MANY MYTHS OF HOCKEY

Sami Lepisto is proof that blocking shots can hurt, but in some media and blogger’s eyes the Rangers have taken shot blocking to a level the NHL has never seen. Fact: the Rangers are willing to block shot. Myth: They block more shots per game than Wanye has pictures of Jordan Eberle.

Every year during the playoffs many seem to jump on the bandwagon of one topic and beat it to death. Usually it is something that is supposedly ruining the game. It’s gotten so annoying that I’m hoping someone hijacks the comment sections and debates the value of Sam Gagner for the millionth time. Actually I will block you if you do that today, but you get my point.

I decided to look at the Rangers games and see if they are supposedly ruining the game. I too find their games boring, but  it isn’t just their shot blocking that has me nodding off in my chair.

NYR v. OTT    blocked shots        Results
Game 1:           20-12                   Rangers win 4-2
Game 2:           25-10                   Sens win 3-2 (OT)
Game 3:           21-17                   Rangers win 1-0
Game 4:           30-8                     Sens win 3-2 (OT)
Game 5:           19-10                   Sens win 2-0
Game 6            17-15                   Rangers win 3-0
Game 7:           23-8                     Rangers win 2-1

Rangers clearly blocked more shots than the Sens, but two of the Sens three wins came when the Rangers blocked the most shots.

NYR v. WSH    blocked shots        Results
Game 1:           15-15                   Rangers win 3-2
Game 2:           14-24                   Caps win 3-2
Game 3:           41-40                   Rangers win 2-1 (3OT)
Game 4:           7-26                     Caps win 3-2
Game 5:           10-25                   Rangers win 3-2
Game 6            6-24                     Caps win 2-1
Game 7:           19-15                   Rangers win 2-1

In the four Rangers wins, they never once blocked many more shots than the Caps. In fact, they only blocked 20+ shots in one of their four victories. The Capitals blocked way more shots in this series and lost.

NYR v. NJ      blocked shots        Results
Game 1:           26-15                   Rangers win 3-0
Game 2:           16-7                     Devils win 3-2

Blocking more shots helped them in game one, but didn’t alter the outcome in game two.

The Rangers blocked way more shots than the Senators, but there is more to it than just shot-blocking. The Sens had the puck more in the offensive zone most games and directed way more shots on net.

Here are the same stats, but with total shots directed on net in the new column.

NYR v. OTT    blocked shots        Results                                 Shots directed on net
Game 1:           20-12                   Rangers win 4-2                     64-59 Sens
Game 2:           25-10                   Sens win 3-2 (OT)                  74-49 Sens
Game 3:           21-17                   Rangers win 1-0                     76-48 Sens
Game 4:           30-8                     Sens win 3-2 (OT)                   85-49 Sens
Game 5:           19-10                   Sens win 2-0                            61-60 Sens
Game 6            17-15                   Rangers win 3-0                     53-50 Sens
Game 7:           23-8                     Rangers win 2-1                     63-51 Sens

Is it fair to say that the Rangers blocked more shots, because the Sens took way more?

Now look at the Caps/Rangers series again.

 NYR v. WSH    blocked shots        Results                               Shots directed on net
Game 1:           15-15                   Rangers win 3-2                       49-47 Caps
Game 2:           14-24                   Caps win 3-2                             65-46 Rangers
Game 3:           41-40                   Rangers win 2-1 (3OT)           115-107 Caps
Game 4:           7-26                     Caps win 3-2                             52-40 Rangers
Game 5:           10-25                   Rangers win 3-2                       78-35 Rangers
Game 6            6-24                     Caps win 2-1                             68-42 Rangers
Game 7:           19-15                   Rangers win 2-1                       57-55 Caps

In games two, four, five and six the Caps blocked way more shots, most likely because the Rangers directed way more shots on goal. The Rangers are willing to block many shots, but based on the shot totals it’s also fair to say they do so out of necessity as much as willingness. If they are continually playing in their own zone, and allowing the opposition to fire a lot of shots they will be forced to block more.

In games 4 though 6 when they only allowed 35-42 shots directed on net, they only had to block between 6-10.

The Rangers block more shots, but not just because they want to, usually it is because they play more in their own end than they do in the offensive end. They haven’t re-invented the shot-blocking wheel, instead it seems they do it out of necessity and circumstance more than anything.

