FGD: Twin City Showdown

Ryan Pike
November 05 2013 12:29PM

 

(photo courtesy Stadium Journey)

 

After opening their road trip with a hard-fought and gutsy win in Chicago against the defending Stanley Cup Champions, the Calgary Flames (6-6-2) head north to visit a former divisional rival, the Minnesota Wild (8-4-3) tonight at the Xcel Energy Center. The puck drops at 6pm MT on Sportsnet West, Fan960 and all over the Twitters.

This will be the 75th meeting between the two teams, the first 74 of which took place when both teams were part of the since-disbanded Northwest Division. The Flames have a 41-20-13 edge all-time and went 2-1-2 in five games with the Wild last season.

THE LINE-UP

A bit of tinkering took place with the line-up, as Bob Hartley is parking Derek Smith and Sven Baertschi on the sidelines in favour of the debuting Chad Billins and Lance Bouma. Smith's benching will probably be met with less fanfare, but he's been just fine and Billins' insertion is probably a reward for his hard work and an attempt to gauge where Billins fits in. Roger Millions noted on Twitter that Billins' parents are coming in from Michigan to see his first NHL game, which is pretty special.

From DailyFaceoff, the lines:

Glencross (A) – Stajan (A) – Jones
Cammalleri (A) – Colborne – Galiardi
Bouma – Monahan – Hudler
Jackman – Backlund – McGrattan

Butler – Brodie
Russell – Wideman
Billins – O'Brien

Berra
Ramo

Baertschi was used sparingly in Sunday's win against Chicago, putting up just 13:12 in ice-time and seeing some of his shifts go to Mikael Backlund in the third period, although he still ended up with four more minutes of ice-time than Backlund did. Once again, the question of what Baertschi needs to do to stick in the line-up full-time comes into the forefront. It's probably some version of “play hard in all three zones.” He may not have a lot of offensive upside, but Lance Bouma plays hard.

Calgary's power-play is now officially goal-less in six straight.

THE OPPOSITION

The Wild lack a lot of upper-end star power, but they have a roster that's got a lot of top-end depth. Jason Pominville is having a great year so far with 10 goals, but Zach Parise and Mikael Granlund are also off to strong starts. The Wild last played on Sunday, just like Calgary, when they shut-out the New Jersey Devils.

Via DailyFaceoff, lines:

Coyle – Parise (A) – Koivu (C)
Neiderreiter – Granlund – Pominville
Cooke – Brodziak – Mitchell
McMillan – Konopka – Heatley

Suter (A) – Brodin
Stoner – Ballard
Scandella – Spurgeon

Harding
Backstrom

Per Roger Millions, it appears that Charlie Coyle has recovered from a nagging day-to-day injury and that means Justin Fontaine is headed back to the AHL potentially.

Last year's Masterton winner, Josh Harding, gets the start. He has a 7-2-1 record with an insane 1.10 goals against average and .950 save percentage. A cynic would suggest that he's going to regress (he will), but that's just a great start for a guy that has had a rough couple of years and handled it with great character.

The Wild are one of the better five-on-five teams in hockey right now, with their even-strength scoring differential being roughly twice Calgary's. They also boast the NHL's second-best power-play (behind St. Louis). Their glaring weakness is their PK, which is actually worse than Calgary's.

Either way, the Flames are on an emotional high after beating Chicago in overtime, and they'll need that momentum heading into Minnesota.

ELSEWHERE

While the Flames are in St. Paul taking on the Wild, the Abbotsford Heat return home from a sweep of their three-game road trip and face the San Antonio Rampage tonight. Joey MacDonald joins the Heat, but expect Joni Ortio to start after winning all three weekend games. That game starts at 8pm on TeamRadio.ca, so in theory one could watch the Flames game and then listen to the Heat.

And in the Dub, Brett Kulak and the Vancouver Giants host the Edmonton Oil Kings.

SUM IT UP

The Flames are back at .500 after beating Chicago, and to be honest, probably have more points so far than anybody expected them to get on this road trip. A win tonight could guarantee that they go at least .500 on the trip. And with a back-to-back Thursday and Friday against St. Louis and Colorado, they might not have a better chance to get points than tonight.

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Ryan Pike is a Calgary native and FlamesNation's managing editor. He's covered the Flames and the NHL since 2010. His work can also be found at The Hockey Writers and The Wrestling Observer.
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#51 Charleston Kingsley
November 05 2013, 12:59PM
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Mehnesotta Wild.

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#52 wot96
November 05 2013, 03:23PM
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@Flames fan in YEG

I think you are reading between the lines that are between the lines. The kid may need work on his positioning but I don't think his attitude is questionable.

If this was Keenan, and not Hartley, we would be saying this was head games. I tend to think this is BB unhappy with a kid that size, playing in the NHL that isn't also running people through the boards.

