2008-04-30

Game 4

Looking for a review? I won't waste my time. Just go look at the last two games. It will have to suffice to say the Habs smoked them again everywhere but in the crease.

So they're down 3-1. Historically, the road team has gone on to win the series 70 times out of 80, or 87.5%. The upside for the Habs is their odds for a comeback have to be a little better than the historical rate because they've demonstrated in three straight games that they are the better team by a fair margin.

~

Biron has allowed 10 goals on 142 shots for a sv% of .930. Price/Halak's sv% has been .854. At that rate they'd allow 19 goals on an equal number of shots. Even more, actually, because those save% numbers don't take into account the greater number of more difficult PP shots Biron has stopped.

Obviously, this is not sustainable. No NHL team has goaltending that is 75 points better than any other NHL team.

Montreal's goaltending is an organizational strength. They've just run into a helluva hot streak by Biron in this series. Combined with a poorly timed cold streak by Price, that means trouble. I should note, hot streaks/cold streaks in this context are the same as hot streaks/cold streaks with coin tosses or dice. Dumb luck.


~

Anyone else remembering Begin's high sticking double minor in game #82 last year?

~





If a mistake was made on the Mtl bench tonight, it was not playing the 46-14-74 line enough. Those guys dominated but saw way less icetime than 21-11-27.

News Flash

The PP is just fine and not at all to blame for being down 2-1 in this series.



Applying the regular season rates to the PP icetime in round 1, they should have scored eight goals, not three. If you figure in a 20% drop in PP rates for the playoffs, they still should have scored seven. No question, the lack of PP production nearly cost them the series.

That attitude seems to have carried over into the 2nd round. It's not justified. They've scored four goals. Applying the regular season rates to the round 2 TOI, they should have scored... four goals. Only three if you figure in a 20% drop for the playoffs. The 2:00 5 on 3 gave us all a bad impression, but they made up for it in 5 on 4 situations. It's all in the bounces.

If you want to find a culprit for this series, blame the goalposts. The official count (in the nhl.com play by plays) is 4-1, although none were recorded in game 2 I swear I counted at least one.

The skaters are not to blame - they've played well enough to be up 2-1 but just haven't had the puck luck. And the difference in goaltending hasn't helped. If they dominate the play in game 4 like they did in games 2 & 3 *and* the Flyers don't dominate on bounces again, the series will be tied.

~

Bad news: Knuble should be back tonight. If he's 100% (can you really recover from a muscle tear in 10 days), he will be a substantial upgrade over Thoreson on the Richards line and a big PP threat.

2008-04-29

Game 3 Review

Two more posts. Helluva lot of near misses. That's two games in a row that the Habs thoroughly spanked them on posession, shots, chances... everywhere except in the crease (more on that next paragraph). For a fan of a team that got their fair share of luck this season, I suppose you gotta admit that thems the breaks.

Goaltending. Price was awful again. Halak played the 3rd. So how's that Huet trade looking now? Below average playoff goaltending on a 1st place team is a steep price to pay just to give the kid experience. If he turns into a brick wall next season (particularly in the playoffs) then it may be worth it. So I won't call for Gainey's head until we see what happens next year.

~

Thanks Derian! Your meatheadedness didn't quite hand us the game, but you sure as hell tried. Hatcher may be a dirty slug, but I believe he can be rehabilitated. You know, with the right combination of drugs, tough love and drastic brain surgery, he can once again become a productive member of society. Possibly as a pro wrestler or a trash barge.

~

Millen Math: 3.5 - 2 = 0.5

~
Lines:

Higgins / Koivu / Kovy (13 min EV)
AKost / Pleks / SKost (10 min)
Begin / Smoke / Kostpls (10 min)
Streit / Lapierre / Dandy (8 min)
Markov / Komi (12 min)
Hamrlik / O'Byrne (15 min)
Bouillon / Gorges (14 min)

Umberger / Carter / Upshall (12 min)
Prospal / Briere / Hartnell (10 min EV)
Thoreson / Richards / Lupul (10 min)
Kapanen / Dowd / Downie (8 min)
Coburn / Timonen (15 min)
Hatcher / Jones (14 min)
Kukkonen / Smith (12 min)

Koivu vs. Carter, Plekanec vs. Briere, Smolinski vs. Richards, Begin vs. Dowd.

Timonen/Coburn vs. Koivu.

The shake up on the 3 and 4 lines had some good results. Particularly Begin taking Lapierre's place at centre. The kid's chance trading tendencies are a bad fit for a player with a centre's responsibilities.


Shots, from timeonice:





You can't really fault the team's play. Right now, the worst thing Carbo could do would be to take drastic action. They're beating the Flyers in every way except the score (and goaltending).


Bonus Game 2 Material

I was at a charity auction and missed the first 30 minutes of the game. Our bidder number? 74.

The 30 minutes I saw were frustrating for sure. The Canadiens had chance after chance and were either robbed by Biron or the goalpost. Judging by the numbers, it looks like the first half of the game went the same way. We can take solace in knowing that if the remaining games of this series go the same way except the goaltending, the Habs are pretty much a shoo in for the Conference finals. Biron was lights out, Price was disturbingly poor. Again.

Higgins / Koivu / Kovy (12 min EV)
AKost / Pleks / SKost (12 min)
Begin / Smoke / Kostpls (14 min)
Streit / Lapierre / Dandy (6 min)
Markov / Komi (15 min)
Hamrlik / Brisebois (13 min)
Bouillon / Gorges (15 min)

Kovalev and SKost switched placed in the 2nd half.

With Hartnell back on Briere's line, Markov/Komi were matched against them more tightly. Incidentally, once saddled with Lupul the Richards line became brutal.

Koivu saw Briere and Carter, Plek saw Richards and Carter, Smoke saw Briere and Richards, Lapierre faced Dowd.


Prospal / Briere / Hartnell (13 min EV)
Umberger / Carter / Upshall (11 min)
Thoreson / Richards / Lupul (11 min)
Kapanen / Dowd / Downie (9 min)
Coburn / Timonen (15 min)
Hatcher / Jones (17 min)
Kukkonen / Smith (12 min)

It looks like Timonen's assingment was Koivu/Higgins, not Kovalev. Hatcher's assignment was to lumber off the ice as fast possible when Koivu was on.

Shots, from timeonice:






The shot numbers really say it all. Chances were 20-9, says Millen.

2008-04-25

Round 2: Game 1 Review

In the pregame, Friedman mentioned that Stevens gave his players a task. They were each assigned a player from the Canadiens similar to themselves and were asked to provide an analysis to the rest of the team of their tendencies, strengths/weaknesses etc. Friedman said Timonen did Markov and Richards did Koivu. I'd sure like to see the rest of the list.

This game reminded me a lot of game 2 in round 1. Two goalposts early on, the Flyers got some breaks on a couple of goals, Markov puts a puck in a second after the buzzer, a missed penalty shot. A lot of breaks went the wrong way. In the end, Javageek's expected goal numbers favour the Flyers but I'd swear the home team had the better chances. That's observer bias for you.

Lines were pretty much as advertised.

