A Weekend To Forget

Let’s get straight to the points….

–On Friday, Duncan Keith was admittedly bad and was a -4.  On Saturday, he proved why plus/minus can be a deceiving and silly stat while going -4 again.

On Edmonton’s first goal, Steve Montador pulled an ‘ole’ on Ales Hemsky to give him a semi-breakaway from the top of the circles.  Nothing Keith could do there.

On Edmonton’s second goal, Keith played Randy Jones into the corner where his only play was to throw a low-angle back-handed shot towards the net.  It went in and Keith had nothing to do with that.

On Edmonton’s third goal, Keith played the puck around the corner.  Marcus Kruger completely bailed on taking the hit along the wall (funny how Pat Foley didn’t call out Kruger for it with the same verocity he went after Olli Jokinen the night before) which would have cleared the puck out of the Hawks end.  Instead, the Oilers kept the puck in and Ryan Smyth had an easy tap-in.

The only minus that Keith could be blamed for was the fourth goal where he was overaggressive in the offensive zone and it opened a wide lane for an easy Oiler breakaway.  So yeah, Keith was a -4 but looking a little closer, it should hardly be a scarlet letter for him to burden the way some want him to.

Sometimes, a -4 is more about being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

–Perhaps it’s a coincidence but in both games this weekend, Corey Crawford and Ray Emery let in pillow soft goals for the opposition’s second tally to break a 1-1 tie and the Hawks folded up shop.  On the other hand, it’s not completely out of line to consider that the Hawks were let down by their goalies, felt sorry for themselves and before they could recover, the game was out of reach.

–Hockey has to be the only sport where the fans actually give a sincere crap about what players do in their off days.  With the Hawks getting 0 points out of a possible 4 and looking mostly awful in it, some fans (see: all of them) were calling for them to cancel their day trip to Las Vegas.  As if the best way to deal with grown adults is to treat them like a bunch of immature 14 year-olds.

First off, the organization should know what kind of team they have.  If they felt like this trip could serve as a distraction or that the Hawks didn’t deserve it, they should have never scheduled it to begin with.

Even if the Hawks were to cancel the trip, it’s not like they’re going to stay at a Motel 6 outside of Los Gatos for the next few days as punishment.  No, they’ll stay at a five-star hotel somewhere, still go out, and still show themselves a good time wherever they are.

The whole thing to me reeks of jealous fans unable to cope with the fact that “deez guys make too much money and dey get pampered like a bunch of babies!!!”  Professional athletes are going to show themselves a good time wherever they are in their down time regardless of how they played in the game before.  Get over it.

–On the bright side, the Hawks power play is (predicatably) fine.  Their penalty kill is another story.

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21 Responses to A Weekend To Forget

  1. Steve says:

    Thanks for introducing a little perspective to the “torches and pitchforks crowd” that want Keith hung in effigy. The real truth is that there’s nothing like giving up soft goals early to take the wind out of a team. We have goalie issues and, until that gets sorted out, we night as well all buckle in for the rollercoaster.

  2. ND says:

    Not sure if you’ve ever had a job, but if you under perform, you don’t get rewarded. That’s life pal, not jealousy.

  3. John says:

    Thanks pal. Obviously the problem is too much coddling. Maybe we can get the owner from Major League to show them who’s boss.

  4. BobbyJet says:

    I have heard everything now if you can actually say with a straight face that Keith was not bad last night. I fail to understand why Q doesn’t sit Keith for a period or so in a game like that, especially after the dismal showing he had the previous night. Instead he is on every PP. If fatigue is a factor, Q certainly doesn’t do anything about that.

    Having said that, fact is the entire team was awful and if Q benched the culprits we’d be playing short handed. I have watched this team play essentially non-contact, pond hockey since they won the SC and much of the time get away with it but last night the Oilers showed how it’s done.
    If anyone didn’t see this coming, they haven’t been paying attention.

  5. John says:

    Read closely….I never said he wasn’t bad; I was merely stating how his -4 was misleading and if people were going to use that as evidence for why he sucks and is the worst player in NHL history, then it’s simply stupid.

