Monday, March 28, 2011

Avs season in review part 1: goaltending, Adrian Dater, the ashes, the rain & I

nothing is fucked? the PLANE has crashed into the MOUNTAIN

Well, it's been a week of freaking out and being 'way too busy trying to unruin my life to worry about hockey diligent effort to figure out The Meaning of the Avalanche 2010-2011. And here's what I've come up with.

But I do have a few thoughts.

Thought the Number of Which is: 1

Good goaltending is kind of important.

(Handy guide for Avs fans considering next year's goaltending options.)

The Hockey Rodent once put together a typically cranky, spiky, compelling statistical analysis that suggested it's better to have

  • an inconsistent goalie who steals one here, loses one singlehandedly there, and is okay the rest of the time than it is to have
  • a guy who gives up three goals literally every single game.

Now, I like and respect this analysis, and but need to offer a couple addenda.

Addendum to the Thought the Number of Which is: 1 the Letter of Which is: a

Anything is better than a goalie who gives up four goals every single game. Sorry, Boods. It appears as though you just plain can't buy win #100 in an Avalanche uniform. You were a good backup and a better person, and I can't imagine a single Avalanche fan who wants to see you back in the burgandy and blue.

May the road rise to meet your step, the pucks always come straight and unscreened, and may you never again play behind a defensive corps as shoddy as the one you had this year.

Addendum to the Thought the Number of Which is: 1 the Letter of Which is: b

On a bad team, like the Avs, you aren't likely to get a goalie who balances games stolen with games given away. You're much more likely to get a goalie who balances games given away with games played really well but you just can't buy a break against a better team and so you lose a heartbreaker.

Now, I want to be very very clear: Idiot Trudeau recently accused me of, inter alia, subscribing to some kind of hard-luck narrative for the Avs' season. I subscribe to no such thing. While I haven't quite determined what I think the most accurate summation of this season would be, I'm leaning toward

the roster was poorly constructed and the coaching was both slightly suboptimal (slash below the league average) on an Xs and Os level and incapable of getting the team to play well in the first 10 minutes of games.

(Handy guide for Avs fans considering this year's goaltending.)

The "can't buy a break" italics up there are meant as a distanced parody of a stupid set of excuses about a loss.

That said, Avs non-savior Brian Elliott probably did play his best two games as an Av in losses against San Jose and Vancouver.

I sort of doubt he'll be back, and I am sure I think he's not a legitimate #1 goaltender in the NHL. The skill is I think there: you don't play well against good teams by accident.1 But he is wildly inconsistent, has a track record of sub-average performance at the NHL level, and, as I've argued before, since he is a goalie in the middle of changing his technique, he is unlikely to perform well when he's working for a penny-pinching franchise that is unwilling to employ a full-time goalie coach.3

Addendum to the Thought the Number of Which is: 1 the Letter of Which is: c

Avs beat writer Adrian Dater has been unswerving and unstinting in his assertions that Craig Anderson absolutely did not give up on the Avs. Dater's claim is that the whilom St. Mayor's struggles were due to being out of rhythm post-injury, a terrible defense, and, uhm...those are the things that Dater believes made Craig Anderson a bad goalie this year.

Interestingly, however, these things seem to have been completely fixed by a trade to Ottawa.4 Anderson has found his rhythm, finally, and is apparently playing behind a much-improved defensive corps, because his numbers have skyrocketed.

Avalanche numbers: 13-15-3, 3.28 GAA, .897 Sv%, 0 SO
Senators numbers: 7-4-0, 2.00 GAA, .940 SV%, 1 SO

I'm on record as rooting for the man, even on his new team, and I'm glad he got the long-term deal he wanted (4 years, $12.75 million). I'm sad, however, that apparently Brian Elliott is now completely out of rhythm, and suffering badly as he plays behind an Avalanche defensive corps that is clearly much, much worse than the one he used to play behind. Just look at how his numbers have completely plummeted since he was acquired by Colorado.

Senators numbers: 13-19-8, 3.19 GAA, .894 Sv%, 3 SO
Avalanche numbers: 2-5-1, 3.72 GAA, .890 Sv%, 0 SO.

It's like he's a completely different guy for the Avs.

--Collision, playing for next year's contract by being a flaming dick to his betters
(The numbers above will be slightly out of date when this post drops on monday--as I write this on friday night, Andy just put up another shutout, and Elliott may play tomorrow against the Kings.

1 There is an argument that says he hasn't seen these good teams bring their A game, because the Avs have been bottomfeeders as long as he's been here. I dig that. Especially because, as noted, even though I judge him as having played well, in the end, he lost both of these games, suggesting that when the bad guys2 other team turned it on played to their talent level actually started trying, he was unable to meet their skill with his own.

2 Have I mentioned how much I loathe grups who say "bad guys"? Christ, it galls.

3 This is not complaining; this is not excuse-making; this is a howl of outrage over an organization that has failed to understand that a three-million dollar investment in a goalie can be undermined by failing to make a half-million dollar investment in proper support personnel for that goalie. Or, as an old co-worker and pal used to say, "stepping over a dollar to pick up a dime".

4 Pierre Idiot Trudeau loathes Dater. A couple other Avs diehards do as well. I like him, though I think he's damn' wrong about Andy unless and until he comes up with an explanation that better fits the facts. The following are three Dater blog pieces that I think are excellent and very illustrative of the guy:
a bad day at work
a worse day at work
notes from a night when, yeah, it was fucking rainy

Wanna hate on him? knock yourself out. Just don't do it at me.

1 comment:

pierre idiot trudeau said...

To be fair, I don't hate Dater. I read him before every Canucks/Avs tilt. I just think he has some terrible analysis. AND I also think he fancies himself 'Arbiter of the Avs Narrative', so that encompasses two things I really don't like: Self importance, and Costas-esque prattling on. I guess I am just sick of sportswriters wanting to be novelists EVERY time they sit down to write a freaking column. Thanks, Bill Simmons (for realsies and sarcastically. Guy took sportswriting back from the Jim Romes of the world, then forgot how to write a sports column...) But he has some real info AND he reports it. I have no insider columnist for the Canucks that I really read, so... yeah.