USATSI_7320438_160885884_lowres

Ein Minuten Bitte

In true John McDonough fashion, the Hawks Convention will start with a piece of news, which is something the Cubs have loved to do in years past. While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, everyone is pretty sure that it’s to announce a contract extension for Joel Quenneville.

On the surface, it makes sense. A second Cup after one of the most dominating regular seasons on record. That usually earns coaches more security and cash. Can’t argue that.

But….well, I’ll just let Eddie say it:

It’s obviously no secret that this blog has had a strange view of Quenneville for the past few years, if “strange” is the right word (which it isn’t). Every time I start my list of grievances with Q, I know I have to start it with, “I know this sounds weird about a coach who has two rings, but….” So just pretend I said that and let’s go through just this season’s cock-ups and weirdness:

-While Stan very much wanted to pick his assistant, Quenneville was allowed to shape his entire staff for the first time, mostly because the power play sucked. He hired former stooge Jamie Kompon, who somehow made the power play worse than it was before.

-Brandon Saad was only able to embark on his Calder-finalist campaign when Gorilla Salad got hurt in the opening game. Not just to open a spot in the lineup, but to open a spot on the top line!

-It was only about 10 games before it was obvious that Dave Bolland couldn’t center the 2nd line, and yet there he stayed. Along with this, Patrick Sharp only started taking draws in the season’s final stages.

-The insistence on Brandon Bollig and/or Gorilla Salad, right up until Bollig handed the Bruins the puck in OT of Game 2 of the Final.

-Getting absolutely pantsed by Mike Babcock in the second round, only saved by the massive talent gap the Hawks had on the Wings finally showing up and the Wings defense running out of gas. And only then just barely.

-Moving Toews to the 4th line in Game 3 in Boston, allowing whatever was left of Patrice Bergeron to run riot.

-Only figuring out to attack Zdeno Chara during Game 4 with Toews and Kane together. In fact, Kane having to do it all by himself for a majority of the season.

I suppose there are a couple more things I could mention, but that’s enough for now.

Now it wouldn’t be completely fair to just mention what I think he got wrong without balancing it out. So let’s do that:

-The tone the Hawks had during The Streak, where they never seemed to impressed and were clearly focused on the only thing that would make it meaningful, was set by Q. That can’t be taken lightly.

-The non-panic while down 3-1 to Detroit and 2-1 to Boston is also on the feeling Q gives the team.

-The development of Leddy and the return from the dead of Hjalmarsson couldn’t have completely happened without some of Q’s influence.

-The defensive responsibility that the team rediscovered this season.

-If I’m going to blame him for the power play at least partially, he has to at least be partially be credited for the kill.

-Though it would have been tempting, Q never played mind games with his goalies during the season, which he has in the past. That must’ve helped Crawford’s fragile confidence at the time.

But in some ways, this is all noise. Because what really worries me is the security and power Q will be feeling, which is exactly what he felt after the first Cup win and got an extension. And we know what happened then. He spent the next two seasons pretty much ignoring anything his GM  gave him, and definitely went throbbing brain. Only when his job was clearly on the line this season did he and Stan Bowman seem to have some sort of symbiosis, and I worry that will go out the window again with his new paper.

Stan clearly wants the kids to play. Will Q let them? Will Pirri get more than four games as a #2 center? Will Morin play at all? Will Q be a little harder on the team for lapses, which he admits he wasn’t in 2010-2011? You wonder.

  • DaveM36

    If I may present a rose-colored response to the questions left by Fels in this post ..

    There’s always the talk of how hard it is to win a Cup and how much harder it is to defend it. Not only did you have a team full of players who (mostly) had not won the Cup before, and, ergo, had not defended it before, but the same goes for Q, who had no idea how to coach a team that was a Stanley Cup champion. Perhaps, the second time around, he’ll learn from his mistakes?

    My biggest hope is that he and Bowman get on the same page regarding the guys coming up from Rockford next fall. While I know there were many other reasons for the victory we’re still celebrating, I think that the rise of prospects from within the organization, as opposed to a bunch of free agents, is what has the Hawks on top of the NHL.

    It appears that there are guys who are ready to do the same thing, all over again. Let them.

  • DaveM36

    Also, Eddie Izzard rules.

  • allhawks

    “-If I’m going to blame him for the power play at least partially, he has to at least be partially be credited for the kill.”

    I still dunno if he even deserves any partial credit for this considering Hossa/Toews/Frolik/Kruger were just plain awesome and Hammer’s rejuvenation helped tons. He’s still not in the best coach in the division even with Scum leaving (Trotz takes those honors).

    The Saad decision/the PP/Kaner+Toews=WINS just stick out so much, it’s like they won the Cup twice despite him. But yes, he did somewhat learn from them in the nick of time so I guess I’m being too harsh.

    • MattC86

      The penalty kill was as much about getting good goaltending this year as anything else.

      • amontesawesome

        Yup. This, this, this times a million.

        Any and all credit for the PK has to go to Crawford. Most of the PK’s underlying stats weren’t off the charts. They were 11th in the league in SA/60 when shorthanded. The only thing great about the PK was the goalies who put up the 3rd highest SA Sv%. A stat which is, unfortunately, not typically repeatable. Something I hope everyone keeps in mind when the Hawks PK gets off to a slow start next season and people start pining for Frolik and, paradoxically, Bolland, even though Bolland didn’t see very much ice time on the PK last season.

