rulururu
Two dudes blogging and podcasting about the San Jose Sharks, straight from sunny California.

post Feast or Famine

November 30th, 2011, 9:13 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

After a nice run where the Sharks managed to accumulate the best points-per-game rate of any team in the NHL, the lean times have come in two bad losses in the last two games. And frankly, if it were not for the near-goalie-steal performance of Antti Niemi against the Hawks, we’d be looking at a 3 game losing streak, disturbingly to the class of the West. I can never really decide if losing to the best teams is better to losing to the worst teams. Which is worse, irritating inconsistency (losing to Columbus) or depressing mediocrity (losing to Vancouver)?

The famine is not without casualties.  First and foremost is Justin Braun, who Pollak said “was reassigned to Worcester less than 24 hours after his misplay cost San Jose a goal in Monday’s loss.”  I suppose it’s possible that particular blunder led to his demotion, but I don’t buy it (wasn’t it Niemi’s fault more than his?).  As we’ve said on the podcast several times, Braun is a good young defenseman that you want to play early and often, and continue to develop his game.  If he’s clearly head-and-shoulders better than his offensive contemporary, Jason Demers, then you keep him in San Jose.  With Demers playing more the last few games, and Braun not playing quite as well, Braun would fall into the mixing bowl that is the 3rd defensive pair.  Which means he’s in, he’s out, he doesn’t get consistent minutes.  Which means I agree with the decision to send him East to the struggling Worchester Sharks. Lord knows they need all the help they can get over there.

The next two games might be what the doctor ordered.  Neither Montreal nor Florida are patsies, but they are not in the same conversation as Vancouver, Los Angeles, and Chicago.  Doug and I are going to wait until the weekend to record the next podcast, mostly due to scheduling, but we’re hoping for a good effort against the Habs to help balance what would have likely been a negative-Nancy episode.

post Game 1 Thoughts

April 15th, 2011, 9:51 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

Here are some random points on game 1, thoughtfully posted in bullet form.  So convenient, because then I don’t have to weave them into a coherent storyline.

  • The Kings controlled well over half of the game, I thought the Sharks were a bit lucky to make it to overtime.
  • I don’t believe in clutch players as a rule, but Joe Pavelski is making a damn compelling case otherwise.
  • The Stoll hit on White was unfortunate and borderline dirty.  My gut feeling is this gets 2 games in the regular season, but none in the playoffs.  Cue Mike being wrong in 3…2…1…
  • Thank God for Justin Braun.
  • It’s a bit of a strange feeling, but I’m hoping Huskins gets healthy, because with Braun in, our #7 is Mike Moore.
  • Demers should have gotten 2 for charging on that hit.  For a second there I thought he was auditioning for Cirque de Soleil.
  • Anybody else have visions of Craig Anderson when Quick came up huge in the 3rd?
  • Doug’s wife sang the national anthem, and was great.  I wanted to tweet that before the game, but cell phone reception at the Tank sucks, and I didn’t get permission in time.
  • I highly recommend the Chicago-style hot dogs sold near section 119.
  • I have a semifinal game of my own tomorrow night, but I have tickets to game 2.  I’d appreciate advice on this moral quandary.  I told myself I’d play if the Sharks won game 1, but that game was so good I don’t want to miss a minute of this series if I can help it.
  • Is it just me or did Doughty get beat on the outside a few times?
  • My beard looks like crap.
  • I love the playoffs.

post Stats, Glorious Stats

March 31st, 2011, 10:13 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

It’s been a while since I wrote a stats-related post, and I figured I’d write one to piggyback on an interesting post on the Behind the Net blog (not to be confused with Behind the Net, the numbers site).  A while back I did a purge on the RSS feeds I read, and for some stupid reason, this blog was amongst the casualties.  I really must have been in a slash-and-burn mood that day, because it’s really one of the best hockey blogs out there if you are statistically inclined. What I want to do today is highlight some of the stats talked about in the linked post, and who on the Sharks are the best at those categories.

