Wednesday, November 30, 2011

More straightforward than "games-in-hand"?

So, we've looked at the standings from a goal differential standpoint, and it's pretty satisfying. The defending Cup champs, the Boston Brewers, lead the league by a mile with a differential of +28. The Rangers are ranked third in the conference at +14, 3 behind Pittsburgh and 2 in front of Philly (Goddamn Atlantic Division).

But after listening to the Pens post-game radio broadcast last night (to paraphrase: "The Rangers may have flexed their muscles here tonight, but the Penguins are still at the top of the league in the standings"), I got to thinking if maybe there's a simpler way to explain games-in-hand. Of course, the Penguins have 32 points, the most in the league, but they've played 4 more games than the Rangers. Generally, in hockey, we talk about these "games-in-hand" - the Rangers have 4 games in hand over the Penguins. The Rangers could gain up to 8 points in those games, so at worst they're 3 points behind and at best they're 5 points ahead?

Especially with the new ridiculous "games are worth either 2 or 3 points, depending on how long they are" standings system, this is not the easiest way to compare among more than two teams. So here's what I've been calculating in my head: "potential points lost." Rather than calculating total points and adding wins up as if every team wins every game in hand (which they can't all do, of course), I'm ignoring all the other numbers and comparing solely based on "potential points lost." If you lost a game in regulation, you lost 2 potential points. If you lost it in OT or a shootout, you lost 1 potential point (since you could have gained up to 2 points in that game).

Obviously, the lower, the better. Theoretically, there are 164 potential points for one team in a season, and each game you lose, you lose some potential points for the season. Sure, the more games you've played, the more potential points you could have already lost, but it's arguably more telling than "total points gained," which is probably more dependent on total number of games played.

Maybe this is no less affected by games played than total points, but it's a slightly interesting number to look at. Anyway, the Rangers lead the league in "potential points lost," with only 13 on the season (5 losses and 3 OT losses). The closest runners-up are Boston, Detroit, and San Jose, who have each lost 15 potential points this season. Next would be Philly, Minnesota, and Phoenix, who have each lost 17 potential points. At the bottom of the league, the Blue Jackets have lost 33 potential points already this season, the Hurricanes have lost 32, and the Ducks have lost 30.

Is this interesting at all?

Monday, November 28, 2011

...but they won't look like that

As predicted by this guy on Twitter, those jerseys I saw at the Garden turned out to be just knockoffs from some knockoff place. They're fake. Real ones just got revealed online, I took screenshots:

Winter Classic jerseys will be awesome

I know the official unveiling is today at 4:00, but I saw some people wearing what appeared to be the new Winter Classic jerseys at the Garden on Saturday. They're not too far off from what Kevin DeLury posted here, but the logo isn't that super-old-school bendy one he loves. Instead, it appears to be the following years' logo, from '53-'68, shown here. A quick google search reveals a bunch of top hits that match the ones I saw on Saturday, down to the stars around the wrists (which I love). An example is here:

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Good answer

Per Penguins Report, Dan Bylsma was asked for some advice for John Tortorella and Peter Laviolette, about how to deal with the HBO cameras being all over the place for 24/7. The first words out of his mouth: "Winning 12 in a row helps."

Monday, November 21, 2011

A frank dialogue concerning leagues and their faces, between myself and a Penguins fan friend