I just wish they would be honest with him (and us) and have him develop in Abby.

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#53 ChinookArch
November 05 2013, 03:45PM
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Ryan Pike wrote:

Remember, this team is probably gonna jettison some vets at the deadline. That means Baertschi won't be able to be as shielded by the coaching staff.

Yes, I've been thinking in those terms as well. But I don't see any market for McGrattan at the deadline, Jackman is a stretch as well since he's basically less than a replacement level forward, at this point in his career. That leaves Cammalleri, Stajan, Stempniak, and Butler, all of whom would be playing anyway.

The goon line just makes no sense, regardless of your view on fighting or grit chart. It's not a winning strategy.

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#54 SeanCharles
November 05 2013, 04:00PM
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Kevin R wrote:

I don't like Sven in the press box either. It's BS & there have been some good points being made here. But this isn't the first future NHL star Hartley has coached. These kids are young, 21, hell I know what my 21 year old kid is like. Sven is pumped, he's serious, he probably takes things very personal & very critical on himself. We know it doesn't make sense in the decision from a performance point of view of sitting him out. There is an off ice development/point that seems to be at work here. I've read many are worried what message this sends to the young player. The message is pretty simple, no one is bigger than the team, no one is perceived greater than his team mates. As a player, you are paid very good to accept whatever role the coach wants you to play whether you think it's right or not. I think they are deliberately putting Sven in frustrating situations beyond his control to get him to handle the ups & downs of having a pro hockey career in the best league in the world. Maybe they are trying to influence his approach to being the best he can be, regardless of the role he plays. Time will tell if this approach to his mental growth destroys a real high potential young player or gets him to become the elite player he possibly can be.

I agree with your assessment. It became obvious to me when they kept playing Sven with below average prospects in the rookie camp.

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#55 CutterMcAwesome
November 05 2013, 04:01PM
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Sometimes a view from above isnt a bad thing. Perspective and Communication. He's still pretty young and has lots of time to figure it all out.

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#56 Craig
November 05 2013, 04:35PM
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I'm so sad that Sven is scratched again. I love this flames team this year, I just wish that the players would be used properly.

This team was so much fun to start out this season, and now it just frustrates me when my two favourite players are mishandled!

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#58 exsanguinator
November 05 2013, 05:38PM
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Burnward wrote:

Maybe the mold for us in this rebuild is Boston, not Edmonton. Build through depth and a commitment to a total team game.

Not saying Sven isn't going to get there, but as a 21 year old kid he will undoubtedly have some nights like this early on.

Breathe guys.

I'm not too worried about Sven at this point either. I am disappointed that he's not playing as much as I'd like him to but he's also pretty young. If he's still getting this treatment at 23/24 then I'd be worried about his future with the organization.

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#59 prendrefeu
November 05 2013, 06:36PM
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That was a great PP kill.

GO FLAMES!

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#60 Burnward
November 05 2013, 07:10PM
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GlenX, Jesus.

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#61 Burnward
November 05 2013, 07:32PM
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Two stupid mistakes, two Wild goals. Otherwise, their chances have been very limited.

20 clicks to go...go get em!

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#62 ChinookArch
November 05 2013, 07:34PM
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Burnward wrote:

Two stupid mistakes, two Wild goals. Otherwise, their chances have been very limited.

20 clicks to go...go get em!

Standard Wild hockey. Low event and opportunistic hockey.

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#63 FireOnIce
November 05 2013, 08:03PM
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LOL

Flames continue their decade-old tradition as the fat chick of the league. Konopka's slump as a member of the Wild is over with that goal.

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#64 Flaming Mad Fred
November 05 2013, 08:21PM
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Brent G. wrote:

HOW DO YOU TYPE WITH KEVIN LOWE'S (censored -ed.) IN YOUR MOUTH?!

For a rude stupid irreverent comment like that you should be forever banned from this site!

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#65 prendrefeu
November 05 2013, 08:26PM
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Tony wrote:

Is this still true?

I wouldn't say that it isn't true, but I also don't believe the breakdowns tonight would have been solved with Sven in the lineup.

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#66 Walter White
November 05 2013, 08:28PM
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Hartley really showed Baertschi.......!!! WW

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#67 prendrefeu
November 05 2013, 08:32PM
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Tony wrote:

Well, now Hartley has no choice to play Sven if GlenX is out for any length of time.

Well, yeah, no sh*t dude.

But then again: could either you, myself, or anyone else predicted that GlenX would have been lost in this game? No. Hindsight is 20/20, don't fool yourself.

Original point still stands, follow up answer to your question still stands, and we'll all just have to see what happens going forward.

