April 25 2013 08:46AM
I've been hearing a lot of genuinely terrible, stupid things being said by morons lately. Not many of them have to do with the Flames, but here's me complaining about them in one place anyway:
1. You have to watch Ondrej Pavelec every night to see how good he is
It's generally true that when viewing things in limited spaces of time, it's very possible to draw incorrect conclusions you might see. For instance, if you watched the first four games played by the San Jose Sharks this season, you might think Patrick Marleau is the greatest hockey player in the league, and maybe ever. Of course, the truth of the matter is that while he's still pretty good even at this point in his career, he's hardly going to come close to scoring twice a game or whatever he did in that first stretch, that small sample size is obviously enough to convince those with only a passing interest in his game something to by which they can be mightily impressed.
The same is true of if you went and watched Tampa's games on March 20 and 23, and saw Steven Stamkos go pointless, with just two shots, and a minus-5 in a pair of losses. The kid doesn't suck just because he didn't score in those two games; in fact, those are the second time this year in which he didn't have at least one point in two consecutive games.
And to that end, I'll admit it: I'm guilty of not watching the boring-ass, not-very-good Winnipeg Jets enough to see every stop Ondrej Pavelec has made this year. However, those who would defend him (mainly his coach, fans, and the dum-dums in the Winnipeg media, though it should be noted that the latter two are typically one and the same) lean like Tiny Tim Cratchit on that old trope that "stats don't tell the whole story" about how good Pavelec is. Of course they do. To say they do not is absurd.
This isn't a guy like Mikael Backlund being victimized by a low PDO and shooting percentage that artificially depresses his stats and for whom it's basic stats that aren't telling the whole story, but underlying numbers are acquitting him perfectly fine. The thing with stats is they tell you anything you want to know, at least if you know how to look at them and, more importantly, which ones to look at. What any stat will tell you about Ondrej Pavelec is this: This is a guy that flatly sucks. By any metric you want to look at, he is among the worst starting goaltenders in the league. It's not that I, or any other of his myriad critics, don't watch him enough. We see plenty to reassure the conclusions we've drawn from his statistics.
You can call it confirmation bias, but then I guess that's what you would call any corsi or points per game stats which provide evidence that Sidney Crosby is good.
2. You can't question coaches if they make the playoffs
We're really starting to hear this a lot about Randy Carlyle and it is stupid as hell. Lots of stuff about how his leadership and decision-making and so forth have helped to do to get the Leafs into the playoffs.
Of course, what's really gotten the Leafs into the playoffs is 1) Luck, and 2) James Reimer. Teams don't get that badly outshot and outchanced on a more or less nightly basis and come anywhere near a home ice spot, which is what the Leafs are creeping toward and at least in the neighborhood for. Carlyle, in fact, has been more or less a hindrance to his team, routinely giving its several bad players preferential treatment over its better ones because of "toughness" or whatever.
The most obvious example of this is not playing Nazem Kadri like 22 minutes a night when everything he shot was going past the goalies. Or, more to the point, acting like he would be insane to do so when he was actually asked about it. To a lesser extent, there is also the repeated refusal to let Jake Gardiner, who's a pretty good NHL defenseman, get into games, and instead favoring guys like Korbinian Holzer or Ryan O'Byrne.
Making the playoffs is obviously not the ultimate arbiter of coaching acumen, just as it is not a way to validate a general manager's work, just as it is not a way to determine whether a player has been successful or valuable. Obviously. They let 53 percent of the league in. Carlyle just happened to be on the good side of it for once. He's still a garbage coach who thinks concussions are caused by brain heat.
3. It's great to see guys win after they've been eliminated
This one actually relates to the Flames. They keep winning no matter how many veterans they take out of the lineup, and damned if Roger Millions et al haven't been absolutely insufferable about how swell it all is.
Playing guys who will likely be fringe NHLers at their best of times is a great way to tank, and good on the Flames for trying, but it's all so frustrating when you want them to finally get a good enough draft pick to make an impact at the NHL level, and those damn kids keep winning. If you're rooting for a rebuild — and at this point, everyone should be — then this is the opposite of what you want. Tank. Tank hard. Tank properly.
Obviously you can't ask Ben Hanowski to go out and dog it every shift, and there are certainly guys playing for contracts, which is another reason why they're playing well. But winning was important two months ago. It's counterproductive now. Any rational human being sees that. The Oilers have this tanking thing figured out (that's experience for you!).
4. You have to have played the game to understand it
Wanna give a shout out to Duncan Keith for bringing this insipid discussion back to the fore, because we really haven't sat here talking about it enough ever.
I have in real life never played hockey at a competitive level. Never came close, really. I'm not good at it. At all. But I think I have a generally strong understanding of the game itself and the nuances thereof. People who have done so, however, like college coaches and players and the like, have told me this. And therefore for anyone to say that is obviously being ridiculous, and retreating to their last possible line of defense against irrefutible fact.
Keith, for instance, had no real defense for taking a swipe at Daniel Sedin, a player he had previously concussed with a plainly illegal hit, after a goal on which he had been beaten. And so when asked about why he did it, he fell back to "Well clearly you never played the game" nonsense. A good question to ask the dumbasses who say this kind of thing is what the cutoff is. High school? College? Minor pro? NHL? The mindset of those who use it is very interesting because of how wrong they typically are about things.
5. Jarome Iginla might retire if he wins the Cup
I've heard this a little bit once the Penguins got over the initial shock of losing Sidney Crosby for the balance of the regular season, because they've turned into a buzzsaw, and Iginla has been at the center of it. People like to romanticize the idea because it's what Ray Bourque and Dave Andreychuk did when they won, and Iginla is probably the closest approximation of those guys in the league today.
But have you seen this guy play lately? Good grief. It turns out that when you give him good linemates, he's actually a productive hockey player. Funny how that works. His goals and points per game have exploded since his move, and that's not a coincidence. He can still play in this league, and there's still more money to be made. He's not going anywhere. To suggest otherwise is ridiculous romanticism.