JEFF DESLAURIERS: WHAT'S IT GOING TO BE?

Robin Brownlee
February 07 2010 03:26PM

In some games, Jeff Deslauriers looks like a bona fide NHL starting goaltender. At other times, he looks more suited to sitting on the end of the bench and cheerleading in the AHL or selling insurance.

That juxtaposition is jarring on the eyes, if nothing else.

Case in point, I don't recall seeing Deslauriers look much better than he did in Saturday's 3-0 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, a game in which he saved the sleep-walking Edmonton Oilers from embarrassment on the scoreboard through the first 40 minutes.

Even allowing that Deslauriers should have squeezed the 2-0 goal -- he faced at least 20 shots that were more difficult at the Pepsi Center -- he finished up allowing two goals on 41 shots (a .951 saves percentage) before Colorado closed the deal with an empty-netter.

Deslauriers, 25, was square to shooters. His angles were good. To my eye, he crept out of his crease further than he usually does and made himself look bigger to shooters. He covered the top half of the net better than at any time I've seen. He was composed. He was OK handling the puck.

In terms of mechanics, I liked him in Denver every bit as much as in shutouts against Philadelphia and Phoenix. On Saturday, at least, it was fair to ask, "Tell me again, why did Steve Tambellini see the need to throw four years and a big stack of dough at Nikolai Khabibulin?"

Well, he didn't have to, but . . .

RED LIGHT SPECIAL

The problem with Deslauriers is that for all the times he's looked like a guy capable of being Pat Quinn's starter -- like the past four games and a stretch that included a five-game winning streak on the road -- he's had periods when it looks like Andre Racicot has taken over his body.

The swings from his best performances to his worst are huge. Too often, it doesn't even look like the same person. When his Red Light persona takes over, Deslauriers is too deep in the net, shaky on his skates, guessing and scrambling like a man having a seizure. His puck-handling is atrocious.

Suffice to say, if Deslauriers has any intention of convincing Tambellini and Quinn he can be the go-to guy, he's got to tighten up the difference between his best and his worst games.

That conjures the cliché of "consistency," which is threadbare from over-use, but is nonetheless true. There's got to be a middle ground between, "This guy is unbelievable" and, "Man, that was brutal." It's a happy medium Deslauriers has to find. I meant to ask goaltending coach Frederic Chabot for his thoughts about how Deslauriers can be so good one night and so bad the next before the team hit the road. but I didn't get to it. I'll pick his brain on that later.

Even with those big swings, by the numbers, I'm thinking Deslauriers has probably been better than a lot of his critics thought he projected to, at least if you take into account how bad the Oilers have been.

In 32 games this season, Deslauriers is 11-18-3. He's got a 3.02 goals-against average and a .903 saves percentage. His GAA is better than the 3.33 he registered in 10 games last season and the saves percentage is a marginal improvement on his .901 of a year ago. What Deslauriers must do is work that saves percentage above .910, which looks to me like a reasonable cut-off point for starters, and then lock old Red Light in the closet long enough to keep it there.

I think he will.

GLASS HOUSES

As I've admitted more than once, I've been wrong on players before. It's a sure bet I'll be wrong again.

Not long ago, blogger Tyler Dellow was at the front of a pack of like-minded people voicing offence at my suggestion Deslauriers had "shoved it up the backsides of his critics." I never saw that coming . . .

His argument (aside from the fact my conclusion differed from what a lot of stats guys project) was that my button-pushing with the numbers crowd was based on too short a sample size -- even though I said my faith in JDD was based on many seasons, as well as his hot streak.

When I did a follow-up after Racicot took over and Deslauriers went in the tank with everybody else, I was accused of doing a flip-flop. If I was really basing my opinion on the long run, Dellow asked, how could I "abandon" Deslauriers based on a short stretch of bad games?

I wasn't abandoning Deslauriers, but, as I've referenced,I was certainly taken back by how he struggled so mightily with the puck -- handling it, as expected, and stopping it.

MILLER TIME

Even with his swings in performance, I'm sticking with Deslauriers. Time, as it always does, will tell if I'm wrong. If I am, it's comforting to know I'll have company as esteemed as Dellow himself.

In July 2008, the following appeared on Dellow's website about Ryan Miller of the Buffalo Sabres, who signed a five-year extension: "As an aside, it should go without saying, but I think that the Ryan Miller contract was ridiculous. I have him as a pretty average NHL goalie, maybe slightly above. That’s not worth $6.25MM annually.