  • Doug Wilson’s Perm

    It makes sense, but it leaves me with the same feeling I have about Crow next year. Yeah, they’ve proven themselves. Nobody can doubt that.

    But we’re all Chicago sports fans. We wait for the other shoe to drop. It’s just what we do.

    • Preacher

      I actually think Crow will be BETTER next year. With him, it’s all about confidence, and he’s brimming with it now. He’s going to be Mr. Smooth out there and a team leader besides.

      • OldTimeHawkey

        As long as he plays with the balls he had at the parade speech (albiet not that level of sobriety, or lackthereof), he should be good. Team Canada camp should also help him know he’s one of the best out there

        • VerStig

          Oh dear… and we’re backing him up with Khabbi

  • Preacher

    The personnel decisions have always been my issue with both Stan and Q, but I’m starting to think Q has the bigger problem here. Suiting up guys who will only play 4 minutes that night–thereby overtaxing your other players–and suiting up guys to be the “muscle” when you’re a puck possession team, makes no sense. It seems as if Stan gave Q a couple of “his” type of players (John Scott, Bollig, CarBomb) but now he’s taking them all away. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Bollig traded soon. I’m with Sam–in spite of 2 Cups I still don’t trust Q to have learned from his success. He certainly doesn’t seem to have learned from his mistakes.

    • robondacob

      I’m not a fan of Q playing the John Scotts and Brandon Bolligs of the world for < 5 minutes either, but it isn't like he's the only coach that does this. Lindy Ruff did the same with John Scott, Dave Tippett does it with Bissionette, and even Claude Julien does it with Thornton. It seems like this is less of a Q problem and more of a problem with current hockey coaches' philosophies.

      • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

        I think the 5-minute men is due mostly to salary caps. You simply can’t ice a roster year after year that is stuffed with players in your bottom six who are good enough to skate 10-12 minutes. It’s impossible, unless you luck out one year or two with rookies who can fill those roles.

        I kinda get heated when people complain about it. Name me a single team in the NHL that skates their fourth line–consistently–for 10 minutes a game. It’s not philosophy (to me) so much as players’ ability combined with a limited amount of minutes to go around.

    • lizmcneill

      Well, he did just sign a few depth players so maybe Q will not be without his dudes next year. By the end of the season Q was trusting Bollig to actually play 4th line hockey so whatever, he can stay at his low price tag. Dubious about these new guys though.

  • StealingHappyHour

    Is he going to have any choice but to play the kids? Morin, Pirri/LeBlanc, Smith….it seems to me the Hawks are probably going to carry 8 D and an extra forward.
    Maybe I’m wrong about that and only one of Brookbank and Stanton stays and they carry Bollig and Hayes. But I don’t think they will….

    • 2883

      What do you think we signed Brad Winchester for?

      • Stockroom Snail

        Yucks.

      • lizmcneill

        I was kind of expecting $CHEAP_VET to be signed in the course of the summer as otherwise we’re one injury away from dressing 3 rookies and Bollig just to have 4 lines. Is Winchester the next John Scott or a happy surprise like Zus though?
        Anyone know if he was injured? He only played 37 games in the A last year per capgeek.

  • AMR

    How do you download issues of the committed indian off this site when you have already paid for it? Last season I usually got a email and that directed me.

  • cliffkoroll

    Button-pusher.

    • laaarmer

      Like that guy that coached Jordan and Kobe?

      • bizarrohairhelmet

        Anybody could make it into the HOF with the players Jackzen coached.

      • 10thMountainFire

        Phil Jackson is a fraudulent stain-o-fuck.

  • cliffkoroll

    It’s hard to say Q hasn’t been The Right Man For The Job. On the other hand, virtually all the players responsible for the two Cups were here when he got here, so..

    • laaarmer

      so..

    • neo1978

      That is why most GM’s trade existing players to bring in “their guys.” Just so people can’t make that statement. Really respect Bowman for not caring about that…

      • putmeinthemadhouse

        Not like he wasn’t assistant gm before being promoted. I’m sure he had plenty of insight on the make up of the team.

    • Stockroom Snail

      I like to joke that Savard would’ve won 4 cups by now.

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      I disagree. Time and again we see teams with the “right” rosters fail to win the Cup. It’s takes so much more than a core. Taking them past what they “should” be doing and getting them to do it … I think most of that comes from coaching and dressing room dynamics, and for that Q is more than just “the right man for the job.”

      I also don’t agree with Q getting hosed by Babcock through the first half of that series, and only winning out because our talent came to bear. That’s a crazy, misleading oversimplification, imo.

      • Z-man19

        I have to agree with you on Babcock. Q wasn’t happy with how they played vs Wild and despite game 1 of the Scum series, his fears came to fruition in games 2-5. IIRC, the message from games 2-5 was that the Hawks weren’t that far off and their talent would come through and that’s what happened. So what magic did Babcock perform to get his team on the brink of eliminating the Hawks and why did it stop working?

