I didn’t watch the Sens 4-1 loss to Arizona, but Ary M provides a blow-by-blow recap. I’m curious to see who (if anyone) the Sens recall to replace Curtis Lazar (I’d guess Matt Puempel, although he isn’t the most de serving). Bryan Murray is overly fond of meat & potatoes players (ergo the Max McCormick recall), but at some point he needs players who can put the puck in the net.
The BSens beat Toronto 5-1 last night. There were two lineup changes from their previous game, as Chris Driedger got the start and Alex Wideman replaced the recalled McCormick (Greening took the latter’s spot on the third line while Wideman played on the fourth). Prior to the game Luke Richardson praised Tuzzolino‘s performance which is appalling. As for the game itself (Jeff Ulmer also offers a breakdown), here’s a quick look at the goals and a few other moments of note: the scoring opened with Cole Schneider giving Matt Puempel a tap-in on a 2-on-1; David Dziurzynki made it 2-0 when his shot simply sailed through Garret Sparks from just inside the blueline; Tobias Lindberg made a great pass to Eric O’Dell to make it 3-0; right after Mark Fraser fought Richard Clune as payback for a hit on Ryan Dzingel, the Marlies scored as Josh Leivo fired through a screen; Schneider scored with a backhand move on a breakaway; there was a nice give & go between Puempel and Schneider (latter with the goal). Other items of note: Nick Paul missed on a first period breakaway; the aforementioned Tuzzolino fell asleep in front of his own net early in the second and nearly gave up a goal; Lepine almost managed an own-goal in front of his net (2nd); Lindberg made a great pickoff in his own zone leading to a 2-on-1; Fraser took a needless penalty (2nd); Lindberg missed high backhand on a breakaway (3rd). Despite the final score the Marlies dominated in the early 2nd period when the score was 2-0 and 3-0 (where the poor defensive plays and bad penalty above are mentioned). The first-line was again the best, with the second continuing to improve. [A look at the goals:
1. Shortly after Mullen saved a goal in front with a timely stick check with a Marlie all alone in front, Schneider creates the turn over and he feeds Puempel for the empty net on a 2-on-1
2. Dziurzynski scores with an innocent wrist shot from a long way out
3. Nice little pass by Lindberg who creates the turnover and O’Dell makes no mistake from in close
4. Hobbs turns it over and Ewanyk loses his check so Leivo is all alone in the slot to shoot through a crowd
5. Puempel springs Schneider on a breakaway and he makes no mistake with a deke
6. Paul gets the puck out of danger and Puempel gives Schneider the empty net on a 2-on-1]
I agree with Jeff that Wideman was invisible; I think the porous Marlies defense Jeff mentioned occurred when they got far behind and defensemen were gambling; Jeff agrees with me that Zack Storini doesn’t work on the powerplay–he can’t stake, he can’t pass, and he can’t shoot–his stats last year were an aberration (with that said, I don’t expect Richardson to remove him); a lot of BSens fans are praising Fraser, particularly for defending his teammate, but I’m still on the fence about him–in the first five games of the season he’s taken selfish penalties in two of them (tonight and against Albany), along with being guilty of an atrocious turnover leading to a goal (the first game against Saint John). The latter will happen to any blueliner at some point, but there’s no excuse for the dumb penalties. Fraser has no offensive upside, so he has to be excellent in all other facets of the game and he needs to police himself better.
The IceMen played their second game of the season last night against last year’s Kelly Cup champs Toledo, with a similar result to game one (a 2-1 loss). The lineup changes were Swede Sebastien Strandberg replacing Mark Anthoine and he was a big improvement; Samuel Noreau replaced Dieude-Fauvel which didn’t help the team at all. The individual play continued, being particularly bad from veterans Matt Hussey and Daultan Leveille. The first goal against Scott Greenham was due to poor defensive coverage and on the second Noreau screened him; Evansville’s lone goal was a Fawcett tip off a point shot. Zarbo played well again; Troy Rutkowski had a strong game (as did Greenham). Most of the game Toledo dominated and was clearly more talented, but the IceMen did put on great pressure after their goal (so the final half of the third period). It’s just two games in, but a lack of talent may be the downfall of Evansville.
I’m puzzled by fans (and professionals) who simply reject analytics. Hockey people like Patrick Roy, John Tortorella, the Sens organisation, and others express dismissive views despite showing little to no understanding of the material. This kind of rejection isn’t unique to hockey–there are many instances where conventional wisdom is used as “evidence” to reject actual evidence. In the case of the NHL I don’t believe there’s any perniciousness here, instead I think those trying to break down the game into usable data are fighting two separate problems: 1) the struggle to understand analytics (and what their numbers mean), and 2) the weight of decades of hyperbole and conventional wisdom that’s accumulated from the era before analytics. The issues are interrelated, because the media has done a poor to non-existent job in addressing it–part of that, surely, is because accepting the importance of the data would promptly unemploy a huge swath of TV and radio personalities. Secondly, while the proof that analytics is legitimate continues to pour in, it’s new enough that challenges to it can still be seen as reasonable–despite the fact most of them boil down to ‘hockey can’t be understood purely by numbers.’ It’s basically a battle of faith at this point (people believe something is true to the point that they are not open to it being wrong). Once the media (and NHL) fully embrace analytics that opposition will vanish, but it may be another ten years or so before we see that happen.
This article is written by Peter Levi (@eyeonthesens)