"He’s exactly the kind of goalie who Ken Holland is talking about. Faced with a choice of him or Daniel Briere, I take Briere. Maybe that’s not fair because the Sabres learned from the loss of Drury and Briere not to let their stars walk but if Darcy Regier was talking to Kevin Lowe these days, Lowe might have been able to advise him that you don’t fix your unwillingness to pay guys in the past by overpaying lesser players."

Going into play today, Miller was tied for the lead among NHL goaltenders with a .931 saves percentage, the most telling stat for stoppers, as Dellow has often said. Miller was sixth in wins (29), third in goals against average (2.16) and fifth in shutouts (5).

A ridiculous contract? An average goalie?

That's not a take I've seen referenced by those keen to congratulate Dellow (as well as each other) when he gets it right, as he often does. From where I sit, that looks like a total whiff on a blue-chip stopper who is one of the best five at his position in the NHL, no? And Briere? Oh, my . . .

It happens.

-- Listen to Robin Brownlee every Wednesday and Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m. on Just A Game with Jason Gregor on TEAM 1260.

Aceb4a1816f5fa09879a023b07d1a9b4
A sports writer since 1983, including stints at The Edmonton Journal and The Sun 1989-2007, I happily co-host the Jason Gregor Show on TSN 1260 twice a week and write when so inclined. Have the best damn lawn on the internet. Most important, I am Sam's dad. Follow me on Twitter at Robin_Brownlee. Or don't.
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#101 GSC
February 08 2010, 04:34PM
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Bucknuck wrote:

I wonder if as many internet Blogger battles would be taking place if the Oilers weren't playing so poorly? Is it a combination between boredome and professional pride?

Kudos to Mr. Brownlee for trying to end it. It does make for interesting commentary, but takes energy away from speculating on all things Oilers and that isn't so good.

I would rather read what our esteemed bloggers think about player "Z" than read an elaborate defense of statements made in previous and present blogs.

Here, here.

If I wanted to listen to debates about citation, sources, and form of argument, I'd go back to my undergraduate university and sit in on a class.

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#102 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2010, 05:05PM
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GSC wrote:

I think it goes beyond "saw-him-good" vs. numbers in your case, Robin...it's about the bloggers as a whole taking on the opinions of the mainstream media and the majority of the fan base. Notice that whenever a player comes under the spotlight with the media and/or with the fans, the bloggers feel compelled to chime in. Often, it's to disagree with the consensus and to try and prove why they're right and everyone else is wrong.

I don't think it's quite the grudge match you're implying here. I think it's about offering something other than a consensus opinion and about looking at the game in a different way.

Using Nikolai Khabibulin as a case in point, the local fanbase was thrilled with the signing. The local media was either supportive or quiet; I was looking and I didn't see a critical word in either of the local papers.

Outside Edmonton, however, the media was much more split - THN, for example, called it the worst signing of the summer.

In this case, it wasn't bloggers vs. the MSM, the lines were different: bloggers and out of town MSM vs. local MSM and the fanbase.

It's no longer fun, however, when some point the finger at you for not linking to other blog posts when you make your argument.

Seriously? Tyler asked why Robin didn't have the courtesy to link to an article he was criticizing to provide context, Robin explained he didn't know how, and so Tyler showed him how to do it.

It struck me as an entirely proper exchange. Not only that, but taking one paragraph out of an extremely long post could easily be perceived as cherry picking (until Robin's explanation I certainly took it that way).

You could just as easily point the finger back that the core of the math bloggers link to each other's posts time and time again, using the same sources rather than branching out and making a more convincing argument in terms of credibility.

Did you read Tyler's post? Look at who he references - the Edmonton Sun and Ken Holland. Sure there's linking back and forth - it's polite to give credit to someone who helped advance the discussion, but there's plenty of reference not only to NHL GM's but to the traditional media as well. This argument that it's a cloistered discussion is almost entirely without merit.

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#103 Word
February 08 2010, 06:31PM
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"Seriously? Tyler asked why Robin didn't have the courtesy to link to an article he was criticizing to provide context, Robin explained he didn't know how, and so Tyler showed him how to do it." - JW, post #102.

(Ironically, I don't know how to put the blockquotes here...)

Sorry Willis, I disagree with you here on the very basis of your own statement: professional courtesy.

All too often these arguments seem to stray from the core of their purpose into petty mudslinging with an intention to discredit someone for a reason no longer central to the article. I hate to break it to all of the MSM and bloggers out there, but I don't care which of you is better at math, grammatically superior, or looks better in floral print; I care which of you is better at providing correct and in-depth Oiler hockey coverage. Please stick to that.