      • cliffkoroll

        I’m very happy about the extension. I like Q quite a bit. I think he’ll be The Right Man For the Job for the next few years as well. But Babcock’s a better coach. Though undermanned, he almost brought down a team that was pretty dominant all season- it was an impressive job.

        • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

          I also think Babcock’s a better coach.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Gotta give him credit for the development of Leddy, Kruger, and Saad.

  • blackhawkski

    in addition to the composure he showed while being down 3-1 to the wings, the fact that he didn’t go apeshit after the no goal call late in Game 7 vs. the wings was pretty fantastic. i don’t know if that had any effect on the outcome of the game, but i liked it – less panic can’t hurt.

    • Waylon

      no, I think that’s absolutely correct – if the coach loses his shit it inevitably trickles downward.

      • 10thMountainFire

        Just speaking strictly with regard to the laws of physics, if Q loses his shit and shit inevitably trickles downward toward the players, why are the players in that position? Sounds wrong on many levels… ewww.

  • VerStig

    He has a ‘stache.

  • Mr Bill

    He is a defensive coach and we have the best D in the league as a result. Everyone was screaming about putting Kane Toews Bick together again after Detroit series and as it turns out Bick couldn’t go at that level we found out later. Didn’t see anyone who acknowledged that or gave Q any credit for trying to adapt to what he was left with. As a former D man, I think he struggles with the forward lines from time to time, but as we have seen sometimes he has a reason. Championships in any sport start with the D and he has been great for our young D core over the past few years going back to when Seabs and Dunc were newbies. Give credit where credit is due, have been going to games for 35 years, season tix with my dad for 30 (buy CI and the rag before it as well before every game), I will take him over any other coach in the league especially Sutter who said he will never coach again after he left Hawks to be with his family (for a couple months anyway lieing sack). Loved to see his ugly losing face on Kings bench with no response, have seen that look before and have no desire to see it on our bench again. Would love to fix the PP but it is a problem as we play best in transition and not standing around, need to figure out how to develop a transition game when in one zone only. I will take 2 Cups in 4 years and not bitch about it, he deserves an extension in my book.

    Please send me the full season wrap up of CI.

  • CornelisonsFlagPointer

    Anybody on here watching the convention, or am I the only loser who didn’t get tickets?
    More cellphones recording video down there than a Taylor Swift show!

    • justforkicks

      i will be

  • Z-man19

    He spent the next two seasons pretty much ignoring anything his GM gave him, and definitely went throbbing brain.

    I’ll agree with this to an extent. It did not appear Q had much use for the Dmen Stan gave him. This should not be an issue as all the D are back. As for the forwards, the 2C issue is going to be interesting.

  • Waylon

    cake or death?

    • DaveM36

      /nods
      /shakes head
      /nods
      /shakes head

      Repeat for 5 minutes

  • Z-man19

    According to Kuc, Q says Saad has first dibs on 2C next year.

    • AirTrafficAJ

      SIGH. That didn’t take long.

      • VerStig

        Heh. I look forward to your identical comment the moment Q takes Saad *off* of 2C.

        • Z-man19

          Followed by Kruger, Zus, Shaw, Pirri, LaBlanc……

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            …Khabi, Fels, me, you, a half-bottle of Molson that was left out from last season, Fels again, Pi…

          • lizmcneill

            Ah so that’s why Khabi’s getting 2M, 1M of it is for playing 2C.

          • 10thMountainFire

            That makes sense now. Well done.

    • http://www.lotsofbutterplease.com/ I am not Chico Maki

      Leddy’s going to feel seriously slighted, he has clear seniority.

  • wowwowweewoo

    I gotta think things will be different this time around as the hawks look to defend the cup. The key difference I see is the team mentality. In 2011 the entire team was still playing the run and gun style of 2010. It actually wasn’t until an entire year later when Toews went down with the concussion in the 11-12 season that the team really bought into the defense first/take care of the puck in neutral zone mentality. That’s when Shaw came up and we’d lament his turning the puck over making an extra move at the blue line. We’d get pissed because he didn’t get benched while everyone else did (this is how the Stalberg short leash thing started). Granted we’ll have a bunch of rookies on the team bound to make that mistake, but our top guys will set the tone. If the young-uns don’t buy into the straight ahead style that dominates the team now, they’ll see very few minutes. We have enough forwards that know this style to scratch offenders if needed. I’ll also add that this is Q’s system and he deserves the credit. Byslma for example can’t get his stars to play straight ahead and stop turning the puck over.

    • 10thMountainFire

      I gotta think things will be different this time around as the hawks look to defend the cup. The key difference I see is the team mentality.

      _____________________________

      No. The key difference is consistency in goaltending moving into the season after a Cup win. It has nothing to do with any intangible, not least of which is ‘mentality’.

      • laaarmer

        Hey, you drew a line in the sand

        • 10thMountainFire

          That’s how I roll.

          • Z-man19

            Which side are we supposed to be on?

          • 10thMountainFire

            My side.

      • wowwowweewoo

        I don’t know how you can claim there’s no such thing as mentality in a thread about the coach. Mentality, plan, system… Whatever you want to call it, it’s basically coaching. Above you said you agreed coach Q was a good coach for most of the same things I’m pointing out in my above comment.

