Tuesday, October 31, 2006


This I Believe

ONE. Dave Nonis may be a smart guy, and has a debatable point on the underlying issue, but using Sidney Crosby to illustrate his beef with the CBA is laughable and absurd.
"Pittsburgh is going to put seven years of development money into him and he can leave when he's 25," Nonis told a B.C. Chamber of Commerce meeting.

Yeah, the Penguins are out-of-pocket for meal money and power skating lessons until Crosby gets up to speed. Whatever: Crosby is a gift from the heavens for the Penguins. Thanks to the CBA (most critically the rookie pay scale), even if Crosby does leave on July 1, 2012, the Penguins will have received services and economic benefits that exceed what they will have paid for them by tens of millions of dollars. Boo-hoo. (Visualize the televised draft lottery back in Summer '05, with all those GMs at their tables chatting with each other: "I almost hope we don't win; I'm pretty nervous about sinking all this development money into the kid.")

TWO. Nonis is right about the schedule, though. Back in January I looked at a minor tweak that at least would have each team play each other every year, and have each team visit your building every other year. As for the overall travel problem though, Dave: move the team to Hartford or let.. it.. go.

THREE. The most overrated and overanalyzed element of hockey is faceoffs. I finally did some back-of-the-envelope math about this, with some really round numbers and somewhat dodgy assumptions, but take a look.

One area where you can take a stab at the objective relevance of face-offs is on the PP/PK. Every PP begins with a faceoff; usually it's in the end of the team on the PK. Winning this faceoff generally means you get to set up immediately (if you're the PP team) or you clear the puck down the ice (if you're the PK team). I estimate this makes a difference of about 20 seconds. The other assumptions I've made for the purposes of this rough calc:
So, roughly, you're taking 10 faceoffs on the PP every game. Now, a superb faceoff team would be one that wins 60% of their draws. Since an average team wins 50%, that means the superb team wins one extra PP faceoff per game. As noted above, that translates to about an extra 20 seconds of actual or effective PP time.

The average NHL team last season, in their 600 seconds of PP time, scored 84 goals. An extra 20 seconds per game then (1/30th) should result in about 2.8 additional goals over the course of the season. That 2.8 Goals figure may look familiar to some of you; using Poisson, it's the number that equates to one point in the standings. Add a second point for the 2.8 goals saved on the PK, and my estimate is that a 60% faceoff team will gain two points in the standings off of the improvement in the 20/60mins per game spent on special teams.

My best guess for the effect of FO% at even strength is maybe a third point. Obviously, feel free to challenge my assumptions, but I'm pretty sure this is the order of magnitude we're looking at. (Last piece of evidence: if face-off prowess is really so important, I'd expect more teams to be paying for it. Yanic Perrault, who was the only guy in the league over 60% last season, just signed this weekend. Nashville, who was very good in the dot last season, let their top 3 F/O guys leave in the offseason: Perrault, Sillinger, & Greg Johnson.).

FOUR. Something's wrong with the Flames right now. Dennis is right; they got beaten convincingly last night, at home, by a team that's probably not going to make the playoffs. I don't believe, nor will I ever, that effort and desire are lacking, but "passion" visibly is. Is this the inevitable consequence of an atmosphere and motto of All Business? (God, is that link depressing.) I don't know yet, but I'm pretty sure if the 3rd/4th lines manage a total of 3 goals over the next 10 games like they did in the 1st 10, their record is going to be similar as well.


I may keep counting later...


Potpourri For 3-6-1, Alex Tanguay

• I'm looking to add some new sites to the blogroll. If people have any recommendations about quality hockey sites I should be adding, leave a link and a description in the comments, please.

• Avi has developed his own ranking system over at SportsMatters. Those pictures really creep me out.

• There was a great story in the New York Times on Sunday about the Oilers Hail Mary goal against the Coyotes last year. The story is behind the wall, but is well worth the sign up. One thing that caught my eye in the story was this statement by Craig MacTavish:

"[I had already] pulled the goalie with a minute left in the game to get an extra forward to attack. Generally, I pull him between a minute-30 and a minute left to go. Experience tells me that anything more than that ends up with a puck in your net."

It makes me wonder, is that actually true? It certainly would be good information to have, knowing the statistically best window of time to pull your goalie. But I don't know how you could get the information, since I don't think the NHL keeps track of when goalies leave the net, or extra-man, end-of-the-game goals.

• Anyone else notice that Jarret Stoll had seven points in four games last week?

• Anyone looking for a good hockey book to read should pick up Ballad of the Whiskey Robber : A True Story of Bank Heists, Ice Hockey, Transylvanian Pelts, by Julian Rubinstein. It's a hilarious but informative story about a man named Attila Ambrus, a goalie, bankrobber and folk hero in post-Communist Hungary. I'd be shocked if this book hasn't already been optioned in Hollywood. Make sure and grab a copy.

• Allan Maki properly identifies Edmonton as the hockey City of Champions in the Globe & Mail. It's just too bad that I wrote that story eleven months ago on SportsMatters.

Monday, October 30, 2006


Flames Game Night

The Flames host the Washington Capitals tonight at 7PM MST (RSN West). (Sidebar: the Mighty Ducks always got the grief, but "Capitals" is an extremely lame and stupid name for a team that doesn't have a "50-100 years of history" excuse, e.g.).

Good on Sacamano for highlighting Eric Francis' chit-chat with Darryl Sutter today. (Sidebar2: Francis got a decent bit of cred back with me when he was the only guy who wondered aloud what the hell was going on during the Sauve-Reinprecht fiasco, even though events have essentially proven Sutter right in that Sauve's career has bombed to the point where he was Phoenix's 4th option in goal on Opening Night.)

Here's what I think (I can feel you all on the edge of your seats here): about scoring, I think Sutter is right. When I look at the lineup (and having watched 60 odd games over the past 1.1 seasons), I don't see any reason why the Flames forwards can't score with most of the teams in the league.

The strange thing is this. There are all sorts of people who will say quite matter-of-factly that (A) the Flames can't be successful in high-scoring games, or (B) the Flames aren't built that way, or (C) variations and combinations of A&B. There is no one, as far as I know, who has taken this opinion (i.e. criticism) to the next logical step, which is, Why Is That?

The Flames' defensive capabilities, real or overrated, are a bargain. Near-unanimous Vezina Trophy holder for $3.3M. Robyn Regehr for ~$1.9M; he would have gotten 5+ as a UFA this offseason. Phaneuf for <$1M. Zyuzin was a good deal in July. Even Rhett Warrener at $2.3M is basically earning his money (when he's healthy) put up against the Hal Gill/Willie Mitchell contracts. Only Hamrlik is overpaid. The Flames' cap number is about $41.3M. So the question is, or ought to be if you think they can't Score & Win, why aren't you tearing GM Sutter a new one for cocking up the forward lineup so bad? It's not for a lack of money, or cap space. If you think the Flames' forwards aren't good enough to win anything without flawless defensive play and heroic goaltending by Kipper, then you think Darryl Sutter has screwed up big -- there's no getting around that.

Maybe he has, but I don't think so. I think this is the best crew of Flames forwards since Gilmour got traded. What I would like is for the Flames (coaching staff?) to remember that the "identity" that made them successful 2-3 years ago was not perfect defensive play and positioning, but speed and an physical, attacking mentality. You have a top 3 NHL goalie and a deep and solid defensive corps: the forwards should not be afraid to make a mistake. YAAWWWP.

Things are bad enough in FlamesLand that at least two people on the radio today were worried that the Flames would be in trouble with the Capitals -- the Washington Freaking Capitals -- if they didn't play their game to a Tee. Nonsense. The Flames can beat the Caps playing absolutely any style of game, and unless Kipper gets outplayed, they will. Call it 4-1 for the good guys (Lombardi x2, Kobasew, Hamrlik). Go Flames.


We will score when we start putting the puck in the net.

