back to the point. I really can't understand this. Flames have Hale, Vandermeer and Phaneuf and all guys looked capable of being worked. This was really making things happen for SJ in the first period but then they abandoned it.

Also, I'll just throw out credit to Keenan for influencing the refs so far. Early in the first, Ugly made a punch at Thornton and didn't get nabbed for it, Ugly went on to throw down Clowe in an obvious retaliation penalty after the later took an interference infraction and Vandermeer could have about three hooking penalties all by himself.

Metro: He's great for his age, no question about it. Given his age and the number of GP he's already accumulated, there's a number of reasons to think he'll get smarter as he gets older and he'll put that together with a skill-set that's a long ways away from deteriorating.

But that's where the discussion should end, ASAIC.

I have no problem saying he's not Lidstrom/Pronger yet, but he sure looks a fuck of a lot better than Brian Campbell tonight.

Phaneuf has a goal, drew a penalty, and has the whole crowd booing him like he's Todd Bertuzzi; Campbell has misfired on a few passes and got dick-slapped by Jarome. Good stuff!

Dennis: Fair enough. We basically agree then.

Not looking good.

But hard to imagine that Thornton and Campbell are this bad tomorrow night.

And this is the problem with the first round by the way - fantastic hockey, but too much to watch, and unless the Oilers are playing, I end up missing a bunch flipping around...

Man, Mark Lee is horses**t. I think he was the last guy in the rink that figured out the puck was in the net on the third goal.

Matt: there's no question he's good and I wish he were an Oiler but he's overrated like few others in recent memory. It's probably got a lot to do with him being a Canadian playing in a Canadian city and of course Pierre McGuire.

Some day, and that day may not come for a long time, Phaneuf will get the shit kicked out of him. That will be a glorious day for fans in 29 other cities.

Mike w. is right by the way - MIN v. COL is awesome.


Don't forget that he's flashy as shit. Sure, his breakout passes and coverage leave a lot to be desired, but he can let a one-timer rip on the PP 18 times in a row making that "BANG" as it hits the glass and then he ragdolls Superstars like Hamel.

Don't forget that he's flashy as shit. Sure, his breakout passes and coverage leave a lot to be desired, but he can let a one-timer rip on the PP 18 times in a row making that "BANG" as it hits the glass and then he ragdolls Superstars like Hamel.

He also tends to score more points than 95% of Edmonton's forwards.

You're basically right, though. Phaneuf is so well thought of because he makes for a great highlight reel.

I didn't call him Ugly, so you didn't have to remind me that we only had 2 legitimate scoring threats most of the season, and one of them was injured in the ASG :-).

I've read this blog for the past 2 years as a lonely Aussie-Flames fan living in Melbourne (I visited Calgary last year though) and can I just say that everyone's comments, blog posts and yes, a little bit of NHL.Com streaming radio has me feeling much more involved in this playoff series.

So thanks all!

(No, nothing meaningful to add - sorry, back to regular programming)

Go Flames!

PS - Actually, Goddard seems to get beaten up on a bit here; what's the rational about having him on the team?

And it certainly seems like the Flames have kept penalties to a minimum, which is always a good step to winning any game...

The reffing in this game has left a lot to be desired.


Agreed. FUCK that was still live. Black man is hella angry.

Like I said, the reffing tonight has left a lot to be desired.

I love this Clowe fellah.

boy, Nystrom looked tired on that goal; thumb in his ass trying to draw a penalty/

Nystrom and crew shouldn't have been on the ice anyways.

Anyone else hard now? What a finish.


I can't believe Conroy tried to dipsy-doodle at the blueline with 20 seconds left.

Well, Kipper stole one.

Hard to say he stole a game where the Flames got 3, but he sure as hell stole it....

You know, when you have the puck on your stick 3 effin' feet from the blueline youse gottsa clear the damn puck, man. Geez these Flames are going to kill me. Good win, I guess, but all the Flames looked more relieved than happy at the end.

.949 .870

I'm not that surprised that San Jose was able to score with the goalie pulled. We knew they were better on the man advantage, and although 6v5 isn't 5v4, it's still where San Jose is going to be scariest. But I don't see that being a predictor for future games, unless Calgary takes a lot more penalties in the future. If the refs keep up a "let 'em play" attitude, San Jose is going to have a hard time.

My prediction was that the goaltending would be the difference in the series, but I didn't think it would be this big. .949 vs. .870 is huge. I thought if we were going to win, it was going to come from keeping the shots within 10. But I can live with this.