First of all, some real quick and dirty explanations of some of the stats referenced there.  I would recommend reading more about them, but not everyone can spend hours reading about advanced hockey metrics.  And as Doug would say, why would you want to?

  • GVT – Goals Versus Threshold.  A complicated stat that tries to create one number for the value of a player, measured in goals in a season versus the value of a replacement-level player.  Similar to VORP in baseball.
  • Rating – a BTN stat that is the difference between your team’s +/- per 60 minutes when you are on the ice versus when you are off the ice.  Unlike the regular +/- stat, it helps level the playing field for those on bad teams.
  • QualComp – quality of competition.   The weighted average of the Rating of the players you face on the ice.
  • Corsi – a +/- stat that counts shots instead of goals.  Actually, it counts all pucks directed towards the net, including missed and blocked shots.  Unfortunately, it’s similar to the +/- stat in that players on good teams generally have better ones.  Of the 28 players that have played a game for the Sharks this season, only 10 have negative Corsi, and most (Moore, Mashinter, Desjardins, McLaren, Wingells) aren’t regulars.
  • Corsi Rel – The difference in your Corsi when you’re on the ice versus off.
  • Corsi Rel QoC – Quality of Competition calculated not by +/- per 60, but Corsi Rel.
  • Zone Starts – the percentage of shift-starting faceoffs being in the offensive zone.

If you’re still reading, pat yourself on the back, because that’s a load of math.  Let’s highlight the different Sharks players leading the categories in the stats that the LOES highlighted, in the order that I think is most important. The following is all 5v5 stats, and I’m not including anyone that’s played fewer than 10 games.

Corsi Rel – Kyle Wellwood – 14.6

It’s surprising, and doubtless related to a red-hot Joe Pavelski and clicking third line since he arrived.  Still, Wellwood leads the team in a stat I believe is miles better than +/-.  One downside to Corsi Rel is that time-on-ice isn’t factored in, and it should be noted Wellwood has averaged only 13.07 minutes of even-strength ice time per game, good enough for 15th on the Sharks.  For this reason, it’s worth mentioning the second place player, Ryane Clowe (14.1), who’s averaging more than two minutes more 5v5 ice time, and who I might argue is the team’s MVP.  Top Corsi Rel among defensemen? Jason Demers (8.6).

QualComp – Patrick Marleau – 0.101

Marleau is way out in front on this stat, with the second place Joe Thornton at 0.087.  Despite the fact that Marleau tends to play the wing more now, traditionally not as defensively important as center, he’s  the go-to guy when the other team’s top line is on the ice.  Top defenseman – Dan Boyle (0.062).

Corsi Rel QoC – Patrick Marleau – 0.885

I’m not sure why the LOES like Corsi so much yet mention QualComp instead CorsiRel QoC.  If Corsi is better than +/-, then Corsi Rel QoC is better than QualComp.  Maybe that’s what they meant.  Anyway, unsurprisingly, Mareau leads again, but there’s a bit of shifting under him.  Jumbo drops to 5th on the team, and Joe Pavelski (0.747) moves up to 2nd.  Boyle moves up to 3rd.

Zone Starts – Scott Nichol – 39.4

This means when Nichol took a faceoff to start a shift, 60% of the time it was in the defensive zone.  That’s a lot of trust from the coaching staff, and certainly related to the fact that Nichol is the best faceoff guy on the team. Like the last stat, it’s a way of measuring how sheltered a guy is.  It’s been calculated that you give up about 0.25 shots every time you take a faceoff in the defensive zone, so this is why Nichol’s Corsi isn’t so good.  With that in mind, it’s unsurprising that Marc-Edouard Vlasic (46.8) has the lowest zone start percentage among defensemen.

Time on Ice – Dan Boyle – 19.13

No doubt Boyle is the workhorse, and even strength is no exception.  He also plays the most PP and ES time.  Contrast this to the Ducks (for instance), with Vish leading the category, but if you look for #2, you see that Toni Lydman and Cam Fowler play about the same amount.  However, Fowler plays almost no PK, and three and a half minutes per game on the PP.  Lydman is the opposite, almost no PP time, but is way out in front of PK time. Certainly important when trying to evaluate a player.