In the early days of this joint, it was so easy to pick on Flames superjournalist Eric Francis, that it was necessary for Matt to raise the white flag, and he issued this disclaimer:

Although I am the Flames half of this web-log, I would like to announce this as clearly and strongly as possible:

I cannot, and will not, defend the meanderings and sentence fragments of Eric Francis on an ongoing basis.

Well, that sort of took the fun out of kicking the stuffing out of Francis every week, so I stopped reading him.

But today I happened across a beauty that I can't resist bringing to your attention. It really is a battle of wits, as "Eric Francis Interviews Speaks to Sutter."

I'll be honest, I haven't even read the thing yet. I've only read the rest of the headline, and already it ranks as a special article:

"Sutter's finger far from the panic button as GM defends his club's ability to score when skill guys on same page"
Oh man, do I ever love justifications that use the circular formula "X is good when/because X is good".

The humour potential in this baby is just too good to waste on a quick read. I want to pour two fingers of single malt, put on some tunes, and really enjoy it. And I want to make it clear that my excitement is not only a product of the fact that I think Francis is a preturnatural halfwit. In fact, to give the man his due, he is about the only guy in Calgary who never completely downed the entire jug of Sutter Kool-Aid. He even had the temerity to question some of Sutter's decisions in print. Hence, I'm just giddy in anticipation of which Francis will turn up for the conversation, and whether he will buy Sutter's inevitable assertion that the status quo is working just fine thank you very much.

Enough foreplay. Read and discuss.

Sunday, October 29, 2006


Home To The Hardcore

I awoke Saturday morning, fully expecting to find a series of emails from those who were supposed to attend the Battle of Alberta/Covered in Oil street hockey game, all saying that they weren't going to be able to make it. It had snowed all night long, and it was a dreary late October day. In a week, Edmonton had transitioned from the hues of autumn into a Winter Not-So-Wonderland. Who, then, would want to come out and play some ball hockey?

Yet the emails I received were of a different sort. Are we still playing? Yes! It's Edmonton. Snow will not prevent us from playing. Bring some shovels to clean the rink. Dress warm. It's not that cold. Game on!

I arrived at the rink shortly after the appointed time, Pleasure Motors and Cosh in tow. I couldn't see other bodies, but I could see shovels and snow flying through the air. Fantastic! And then, when I entered the rink, I saw the water. Tiny puddles, medium sized puddles, and a pond. Water had been thrown out, but it just kept seeping back in. It wasn't going anywhere. Then again, neither were we. Not one word was uttered about fleeing the arena. I doubt anyone even thought about it. We were going to play, come Hoth or high water.

And so we played. We played, though the rink was like a golf course, littered with traps and hazards. In some places, the ball wasn’t just slowed by the water. It was actually floating in it, bobbing like an orange fish weight. The water itself became a defenceman, blocking passes and preventing shots. It also became a weapon, used to stall, blind and drench opponents.

And what of our protagonists? Well, Pleasure Motors was everywhere at once, helping out on defence and then quickly transitioning the ball up the rink for a pass or a scoring chance. He attacked the crease with reckless abandon, gaining himself a place in the tiny pantheon of Edmonton hockey lunatics: Anderson, Simpson, Smytty, and now, Berry. His hair was a wet mass of effort; when he pinballed up and down the rink, strands of hair snapped the sky like a Gorgon's. It was a masterful performance, fully deserving of a Three Star.

I, on the other hand, mostly stayed at home. The defensive zone was my abode, and I’d like to think I owned it. I was beat a few times, with dazzling dekes and spinaroos numbing my capacity to think. But my play was mostly solid, even Harvey-esque in its quality and dignity. I did in fact score three goals, but it wasn’t exactly a D-Vo special like I predicted. Rather, I scored them over a three game period. Yet I felt no shame in not getting the hat-trick I so desired. My body and my mind told me that, on that day, my role would be to prevent the scoring of goals, rather than being commited to the scoring of them.

And the other players on this inclement stage? Simply glorious. It was a day, as Cosh noted on the way home, where everyone had a moment of greatness, where all showed flashes of brilliance. The goalies made huge, breath-taking saves. The defencemen cut off lanes and made crisp outlet passes. The forwards danced, dangled and buried the ball. Spectators watched, taking tremendous pictures, tidying up our mess, and cheering us on.

It was, in short, an amazing day. I haven't had that much fun in a long time, even though my body is paying for it today. I really want to thank all who came out. Thank you, thank you, thank you. Next time, we'll find a more suitable venue, get some more bodies, and it'll be even better than it was yesterday. And I hope that more of you can join us. Trust me, you won't forget it.


Bottom (Left to Right): Sean (TB), Pleasure Motors, Ender (in goalie gear), Jeremy, Me, Aaron, Adrian (in goalie gear)

Top (Left to Right): Matt (not Fenwick), Allan's girlfriend, Allan, Daniel, Bobby, Darron, James

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Oilers/Capitals-Open Thread

We're at home, so we win. Hell, we better win this game.

Prediction: 4-3 Oilers, in shootout. Horcoff, Lupul, Smyth. Fernando gets the go-ahead in OT, and Roli stones Ovechkin to win the game.

Out for the day playing street hockey. Let 'er go in the comments, people. It's your show today.


Flames Game Day

Ahhh, Firefox just crashed and lost my post about things like how David Poile is a tool, and now I'm out of time. Flames beat Nashville tonight 3-2 in their first ever home shootout win.

And speaking of shootouts, all the best to the street hockey players today in Edmonton. Grabia is calling his shot as a D-Vo Special, which I believe means predicting a hat-trick and then not scoring at all. Have fun everybody. And, Go Flames.

Friday, October 27, 2006


"..various photos, jerseys, and other mementos.."

Friday Depressing Link: McCarty to auction Stanley Cup rings


"You cannot have man-love on this team!"

Friday Fun Link: the audio trailer for 34 Years (~60sec), a new uh, romantic comedy, about the CFL and the Eskimos' now-dead playoff streak. Nice work by the Richards show on this one.


Gretzky Is Denied. Choked On The Open Net!

We are a go for the inaugural BoA/CoI Oilogosphere street hockey game in The City of Champions. Game time is tomorrow, Saturday, October 28th, 1 p.m., at the rink behind Lister Hall on the UofA Campus. We currently have around 15 men and women who are going to be playing, as well as an official photographer in Mr. Cosh. How hardcore are our players? Well, one fine gentleman who is in town from Chicago is even coming out to play! And no, it's not Dale Tallon looking for a first line centreman.

If you wish to balm the humiliating burn of the last two Oiler defeats, and are interested in playing, please email Pleasure Motors and me today. Addresses are coveredinpleasure@gmail.com, and andygrabia@gmail.com. As well, we openly encourage any puck bunnies, male or female, who just want to come down and watch the game, to do so. I've already set up my net and my targets, and have been practicing my snap shot. My performance tomorrow is going to be something that people won't want to miss.

Two other items for today. First off, can anyone tell me why Technorati is not pinging our site? I claimed our blog, it's on the Blogger listings, but yet Technorati says we haven't posted in over 300 days. I think we all know that isn't true. Any help would be appreciated. Secondly, I just have to note that when I read Cosh's post about the Coyotes selling their arena name to Jobing.com, I automatically assumed it was referring to the Biblical character Job. You know, "The Lord giveth, and the Lord hath taken away." I just assumed it was a clever new term to denote human suffering. For example, "the Great One is going to be Jobing it for the next five years in Phoenix." Turns out I was wrong--it's an employment recruitment company--but I think my heart was in the right place.

I still can't believe we lost to the Coyotes. It's like being swept by the Kansas City Royals, or beaten by the Washington Generals.

Thursday, October 26, 2006


Oilers/Coyotes: Open Thread

Record: 6-3-0Record: 2-8-0

Sorry. Blogger was down for a good deal of time today, and I was out scouting locations and buying equipment for the BoA/CoI street hockey game on Saturday.

Two teams who need to win, for very different reasons. Rock n' roll.

