I’m not a huge fan of the HNIC broadcast. There are parts of it that I like – I think Hotstove has potential this year now that it appears it will mostly be two guys, Glenn Healy and Elliotte Friedman, who are good on breaking news and knowing things from around the league about business and such. There are parts that I don’t like but that I understand – I’m not really a big fan of Don Cherry’s act at this point, although I think he provides a valuable service whenever he does an obituary for a solider who has died, given that Canada tends to fight wars that are easy for people here to forget about. It’s been pointed out to me that the show has to draw people from 7 to 70, so I get that there’s a market that likes Grapes and wants to hear what he has to say. Even if it’s dated nonsense.
Then there are things that I despise and that I don’t really know how they can defend. The intermissions of the late game are used as a sort of Leafs post-game show which I doubt even makes any sense from a ratings perspective. I get why the Leafs play the 7PM Saturday game, even if they’re terrible. I have serious doubts that CBC holds viewers for the late game because they want to hear what Grapes and the Studio 42 Crew have to say about the Leafs game an hour later.
The best thing that the late game has going for it though is the hour post-game, which might be the most rollicking and entertaining hour in Canadian TV. Scott Oake asks people questions that are borderline uncomfortable, like this to one of the Sedins (paraphrasing) “So do you ever think about how you could be part of an elite group with Olympic gold, World Championship gold and a Stanley Cup if you hadn’t blown the 2011 Stanley Cup finals?” Glenn Healy engages in pissy exchanges with coaches by way of intermediaries. It’s fun.
Except that sometimes, sometimes…the analysis is just horrific. I actually transcribed a piece of tonight’s segment because I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. The panel quotes are in italics.
Healy: (Dubnyk’s) body language wasn’t there tonight. He was behind the puck, chasing the play and as a coach, you look at it and you say: “Gotta make a change.” When you look at the stats, every stat was in Edmonton’s favour. Faceoffs, they were better in faceoffs, They were better in hits. They had more blocked shots. But they weren’t even in the game. New Morning Sun was Jim Cuddy’s song to start the show? They can’t wait for the morning sun because they need a fresh start.
Edmonton got outshot 44-23. 44. 23. They were outshot 27-18 at 5v5. Is this a stat in Edmonton’s favour? I think Healy’s point was intended to be that Edmonton won the stats war because they hit more (not a predictor of victory) and won more faceoffs but the most fundamental stat of the game, outside of goals, the Oilers got crushed.
The table at left is the Oiler Corsi% at the point that Dan Hamhuis launched that shot at Dubnyk. To me, it looks like the Arcobello/Perron/Eberle group was doing pretty well, the fourth line was doing ok and the Hall and Gordon lines were getting absolutely slaughtered. The team Corsi% to that point in time was 32%. That’s horrible. You don’t win much getting outshot 68-32. Eventually, the puck ends up in your net.
PJ: Can they win with Dubnyk?
Healy: No, I don’t think he’s their guy. I think they have to go outside and find a guy who they can count on. When you watch goals go in from 55 feet, it devastates your team.
I’d love some sort of data on soft goals. I don’t know if it exists or not, in the sense that I’m not at all sure that some guys let in disproportionate numbers of soft goals relative to other goalies with the same save percentage. There seems to be a school of thought that a .920 save percentage that includes 15 soft goals on 2000 shots over the course of a season is somehow better than a .920 save percentage on 2000 shots that includes 30 soft goals, all other things being equal. The flip side of this, of course, is that the guy who let in more soft goals stopped more shots that could have been goals than the guy who posted the .920 with fewer soft goals.
If you’re a coach, it seems to me that the challenge is to convince your skaters that the guy with a good save percentage who lets in the odd soft goal must, by definition, be making it up somewhere else. They don’t see it because it’s not really something you can detect but 15 times a year, he stops a goal when it would have been acceptable, from an optics perspective, to let it in. I don’t find this proposition that difficult to accept. Maybe, if this is a real phenomenon, some undergrad philosophy courses would help?
(Aside: I’d bet the Canucks told their players to not be afraid to gun it at Dubnyk from the blue line. I’d bet he knows that. That’s probably a lousy feeling because it’s an implicit “You suck.”)
Friedman: You know…
Weekes: And you’re a young team and you go off the trolley quick.
I’ll say this. They need to play better defensively, not tonight, but just overall, their approach as a team. Tons of talent up front, I love the weapons they have up front, tons of talent, the envy of a lot of teams. But they don’t play a solid defensive game to give themselves a chance to exploit their skill offensively. To your point, Dubnyk wasn’t very good tonight.
Friedman: …The one thing about Dubnyk though that I find really hard…if you look at just his numbers, a .921 save percentage last year, which is really good, and Edmonton gives up a lot of good chances as evidenced tonight. I think, honestly, Glenn and guys, that’s the toughest thing for me to evaluate on this guy because he’s never played in front of a solid defensive team and I find it very hard, with his numbers, if you think if the team was better defensively, he’d look a lot better too but he has not looked great at the start of the year.
No idea what Weekes was intending to convey. Just bland hockey flavoured words. Friedman makes the point that I made during the second intermission.
To me, Dubnyk letting in the bad goal isn’t really the story. This goes to Friedman’s point a little bit about the volume of shots that he sees. The more times you spin the wheel (and every time a puck is launched towards the net, it’s a spin of the wheel) the more times you’re going to get unlucky. You court the risk of a bad goal (and in all honesty, the puck was tipped and it wasn’t an easy save) every time the puck comes into your end. The same is true, in a different way, of Hall making a dumb pass on the third goal. The more time you spend in your end, the more time you have to make a mistake. Why were the Oilers getting hammered in 5v5 shot attempts?
That’s the story to me. It wasn’t, as Healy seemed to suggest, that a team playing well was deflated by a stinker. The Oilers kept letting the Canucks spin the wheel. Why was Vancouver getting so much of the puck? Who knows. Would have been interesting to hear some insight into that.Email Tyler Dellow at firstname.lastname@example.org