  6. Grunfeld says:

    ‘We want 10! We want 10!’

    I hope that chant is still ringing in the ears of every Hawk as they sit at blackjack tables in Vegas the next couple days. If this makes me a jealous meatball fan that lacks perspective, so be it.

  7. Jeff says:

    I know when I have a bad day at work I like to go home and just stare at the wall until the next workday comes and tell myself over and over again how bad of an employee I am.

    Fuck no – if they day is really shitty, I go out for a drink or two, maybe have a few laughs and get myself mentally ready for another day pushing a pencil. So they are going on a little side trip – who cares. If it helps them relax and come back better the next game, wonderful. Cuz it’s a no-win when you think about it: if the boys suck the first game after Vegas, then mgmt will get royally cornholed for coming up with the idea. If they play well, then mgmt will get hung for NOT doing this more often and riding them too much.

  8. Brian Donohue says:

    If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs…etc etc

  9. Nice to see cool heads prevailing on the Fifth Feather, as usual… hopefully this Alberta Adventure will be a blip and we’ll see a refreshed and recharged Hawks in the Shark Tank.

  10. SouthSideHawkMan says:

    I’m trying to remember the last time the Hawks got blown out in Edmonton,….its been a while! A Vegas weekend could be excatly what the team needs, nothing wrong with pressing the reset button after a quarter of a season. Is it me or do the Hawks have ALOT of team outings? Fathers trip, mothers trip, vegas trip,….boy how things have changed, but for the better!!!! Go Hawks!!!

  11. CT says:

    I wouldn’t say the off day obsession is unique to hockey fans though. I remember the uproar when Tony Romo went to Mexico during his off week before the playoffs a few years ago.

  12. BobbyJet says:

    Is it a matter of cool heads prevailing … or is it more of a case of burying heads in the sand. As I have stated several times, this club is not playing good hockey despite where they sit in the standings. What makes matters worse, imo, is most of the problems seem to be directly related to the system, or lack thereof, that this team is playing. Other than the Canucks twice and a struggling Bruin team (which we lost 2 of the 3), we have played few of the top clubs. The clubs that we need to beat at crunch time.

    Things need to turn around or the good start will be squandered and we will again we fighting for our playoff lives. One can label that as panic, I call it a reality check.

  13. John says:

    @BobbyJet–They can only play who’s on their schedule. And in doing so, they’ve accumulated the most points in the NHL. I’m not sure what teams they can play that will satisfy your needs to prove themselves. They’ve beaten Florida, Nashville, and Phoenix, all of whom sit in the top 5 of their conference. Really, who are these good teams lurking on their schedule that are going to make life hell for them? San Jose and LA? They’ll see them later in the week. Detroit? That’s 6 games in the schedule. I could understand your point if this was last year and the Hawks were lingering around .500. They’re tops in their division and in their conference; the playoffs are a shoo-in. (That’s not even getting into the fact that this team is going to look dramatically different in a couple months when they make their mid-season acquisitions.)

    @CT–Yes I do recall that. If memory serves, though, people were pissed after the fact, not before.

  14. I had a related tweet during the game, “Plus/Minus: The preferred all-determining stat for those who reject stats.”

    It’s oversimplification, when a player has 5 teammates on the ice, to label a him as a +1 or -1 on every goal and use this to determine his overall performance in a single game. It doesn’t mean Keith wasn’t bad, but all 7 goals he was on the ice for weren’t his fault.

    Not sure I agree with “some fans (see: all of them) were calling for them to cancel their day trip to Las Vegas.” I’ve seen more fans suggesting the opposite. Get drunk, bond, and refocus. There will always remain those who constantly *need* to see heads roll after any performance that doesn’t meet their lofty standards (see: any loss), but I highly doubt many, if any, of them are reading this blog. You draw a higher quality of readers, amiright? Heh.

  15. BobbyJet says:

    Yes, Hawks have 27 points. Tied with the … AHEM … Wild. I sincerely hope you right that the playoffs are a shoo-in but it’s way too early to say that for this team, imo.

