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Babych Please – July 14th, 2017

Happy Friday and Happy Bastille Day to any French people who want to stay up to date on the least crucial Vancouver Canucks news and notes.

  • Former Canuck and current Canuck assistant coach Manny Malhotra was behind the bench during last week’s Prospects Summer Showdown. He and Jonathan Dahlen discover that the Swedish phrase for lactic acid is “sour milk”.
  • Elias Pettersson’s confidence is wonderful and I hope he always has this much fun playing hockey.

   

via

  • Michael DiPietro and Adam Gaudette were also mic’d up during the game. DiPietro tries to cheer his teammates up and Gaudette practices his chirp game.
  • The kids hung out with some kids at the Boys and Girls Club and everyone had a great day filled with dodgeball, jumprope, and more. The group dab at the end is spectacular.

 

  • Erik Gudbranson has found his calling. Honestly, he could quit hockey and just be a full time suit model. Whatever works for him.
  • My favourite member of the Vancouver Canucks family (Phoebe Stecher) was featured on a Bernese Mountain Dog fan account. I’m proud of her! 

  • HockeyMinion

    I agree!! And I also agree about that baby Tryamkin. Goes home crying and whining that he wasn’t important enough. Can’t ever remember where that ‘I’ fits in the word team. Must have missed his mommy or something. 😀

  • wojohowitz

    “They don’t know anything,” Laraque says, but that’s under-selling contribution of analytics

    This in from former NHL Georges Laraque, talking to Bob Stauffer of Oilers Now, defending Edmonton Oilers forward Milan Lucic and blasting analytics bloggers who downplay the physical factor in hockey. Stauffer suggested to Laraque that analytics-based bloggers don’t like tough guys but one of the reasons the Oilers were so healthy this year was because the team had tough players like Lucic and Patrick Maroon playing regularly.

    That’s when Laraque launched a wicked overhand right of a rant: “You said some of the people in the media they don’t like tough guys, and they say stuff, ‘They don’t like it, we don’t believe in this and that.’ This is the trend between people that know the game and people that don’t know the game. There’s many people in the media that cover the game that talk about hockey and stuff but they don’t know anything. And you read them and they want to make it look like they do, but they don’t. The stats you just said right there (on the health of the 2016-17 Oilers) gives you an indication right there of what’s been going on with that team. Why do you think McDavid got 100 points this year? Do you see how much room he’s getting? Yes, there’s a little bit of stuff there and there sometimes, but most of the time he was healthy because of that presence. But you know what those guys are doing, those media? They are going with the wave of…”

    “Analytics,” Stauffer interjected.

    “They should be talking about the results,” Laraque continued. “Yeah, they had a young team that played all the game and, yeah, they had enough toughness that prevent guys to take liberties with those guys. Look at before, the Oilers when they had Zack (Stortini) and other guys that were up and down, people were taking liberties with that team and they were always hurt. Now those days are done. People, when they go to Edmonton, with Darnell Nurse, Lucic, Maroon, all those guys there, people don’t want to take liberties with those kids because there’s a lot of guys can answer the bell… And we’re not even talking about fighting here. We’re talking about a presence that prevents guys from taking cheap shots because they know there would be retribution if they did so.”

    Georges Laraque #27 Jeff Vinnick / Getty Images
    Related: The Cult’s McCurdy with year-end review of Milan Lucic
    My take