THURSDAY THOUGHTS

  • Most refs or umpires could wear that pin and feel safe. Complaining about bad officiating seems to be another annoying daily, even hourly, topic in social media. While most fans of a sport have played it at some level, I’d say that maybe 2-5% of people have ever officiated their favourite sport, and they really have zero clue how hard it is. The best way to stop the endless whining and complaining, at pro and amateur games, would be to make it mandatory that once a kid turns 12 they have to ref/umpire at least three games within the next two-three years.

    Their parents would have to go watch and listen to other obnoxious parents yell at their son/daughter because she/he missed a call during an atom, novice, peewee or bantam hockey game. They’d quickly understand it isn’t a good feeling, and likely wouldn’t be so quick to yell at a teenager who made a supposed bad call. If your child plays lacrosse, ringette, baseball, soccer or football the same rules should apply when they register. The kids would actually have a better understanding of the rules, and they’d realize quickly that being a ref isn’t easy, especially when you have coaches, parents and players yelling at you.
     

  • John Tortorella’s act has become a waste of time, but the media constantly complaining about him is just as old. If you know Tortorella won’t say anything post-game why go? Take a stand; don’t go or stop complaining. You have a choice, so why not just boycott going. Trust me, if the media snubbed him for two days the NHL would step in. Right now, Tortorella’s actions are getting as much press as the game, so the NHL loves it.
     
  • From one immature, arrogant coach to a refreshing one. I loved Darryl Sutter’s response after the Kings’ victory over Phoenix in game two. When he was asked about the Shane Doan and Martin Hanzal hits, rather than try to make it bigger than it was, he calmly said,

    "Doan’s hit on Lewy, I think Lewy is turning back. It’s probably more of a hockey play. It’s a tough one. I didn’t really have a big problem with that. But the one on Browny, it’s hard to say from the bench. I didn’t get a good look at it, but
    I don’t think the puck was even close, was it?  That’s about it."

    Nice to see him not freak out and demand suspensions. We knew the Hanzal hit was awful, and he calmly made his point by saying the puck wasn’t even around. In our day and age where most are quick to announce they were wronged, and then turn around and do the same thing the next game, I really appreciated Sutter’s response.
     

  • The more I think about it, the more I think the Oilers should slide down and draft Galchenyuk. They desperately need a centre with size and skill. I wouldn’t criticize them at all if they took Yakupov at #1, but the more people I talk to about Galchenyuk’s skill and desire the more I’m intrigued by him. Especially because he’s a centre.
     
  • I don’t see a weakness in the Kings. They’ll take out the Coyotes in four or five games, and barring any injuries I don’t see them losing to the Devils or Rangers. With the Lakers and Clippers likely to lose their respective series, the Kings will be the toast of LA for a few weeks. It would be great to see an organization that has never won much finally raise the Cup.
     
  • It’s great for Edmonton to have two teams going for championships right now. The Oil Kings already won the WHL and their quest for the Memorial Cup starts Friday at 5 p.m. MST v. Shawinigan. You can listen to it on the TEAM 1260 or watch on Sportsnet.
     
  • The Edmonton Rush battle the Rochester Knighthawks on Saturday at 5:30 p.m. MST in the NLL final. You can watch the game on Bell Express Vue channel 413 (SD) or 1432 (HD), or on Shaw channel 303. You can also listen to yours truly on TEAM 1260, pregame starting at 5 p.m.
     
  • Hate to break it to you Oiler fans, but there is no way that Plymouth forward, Tom Wilson, will drop to the 2nd round. The hulking winger, 6’4", 200 pounds, plays with an edge, hits incredibly hard and has some decent skill, but every scout I talk to says he’ll go in the first round because there are few players like him in the draft. If the Oilers want him they’ll have to trade up from #31 (based on Devils forfeiting 1st round pick) to grab him. 
     
  • I had a caller named Doug call my show on Monday and declare that, "I’d never want a Russian on my team (Oilers). Historically they are bad news." He wasn’t joking, and he was certain that Russians are bad seeds. This got me thinking. If we made a list of bad seeds, guys who didn’t care how would they match up to the solid Russian players?

    Perceived bad seeds:                  
    Radulov, Filatov, Zherdev, A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn (I know they are from Belarus, but many assume they’re Russian), or Yashin. Yashin produced in regular season, 781 pts in 851 games, but he wasn’t great in the playoffs. There is a long list of Canadian players who fall into the same category, so I personally wouldn’t say he was a distraction in the room his entire career. I’m sure there are others with a bad rap sheet, but not many come to mind. Do you have any who really stands out? Not guys who didn’t produce, because not being productive is not exclusive to Russians or any Nationality.