Prediction: 3-0, Oilers. Stoll, Lupul, and Smid.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Well, Then

There you go, Earl. Enjoy. I really don't think the Oilers played badly tonight. In fact, I think they played really well, outside of the crease. It was the goaltending that cost us this game. Six goals on eighteen shots. Roli looked bad from the very beginning. Big rebounds, not getting out on shots. Bad, bad, bad. Alex Hemsky was also driving me crazy with his refusal to take shots, but it didn't cost us anything. I thought Fernando Pisani looked great, in the time he had out there. He and Torres and Stoll were really dictating the play in the first. It seemed like they got less ice as the game went on, but I don't know if that is in fact true.

The best thing about this loss is that it was humiliating. Not for me, because I'm going to have to take it from Earl until mid-November, but for the Oilers. They should now be extremely motivated for tomorrow's game against Phoenix, which had the stench of upset all over it. Plus, Roli will now have to stew on his poor performance until Saturday, as Jussi will probably draw in against the Yotes.

Every goalie eventually has a bad game. I'd prefer it be early in the season rather than at the end of the year. An irritating loss because it happened against the Ducks, sure. But in the grand scheme of things, not a big deal. Hopefully.


Potpourri for .790

**Overdue props: Lowetide is a fantastic, fantastic blog. There are about twenty hockey blogs that I would describe as excellent, but no others come close to LT on this count: the possibility that the last thing he posted is fascinating. His personal photo and print archive is obviously considerable, as is his recall of hockey days gone by (Steve Tuttle? YGBSM). He's also pretty damn funny.

Which reminds me, he retold this oldie-but-goodie (and much varied) joke a couple of nights ago, which made me howl so I'm reprinting it here. The Bobby Hull Joke About Minsk:
Man 1: Where you headed?
Man 2: Minsk.
Man 1: Minsk? Only things in Minsk are hookers and hockey players.
Man 2: My wife is from Minsk.
Man 1: What position does she play?

**As noted, I didn't shell out for the PPV last night, so I missed seeing not only a righteous thrashing by the Flames, but what in all likelihood was Mayor Quimby's last appearance in an NHL uniform:
The Phoenix Coyotes placed goalie Mike Morrison on waivers on Wednesday, less than 24 hours after a lopsided 6-1 loss to the Calgary Flames.

He is 0-3 in four starts with the Coyotes this season with a 6.13 GAA and .790 save percentage.

Quimby's SV% last season was .882; I just don't see that there's anything on his resume that would tempt another NHL team to take a flyer on him. The Grrrowl, on the other hand...

**Speaking of the Coyotes, credit is due to Tyler for his preseason prediction (15th in the W.C.). He used some cold, basic statistics (the whole series was riveting) to show that (A) they were average to poor in every element of the game last season, and (B) that the personnel changes they made -- or didn't make (CuJo) -- would probably make things worse.

A mini-rant on stats here: they are not the be all/end all. In terms of forecasting, they are helpful (an advantage) but they're far from perfect. I still like my own two eyes and gut feeling. (Example: Sens and Sabres. The underlying numbers say that Ottawa is and has been the superior team, but Buffalo had a better record for most of last season (the last 3/4) and beat Ottawa in the playoffs. Luck, maybe, but it looks to me like Buffalo is the better team, which is why I picked them to win the NE Division and the E.C.). But -- I don't think there's any doubt that statistical analysis is under-utilized by NHL teams and the hockey media.

Here's the thing: you can crunch and re-crunch numbers until your eyes go blurry and MSExcel crashes, and have reams of data on absolutely every player, team, and situation in the NHL. This does not prevent you whatsoever from considering less tangible things and giving them whatever weight you please.

I get the impression that some teams, GMs, writers, etc. think that too much stats might "infect" them. They are a freaking tool, and at times a darn useful one. Neglecting to make maximum use of them is a self-handicap, imposed on oneself or one's organization for no good reason.

**Guy Carbonneau, Fast Learner: "...Sergei Samsonov is on the fourth line with Steve Begin and Garth Murray." Next up: Jeff Friesen? (He, McCarty, & Richie were the only CGY fwds who didn't score a point last night).

**Go Flames.


Oilers Game Day-Hey Niedermayer!!!

Record: 6-2-0Record: 6-0-2

The biggest game of the year, by far. A matchup between the two representatives to the Western Conference Finals, two teams off to a very good start, and Chris Pronger's first game against the Oilers. This one is going to be a doozy.

Prediction: 6-3 Oilers. Sykora, Horcoff, Lupul (3), and Mägni Thöroson the Ëlectric Nörseman. I'm also going to predict that Mägni and Ketchup get into a tussle, Mägni hammers him with a blow that shakes Yggdrasil and awakens the Frost Giants in Niflheim, and Ketchup cries his way back to Daddy Carlyle .


***Update*** Earl continues to wish he was an Albertan, over at the Battle of California.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006


Simulacra & Simulation

Sorry to cut into Flames time, but I really have to let people in Canada know that they should keep an eye on The Score over the next 24 hours. They've done a segment concerning the tilt tomorrow between the Ducks and the Oil, and have interviewed a bunch of the Oilers about Chris Pronger. What is so surreal/absurd/insane about the whole thing is that Christie Chorley is the one doing all the interviewing. The questioning is all centered around why Pronger left, how the Oilers feel about him, and how they feel about family. Yet no one even bats an eye during their interviews with her. Not even the slightest "wink-wink." Everyone stays in character, dutifully playing along with the idea that this reporter is searching for answers to questions that haven't already been asked and answered. She also does the voice over commentary, and even talks about the "swirling rumours around Pronger's departure." But she never lets on that much of the swirling was occurring around her frame (wrongly, I should add). I don't know how I can possibly begin to describe the confused feelings it aroused in me. She conducted the entire segment without even the tiniest hint or admission that she was a part of the whole episode. Did I just witness an example of extraordinary journalism, or a visual lecture in postmodernism? Was she negating her involvement out of a desire to be objective, or because "Chris Pronger's Christie Chorley" is but an imitation of the "real Christie Chorley", and to recognize the copy only leads to a distortion and eventual destruction of the original? At this point, I really don't know the answer. But I'm pretty sure that Baudrillard would have had a field day watching that segment, considering the backstory behind it.


Flames Game Night


So, I watched the 3-2 L to Boston last Thursday on the PPV (verdict: Charlie Simmer is pretty good if a bit unoriginal, Roger Millions is good overall but still uses the word "footrace" too often and focuses too much on the officiating). And you know what? For all the angst I heard on Friday morning ("Where's the effort? Where's the desire? 'Cause I didn't see it), I thought the Flames looked like the better team, and not just by a hair.

The vaunted puck battles, puck possession, zone play, etc. were all in the Flames favour. Also, Tanguay looked like the guy he's supposed to be, as did Kobasew, and Lombardi looked like the guy I've been saying he is since Sept.'05 or earlier. Iginla still hasn't looked as good all year as he did the first 5 shifts in the opener against EDM (where I was thinking, Oh Yeah, they may have the scoring depth, but we still have The Man), but he's still good even when he's not that good.

That said, losing to Phoenix at home tonight (in the absence of a ridiculous, huge performance by Quimby) would just about mean panic time, legitimately. It's fine to talk about how the boys look when it's Win Some Lose Some like last season, but Lose Most can't go on, and won't. (Fascinating possibility suggested at Five Hole Fanatics: Sutter speaks, not to call out the players but to call out the coach.)

I doubt we see a blowout win tonight over the Coyotes, but one that's convincing enough. I'm going to forego Millions & Simmer & $11.95 tonight in favour of Peter Maher & assembling baby furniture & karma. Let's say 3-0 (Iginla, Lombardi, Amonte). Go Flames.


Hockey In The Streets

After much discussion, Pleasure Motors and I have decided to coordinate an inaugural Oilogosphere street hockey game here in the City of Champions. Who loves you, baby! The date, as you see above, is this Saturday, October 28th. It' short notice, but Dave and I feel it is better to get some playing in before the really, really cold weather hits, and people make excuses to not show. Furthermore, we are both really stoked about playing. The sooner the better!

