Sunday, August 21, 2005
Random musings and notes from the weekend.
1. Kevin Weekes - 'd-lee' and 'phil' take me to task for chiding goalie Kevin Weekes of the Ranger$.
(Phil) I'm a Ranger fan and I agree the Rangers are going to suck, but can someone please explain to me why Kevin Weekes is considered bad? With the friggin Carolina Hurricanes in front of him, he's put up a 2.55 and 2.33 GAA the last two seasons (the 2.33 being last season) with a SV% of .912. For comparison, Dan Cloutier only had a GAA 0.06 better than Weekes last year, and a SV% only .002 better, and thats behind the Canucks. Over a 60 game period, that's only 3 more goals let up. So if someone could explain why Weekes is so bad, that would be helpful.
A Rangers fan? My condolences ;) (Not really, I'm still sore about 1994)
Looking at the stats, Kevin Weekes finished 24th in Save Percentage in 03/04 and 16th in 02/03 and doesn't appear in the Top 10 or Bottom 10 of Daryl Shilling's 2004 Goalie Ratings.
Given the defense in front of Kevin, the last two seasons have seen him give middle-of-the-road goaltending. That's about as good as you'll get with the guy. I've defended him on other forums in the past because he is better than people tend to give him credit for.
Now, he's always been extremely athletic and talented, but, as Canucks know, he's a few bubbles short of a carbonated beverage. His tall tale of being involved in a carjacking incident gave Canucks ex-GM Brian Burke a good laugh, and got Weekes a quick ticket out of Vancouver.
Playing in Carolina was probably the best thing for Weekes. Playing in an intense market like Vancouver proved too much pressure for him and he might falter under the bright lights of the Big Apple.
At the very least, he'll be an improvement over the overrated and always injured Mike Dunham, but he's not going to carry the Rangers...the games he steals are offset by some very shaky outings. For all of the money the Rangers have thrown around over the years, they've never addressed their goalie position very well.
As for Dan Cloutier, Canucks fans are aware that Cloutier is no great shakes...and we're stuck with him for 2 more years at $2.5mil a yar. The only positive I thing I can saw about Cloutier is that he'll take any other goalie in a fight ;)
2. Slovak Stat Split of the Day:
NHL Players, logically, have better stats in their team's victories compared to their team's losses.
Now, just how important was Miroslav Satan to the 2003/04 Buffalo Sabres?
In Wins: 37GP 23-22-45 +17 10PP
In Losses: 38GP 5-6-11 -33 1PP
In Ties: 7GP 1-0-1 +1 2
Wow, the results of the Sabres seem very heavily weighted upon the shoulders of the Lord of Darkness. When Sabres fans are laughing at how little Satan meant to them, just point out this stat split and let them know that Satan was a real difference maker. Where were Miro's teammates? Picking their noses?
Slovak Stat Split #2
Jozef Stumpel, who will now being playing his game in a very strange place (Sunrise, Florida) seems to be comfortable playing anywhere.
Home: 32GP 4-15-19 +3
Road: 32GP 4-14-18 +2
3. Why did I pick the Boston Bruins to finish #1 in the Eastern Conference?
The Bruins finished with 104 points and in 2nd place in the East in 03/04. While their performance was partially a Pythagorean fluke, I really like the fact that they have a deep and offensively talented roster heading into this season. The Senators are trying hard to keep everyone in the fold and will likely have to lose some strength as they can't keep all of their talent (buh-buy Maid Marian).
While the Sens were underpeforming their Expected Win% in past seasons (no surprise given who was coaching them), I believe the new CBA is putting them in the hurt locker...same goes for Tampa and Martin St-Louis.
Looking at Boston's current depth chart.