        • 10thMountainFire

          Intangibles are fucking stupid. Good teams are talented. ‘Mentality’ has nothing to do with anything. They’re fucking professionals. There’s no fucking emo kids on championship teams.

          • Z-man19

            Carillo?

          • 10thMountainFire

            Oh, Carillo…

          • nextgame

            You came and you played without thinking
            And they sent you away, Oh Carillo…

          • wowwowweewoo

            Not talking about intangibles. I’m talking about Quenneville benching players when they make bad plays, which dont fit within the system he’s installed. It’s is done to alter the players habits. Professional or not, you can’t argue that players aren’t coachable or don’t develop. The coach has an effect on the team beyond match ups, line combos, and zone starts. That’s what I’m trying to characterize.

          • 10thMountainFire

            That’s not some esoteric, indefinable ‘mentality’. It’s good coaching. In fact, that’s pretty much the definition of good coaching: making good decisions to guide a team to victory.

          • wowwowweewoo

            Then we’re in agreement. This is the greatest day of my life… I never thought you’d agree with me on anything 10th.

    • lizmcneill

      Actually the Hawks were 1st, 6th, 9th and 4th in the league in SA starting from 09-10, so it’s not like they’ve ever been defensively irresponsible. IIRC they did get better when Toews was out but they’d just lost 9 games in a row so there was plenty of scope for it.

      • wowwowweewoo

        SA does not measure the lapses I was pointing out which was turning the puck over in the neutral zone. Bold face lie and tell me this years team wasn’t stronger in the neutral zone than any of the previous three Hawks teams (including the 2010 cup winners). For Christ sake am I the only one around here that remembers when Jake fucking Dowell was one of our stronger players at getting the puck out of our zone when battling at our blue line. That says a lot about who was committed to their own zone.

        And to the lower point by 10th… We talk about it all the time… It’s not just goalie save percent. There’s a matter of shot quality, controlled in part by Hjalmarsson, in part by Keith playing 30 minutes per night, and Leddy being pushed into a top 4 role in prior years. Does anyone remember Leddy on the PK “watching and thinking someone should do something about that guy” (Fels words).

        A fuller D corp and forwards committed to playing the right way at the blue lines is what won us the Jennings, and those two things are still mainly in play for the 13-14 Blackhawks…Oh and Crawford not playing 10 ft in front of the crease doing his best Tim Thomas impression.

        • birdhead

          Have you looked at zone entry and zone exit data that sometimes comes up around the stats people? (shutdownline.com published some for the playoffs last week.) It’s interesting stuff that’s relevant to what you’re talking about here – it would be great if that kind of thing was tracked year to year, rather than sporadically as people feel like it.

          There’s a lot of data demonstrating that team defense isn’t able to affect goalie save%.

          • lizmcneill

            I particularly noticed Kane’s zone exits – we tend to think of him as not great in his own end, and yes he’s not the world’s greatest backchecker, but if you want someone to CTFZ once the team has the puck, he’s your dude.

          • wowwowweewoo

            Kane I think is a great example. He used to shy away from the dump and chase game. Even though I give him free run to make a move when he sees fit, older Kane recognizes when the play isn’t there. This forces the other team to play a full 200 foot game, and in the instances needed allows defenseman to change, etc. Those kinds of little plays can be the difference between a 3-1 game with an EN or a 1-2. Over the course of a season each player making the safe play for his talent level can have huge aggregate effects. That’s what coaching does: is help players understand what level of risk is acceptable for each play they make.

          • birdhead

            That’s what coaching does: is help players understand what level of risk is acceptable for each play they make.

            Interestingly, a lot of zone entry work is motivated by the fact that carrying the puck rather than dumping the puck appears to be more productive (in the sense of improved shot differential not just improved shots for), even for lower lines.

            “However, the thing that was shocking about the first pass through this data was that the skilled players do not do appreciably better with the entries they get: The Flyers’ fourth line (Couturier-Talbot-Rinaldo) averaged 0.29 shots per time they dumped or deflected the puck in, while the top line (Giroux-Jagr-Hartnell) averaged 0.28. The fourth line averaged 0.56 shots per time they carried or passed the puck in, while the top line averaged 0.53.”

            (There’s a table with the numbers in there. Interesting stuff. It looks as though coaching bottom-six players to dump the puck instead of trying to make a play in situations where it’s not obvious which is the best choice might actually be an overly conservative strategy. Dumping the puck when you’ve got no chance to get it back is basically just an unforced turnover, no?)

          • wowwowweewoo

            I totally agree. Just speculation, but I wonder if that “shots per rush: dumped vs carried in” stat is normalized at least in part by qualcomp. That is to suggest the stat would improve if a 1st line were attacking bottom pairings.

            Beyond that though, I still think hockey is a game of aggregated little plays. And in each circumstance the player with the puck has a decision to make based on what’s in front of him. The game is so fast he reacts based on what’s been drilled into him time and time again. If it’s Shaw rushing against Suter and there are 2 forwards back checking, he should dump. If he just stole the puck from a neutral zone turnover, carry it in and see if they’re off balance. These are the situations that don’t prove out in stats. The hockey fan knows the answer, but its difficult to describe the quality of player based on advanced statistics. I suppose these siuations would prove out in Goals and Assists, but even those can be clouded by PP scoring (there was a write up of Toews 2011 Conn Smyth scoring during this year’s playoffs). I suppose my final point is that stats are great, but don’t forget to watch the game within the game.