    In fairness, it’s not just analytics guys who have discounted the role of enforcers and toughness in hockey. An entire school of hockey developed in Russia in the 1950s and 1960s that held that hockey players had to be bold, tough and fearless, but that you could beat the best without an enforcer on your team, so long as your team played as one and had impressive skill. Last time I checked those Russian teams almost beat Team Canada in 1972 and did beat our best at the 1981 Canada Cup. Of course, a favourite slogan of Soviet national team coach Anatoli Tarasov was: “Hockey is not for cowards.”
    That said, with the way that the National Hockey League is run, crime does pay. The NHL lets so much violent play go unpenalized or under-penalized that it’s useful for an NHL team to have rough and violent players who will take ultra-violent actions in a game. The way Zack Kassian bulled over Logan Couture in the first round of the playoffs was part of the reason the Oilers beat San Jose. The way the Oilers team stood up for one another — after years of failing to do so — was part of the equation of Edmonton being a better, tighter, more cohesive and successful team this year. The way that the Oilers teams of the 1980s had great skill, but also nasty, bruising and vicious players like Mark Messier, Dave Semenko, Kevin McLelland and Marty McSorely has left no doubt in my mind that intimidation is part of winning in the NHL. Indeed, it can be a huge part of winning.
    I’ve seen too many folks who rely mainly on numbers to rate players get it wrong. I no longer put a big amount of weight on this type of analysis, but I have to say this numbers-based analysis is provocative and interesting. Just think of all the fun we’ve had debunking numbers guys who claim that stalwart Kris Russell wasn’t actually a stalwart but was a mediocre-to-atrocious hockey player last year. And then there was the reverence for Benoit Pouliot. Good times! I jest, but this kind of analysis has added spice to hockey debates and perhaps some amount of insight, too. This certainly goes for the analytics folks who believe that fighting and intimidation don’t matter much when it comes winning. As the Russian school proves, it’s not a crazy idea. We’ve seen teams in recent years, like Chicago and Pittsburgh, also win without being stacked with ruffians and enforcers. In the end, all the different viewpoints have some merit. There’s an argument to be had. And, yes, a minority of numbers guys can be extremely rude by insisting in insulting manner that they are correct and (laughably) that they never get anything wrong. At the same time, it’s easy to ignore this obtuse crowd.
    I like numbers as much as the next hockey nerd (even as I don’t agree with many other hockey nerds about which numbers are best at valuing players). But I also hold that hockey knowledge and closely watching players is critical to player evaluation. It’s not possible for fans, bloggers and commentators — who have no access to the private analytics that NHL teams can afford — to fairly and accurately rate players by using numbers only, at least not to the degree of certainty that NHL teams need in properly evaluating players. Evaluators have to take a long, hard look at a player. To the extent that they have sound hockey knowledge and to extent they are willing and able to watch a player closely in a number of games, people will describe that player’s pros and cons in a reasonable fashion. Numbers analysis on top of that is useful, but without the close scrutiny I’m not buying the valuation.
    Some folks know far more about numbers and statistics than others. But some folks know way, way, way more about hockey than others. A sharp hockey analyst may well notice in his or her scouting of a player elements of ferocity and fortitude in that player’s game that aren’t directly counted in his scoring stats or in his various plus-minus numbers — from his official NHL goals plus-minus to his Corsi plus-minus — but nonetheless these aspects of his game help his team win. Zack Kassian didn’t get any Corsi plus marks for slamming Oliver Ekman-Larsson into the boards this year after OEL had illegally hit Matt Hendricks, but I have little doubt that moment was big in bringing together the 2016-17 Oilers as a team, as opposed to the collection of individuals we saw too often from 2009 to 2015.
    Former Oilers captainAndrew Ference has talked about how players in the Edmonton dressing room didn’t stand up for one another enough in 2013-15, and how that contributed to a losing atmosphere. Make no mistake, Ference is as sharp as any numbers-obsessed hockey blogger. “I can’t emphasive it enough, how important it is to come into a room and to know that everybody has bought in and everybody is going to be there for each other…,” Ference has said. “The attitude of knowing that there’s not just one or two guys who are going to go out and fight the battles, and then you look down the locker and you know that guy is never going to go to war for you. I mean, that’s demoralizing. It kills teams, to not be able to look across and know that guy has got your back just as much as you have his.”
    In the end, numbers guys would do well to have some humility about the extent of their hockey knowledge and the limits of their valuations. That said, it would not hurt the Georges Laraques of the world to give some credit to numbers guys, as their close and thoughtful study of the game has provided a few useful insights over the decades. It’s also the case that not all numbers guys presume toughness and togetherness don’t matter much on a team, though that school is indeed well-represented.