Saturday, April 29, 2006

Mission Impossible (or "I might as well whine and make a post")

This one is titled Mission Impossible because I'm going to mention the officiating in today's game and doing that without sounding like a homer will most certainly result in this message self destructing in ten seconds...

-The referees are struggling in this series and clearly overthinking things to my eye but it's pretty obvious that Chris Chelios is a dirty player. There's no question about that one, so the referees should at least be able to catch the stuff that happens around the puck. How Chelios manages to blatantly elbow Smyth in the face while Smyth has the puck in the corner and then draw a penalty after stepping on a stick just seconds after the foul is completely beyond me. It turned a 1:50 2-man Oiler advantage into a few harmless minutes of 4-on-4. That was atrocity #1.

-Atrocity #2 was Draper's lazy tripping penalty on Peca that ended up giving Shanahan a breakaway and the Wings a 3-1 deficit. The calls really don't get any easier than that. This afternoon's game is over after the second if the Oilers hit the break at 3-0.

-Samsonov must be on Vic's list of guys that are just happy to be here. To say that Sergei is not fully invested in this series is a significant euphemism. If Jarret Stoll can force the issue on the PP coming off the halfboards, then why the heck can't Samsonov?

-I was very impressed with Spacek's game today. Like Dennis mentioned earlier, he's winning a lot of battles in the corner right now and while maybe not as efficient as Pronger, he still ends up getting the puck and getting it up and out of the zone. Furthermore, he's also picked it up a notch in the physical play department. Granted, every Oiler seems to get a free shot at the Newfie as Cleary has been rattled around for a few games now, but Spacek finished him off and laid into a few other Red Wings as well. It's impressive stuff.

-You have to love Stoll's game right now. He's carrying the play on that line (which ain't saying much really, but nevertheless) and looks dangerous on most of his shifts. He has also been quite calm and collected in his own zone. One worrying thing is that the Oilers are still getting crunched in the faceoff circle as the Red Wings are doing to the Oilers what they did for the first half of the year - just owning the dot to the tune of 60+%. The good news is that Peca looked better today in the circle so perhaps his wrist/forearm injury is either improved or at least better stabilized.

-I completed a personal odyssey this past week through the American Midwest and Mid-Atlantic regions with a couple of stopovers in Detroit. I bought a couple of Detroit Free Press editions to read the local takes before the series and after game one. The media there is more than a little crazy about Chris Pronger. I'm paraphrasing but I believe Helene St. James said Pronger was the goat of Game #1 because he was on the ice for all three goals against. Of course this was technically true, but he was also on the ice for every single goal by both teams and played 47% of the icetime in the entire game. I've also read a few times both in the media and on the Red Wings' blogs that Pronger has fallen apart against the Wings in the playoffs in the past. Maybe the Wings fans lurking about can fill us in, but when I made my Pronger regular season vs. playoff post earlier this year, his playoff numbers were nothing short of stellar. More minutes, higher %ES minutes, exactly the same ESP/hr and well into the plus side of the ledger (+19 in 43 games over the past 5 seasons) in the playoffs as compared to his regular season performance. I'm pretty sure this Pronger-is-tired-in-the playoffs-and-chokes-stuff is crap based on the numbers and I imagine the Red Wings' community's assertions are equally baseless and probably rooted in jealousy or just plain folksy storytelling.

Regardless, since Game 1, Pronger has left no doubt whatsoever.


Anonymous lowetide said...

This series tells me Pronger is a pretty smart hockey player. SOME of the things that made him an impact player have been taken away from him in the new NHL so he has adapted and is still having a major impact.

His ability to move the puck without taking a penalty on a player who has the biscuit AND position is a thing of beauty. He's done it several times including yesterday where he just reached around the player (who had his back to 44 and was protecting the puck) and moved the puck along (while it was on the other player's stick) by sheer force.

Many NHL defenseman can't make that play so that when you see it being done you're not quite sure you saw it correctly.

Pronger does that sort of thing frequently. Smart, smart player.

4/30/2006 10:18 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

RQ...good stuff. BTW there was another "Pronger's gonna be an idiot we're just waiting for it" story in the Freep today. I don't have the link here now but it's not hard to find:)

Normally I'd think there was some substance to this theory because the Wings have been in the NHL long enough that they shouldn't be hiring guys who print lies;) That being said I remember awhile ago you making a blog entry about how Pronger's mintues don't affect him and how he plays better in the playoffs.