          • birdhead

            I wonder if that “shots per rush: dumped vs carried in” stat is normalized at least in part by qualcomp.

            Great observation. or if it’s being tilted by players knowing they absolutely can’t make any marginal decisions so they only ever carry it in when it leads to an obvious good chance.

            I really want to know what this data says about the Hawks, so much I’m actually considering volunteering to track entries or exits. It seems like such a huge commitment though :-/

          • wowwowweewoo

            I don’t know about èvery zone entry, but I’d be down to partner with someone to diagram or develop a rating system for entries that result in goals. The system could assign blame to defenseman/goalie and maybe partially characterize this “shot quality” argument. It would be centered around the Hawks, but could consider both goals for and against. Due to subjectivity, multiple people in agreement would serve the system well.

          • birdhead

            I was considering jumping on board this project: http://nhlnumbers.com/2012/6/20/zone-entries-introduction-to-a-unique-tracking-project

            Chiefly because I think the ability to compare like data to like among teams is a) more interesting and b) generates a better conversation, because everyone’s talking the same language; but also because I don’t have a lot of faith in my own ability to design such a system.

          • lizmcneill

            I would love to see the Hawks included in that zone tracking thing, because we know their transition game is so important, but all we have to analyse it is eye-test.

          • Accipiter

            Sadly, Legolas of the Woodland Realm does not watch hockey.

          • birdhead

            Welllll do you have GCL and do you want to maybe split games with me? :D ? If they still need the Hawks that is. I don’t think I can manage 82 but I might manage 41.

          • lizmcneill

            Sadly I don’t. I travel a lot and tend to have to miss games :(

          • Why

            I understand there’s some evidence but I can’t see how anyone who is capable of thinking would conclude that team defence doesn’t have an impact on goalie save percentage. That’s a sign that people need to step away from the pie charts and watch some games.

          • birdhead

            here is some extremely recent work on the topic.

            the argument isn’t that team defence doesn’t affect goals against but that they do that from restricting shots against, not by only allowing certain kinds of shots. (I’d be interested to see if this is also true on the PK, actually.)

            I sort of feel that a willingness to accept things that might go against our instincts and surprise us is part of the point of statistics. If something surprises you, that’s a reason to be more rigorous about it, which is why there’s been quite a lot of work done in the stats community about it – but if you’re not, in the end, willing to accept something that is demonstrated by numbers because it contradicts your common sense, there’s really not much point in reading about statistics at all. that’s just using them when they support you and ignoring them when they don’t, which is pretty suss really. You may as well just Don Cherry it instead of faking like you’re interested in questioning your assumptions.

          • Why

            This becoming my new favourite statistical trick. First you take a stat that doesn’t vary much (save percentage). Then you say that only save percentage matters for goalies. Then you note that there’s not very much variance and that any variance must be attributable to luck.

            I’m not saying I’m surprised, I’m merely noting that those stats and article don’t show that defence doesn’t effect save percentage. You said something that was untrue. It’s not me ignoring reality here.

          • birdhead

            Do you mean year to year variance for individual goaltenders or do you mean the range of goaltender save % is low?

            Then you note that there’s not very much variance and that any variance must be attributable to luck.

            I don’t think “there’s not very much variance” is an adequate assessment of the work. Rather, “variance is not associated with changing team defenses”.

            The reason people use sv% for goalies rather than wins or GAA is specifically because it’s the one that is least obviously affected by the rest of the team. Is the goalie who wins every game 3-6 because his team has a sparkling offense better than the goalie who loses every game 0-1 because his team can’t score? Is the goalie who allows goals on 50% of the shots he faces but only allows two goals every game because his team plays spectacularly excellent defense in front of him better or worse than the goalie who allows goals on only one of every ten shots but faces 20 shots every game? What other measure do you suggest using to examine goaltender performance?

          • Why

            I suggest that hockey metrics are inherently unreliable and that people need to recognize that issue exists before saying crazy things like defence doesn’t effect whether a goalie lets in goals on a given number of shots.

          • birdhead

            you’re right. why even try to determine answers to questions objectively? common sense uber alles.

            (I do think we need to modulate the questions we ask and the answers we get with common sense but, you know, that’s what repeatability and peer review is for. Not “that’s crazy”.)

          • Why

            I’m suggesting that it’s insane to think that a shot from the point and a two on one tap in would be equally easy for a goaltender to stop. We apparently don’t have statistical proof for that proposition but I stand by it.

            I’m also suggesting that when people pretend data says something it doesn’t, “crazy” might be a charitable word.

          • birdhead

            I’m suggesting that it’s insane to think that a shot from the point and a two on one tap in would be equally easy for a goaltender to stop.

            Everyone understands this which is why keen hockey fans have done so much work LOOKING for shot quality. But they don’t find it.

            Maybe the proposition is that all NHL defences are roughly as good at each other as controlling shots from the point, or two-on-one tap-ins, or that defensive systems that are good at lowering shots from the crease are good at lowering shots from everywhere else, so that proportionally the numbers of shots of different qualities works out to be about the same. I don’t know.