    Solid players:
    Larionov, Federov, Bure, Fetisov, Konstantinov, Mogilny, Kravchuk, Kasparaitis, Korolev, Samsonov, Nikolishin, Datsyuk, Malkin, Ovechkin, Kovalchuk and Semin come to mind. You can say Semin is a bit lazy at times, but his lowest goal total in six NHL seasons is 21. Many different players from various Nationalities don’t always play hard, so let’s stop pretending that Russians are the only ones guilty of that.

    It is more accurate to say that they, unlike the Czechs, Swedes and Finns, Russians have a legitimate option to play in a league outside of the NHL and make good money doing it. That is fair, but the best players will want to play in the NHL. We likely won’t see as many 3rd and 4th liners anymore, because they can make more money playing in their homeland where they know the language and the culture. I don’t blame them for that, nor does it make them bad seeds. 

    Sadly, I don’t think Doug is the only person who feels this way, and I think that perception of Russians is incredibly inaccurate.  
     

  • Can we please refrain from making comparisons between the World Championships/Olympics and the NHL. Suggesting that when Canada loses at the WC or Olympics it reflects bad on a GM is ridiculous, just like it is to suggest that because Yzerman won gold in 2010 that he’s a great GM. There is no correlation in how you run a NHL team for 365 days a year to a single elimination tournament. Sorry, but there isn’t.   
     
  • Here is a great read from former NFLer George Koonce. Concussions aren’t the only reason former players get depressed. Great stuff, give it a read. The NHLPA should read this.
  • NewfoundlandOil

    Shot blockig is getting overrated, thats not the main reason the rangers are winning, other teams have to find ways of getting around it, like faking,going arond or passing….andI agree that the media shouldnt show up and listen to Torts…
    Im out

  • OB1 Team Yakopov - F.S.T.N.F

    “The more I think about it, the more I think the Oilers should slide down and draft Galchenyuk. They desperately need a centre with size and skill. I wouldn’t criticize them at all if they took Yakupov at #1, but the more people I talk to about Galchenyuk’s skill and desire the more I’m intrigued by him. Especially because he’s a centre.”

    Just say no to drafting by need. The extra 2nd rounder (15% chance of turning into a top 4/top 9 NHL’er or better) just isn’t worth the risk of taking an inferior player.

    • Jason Gregor

      The catch is many scouts are saying he isn’t as inferior as you suggest. And if they are that close, I’d say a big strong centre would add more to this team than another skilled RW.

      If Yakupov is slightly better as an individual, that doesn’t guarantee he’ll make the Oilers collectively better. That is what makes it intriguing.

  • 15w40

    Tortorella = YAWN. Pompous jackhole that should show up to the pre/post game with nothing but rows of empty chairs to look at. How many times can you quote “I’m not answering that”, “None of your business”, “Not going to comment on that”….He is selling the game big time. Sutter may come off as a bit of a rube but he will at least answer. Actually a lot of the time when he answers, it’s like a back-hand to the face but at least its somewhat subtle.

  • 15w40

    Amazing Article.

    I am curious to see where Tambellini goes with the first pick. I know we desparately need a solid defenseman, but like you’ve pointed out several times this just likely isn’t found in in the first round of the draft.

    The first overall pick usually provide an immediate impact player to any organization and the Oilers have been gifted with another opportunity to bring in another immediate impact player.

    Having said that, I agree that that Russian Center is a monster of a player with incredible ability. There wouldn’t be anything wrong with an aggressive centre with size who isn’t just super skilled.

    This draft is going to be the most interesting while likely the least exciting (based on Hall and RNH).

  • NewfoundlandOil

    Canadians, Americans, Swedes, etc., can all play in the KHL too – it’s just not their home. So while the KHL would love to have NHL talent, it might be more attractive to Russians because they would be closer to home.

    Just like Canadians want to play in a Canadian market…or not…

    I don’t think the KHL is as big a deal as it’s made out to be…but there are a few Russians who can use that as leverage for a bigger contract here.

  • NastyNate

    Gregor,

    I haven’t read much on Galchenyuk, but I’ve noticed you are quite high on him. Any idea why ISS (http://tsn.ca/draftcentre/feature/?id=9653) has him ranked 14th? How far do you think we could slide down and grab him? What will the fan base say when we draft a player coming off a major surgery, considering Hall and RNH spent time on the IR last year?

    Just wondering your opinions on this.

