I’m about to make an overwrought Simpsons analogy.
Well that was a largely unsuccessful trip to the east coast.
Five games, four points, and the team continues to both bleed goals and struggle to score.
I think the most interesting thing about the trip was that it gave us the return of Olli Jokinen, which then gave us what is, perhaps, a new and unmistakable new trend in the Calgary Flames’ travails this season. Longtime devotees of the Simpsons will recognize it immediately.
This is the Cone of Ignorance, a 3D mathematical expression of the effects Bart Simpson has on the classmates who sit immediately around him.
As Principal Skinner explains to Marge and Homer, their hellion of a son is not only a terrible student in his own right, but his terribleness is so distracting to those around him that they, in turn, become worse students.
The Cone of Jokinen works in much the same way. No matter what line Olli Jokinen is dropped into the middle of, it immediately becomes the Flames’ worst line by far. Alex Tanguay and Jarome Iginla looked untouchable in the three games for which Jokinen was suspended, but when he came back, they immediately turned into piping hot garbage. Similarly, Hagman and Bourque have looked pretty good at both ends of the ice this year when not saddled with Ol’ Pumpkinhead, and the second they are they become ineffective offensively and scramble around their own zone like panicked toddlers.
And when he’s put on a line with Glencross and Moss (the vaunted -Oss Line), they not only no longer cycle the puck convincingly, but also get pushed around the boards by even the sissiest of opponents.
Just like Bart’s ability to drag a whole class down, so too does Jokinen have this effect on Flames who aren’t on his line. As a result of these terrible, terrible shifts, those teammates that are unfortunate enough to come on the ice immediately after him are typically going to be pinned in their own zone and facing a surge of momentum for the opponent. This is all provable fact.
Now, you might be asking yourself, why, if Bart/Jokinen has this effect on his class/linemates, do they not put him in a corner/on the fourth line where he will do the least to hurt those around him? Well, because Mrs. Krabappel/Brent Sutter doesn’t seem to be able to do her/his job well enough to recognize the effect Bart/Jokinen has on those around him. Even if there’s ample evidence that this is exactly what happens (I’m sure if you did the Corsi stats out on topographically it would look not unlike the above illustration), there’s simply nothing they can do. Sure, Principal Skinner/Darryl Sutter can expel him/buy him out, but that will likely create more headaches. Not less.
Like the students and faculty of Springfield Elementary, we’re stuck with this problem for awhile.