          • lizmcneill

            It certainly looks like it’s easier to defend by reducing shots total than by reducing quality shots, given that we’ve been arguing shot quality for years, but 10 minutes with nhl.com stats page shows that the same teams come up year after year with 8-10 fewer SA/g than the worst ones. Assuming league average-ish .912% goaltending, that’s about 0.7 goals a game. To get the same affect purely by reducing shot quality, the team defense would have to improve sv% by about .024%, or in other words Carter Hutton could look like Lundqvist’s career sv% behind the right defence. (Bit of a straw man, as common sense defense would seem to be “don’t let them have the puck, if they get it don’t let them get a shot off, and if they do make sure it’s not a good one”)

            Or in other words, it’s more efficient to have decent to good goaltending and focus the defense on reducing total shots against rather than chase the marginal or non-repeatable value of reducing shot quality.

          • birdhead

            Well put!

          • lizmcneill

            It’s like hits. Individual hits can be important in a particular game, but winning the hit stat tends to mean you’re losing over the long term.

            So over the course of a season’s worth of games facing 29 teams and shooters of ability varying from Stamkos to Bollig, the shot quality looks like it averages out. Actually they’re probably a better example of the extremes of finishing ability – let’s say the difficulty in defending a Frolik shot from somewhere outside the FO circles and a Toews drive to the slot averages out over enough shots.

          • lizmcneill

            Unreliable in the sense of incomplete or in the sense that the data we have is wrong?

            I see that complaint “shot metrics at ES only correlate 35% with future wins, what about the other 65%”. But if the other 65% is (totally made up unscientific numbers and I might be forgetting factors) 15% goaltending, 10% skill of skaters, 10% special teams, 10% (non-shot-rate-related) coaching and 20% unrepeatable luck/bounces/variance, the shot metrics still are the single largest factor in the mix.

            So if sv% is unreliable in terms of describing a goalie’s skill, let’s see if we can tease out the team influence and come up with a better way to support “he’s a bad goalie” other than “he lets in a lot of shots high glove side”. And so far, no one has shown that “team defense influencing quality of shots against” is a greater factor than variance/hot goalie/got the yips/goalies are weird.

          • lizmcneill

            Well, sv% is the best goalie stat we have. GAA and wins are clearly affected by the team defense, whereas sv% is only dubiously affected.

          • lizmcneill

            or that the impact is so small it’s less than the year-on-year variance in the goalie’s ‘true’ sv%. why wouldn’t you conclude it if that’s what the numbers say? It’s a hard thing to support or disprove because goalies are kind of a small, similarly talented pool, but it seems like there is more to say the effect isn’t important than that it is.

          • Why

            And that may be true. Or that teams and goalies are relatively close to each other in the types of shots they give up. Or that save % is a stat where teams cluster relatively close together.

        • laaarmer

          You said shot quality. I heard it.

          • Accipiter

            Is it real ?

        • lizmcneill

          It’s hard to trust memory over 4 years of game. They’re definitely better than last year though but I won’t commit to a comparison to the 2010 team.

  • Paul the Fossil

    While I have been a Q critic in the past, there’s just no sensible way to look past the entirety of his coaching record. Too many tactically-sound NHL coaches with strong talented teams have failed to win as much as he has, in both regular-season and now postseason play, in the modern salary-cap era. If he seems in some ways to be tactically off-base, and I agree that he does, then the results he gets force us logically to consider whether his strengths as a head coach are in reality a lot more important than his weaknesses.

    My sense now is that those strengths are along these lines:
    “-The tone the Hawks had during The Streak, where they never seemed to
    impressed and were clearly focused on the only thing that would make it
    meaningful, was set by Q. That can’t be taken lightly.
    -The non-panic while down 3-1 to Detroit and 2-1 to Boston is also on the feeling Q gives the team.”

    Think about how many NHL teams with highly-talented cores have failed to get all the way to the top of the mountain in the last 15 or 20 years. How many of those cases, and there are plenty, seem to come down to the team’s collective mental state more than any difference in tactical choices? Quite a few of them.

    What Quenneville does best is keep his team focused on the prize, committed to the team concept/plan, and calm in the face of adversity. He appears to have few if any peers in those regards. Those plusses appear, based on the results before us, to more than counterbalance his tactical blind spots.

    Obviously we’d all love to have that mythical perfect coach who is brilliant both in the locker room and behind the bench. But pending the arrival of such a superman I’ll take the Quenneville mix over its opposite (which just for the sake of illustration we might call the “Tortorella/Vigneaut/Boudreau model”) every time.

    • 10thMountainFire

      I agree.

      Also, Tortorella and Vigneault are whiny hemerrhoids who talk too fucking much.

    • birdhead

      How many of those cases, and there are plenty, seem to come down to the team’s collective mental state more than any difference in tactical choices? Quite a few of them.

      Is this not a bit post-hoc-ergo-propter-hoc? Whiny teams have lost, therefore no whiny teams can win? Or even, teams that lose look whiny? Blackhawks didn’t cover themselves in calm, committed, collected glory in the first-round exit against Phoenix. Whiny diving Canucks made it all the way to a game 7 in the final. they lost that game because they’re whiners? Or cos Boston was just the better team? Or cos they had a goalie meltdown? Meanwhile, I wouldn’t characterise Tortorella’s Rangers as whiny (and I think “talks too much” is a pretty radical interpretation of his character, 10th …) but they haven’t had a lot of playoff success lately.

