The NHL has announced that Buffalo’s vaunted HarborCenter will host both the 2015 and 2016 NHL Scouting Combines, beating out Pittsburgh and Mississauga, which is near Toronto. Commissioner Gary Bettman and his lapdog Colin Campbell gave all 30 NHL cities an opportunity to make a case for the event before eventually settling on Buffalo.
Buffalo was chosen both because of the resources and amenities the $172 million HarborCenter has to offer, but also because the Mississauga facility looked like “the inside of a rotten burrito.”
“When we went up to Toronto, we were told not to expect much,” said Bettman. “But their VIP Hotel Package was Toronto Sun reporter Steve Simmons’s couch. There were newspapers from 1967 strewn about and it appeared that a Josh Gorges Maple Leafs jersey had been burned in the corner.
“The entire city of Toronto looks and smells like someone took Flint, Michigan and farted all over it,” said Campbell. “They have all the pretension of a Kardashian and all the class of that one dirty abandoned sock you see on the side of the road. The prevailing theme to the city is inescapable failure.”
“I’m actually writing a dystopian novel about hockey,” added Bettman. “It was originally set in downtown Tampa, but I’m thinking of moving it to Toronto. Hell, I’m thinking of moving the Maple Leafs to Seattle now as a humanitarian effort on behalf of the players and coaches.”
The Scouting Combine joins a long list of things that Buffalo has beaten Toronto in, among them Josh Gorges, affordable living, hockey 1970-Present, cleanliness, happiness, being in America, and amazingly enough, media acumen. When we pressed Toronto Mayor Rob Ford for comment, he tried to snort my phone and then asked if he could lick my hair. Every single Torontoan I met tried to do the same.
We barely made it out alive.
Last season I watched every single shootout. Every. Single. One. I wanted to look for trends. Were right handed shooters or left handed shooters better. Was deking better than shooting? Were there any other patterns? The following is what I found, but first, some definitions of terms.
Deking vs. Shooting: It’s surprisingly difficult to draw a line since players are generally moving the puck side to side in some manner all the way in. For the purposes of the study, any side-to-side movement below the hashmarks constituted a deke. If the puck was released above the hashmarks, it was a shot, regardless of movement coming in.
The moves: I wanted to categorize deking moves to see if some were more effective than others. They are:
- 100 Kane Dekes
- Backhand (Kopitar at :33)
- Backhand top-shelf
- Between the Legs
- Datsyuk Backwards skate / toe drag (There are a few variations on this, but I opted to combine them)
- Head fake, forehand
- Omark Shoulder Flip
The shot locations: Likewise, this was also tricky. For shots that went in, it was easy, I just marked where it went in. For shots that didn’t I did my best to approximate where the save was made and where the shooter was aiming.
Misses: A lost puck, a shot wide, or a post hit all counted as misses.
- Shooting: 552 attempts, 160 goals (28.99%) Miss – 14.5%
- Deking: 716 attempts, 239 goals (33.38%) Miss – 16.1%
My theory was that with NHL-caliber shots and goaltender reflexes that can only be so good, that shooting would prove to be a better option in the shootout. I was wrong and in hindsight it makes sense. You gain more in opening up larger windows to put the puck than you lose in potentially making an error stick-handling and shooting players were only slightly less likely to miss the net than deking players were to lose the puck.
This is the worst Cup Finals since 2009 when we were treated to a repeat of two teams nobody f*cking likes. This year we’re treated to one almost-repeat that nobody f*cking likes and an old piece of garbage that nobody f*cking likes. Here are the Power Rankings of things I hate about this series:
1). Goalieturbation – I was sick of these goalies two years ago. You’ve got one guy that, were he literally any other player, would be heavily derided by the hockey media because he’s won DIDDLEY! SQUAT! in this league up until now. The other is Jonathan Quick, who has reached deity status despite the fact that the Kings’ last cup run came because of the Herculean efforts of several other players, most notably Anze Kopitar, Dustin Brown, Justin Williams, and Drew Doughty and because they ran through a slew of easy teams like a half-Sedined Canucks team, a Pietrangelo and Halak-less Blues team, Phoenix (really?), and the New Jersey Devils who join the 2010 Flyers and 2006 Oilers in the pantheon of “Why the f*ck are you even here?”
I hope every game ends 38-36.