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#68 MK
November 05 2013, 03:24PM
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I thought we are in rebuilding state and need to work with our young guys to bring them along. How does sitting Sven is going to motivate this guy. I thought the kline of MOn, Hud and sven looked very good every time I saw them on the ice. I do not understand this coach philosophy at all. I think he has some lose screws.

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#69 Nighteyes
November 05 2013, 04:22PM
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Hartley repeatedly says the organization treats players according to merit, and thus if you play well you get ice time and if you don't, you get less or are scratched. All in all, he says there is no favouritism. But it is clear he has it in for certain guys and others he just loves for no apparent reason. Jackman and McGrattan bring something to the table? Please tell me what that is Hartley.

Then you scratch Bouma last game and now put him on the third line to replace Baertschi? Oh yea that's a real upgrade while you keep Backs between the two goons. I think he would be better off putting Backs on the wing with Monahan and Hudler if he insists on scratching Baertschi, who I think hasn't played all that bad. Give him more ice time, maybe then he can show you he belongs? I like Bouma but he is not going to do anything for that line. Hartley is just baffling me right now. His justifications for his actions do not seem to be holding up, in my opinion.

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#70 RexLibris
November 05 2013, 05:56PM
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exsanguinator wrote:

I don't know how I missed the graphs when I was there earlier but can someone explain the percentage thing for me?

I'm not really a statistician but from what I've gathered so far above 50% is good and below is bad so their 48.8% is simply... ok? Does a stat like Fenwick close typically regress to a normal range throughout a season or do the good teams usually maintain a high Fenwick or Corsi close throughout the year?

I'm acquainting myself with a lot of the stats interpretation as well but things like Fenwick don't usually regress to a mean like PDO.

Shooting percentages do somewhat, in that a player with an abnormally high % in the mid to high teens is likely to see a regression towards the low teens high single digits unless they are an historically accurate shooter.

48.8% is a decent number when one considers that the Flames are not a roster that anyone would point too and utter the words "puck possession".

If the Flames can keep that graph close to the middle on most nights and get decent goaltending then they should be able to win a few games through luck and effort.

The range of numbers isn't always terribly diverse from the top to the bottom of the standings, though right now the Sabres are getting their heads bashed in on a nightly basis. They couldn't "play with the puck" if they kept it in their back pockets.

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#71 Burnward
November 05 2013, 06:06PM
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GO FLAMES GO!

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#72 thymebalm
November 05 2013, 06:20PM
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Bouma with the huge assist. Hartley looks smart on that one.

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#73 Nighteyes
November 05 2013, 06:21PM
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Well I guess my saying that Bouma brought nothing to that line was wrong -- pretty sick assist there.

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#74 Ed Wailin'
November 05 2013, 06:46PM
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Berra had the best paint job on a flames goalie mask in a very long time.

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#75 FireOnIce
November 05 2013, 08:13PM
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Seeing Matt Cooke anywhere near Sean Monahan, especially in a mix-up in front of Minnesota's bench, makes me absolutely cringe. I know he's supposedly "reformed", but it worries me that he'll make one stupid decision and Monahan gets Cooke'd like Marc Savard.

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#76 Burnward
November 05 2013, 08:16PM
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Ah well, one of those games.

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#77 Parallex
November 05 2013, 08:18PM
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This is all kinds of ugly now. C'mon Feaster... Just let Jackman's 17PIM episode be an excuse to waive his ass off the team.

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#78 FireOnIce
November 05 2013, 08:19PM
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GlenX is apparently done for the night. Looks like he hurt his leg.

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#79 yomamen11
November 05 2013, 08:25PM
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Oh crap. Definitely not worthy to wake up at 02:00am for this one.

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#80 RexLibris
November 05 2013, 08:28PM
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Wow.

I didn't see that game coming. Mathematically the Flames have been strong in games (relative to their perceived outcome by observers and analysts at the start of the year) more often than not.

This game, 5-1 Stars loss and the 6-3 Sharks loss look like minor aberrations in the season thus far. However, a few more of these and I suspect the Flames may yet play down to last year's result.

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#81 prendrefeu
November 05 2013, 08:53PM
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@Tony

"Maybe you should wait to comment on the impact of Hartley's decisions AFTER the game."

Kettle black, son.

I'm glad that you're super passionate about this, but seriously: calm the heck down.

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#82 Charleston Kingsley
November 05 2013, 01:20PM
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What's the Baertschi equivalent of TSN.ca's Deshar-nay headline?

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#83 Flames fan in YEG
November 05 2013, 02:16PM
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Parallex wrote:

"We know Sven has had his attitude issues over the past year or so"

We do? I can't think of a single instance where anyone has questioned his attitude.

During an interview last year, he was quoted saying that when he was sent back down to the Heat for a stint, that he had a lot of frustration with it, and that his confidence had hit rock bottom.