Alright then, this is the list of what we need before Saturday:

1) People. I would guess that 10 would be an ideal minimum, and 20 an ideal maximum. If people are interested in playing, please email Pleasure Motors at coveredinpleasure@gmail.com, and me at andygrabia@gmail.com. I think the best thing to do after that will be to set up a listserv, so we can easily email people about future games. Maybe even one of us will set up an Oilogosphere street hockey blog, and we can keep track of things on there. It would be fitting. Personally, I'd like to get to the point where we play frequently, and give out a Oilogosphere Champions trophy. That would be hot.

2) Time. We would suggest starting between 1 and 2 p.m., so as to allow the university students like PM time to recover from their hangovers, and the old geezers like me time to stretch out the groin properly. Let's throw around times in the comments until we get emails flowing.

3) Location. Central Edmonton is probably the best. PM and I are currently scouting out sites. I like schoolyards the best, because the area is enclosed by three walls, and cars can make a fourth wall. A top consideration right now is the Montessori school near 76th avenue and 106-107th street. I know a really good school over in the Ritchie area (I used to play there every weekend), but it may be a pain for people to get to without vehicles. Again, drop ideas into the comments.

4) Equipment. That would be nets, goalie equipment, balls, and sticks. Let's talk, and see what everybody has. I have a net, so that is one thing down. I also believe wholeheartedly in the tennis ball, but I'll let democracy reign.

5) Music. We obviously need pump-up tunes. I am more than willing to make some discs, and can play tunes from the car. A ghetto blaster may be a better alternative, however.

I think that is it, but please tell us if we are missing something. Oh yes, two more things. The first is to throw out the idea of watching the Oilers/Caps game somwhere together Saturday night, after we've had a hot rub and washed off the blood. Again, a central location would be ideal. If we had a set number, we might even be able to make reservations somewhere. Secondly, I'm assuming that most of us are over 18 and under 70, but people under and over those ages probably shouldn't come. I guess if you're a mature 17, or a nubile 73, an exception could be made, but I think the "can legally get into a bar and not fall asleep by 9 p.m." rule should apply here.

So again, email Pleasure Motors and I if you are interested in playing a street hockey game this weekend. Please email us by Friday, so that we can determine whether we will go ahead or not. Let us know if you would be interested in meeting to watch the game Saturday night, too (this may include people who can't make it to the street hockey game in the afternoon). And please, spread the word. Feel free to invite anyone who might want to play. They don't have to be frequenters of the blogs, per se, or even Oilers fans.

Game On!!!


Oilers Prospects Watch

Here is a list of Oilers prospects, and how they are doing on the year so far. I did not include junior players, college players, or prospects in Europe, and I left some guys in the minors off the list (Murphy, Sestito, Goulet, Radunske).

Edmonton Oilers
Brad Winchester: Games Played 8; Goals 0; Assists 1; Points 1; Plus/Minus +2
Patrick Thoresen: Games Played 8; Goals 2; Assists 4; Points 6; Plus/Minus +4
Alexei Mikhnov: Games Played 1; Goals 0; Assists 0; Points 0; Plus/Minus 0
J.F. Jacques: Games Played 0; Goals 0; Assists 0; Points 0; Plus/Minus 0
Matt Greene: Games Played 8; Goals 0; Assists 0; Points 0; Plus/Minus -1
Ladislav Smid: Games Played 8; Goals 0; Assists 2; Points 2; Plus/Minus +2

Wilkes-Barrie/Scranton Penguins
Kyle Brodziak: Games Played 5; Goals 3; Assists 1; Points 4; Plus/Minus +2
MA Pouliot: Games Played 4; Goals 0; Assists 2; Points 2; Plus/Minus -1
Rob Schremp: Games Played 6; Goals 2; Assists 3; Points 5; Plus/Minus +1
Tom Gilbert: Games Played 3; Goals 0; Assists 1; Points 1; Plus/Minus 0
Jeff Deslauriers: Games Played 3; Wins 3; GAA 1.67; SV% .937

Stockton Thunder
Troy Brodie: Games Played 1; Goals 1; Assists 1; Points 2; Plus/Minus +2
Tyler Spurgeon: Games Played 1; Goals 1; Assists 0; Points 1; Plus/Minus +1
Liam Reddox: Games Played 1; Goals 0; Assists 1; Points 1; Plus/Minus +1
Devan Dubnyk: Games Played 1; Wins 1; GAA 1.00; SV% .980

Hamilton Bulldogs
Mathieu Roy: Games Played 5; Goals 1; Assists 3; Points 4; Plus/Minus +2
Zach Stortini: Games Played 5; Goals 1; Assists 0; Points 1; Plus/Minus +1

Iowa Stars
Toby Peterson: Games Played 6; Goals 2; Assists 4; Points 6; Plus/Minus +5

Grand Rapids Griffins
Danny Syvret: Games Played 6; Goals 1; Assists 1; Points 2; Plus/Minus -3

Milwaukee Admirals
Bryan Young: Games Played 3; Goals 0; Assists 0; Points 0; Plus/Minus -3

My Questions:

• With Ethan Moreau potentially out for the season, who will eat up his minutes? Will it be Mikhnov or Jacques? Will it be someone in the minors? Or will Kevin Lowe now be forced to pull the trigger on a trade?

• Or, will they sign a free agent? Yannic Perreault, anyone?

• How is Rob Schremp really doing?

• Is Ladislav Smid going to be able to play this well all year?

• Do people still feel the Oilers need to trade for some defensive help?


Query . . .

If the Flames lose to a Phoenix team that:
can we officially call off the Battle of Alberta? Would it even be sporting to keep going?

And while I'm here: jeez does it ever suck that Ethan is out for the season. That's exactly the reason I don't punch people -- I just so afraid of dislocating my shoulder. I sure hope Traktor is the real deal.

And while I'm still here: a big helmet smack to kinger at always on the road for pointing me to a way to watch hockey outside of Canada. Faaaaantastic.

Monday, October 23, 2006


All Hail Magni Thoreson!

Adding to the work done at Covered in Oil and in Matt's post today, I want to throw my support behind CoI commentor Garnet's idea of giving Patrick Thoresen the nickname Magni Thoreson. Since in Norse mythology Magni is the "son" of "Thor", and we all spell Thoresen's name wrong anyway, I believe it is perfect. I mean, check out this pedigree and list of aptitudes:

Known Relatives: Thor (father), Amora (mother), Odin (grandfather), Loki (uncle).
Known Allies: Sif, Jordahl, Thialfi, Thor, Enchantress.
Known Enemies: Desak, Designate.

Intelligence: Above Normal.
Strength: Incalculable.
Speed: Superhuman.
Flight Speed: Unrevealed, probably Escape Velocity.
Stamina: Godlike.
Durability: Metahuman.
Agility: Superhuman.
Reflexes: Superhuman.
Fighting Skills: Moderate proficiency at hand to hand combat.
Special Skills/Abilities: None.
Superhuman physical powers: Aside from the above listed attributes, an extremely long life span and immunity to all Earthly diseases.
Superhuman Mental Powers: Control over his father's hammer, Mjolnir.
Special Limitations: None.
Source of Superhuman Powers: Magni is a member of the race of superhumans known as Asgardians which accounts for his physical attributes.
Personal Weaponry: Mjolnir.
Transportation: Flight or Teleportation.

Flight speed unrevealed, probably escape velocity? All the potential "Thundering Hit!" references? Sign me up! And look Alana, his stamina is superhuman. Squeeee!!!

• Let's start off with Magni. He looked like a veteran on a line with Pinto and Sykora. 3 assists, and over 14 minutes of ice time. And the guy went undrafted. Mindboggling.

• Shouldn't we start calling the Sykora-Magni-Pinto line the Oilers #1 line? 4 points for Sykora, 3 for Magni, and 3 for Pinto. The entire line made up the Molson Canadian Three Stars.

• The Pisani-Stoll-Torres combo looked solid, as well. Stoll and Torres both scored, and Pisani played his best game of the year. He didn't get any points, but he had his chances. If that line keeps playing that way, they are going to produce.