      Basically, I’m wary of assigning losses to character after the fact. I’m also pretty wary of assigning Q’s success strictly to his way with the locker room. Q and Vigneault, for example, both used similar match-the-third-line-while-sheltering-the-offense strategies. It’s not like he’s just chucking them out there and saying ‘go, go, remember how good I am in the locker room’, right?

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        Good points, but coach and team must mesh, as Toronto and NYR are going to find out to their great discomfort this season, and Q is a good fit for this core.

        • lizmcneill

          Toronto are busily shedding the players that don’t mesh with the coach. Given the average tenure of NHL coaches and the cap, that seems like a hiding to nothing. Toronto are more likely to discover that regression toward the mean is a heartless bitch.

          • 1benmenno

            Regression to the mean is a heartless bitch is my favorite Rush song they have yet to write

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            Closer To The Mean?

      • red palace

        I think what Paul is getting at is somewhat more tangible than “character”, I would describe it as the discipline to stay on task instead of losing your shit when things aren’t going your way. And I believe this is enhanced when coaches are able to get players to commit to the program.

        It’s not an either-or thing. In my view, Q makes a lot of good tactical decisions in between the incomprehensible ones. But I still agree with Paul that the “focus” thing has been a strength.

        • birdhead

          I would describe it as the discipline to stay on task instead of losing your shit when things aren’t going your way.

          Right. I mean, I have no trouble seeing that in the Hawks in game 7 against Detroit. On the other hand, I didn’t see it much in game 4 against Detroit … I just wonder how much of it is me projecting.

          anyway, I agree with you that it’s not an either-or thing and that Q has strengths all over the place. I guess I was responding more viscerally to “oh whiny teams lose” than disagreeing that Q has had a meaningful effect on the locker room.

  • laaarmer

    cliff’s 40 oz Colt 45 is waiting at Binnys. I’ll pay you back some time…..
    http://www.nhl.com/ice/news.htm?id=679037&navid=DL|NHL|home

    “The defense is set, with the same seven players who won the Cup, but
    there are forward roles up for grabs, including the coveted spot of
    second-line center between Patrick Sharp and either Marian Hossa or Kane.

    First dibs on that role, according to coach Joel Quenneville, will go to 20-year-old Brandon Saad, who played left wing on the top line for almost all of 2012-13 and worked on faceoffs following practices in the latter half of the season.”

    How many games does this last? As many as Bolland?

    • 10thMountainFire

      He worked on faceoffs following practices in the latter half of the season? Well, that settles that.

      As for Bolland… I was hoping we’d see an improvement at the dot after Bollie left but if we’re STILL going to see an inexperienced centerman when Sharp remains available, I have no fucking answer for the ‘why’. Just like everyone else, I’ll just remain in constant astonishment.

      • laaarmer

        I don’t know much about Pirri except that, according to the brain trust in these comments, the spot was his and now it is not before he even stepped on the ice. Q does not like something there and that is not good for Pirri.

        • 10thMountainFire

          For fuck’s sake. We waited an entire season to see Pirri and Morin get shots and now the tea leaves appear to show some stupid.

          • laaarmer

            Well, to be fair and honest, I was not waiting for them.

          • Accipiter

            XMF was.

          • 10thMountainFire

            With baited breath, arms wide open, and a bus ticket for Bollig… one-way to Rockford.

          • laaarmer

            I like the Saad thing.
            Kane/Hossa – Toews – Bickell
            Kane/Hossa – Saad – Sharp
            I mean things could be a hell of a lot worse offensively and defensively. It also proves I was correct in Saad being a lost cause, as a least at top 6 winger

          • Z-man19

            How many games does Saad have to play at C to not call him a winger?

          • laaarmer

            82

          • Z-man19

            I’ll call him a winger then

          • laaarmer

            Toews – Center
            Sharp – Center
            Kane – Center
            Saad – Center
            4 out of 6.

            Hossa can play center, but it’s no fun if he has the puck all the time.
            Bickell just changed banks so he’s too busy figuring out where the ATM is

          • Z-man19

            Your definition of a centre is pretty broad

          • laaarmer

            They all play/have played center.

            Broad. That woman from St Louis with the t shirt. What did that say again?

          • Z-man19

            Playoff beard.

            Playing center and being a centre aren’t one and the same

          • laaarmer

            “It’s better to look good than to feel good”

          • Accipiter

            80% of feeling good is looking good.

          • 10thMountainFire

            Why not just put Sharp at center?

          • laaarmer

            It’s more fun with Saad.

          • laaarmer

            But seriously, D zone. Sharp is taking the draw with the game on the line for a while, don’t you tink?

          • 10thMountainFire

            Unless Q goes completely over the rainbow, Sharp is taking the key draws.

            Then again, are there any ‘not key’ draws?

          • 10thMountainFire

            Everything is more fun with Saad.

          • Z-man19

            KNEEL, that’s why

          • 10thMountainFire

            Touche….

