Saturday, June 01, 2002

Surprise: I guess you can have only so many exciting 7th games. As to the question of goalie styles:
Butterfly: Tony Esposito
Stand Up: Ken Dryden
Hybrid: Anyone and everyone (Doug Favell?)
Slinky: Hasek
OK, so I was wrong. I predicted that Hasek would be the difference-maker in last night's Game 7 of the Western Conference finals, but that distinction surely belongs to St. Patrick. The Aves' hopes for a second straight Stanley Cup engraving via Royhoo! were dashed by the rare appearance of Roywho?

Totally shocking. The greatest goalie of his time, and maybe of all time, was off form from the start. Even though Roy had no offensive support, you've gotta wonder whether that horrible show-off blunder in Game 6 didn't have some overlapping effect on his performance last night.

As hot as Hasek and the Wings look coming into the finals, it's hard to be optimistic about the Canes' chances. However, I said the same thing about the Diamondbacks last November and the Patriots last February (unusual months for both championships).

In keeping with the upset trend I'm picking the Canes to win the Cup, which is fair warning to everyone that the best money is indeed on the Wings since my consistent failure to correctly predict winners is nearly a proven rule.

So, if I'm wrong, I'll be right about being wrong, and if I'm right... well, I told you so.

Friday, May 31, 2002

More good goaltending tips!
Here's the styles, name the goalies?

The Butterfly:

The butterfly is currently the most used goaltending style in North America. I consits of keeping ones body in an upright position while putting one leg to either side, and keeping the gloves in the ready position. The stick is kept in the ready position as well. This style allows for maximum coverage of the bottom of the net, while still allowing the goaltender to cover upper portions of the net as well. The stick is held upright and can be used to block pucks or to deflect them into the corners of the rink. (the weakness in this style of play is the five-hole, it opens up while the goalie is going down, getting caught "in-between" is the biggest danger in this style of play.)

The "Paddle-down":

The Paddle-down style is a rapidly growing style of play, it consists of the goalie getting down on his knees to cover the bottom of the net, and placing the paddle of his stick vertically, flat along the ice, to add additional coverage low. The catcher and upper body are used for coverage high. The weakness in this style is high blocker side. It is possible to cover this spot by moving the blocker very quickly upwards, or using the goalies upper body to get in front of the puck. (Works best when moving towards blocker side)

The "Stand up":

The stand up style is one of the more difficult styles to master. Instead of the more modern styles that cover the bottom of the net, this older style tries to cover the top of the net. It consists of the goaltender using his stick to cover the bottom of the net, the pads to cover low-middle height shots, and the torso/gloves for middle to high shots. This styles weakness is obviously on low shots, but they tend to be more low, stick-side.


This is exactly what the name says. It is a hybrid off all the aforementioned styles. (It also happens to be my style.) It invoves using some of the parts from each of the others depending on what the goaltender thinks is the best for the situation at hand. For example a goalie may start out in a butterfly but as a shooter moves in closer may put the stick down in the paddle-down style to cover the bottom of the net better. By doing this the goaltender can eliminate weaknesses involved with the other styles, by covering them up with a different style.
Analysis shows the bargains and the busts this NHL season: The Ottawa Citizen reports on a Bloomberg News analysis:
The Ottawa Senators know a good bargain when they see it, and none was better at the forward position than centre Todd White...

White, Phoenix Coyotes defenceman Radoslav Suchy and Dallas Stars goaltender Marty Turco were the best buys at their respective positions in the National Hockey League during the 2001-02 regular season, the analysis found.

Those players graded the best when comparing salaries with performance -- points for forwards, plus-minus ratings for defencemen and save percentage for goalies.

As a team, the Ottawa Senators ranked second to the Vancouver Canucks in terms of wins per $1 million spent on salaries. The Senators had a payroll of about $27 million U.S. and won 39 games, translating to 1.44 wins per million spent.

The Canucks won 42 games, translating to 1.47 wins per million spent.

The worst-spending team was the Florida Panthers, who had a $37.7 million payroll and 22 wins, or 0.58 of a win per million spent.

... All the news wasn't good for the Senators. Right-winger Bill Muckalt, who scored a grand total of zero goals and eight assists in 70 games, but made $1.1 million, was rated in the bottom five among forwards.

The biggest regular-season busts were Dallas Stars goalie Ed Belfour and Detroit Red Wings forward Darren McCarty, according to the analysis.