    • Jason Gregor

      No can say with any accuracy that one injury guarantees a player will become injury prone.

      As for ISS rankings on him, everyone has a different opinion. Button ranked Ryan Murray 12th in his recent rankings, so it is hard to say what they don’t like, but I would guess his lack of games played has something to do with it.

      I doubt the Oilers can move up from 31 to 14th…

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The problem Russia faces is that there are so few players in the NHL that are Russian. When you only have 25 Russians in the NHL and 2 or 3 of them are bad seeds it’s a lot worse than when there are 5 or 10 Canadian bad seeds out of 400.

    • Jason Gregor

      The point is when you had 100 Russians in the league in the late 90s was there that many bad seeds. Doug said they’ve always been that way, and I don’t see any evidence to say that is the case.

      Right now the 3rd liners, and some 2nd liners who are overly committed have the KHL has an option. They can make just as much money without the culture shock.

      But I also don’t see why that makes people leery of Yakupov or Grigorenko. I think it is a stretch. IMO.

  • “A. Kostitsyn, S. Kostitsyn (I know they are from Belarus, but many assume they’re Russian)…”

    I LOVE this line JG. The idea that nationality is a matter of opinion makes me chuckle. I instantly get the image of Stephen Colbert ignoring facts and choosing to follow his gut.

    I know Ryan Kesler is from the US, but I feel he is Russian too.

    • Jason Gregor

      I think it is really hard to say what will happen in the first five picks. I’m hearing Columbus is very high on taking a D-man, but not guaranteed it will be Murray.

      It would be risky to move down, but if you could get Schenn, which I think is unlikely, then I’d consider it.

  • T__Bone88

    This coming draft has the same feeling as the 2007 draft. I remember everyone including TSN mentioning that any of Kane,JVR,Turris was a good pick. Yet Kane is leaps and bounds better than those two. I am not sold on Galchenyuk because of the injury and having Yakupov as his winger helped his stats. The team does not have to be completely be built through the draft, looking at the final four teams not all of their best players were drafted by them.

    If not sold on Yakupov then read the current issue of the hockey news. There is an interview where Yakupov mentions his hometown is almost exactly like Sarnia. So the guy is not coming a metropolis lifestyle. It seems like the kid is a blue-collar type of person.

    • Jason Gregor

      I agree it would be very hard to pass on Yakupov. If he can play LW for a year or two, that would be great with Hall, Eberle, Hemksy and Yakupov as your top four wingers.

      I still feel that is who the Oilers will take.

      • striatic

        from what I’ve heard about and seen of Yakupov, you really want him at RW even though on paper he shoots left and you’d figure he’d be fine playing there.

        Yakupov likes to cut in off the wing and shoot. being a lefty playing RW gives him better angles as a shooter when he does this.

        he’s something of an “anti-Hemsky” in that respect.

        i like the idea of trading down for Galchenyuk depending on the return. i think this is a much wiser play than trading down for Murray, who i feel is overrated for various reasons.

  • Truth

    @yegCopywriter

    I know you’re asking Gregor, but I would be appalled if the Oilers ever did that. Yakupov is in a class of his own this draft, many are even saying Stamkos/Ovechkin level talent. The Oilers 1st for Leafs 1st + Schenn + more or 1st + Gardiner. They better not be bending over at this draft.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Those blood bruises were worn like trophies 20-30 yrs ago. You made every effort to let the sun get at it late spring/summers of our youth. As a goalie, once or twice a year you’d take one half way up on the inner thigh that blood would run all the way down under your skin and pool at your heal…..good times.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @ Obbie

    Tambellini could still take Galchenyuk in that No.1 spot. I don’t think doing something like this is as bad as taking Murray in that one spot. No need to trade down, trade up and fight like hell to get both russians. Having both would help alleviate the ever present KHL concerns.

    Steve needs to hit a home run at one of these drafts. Strike one in 2010, took another strike in 2011 (choosing to stand pat and do nothing) 2012 has arrived and he’s stuck at 3 balls and 2 strikes. Full count, alot needs to happen on this next pitch (draft) for the Oilers.

    • Wax Man Riley

      Hall and RNH are strikes then?

      You said the same thing last year about him needing to hit a homerun.

      You said it the year before too.

      The giant draft splash doesn’t happen. Ever (except maybe 1999).

      By this logic NYI struck out with Tavares, Tampa Bay struck out with Stamkos, Chicago struck out with Pat Kane, and St. Louis struck out with Erik Johnson (ok, maybe I’ll give you that one ;p).