• Other than the brain-fart that allowed the Coyotes to score two goals, the Oilers controlled the play. The Coyotes actually played pretty well, but the outcome wasn't ever really in doubt.

• Curtis Joseph looked awful. Nuff said.

• Roloson faced 30 shots? Really? Huh. Could have fooled me. Seemed like 20, max.

• Mikhnov only played about 4 minutes. I looked at the shift chart near the end of the 3rd, and noticed he hadn't played since early in the 2nd. That didn't make any sense, especially since the Oile were up by three. No sooner had I checked, Traktor Boy was out on the ice. Turns out it was for about four seconds, then back on the bench. Damn you, MacT! Quit messing with my mind.

• Sportsnet showed a really interesting graphic during the game, highlighting the Oilers tendency to score in spurts this year. They scored two tonight in less than a minute. There was the three against San Jose in two minutes. And they've also done the same against the Canucks, the Avalanche and the Wings. I don't know whether it is a stat that reflects poorly on the team, or positively on the team, but I dont think it's insignificant. I need to track it all down, and have a look.

• Two for ten on the powerplay. Some great play, and some bad play. But the result is what matters. I guess. Pfft.


I'm Just The Messenger

Interesting. Pierre Maguire just advocated eliminating head shots in the NHL. 2 minutes for unintentional, 4 for intentional, and a list that identifies players who habitually head hunt, similar to the diving list.

And before people start telling me that the game is too fast to ever properly penalize such things, I'll just point out that the NFL has similar penalties that punishes blows to the head, both on the line and in tackling. Intent is irrelevant.

Here it comes...


Potpourri for 2pts, please, Alex

Be careful what you wish for, I guess. The criticism of the Flames I've heard on the radio over the past few days, while ample in quantity and volume, is right near brainless. If I have to hear another pair of jocks nodding in unison about how the Flames Need To Play To Their Identity, I think I'm going to barf. "Work on the powerplay, Reg" isn't exactly blinding insight, but at least it's supportable.

In '05/06, the Flames did tend to have more success in games with not much scoring than they did in games with lots of scoring. But like just about everything else about their stats, things are a lot less clear when you look at Home and Road separately.

Like, on the road, the Flames were 3-6-0 in games where 8 or more goals were scored: not impressive. But in games where 3 or fewer were scored? 1-4-2. Is that the proof that they can only win low-scoring games?

At home, the boys were a pretty awesome 13-2-3 in games with 3 or fewer. In games with 8 or more? A perfect 3-0-0.

I really don't know how to explain why the Flames have been so much worse on the road than at home over the past 1.1 seasons. Their SV% is a lot worse on the road, but that's not really a Why. Dave Rowe thinks it's a lack of effort. I think that's absurd. More tomorrow.


I want to throw in a nomination for Thoreson's nickname: "Gunnar". First -- it sounds vaguely appropriate for a hockey forward, with the shooting and so forth. Second -- there's a Norwegian element. And third -- well, a story:

In the summer of 1995, Sacamano and I worked with about three dozen other young men & women at a great camp at the U of C. Thanks to the hormonal/thirsty age and nature of the staff, there was plenty of after-hours socializing. Naturally, sometimes friends -- and significant others -- would be involved in the festivities.

So this nice young lady who will remain nameless brought her boyfriend Gunnar along for a camping weekend out in the Kananaskis. A bunch of us are playing some Frisbee game on the Saturday afternoon, including the aforementioned Gunnar, and we came to a startling and grisly discovery: the guy was so uncoordinated, he couldn't throw a Frisbee. At all.

The game dissolved quickly, as everyone was so uncomfortable with this. Sacamano is roughly speaking the nicest and least judgemental person in the world, and his take was (IIRC), "Who can't throw a Frisbee? Can't everyone older than 10 throw a Frisbee? How is this possible?"

As someone whose team will be facing Gunnar Thoreson dozens of times over the next few years, I'm thrilled to give him a nickname that denotes a comical lack of coordination. So shall it be.

[P.S. Gunnar's girlfriend found out not long after this no one wanted to hang out with him, or even stand too near to him, because he couldn't throw a 'bee. She was so mad/devastated by this reaction that she actually sobbed for most of a night, and was affected for the rest of the summer. Recalling this still makes me laugh. I'm going to hell.]


Oilers Game Day-Coyotes

Record: 2-6-0Record: 5-2-0

***Afternoon Update*** TRAKTOR BOY IS IN!!! And he'll get playing time on the powerplay, too. Good God Almighty. Luckily I had sweatpants on when I read this.

• Georges Laraque returns to Edmonton. It's going to be hard watching him in that jersey. He better get a f**ing standing ovation, is all I have to say. He may not be able to play on this team anymore, but he gave his heart and soul to this community. I'd rather lose with Le GG than win with a lot of the clowns in this league (Bertuzzi, I'm looking at you).

• Before I go any further, I just want to brag about my son, who had 4 goals and 3 assists in his hockey game yesterday. Carry on.

• Ethan Moreau is out for a week with a dislocated shoulder. Either J.F. Jacques or Alexei Mikhnov will draw in. I think we all know who I'd like to see. I better wear my rugby pants tonight.

• Check out the title on this story: "GRETZKY & COMRIE TO RING PINK IN OCTOBER." Hmm.

• In addition to Le GG, Gretzky and Comrie, Curtis Joseph and Mike Morrison are ex-Oilers losing in Phoenix.

• People who know better than me have been salivating over Coyotes defenceman Zbynek Michalek. I'll be interested to see if he's as easily concussed as his brother.

• Owen Nolan: 8 Games Played, 1 Goal, 1 Assist, 2 Points. 06/07 Salary: $1.225 Million.

• Jeremy Roenick: 8 Games Played, 0 Goals, 1 Assist, 1 Point. 06/07 Salary: $1.2 Million.

• Fernando Pisani: 7 Games Played...he's hurt. Leave him alone.

• It's scary that the Coyotes only have four points in eight games. Even scarier, the Flyers only have three.

• I am impressed with the performance of "The Pack," however. It takes skills to dance on ice and avoid crushing your skull.

• The Coyotes are 25th on the powerplay, at 9.8%. The teams that are worse: Tampa, Detroit, Philadelphia, Calgary and Ottawa.

• The Coyotes are 26th on the penalty kill, at 77%. The teams that are worse: Calgary, New York Islanders, Tampa, Boston.

• The Coyotes are 30th in Goal Against Per Game, at 4.12. Edmonton is 5th, at 2.00. The Coyotes are 29th in Goals Scored Per Game, at 2.00. Edmonton is 17th, at 2.86.

• Even the Oilers should have some success on the powerplay. The only opponent the Coyotes haven't given up a powerplay goal to is the Blues.

• Check out a new Oilers blog called Always On The Road. The proprietor, Kinger, is making some fantastic YouTube Videos, including the MAB video that Cosh linked to, and the Hemmer Dangle versus Detroit. I imagine a solid market for an Oilers video blog, and so I hope Kinger keeps up the good work. It'll save me having to sort through YouTube all the time.

• How bad is Phoenix? So bad that not a single dork has created a Coyotes blog. Or does that speak to how bad the Coyote fan-base is? Actually, I found one blog, through MVP, but the last post is from September, and is about the host trying to find someone else to manage the site. That is some sad shit.

• Now that I note all this, the Oilers will probably lose.

Prediction: 13-2, Edmonton. Sykora (2), Lupul (2), Smytty (2), Torres, Horcoff, MAB, Staios, Stoll, Hemsky, Roloson.

Sunday, October 22, 2006



It appears that Bobby Clarke will soon--finally--be gone. Too bad for Flyers fans it didn't happen eight years ago.

***Update*** Hitch and Clarke are gone, with Paul Holmgren in as GM. I feel bad for Hitch. He got a raw deal.


The Hardest Button To Button

Fantastic game last night. I don't think the score indicates how lopsided this game was. Other than a flurry of shots in the 3rd, culminating in Jarrett Stoll's adherence to the Laws of Cartoon Physics and Datsyuk's dandy, the Wings didn't do a whole heck of anything. Other thoughts:

• MAB is going to seriously injure one of his teammates with his shot this year. He's turned into Boris Mironov. Jason Arnott better keep his head up.