Note: thank you for that as I took your inadvertant advice and thusly selected Pronger late in my playoff draft pool:)

Another note: Remember when I said that Peca would be better off offensively with Pisani on his line rather than Dvorak? I believe the phrase is "how ya like me now.";)

Spacek is just blowing me away at this point. I was elated with his play early on and then around the Stl game he was really in a huge lull and I couldn't help but think back to the TSN game from Chi when McGuire said the Hawks were flabbergasted that he was playing so well. Then I thought back to yours or Vic's musings that there was a reason a guy seemingly this good has bounced around so much. But the guy's bounced back in a big way. I still don't like the fact that he has a fat neck and that he's on the PP but the last thing's MacT's fault and the first thing's probably just genetics so I can live with that:D

At this point Spacek's taking Cal Nichols money out of Samsonov's pocket on each and every shift.

4/30/2006 4:26 pm  
Blogger Dennis said...

Before I forget this Riv...on the faceoff thing.

First point...our totals don't look so bad when you delete the numbers posted by Murray and Smyth. I mean yes they still count but our top three guys aren't doing such a bad job and in the pinch those are the guys that are gonna be taking the big ones.

Second point...our totals would look worst if Yzerman had played in G4-5;)

I don't know why I didn't notice this before but when we all started talking about Peca's dot numbers dropping I didn't see that wrap on his wirst. I first noticed it in G2 so obviously it was making a negative impact.

4/30/2006 4:33 pm  
Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

On the reffing thing, I'm dumbfounded by the Chelios call. Though I can sort of see the Peca noncall just because Peca oversold it a bit and no ref likes to be made a fool of. And in fairness the Oilers did get away with a few borderline plays that went uncalled.

I remember reading Bruce Hood's book many years ago, bought it at an airport and read it on a long flight. If you're too young to remember, he was one of the league's most familiar referees for a long time. Anyhow, the thing that struck me was what a huge Habs fan he was. I mean he was a Habs fan the way Dennis is an Oiler fan. And he had been since he was a kid.

This is all just by memory, but I remember he went on and on about how great the Habs players were to deal with on the ice, he even had a little anecdote that involved him hanging out at Bob Gainey's summer cottage in the maritimes. WTF is that about?! I thought that these guys were supposed to be completely impartial.

That's always stuck with me when I watch games that seem a little unbalanced from an officiating POV..

I don't want to be one of those guys that bitches about the officiating nonstop (I have a friend who is a Hawks fan, and he's like that beyond all reason) but this just doesn't seem quite right in this series. It's not horrendous or anything IMO, just not quite right.

4/30/2006 9:51 pm  
Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

refs are human too - in the league that I play in we have one ref who always gives us the benefit of the doubt on any marginal call - we don't get a free ride but anything that is iffy goes our way - he thinks we're the greatest - except one guy who is a little squirrelly - he can't get away with murder

hey - these guys have relationships - I'd bet if you met Chelios off the ice he'd be a great guy to have a beer with even though on the ice he's the biggest dickhead you've ever seen - why else would he get away with what he does - he's not even subtle about it - do you think MAB would get away with all of the crap - the Hemsky play, the dives (and then admitting it in the paper), the tantrums (last I saw he doesn't wear a letter)

Chelios has been around forever; cripes he's probably golfed with all of these guys - they're probably like, oh that Chelly

What can the Oil do about it? Not a bloody thing - shut their mouths and do their best is all.

5/01/2006 7:15 am  
Blogger Dennis said...

Every situation and officiating crew presents a new reality. Oilers vs Wings and some youth vs a lot of experience equals, at least to me, the Oilers hardly ever getting the benefit of a call. That's a given IMO and then that situation's exacerbated when you bring in a crew like Joanette/Warren.

What I want to see is what will happen if the Oilers move on to the second round and play the Sharks or Flames? If we play the Flames then who's got a tonne of playoff experience on that team? McCarthy, Yelle and Amonte I guess..Warriner. And there's also the matter that the officiating crews will have been weeded out by then too so we should be seeing a better group of officials.

If the Oilers start getting the benefit of the calls vs the Flames or if things break a little more even then I think we can safely say the Oilers were jobbed vs the Wings because of the old experience factor.

5/01/2006 12:12 pm  

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