      But those giant moves just don’t happen. you know why? If I’m a GM , I’m not trading my 2nd or 3rd overall pick for Sam Gagner.

      Draft BPA, or trade down to get the guy you want since 2 1st overalls are enough already.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    The most I found was 70 Russians, with the numbers in 97-98 being around 50. That doesn’t matter though.

    There was still a bad imagine for Russians during that time. Yashin’s holdout while under contract. The Fedorov hold out which saw him end up making the most money in a year of all time only to see him play like an average Fedorov. Then you had Mironov/Kovalenko drinking, smoking and getting fat era.

    There’s always been issues and there has always been equals from Canada/USA, but what stings the most is what has happened in the past few years with guys leaving that are property of NHL teams. People just don’t like when a Radulov jumps ship, which isn’t really fair because it’s not like NHL teams aren’t doing similar things when then force Huet out of the continent.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    Glaring holes on the Oilers roster…

    Edmonton needs a 2nd line centerman, a top 6 left winger and a top 2 defenceman, and possibly a goaltender. Yakupov fills none of those needs. Take Galchenyuk, make a deal for a top 2 blueliner. This should be the goal this offseason. If Tambellini isn’t capable of doing the latter, then he should be be replaced.

  • Ogden Brother Jr. - Team Strudwick for coach

    Does the new impending CBA (whatever that will bring), and our own biasis against anyone other than a Canadian player have much to do with whom we choose first ? Will it be a safe pick Canadian or U.S. player ? Noticeably you all seem to pick apart the non Canadian players much more than anyone else . The Canadian players most of you put on a pedestal like Cherry does . Yakupov seems likely BPA and should go first , but that doesn’t mean we will take him . I think most of us underrate talent outside of Canada due mainly to our own biasis .

  • striatic

    btw, ovechkin is a right handed shot playing left wing. there’s no way you’d want him to switch wings, as so much of his game is built around sniping, not cycling. kovalchuk also plays on his “off wing” for similar reasons.

    two pretty good players there.

  • SiD

    Alex Galchenyuk is my pick for this draft amazing skill and size exactly what the Oilers need. Along with his dedication to the game and work ethic, Taylor Hall and Galchenyuk would be a great combo.

  • striatic

    More often than not , the BEST TEAM AND MOST SKILLED TEAM loses out to the team that plays with the most HEART AND DESIRE ! Oilers have two i can think of that fit second criteria in Hall and Smyth , but questionable from there . Which draft pick should also fit in the heart and desire role down the line ?

  • dawgbone98

    @madjam

    What do you mean the best team usually loses to the team with the most heart and desire?

    Looking at the past few playoffs, that’s not really the case. Sure there have been upsets, but quite often that has to do more with goaltending (good or bad) than “heart”.

  • Truth

    Take the best player available no matter what. Then trade what you don’t want to get what you want. Simple asset management.

    Now if the return from a trade is equal or greater value of what you are giving up, then go for it. For the Oilers to draft anyone other than Yakupov 1st overall is completely absurd, but, for example, the Oilers walking away with Gardiner and Galchenyuk/Murray/Dumba/Reilly at the end of the first round would be considered acceptable as equal or greater value.

    Edit: IMO

  • Maggie the Monkey

    I think Khabibulin belongs on that list of solid Russian players. This stint with the Oilers aside, he’s had an impressive career, and any starting goalie who wins the cup has to be considered – at bare minimum – solid.

  • Romulus' Apotheosis

    The hype over the blocked shots is pretty self explanatory when you realize how boring many of these NYR games have been. When there are no story lines about dynamic goal scoring or suspension worthy hits… you’ve got to amp up the crowd with “warhorse stories” about “sacrifice” and so on. Maclean showed us how it’s done with his wild over-reach.

    I couldn’t agree more with your suggestion to diffuse the pool of referees (at least at the lower levels). This would give a lot of people an insight into the game . It would make for better players and fans.

    Tortorella is so over-the-top it is hard to tell if he is putting on a persona to gin up his standing or just a jerk plain and simple (or both).

    I have no faith that a ballsy move like trading down can work out with this management team. Go reliable and get Yak.

  • Quicksilver ballet

    @Wax Man

    That wasn’t my intention to lead you to believe that Hall and Hopkins were so called strikes. I was thinking of it being an opportunity to do more than the minimum the Oilers were already due.

    It wasn’t a slag on Taveres Stamkos or Kane.