Wednesday, January 17, 2007


This and That

**Since I'm ripping off Steve Simmons' sub-hed, I might as well start with him:
One year later, it's hard to imagine how Sidney Crosby and Ryan Miller were left off their respective Olympic hockey teams. The presence of either could have changed the medal picture in Turin...

No argument here on Crosby -- I said as much numerous times a year ago -- but Ryan Miller? I prefer not to use the word, because people have a tendency to equate it with "sucks" (and because the player himself has no control over it), but it looks like Ryan Miller has surpassed Scott Niedermayer as the most overrated player in the league. It's Grant Fuhr all over again.

Miller doesn't suck; he provides the Sabres with exactly what they need, which is capable goaltending to buttress their fantastic offense. He also makes some highlight-reel saves (the stick save v. the Bruins on Monday was phenomenal). But he is not (at least yet) in the top tier of goalies in the NHL.

A reasonable definition of this might be "a goalie who stops a lot of shots that the average goalie would not". The available data from Stats God JavaGeek indicates that Miller does not (click on Goalies, then SQN% at the top of the table which is SV% corrected for Shot Quality, i.e. distance from net, wrist or slapshot, etc.. Then keep scrolling down until you find him in the middle.). This backs up the Forechecker's work from December, where (at that time) Buffalo's goalies were allowing exactly as many goals as you would expect with average performances.

Give Miller credit. Just don't give him the Vezina, or the freaking Hart Trophy, as I heard recommended on XM Radio early this month. Also, apparently Simmons isn't a Crow fan: "..Reason to smile on a Sunday: Marc Crawford is in last place...". How has this guy never gotten punched in the face?

**In case you hadn't noticed, the Nashville Predators are now the #1 team in the NHL, with 21 more Ws than Ls. Anaheim has gone 2-3-2 since Pronger went out, 2-5-2 since Giguere & Beauchemin went out. The Preds look to be full value for it, too: good in all three facets of the game, good goaltending, good at home and on the road. Their 4-1 shootout record helps a bit, but it's not that gaudy.

**Mirtle has a thoughtful take on the Selke where he refers back to a previous post here. Two things:
  1. Patty from Modesto is a Jim Rome Show reference
  2. The dig at Brind'Amour was a bit off the cuff, which I try to avoid, so, Sorry. All I did was look at his 28 ES points combined with his +7 and conclude that, OK, he's not Mr. Shutdown. For all I know, on balance, he may deserve it -- but like Mirtle says, there's no reason why the discussion can't include the considerable amount of data available. Just how often are goals scored when Player X is on the ice? How effective (objectively) is his penalty-killing? How tough is his opposition?
**Related: I had an epiphany on how to restore some cachet (credibility? desirability?) to the Lady Byng Trophy, apart from dropping the "Lady" -- give the vote to the refs. Maybe no NHLer wants to be known as "gentlemanly" no matter what, but it's the refs who know best who are the whiners, the divers, and the guys who are always trying to get away with something.

Also: have them vote for a coach, same criteria. All we see on TV are coaches yelling; they all do. And sure -- arenas are loud places. But we really don't know who's abusive, and who's "asking questions", or thereabouts. Surely someone (Hockey Canada?) could use this Model Coach award as part of their efforts to promote sportsmanship (manners and perspective) in minor hockey.

**Oiler fans: if you haven't been following mudcrutch's blog, then you may not be aware that this guy is on your roster:
He is sometimes referred to by fans as the "Macedonian Bobby Orr."

So you got that going for you, which has gotta be nice.


Is Miller one of the top goalies in the league? No. But the question Simmons is answering is: Is Miller the top American goalie in the league?

I think the answer's yes — although I doubt the sad-sack American entry would have done remarkably better with him in goal. Still, let's remember Robert Esche and John Grahame were there instead of Miller.

Hard to believe.

Sure, but DiPietro was there too; I don't know if he was better then, but I'd certainly argue that he's better right now.

Also, apparently Simmons isn't a Crow fan: "..Reason to smile on a Sunday: Marc Crawford is in last place...". How has this guy never gotten punched in the face?

Steve Simmons or Marc Crawford?


Geez matt, two things:

1) Still a bit bitter at Fuhr for shutting down the Flames oh-so-many times in the 80's?

2) You talk about Ryan Miller as if he's Cam Ward or something....

And Scott Niedermayer, overrated? You're going to have to explain that one to me....

Nieds has been promoted as an MVP candidate (see Buccigross, Globe Trophy Tracker, and more), but he's not even the best defenseman on his team. I also discussed this at length in Rd1 of the playoffs last season, when he was getting pwned by Iginla (to precisely zero effect on his reputation).

Very nice player; makes far too many mistakes to be considered as good as Lidstrom and Pronger, to name only two.

Surely the Ducks' struggles without Pronger have exposed Niedermeyer. He managed to be on the ice for all 6 Blues goals last night, and finished with a remarkable -5. he wasn't even teh best Niedermeyer on his team yesterday.

You guys want the Hart trophy candidates?

Here you go:

- Crosby
- Hossa
- Iginla
- Pronger
- Lidstrom
- Brodeur

Crosby's out of the equation if the Penguins don't make the playoffs.

If I had a vote, I'd go with Brodeur. I hope he gets that Hart trophy so, along with breaking all of his records eventually, he'll have one more Hart than Patrick Roy ever did.

But I get this sick feeling Pronger's going to win the thing, forcing me to violently throw-up.

Nieds has been promoted as an MVP candidate (see Buccigross, Globe Trophy Tracker, and more), but he's not even the best defenseman on his team.

Not to mention good ol' stupid Duck fans, who at the start of this year were nearly united in their Scottlove, despite the pretty overwhelming numerical evidence that someone else was driving the Duck ship.

Listen: Scott is pretty awesome, and he is (now) the top-scoring blueliner in the league. He's pretty damn incredible to watch, as he does have great puck sense and the ability to cover goal-line to goal-line.

But overrated? Hell yes. And as for last night? Blame overuse. In the 8 games since Pronger's injury, SNieds has played more than 34 minutes in a game 3 times. Before that stretch, the Anaheim franchise record was 33 minutes in a game (set by Pronger in November).

Yeah, what the hell, eh? Carlyle needs to simmer down; he should know from experience that you don't need to be the #1 seed to do well in the playoffs.

Conversely, if come April, Niedermayer plays as old as his beard looks, the Ducks are in trouble. There is no earthly reason for a first place team to play an important player 30+ minutes per game in January.

The blueline ice time in Anaheim is pretty nuts in general, a lot because of the monster shifts that SNieds and CProngs can swing.

SN--27:43 (2nd among NHL blueliners)
CP--26:45 (7th among NHL blueliners)

SN--27.3 (64th among NHL blueliners)
CP--27.2 (67th among NHL blueliners)

Of course, CP's numbers are skewed in that he only played 6 minutes in the game he was injured, so his numbers really should be around 27:31 TOI/gm (3rd) and 27.7 shifts/gm (55th).

Still, those are some awfully long shifts these guys are playing.

Is it just me (and maybe it is...) or should goalies be exempt from the Hart trophy?

Ultimately there isn't a team in the league that does well without their #1 Goalie unless they have a guy catch lightning in a bottle for a few weeks (see: Ward, Cam) or they end up on the positive side of lucky for a few weeks.

Sweatyo I'm with you on the list, though you have to add Ovechkin to that list as well, with the same stipulation that Crosby has.

i'd say Crosby or Ovechkin runs away with it if either of their teams make the playoffs. After that I like Hossa to take it.

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