Other Bargains

The New York Islanders' Shawn Bates was second in the survey among forwards. He had 52 points and made a 265th-ranked $500,000 for a difference of plus-191. Other low-priced successes among forwards included Anaheim's Matt Cullen, Edmonton's Michael York and Vancouver's Brendan Morrison.

Suchy's $425,000 salary ranked No. 147 among 153 NHL defencemen, while he was fifth with a plus-25 rating -- meaning the Coyotes scored 25 more goals than their opponents when he was on the ice.

Among defencemen, the Senators' Zdeno Chara was also one of the league's bargains. Chara, who scored 10 goals and 13 assists in 75 games and was a plus-30, earned $1.1 million.

Vancouver's Brent Sopel, St. Louis's Alexander Khavanov and Boston's Nick Boynton, a former Ottawa 67's star, were other top bargains.

The survey included 43 goalies who appeared in at least 25 games. Turco, who had a third-ranked .921 save percentage and made a 34th-ranked $600,000, was the top bargain. Senators backup Jani Hurme, who made $700,000, had a record of 12-9-1 and a save percentage of .907 to rank ninth. San Jose's Evgeni Nabokov, Anaheim's Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Philadelphia's Roman Cechmanek and Buffalo's Martin Biron were also on the list.

... Expensive Production

Some of the league's most productive players didn't grade well because they make so much money.

For instance, Colorado goalie Patrick Roy ranked second with a .925 save percentage, but was also first among goaltenders with a $8.5 million salary. Detroit defenceman Chris Chelios was fifth with a $5.5 salary and first with a plus-40 rating. New York Islanders centre Alexei Yashin was 12th with a $6.5-million salary and 32 goals and 43 assists.

Detroit's McCarty, who signed a three-year, $5.4-million contract last summer, and Washington's Dmitri Khristich were forwards who were among the worst buys. McCarty made $1.95 million and had 12 points to finish with a minus-194 grade. Khristich made $3.2 million and had 21 points to finish minus-188. The lowest-ranking defencemen were Florida's Robert Svehla, who made $2.75 million with a minus-19 rating, and Chicago's Lyle Odelein, who made $2.4 million with a minus-28.
History Channel does the Hockey Hall of Fame next week: Tune in on Tuesday, June 4 at 8pm ET/PT (7pm CT) for "Stories From The Hall Of Fame: Hockey."

The Philadelphia Flyers' Jeremy Roenick hosts this special presentation which journeys inside the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, Canada to uncover some of the most dynamic and exciting figures in sports history.

Thursday, May 30, 2002

Hey Howard! Here in Washington, don't we refer to it as the John Druce myth? Some Rangers fans might think so.
Fundamentals, Fundamentals, Fundamentals: Yessir Mr. Haws, you're absolutely right, it was certainly satisfying to see "His Supreme Arrogance", Patrick Roy, undone by such a foolish mistake. But as I've noted, it isn't the first time "Saint Patrick" has let his showboating ways get the best of him. Take a look at this video (Real Player or Quicktime), for a reminder of a Roy mistake that nearly cost the Avs game 2.

Essentially, what this mistake came down to was another unwritten rule of the rink that our youth coaches drilled into our heads -- always play until the whistle. Roy, who revels in dramatically displaying the puck for the refs, forgot this basic rule. Meanwhile, Brendan Shanahan, who was in the midst of a Sahara-like scoring drought, proved that all the best players make their own luck by combining hard work, discipline and talent in order to win.

Please, don't get me wrong, I'm not suggesting that Roy, who is clearly the greatest goaltender of his generation isn't a great player. What I am suggesting is, however, is that when teams are so evenly matched as in this case, the party that ignores fundamentals and expects to coast on talent usually winds up on the losing end of things.

Do you Royhoo!? The Anche are hoping to tomorrow night, but my two cents are on the Dominator to be the difference-maker.

I also got a big kick out of watching Roy show off his empty glove while Shanahan scored what turned out to be the game winning goal.
Could Coffey return to the NHL? Yes, but only as a consultant. Wayne Gretzky has been talking about appointing Paul as the Phoenix Coyotes powerplay consultant.
Unknown scorer myth: Call it the Dave Lowry myth: the myth that every post-season, an unknown plugger arises from nowhere to score a bushel.
Whoo-hoo! Seven games, I love it! More time for whomever wins to get tired and injured before they face the mighty Carolina whatevers.