I didn’t include GVT here because there isn’t a day-by-day calculation of GVT that I know of, and to be honest, GVT makes a lot of assumptions about the weights of various measures that I don’t necessarily agree with.  I won’t go so far as to say the attempt to create one stat that measures everything is a fool’s errand, but I feel like I get a better picture of a player when I look at several stats, and not just one.

Just a note for tonight- Jamie Benn and Alex Gologoski lead the Stars in Corsi Rel, so watch out for those guys.

post Three Out of Four Ain’t Bad

July 31st, 2010, 12:38 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

New word on Seto, he got one year, $1.8M.  That’s better than we had hoped for, and in line with what Doug said. This is another incarnation of the Ryane Clowe situation from a couple of years ago- we’re not sure if you can take this to the next level, so we’ll give you one year, retain your RFA rights, and see what you can do.  There’s no reason to lock up a guy as inconsistent as Seto has been the last year.  He scored 31 goals two years ago (on a line with Jumbo) but last year, only 20.  Doug Wilson has made two statements in the last week that crystallize his philosophy on this kind of thing.  About Joe: “we want to create an environment where people want to stay,” and about Seto: “we have very high expectations.”  Translation?  You play well this year, meat, and show us you’re a top 6 forward all the time, and we will reward you next year.  Could it be a sign-and-trade like the next guy?  I doubt it.

Second good news- the Ducks trade their second best defenseman, James Wisniewski, who just got a $3.25M arbitration award contract, to the Islanders for a third round pick.  My first reaction- what a terrible deal for the Ducks.  Makes me happy.  I read Sleek’s post, and at least according to him, it’s about cash.  But to me, you don’t give up your second best defensemen for a third round pick.  Stupid.  Now, after Visnovsky, the obvious #1, they have Toni Lydman, Luca Sbisa, Sheldon Brookbank, Brendan Mikkelson, and Danny Syvret.  Think about that the next time you are bitching about the Sharks’ blue line.  Bob Murray may be the best thing to happen to San Jose hockey in a long time.

The one loss is that Antti Niemi got a much lower arbitration award than we had hoped for- only $2.75M.  This is probably low enough for the Hawks to do some more shuffling and fit him in somewhere under the cap.  There’s little doubt that Huet and his $5M+ contract will be dumped in the minors this year, even if Niemi isn’t re-signed.  There’s just no way for the Hawks to afford him, and can you say Huet will really be much better than a minor leaguer?  The Hawks dodged a big bullet here- I though $4M was too much to wish for but over $3M was certainly in the cards.

The fourth piece of news is less polarizing – a two year, $2.5M extension for Jason Demers starting next year.  He will still make $543k this year.  Demers looks like a good young defensemen, one that hopefully will be a bargain a $1.25M a year from now.  But it’s uncertain.  I like Demers, hope he continues to improve, and this contract is movable if he doesn’t fit into the plans.  It’s a safe signing, and not bad for the Sharks, so I call it a small win.

post Cause I’m Free. Free Falling.

March 19th, 2010, 10:11 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug

Another game. Another Loss. Another win for the red hot Coytoes. Is it possible the Sharks might actually plummet to the #4 slot?

There are certainly more questions than answers right now surrounding the Sharks as they free fall down the stretch. Why has Jed Ortmeyer, who was such an important energy player in the first half of the season, completely fallen out of favor with the coaching staff? While it’s hard to notice Ortmeyer’s contributions on a nightly basis since he is really here to do the “little things”, the equivalent of an offensive linemen in football speak, has he really bombed out so badly that he should ride pine? If the Sharks want to give Logan Couture a really solid look before the playoffs to see if he can play a scoring 3rd line role, that’s fine by me – but is Staubitz really going to play in May? Shouldn’t he sit and Ortmeyer, who can actually kill a penalty, be in the lineup? Hard to say what’s going on in their minds right now…but there are other coaching decisions that many of us are continuing to question.

