Tuesday, November 19, 2013

30WR: Wild Stomped in Montreal


Well, that was like trying to masturbate with sandpaper.  Sometime you just lay an egg, and, if the other team play well, as the Habs did, you're pretty much screwed.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

30WR: Wild Grounds Jets


Koivu comes through with two, Scandella very strong, third and fourth lines pushed the momentum.  But let's take a minute to celebrate Harding.  Outstanding stuff, just keeps getting it done.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Appropriate Response And The Hockey Neanderthal


The "appropriate response" question is interesting to me.  I like my hockey played with an edge to it.  I like the rough - not dirty - stuff.  I even like fights - the organic and spontaneous ones that (like and accept it or not) have a hockey purpose.  

There is a distinct part of me that wishes the Wild had thumped Kadri for running Bax last night.  Part of that, I admit, is because I also play goalie and I've been run (not as bad as that, though) and I know how good it feels when your team steps up and comes to your defense after that kind of thing.  

But, on the other hand I am also tired of the "guy hits your guy hard but clean, and you grab him and pummel him" move that is becoming so prevalent.  Perhaps I'm ignorant of the historical context for that move, and if it's there, then maybe that makes it more palatable.  But it just seems to comport to the over-entitlement that we see in society today and that, frankly, I would prefer to continue to only see in sports like football and basketball.  Because a parallel behavior to that is "don't you dare fucking disrespect me" which just seems to feeble and immature, but that is reflective of that mindset.  

And I'm having trouble reconciling those two thought processes.

I accept that the Wild just isn't built for that kind of game.  So, regardless of whether or not Yeo, the team, or I would have wanted to escalate the hostilities, the prudent thing was to do what they (eventually) did and get even on the scoreboard.

And further to that point, I recall the days of Boogie, Fridge, and Simon.  How embarrassingly pathetic that was.  And how fruitless.  

Maybe the idea is that toughness is more than goons.  Boston Garden, 2/26/81, sounds like some revered date in Grateful Dead history, but it's actually the date of a historic hockey game wherein the North Stars conquered their El Guapo in the form of the big, bad Bs (who had run up a 27-0-7 record against the Stars in Boston to that point).  Matching them punch-for-punch all over the ice - and up and down the lineup.  That game set a PIM record (406) that would stand for 23 years.  Now, that's nothing to be proud of per se, but in the playoffs later that spring, the North Stars, having proved to themselves that the Bruins were nothing to be feared, would pull off an improbable 3-game sweep of Boston en route to a berth in the Stanley Cup Finals where they were dispatched in 5 games by the Islanders.  So, there you have it: definitive proof that sometimes toughness does have a benefit beyond getting the fans all frothed up.

My friend John used to say that Detroit's enforcer was its power play - and he has a point.  Last night, the Wild's power play was no deterrent to the Leafs continued belligerence.  And we didn't have a stable of toughs on hand to discourage the Leafs that way, either.  

What's bothersome to me is that, okay I accept the Wild can't play that game.  But to my eye, they lost some intensity and crispness last night.  They've talked about how good their puck possession was, and how they didn't back down when the Leafs wanted to yuk it up after the whistle, but that edge was missing.  And, if that's attributable to them knowing they can't play that kind of game with a team as committed to it as the Leafs are, then I think that is a problem.  You can't play scared.  That doesn't mean I want guys running around just to prove their manhood, and certainly the scoreboard is more important that a dick measuring contest.  But, I have a hard time saying the Wild deserved to win that game based on their play.  And that's my point.  

We'll never know if seeing Bax get run and knocked out of the game cowed the Wild.  Or if they were just "off" and would have been regardless of Kadri.  And, again, I'm not calling for them to goon it up.  That's why this is an interesting discussion.  I would have liked to see a sharper effort from the WIld than what we saw.  And I'm drawing a connection in my mind between the Leafs brand of physicality and the WIld's lack of sharpness.  Maybe that's unfair.  Maybe it's totally misplaced.  But, what if it isn't?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

30WR: Wild Edge Buds


Leafs came for the party, Wild eventually got sorted.  Harding was strong in relief.  Parise was clutch.  Yeo teams get hot, but they also get cold.  Is this year different?

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

30WR: Wild Beats Flames 5-1


Another game where the Wild took some time to get going, but took advantage of a lesser team.  Can't do that against good teams, but we'll take the two points.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Stats 1101 Week 6: What the hell is a Fenwick?

It's been a few weeks off, as I've been traveling and scouting the hockey broadcasts in Columbus Ohio and Hazelton, PA.

I wanted to discuss advanced stats. There's been some talk lately about the Fenwick Close rating that a Calgary Flames fan named after himself. While that's something a native Minnesotan would never dream of, it's still something interesting to look at.

I think this analysis makes a good point.

Then again, I compiled data from 2008 to 2012 and plotted points against Fenwick Close scores:

Not an overwhelming correlation, and plenty of outliers. Some teams (Nashville 2012) had Fenwick Close scores below 500 yet garnered enough points in the standings to not only make the playoffs but also finish in the top half of the conference. Also, Columbus in 2008 had the third worst record in the West yet had the third best Fenwick Close score in their conference that year, the best Fenwick Close score of any team to not make the playoffs in the scope of this analysis.

But I think what it does is give Wild fans an explanation for what we've felt the last few years. Several times the last couple years, Wild fans have known their team was playing above itself and winning games that by rights it should have lost. Conversely, this season, the Wild have lost some games that fans felt they should have won.

Should I, as a Wild fan, expect the Wild to continue to win? Only insofar as putting a good product on the ice. Can I, as an armchair analyst, hang my hat on an advanced stat to prove this team will make the playoffs? No.

Fenwick might be good as a retrospective tool, to try to suss out why certain teams have been good in the past, but all we can get is a correlation, not a predictive tool. It may give us hope, but I wouldn't take it to Vegas. As we've seen, there are other factors, ( *cough* Dany Heatley *cough* ), that can affect the team's ability to win games.