Wednesday, May 29, 2002

Hasek comes through: What a great game. I love it when a well matched series goes to 7 games. I didn't like that cheap shot by Duchesne, though.
Leafs blown away: It was a sad night, but it had to happen sooner or later. Carolina's OT elimination of Toronto (after the stirring game-tying goal from Captain Mats with twenty seconds left in regulation) means I now get to root for them in the Finals. Not that I care about Carolina, but they're underdogs and they're menshes.
Congress Threatens To Leave D.C. Unless New Capitol Is Built: The Onion reports, "Calling the current U.S. Capitol "inadequate and obsolete," Congress will relocate to Charlotte or Memphis if its demands for a new, state-of-the-art facility are not met, leaders announced Monday."

Tuesday, May 28, 2002

United, not: To Martin's question, no I am not the United representative everyone is seeing on TV. I'm just an analyst and a writer. I do get on TV sometimes, but just to be interviewed, and I don't seem to get paid for it.

If I were a corporate executive rather than an analyst and a writer, I'd be sponsoring a Puck Hog radio show, or something like that, not running this blog for free... Hey, I'm not that cheap!
Martin, Thanks for the views and thoughts of Cassell's (that horseradish potato salad) Twoey's, Fat Boy's...makes me drool just thinking about it. Whoops, back to hockey.
From Time To Time, When Time Magazine. . . Chooses it's Man of the Year, it isn't uncommon for the magazine to catch some flak for choosing an unsavory character. When that happens, the editors usually trot out the explanation that Time is simply naming someone whose actions were newsworth and influential, and not passing any sort of judgement on that person.

As I was watching the NHL2Night on Friday, echoes of that argument started to bounce inside my head as I watched a highlight package John Buccigross introduced as "Plays Of The Playoffs." All of the usual suspects were there -- overtime goals, big hits, and tape to tape passing ending in a bang-bang play. You name it, it was there.

But also inserted into the package were three hits whose inclusion made me uncomfortable. I'm talking about the three cheapest shots in the playoffs -- Kyle McLaren on Richard Zednik, Gary Roberts on Kenny Jonsson, and Darcy Tucker on Michael Peca. Now, if the highlight package were something serious, perhaps including some narration from Buccigross about how these hits affected their respective series (and it's hard to deny that each didn't have a massive effect on the playoffs), I wouldn't have had a problem with seeing these highlights one more time.

Unfortunately, when the hits are replayed backed with a death metal soundtrack, it's clear the highlight reel is being put together for pure entertainment purposes only. Something tells me that the package could have been put together without including gratuitous cheap shots where players get seriously injured. Let's hope they leave them out next time.

Colorado taunting: Stephen Green is talking trash again. I don't see any Wings fans keeping him honest. After the Avs snowed all over my Kings, I can't really talk, but I won't let that stop me. The Wings can beat the Avs at home or on the road, but to do that they have to show up and play. They remind me of the Lakers sometimes.

Both teams have goalies that can steal a series by themselves. Keep watching, hockey fans. (Like you have something else to do?) Not to be outdone by Charles Tupper, I'll leave you my diagram of how Patrick Roy cuts off the angle. Note, this is an overhead view of the net (requires Flash):


Next time we'll examine Hasek's technique in detail.

Monday, May 27, 2002

California Blading: Alas, the patio is carpeted Charles. But this spot is a 10 minute walk or 5 minute blade away. From there you can blade past this spot. The view is breathtaking. And the ocean is nice to look at as well....

Sunday, May 26, 2002

All the leaves are brown and the sky is grey,
I'd be safe and warm if I was in LA,

On a winter's day.

Martin, do you wear the blades on the Patio?
Greg Siller has some interesting thoughts on strategies for pulling your goalie.

The Leafs used the above play when McCauley scored with seven seconds left in game two to go to overtime. He was in the RF position before scoring the goal. The puck moved from C2 (Sundin) to LF (Hoglund) to C1 (Roberts) to RF (McCauley).
Defensive zone face off strategies and then the break out.

Goalies must constantly assess different situations evolving during a game. We saw this move by Cujo backfire when he came out the the net to face a potential shoot from Hedicam in Game 3. Instead of shooting, Hedicam faked the shot moving past Joseph and was able to see more of the net. Sittler beat Czech goalie Dzurilla in the 1976 Canada Cup, also by faking the shot and moving by him to find more net.
Out Of All The Player Analysts On ESPN. . . The soon to retire Ray Ferraro has to be one of the best. But if you caught the opening to NHL2Night on ESPN2 last night, it's hard not to draw the conclusion that Ray was being held hostage in Bristol, Conn. by his new paymasters at ESPN. For God's sake Ray, loosen up!