What about the Sharks clear win/loss advantage with Jason Demers in the line-up?  As many of you have pointed out in the comment thread, the Sharks are 30-9-7 with Demers manning the blueline and 13-8-3 without him. That’s a .652 win percentage in Demers’ favor and .541 without him on the ice. While Mike pointed out the Sharks are .500-ish without Vlasic, I think this stat absolutely should be noticed. While he’s not perfect and certainly has growing pains, the Sharks lack of commitment to Demers this season has been mildly troubling. So, who’d you rather in the playoffs? Kent Huskins, Stanley Cup winner and playoff vet, or rookie Jason Demers, much stronger talent and potential for a big play…

Rob Blake’s ice time. What gives? At a point where the Sharks should be tempering their best players ice time to get them ready for a deep playoff run – are they burning out Captain Blake with 20+ minutes night after night after night. He has been half the player he was last year – literally – with a difference of 45 points, +15 and 110 PIM’s to this year’s version of 21 points, +6 and 50 PIM’s. I’m still really concerned about his role going in the Cup playoffs – not to mention Hamburgers lack of a defined role on this team. He played 13 even strength minutes last night compared to Blake’s 17 even strength minutes and Huskins 20+ even strength minutes. Why did we get this guy again if he’s not going to play? Ewwwwww…

Bring back Demers. Play Couture extended minutes. Sit Leach and Staubitz. Give Wallin some of Blake’s even strength time. And stop doing a Ron Wilson impression and leave the lines alone. Do all these things and we’re back on track…cause I know everything.

post No Boyle. No Problem

January 21st, 2010, 12:17 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug
I'm George Clooney

I'm George Clooney...without the beard and guest spot on Facts of Life

News just broke that Dan Boyle will miss tonight’s game with an “upper body injury” and the star of UP IN THE AIR, Jason Demers, will be taking his place.

No problem.

Normally, I’d be wetting myself at the thought of Dan Boyle not suiting it up tonight, but I’m actually curious to see how they look without him. It’s going to be a telling sign if the Sharks will be business as usual, riding high as they have been for the last two games, playing their best hockey of the season or if they will go totally in the toilet, spiraling into an embarrassing home loss to the Ducks. This is where good teams can come together and overcome the short-term absence of great players to collect a few gritty victories.

How will Jason Demers do with a featured role? Will Vlasic flourish or sink when given more minutes and asked to push the tempo and lead the rush?

The Sharks should be given credit this season for managing their injuries effectively and not rushing players back when they’re not ready to play at their potential. If Boyle is dinged up, I’d rather have him sit out until next Thursday against the Blackhawks than get roughed up tonight against the Ducks. Pick your battles at this point and tonight, the Sharks have made the smart play.

This will also give management a chance to see what hockey life looks like without Boyle. If he went down with a long term injury, I would fear that all Stanley Cup hopes would be dashed. So, if the Sharks stumble and regress tonight, doesn’t Doug Wilson have to consider making that trade of forward depth for another quality puck mover to balance out the roster?

I think the Sharks are riding high, and while the Ducks have been hot winning 7 out of 8, they still aren’t very good on the road. In January, the Ducks are 5-0 at home but a meager 2-3 on the road. Last time I checked, the Sharks have thumped the Ducks four times this year, winning in regulation every time by a total score of 16-6. I expect the Sharks to win a close one without Boyle. Sharks 4 Ducks 2 in regulation. Everything remains right in the world.

GENERAL HOCKEY NEWS

I guess Bob Gainey has carte blanche to do anything he wants in Montreal without any consequence? This latest move from the outside seems pretty tacky, sending enforcer Georges Laraque home and banishing him from the team while he is dealing with the tragedy in Haiti. It’s not just the tackiness of the move, it’s the fact that Gainey gave Laraque a three deal deal with a no movement clause. Who does that with an enforcer? Bob Gainey does. He is one more move away from approaching Mike Milbury status in my book, and it could come when he trades Halak, clearly the better goalie, for some sort of spare part. Good luck Canadiens fans. You’re going to be mediocre for a long time as long as Gainey is running the show. He’s turned into the Don Nelson of hockey. “Sorry Georges. We will tolerate Alex Kovalev’s mediocrity and the illegal gambling of the Kostitsyn’s, but when you underperform on my watch – you’re toast!”. What a joke.

Collect your cash and live to fight another day.

Collect your cash and live to fight another day.

post Ahead of the Curve Again

January 6th, 2010, 2:50 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike

It’s been only a matter of days since Doug and I went up to Stockton to check out the Thunder of the ECHL, and reported glowingly in a recent podcast.  Today, the Sharks announce they have entered into a working arrangement with the Thunder for the rest of the season.  This coming on the heels of Jason Demers being sent there recently- here’s the always-thorough Sharkspage rundown.  Can it be merely coincidence that the Dudes plan a trip, publicize said trip, go to the game, report positively on the quality of the arena and franchise, and have the Sharks enter into a business agreement only days later?  Of course it’s a coincidence, what are ya, nuts?

Because I’m crazy like that, I remember something about the ECHL from reading the current CBA, here’s a passage that applies to Demers:

Loans to East Coast Hockey League. Players who are party to an Entry Level
SPC may be Loaned to the East Coast Hockey League (“ECHL”) without the requirement
of Player consent, provided the Player will continue to be paid the stated amount of the
AHL portion of his two-way SPC in the Native Currency of the NHL Club.

9.7 Loans to East Coast Hockey League. Players who are party to an Entry Level SPC may be Loaned to the East Coast Hockey League (“ECHL”) without the requirement of Player consent, provided the Player will continue to be paid the stated amount of the AHL portion of his two-way SPC in the Native Currency of the NHL Club.

Here’s a corollary, implied by the above:

13.11 No Loans to East Coast Hockey League. A Player who is not in the Entry Level System may not be Loaned to the East Coast Hockey League without his consent.

So the moral of this story is that Demers, McLaren, and McGinn could all be easily sent to Stockton instead of Worchester for the rest of the year with little fuss.  And since the Sharks seem to be fans of sending players places for single digit days, it’ll be easier (and cheaper) to make them drive 75 miles than fly 3000.

post Episode 81 – USA! USA!

January 6th, 2010, 8:16 am

Filed under: podcast — Written by Mike

In a stunning reversal, the United States wins the World Junior Hockey Championship, beating Canada.  In other news, the Sharks went on an eight-game winning streak, which then came to a screeching halt against the Kings.  The Dudes break it all down, talk about the yo-yo action of Jason Demers to the minors, and wrap up the show giving three predictions for the second half of the season.

post Whither Art Thou, DUH-mers?

January 5th, 2010, 8:38 am

Filed under: blog — Written by Mike
Who gives a rat's ass about Juliet?  We need a puck mover!

Who gives a rat's ass about Juliet? We need a puck mover!

The Sharks managed to serve up a stinker after a brilliant eight-game winning streak, losing to the Kings last night at home 6-2.  However, I’d say it was nowhere near as bad as the 7-2 thrashing the Sharks took at the hands of the Chicago Blackhawks six weeks ago- that game managed to include three shorthanded goals against.  This one merely had three power play goals against, with the kill looking as bad as I’ve seen it this year.  Oh, and it snapped a streak of 29 penalty kills without giving up a goal.  So we have that.  Which is nice.

Actually, both special teams groups looked pretty bad all night, and the fact that Douglas Murray got a power play goal late should tell you something.  Now I’m a big Murray fan- he’s played better this year than I ever thought he would, but he’s not exactly an offensive juggernaut.  That better describes the Illusionist, the here-today-and-gone-tomorrow, the runaway bride, Jason Demers.  Although he’s not the reason why we lost.  And he’s not putting himself on the Worchester (and now Stockton) shuttle.  That is because of the rarely questioned Doug Wilson, and now I have questions.  I asked Dan Rusanowsky on the ChompTalk radio program about whether Demers’ demotion was because of cap or because of play, and he said a bit of both.  I just don’t get it.