Rebutting opinion and fact is one thing, but bickering over an in-text citation/weblink comes across as very petty in my opinion. It's like criticizing someone's grammar; you just look like an @sshole, and it has nothing to do with the debate the rest of us are following. Maybe next time you should be sure to add a link to www.APACitationStyleNation.com so we can go read your grievances over there.

I'm no writer, but it has always been my belief that, when immaterial issues need correcting, you bring it to the erring party's attention without trying to embarass them in front of their clients (which in this case, is us readers).

And before anyone says that access to an online reference is material (because I agree), the link had already been posted by Willis in a less affronting manner at post #66. The only reason to bring it up again is to subversively question Brownlee's ethics, or to publicly chide his technical savvy. I don't think either is very "courteous".

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#104 RossCreekNation
February 08 2010, 06:42PM
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BOO-YA!

~Hahahaha. I can't believe he said that. What a loser. We should 'wolfpac' him, lol~

It does happen. Oh well. Now lets end this silly dispute?

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#105 Tyler
February 08 2010, 08:02PM
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You could just as easily point the finger back that the core of the math bloggers link to each other's posts time and time again, using the same sources rather than branching out and making a more convincing argument in terms of credibility.

Re: the citation - the idea seems to have come up that the "math bloggers" only link to one another. My practice is to link to whatever I'm commenting on. I would be particularly sure to do this if I was commenting on something older. Lots of linkbacks to Brownlee here: http://mc79hockey.com/index.php?s=brownlee

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#106 Tyler
February 08 2010, 08:20PM
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Oh, and as far as this "Wolfpack" businss goes, Gregor has his facts wrong if he's suggesting that I was somehow out rounding up people and asking them to come lay the boots to Robin, which he sort of seemed to suggest in his 700+ word freak out the other day and which Robin sort of seems to be alluding to.

Maybe he got his info on that from Rick Olczyk?

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#107 Wanyes bastard child
February 08 2010, 08:31PM
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Tyler wrote:

Oh, and as far as this "Wolfpack" businss goes, Gregor has his facts wrong if he's suggesting that I was somehow out rounding up people and asking them to come lay the boots to Robin, which he sort of seemed to suggest in his 700+ word freak out the other day and which Robin sort of seems to be alluding to.

Maybe he got his info on that from Rick Olczyk?

You got a link for us? I seem to have missed that 700+ word...

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#108 GSC
February 08 2010, 08:43PM
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@Jonathan Willis

Did you read Tyler's post? Look at who he references - the Edmonton Sun and Ken Holland. Sure there's linking back and forth - it's polite to give credit to someone who helped advance the discussion, but there's plenty of reference not only to NHL GM's but to the traditional media as well. This argument that it's a cloistered discussion is almost entirely without merit.

Like this article here?

http://oilersnation.com/2010/1/13/khabibulin-to-have-surgery

All of the references are to either Zona, Dellow, or yourself. If that's not a cloistered discussion, then what is?

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#109 Pension Plan Puppets
February 08 2010, 08:54PM
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GSC wrote:

Did you read Tyler's post? Look at who he references - the Edmonton Sun and Ken Holland. Sure there's linking back and forth - it's polite to give credit to someone who helped advance the discussion, but there's plenty of reference not only to NHL GM's but to the traditional media as well. This argument that it's a cloistered discussion is almost entirely without merit.

Like this article here?

http://oilersnation.com/2010/1/13/khabibulin-to-have-surgery

All of the references are to either Zona, Dellow, or yourself. If that's not a cloistered discussion, then what is?

Here's the difference: They are linking to relevant pieces. If the traditional media or other blogs aren't writing something relevant then why link to them?

Not to mention that that is just one piece.

This really seems to be a debate between people that are too lazy to try to expand their base of knowledge against people that are trying to use every angle available to them.

Brownlee's outright refusal to learn how to insert links show how intellectual curious he is because it is so easy that elementary school kids can do it.

I don't know if the problem is that people feel stupid when they read the 'math bloggers' and feel insulted or if they are just so used to swallowing whatever guys like Gregor and Brownlee feed them but as an outsider it's entertaining to see established (and wrong) opinion taken down.

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#110 GSC
February 08 2010, 09:09PM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Here's the difference: They are linking to relevant pieces. If the traditional media or other blogs aren't writing something relevant then why link to them?

Not to mention that that is just one piece.

This really seems to be a debate between people that are too lazy to try to expand their base of knowledge against people that are trying to use every angle available to them.

Brownlee's outright refusal to learn how to insert links show how intellectual curious he is because it is so easy that elementary school kids can do it.