    And yes, I think the next 3 games will be important for this team, especially after the past weekend performances.

    Sharks and LA are indeed on the list as top teams they will need to beat in the West, along with Canucks and Wings. In the East, the teams we need to be able to beat is Bruins, Pitt, Flyers (and Caps, assuming they get their act together again).
    Barring an upset, one of the above mentioned should be the SC winner this year. I’d like to include Hawks in there, but I just don’t see it right now. Agreed, they do have $ 6+ M to play with before the deadline and maybe, just maybe that will make a difference.

  16. And when do we start to publicly get concerned about the goaltending? I’ve put together some stats – and even pulled out blowouts and games missed by Keith or Seabs – and the results still show that Crawford this year would have been ranked 27th out of 29 goalies (with at least 40 starts) last year in Quality Starts. And his Sv% is currently 23rd among starters. A lot of research by others suggests that “team effect” has very little impact on a goalie’s Sv%, so blaming it solely on the defense in front of him likely isn’t the answer.

    I know that all we can do at this point is hope that Crow bounces back (and I believe he will), but I also don’t believe that, like in 2010, this is a team that can go far with “average goaltending.” My eye test says that Crawford hasn’t been that bad, but if you take out the first 5 games of the season, statistically he’s Steve Mason. Anyone noticing anything different in his game? Or do we write this off as the ebb and flow of Sv% (like Niemi last year in SJ)?

  17. John says:

    @CNS–Hopefully it’s the ebb and flow of the regular season in regards to Crawford.

    However, the one disturbing thing he’s still having problems with is how poor his angles when players are coming down the wing. He gives up way too much net to the far side. This was a problem last year when revered snipers like Matt Bradley was picking the corner. This year against St. Louis, Oshie beat him to the far side and the same thing happened in Calgary with Stempniak and Bourque.

    @BobbyJet–Last time I checked, they’ll only have to beat one of those teams in the East. And in the West, when it comes down to the playoffs, they’re only going to have beat probably one or two of those teams you mentioned. It’s humorous that you have those four teams pegged as the top teams yet all of them have just as many, if not more question marks than the Hawks currently do.

  18. BobbyJet says:

    Well, I did say Hawks must be “able” to beat those teams in the East.

    As for Crawford. He has a tall order to repeat his rookie seasons performance. I have noticed a tendency to be more aggressive in the nets this year and a few times has impressed by cutting down the angle but that same aggressiveness has on occasion resulted in him getting out of position. Crawford will never be a reflex goalie so his positioning is his game. I think he’ll be OK but I certainly would like to see Emery pick up his form to allow Q to call on him if CC needs a break for more than a single game here and there.

  19. feyer says:

    Bobby Ryan just asked his GM for a trade to any team. I wonder what Stanley thinks about him in a hawks sweater.

  20. Mick says:

    You can always cry foul and try to excuse unfavorable results when the outcome of any given data model seems skewed because of an unfair advantage or detrimental condition (such as having a bum on your line), usually unforeseen but also built in by the model’s designer. The best example of this in hockey is goalie wins. A goaltender can have a great GAA and SA%, but if his team can’t score more than he can save, wins just won’t materialize. As much as +/- is similar in the fact that it’s heavily influenced by conditions out of the player’s control, it still counts. Just like your belief that a team is what it’s record says, regardless of strength of opposition and their schedule, a player’s +/- matters.

    But forget about Keith’s +/-. Watch Edmonton’s 5 on 3 goal with Kane and Bolland in the box. That might be the worst play he’s ever made as a pro. He could use a day in Vegas to forget about that play. Hell, I need a week in Vegas to forget about this weekend. That said, you can’t really be upset because the club’s start has been solid. As long as they can stack up points against inferior clubs and win two of three against the elite clubs everyone’s been mentioning above, I don’t see how we’re not in the dance at the end of the season.

  21. Cam says:

    Too much dead weight still on this team.

    The Pirris, Saads and Morins can’t get here soon enough. Another quality defensemen is needed as well. Maybe someone would like the highly overpaid Hjalmarsson.

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