Celly Doublestandards! Myopic Zebras! Fancy Stats and MPS!
First, let's address lingering storylines. The Celly was awesome and totally warranted. Deal with it. In fact, put it in your pipe and smoke it! I was all set to blast Grapes but I saw him for the first time in a while and he looks so much older and his voice is so much more wheezy and querelous than I recall… rather than blast Grapes I think I'll just acknowledge that if I'm lucky, I may someday survive long enough that many of my opinions and attitudes will be obselete and irrelevant. However, if you're not a geriatric and you hated anyway I'd just like to warn you that you're on the path to membership in the Fun Police.
We had the same refs last night as we did against LA which strikes me as very clumsy on the NHL's part. You don't want fans to have a reason to know refs by name, and now I know 4 of them and never want to see them again, unless there is a dunk tank involved. Seriously, it's like someone painted stripes on 4 donkeys! But this sort-of segues into the game.
Five minutes into the first, and I'm thinking it's been a good game. Oilers had the better start but after a few saves by Kipper Calgary sorted themselves out. I was literally just thinking to myself "Well, the refs are bouncing back nicely from yesterday's fiasco" when they had the mildly controversial, highly frustrating goaltender interference non-call that was the first Calgary goal. Don't get me wrong, I've seen way bigger examples of injustice, but these were the exact same referees we had against LA, and it seems inconsistent with their extremely controversial NHL-endorsed but totally nonsensical "goaltender interference that somehow wasn't a penalty". Please, please, please just give us the damn penalty so we don't have to wonder what rules you're enforcing!. Also very frustrated with their goaltender interference call on Horcoff in the late 2nd. For that matter, how did four refs not see Hall get, well, hauled down in the mid-3rd? I wonder… will having a PP that clicks like 40% of the time make refs more reluctant to call penalties in our favour when we start playing the Games That Matter?
That said, the refs weren't terrible over that two game span, but they were very noticable. The way they called (and didn't call) goaltender interference was awful and confusing and took attention away from the game and directed it towards the refs. Makes me wonder – if Edmonton's disallowed goal against the Kings had come in the first and Calgary's allowed goal against Edmonton had happened at the end of the third, might the calls have been reversed?
The NHL is well-known for changing the way rules are called depending on what part of the game/season/post-season it is. I used to think I understood goaltender interference and it is very frustrating as a fan to have to wonder what are those goddamn zebras are thinking this time? They need to pick a standard and keep it consistent. If sports fans are looking at nhl.com to find the names of the refs, it's not because we want to buy their jerseys! Incidentally, Refs Tom Kowal, Greg Kimmerly, Linesman Ryan Galoway, Don Henderson… believe it or not, Mick McGeough was not involved at all! Although given the NHL endorsed the worst of their rubbish, fault should be directed at the NHL. The rules of the game need to be clear to everyone and they need to be enforced consistently, regardless of what period it is or whether it's the playoffs.
How about that Justin Schultz? He's playing like he wants to be my favourite Oiler, and if he keeps it up, he will be! The Wunderkids were our best players again. Smytty and Whitney looked old and slow again – if this keeps up over the coming week it becomes a source of concern for me, but for now I'm willing to give them some time hoping they get their game legs under them. Dubnyk had his moments but looked average, overall, which is hardly what I wanted to see but is not yet cause for concern.
As is the case any time Calgary wins, both Kipper and Iggy played well. Watching Glencross always makes me mad… like losing a friend because we were too busy chasing some hot chick we were way to fugly to catch. Hate losing great players for nothing, and Glencross won't score 50 goals but every team in the league would love to have him on their 3rd line! And don't get me wrong, I was very impressed with Curtis' play last night (to the point that I think the Flamose would have lost without him, he was very good disrupting the Wunderkids and counterattacking) but if Curtis Glencross is on your 1st line, you have problems!
J Bo also had a great game. The only reason he isn't given the credit he is due is that he is a high draft pick who took a while to develop (but was drafted before we came to expect that from defensemen) so people still have the lesser J Bo of a few years ago in their heads. Well, that and the fact that he's paid like a Norris winner but has yet to enter that conversation. Sort of like Horcoff gets in Edmonton, except that J Bo is overpaid by 1M, Horcoff by 3M, and J Bo is Calgary's 3rd most important player, and Horcoff is Edmonton's… hmmm… 9th? The Wunderkids, Smid/Petry, Dubnyk, Horcs.
Darcy Hordichuk was in the line-up, which inspired a chorus of WTFs. I can only surmise that Darcy was there as a deterrent to the Flames to prevent them from becoming overly rough. Here's the thing – I like Hordichuk. I like his sense of humour and the fact that he doesn't take himself very seriously. However, Hordichuk simply cannot play at the NHL level. The game changed a few years ago to the point that teams cannot afford to ice "enforcers" – people who can't play hockey but can kick ass, because whatever gains they make for you will be lost due to bad penalties taken combined with being a liability to the team every second they're on the ice and not fighting. I like the man, but the player just doesn't belong in the NHL. Don't believe me? Read this! http://oilersnation.com/2013/1/27/every-single-thing-darcy-hordichuk-did
I've been reading a lot of online disappointment about Paajarvi. Look, if we want to have a dynasty, it means we will need people on our 3rd line who could be playing on another team's top 6. Who is an excellent example of that? Curtis Glencross. Could Paajarvi become Glencross? No – they're different players! However, even while fans lose patience with his lack of offense, Paajarvi is quietly doing everything you want your third line winger to do, and he's doing it well regardless of who his linemates are. I refer you to the chart found here http://lowetide.ca/blog/2012/07/sledgehammer-3.html. The chart itself is by Robert Vollman and it's really worth a gander. Anyone looking at it will see that Paajarvi has a blue circle (and that only Hall's blue circle is clearly larger), denoting positive Corsai, which is probably my single favourite "advanced" stat. Going back to the graph though, MPS is slightly south of center and slightly left of center, meaning he faced slightly less than average talent while starting in his own zone more often. Last yeah MPS' qualcomp was (slightly) higher than his qualteam and his zone finish (49.9) higher than his zone start (47.7) Also, he was -7 on a team that was -26.*
These stats, taken together, seem to say that MPS is a good bet to be defensively responsible while bringing lots of speed, advancing the play, and contributing a bit of offense. "Ryan Jones on a good day," according to Ralph Krueger. If MPS can do what he's been doing for more than a year while also averaging ~10 goals and ~30 points (over a full season) then there is definitely room for him on my Oilers team.
*All stats in that sentence from http://lowetide.ca/blog/2012/04/magnus-paajarvi-11-12-only-love-can-break-your-heart.html
image came from http://davecunning.wordpress.com/tag/chicago-blackhawks/