Thursday, October 11, 2007


This is a big post for me...

One of the things that crosses my mind every so often is, "If I ever decide I want to try to interview an NHL coach (or GM or owner), what would I ask them?"

The most recent time I had this thought was yesterday afternoon. I was listening to the pre-game chatter on the radio (something I do less and less these days), and Rob Kerr approvingly related a quote from Flames AC Rich Preston about the powerplay (not for the first time, either). I paraphrase, but it's roughly this:
"Forget about the percentages: the important thing about power play goals is when you get them."

Now, I think this statement is silly on its face, but I'm going to overanalyze it anyway. Without looking at any specific game, I have heard each of the following situational goals described as big goals many, many times:
That's not even to mention the goal to go from 2 up to 3 up, which (at least in games the Flames are involved in) changes the odds of a comeback from "somewhat likely" to "effectively nil". I'd entertain the possibility that Preston means later in the game = better, except that I've heard dozens of times how big that first goal is. When you've been dominating 5v5 zone play but haven't put it in the net, and then get a PP: would a goal there would be big? How about when you've been dominated in 5v5 zone play, and then get a PP: would a goal there would be big?

I totally understand, and have no objection to, a coach reflecting on a W and saying so-and-so's goal was really big. I'm not trying to be that dink who pipes up with "they're all worth 1 on the scoreboard" -- I acknowledge that a particular goal (or save) can act as a turning point, and I happily defer to the coaches who have a much better sense of the changes in mood and energy level on their bench. But without knowing how things turn out, how on earth can you differentiate between big goals and not-big goals? (Example: I can just about guarantee you that the Sharks player or coach interviewed by FSBA in the 2nd intermission of Sunday's game made reference to either a big goal by Clowe to get back in it or a big save by Nabokov to keep them in it. Neither will end up being remembered as a big early-season moment by anyone except maybe Mrs. Clowe.)

So anyway (hey, I warned you I was going to overanalyze this), here's the question I have in my pocket for Rich Preston, if it ever comes to that:
Here's a quote of yours I've heard a few times: [see above]. Can you give me some examples of bad, or let's say less preferable, times to score a PP goal? And do you think there's teams with a high PP% that is misleading, because they score a lot of their PP goals at these less preferable times?

Fun somewhat-related postscript: the lads at Fire Joe Morgan are having lots of fun dissecting articles on the Yankees' elimination, specifically the ones that focus on the ostensible failings of a Mr. A. Rod. This was my favourite bit:
Here's my handy Why This A-Rod Home Run Doesn't Count Chart:

Innings 1-3: Too early, no pressure
Innings 4-6: Meaningless middle innings, no pressure
Innings 7-9, team behind: Too little too late, no pressure
Innings 7-9, team ahead: Piling it on, no pressure

Keep this handy for next year, Chicago Cub fans!


Is that the way he intended it, though? I mean, in context, can it be said for certain he meant, "PP goals at key times of the game > PP goals in meaningless times of the game" (which would generally be, say, the sixth, seventh, and eighth goals in an 8-2 romp), or could he have been referring to efficiency from the perspective of time elapsed (i.e. the sort of thing Tyler, Vic, et al like to talk about -- the per-60 metric, or per-2:00 metric if you want something more akin to the current PP stat)?

Furthermore, is that the longest, most confusing to punctuate sentence I've ever written? It's likely in the top five.

If the game is close, it's a big goal. If the game isn't close, it's not. Pretty simple stuff.

My dad would call it the Carlos Delgado Thoery. He's convinced that Delgado puts up all his numbers in two situations:

1) When the game is already over because the score is so lobsided and

2) At the end of the season when the Jays were already out of the playoffs.

Another example would be a guy in basketball who fills the basket in the fourth quarter of a blow out game when nobody is trying, or the guy who only puts of points against brutal teams or poor defenders.

Doogie: yes I understand your sentence, and he definitely meant the former not the latter.

McLea: yeah (again, I advertised the fact that I was overanalyzing this). I'm even quite familiar with the specific case (such as it was) against Carlos Delgado.

I don't know how Preston et al *really* look at it, but if I was designing a PP that would score goals at the right times, what I would do is design one that scores LOTS AND LOTS OF GOALS, because invariably most of them will help your team win.

I'm not going to look it up, but there are definitely a lot more 7-2 baseball games than there are hockey games, and I'm pretty sure there's more garbage time in basketball than in hockey too. Relatively speaking, there just aren't that many goals in hockey that are meaningless at the time they are scored.

Funny, because as soon as I read your question I thought, "oh, he means the A-Rod Corollary." That Joe Morgan stuff is fantastic, even though I hate A-Rod. You can expect the opposite real soon. It's the "David Ortiz Clutch Index." Of course, I love Papi, so that one is obviously right.

What's to hate about A-Rod? His awesomeness?


Fire Joe Morgan is awesomely hilarious.

I love the posts where he rips the Yankees fans for ignoring statistics and running down A-Rod for not being a "true Yankee" but worshipping calm-eyed Jeter for his true Yankee pinstripitude.

Although seeing sports writers' "arguments" (such as they are) ripped into tiny little pieces of alphabet chum by the sharp ripping teeth of logic is always wonderful.

What's to hate about A-Rod? His awesomeness?

His Yankeeness!

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