          • red palace

            And things may well be a hell of a lot worse…on the 3rd and 4th lines. If both Bicks and Saad are top 6, does that line Shaw up with 2 rookies? Or with Zus at 3C and one rookie? I suspect Q would put the first two lines against their opposing counterparts as much as possible.

          • cliffkoroll
          • lizmcneill

            I think there are enough slots at forward that there’ll be a rotating cast of Rockford-ites getting shots (hopefully in both senses of the word).

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            If they’re playing with Kaner, they’ll probably need at least 3 senses of the word.

          • lizmcneill

            did you see the photo of someone using the Cup as a table for shots? Said someone was wearing a plaid shirt which doesn’t help in identifying him, but looked suspiciously like that of a certain unicorn-mask-wearer. “That wasn’t me”, Kaner says, grinning all over his face.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            So 4 senses already…Kaner likes his shots.

          • bizarrohairhelmet
          • bizarrohairhelmet

            In fact, those photos pretty much show the pics were taken within a minute or less of each other.

          • ChicagoNativeSon

            Waiting For Good Dot

          • lizmcneill

            Summer 2011.

            Stan: Once again we have no 2C via UFA or emerging from the farm. What to do?

            Q: What indeed.

            Stan: I had a thought, we are coming down with wingers, maybe you could move one? Ah, hello Patrick and Patrick. Remind me, have either of you played center before?

            Sharpy: Yes, for a lot of my early NHL career, and I was playing 2C when we won the Cup last year.

            Kaner: When I was like 13, and my coach kept benching me for not playing defense.

            Stan: Awesome, want to try it again until one of the kids works out?

            Kaner: Sure, I’ll do it!

            Stan: Cool, how’s your busted wrist doing?

            Sharpy: uh, guys?

            ——

            Summer 2012

            Stan: Once again we have no 2C via UFA or emerging from the farm. What to do?

            Q: Lockout?

            January 2013

            Stan: Once again we have no 2C via UFA or emerging from the farm. What to do? How is The Plan All Along doing?

            Q: He’s more of a depth center really, and now Shaw is playing there we have 3 bottom-6 centers. Thinking of shuffling them up and putting Bolly there.

            Stan: Cool, no one could fail to be an offensive force playing with Sharp and Kane! Now, about that Saad kid…

            —-

            Summer 2013

            Stan: Once again we have no 2C via UFA or emerging from the farm. What to do?

            Q: I really liked that Zus trade though. He has a broken wrist, busted knee, old age, but great hockey sense.

            Stan: actually, all those centers I’ve been drafting for the last 3 years must be nearly ready. How about Brandon-

            Q: Saad? Great idea!

            Stan: Sigh. At least I don’t have to make statements about Deadspin this year. Yet.

          • bizarrohairhelmet

            you forgot to add Sharpy saying “thanks for keeping me out of that position I really dislike playing” since that has kind of been the thing.

          • lizmcneill

            eh, it’s not meant to be actual Sharpy, he’s proxying for us.

    • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

      Games? I think you mean shifts….

      Anyway, I am strangely comfortable with giving N.B. Saad a shot at 2C. He won’t be worse than Rat and it could be a good fit for him between vets Sharpie and Boss Hoss.

    • cliffkoroll

      Does this mean I win? I can’t keep track anymore.

      I never saw this coming. We need a shorthand symbol for line-blending.

      #whirrrr maybe?

      • lizmcneill

        I like it, let’s go.

  • ChicagoNativeSon

    Dr Strangelines or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying About the PP and Love the Kitchen.

    • 10thMountainFire

      That may be the awesomest thing I’ve read this week.

  • Paul the Fossil

    Has this been posted here already? Anyway I just came across it, liked it a lot. It’s a common-sense explanation that will ring true for anyone who’s played a lot of rat hockey [which Canadjens call "shinny"] and/or rec league.

    http://theleafsnation.com/2013/7/6/explaining-the-grabovski-bozak-stats-debate-in-shinny-hockey-terms

    • 10thMountainFire

      This is a great article. I smell a Bolland argument coming…

    • red palace

      I don’t really follow the Leafs much, but what I’d heard was that Grabo was moved to more of a checking role this season, and his points totals suffered. So now it seems Bolly will take Grabo’s original role, in which Grabo had excelled and in which Dave, um, didn’t. Wha..??

      • lizmcneill

        Well, Bolland was being dragged down by those scrubs Sharp and Kane, I’m sure JVR and whoevertheheck will be a major improvement.

      • Sparky_The_Bard-barian

        “Wha…??”

        Leafs fans may tell you that pretty much sums things up under current ownership and general management. Not to mention that this ‘lateral move’ also cost them three draft picks.

  • red palace

    Uhh, a question: why does the NHL site refer to the just-concluded season as “2012-2013″? I’d better not have missed some games!!

    • RLWiener

      Yea, the 2012 was silent.

  • Bannerman

    During the telecast, they give a chances stat for each team. Is this a subjective thing like hits or is there an actual criteria for what constitutes a chance? Wouldn’t chances/ 60 be a good indicator of team defense? Taken along with chances/goals that would at least tell something about how well the goalie is playing behind that defense.

    I feel like someone else should have already thought about this.

    • Accipiter

      Are you not someone else ?

      • Bannerman

        No, Homer Simpson is someone else