Me: There are 6 reporters surrounding Crosby's dressing stall blocking his way right now. Darren Dreger called it "Stanley Cup-like."
Me: expound.
Him: man, isn't he just some hockey person?
Him: also: VS. cancels their broadcast of the reigning Stanley Cup champs to show the cable subscribing world a game between a 24 year old and the Islanders.
Him: granted, it's pretty cool when a 24 year old dismantles the Islanders....
Him: but fuck the heck people?
Him: i get it that Pittsburgh would be insane over this.
Him: that's fine.
Him: it should be like christmas morning for us.
Me: that is
Him: but why is hockey everywhere shutting down for this?
Me: live-blogging
Me: the penguins' practice.
Him: look!
Me: this is fucking nonsense
Him:it's not THAT big of a deal.
Him: the coverage should start when he's taking the ice tonight.
Him: and then everyone can go back to doing something else.
Him: do you know what the NFL will do when Peyton Manning comes back from his injury?
Him: maybe cut away from your game to show you his first TD. then they'll show some highlights on ESPN later in the day and the next day.
Him: and that's it.
Him: maybe a headline on that'll be like "He's back!"
Me: they won't send a live-blog team to his dressing room for the previous day's practice?
Him: The Zamboni is just finishing it's morning sweep of the ice and now one guy is on the ice with a squeegee. The nets are stationed near the half-walls, waiting to get put in their proper places.
Overall it's still relatively quiet here at Consol Energy Center. It won't be for long.
Him: oh my god, what's the ice temperature?
Him: man, the NHL is so fucking outrageous.
Him: does Steven Stamkos get mentioned by the NHL for doing anything?
Me: of course not! man, the day the lokomotiv plane crashed,'s top story was "no timetable for crosby's return"
Him: man.
Him: why do you like this league?
Me: it's the only one that gives me hockey on tv 8 months a year.
Him: [insert rant about liking the sport and hating the league]
Me: i didn't even need a rant! i was succinct!
Him: such is the power of your anger.
Him: man, Sid is good
Him: but he just plays some hockey.
Him: and so many other people play hockey.
Me: "Crosby hits the ice at 10:23. He's the fourth Penguin on the ice."
Him: who were the first three?
Me: Hockey Player Who Isn't Crosby, Some Russian Guy, and Maybe I Think He Has A Brother
Him: so fuckbutt, fuckbutt, and fuckbutt.
Me: top 4 headlines on right now, in order:
Me: 1) Sid meets the media after skate
2) Crosby set to return to lineup Monday Night
3) Pens-Isles on VS tonight
4) Sid's Back
Him: ohmyjesus, why!?
Me: THIS JUST IN: Dan Rosen tweets that James Neal cannot get to his fucking dressing stall because of a swarm of reporters at Crosby's.
Me: "Stanley Cup-like"!
Me:!/drosennhl (who is now officially the first Twittererer I have ever un-followed)
Him: man, he's just a hockey man!
Him: it would totally be one thing is some shitty pittsburgh news station did this.
Him: you could brush that off as dumb yinzer enthusiasm.
Me: sure!
Me: i'd even support it!
Me: if someone sent some Steigerwald (any of them, really) to practice and then write about how he totally skated in circles and that was exciting, great!
Him: man, i don't know shit about other hockey teams.
Him: and sure, you could say i need to watch more hockey.
Him: but here's the thing
Him: i watch more hockey than i do basketball
Him: and i know a lot more basketball men than i know hockey men.
Me: I think the joy isn't about seeing him play
Me: it's that they no longer have to pretend to pay attention to the other 29 hockey teams like they have for almost a year
Me: it's so much easier to just follow one guy on one team
Me: "Seeing Crosby in the morning is nothing unusual considering he has been practicing with the team, including morning skates, since Oct.13." writer Dan Rosen, in's live blog about seeing Crosby in a morning skate.
Him: man, these people are getting paid.
Me: and we're not! we are so good at saying bullshit about bullshit!
Him: it's really all i have.
Him: man, Boston and Montreal is kind of a little bit of a rivalry, and i don't know, also a competitive game.
Him: but fuck that noise: here's a game with the Islanders!
Me: so i went to again to tell you how far down the list of a dozen stories the boston-montreal game is
Him: i bet it's not on the list
Me: right, right, of course, it's not there at all.
Him: man, your league is awful.
Me: but i did notice at the top, where you can click on some games to learn more about, and their times and stuff
Me: what you know: the only game listed is pens-isles, 7pm, on vs
Me: what you don't know: the button actually says "CROSBY, 7ET, VERSUS"
Me: at this point, it feels like you are personally fucking with me. like you have somehow edited my hosts file to redirect to a website you made
Me: where you just stuck a big red button in the middle of the NHL homepage that just says "CROSBY" on it, just to see how angry it would make me
Him: i am actually capable of a great deal of "mainframe" "hacks", etc.
Me: yes, yes. you're very computer.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Here are some things that I think about some people

1. Sean Avery: the new GAG guy? Seriously, it's so much fun to watch him be good at hockey. "The Rangers are a better team with him," sportswriters love to say, implying the unasked question "but why?" They then posture for a while, ignoring the simplest explanation: he is kind of good at playing hockey. I loved hearing the 'Canes announcers try to explain it away last Friday ("Well, sometimes conflict is a good thing"?), and I might have had more fun last night when it was against the Islanders.

2. Speaking of Avery, let's talk about this minor penalty at the end of the first period. First of all, if it's Avery who drops his gloves while Mottau leaves them on, Aves gets 5 minutes for fighting while Mottau gets nothing. Because the situation is reversed, they each get 2 for unsportsmanlike. That's the usual bullshit. But then, for some reason, they make Avery sit the final 56 seconds of the period from the locker room, while Mottau sits in the box. No explanation, no difference in penalty, just sent Avery off and left Mottau alone. As Avery said to the media last night, "Obviously, we know why. I don't know, why would they send me off? It's a regular penalty. I'd like you guys to start calling and asking that and give me an explanation."

3. Dan Girardi, on behalf of all Ranger fans, I'm sorry. We're sorry we brought up the idea of you as an All Star: clearly it went to your head and threw off your game. Haven't seen you play a game that weak in a year and a half. Forget the whole thing, go back to the shadows, where you're unrecognized and therefore can remain one of the top shutdown* defensemen in the game.

4. Aaron Voros apparently called Glen Sather and asked for a chance at a Professional Tryout for the club. Sather obliged, and Voros is now skating for the Whale on a tryout basis. Don't count on it, but how much fun would it be if he really excelled and all of a sudden the fourth line was Voros - Newbury - Prust or something?

5. Olivia Munn! Richards is dating Olivia Munn! And apparently they started dating between that game we blew in the 3rd against the Senators and the following game, which kicked off our currently-running 7-game win streak. So, let's all give thanks to Olivia Munn for inspiring this streak, and let's hope Richards and Munn stay together for a while. (Also, that is a very, very attractive couple. And they're into, respectively, my two biggest interests: hockey and video games.)

