In honor of NaBloPoMO, I'll be attempting to post something every day in November. If you're not checking in every day, make sure you're catching all the posts! Geez, whose idea was this?
- Well, I guess there are worse teams to play 18 times in one month. Montreal was one of my favorite teams to play last season and the games have definitely been fun this season too. It's nice to see some fast, wide open hockey. And it has been kind of entertaining watching these two teams get feisty with each other. Still... I'm ready to see someone else.
- The feature on Thomas Vanek during the first intermission was one of the worst pieces I've ever seen. Kevin Sylvester teased us with "Here's a little about what Thomas Vanek does off the ice" and then we got what felt like 45 seconds of him playing bubble hockey - at the arena! - with Michael Ryan. I suppose technically he was off the ice, but he never even left the building. I learned more about Mike Ryan watching that. Usually these little fluff pieces are pretty good so I was really disappointed. Geez, Vanek seems like a kid though, doesn't he? I always forget just how young he is. When did these guys all get so much younger than me?
- Jocelyn Thibault has been unimpressive in every other start this season, but he looked really good tonight. Strike that - he looked great. He came up with a few big saves in the first period to keep the game scoreless and he stood strong for the rest of the game. He couldn't stop grinning after the game and I love when guys are like that. All his teammates looked really happy for him too, especially Ryan. I admit, I thought Lindy should have started Ryan tonight and saved T-Bone for the Capitals on Monday. Shows what I know!
- