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Archive for the ‘Hockey’ Category

Canada’s dominant gold-medal hockey game

Don’t listen to the columnists and sportswriters who say the US women dominated the gold-medal game for 57 or whatever minutes. It’s simply not true. Canada dominated that game but didn’t have the same puck luck until the end.

Corsi is an advanced stat that counts shot attempts, shots, missed shots, and blocked shots are all Corsi events. Corsi has proven to be the best predictor of hockey success, probably because it smooths out the luck factor.

Now, power plays obviously give any team an advantage in shots and Corsi, so using only even-strength Corsi numbers is the best analysis. Mainstream reporters and organizations like the NHL or the IOC don’t supply those numbers. You either have to calculate them yourself or take advantage of someone else who does, like Darryl Metcalf at Extra Skater.

Darryl isn’t closely following Olympic hockey games, so I am indebted to Jen LC, who posted her calculations on Twitter.

Here’s the money shot:

corsi

Canada out-Corsied the US at even strength by 53-28.

Traditionally – a weird word for how new the stat is – Corsi is measured as a percentage of a game’s events. Canada’s 65% is phenomenally dominating.

Canada deserved that game. As Jen put it, “Not that I loved the penalties or anything but at 5v5 Canada owned the puck.”

Update:

And here are Jen’s numbers for the men’s US vs. Canada game.

MenCorsi

Snow means hockey

Actually, hockey starts in September when we’re still in sandals. I am, at least.

Here are some video highlights from Child Three’s attendance at NDG goalie clinic this week.

YouTube Preview Image

He’s having a good year so far, having given up only eight goals in his five games. Our Peewee A team is improving and I really feel we can beat nearly every team in the league, although we currently have a 3-3-4 record that includes two ties and a loss against teams we should have beaten.

Poor decisions in Web management

The Montreal Gazette’s Habs Inside/Out site has grown over a few short years into the de facto destination for English-speaking fans of the Montreal Canadiens. The word “Habs”, of course, is short for “habitants”, which is what the early French-Canadians – the Canadiens – were called in the 17th century.

The Club de Hockey Canadien Inc. asked the Gazette to stop using the word “Habs” in reference to its Web site. It’s arguable whether or not the Canadiens can uphold a trademark on the nickname, but the Gazette capitulated and renamed the site Hockey Inside/Out.

Notwithstanding some grumbling from the hoi polloi, such a change is easily accomplished. You register the new domain name, hockeyinsideout.com, and transfer the content of your habsinsideout.com site to the new domain. Sure, you may have to change a few links here or there with a global find and replace, but the site will remain robust.

Instead, the Gazette took the opportunity to move the entire site to WordPress. What a hellacious mistake. The site has lost all reader comments and much of contributor Mike Boone’s post-game analyses. I can’t even show you what the old site looked like because the Web team has trashed the CSS code it used to use. Even links to old stories no longer work.

Audiences are conservative. They don’t like change. In this case, the audience is right. Take a look at this malfunctioning page of crap. It used to have dozens of comments. Go ahead and try the link to Boone’s “Quick Hits/About Saturday afternoon…”. Or try the link to the unhappily formatted “Afternoon delight”.

I’ve just spent two weeks at my dad’s apartment while his wife was back home in the Bahamas taking care of affairs. I did pretty darned well without a newspaper. Missteps like this make it easier.

Bonus knee news:

I can walk at about 90% efficiency thanks to physio. I can’t run, skate, jump, etc. yet. I do know that jumping off a bench hurts.

Dreaming a bit too vividly

I was sleeping, and dreaming of playing hockey. I was a winger, battling for position in front of the net with a defenseman. The guy grabbed my stick and pulled it out of my hands, so I reared back to punch him.

Before my anti-depressants, I might have actually done that, by the way.

I let loose with the punch. Outside the dream, in real life, I also let loose with a punch. I hit Elvi in her left shoulder. She woke and woke me to ask, “Why did you hit me?” I told her it wasn’t her but this guy who wouldn’t let go of my stick.

When we woke up in the morning, I asked Elvi whether I had dreamed that I hit her or I really did. She told me I did.

Holiday shopping

Christmas and especially Hanukah are right around the corner. Does anybody know where I can find Kackel Dackel in North America?

Or perhaps a cat-hating evil crow that finds pleasure in the predicaments of others?

Or a forward who can score?

(We’re the Panthers, BC is goals against, and BP is goals scored. Three of those goals have been scored by defencemen.)

And then there’s “Your Highness” on the horizon. How soon can we buy tickets?

It’s hockey season

I haven’t told much about Child Three’s baseball team, for which I was an assistant coach. The team hobbled to a last-place finish in the regular season but incredible pitching got us to the penultimate game, which we lost for a third-place finish. Child Three had a marvelous season at the plate. The power isn’t there, but the batting eye is, as is the swing. The little on-base machine takes after his dad.