• Are we at the stage where Chris Chelios is just allowed to do whatever he wants? Is there a separate Rule Book for him on the NHL webpage that I haven't stumbled across? I just want to know. The guy is literally hanging on to his career.

• That minute or so in the 2nd period where the Oilers just danced around in the Wings zone, ending in Hemsky's dipsy-doodling, was the most captivating minute of hockey I've seen all year. It was a cruel game of keep away.

• What was the motivation for Chopper going after Markov like that at the end of the game? Was it Markov's hit on Stoll? Moreau definitely went out his way to instigate something with Markov. Reasoner was already deep in the zone, so there was no need for him to join him behind the net.

• The penalty kill continues to look impenetrable. One goal given up in thirty-six chances, if you take out the San Jose game. Four in fourty-six, if you don't.

• The Oilers powerplay is 0-19 in the last three games, 1-25 in the last four. Two shots in five PP attempts tonight, as well as two missed shots. But the Calculators tell me I have to wait until the 42nd game before I can say it actually sucks, so I guess I'll reserve judgement until then.

• I was glad to see that the two third period goals came from the transition last night. More, please.

• Will the Sabres lose a game this year? 8-0 to start the year. 37 Goals For (4.88 Avg/G), 22 Goals Against (2.75 Avg/G). And ex-Flame Chris Drury already has 9 goals. Let's take a look at that series of trades, by the way.

Jul 3, 2003: Buffalo Sabres traded Steve Reinprecht and Rhett Warrener to the Calgary Flames for Chris Drury and Steve Begin.
Feb 1, 2006: Phoenix Coyotes traded Brian Boucher and Mike Leclerc to the Calgary Flames for Steve Reinprecht and Philippe Sauve.

Well done, Darryl. Well done.

Next up, Le GG's return. GOILERS!!!



I'd like to join the chorus in welcoming Southeast Shootout to the fold. They have a strong opening lineup including Cason of Casonblog, JP of Japers' Rink, and the Falconer from Do Thrashers have Large Talons, as well as two newcomers(?) in Ching Ning Ming for the Lightning and El Mojito for the Panthers. They also have a killer tagline ("Come for the Weather -- Stay for the Hockey"). That pretty much nails the demographic profile of the Southeast division fanbase, doesn't it (i.e, Canadian Cottontopped Snowbirds). Too bad it doesn't apply to their players. Of course, maybe that's not such a bad thing if you're a Canes fan.

Saturday, October 21, 2006


Oilers Game Day-Red Wings

Record: 3-3-1Record: 4-2-0

We're gonna win, because KISS say so. SHOUT IT OUT LOUD! ALL RIGHT, EDMONTON!!!

Prediction: 4-1, Oilers. Thoresen, Smith and Pisani (2).

Friday, October 20, 2006


Car... Game On!

I can't handle the space between these games. It's killing me. Whatever happened to the old "every two days" schedule? First it was six days, now four. I'm dying for some Oilers hockey here, people! Speaking of, does anyone play in a league requiring a body? Ice, street, ball, tabletop...any hockey will do (street hockey is my personal fave, I must say). I just want to start playing regularly again. So if anyone needs a completely out of shape, arrogant loud mouth with a dynamic combination of upper body strength and low centre of gravity on their team, just let me know.

Sub-question: isn't street hockey the game's purest form, now that pond hockey has pretty much disappeared? There must be a dissertation in there somewhere, on the transformation of Canada from an agrarian to an urban society, based on the demise of pond/outdoor hockey and the rise of the suburb/indoor hockey.


Chomp Chomp

Big week in Oil Country coming up. One game against a team we embarrassed in the first round last year, two against Wayner, Comrie, Le GG and the atrocious Coyotes, one against Christie and the Ducks (who we embarrassed in the thrid round), and one against Alexander the Great, Semin (tee hee), and the rest of the Capitals AHL roster. It's too bad that the Ducks game isn't in Edmonton this week, if only because it would make the contrast in how Georges and Pronger are received that much more startling. But a game is a game, and it will be interesting to see how the Oilers match up with the Ducks.


The Oilers are 3-0 at home, and 1-2 on the road. Their Goal Differential is 4, for a 0.67 Differential Per Game Average. I see no reason why they can't win at least three, maybe four of these games, although Detroit is better than they look on paper. They've faced some tough opponents to start the season. Then again, what team in the Western Conference hasn't?

The schedule doesn't get any easier, so the Oilers need to fine tune their game and eat up some points over the next seven days. Make it happen boys!

Thursday, October 19, 2006


Most amazing stat of the season

There's some competition for this one:
But this is the one that I found the most remarkable so far: in Anaheim's shootout loss to Dallas on Sunday, they had 3 defensemen who played more than 30 minutes (S. Niedermayer, 30:45; F. Beauchemin, 30:44; C. Pronger, 30:02).

I don't ever remember seeing that in a regular season game. It was a 65-minute game, mind you, and Dallas had 11 PPs, so you'd expect to see the TOI of your top D-men to be torqued, but 30+ for three guys, and in the 5th game of the season when you're 3-0-1? Good grief.


Flames Game Day

The Flames finish their 4-game roadie through the NE Division tonight against Boston (5PM MDT, Flames PPV). The Bruins are T-29th in the Overall Standings right now. That's bad, and I don't expect them to be a good team, but their 3 points in 5 games were all on the road; tonight is the B's home opener. New Bruin Zdeno Chara (pictured at left) is leading the team in scoring with 5 points, all assists.

I've been messing around with a few numbers, and I'm going to take back some of my post-game comments from Tuesday. I stand by what I said about the coach: he needs to, I think, sound like he's been there before better, and I assume that will come. Projecting calm is only laudable if you're also projecting confidence. I also think he still talks to the media too much like an AC (overly technical) and uses too much MBA-sounding, jiko-konri bullshit jargon (e.g. the players "investing" in this and that).

But looking more at the numbers, I'm just as confident as I was last (gruesome) October that the Flames and their record will come around.

At EV, the Flames have 9GF and 7GA. This is a goal differential of about +0.5EVGD/60. That ain't bad, especially with 4/6 on the road; projected through a whole season that's roughly a +28 ES GD, which puts them firmly in the upper tier of the league, provided that special teams and shootouts are anywhere near a wash. Which brings me to:

The Flames' special teams have been laughably bad so far. You knew that already, but they have been, statistically speaking, not only improbably bad but unsustainably bad.

Start with the PK: they have 1 SH GF and 9 PP GA. Based on time spent on the PK so far, that's a PK GD of -8.07/60. Halfway through last season (last time I did detailed calculations), the league average was -6.03/60, and the worst team in the league was Atlanta at -7.64/60 -- that's Atlanta, who at that point had started 5 goalies including Adam Berkhoel and Steve Shields. There is zero chance that Calgary will maintain a spot at the bottom of the PK rankings for the whole season; the worst case scenario is probably the middle. In short: the Flames are somewhere between 1 and 3 goals worse on the PK this year than you would expect based on full-season rates.

The PK, however, is minor lousiness compared to the PP. In 66:24 of PP time so far this year, the Flames have 3 PP GF and 2 SH GA. That's a PP GD of +0.90/60. Once again, halfway through last season, the PP team had a GD of +6.03/60 against the PK team. To quote a relatively well known stats guy on the internet,
I think it's safe to say that things are going to get significantly better on the PP and there's no point getting concerned about it at the moment - PP's aren't this bad, period.

It's certainly possible that the Flames will have a below average PP. It's hard to project these things based just on the lineup card (last mid-season, the worst PPGD in the league belonged to the Lightning at +4.07/60; they surged and finished 23rd in the NHL in PP%). But based just on a poor full-season rate, the Flames should be at least 4 goals better on the PP so far this season.

These early-season struggles on special teams could be based on a lot of factors, but there's really no way that the most important one has been anything but Luck.

Tonight, Calgary will be playing the role of Bob Barker, reflected on the scoresheet as a 3-1 Win. Go Flames.


