Friday, 7 February 2014

Game 58: Canadiens 5, Canucks 2

I was watching a game with a Vancouver fan, and had to subject myself to watching the Vancouver broadcast. Play-by-play caller John Shorthouse does a creditable job, but his sidekick John Garrett is just awful. He went on a rant one minute in about how an icing call (against the Canucks, natch) shouldn’t have been an icing call, and golly if it was up to him…

It was interesting to hear them heap encomiums on Max Pacioretty. Obviously the broadcast team didn’t do its research on the Canadiens by reading social media, they were raving about what a big strong skater he was, and what a lethal sniper he is.

I hope that some Canadiens fans who may be over-excited at the acquisition of Dale Weise got to witness how poor the Vancouver forwards are, with a diminished Alex Burrows and an injured Henrik Sedin, they really are struggling talent and depth-wise. That should be some indication of how dispensable Dale Weise is, if they felt they could part with him. We need to temper our expectations in his case.

Having said that, he is really effective with Ryan White and Michaël Bournival, those guys seem to be meshing, and form a usable fourth line. Which is good, it’s a pleasant change from previous seasons with Aaron Palushajes and Andreas Engqvists and Yannick Webers making up our fourth trio.

Roberto Luongo pitched forward while doing the splits again, he often ends up on his stomach while opponents flip the puck above him. We sat up and took notice, it’s worrisome if he ends up in nets for Team Canada. Roberto has been good with gusts to great, but he also has lulls where he looks like he has no confidence. Meanwhile Carey looked cool, calm and collected. The Vancouver broadcast team took note.

I’ll come back to this topic in greater length, but Douglas Murray proved his worth again tonight when Tom Sestito, who is a tough customer able to give Brian McGrattan a run for his money, started throwing his weight around in front of the Canadiens net. I think it was Ryan White or Brandon Prust who wrapped him up, but right with him in the scrum was the big Swede. Mr. Sestito kept barking, but allowed himself to be steered away from the crease, and skated away without any facewashing or cross-checking. Douglas Murray’s physical presence defuses certain situations before they explode, and in the NHL as it’s currently mismanaged, this contribution is crucial, even if it doesn’t appear on the scoresheet, and in the Corsi or Fenwick or other calculations. If the Senators have Jared Cowan and Eric Gryba, and the Leafs have Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren, we have to have players like George Parros and Douglas Murray.

To really get a sense of how he’s doing, we should be comparing his stats and advanced stats against other players of his ilk, #6 defencemen who are not there for their powerplay skills, but for their rough-and-tough attributes. So we should measure him against the Mark Frasers, the Deryk Engellands, not against Raphaël Diaz or Francis Bouillon, who are on the team for other skillsets.

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