But now is hockey season. Child Three and I were ready to make and coach NDG’s Atom CC team this year until the city BB team cut an NDG goalie, bumping both of us down to Atom A, on a team with two goalies.

Our team was shut out in our first two games and have scored two goals in each of the next two, good for a 1-2-1 record. I love this team, though. Nearly every kid applies himself and, in one case, herself, and we may be the best skating team in the league. It’s beautiful to watch. We’ve been working on offense lately in recent practices….

I feel bad about today’s 2-2 tie, however. The kids worked hard, outshooting the opposition 18-6. I can’t fault our goalie for the two goals given up, both were great shots. My job as a coach is to put my team in a position to succeed, but today I put them in a position to fail.

One of our defensemen is new to the position. The basics of the position are just not sinking in, though. I teach and I teach, and he just doesn’t get it. Today, the entire team played poorly in the first five minutes, but the goal we gave up was on a rebound that went to a player that our out-of-position defenseman should have been covering. He had not been playing well or skating hard, and you can’t have a kid like that on defense. I decided to give him another chance before I would switch him with a wing who I know can play D.

By the time the first period ended, we had taken a 2-1 lead, and my troublesome defender played OK. I decided to leave him alone. The second period saw few shots from either team, but at the start of the third, that same defenseman had reverted. I figured I would let him finish the game at defense since we were dominating play.

That was my mistake. I put him in a position to fail. I should have switched him out and put a better defender back there to protect the lead. His poor positioning allowed two breakaways in the last minute of play, one of which turned into a goal in the last minute of play. Those breakaways led to the only two shots we gave up in the third period.

I really blame myself. Kids play like kids play, and it’s my job to maximize their potential. I failed at that today, but it’s a lesson for the future.

Year-old hockey video

I finally bought a Firewire 400 to 800 adapter so I can start to move my videotape to digital media. I started with my oldest unconverted tape because were I to begin with the most recent, I probably would neglect the older footage forever.

The following clips show the last period of last year’s Hockey Montreal Western Division final. Every player you see in that game is a lot better now. It’s amazing to watch these kids improve by leaps and bounds year after year.





Bonus video:

OK, I couldn’t let that last comment go by without evidence. Here’s a video almost exactly a year later of mostly the same kids, now in Atom, playing an informal scrimmage after the season ended this past March.

Tournament time

Our NDG Novice B team is playing in the tournament we host over the holidays. (We’re the Cougars in the results page I linked to.)

Having won our division in a tough game yesterday that pitted the two unbeaten teams against one another, we played a Boisbriand team today that had lost one game all year. That one loss, by the score of 4-3, was to our fellow NDG team, the Panthers, in this tournament last weekend.

Going into the third period, we were down 3-1. Boisbriand scored all their goals on rebounds or goalmouth scrambles. We had our rebounds, but often didn’t have players in place to cash in. They did, and our defence wasn’t used to playing against a team this solid in its hockey sense and capability.

The third period was fantastic hockey. Child Three’s pads flashed out left and right to stop good opportunities, and we scored a goal on a breakaway. We tied it with only a few minutes to go.

We played a five-minute overtime that settled nothing.

Both goalies played marvelous games, although they had a huge gulf in styles. The Boisbriand goalie was a big kid who always tried a butterfly style, the kind that slides backward and ends up with the goalie sprawled belly down on the ice. Child Three is more upright and mobile, relying on angles and speed to get in the way of the puck.

Still tied, off to a shootout we went. The head coach sent me to counsel Child Three. He skated toward me at the bench, and I could see that his eyes were as big as saucers. “I can really feel the adrenaline,” he said. I asked him if he felt shaky, and he told me he did. So did I.

As home team, we decided to shoot first.

Our first shooter, who’d scored our second goal, deked the goalie and had half a net to shoot at: 1-0.

Their first shooter came straight and let go a good glove-side shot. Child Three didn’t catch it, but did get his elbow in the way: 1-0.

Our second shooter also tried a deke, but was stopped with a beautiful butterfly slide across the crease: 1-0.

Their second shooter swung wide and came across the slot. Child Three, on the ice to make a save, lunged for it but there was little doubt: 1-1.

Our third shooter – hmmm. I don’t remember what our third shooter did, but it didn’t go in: 1-1.

I had explained to Child Three after the goal that if a skater swings wide like the shootout scorer had, it’s going to be a deke. If the shooter comes straight in, it’s usually going to be a shot. Their third shooter came straight in and launched a hard shot about knee high. Child Three sprawled on his side and took it in the head to keep the shootout going.

Our fourth shooter challenged the butterfly with a shot at the five hole, which squeaked in: 2-1.

Boisbriand’s fourth shooter came in and took another good shot about hip-high to the glove side. Child Three again leapt to get in the way and the puck disappeared. The referee skated over and signaled no goal. Child Three got up and the puck was underneath him. He’d made another head save, he explained later, although he didn’t know where the puck had gone to.