"“In the first couple of games in Abby I wasn’t comfortable,” he said. “I didn’t want to be there. And then at the same time, I realized again if I want to go back up there, I’ve got to perform here."

I was also referring to this during the young stars in Penticton.

"He's putting a lot of pressure on himself," said assistant to the general manager Craig Conroy. "We've talked to Sven, told him 'Hey, do what you do. Have fun. Smile.' For a while there, at the Penticton tournament he seemed ... he just wasn't in a good place. He did't seem to be enjoying himself. The weight of the world seemed to be on his shoulders." Conroy wants to see Baertschi return to his speed game and make plays, but time is running out for him to cement his place on the Flames' roster.

Some of the reports out of the tournament suggested that Baertschi wasn't overly thrilled about being there.

I'm not saying any of these things are necessarily true, but some of these things can be related to attitude. (Note: The Flames have to take some of the blame with the way he's been handled)

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#84 RexLibris
November 05 2013, 03:38PM
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exsanguinator wrote:

And holy crap, I never noticed this but the Flames are 5-2-2 in one goal games so far. I wonder what their fenwick close looks like.

http://www.extraskater.com/team/calgary-flames/2013

Give it a second and let the graphs load and you'll get a good visual.

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#85 kittensandcookies
November 05 2013, 03:40PM
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Brett Sutter waived. Edmonton should totally pick him up.

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#87 kittensandcookies
November 05 2013, 03:44PM
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Damn, Edmonton needs more truculence.

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#88 Flames fan in YEG
November 05 2013, 04:43PM
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@wot96

All I was trying to elude to was, if there were/is any cracks in his mindset and attitude, than the Flames are doing him and themselves a large disservice by having him sit in the press box and/or the Heat by flip flopping their expectations all the time.

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#89 SoCalFlamesFan
November 05 2013, 04:58PM
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My two bits: 1) Can't you TALK to Sven then let him show you rather than show him video and bench. Most people learn better learning better with encouragement rather than discipline. Just saying.

2) How does "Homework" like that really develop character or work ethic or attitude anyways or 3 zone play? Positioning, work ethic, attitude are all learned by doing.

This benching seems a real counter productive act.

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#91 exsanguinator
November 05 2013, 05:41PM
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RexLibris wrote:

http://www.extraskater.com/team/calgary-flames/2013

Give it a second and let the graphs load and you'll get a good visual.

I don't know how I missed the graphs when I was there earlier but can someone explain the percentage thing for me?

I'm not really a statistician but from what I've gathered so far above 50% is good and below is bad so their 48.8% is simply... ok? Does a stat like Fenwick close typically regress to a normal range throughout a season or do the good teams usually maintain a high Fenwick or Corsi close throughout the year?

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#92 FireOnIce
November 05 2013, 05:58PM
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@exsanguinator

Woops, nevermind. Had my entire comment wiped and Rex got most of it anyway.

Just to add - FW and Corsi %s show you the ratio of a team's shots while a given player is on the ice to all of the shots taken on the ice by both teams when said player is on the ice.

FW% = (FW for) / (FW for + FW opponent).

If > 50%, that means the team is outshooting its competition while the player is on the ice; if it's less than 50%, they're being outshot while he's on the ice.

48.8% for the Flames means that they're being outshot, but not by much (about 1.5 shots for every 10).

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#93 negrilcowboy
November 05 2013, 06:05PM
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man frontal loumbardis is sure building up berra.

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#94 exsanguinator
November 05 2013, 06:07PM
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@RexLibris

From what I've seen on extra skater (thank you whoever is up there for making this site for stat dummies like me) last season and this season a team's Fenwick close does not appear to translate directly to better team. The one team I noticed straight away that didn't belong despite a high Fenwick close was New Jersey.

I guess like any other stat this one requires context so maybe look at other stats like Corsi and PDO in addition to Fenwick. I dunno, I'm sure I'll figure some of this stuff out by the end of the season lol.

Thanks for the explanation Rex.

You too @FireOnIce

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#95 Burnward
November 05 2013, 06:17PM
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WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

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#96 Burnward
November 05 2013, 06:18PM
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Bouma. Not too shabby.

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#97 FireOnIce
November 05 2013, 06:25PM
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Bad giveaway by Galiardi, leads to sequence where Koivu scores top-shelf off the backhand on a rebound.

Tied at 1-1.

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#98 Burnward
November 05 2013, 06:26PM
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Not Galiardi's best shift ever...oy.

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#99 Burnward
November 05 2013, 06:41PM
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Man Berra is a big dude, not much there for shooters.

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#100 Justin Azevedo
November 05 2013, 06:47PM
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@exsanguinator

context is the key. the reason nj was so bad? brodeur's awful. below-replacement level.

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