Back to back games to open the series makes this very interesting. There isn't going to be a chance for the teams to rest, think, plan, etc. I can't wait.

I think the differing SV% are partially a function of the fact that the quality chances were closer than the shot clock. San Jose had a lot of perimeter shots inflating their total.

If it's a one-goal game, I don't think Nystrom, Primeau, Moss, and Hale are all on the ice together with one minute left. If they are, expect a post headed "Fire Keenan!" from me shortly thereafter.

I'm with Jarome... I think "stealing one" would be stretching it here; I think either team could have won and felt like they earned it. The Sharks had a few more EV chances, and did a worse job converting on them. What does that remind me of? Oh, right, their entire season.

Here's the money quote from the recap:

San Jose's 108-point regular season and No. 2 seed didn't help when the Flames went ahead 2-0 in the first 5:17 minutes

As they say in the stock market, "Past performance is not an indicator of future success."

The reason Phaneuf is thought of is great also has to do with his puck control skills. Second period tonight, Langkow gives Dion a drop pass with a defender already on him in the defensive zone. Many defenceman would try dump that puck as quickly as possible and probably make a bad play. Dion skates backwards pulling the forechecker in, then calmly turns around, skates behind the net, creates a little room and gives Langkow a perfect breakout pass on the blue line. Sure he screws up, he's 21 for god's sake...

And in regards to things you thought you'd see Matt, did you think Sarich and Regehr would have such bad communication, cause I didnt.

I didn't see anything to dissuade me from my earlier prediction of a series win for SJ.

When SJ dumped the puck and worked from the corners out, the Flames couldn't hold them. When SJ threw the puck back to the point and looked for tips, Kipper had an easy go of it.

You'd have to think Wilson will look at the similarities of the two goals and decide there's a trend and also a soft spot to exploit.

I think the major worries I'd have is that Kipper outplayed Nabby and the refs let the Flames hook and hold all night.

But we all know how that goes; Wilson will complain about the reffing and try to get back some of the territory that Keenan apparently gained with his preemptive strike.

PDO: I guess it's a building issue but you're right, it sucks we can't see all that we want to see. On Friday night, for instance, you've got three games going at 7pm EST so why not take the Sens/Pens and move that to say 430 EST on Sat and go with a quadruple-header?

And that's just Friday night. Tomorrow night you've got games going at 10pm EST in both SJ and Ana and that's unfortunate.

I really wanted to watch Col/Min tonight but I could only squeeze in the first period given that the Pit game was no longer in doubt by 1030 NST but then an hour later I wanted to watch all of Cgy/SJ.

I'll take the SJ game tomorrow night but I'd also like to see the Ana game as well.

" earlier prediction of a series win for SJ.."? Kind of underselling your own certainty there, Dennis.

I believe it was words to the effect of, "if you think Calgary has a snowball's chance of winning this series unless the Sharks have a couple major injuries, you are a homer not dealing in reality." Feel free to quote yourself if I'm summing up unfairly.

Now I'm pissed.

Sharks in five.

I'm not going to go back and check, but:

1: are you a homer? yes:)
2: did I cite major injuries? yes, but I think I said injury in the singular:)
3: do I think the better team won tonight? No.
4: did I predict a sweep? no
5: did the flames win the series tonight? not that I know of;)

Don't get too upset, Matt. One of what I'm sure you consider the many upsides of the Oilers not being in the playoffs is that fans like myself will now watch your team's games and chime in with opinions and that will swell the commentary:)

Everyone's aware that Dennis is a serious playoff pooler, right?

In other words: BACK DA FUCK OFF!

Look, if Dennis wants to say one day that I strain my credibility "with old foolishness like picking the Flames in this series in any other way other than seven games or picking the Flames without saying that for that to happen, SJ will need to suffer a major injury or two",

and the next day say that he thinks San Jose is "the better team",

and pretend these two things are the same,

then that's his prerogative. Though he might wish that he hadn't brought up credibility in the first place.

I'm not buying the argument that the Sharks were the better team in this one. The only way you can make that case is with the shot clock.

The Flames took the lead two minutes in and never let it go. The Sharks chased them the entire game. The play of the game was the Flames Captain schooling the Sharks' flashy new defenceman we keep hearing about. The Sharks Captain got stoned on a breakaway. San Jose went 53 minutes between goals.

Anytime I see those all of those things happen in a game, the team that won the game was probably the team that deserved to win.