Victory was ours today. We play our fellow NDGers tomorrow in the championship game. If this keeps up, I’m not going to live to 50.

A very video Vednesday

The videos of Child Three’s all-star game are up.

This took a bit longer than I planned, as I experimented with video formats and sizes. I’m not 100% pleased with the result, but I’ll follow the “80% is good enough” principle on this one and call it done.

I had a little panic attack Monday when halfway through the editing process iMovie refused to accept clips from the camera. There was space on the drive I was using, but I transferred some large files off to make more room. That didn’t help, so I tried to move them back and got a Mac OS X error message, error -36. A panicky half hour of research later, I opened up Disk Utility and repaired some errors in the directory. That was the problem, and it was smooth sailing – and editing – from that point on.

First period (Child Three rides the bench for this one):

Second period:

Third period:

If you want higher resolution versions of this, ask me for a DVD. It looks much better. Why do I use Google Video instead of YouTube? Because YouTube restricts uploads to videos up to ten minutes long and the hockey periods run longer than that.

Bonus video:

Two great tastes that taste great together:

YouTube Preview Image

Naches

Hockey Montreal held this year’s Novice B all-star game at Rodrigue Gilbert Arena in Pointe aux Trembles. That’s so far east (northeast for non-Montrealers) that every highway exit has a sign for a bridge. It was more than a half-hour drive from our home in the west-central region of the city/island.

I woke at 8:00 a.m., showered and fed Child Three, and we loaded his goalie equipment in the car. We set out at 9:15, given the light snow and threat of more. We got to the arena by 10:00 a.m., the time we were told to show up. We were among the first to appear, but soon everyone else filtered in. The two NDG head coaches didn’t make it. Neither had a child in the game and the drive was long, although both were invited to coach in the game. Our head coach designated me his proxy.

I brought a video camera and filmed a bit in the dressing room. The first part of the morning was a skills competition. I was, of course, mostly interested in the goalies, one in particular, and I focused my filming on that – when I could focus. At one point the camera would no longer auto-focus or even manually focus, although it would still zoom in and out. The problem went away after I turned the camera off and back on, but I’d already spent some anxiety. I was able to to get some footage of the two NDG goalies chatting during a break – maybe discussing what they’ll name their little goalie children after they hook up.

I filmed the skills competition from the bench, but there were four coaches back there and I could get a better angle on the game from higher up, so I left the kids and raced up into the stands.

Last year, I was head coach at this all-star game, which is divided into the East division against the West (we only play inside our division during the season). We got shellacked, something like 8-3. This year the game was much more even. The change in player age classification from one that matches the school-year date of October to the end of the chronological year seems to have affected the eastern half of the city as much as it did us.

There are three goalies on each team and one plays each period. The other NDG goalie, started and had only three shots, although she had to make three great saves. Child Three grabbed the second period and wrung its neck. He played superbly as the East team came on more strongly. He was so impressive, other parents looked envious as they asked if he were my son.

The third goalie came into the third period with a 2-0 lead, but let in a weak goal among some good saves. A short time into the third period, though, he pulled something in his hip or groin and left the game. The head coach tapped Child Three to go back in net.

If that kid put on a show in the second, he raised the roof in the third. Wow, did he play great. The crowd roared after some of his stops, particularly one in which he stretched and reached and deflected a sure goal headed into the top left corner. He didn’t let anything past him and the West team won 2-1.

The organizers handed out awards for the skills competition following the game. Child Three won for best goalie, and you can click that image for a close-up of his medal. (I don’t think his game performance entered into this decision, but it would have seemed odd to see any other goalie win that after his game.) Player of the game for the West was #40 on the Ahuntsic Bruins, who we saw in that game, and who turns out to be still six years old. I suspect that had Child Three not won the best goalie award, he would have won that award as well.

(I do feel badly for the other NDG goalie, who in a fair universe would have spent some time in goal in the third period, too.)

Most of my footage is still in the editing suite, but I did slap together a film of the skills competition. I’m not happy with the Google Video compression of the MPEG/MP4 (for some reason much worse than the conversion of the earlier QuickTime .mov files), so I will redo it once I get the game films online. In the meantime, here’s the initial version.

Once the all-star game ended, we came home, relaxed for an hour plus, and headed out to play a game at the NDG Novice/Atom tournament. We played a hard-fought game against the Boisbriand Laser B2 and won 1-0 as our boys played their hearts out and butts off. Not bad, eh? An all-star game, an award for best goalie, and a shutout all in the same day.

And today, in league play, we took a convincing 3-2 win over the team that completely outplayed us to a 2- tie last week. Last week, we had four shots; this week, the skate was on the other foot.

Bonus Diddy:

Someone from Seanjohn.com visited 101 after a Google search for “”misunderstood artist” – for which thus humble blog ranks fourth in the known universe.

If I knew what I’m doing right with respect to Google Pagerank, I’d bottle and sell it and make a fortune.

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