Higgins / Koivu / Kovy (19 min EV)
AKost / Pleks / SKost (14 min)
Begin / Smoke / Kostpls (13 min)
Streit / Lapierre / Dandy (7 min)
Markov / Komi (18 min)
Hamrlik / Brisebois (18 min)
Bouillon / Gorges (17 min)

Match ups were loose. Early on Carbo wanted Koivu vs Briere, but as they fell behind it looks like he ran the top two while Stevens reacted. The top line wound up with an even split against the Flyers top 3. Elsewhere, I think Carbo preferred Smoke vs. Richards and #4 vs #4. Now that Koivu's back in game shape, he's eating up some of Lapierre's (and Plek's) minutes.

The defense were handled very differently than we saw in round 1. They must have been tired, beat up or both because they just rolled the three pairs. The top two pairs saw slightly more Briere and Carter and the #3 pair saw slightly more Richards. Here is their total icetime:
HAMRLIK, ROMAN 21:56
MARKOV, ANDREI 21:53
BOUILLON, FRANCIS 20:04
GORGES, JOSH 19:28
KOMISAREK, MICHAEL 17:46
BRISEBOIS, PATRICE 17:20

Canadiens shots from timeonice:




Bad stuff happened when the #5/6 D were on. Might want to reconsider the balanced icetime, Carbo, unless fatigue is worse than we know. That 4th line is going to cost the team before the playoffs are done.

Flyers:
Prospal / Briere / Lupul (16 min EV)
Umberger / Carter / Upshall (15 min)
Kapanen / Richards / Hartnell (16 min)
Thoreson / Dowd / Downie (6 min)
Coburn / Timonen (19 min)
Hatcher / Jones (19 min)
Kukkonen / Smith (14 min)

Flyers shots:



The Briere line was utterly destroyed, but through dumb luck managed to keep opponents off the scoreboard. This bodes well. Timonen was dominant but through some bad luck wound up -2. That bodes less well. If the Flyers are banking on Jim Dowd and company for offense, this series will be over in a hurry.

2008-04-24

The Value of Blueliners

Koivu and Timonen are buddy-buddy, but not for the next two weeks.

Last Spring, I thought Timonen would be the ideal replacement for Souray (though I underestimated his - and Markov's - salaries by long shot). The guy was tasked with containing Ovechkin in round 1 and did as good a job as could be expected. I wonder if Hamrlik would have done that well.

Timonen is 32, and signed in Philly for 6 years at a cap hit of $6.333M. Hamrlik, 33, signed for 4 years at $5.5M per. If you add Harmlik's salary to the cap hit for the buyouts of Cullimore and Salmelainen, it's pretty much the same as Timonen's salary. Just sayin'.

~

Here is a very interesting post from Behindthenet Blog: if you take the numbers at face value, losing a top 2 defenseman is 2.5 to 3 times worse than losing a top 2 forward due to injury. That's surprising.

Speculating on a reason for the difference:

- perhaps it's easier to compensate for the loss of a forward by redistributing minutes. On average, a defenseman will play 20 minutes while a forward will play less than 15. Your five remaining NHL defensemen making up 21 lost minutes will be spread thinner than 11 remaining NHL forwards making up the lost 19.

- the talent curve could be a lot steeper for defensemen - there are fewer elite defensemen who can step in and replace a top player.

- others reasons?

Know Your Enemy

Here are the Flyers numbers from behindthenet:



Sorted by QUALCOMP. Prospal is at the top because he spent most of the year in Tampa. Looking at his role in Philly, he should appear down around Briere/Hartnell.

Knuble is out with a torn hamstring (sounds uncomfortable), and Gagne is out with his year-long concussion. The injury reports say both are day-to-day. I'm guessing it's unlikely that we'll see either, and if we do thay will not be near 100%.

Looking at their last couple of games, it's hard to say for sure how the Flyers lineup will be arranged in this series. Knuble's loss made a large hole at EV and top unit PP which shuffled up the lines. In their game 7 we saw:

Umberger / Carter / Upshall
Kapanen / Richards / Hartnell
Prospal / Briere / Lupul
Thoreson / Dowd / Downie
Timonen/Coburn
Hatcher/Jones
Smith/Kukkonen

Expect Modry to be in for Kukkonen. Downie shouldn't be a factor (read: risk of injury due to cheap shot). He only played 6.5 minutes in game 7.

Going back to Flyers/Caps game 4, Knuble (his last home game) was on Carter's RW and that line was Stevens' preferred against Ovechkin. They used Timonen/Coburn against Ovechkin all series. In Caps home games, it looks like Boudreau tried to get Ovechkin away from Carter/Knuble. After Knuble went down, Boudreau gladly went with Ovechkin against the Carter line shown above.

I think we can expect to see Timonen/Coburn on vs. the Habs #1. If the lines stay the same as above, Stevens will probably prefer Carter vs. the top line, Richards vs. the nominal #2 and Briere vs. Smolinski. At least he went that way in game 7 vs. Caps.

From Montreal's perspective... I have no clue who the defense pairs will match up against. Stevens seems to prefer balance across lines (although the Briere line will be, by definition, a softie). That makes it hard to pick a match for Komi/Markov. Let's just say the top 2 pairs will get almost all the EV icetime against the top 3 lines. Up front Carbo will probably prefer #1 vs. Carter, #2 vs. Richards and the Smoke line against Briere.

Without Knuble, the top PP will probably be Briere, Prospal, Lupul, Timonen and Richards. It's a PP nearly as good as the Habs'. On the upside, Philly's EV play is even worse than Mtl's.

In round 1 the bookies said Montreal 75% likely to win over Boston. This time they're only around 64%. Javageek says 59%, though I'm not sure if that figure takes home ice into account. Considering the loss of their #1 RW, I'd say the Flyers' stock has risen considerably since the start of the playoffs.

~

In round 2, it's Habs, Pens, Wings, Sharks.

2008-04-23

Great Expectations

It happened awhile ago, but Game 2 really got me thinking a lot about shot quality.

The perception persists that the Habs stole the game, that they were outplayed by Boston. Boston held the edge in shots, 39-31, and 21-14 at EV. That's where the positives begin and end for the Bruins.

There were two breakaways (Kovalev and AKost) stopped by Tim Thomas. The Bruins had none. Letting highly skilled opponents skate in alone on Thomas was probably not part of the Bs game plan. Hamrlik and Brisebois both hit goalposts. The Bruins had none. This was a game in which the Bruins got all the breaks (perhaps excepting penalties, which were atrociously called on both sides), but still lost in overtime.

Obviously, the scoring chance quality was not equal for both clubs. This is where Javageek's nifty little tables come in.

The expected goals in game 2 were 5.6 for Montreal, 2.0 for Boston. Expected goals are defined in Alan Ryder's Shot Quality study. Basically, he figures out an average probability that a shot will find the net for shots of different types at different distances in different situations. He finds that tip-ins, shots off rebounds, shots made close to the net and shots on the PP are all more likely to go in than normal. That sort of stuff. Adding up the goal probability for all of your shots in a game gives you an expected goal total. It's far from perfect, but it's better than just counting shots.

This table from Hockey Numbers shows a lot of interesting pieces of data for the 30 teams' performance at even strength this season.



The columns are, in order: Expected Goals For per 60, Expected Goals Against per 60, Expected Goal Differential per 60, Shot Quality Neutral Save%, Actual Goals For per 60, Actual Goals Against per 60, Relative Shot Quality For, Shots For per 60, Relative Shot Quality Against, Shots Against per 60, Actual Goal Differential per 60, Expected Total (season?) Goals For, Expected Total Goals Against, Expected Total Goal Differential.

I'm not sure one season is enough data to be able to draw conclusions, but I will anyway.

Scoring Goals

Correlation between SF (shots for per 60) and GF (goals for per 60): 0.33
Makes sense. The more shots you take, the more goals you score.

Correlation between SF and SQF (team average shot quality, relative to league average): -0.19
Small, but negative. It looks like there is a trade-off between shot quality and number of shots.

Correlation between SQF and GF: 0.32
This surprised me. The SQF number is just an average - it doesn't take number of shots into consideration at all, and it's as good a goal predictor as number of shots.

Correlation between EGF (expected goals for, product of SQF and SF) and GF: 0.53
Strong correlation. EGF is a better predictor of GF than shots-for or shot quality alone. Makes sense.

Correlation between SF and SA: -0.26
'The best defense is a good offense' rings true. When you're getting chances, the other guys aren't.

So, EGF is better at measuring offense than simple SF. This is a step toward the elusive measure of scoring chances without having to resort to counting them subjectively.


Preventing Goals
Correlation between SA and GA: 0.57
Strong - the more shots you allow, the more goals you're likely to allow. But why so much stronger than the correlation between SF and GF?

Correlation between SA and SQA: 0.41
Bad defense is bad defense: teams allowing more shots tend to allow better shots. If there are clubs who defensively rely on allowing a greater number of lower quality shots, they aren't the norm.

Correlation between SQA and GA: 0.38
Teams allowing better chances allow more goals against, but it's not as strong as simple shots against. More ammo against the low shot quality team defense.

Correlation between EGA and GA: 0.57
Expected goals against is no better a predictor of GA than simple SA. Still more ammo against the low shot quality team defense.

On defense, EGA and SA are equally good at predicting GA. That's not good news for proponents of the high-SA/low-SQA theory of defense. Ryder's paper says pretty much the same thing. In the season he studied, it looked like team defense (or lack thereof) could drive shot quality up or down by ~10% tops. It's the guys on offense who are driving most of the shot quality. Good defense and good offense both shift shots out of the SA column and into the SF column.


Javageek has posted the expected goal numbers for 46 of the 1st round games. Small sample, but nevertheless:

Correlation btw Expected Goals and GF: 0.44
Btw Shots for and GF: 0.28
Btw Shots directed at the net (incl attempts blocked and misses) and GF: 0.07

The team with the higher EGF won 35 of the 46 games.
The team with the higher shot total won 31 of the 46.
The team with the higher shots directed total won 26 of the 46.

The team with the greater EGF series total won all eight first round series.
The team with the greater SOG total won six of eight.
The team with the greater shots directed series total went 4-4.

It's not an entirely fair comparison because EGF has PP factors built in while the shot totals don't.

I'm liking this EGF number. As a measure of a team's offensive potential, it has a greater predictive value than shots. Looking at boxscores, it provides an OK scoring chance count that is 100% objective.

2008-04-22

The Round One Riot

I won't bother with the game 7 review. We all saw it. Let's talk riot.

Since the focus of all this seems centred on 5/10/15/whatever police cars, lets put things into perspective in terms of cars. According to Stats Canada, there is a car stolen every three minutes. If you apply that national rate to Montreal, you get a car stolen in the city every 30 minutes. Realistically, it would be more because Montreal is urban. It would be even more on April 21 because the weather was nice enough for people to be outside at night. That adds up to a lower limit of 50 cars stolen in Montreal on April 21. I'll leave the vandalism and petty theft rates as an exercise for you to do at home.

So 50 cars are stolen every day. That's way more than five. So... where is the outrage?

I'm not saying this riot was not newsworthy - the circumstances and unusual nature make it news. I'm not I saying that these actions should be tolerated, although I'll go out on a limb and suggest adding more cops with batons and plexiglass shields is probably not a recipe for success. I am saying the outraged reaction is misplaced, maybe even hypocritical.

Stuff was burned, smashed and stolen. The arsonists, vandals and thieves are unquestionably compete assholes. However, unlike some of the roughhousing that had taken place in other cities, no one was hospitalized as a result of this riot. If you want to do some major tut-tutting, there are far worse injustices every day in every city than five torched cop cars. Injustices even worse than fifty stolen cars. Get some perspective, folks.

Now, to you juvenile delinquents: Save the riots for historically significant events. Say, if Koivu punches Cherry in the adam's apple for being called 'Sako Koy-voy' one time too many, and as a result Bettman suspends the captain for the remainder of the season and playoffs, then by all means, riot away.

~

WOOOOO FLYERS!

Also, Go Rivet! But Go Flames More!

2008-04-21

Game 7 Belated Commentary

1st Period

- To start: 21 11 27, 51 26. This is not the time for experimentation Carbo. Stick with the girl you brought to the dance.

- Everyone on both teams looks tentative.

- The next line: 46 14 74

- The first solid Bruins pressure occurs while Lapierre line is on.

- Smolinski line is outplayed by Savard.

- Komisarek on a deflection! 1-0.

- Again, Lapierre = chances for Boston.

- Early on it looks like every line but Koivu's gets stuck in own zone. B's gain the red line uncontested, not so for Mtl.

- Order is restored in the universe: 21-11-74.

- Begin hustles like a Bruin. He draws a penalty.

- PP awful again, they're beat to every puck. Wish they showed the same effort they do at EV. Better yet, give the same effort the Bs do all the time.

1st intermission:

Fine, Don, you're pro-Boston. We get it. We aren't asking you to change your mind. Dinosaurs are stubborn. Rather, we would prefer to see someone else in the 1st intermission. Someone whose opinion I care about. Someone who doesn't need every single f***ing pun from Ron MacLean explained to him twice. Maybe Steve Shutt? He's entertaining.


2nd Period

- Bruins utilize the lob.

- Looks like Murray is out. Mtl has carried the play since he left.

- Boston's Krejci line beats Smoke's.

- SKost goes for interference, penalties are 3-1 in Boston's favour.

- Come on, don't sit on the 1-0 lead guys!

- Kovy back on Koivu's line.

- Yikes, Habs 5 best players, 21 11 27 8 79 were hemmed in by the Metropolit line.

- Streit!!!! 2-0!!! Bob Cole mutters his saddest "ohhh... baby." ever!

- The little guy from Shawinigan's in attendance, waving a towel.

- Sturm is a fine player.

- Chara goes off for holding. Work it low on right side, Kovy!!!

- Higgins hustles like a Bruin.

- We have a horn on the faceoff... is it a phone call from the 'war room' in T-Dot? Seems every office with lots of phones and monitors gets called a 'war room.'

- SKost! QBing the PP from Kovy's spot! Brother Andrei makes it 3-0! I'll never disparage the kid again. PP has it's mojo back.

- Cole: "We'll be hearing that song a lot tonight, with a 3-0 lead" Will someone *please* explain this song to the old coot??

- Slow-inski, caught by Savard on the breakaway.

- Senator Mahovlich in attendance. Reading lips, it looks like he's reminding everyone in a 10-seat radius that he's "not with THOSE Senators."

- 3-0 after two, but I'm reminded of last season's final game debacle vs. Leafs. A lot can happen in one period.

2nd intermission

Spent the whole time cleaning up this crap writing.


3rd Period

- They kill off the remainder of a penalty from the 2nd, then Bouillon goes off for boarding. He's making the dive sign, but it was a dumb hit.

- So far so good for the PK.

- Lucic reaches skyward at Price's clear, very much resembling a great ape reaching for a low branch. Funny.

- Chara might have a case on Begin's block attempt that turned into a trip.

- *Another* penalty. I think they're 6-3 now.

- It's about time. Ference called for some crease violence.

- No goal on the PP, but it looks like they're trying. This is improvement.

- Higgins breakaway.... no dice.

- Go Flyers.

- Wow, Begin breaks Wideman's stick with a slash, but no call. That's usually called, but I hate it. You have to be able to play a guy's stick.

- Savard off for goalie interference, 3:00 left. That should do it.

- 4-0, Brisebois point shot, rebound knocked in by AKost. Now get the shutout for Price, lads.

- Go Flyers.

- SKost with 10 seconds left to punctuate the end of this series. 5-0.

- Three cheers for Boston. Great city, lovable team.

- Go Flyers.


No Cinderella run for Boston this year. It's midnight, and Claude Julien's gourd-like melon has turned back into a pumpkin.

Go Flyers.

But Keenan once gave me an 8 minute shift!

Take a look at the average shift lengths in the playoffs. The guy at the top has young legs and is the world's best player right now. The guy sitting at #2? Not Chara, not Mike Green, not Andrei Markov or any other PP point man. Not Crosby either. It's Alex Kovalev.

Kovalev is, quite literally, short changing his teammates.

2008-04-20

Game 6 Review

I'll keep this one short, but not so sweet.

Canadiens' lines:
AKost / Pleks / Kovy
Higgins / Koivu / SKost
Begin / Smoke / Kostpls
Streit / Lapierre / Dandy
Markov / Komi
Hamrlik / Brisebois
Bouillon / Gorges

Shots, from timeonice:




Bruins' lines:
Lucic / Savard / Murray
Sturm / Krejci / Kessel
Axelsson / Metropolit / Nokelainen
Schaefer / Sobotka / Thornton
Chara / Ward
Ference / Hnidy
Stuart / Wideman

Shots:



Murray started on the top line, but he and Kessel switched spots late in the 1st. The Bs 2nd line with Sturm, Krejci and Kessel looked good.

Julien was less rigid with his matching this time around. The Savard line saw mostly Pleks, then Lapierre. The Krejci line saw mostly Koivu, Metropolit was used in more of a checking role against Pleks, and Julien did well to keep Sobotka out vs. Smoke. Chara was matched Kovy again, of course.

Carbo seems to be having some trouble trusting his 3rd pairing LD. We're seeing Markov and Hamrlik play almost the whole game on the left side, with Komisarek, Brisebois and Gorges rotating on the right. He's trying to make sure at least one of Komi, Markov and Hamrlik are on against the Bruin 1 & 2 lines.

It is noteworthy that AKost/Pleks/Kovy were on for half of the final 10 minutes last night. All three late Boston goals were scored on one of their shifts or as one of their shifts was ending. The two Montreal goals during this stretch were scored by the Koivu line.

~

The PP has been an utter failure. I think it's safe to say that if it had produced at half its regular season rate, this series would be over.

The other aspects of the game have been OK. After outplaying Boston at EV in games 1 & 2, 5 on 5 play has been a dead heat. This is a positive for the Habs, who were not a good EV team through the regular season while Boston was average. The Boston PP / Mtl PK has been pretty positive too. But we've seen *nothing* positive from the PP, despite the fact that they're facing the 27th best regular season PK. I don't think it's been a cold streak, because they're not even getting shots and chances.

I hate to say it, but Cherry might be right. It always seems in the playoffs that there is a rise in the proportion of goals resulting from point shots. With the harder checking in playoff hockey, conventional shots are harder to come by. Go for the simple play, take advantage of the chaos in front of the net. Deflections happen.

Here's a table providing the gory details of the PP suckitude:



Sorted by their playoff PP TOI per game. The Reg. season rates are for 5-on-4 PP time only, making the playoff rates (which include some 5-on-3 time) that much uglier.

Kovy's 4.0 pts/60 is OK, but only half the rate at which he produced in the regular season. The whole shebang has been miserable. Only Brisebois has pulled his weight on the PP.

I also included the EV scoring rates. The numbers support the consensus that Smoke/Begin/Kostopoulos have been Montreal's best at EV. Not only has the top line failed to produce on the PP, they've been sub-par at EV too. I wonder if this is a case of Kovalev (who is the least productive EV producer on the top line, by the way) "trying to do too much?"

2008-04-18

I WAS COACH OF THE YEAR! I TELL IT LIKE IT IS!

There has been a bit of talk about a backlash against the Mother Corp.

I think this is rooted in the failure to renew the SRC deal for Canadiens games a couple of years ago. The late 90s/early 2000s were not kind to the Canadiens and ratings were probably down in la Belle Province. SRC refused an opportunity to buy low, relinquishing rights to RDS. For the first time in my life, I couldn't watch Montreal every Saturday night on the French CBC. I still don't get RDS. Why pay for it when the pubs show the games for free?

Now that the Habs are the only option left, the CBC finds itself in unfamiliar territory: regularly broadcasting Canadiens games. They're not doing themselves any favours with the cast. To put it mildly, Cole has lost a step. With the possible exception of Glenn Healy, Greg Millen is the worst colour guy on TV. Most damning of all, Cherry comes on in the intermissions openly rooting for the Bruins.

Now the CBC sees the downside of Don Cherry. Sure, the bulk of your typical HNIC audience has a high tolerance level for his unique blend of redneck bigotry, glamorous flamboyance and outright shilling for the political right ColdFX, peppered with the occasional comment on the Leafs. Convincing working class people that their interests coincide with those at the top of the right wing food chain will go down as one of the greatest propaganda coups of our time. That sentiment lags behind in Quebec and other francophone pockets in the country, where big corporate media penetration is still less than total. You don't hire Rush Limbaugh to be the keynote speaker at a Greenpeace conference.

Cherry's not quite as much of a cash cow when they're broadcasting primarily to one of the man's most frequent targets.

Update: Don't know who this guy is, but he has an opinion too.

Labels:

Game 5 Review

Bruins scratched Ward with a knee boo-boo and Reich because he sucks. Replacing them were Alberts and Kessel.
Habs scratched Streit for Ryder.

Canadiens' lines:
AKost / Pleks / Kovy
SKost / Higgins / Ryder
Begin / Smoke / Kostopoulos
Lats / Lapierre / Dandy
Markov / Komi
Hamrlik / Brisebois
Gorges / O'Byrne

Habs Shots, from timeonice:


Bruins' lines:
Lucic / Savard / Kessel
Sturm / Krejci / Murray
Axelsson / Metropolit / Nokelainen
Schaefer / Sobotka / Thornton
Chara / Hnidy
Ference / Stuart
Wideman / Alberts

Boston shots:


I find it odd that Chara's partner keeps changing. Obviously he eats more minutes than any other Bruin defenceman and sees multiple partners throughout a game, but the guy he's paired with most keeps changing.


Shots and chances were pretty even. Honest.
The home team had the EV edge in shots, 23-17. The difference last night was special teams and goaltending.

Match-ups:
Carbo doesn't match like Julien. It's unfortunate - he might learn something from a good, experienced coach like Julien.

The Bruins started Savard, Lucic, Nokia, Hnidy and Ference. Shockingly, Carbo decided not to start the big guns. No Chara on the ice and Carbo inexplicably didn't take advantage.

It looks like Carbo wanted the top line out against Metropolit, Higgins against Krejci, Smoke's line against Savard, Lapierre vs. Sobotka. Halfway through the game it looks like he switched them up: Top line vs. Krejci, Higgins vs. 3rd/4th lines, and Lapierre got more time vs. the top 2. All in all, it was a lot more chaotic than we saw in Boston.

SKost/Higgins/Ryder were overmatched by Sturm/Krejci/Murray. Other than that, the home team looked OK at EV. Sergei took some dumb penalties.

The legend of the long Kovalev shift in the playoffs lives on. It's been repeated so often the guy probably thinks it's a good thing - a charming quirk.

Chara saw Kovy of course. Komisarek and Markov were split very evenly again, while Hamrlik was out vs. Krejci a lot. O'Byrne (when he played) and Gorges got mostly 3rd/4th line duty.


~

Cherry criticized Komisarek for not fighting Lucic. This probably doesn't even need to be said: Komi shouldn't go with Lucic because he's playing 22 minutes a game on the top pair. Losing him for 5 minutes when the Bruins lose a left wing who doesn't even play in the final 8 minutes of a close game would be a terrible trade-off. He'd hear it from his coaches - or worse, his teammates - if he wasted 5:00 in the box.

~

The Sharks-Flames series has been a beauty, every inch of ice has been contested. Either team would be crushing the Bruins or Habs right now.

2008-04-17

Sean Avery: Psychopath?

From the wikipedia article for Psychopathy, here is Dr. Robert D. Hare’s Psychopathy Checklist-Revised:

Factor1: "Aggressive narcissism"

* Glibness/superficial charm
* Grandiose sense of self-worth
* Pathological lying
* Cunning/manipulative
* Lack of remorse or guilt
* Shallow affect
* Callous/lack of empathy
* Failure to accept responsibility for own actions
* Promiscuous sexual behavior

Factor2: "Socially deviant lifestyle"

* Need for stimulation/proneness to boredom
* Parasitic lifestyle
* Poor behavioral control
* Lack of realistic, long-term goals
* Impulsivity
* Irresponsibility
* Juvenile delinquency
* Early behavior problems
* Many short-term marital relationships
* Revocation of conditional release

Don't the Factor1 traits (according to the article, "the so-called core personality traits of psychopathy") pretty much perfectly match the public perception of Sean Avery?

Labels:

2008-04-16

Game 4 Review

Quote of the day:

"I heard it hit the crossbar and then I heard the crowd cheer, so I thought it went up into the netting (behind the goal), out of play. And then I saw the Montreal guys celebrating and I realized it must be in. It ended up being the Montreal fans cheering."
- Tim Thomas, who has been fantastic in this series.

Now take a look at this screenshot from the timeonice shift chart:



This is the first ~7.5 minutes of the game last night, before any penalties or line juggling. Perfect mirror image. Pretty clear how the Julien wants the lines to match up, isn't it?


Habs Lines
AKost / Pleks / Kovy
Lats / Higgins / SKost
Begin / Smoke / Kostopoulos
Streit / Lapierre / Dandy
Markov / Komi
Hamrlik / Brisebois
Gorges / O'Byrne

Carbo shuffled Kovalev around again in the 2nd to get him away from Chara (or was it to get Plek/AKost away from Chara? Hmmm...). They went with nine forwards and four defensemen for the final ~8 minutes, when Breezy, O'Byrne, Lapierre, Streit and Lats sat.

Habs Shots, from timeonice (It looks like Vic added the player names to the shot tables - nice!):



Bruins lines
Lucic / Savard / Murray
Sturm / Krejci / Axelsson
Schaefer / Metropolit / Nokelainen
Reich / Sobotka / Thornton
Chara / Ward
Ference / Wideman
Stuart / Hnidy

Same old song and dance. Desparate for a goal in the waning minutes, Julien benched three of his forwards: Jeremy Reich, Shawn Thornton, and... Milan Lucic. A young Cam Neely indeed...


Bruins Shots:


As I mentioned earlier, only the Bs 4th line of Reich/Sobotka/Thornton really outplayed their Montreal counterparts, Streit(-8)/Lapierre(-12)/Dandy(-5). -12 against those scrubs? Fugly. When Koivu's back, Lapierre's minutes have to be curtailed.

Higgins/SKost/Lats were up against Krejci/Sturm/Axelsson. That's two kids and one vet against two vets and one kid and they held their own. Good for them.

The top dogs and 22/20/6 held the edge against the Savard and Metropolit lines.

Game 4 Belated Commentary

My neighbours with the unsecured wireless network didn't come through for me last night, so no posts. Sorry. I did take notes during the game.


1st Period

Nothing to report. I spent the whole period fuming over the Ryder scratch.

Background: In game #3 Streit played poorly on the blueline. For long stretches Montreal used five defensemen. Streit had to be replaced on defence but had to stay in the lineup for the PP. That means a 4th line winger had to be scratched.

My beef is that the winger scratched was not a 4th line player - it was a 2nd/3rd line forward.

Here are the behindthenet numbers, sorted by quality of opposition. Click on the image to see it in readable size.



Tonight, Carbonneau sat the team's top even strength goal scorer in the press box.

Ryder:
He scored more goals per minute of 5 on 5 play than anyone on the team. Taking the season net, Ryder played minutes as tough as any other forward on the club. Corsi of -4. He drew more penalties than he took. He's a RHS, which matters in board battles at your own blue line. He can play a physical game. Now, I don't think I'm a 'Ryder Fan.' The guy will never be the #1 RW on a contender. I just think he's a better option *right now* than the three following players.

Dandenault:
On the whole, probably the worst forward this season. He played opponents one or two lines lower than those Ryder played against. Corsi of -13, worst on the team. Wes Walz was -14, realized that he sucked and retired. His GFON/60 suffered a bit from a rotten team shooting% of 6.9, but a lot of that must be due to the fact that he and his linemates were not exactly snipers. He commits twice as many penalties as he draws. This year Dandy looked like a solid vet defenseman who was unjustly and inexplicably converted to a forward. A tough situation for sure, but these are the playoffs. Team first.

Sergei Kostitsyn:
I'll get some heat for this (yes, I'm referring to you Mo). Everyone loves the kid's skills and enthusiasm. It's easy to get sucked in by what he does when he has the puck. He generates offense, but he gives up as much he gets. His Corsi of -9 is better only than Dandy and Lapierre. He played opposition weaker than Dandy's. He's high-event in terms of penalties, too, drawing a lot but taking even more. Most damning are the two rightmost columns. They are responsible for everyone's great opinion of SKost. He's led a charmed life in his brief time in Montreal. He and his mates have put up a 14% shooting rate when he's on the ice - best on the team and unsustainably high. That is luck. He's also benefitted from a high save%. If you scale his on-ice shot% and save% down to team averages, his admittedly attractive GF/GA numbers of +3.1/-2.1 drop down to +2.2/-2.5. Quite pedestrian. The kid will be a player but he's not just top 6 quality right now. The only excuse is player development.

Latendresse:
He saw the softest icetime on the team and got outshot almost as bad as SKost. Outshot twice as bad as Ryder. It's inexcusable that Lats is in the lineup ahead of Ryder in the playoffs, unless this is about player development.

No one game will tell us whether it's a good or bad move. If the Habs win it doesn't mean Carbo made the right move, and if they get blown out (and badly out-Corsied) it won't mean I'm right.

End of 1. Shots are 12-9, and I'd say the better chances were for Boston.



2nd Period

- Early in the period we're seeing some great trapping by the good guys.

- Halfway through the 2nd the only B's line beating the Habs' is the Bruins' #4 beating Lapierre. The rest are being won by Mtl.

- There aren't many Bruins who make me sweat when they've got the puck. Schaefer is one of them.

- Carbo split the top line, shuffling Kovalev around. Julien responds, keeping Chara out vs. Kovalev. I'm not convinced this is the right move. Plek/AKost are more dangerous at EV than Kovy.

- Now this is huge - Habs draw a PP early in a shift by the top line, right after a Chara shift. Habs should be able to use the #1 PP with either a tired Chara or no Chara.

- Yeah, the Habs PP has been underwhelming all series long. That doesn't make 4 Bruins a bigger threat to score than 5 Habs, no matter what Sturm thinks. The Boston PKers heads got big, they went for a shortie and got burned. Brisebois misses the post, hits mesh, 1-0 Montreal.

- Known stand-up guy who has shown tremendous discipline for a 19 year-old, Milan Lucic, embellished the Begin trip at the end of the period. Just so you know, Mr. Julien.


3rd Period

- Trap the shit out of this one, guys.

- There are stats-heads who question the value of hits. As a stat, it's useless. Tonight the Bs physical play definitely has the Habs defence hearing footsteps, and they're making hurried plays. Hitting works.

- I hate Stephen Harper and his armed forces ads that look like they're pulled straight from some 3D shooter video game.

- The Bs have guys who won't take a hit to make a play. Savard is one of them.

- Someday, Josh Gorges is going to get a knee ruined in a hit by a forechecker. You have to admire the kid's bravery and gutsy play.

- Yet another Lapierre shift hemmed in the Mtl zone.

- Crafty play by the 22/20/6 line, icing just before the TV timeout.

- I'd like to see more pressure on Boston defensemen when they have the puck in the Montreal zone. They handle the puck like a hot potato.

- Rookie move by SKost, spin-o-rama in his own zone. What do you think of that, Carbo? I dunno. Maybe the Ryder scratches are orders from above.

- Boos from the 'road' crowd after Kostopoulos has his stick slashed from his hands. I love it.

- SKost fails to get the puck deep on the change, but gets lucky again.

- Kostopoulos deserves one of the three stars of the game.

- The media criticism of Higgins in this series is unwarranted. He's playing centre for the first time in years, he's saddled with ineffective kids and he makes nothing but smart plays. He's an effective player without elite finish.

- WHY is 74 on with 30 seconds left??

- Habs are up 3-1. I feel all warm & fuzzy knowing that Cherry is almost giving himself a stroke right now, hurling a blue streak of invective at his television set.

2008-04-15

Cinderellas?




From The Contrarian Goaltender:

"The 1986 Habs had the third best goal differential in the league, and appear to simply have been a victim of bad luck in close games as well as the tough Adams Division, where every team was .500 or better. Montreal went 15-15-2 against their divisional opponents, and 25-18-5 against everyone else."

and...

"In fact as late as March 13, 1993, the Montreal Canadiens were actually in first place in the entire NHL."

The '86 club was 3rd in goal diff but finished 7th in a 21 team NHL.

The evidence for the 1993 club is a little less strong. They were only 8th in goal differential but finished 6th overall.

This year the numbers are #2 in goal differential and 3rd place overall, and we'll gleefully ignore the East/West imbalance.

2008-04-14

Game 3 Review

You know what they say - 11th time's a charm.

Not a bad game. I thought Montreal had the better chances, especially later on. Thomas made some stops in OT. If you want to worry, worry about the power play. If you count tonight's OT winner (I'd sure like to get a look at the penalty that was going to be called), the Bruins's PP has outscored the Habs' 2-1.


Habs lines
AKost / Pleks / Kovy
SKost / Higgins / Ryder
Begin / Smoke / Kostopoulos
Lats / Lapierre / Dandy
Markov / Komi
Hamrlik / Brisebois
Streit / Gorges

If Carbo wanted to match Markov/Komi against one of their top lines, they failed. Contrary to what Greg Millen observed, the top pair saw nearly half their EV icetime against Schaefer/Metropoili/Nokelainen. The rest of their minutes were evenly split against the Krejci and Savard lines. Hamrlik was on for half of Krejci's minutes.

Streit's EV icetime was cut back.

Habs shots, from timeonice.com.


Bruins lines
Lucic / Savard / Murray
Axelsson / Krejci / Sturm
Schaefer / Metropolit / Nokelainen
Reich / Sobotka / Thornton
Chara / Ward
Ference / Wideman
Stuart / Hnidy

Julien wanted Chara and Savard on Kovalev. Carbo pulled some tricks in the 2nd period to try to get Kovy away from Chara. There was a stretch in the 2nd period where Chara played about 8 minutes in a 10 minute stretch.

All Julien's match preferences were in the same order I have the lines/pairs.

Bruins shots


Looking at the shot numbers and matchups, it looks like:

- The top line was treading water in terms of EV shots. Can't complain there.

- 8/79 have to be used against the Bruins' threats. Hamrlik wound up playing a lot against Savard and accumulated the biggest minus. If Julien can get Chara out against Kovalev 75% of the time on the road, Carbo should be able to do the same.

- The Axelsson/Krejci/Sturm line smoked the S.Kostsitsyn/Higgins/Ryder line. Koivu can't return soon enough.

- The vet checkers (6/20/22) are getting the job done.

2008-04-13

Game 3

The second game in 24 hours, plus travel. The players say it's a wash because both teams have to deal with it. However, the Canadiens' icetime was a little more top heavy last night.

With the last change, Julien will be able to tighten up his matches. I get the feeling he's more interested in doing so than Carbonneau.

Still no sign of Koivu in the morning skates, and Bergeron still not cleared to play.

Looking closely at the events of last night, I don't think the Bruins edge in EV play was as big as first thought. A large proportion of their shot advantage came against the Habs' bottom lines and pairs, and it was the bottom-end guys on the Bruins doing the outshooting. The low-percentage shooters. It's not like Price was standing on his head.

Update:
From Hockey Numbers, here is some reinforcement for my thought that Boston didn't outplay Montreal all that badly last night. The expected goals were 5.6 to 2.0 in Montreal's favour. Those missed breakaways have to be responsible for a part of that 5.6.

Total expected goals for games 1 & 2 are 11.8 Habs, 3.1 Bruins. In this light, Thomas looks pretty good.

I'm pretty sure Javageek's expected goals numbers are based on Alan Ryder's Shot Quality work.

Here we go...

1st Period

20:00 - Wideman in, Alberts out. Lapierre vs. Savard to start. Carbo has to give his head a shake.

19:00 - AKost weak on the puck clearing the zone.

18:30 - Hamrlik off for roughing...

18:00 - Lucic off for boarding, 4vs4. I'm fine with them calling things tight, it lets the special teams decide the game.

17:30 - BOOOOOO! Chara BOOOOOOOOOOOO!

16:00 - Close call with Sturm nearly breking away on the PK.

15:00 - B's forechecking hard

14:00 - Schaefer has the oddest looking stick grip in the league.

13:20 - Lucic in the slot, 1-0 Bruins. That's their first lead over the Canadiens all season.

11:00 - Bogus call on Ward. I didn't see a trip.

10:00 - Bruins are hustling. Prediction: they'll be out of gas in the 3rd.

9:00 - GREAT work by Higgins on the #2 PP. Not much in the way of chances.

7:30 - The Boston crowd is surly. They never cheer the good things, they only boo less loudly.

6:00 - Higgins/Ryder/SKost line has been terrific.

5:00 - Lucic runs Komi, Komi mad... Komi unwisely leaves position looking for hit later in shift.

3:30 - Latendresse was lucky to avoid a goaltender interference call.

2:00 - Good chance for Higgins line - Ryder in the slot misses high.

1:00 - Fast & loose play by the #1 line.

0:00 - Scrum to end the period, looks like a possible Mtl PP to start the 2nd. Latendresse/Hnidy with fighting majors. 4th line forward for a defenseman is an excellent trade-off for the Habs.

Intermission

Well, we can't claim even play in that period. Boston's forechecking hard, often with two. Habs should be able to get some transition chances out of this if they keep it up. They're running Komisarek every chance they get - probably a good strategy. Losing him would open a huge hole on RD. Anyone for Brisebois on the #1 pair? This is why the Dandenault move to the wing made no sense.

Carbonneau got caught with Gorges/Streit out against the Savard line on the goal. Hard not to like that Lucic kid.


2nd Period

20:00 - I was wrong - it's a Boston PP, Lats with the roughing minor.

19:40 - Damn near a 2 on 0, Lucic and Murray can't finish.

18:00 - Good PK, Price didn't have much work.

17:00 - Montreal fans in attendance start up a Go Habs Go chant. Rather than simply overpower the word 'Habs' with the word 'Bruins' (like you would see in any other rink, except possibly Philly where they might respond with a hail of profanity then batteries then punches), the home crowd drowns them out with boos.

16:00 - Greek Lightning! The crowd goes wild! Good work down low by the vets. Smolinski with a grey area hit opens up the space. B's lead for less than a period.

15:00 - Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole! Ole, Ole!

13:00 - Solid chance by the top line. The turtleneck's hackles come up in a scrum.

12:00 - Axelsson can't find the handle on a puck sitting in the crease!

11:00 - Great chances at both ends, Ryder's shot trickles wide.

10:45 - Lucic's turn, can't bury the backhand!

10:00 - It's chaos when the Kovalev line is on. Scoring chances all 'round! Hits are piling up

7:00 - Kovalev's extended shifts are starting to screw up the lines. Millen: "They're trying to get Komisarek out against Lucic!" Uh, do you think maybe he's out there because Murray and Savard are on, Greg?

6:00 - Kostopoulos off for slashing a stick. Millen doesn't like this call. I check myself for a fever, because I agree with Millen.

5:00 - Plek/Kovy don't cover the points well on the PK.

3:00 - More solid work by 20/22/6.

2:00 - URP. Price nearly sets up Krejci for an ENG.

0:00 - EV shots are 18-17. RTSS hits are 20-19. Great game.

Intermission

Bad news: Bob Cole says he had a chat with Koivu before the game, and says he still can't get a boot over his foot.

3rd Period

20:00 - Bruins 4th line hem in the #1 D pair.

18:00 - Kovy draws one on Ward. Ward shakes his head, just like he did on his first penalty.

17:30 - SKost/Kovy/Higgins on the PP.

16:00 - Best chances are immediately after the penalty ends.

15:00 - It's almost painful to watch Komisarek. Laboured skating, hurried passes.

14:00 - Krejci breakaway after a bad dump-in, he goes five hole, Price save. Streit slashes Krejci on the way.

13:00 - For at least the third time this series, Boston's PP point men flub a routine pass out over the blue line.

12:00 - Krejci latches onto Kovy breakingin after the kill, Habs PP

11:00 - Boston PK looks like they're forcing the PP to work down low.

10:00 - F'ing Brisebois drops into the slot for a pass after the PP is done, no one close to covering, the pass is picked for a 2 on 1, Price stops Krejci again. Shot quality will favour the home team tonight.

9:00 - Fine time to be abandoned by the damn PP. WTF was SKost thinking?? Roughing, Boston PP.

7:00 - Habs (mostly Price) kill it off.

3:00 - Whew! No time for updates - the action is hot & heavy.

0:00 - OT on the way. It doesn't look like these guys played last night. It's back and forth.

Intermission

EV shots are 20 apiece.

EV icetime for the D:
Komi 19:01
Markov 18:51
Hamrlik 18:02
Gorges 15:01
Breezy 12:14
Streit 06:25

Might be time to bring in O'Byrne and move Streit to the 4th line.

OT 1

18:00 - Helluva long shift by Kovy. Bad move in OT.

17:30 - More fine work by Smoke's line and they nearly end the game.

16:00 - Higgins line carrys the play... another great scoring chance.

15:00 - Curious move by Carbo, putting on the Smoke line again while the top line sits. Is he trying to keep Chara and Savard off the ice? Looks like it's the right move, *yet another* good chance.

14:30 - Here comes Kovy et. al. *Another* loooong shift, it's nearly costly. Koivu has to come back, just to get the 'C' off that guy's sweater.

12:30 - Damn. Lapierre line ices it.

11:30 - Pace is starting to slow. Latendresse looks like he can skate at an almost normal speed.

11:00 - Metropolit - what a feel-good story he is, huh? These Bs are hard to hate.

10:35 - The hate's back. Good work by Schaefer. Savard's the extra attacker on a delayed penalty, finishes off Schaefer's pass and that's the ball game.

Game 2 Review

They're up 2-0 now, but the rest of this series will be no cakewalk.

Habs lines:

AKost / Pleks / Kovy
SKost / Higgins / Ryder
Begin / Smoke / Kostopoulos
Lats / Lapierre / Dandy
Markov / Komi
Hamrlik / Brisebois
Streit / Gorges


Matches:
There were a lot of PPs, messing up the EV battle. Markov/Komi still weren't hard matched. Again, they saw more of the Savard and Krejci lines. Harmlik/Brisebois got Krejci and Metropolit's lines. They tried to keep Streit/Gorges away from Savard and Krejci.

With Savard reunited with Murray, it looks like Smolinski's line has checking duty. Precipitating from that match, we saw Higgins vs. Krejci, Pleks vs. Metropolit, and Lapierre vs. Sobotka.

The table below (courtesy timeonice.com) shows us exactly how badly these match-ups worked.



Bruins lines:
Lucic / Savard / Murray
Axelsson / Krejci / Sturm
Schaefer / Metropolit / Nokelainen
Reich / Sobotka / Thornton
Chara / Ward
Stuart / Hnidy
Ference / Alberts

Matches:
Chara/Ward vs. the top line. Stuart/Hnidy saw a lot of Higgins. Ference/Alberts got bottom line work whenever possible.

Bruins shots:

2008-04-12

¡Olé! - Game 2

In 1999, the Bouncing Souls recorded a tune called ¡Olé! for their album, Hopeless Romantic. It's based on a traditional chant, and the lyrics are about playing footy. This is the best recording I can find in a 15 second scouring of the internet.

Sometime thereafter, the DJ at the Bell Centre started playing the opening bars of this recording during Habs games. The crowd took the ball and ran with it.

1st Period

20:00 - Wideman & Kessel (no shootout tonight, kiddo) are out of the lneup, Alberts & Sobotka are in. No lineup changes for the home team.

19:00 - B's carrying play early.

18:00 - First few ¡Olés! are heard.

16:00 - How 'bout that Thoreson? Ballsy kid.

14:00 - Hook on Markov.

12:00 - That was close. Lapierre is a weak link. Penalty killed.

11:00 - Savard's back hurts.

10:00 - Carbo says the Begin/Smoke/Kostopoulos line is one he's had in mind since camp. Interesting that he'd be so persistent with his plan for a 4th line.

9:00 - 2:00 to Streit for the hook/hold.

8:00 - Hnidy on the 1st PP wave? Fine by me.

7:00 - *Ward* on the PP? Also fine by me. These guys need puckmovers on the blueline. Penalty killed, obviously.

6:00 - Chara for a retaliatory crosscheck. PP is Kovy/Plek/AKost, Markov/Streit.

5:00 - Higgins/Ryder/SKost give the #1 unit a 30sec. rest.

4:00 - AGAIN with Lapierre line after the PP?? Murray et. al. almost make Carbo pay.

3:00 - Komisarek has lost a lot of mobility.

1:30 - Begin with a big hit on Alberts! Habs break out, Marc Savard covers and FAILS! Hamrlik goal!

0:00 - Bob Cole, "It's a loooong way to go yet." Keep telling yourself that, you Leaf fan. ¡Olé!


2nd Period

20:00 - Higging and Reich ar off for roughing, it's 4-on-4. Habs F's are Plek/Akost.

19:00 - SKost/Kovy.

18:00 - Kovy looks like the skinny guy from Nintendo Ice Hockey - circling the opponents' net, no one can touch him, and Sergei finishes it off! 2-0 Habs.

17:00 - Note to Jeremy Reich: goading Higgins into coincidentals may be a good trade in terms of personnel; forcing your oafish team to play 2:00 of 4vs4 hockey in Montreal? Bad idea.

16:00 - Nokia-lainen with a bad penalty, #1 PP is out.

14:00 - Some good work but no goal, back to EV.

12:30 - Streit with a... hook? Smoke/Kostopolous, Komi/Markov on the PK.

11:30 - The best acquisition Gainey can make this summer is a neck guard for Carey Price.

9:30 - Penalty killed, no good chances

8:30 - Hamrlik for a slash. Bogus.

6:30 - Penalty killed, some better chances for Boston this time. They're crashing the net.

5:30 - Hamrlik hits the post! He's on fire!

5:00 - Thornton whacks Price, hard. That has to be called.

4:00 - Higgins/Ryder/SKost are all over the Bruins grinders in their own zone.

3:00 - AKost on the breakaway... Thomas with the unorthodox save!

1:40 - Stuart off for interference. Good opportunity here - taking a 3 goal lead in the final minute of a period would be so clutch.

0:00 - no PPG... yet.

EV shots are 13 Boston, 12 Montreal.

Hamrlik: Most EV icetime on either team, 1 goal, 1 post, +2. Savard: -2.

Elliotte Interview: Carey Price reminds Aaron Ward of... Steve Penney. Now THAT'S backhanded.

3rd Period

19:00 - B's kill off remaining 20 sec. of Stuart's minor. So far the best PP in the league is 0-for-the-series.

18:00 - B's are being more physical.

17:00 - Man, it's obvious that Komisarek is not 100%. Long shift in Habs' end.

16:00 - Schaefer, breaking in on a 2-on-2 makes it 2-1. Bob and Greg agree: being one goal down makes it a 'brand new game.'

14:00 - Looks like Habs are sitting back. This is always nerve-wracking.

12:15 - AKost trapped on a long shift, Lapierre takes a hooking minor.

12:00 - Ference/Hnidy at the points?

10:00 - Interesting turn of events. Kovalev doesn't score on a breakaway and is tackled by Ward. No call. In frustration, he taps Ward with a slash. They always catch the retaliation. Krejci scores on the 5-on-3. It's a brand new game.

8:00 - Habs kill off the rest of Kovy's minor.

7:00 - Reich off for holding. The PP is due! DUE!!

5:30 - Good work by the nominal #2 unit. Ryder is tripped, 5-on-3 Habs.

3:30 - The 27th best PK in the league has kept the #1 PP off the board for nearly two full games.

2:15 - Kostopolous is high-sticked, Thornton is off for 4:00. Redemption time, Kovy.

0:01 - Brisebois hits the post, square, with less than 1/10th of a second left. The hockey gods frown on us tonight. Onto OT.

Terrible period for the home team. EV shots were 8-2. The PP is officially on a cold streak.

Ugh, those two missed breakaways and two goalposts loom large.

So when a Bruin cuts a guy, the double minor shouldn't apply? Please, Don Cherry, just go away.


OT

20:00 - Hoping this one's short & sweet. 1:43 left in the PP...

18:30 - Hockey gods are fickle. Reich trips Markov, the only good thing to happen on this PP. The Habs better put it away, because you know the Sword of Damocles hangs over their heads in the form of a make-up call.

17:30 - Kov. a. lev. "Please accept this overtime GWG as an apology for my earlier error in judgement."


The best thing about this series so far: knowing how much it twists Don's nuts. "RULES SCHMULES!! BRUINS GOT JOBBED!" Your tax dollars at work, folks.

Tough loss for the Bruins. They held the advantage in play and got a couple of breaks (posts) but were still outscored. Hard to say if goaltending was the difference - Price had more shots but didn't have to stop as many glorious scoring chances. Now they have to take 4 of 5 against a team they're 0-10 against this year.

2008-04-11

Game 1 Review

Habs lines:
AKost / Plek / Kovy
SKost / Higgins / Ryder
Lats / Lapierre / Dandy
Begin / Smoke / Kostopoulos

Markov / Komi
Hamrlik / Breezy
Streit / Gorges

Matchups: Not much. If Carbo wants to match, you'll see Markov/Komisarek against top lines. We didn't, and that is unusual. They just played a little more against the Krejci and Savard lines. With their softer minutes, their shot margins were sky high (see chart below). The top line saw more of the Krejci trio, Higgins saw a lot of the Axelsson line (maybe to keep Lucic the wrecking ball away from the top line?) and it was a mismatch.

Odd choice by Carbo to send out the Lapierre line after PPs. It was under this circumstance that the Bruins (Savard line) scored their goal. That error was masked a bit in the 3rd when Kostopoulos finished off a similar Lapierre line shift with a goal.

Courtesy of timeonice.com, Canadiens Shots (click for a clearer view)


Bruins lines:
Sturm / Krejci / Murray
Schaefer / Savard / Kessel
Axelsson / Metropolit / Lucic
Thornton / Nokelainen / Reich

Chara / Wideman
Ference / Ward
Stuart / Hnidy

Matchups: Chara vs. the Kovy line, no surprise there. It looks like Savard is back to soft minutes, perhaps because he's not 100%. His line was often sent out immediately folowing a Kovalev shift.

Bruins Shots