Brian Leetch - Nick Boynton
Hal Gill - Jonathan Girard
Jiri Slegr - Marc Stuart
Milan Jurcina - Ian Moran
Sergei Samsonov - Joe Thornton - Glen Murray
Brad Isbister - Alexei Zhamnov - Patrice Bergeron
PJ Axelsson - Dave Scatchard - Shawn McEachern
Tom Fitzgerald - Travis Green - Brad Boyes
Andy Hilbert - Colton Orr
The Bruins have an incredible amount of offense talent up front and on the backend with puck-moving defensemen such as Brian Leetch, Jiri Slegr, and Jon Girard. Andrew Raycroft is a strong goaltender and I think the Bruins will be piling up bushels of goals almost every night.
4. While slow-footed defensemen like Derian "Hacker" Hatcher may be hurt when the NHL opens up, they won't be hurt as badly as you would expect.
i. These stay-at-home defensemen will simply stay at home more to bake cookies for the GI's off at war in the offensive zone. Coaches know that they'll have to have their slower d-men hang back farther to protect against the long breakout/breakaway pass. Don't expect Hatcher to pitch in quite as often...
ii. The NHL did not increase the ice surface. In IIHF tournaments played in Europe, Zdeno Chara, Marek Malik and other giant beasts of burden are obviously less effective than in the NHL because their reach isn't as useful and their lack of quickness is exposed. In the NHL, the smaller rink width protects them from being beaten to the outside and that aspect of the game won't change. Hatcher can still use his massive frame to protect the smaller portion in the middle of the ice and then slam some unsuspecting fool into the boards when they are close enough. Much of the play will be down low in the offensive zone, and big lugs like Hatcher will still be force in the trenches. If anything, the new NHL might hurt the offensive production (mainly goals) of the stay-at-home types, but don't expect them to just suddenly become obsolete.
5. I see the Tampa Bay Lightning signed goaltender Brian Eklund to a contract. I didn't know they needed a crappy blogger on the roster. I'm still available as an Unrestricted Free Agent if the Canucks are so inclined to offer me a contract ;)
The Bruins have an incredible amount of offense talent up front and on the backend with puck-moving defensemen such as Berard, Slegr, and Girard.
Which Berard? Certainly not Bryan Berard. He's signed with Columbus... He was in Chicago before that. Before that he was with the Bruins, but if memory serves me correct they walked away from his arbitration amount making him a UFA back in '03.
I meant Brian Leetch (trust me), but I was reading something about Berard in another window and my mind got crossed in a know. I'll edit it shortly.
As for Satan, while I agree Buffalo will miss him significantly in the short term I'm not sure his influence is as great as you imply.
Their results were certainly better when he scored more... but that's to be expected, their results will be better if anyone scores be it he or anyone else.
Satan is a great talent and a natural sniper but he's also heartless and oftentimes lazy and goes through prolonged slumps.
He wasn't exactly shy in intimating how clearly he wanted out and away from Buffalo last season.
His absence may well prove a blessing in terms of team unity and the atmosphere in the dressingroom.
It'll definitely hurt them in the short term, but for what it would have cost to resign him I don't blame them for cutting him loose.
I have to wonder what trade offers they'd recieved prior to the deadline last season though, as they'd have been better off dealing him had they been offered anything of any remote value in return.
I'm with you on this. Looking inside the split stats on Miro will tell you that when he took the night off the team couldn't make up for his lack of effort though he was getting 18-20 minutes a night. The minutes he soaked up not being 'engaged' in his work had a profound effect on the rest of the team. You don't pay a guy $5 million dollars to play hockey only when he felt like it, talented or otherwise.
Had he put out any effort at all after the deadline, we'd have made the playoffs. Jez is right, when you're best player decides not to play... you generally lose.
I'll say more on this over on Sabre Rattling.
FYI: In Finland, Raycroft went 4-5-2 (1 SO) with a 2.92 GAA and .912 SP in 11 games. Worse numbers than his rookie year, but Tappara (3.07 GA/gm) wasn't exactly a defensive juggernaut. I think we can leave out his 16.00 GAA performance in the short-lived OSHL.