Foul: Yes or No?

My Answer: Yes.

My Answer: Oh God, yes.

My Answer: I can admit it now: probably.

My Answer: Nope.

My Answer: Yes.

My Answer: Surprisingly, mostly no. The Lindros one is for sure a no.


*I wanted to add the actual hitting guidelines from the NHL Rulebook, but their PDF isn't allowing me to copy and paste text. Those guys can't do anything right.

**Pad tap to Doogie for finding most of these clips.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Power Rankings: Canadian Teams

Tap of the shinpads to Odd Man Rush for uncovering this one. Really, there isn't much else to say. Just. Strange.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006


Gross, Point Blank

I don't know if I've ever been so frustrated by a win. 20 shots on net. 0-8 on the Powerplay. Skykora only playing 12 minutes, MAB playing almost 22. Cukoo I be. Cukoo. I've decided I'm going to start calling Craig Simpson Derek Zoolander, for obvious reasons.

The man has only one look for Christ's sake! Blue Steel? Ferrari? Le Tigra? They're the same face! Doesn't anybody notice this? I feel like I'm taking crazy pills!

I'm going to guess we average less than 2 shots per Powerplay. Anyone want to check that for me? Anyone want to check what good Powerplays are averaging, and email it to me? For good measure, here is the Play-By-Play for all 8 Oilers Powerplays:

Powerplay 1: Short 5-on-4
11:33 PENALTY EDM - 19 REASONER, Hooking, 2 min
11:33 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - offensive zone. VAN 22 SEDIN vs EDM 10 HORCOFF
12:48 PENALTY EDM - 2 GREENE, Holding, 2 min
12:48 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - offensive zone. VAN 7 MORRISON vs EDM 16 STOLL
12:59 STOPPAGE N/A - Puck in Netting
12:59 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - neutral zone. VAN 7 MORRISON vs EDM 16 STOLL
13:10 SHOT VAN PP 2 OHLUND, Slap, 56 ft
13:34 PENALTY VAN - 38 BULIS, Hi-sticking, 2 min
13:34 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 10 HORCOFF
14:12 MISSED SHOT VAN PP 9 PYATT, Wide of Net
14:53 STOPPAGE N/A - Referee or Linesman
14:53 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - neutral zone. VAN 17 KESLER vs EDM 71 SYKORA
Result: O Goals, 0 Shots on Net

Powerplay 2
17:11 PENALTY VAN - 26 SANTALA, Hooking, 2 min
17:11 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - defensive zone. VAN 17 KESLER vs EDM 10 HORCOFF
17:59 SHOT VAN SH 2 OHLUND, Slap, 160 ft
18:25 STOPPAGE N/A - Icing
18:25 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - defensive zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 94 SMYTH
Result: O Goals, O Shots on Net, 1 Shot Against

Powerplay 3: Interrupted by Intermission
19:34 PENALTY VAN - 19 NASLUND, Hooking, 2 min
19:34 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - offensive zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 94 SMYTH
19:51 SHOT EDM PP 83 HEMSKY, Wrist, 16 ft
00:00 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 94 SMYTH
00:33 STOPPAGE N/A - Offside
00:33 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 25 GREEN vs EDM 94 SMYTH
01:36 STOPPAGE N/A - Icing
Result: O Goals, 1 Shot on Net

Powerplay 4
01:53 PENALTY VAN - 19 NASLUND, Hooking, 2 min
01:53 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 7 MORRISON vs EDM 19 REASONER
02:45 SHOT (!) VAN SH 25 GREEN, Wrist, 26 ft
03:19 STOPPAGE N/A - Offside
03:19 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 7 MORRISON vs EDM 10 HORCOFF
04:09 HIT (!) EDM EV 24 STAIOS
Result: O Goals, O Shots on Net, 1 Shot Against

Powerplay 5
07:43 PENALTY VAN - 26 SANTALA, Holding, 2 min
07:43 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - defensive zone. VAN 25 GREEN vs EDM 94 SMYTH
08:43 MISSED SHOT EDM PP 16 STOLL, Wide of Net
09:08 SHOT EDM PP 83 HEMSKY, Snap, 42 ft
09:42 MISSED SHOT EDM EV 24 STAIOS, Wide of Net ***(Time indicates PP shot, though marked as EV shot)
Result: O Goals, 1 Shot on Net, 2 Missed Shots

Powerplay 6: Overlaps with Penalty 7, Brief 5-on-3
17:10 PENALTY VAN - 17 KESLER, Tripping, 2 min
17:10 FACE-OFF N/A - VAN won - neutral zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 94 SMYTH
18:12 SHOT EDM PP 15 LUPUL, Snap, 23 ft
18:50 STOPPAGE N/A - Offside
18:50 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 33 SEDIN vs EDM 10 HORCOFF
19:05 MISSED SHOT EDM PP 71 SYKORA, Wide of Net
19:07 PENALTY VAN - 5 KRAJICEK, Hooking, 2 min
19:07 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - offensive zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 16 STOLL
Result: O Goals, 1 Shot on Net, 1 Missed Shot, 1 Blocked Shot

Powerplay 7: Overlaps with Penalty 6, Interrupted by Intermission
19:07 PENALTY VAN - 5 KRAJICEK, Hooking, 2 min
19:07 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - offensive zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 16 STOLL
19:17 MISSED SHOT EDM PP 15 LUPUL, Wide of Net
00:00 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - neutral zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 19 REASONER
00:40 SHOT EDM PP 29 TJARNQVIST, Slap, 56 ft
01:01 SHOT EDM PP 19 REASONER, Tip-In, 10 ft
Result: O Goals, 2 Shots on Net, 1 Missed Shot, 1 Blocked Shot

Powerplay 8
10:35 PENALTY VAN - 24 COOKE, Interference - Goalkeeper, 2 min
10:35 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - offensive zone. VAN 32 CHOUINARD vs EDM 19 REASONER
11:13 SHOT VAN SH 8 MITCHELL, Wrist, 158 ft
11:38 SHOT EDM PP 94 SMYTH, Wrap-around, 9 ft
11:41 STOPPAGE N/A - Goalie Stopped
11:41 FACE-OFF N/A - EDM won - offensive zone. VAN 25 GREEN vs EDM 10 HORCOFF
Result: O Goals, 1 Shot on Net, 1 Shot Against

Total Results, 14:41 Powerplay Time: O Goals, 6 Shots on Net, 4 Missed Shots, 2 Blocked Shots, 3 Shots Against

Tuesday Night Update: MC does some of the work for me:
"That the PP has sucked is backed up by their shots: they're at just 27.7 PPS/60 right now; last year's team was getting 48.8 PPS/60. The worst team in the league last year in this regard was LA; they were at 42.14 PPS/60."

Wednesday Morning Update Woo, baby. Dan Barnes has some choice words this morning. And again, as is so much the norm with sports writers in this city, a fecal reference appears.
"If this is a trend rather than a funk, the Oilers will need new press clippings.

Because the previous batch extolling their obscenely deep, three-line offensive attack guaranteed to produce an endless supply of goals this season are best left at the bottom of Polly's cage for now. That way, the Oilers will be forced to stop reading them, or at least get their noses dirty doing it.

And that looks to be one of their biggest problems. Some of them apparently forgot who they are, or more precisely, how they need to play the game. And all these wins aren't helping them remember.

So there they are, six games into their offensive landslide and they have 17 goals. Big whoop. That's not exactly going to scare anybody in the new National Hockey League, where even the ugly guys score. Did they read all that glowing prose about their sparkling offence and start to believe they'd inherit goals by divine right rather than working hard and smart enough to make it happen every night?"


CGY-MTL game: after 60!

[Updated extensively at bottom]
If you're in range and it ain't too late: buy the Flames-Habs PPV game.


Regehr hit on Downie: judging by the best replay of the whole scene (the angle from behind Huet), it looked not only legal, but fair: no charge, no changing his posture at the last minute so that his shoulder 'accidentally' caught Downie right under the chin, just an explosion.