Demers is making $543k this season, only a few thousand more than Brad Staubitz, although admittedly about double what the Sharks have to pay Jay Leach.  And while I have a certain amount of warm feeling toward the new guy, last night we saw a glimmer of why Leach has been of waivers a couple of times this year.  And I’m not just talking about him blowing a tire in the middle of the ice with no one around.  Leach certainly knows his capabilities, and those don’t include rushing the puck up ice.  With the Kings forechecking fiercely all night, the Sharks could have really used a guy that made a move around a forechecker and created a 3-on-2 in the neutral zone.   But that didn’t happen, and after some top line dominance in the first period, we saw the reverse of the Phoenix game on New Year’s Eve.  The Sharks didn’t get a goal out of it, and the Kings seized control after a missed assignment and two quick power play goals, and the rout was on.

I’d like to see how quickly Demers comes back from his Stockton assignment, which probably won’t include him playing a game, according to Pollak.  I’d hate to think this is a bit of hazing, making sure the kid pays his dues riding the bus.  Of course there are going to be some rookie mistakes, and I hardly see how racking up frequent flyer miles is going to change that.  Work with Trent Yawney and Matt Shaw after practice will.

As a final note, today is the last day to get your submissions in for the first Dudes On Hockey t-shirt contest – please get them in by 6pm Pacific.  You’ll have to listen to the last third of the most recent podcast to get the details on what that contest entails.  We have a good number of submissions so far, but I know there are more of you out there dying to get your hands on a piece of limited edition podcast regalia.

post Time to Make a Point

December 21st, 2009, 12:36 pm

Filed under: blog — Written by Doug
Claude Lemiuex wants you to show up tonight, Sharks.
Claude Lemiuex wants you to show up tonight, Sharks.

Will the real San Jose Sharks please stand up?

This two game road swing is a pretty important moment for the Sharks franchise as they approach the halfway point of the 2009-10 season. As my holiday fingers type this post, the Sharks sit in a first place tie with the LA Kings in the Pacific Division and has lost their #1 seed in the Western Conference. Now, I don’t care about winning the conference, honestly I’d prefer if they didn’t so there’s not some eery sense of doom and gloom before the playoff series even starts – but winning the Pacific is very important. Whoever doesn’t (us or the Kings) will likely be in that dreaded 4 or 5 seed, and could have to dance with Calgary or Vancouver first. No thanks.

The Sharks have had no luck against the Stars and Blackhawks so far this season and if they come up with a stink bomb on this two game swing, I think Doug Wilson and company will have to pull the trigger on another move that rattles the core of this team. Anyone who reads this blog with any regularity knows that I firmly believe without an upgrade on the blueline, the Sharks are not going to be a real Cup contender. Dropping two games to teams that can’t figure out could finally be the straw that breaks the Vlasic’s back.

Here’s a stat that many of you know, and it’s rather sobering in terms of where the Sharks fall in the real power rankings of the NHL. If you take an overtime loss for a loss, here’s the Sharks record.

Chicago Blackhawks   23-11 .676
Nashville Predators 22-14 .611
LA Kings 22-15 .594
Phoenix Coyotes 21-15 .583
Calgary Flames 20-15 .571
San Jose Sharks 20-15 .571
Vancouver Canucks 20-16 .555
Colorado Avalanche 20-17 .540

When you take into account that Dallas is actually 15-20, losing to them tonight for a third time this year is unacceptable.

I think San Jose will deliver the good tonight on the road with a convincing win with a side of payback. The puck movement was so much improved with Demers on the blueline,  I think the offense that struggled in the last meeting with Dallas should be ignited. The effort against the Ducks was a good sign (except for about five minutes at the beginning of the 3rd). All four lines were rolling, hitting, winning face-offs. The Sharks are as deep as any team in the NHL and I think they will wear down a Dallas blueline that will be without Trevor Daley and Marc Fistric. Sharks let the good times roll tonight and keep an itchy Doug Wilson at bay for another day.

Plus I guarantee a fight between McLaren and Barch, probably in the first ten minutes of the game.

Prediction: Sharks 5   Stars  3

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