2). No One in these Markets Likes Hockey – Seriously. These are terrible hockey markets. The only reason they sell out is because there are a gazillion people living in the area. If it snows in New York City, the Rangers draw 13,000. If the Clippers or Lakers or Sacramento Kings or Suns make a playoff run, the Kings forfeit so everyone can watch basketball.
3). Rick Nash – Rick Nash is terrible. He captained the Columbus Blue Jackets like Joe Hazelwood, that is to say, straight into a reef where they promptly leaked goo everywhere. He has 10 points in 20 playoff games which makes him the least prolific important Rangers player. He has the same number of goals as Ryan McDonagh, Dominic Moore, and Benoit Pouliot. He has one more goal than Daniel Carcillo in 12 more games. He is above .8 points per game in the regular season and at .5 points per game even in the playoffs. If two players were ever in dire need of having the perceptions of them switched, it’s Rick Nash and Patrick Marleau.
A guy in my inline league last night said that he hates any team Rick Nash is on when I asked him (a Blues fan) who he was rooting for. He is now my best friend.
4). Linda Cohn – Who sits in third overall in the pool and whose blatant NYR homerism may actually pay off.
5). All the dumb NYC – LA culture montages we’re bound to see over the next several days. Both are filled with assholes. LA residents are dirty. NYC residents have superiority complexes. On the redeeming side, LA has porn. NYC has DGWU. You could pick, but that’s like picking which testicle you want stabbed.
One of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen was an intro to a Monday Night Football for a Jets – Patriots game. Chowder! Pizza! Lots of people who talk funny! The NFL on ABC! This is going to be so much worse.
My Pick: Los Angeles in 5 – For the love of god, a return to normalcy. LA is really good. NYR is a really good turd. Glen Sather doesn’t win Stanley Cups. Rick Nash doesn’t score playoff goals. Jonathan Quick is a sorcerer.
Chicago in 6 – The Blackhawks swept the season series and are just flat out more talented. Marian Gaborik though… Nothing would please me more than a Kings Stanley Cup and a Marian Gaborik Conn Smythe Trophy.
Montreal in 6 – Rick Nash Rick Nashing his way through the playoffs. Part of me hopes the Rangers keep going so Rick Nash can continue to not put up points and cement his place as the most gutless softie to ever don an NHL uniform.
Since WGR is being slow as hell approving my comment, probably because they’re blown away by its awesomeness, here it is in full. This is a direct response to this piece by Jeremy White.
The Pens have numerous flaws, which aren’t as simple as not having enough picks (or not having picks). No one is disputing the talent of Crosby or Malkin, but they each count 1.4 times as much against the cap ($8.7M) as Jonathan Toews ($6.3M). Are they 1.4 times as good as Toews on the ice? Probably not.
It’s also worth noting that one of those top picks, Marc-Andre Fleury, is one of their problems, and another, Ryan Whitney, did not win a cup with them (although he did bring back Chris Kunitz and Eric Tangradi). Having a bunch of top picks doesn’t matter if your GM doesn’t place his faith in the right guys. (Hello Drew Stafford, Thomas Vanek, if you want to go there.)
The New York Rangers have, once again, hoodwinked us all into believing they’re a team worth watching. Last night they scored a goal 5:25 into their game seven matchup against the Pittsburgh Penguins and decided…eh, probably good enough. It wasn’t, and so they scored again 7:56 into the second period and once again devolved into their unique style that somehow transcends coaching and roster makeup.
Calling last night’s game boring would be a flat out lie. It was definitely not boring watching to see if one of the dumbest hockey strategies would somehow pay off. And the ensuing spate of Corsi-deniers pointing out the worthlessness of a team roundly dominating their opponent wasn’t boring either.
But it wasn’t exciting. Or at least it wasn’t exciting because the Rangers play good hockey. It was exciting like watching your drunk friend try to attempt to jump from your couch to your kitchen table is exciting, worth paying attention to solely because it’s an exercise in stupidity. That’s what Rangers hockey is, an exercise in stupidity that sometimes pays off.
And so the Rangers have fooled the hockey universe again. You know, they’re a decent possession team, and they have some big names, and they’ve made it this far while Rick Nash, who seems to have the mindset of that Little League kid that just wants to quit this sporty shit and go get ice cream, has done practically nothing… They’re a dark horse!
Give me a break. This isn’t 1994. Mark Messier is old, this Rangers team is worse, and every team left in the playoffs is better than the 7th seeded Canucks they lucked into barely beating. The jig, will soon be up.