I don't know if the problem is that people feel stupid when they read the 'math bloggers' and feel insulted or if they are just so used to swallowing whatever guys like Gregor and Brownlee feed them but as an outsider it's entertaining to see established (and wrong) opinion taken down.

I never said the linking was not to relevant sources, that's not the issue here.

Insulted might be the word. When you throw out a new statistical form of analysis that many don't understand or agree with, and act as if it's infallible and imply that anyone who doesn't agree with it is "lousy at analysis" is absolutely insulting. At least I'd be insulted if I was Robin, who has spent years on the job and has the inside info and vantage point that most have wet dreams over, to have someone with no journalistic credentials telling him that he sucks at a certain aspect of his profession.

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#111 frat boy with close-set eyes
February 08 2010, 09:33PM
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Yea GSC your the man! I look at willis's site and its way to complicated for me. Thats why u and me hang out here bro... plenty of people that think the same.

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#112 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2010, 10:33PM
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@ GSC:

It's not really my fault nobody in the Edmonton media had the balls to call Tambellini on the Khabibulin signing.

If they had I would have linked to them; it's pretty hard to congratulate someone on being right when they never wrote an article on the topic.

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#113 Jonathan Willis
February 08 2010, 10:44PM
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@ GSC:

Besides, you might recall that this summer I came here and argued that the Khabibulin signing was a bad one.

Despite the fact that the vast majority of fans - including the ones here - loved it. It's hardly cloistered when I present an argument (repeatedly) to a bunch of people who disagree, is it?

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#114 frat boy with close-set eyes
February 08 2010, 10:51PM
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Yea but u used all sorts of stuff as proof that nobody actually thinks of as proof around here so the stuff you used you just got from all the other math guys that blog.

Admit it u are totally copying eachother trying to prove something that you cant even prove to a 5 year old lol!

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#115 Eddie Shore
February 08 2010, 11:11PM
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Pension Plan Puppets wrote:

Here's the difference: They are linking to relevant pieces. If the traditional media or other blogs aren't writing something relevant then why link to them?

Not to mention that that is just one piece.

This really seems to be a debate between people that are too lazy to try to expand their base of knowledge against people that are trying to use every angle available to them.

Brownlee's outright refusal to learn how to insert links show how intellectual curious he is because it is so easy that elementary school kids can do it.

I don't know if the problem is that people feel stupid when they read the 'math bloggers' and feel insulted or if they are just so used to swallowing whatever guys like Gregor and Brownlee feed them but as an outsider it's entertaining to see established (and wrong) opinion taken down.

Just because I don't agree with "math bloggers" does not mean I am lazy. I've never once felt "stupid" or "insulted" when I have read Jonathan's statistical breakdowns. Be careful when you start generalizing and painting everyone with the same brush.

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#116 michael clarke
February 09 2010, 06:27AM
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I watched the Pheonix game last night and if I was rating JDD's performance, I would give him a c plus. The goals scored were terrific for Pheonix. Gotta admit sometimes the other guy wil just plain out beat you. JDD'S performance this year can't really be measured in terms of wether he is starting goalie or not. Several reasons( excuses) come to mind. The defence in front of him has been awful. Thats team defence, as in there hasn't been very many games where the team has showed any willingness to support thier goalies. In the 80's we had a HOF guy back there who would regularly let in 4 -5 goals a night, but we had guys on the other side of the puck who would put in 6-10 goals on the other teams goalie. My point is that if this team expects to win going foward and not expect to play team defence then they better be putting up alot more goals then they do now. JDD's development as we all know has been hampered by poor descions in the past years by the lack of forsight on the part of the OIlers brass. No Farm Team? Please tell me we are not that stupid? Lastly I think that if we are to evaluate JDD's season lets wait until we finish the season first. Then start casting stones. The first stones I start tossing I can tell you won't be at JDD. My stones are reserved for bozo's who engineered this debacle. THe Oilers, the Falcons and the the Oil Kings are all either last in thier respective leagues or close to it. Results count boys. Rexall sports looks the only winner they will have in the next few yeras will be the Edmonton Capitals. Play ball!!!

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#117 GSC
February 09 2010, 06:41AM
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Jonathan Willis wrote:

@ GSC:

It's not really my fault nobody in the Edmonton media had the balls to call Tambellini on the Khabibulin signing.

If they had I would have linked to them; it's pretty hard to congratulate someone on being right when they never wrote an article on the topic.

Point taken...but again, that's what it comes down to: bloggers vs. MSM

Which, again, I have no problem with (and it gets quite interesting) as long as it doesn't come down to discussing the merits of linking and citation.

Anyway, carry on...

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