Don't count out the Sens just yet. Darth Gerber's return to form makes me confident that we can at least push this series to six games...

can't we all just get along? i've already realized that i will be forced to watch calgary make it to the second round. damn it all to hell!

ps i have also realized that i do not fully hate the flames. dion, on the other hand, i think i would hit him with my car if i saw him crossing the street. i dunno what it is about the kid but i can honestly say that i hate him. i say that about alot of people and alot of things but this time i really mean it. damn you dion!

It seems like I've raised Matt's ire; this should only be a good thing as it will lead to more and more discussion:) And like I said before, maybe more and more Oilers fans will show up here and we'll all bring something to the table and between us all, we won't miss a whole lot.

Matt: the difference is that I said the Flames wouldn't win in less than seven games and/or unless the Sharks suffered a major injury or two. I don't know why that rots the hell out of you because I admitted Torres injuring Michalek was a big part of why we beat them in '06 and I've always been one of the few -- if not the only one -- who says that had Datsyuk been healthier in '06, we might not have gotten past Det either.

Also, I had Det beating your Flames last year but I said the closer only got so out of hand at EV because Cgy was missing Reghier.

So, it's not like I can't call it equal on both sides and because I do, I don't consider myself a homer.

You, on the other hand, apparently think the Flames will win both games in SJ:)

Anyway, I seriously thought the Sharks had more chances last night and I seriously don't believe that the team that wins is always the better team, either. There's a serious discussion regarding this happening over at Ty's site right now.

Once again, nothing personal and I probably should have left you alone as I honestly do love reading your stuff and I think you come up with a lot of good gear when you dig.

Dennis, perhaps next time you disagree with a prediction of mine, just disagree with it -- preferably with some reasons -- and skip the comments about credibility. We should be fine.

Have we figured out why the Sharks should be better at EV yet, btw, even though they weren't all season? Or is it the special teams that will carry SJ to the series?

Have we figured out why the Sharks should be better at EV yet, btw, even though they weren't all season? Or is it the special teams that will carry SJ to the series?

it looks like they managed to pull it off last night.

Matt: I won't bother to disagree with you at all considering you don't take it well. I presented how I've stated in the past what a difference injuries can make -- and have made -- and I'll leave it at that.

Go Sharks:)

Oh Christ.

This isn't fucking rocket science.

Disagree with the man, state your reasons. I've followed this blog from the beginning, and Matt (and Grabia, for that matter) can handle it just fine.

Leave the bullshit commentary about "credibility" and the insufferably arrogant backhanded compliments at home.

Spring forth, burly protector!:)

I honestly like reading the vast majority of Matt's stuff and I've complimented him before. But series prediction and the Lombardi over Marleau thing didn't ring true to me.

But as long as you feel like jumping in here, rob, do You want to take a shot at Lombardi over Marleau?

I'll take a run at it. Just for fun.

Even Strength Shots Taken
Lombardi: 117 on net/ 52 missed
Marleau: 110 on net/ 32 missed

Even Strength Goals

Corsi per 60 minutes
Lombardi: -3.6
Marleau: +6.7

Goals per 60 minutes
Lombardi: 0.52
Marleau: 0.52

Points per 60 Minutes
Lombardi: 1.50
Marleau: 1.11

Goals Against Rate per 60 Mins
Lombardi: 2.20
Marleau: 2.39

Goals For Rate per 60 Mins
Lombardi: 1.56
Marleau: 1.51

Even Strength +/-
Lombardi: +27/-38
Marleau: +26/-41

Quality of Competition
Lombardi: 5th amongst own team's forwards
Marleau: 4th amongst own team's forwards

OK, now do playoffs:)

Nice work, Slipper. Everything but that pesky Corsi number points to Lombardi (who is a real nice player IMO). Here's another one for you:

Time on ice:
Lombardi 1419:32
Marleau 1421:35

Still pretty even. Then there's this one:

Salary 2007-10:
Lombardi $1.55 / $1.55 / $2.35
Marleau $4.5 / $6.3 / $6.3

I know which one I'd rather have on my payroll.

Marleau is badly overpriced, but the one thing going for him is he just started to play hockey again after five months is a coma. 9-10-19, +2 in his last 20 GP, after 10-19-29, -21 in his first 58 ... he should wear a mask and gun when cashing his cheque. 22 ES points? -19 on that team?? $6.3 MM???

By way of comparison, Lombardi in his last 20 was 4-5-9, +1, but he wasn't padding his stats on the PP like Marleau was.

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