Hate to be the refs right now; between that and the Habs SH breakaway opening goal off a non-call, they have a lot to worry about.

Also, I don't want to get ahead of myself (I've been doing it in this respect for 13 months on this site), but Lombardi obviously shows flashes of #1 centre-hood. May be back after 40.

After-game update: Braaahh. This is looking too much like early last season. Worse (for me), although the results are slightly less bad, I feel marginally less confident. Recall the similarities to last October:
Marginally less confident, though, because of the rookie coach who I don't think has figured out his way yet. I'm quite sure he knows his hockey just fine -- he's plenty smart -- and is able to adjust, or will certainly figure it out quick. But this anecdote from the Sun (RTWT, I don't want to accidentally misrepresent) demonstrates poor judgement:
Then the Montreal media piped up.

They said Tanguay is having trouble learning the new system.

"That's too bad, huh?" replied the Calgary Flames head coach.

They asked how long will it take for Tanguay to adapt.

"It's taken five games and I don't think it should take any more," answered Playfair, who has had to deal with a similar line of questioning more than a few times back home.

Hey, you know what Coach? I have no idea if Tanguay has been working hard enough, or just needs some bounces, or whatever. Tonight was the sixth game of the season -- I'm not panicking.

What I DO know that the quoted bit above makes you sound like you have a lot smaller sack than your boss. It also makes you sound like you didn't learn from one of your boss's biggest strengths, which was (for the most part) knowing which guys to call out at what times, and for what purpose.

Memo to Coach Playfair: Alex Tanguay has been an effective scorer and even-strength player for virtually his entire career. Hell, I'll throw in here that Jarome Iginla has 2 Richard Trophies and 1 Art Ross. Again, I'm not settling conclusions based on 6 games, and players have slumps. But hear this: over the next couple of months, if Iginla and Tanguay aren't scoring, It's Not Them, It's You.

So, anyway, fun game tonight! Habs looked about 41 times better than they did in Calgary last season. Late.



Bob McKenzie is reporting that the Russian hockey club Yaroslavl has filed a lawsuit against the two NHL teams from Alberta, as well as the NHL, over the signing of Alexei Mikhnov and Andrei Taratukhin. This story will probably get bigger, as it will likely fan out into Metallurg doing something about losing Malkin, and we will all end up knowing way too much about the minutiae of Russian law.

I am intrigued by the fact that both Calgary and Edmonton went through all the effort to get these guys over here, and neither has played a single minute in the NHL. Seems like alot, for naught.


Flames Game Day

The Flames visit Les Habitants de Montreal tonight at 530PM MDT. The telecast is on PPV, and will be my first taste of that crew this season. I understand Jim Peplinski has "retired" as the analyst, but I haven't heard who the new guy (or girl!) is; regardless, it should be an improvement.

On that same topic: I've caught three of the five games so far this season on the radio only, but pretty much in their entirety. It pains the hell out of me to say this (hence the numerous qualifiers that follow), but Peter Maher seems to have declined noticeably as a play-by-play man.

His analysis, or rather reporting, is still just fine. It's not the same as (to pick the obvious example) Don Cherry, where the pet theories, hobbyhorses, and whatever else have become larger than the active part of his brain. But the PbP is suffering.

I don't want to go through a laundry list, but take the single element that is "game score". During Monday's debacle against the Sharks, Maher announced or otherwise referred to the score of the game incorrectly three times in the last two periods. Not five minutes after the overtime conclusion of the Leafs game, he mentioned that the Flames had lost 5-2. These are things that might have happened once every ten games when I was younger.

Peter Maher is being honoured by the HHOF next month, and the honour is richly deserved. He's been awesome for 25 years. I hope whatever happens over the next few doesn't diminish that.

Anyway, back to Les Hommes de Carbonneau. For all my Canadiens analysis, I go to Jeff at Sisu, and here's what he had to say about Les Habs pre-season:
Montreal 95

I hesitate to place these guys in this neighbourhood. It doesn't seem right. However, they are pretty much the same team as last year plus Samsonov. Even if goaltending disappoints it can't be worse than the Theodore fiasco. With several competitors getting worse, I have no choice but to place them 6th.

That sounds OK. I'm probably less negative about Montreal's EC competition (relative to Montreal), but I can't see their team goaltending being any worse than "slightly above average", so it probably evens out.

The game is the first of back-to-backs for Montreal. Huet is on my fantasy team, so naturally, he's starting against the Flames where I'm forced to wish him ill, while Aebischer starts against the Hawks in the meaningless-to-me game the next night.

And wish him ill, I will. I think Lombardi and Tanguay are going to light him up, resulting in a 5-2 Calgary victory. It's time for a bit of a tear: the schedule over the next two weeks (and really, even the four weeks after that) is pretty favourable. Go Flames.


Oilers Game Day-Canuckleheads II, The Wrath of Pisan

Record: 3-2-1Record: 3-2-0

I must admit, I missed most of last night's game. I saw the last 8 minutes, maybe. So I'll let you all tell me what the hell happened.

So...what the hell happened?

Monday, October 16, 2006


Oilers Game Day-Canuckleheads

Record: 3-1-0Record: 2-2-1

"Turn Up The Good, Turn Down The Suck."

• I would be more excited about the 3-1-0 start, if that wasn't similar to how the Oilers started off last year. They then proceeded to lose seven games in a row, including the Game That Must Not Be Mentioned. So while I'm optimistic, I'm not yet comfortable with putting us anywhere near the pick of the litter.

• Saturday night, during the 3rd period against the Avs, Greg Millen made a remark about "this being the Oilers team we've come to expect." Or something like that. His point was that the Oilers were skating, creating chances, and scoring. My objection to his point is that it didn't encompass enough of last night's game, because from where I was watching, everything about the game against the Avs was Oilers hockey: a letdown after a big win, no sense of urgency, an awful second period, a predictable and mostly ineffective powerplay that somehow still ekes out a goal, and a whirlwind of effort and intensity at, and only at, the moments when it is absolutely required. My point is that the Oilers still have a lot of bad to go with the good Millen mentioned. Last night, we saw a lot of the bad.

• At one point near the end of the 2nd on Saturday, my girlfriend uttered, "are they drunk?" I couldn't really disagree with her. Besides Roli and Lupul--who looked fantastic defensively, I might add--the Oilers looked like competitors at the Twit Olympics. And they're off!! No...no they're not. Yet they somehow turned it around, won the game, and at their highest points left me once again thinking, "why, exactly, can't they play like this all the time?"

"No Doubt. They're Well Known Homosexuals."

• The Sedins are playing with Naslund on The ABBA Line, The IKEA Line, or whatever the hell you want to call it (personally I like The Cream Line, except for the fact that none of them can pound it out like Ginger Baker). But who the hell else can score on this team?

• Roberto Luongo looked shaky against the Sharks. Here's hoping it continues.

• Mudcrutch has done an excellent analysis of the Canucks. So too has Chris! at Covered in Oil.

Canucks Op Ed and Canucks Hockey Blog will have all the angles from the Canucks end, and I'm sure Tom Benjamin will call Kevin Lowe the anti-Christ sometime tomorrow.

"Now, she should be good-looking, but we're willing to trade looks for a certain... morally casual attitude."

• Am I correct in stating that every single game the Oilers have played this year has been an 8:00 p.m. start?

• Is an injury preventing Traktor Boy from drawing in, or is MacT trying to shatter my confidence? I'd like to see him out on the PP. I think he can do some major damage coming out from the corner. With time, Joe Thornton-like damage.

• What the hell is the deal with Jussi Jokinen and shootouts? And do his goals, which don't count as actual goals, count as game winners in fantasy leagues?

• Shout outs to The Drizzler, Loxy, and all the Oil fans keeping it real at The Black Frog in the Couv.

• This used to be my favorite matchup for the Oilers. Speed, hitting, and two teams that didn't really like each other. With all the turnover on both rosters, I am curious to see if the rivalry will have the same heat.

Prediction: 3-2 Oilers. Smyth, Torres and Pisani.

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