I can't tell you how hard it was for me to keep it classy and not link to a different fantastically NSFW image of Olivia Munn each time I typed her name.

*Perhaps I should have just said "defenseman" here. When the media calls a guy a good "shutdown defenseman," they mean he's a good defenseman for actually playing defense. As opposed to a good offensive defenseman. So, from my perspective, that just means he's one of the best defensemen in the league.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lines lines lines

Via New York Rangers Blog, via Katie Strang, Rangers' lines tonight (at least for the first period, until they get all wonky) will be:

Anisimov - Stepan - Gaborik
Dubinsky - Boyle - Callahan
Avery - Richards - Fedotenko
Deveaux - Christensen - Prust

The good news, of course, is Avery's promotion to the third line, where he'll play alongside the team's best center. What a great opportunity to show some spark. The bad news, also of course, is that it's clearly so reactionary that if that line doesn't produce in the first period, it'll likely be broken up by the third.

On the other hand, is taking Richards out from between Dubi and Cally really a good call in the first place? What about swapping Boyle and Richards, and then leaving those lines alone for multiple games in a row? Or is it that Dubi - Boyle - Cally was so promising in the late game on Friday that Torts wants to keep that together?

And on the other other hand, is it at all interesting that tonight Richards will be centering the two Ranger forwards that he's been on a team with before (Avery in Dallas, Fedotenko in Tampa)?

Most likely: Torts liked what he saw from Dubinsky - Boyle - Callahan on Friday, and he likes what he's seen from Anisimov - Stepan - Gaborik for a while. Beyond those two lines, Richards, Fedotenko, and Avery are the three best remaining forwards, so they become the third line, leaving Deveaux, Christensen, and Prust as the fourth. When I say it that way, it sounds so reasonable.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Hey you guys

Right, so, I'm back from a crazy spiral of work to do and also from Quebec, where I was for a while. Hi! The Rangers sure won a lot of games since last we spoke.

My girlfriend reported to me that she has never, in her life, seen me giddy the way that I was giddy when Avery buried that puck against the 'Canes. In typical Tortorella fashion, the coach gave Avery correspondingly more ice time because he scored a goal, breaking up the lines to do so. Only this time, because it came out better for the good guys, I didn't really mind.

Man, it's fun to win hockey games. Here we go:

Anisimov, as expected, looks really good when he's given very little responsibility on a line with 2 very good hockey players. Stepan, Gaborik, Richards, and Callahan all look great, and Dubinsky is getting there (I hope). Boyle, Prust, and Fedotenko continue to do their jobs, Avery deserves more ice time, Christensen sucks up way too much ice time, and I'm warming up to Deveaux. Del Zotto came back from his Sophomore Slump to become a Third-year Thuperman: I really like how all of a sudden he plays defense. Girardi for President, and thank goodness McDonagh and Sauer didn't have the declines they easily could have. Eminger, Woywitka, this new Stralman guy, whatever. There's not a really solid back 2.

I assume that by tomorrow on Long Island, Torts will have forgotten that Avery's pretty good and relegated him to 5 minutes a game again. I guess I'll take what I can get, but we should hope Avery gets lucky and finds the net again soon: if he can show consistency on the scorecard, maybe that will have the lasting impression on the coach that consistency in actual play clearly doesn't have. And if I didn't make it clear enough before, Christensen remains a bag of shit.

Some real quick musings on what the standings tell us right now:
--- Sure, the Rangers are streaking right now, and they'll have to come down eventually. But this sure is fun while it lasts: if we let every team in the league win every game in hand, up to 18 games played for everyone, the Rangers would be tied with the Caps for league lead. And while small sample size tells us that our goal differential may be lying, our goal differential is saying "this might not be a mirage!"
--- See also: Boston Bruins. Behind the Rangers, they're riding the second-longest win streak in the league right now, but getting off to a slower start means the reigning champs are sitting in 11th in the East. Warning: that's bullshit. Their goal differential of +17 is best in the league by 4, and while, like the Rangers', that's due to very high performance in a very small sample, we should take it as a sign that barring a major shift, Boston won't be below that #8 line for long.
--- What else do goal differentials tell us, like in the West? That at +1 Edmonton might be a real playoff team this year, but probably isn't a home ice contender. That while Dallas's record is for real, everyone in the West is pretty bunched up right now, and it's still kinda a free-for-all.
--- Oh, and the Toronto party might still be bullshit. 10-6-1 with a goal differential of -7? Sorry, having some trouble with that. Yes, yes, it's only a handful of games. Still, I'd be willing to put money down that if after game 34, the Leafs have been outscored by their opponents by a total of 14 goals, they won't be looking at a 20-12-2 record.

Oh, and congratulations to Ed Belfour, Doug Gilmour, Mark Howe, and Joe Nieuwendyk, the 2011 inductee class to the Hockey Hall of Fame!

Next up: a few reasons I actually kinda like the Flyers a little right now?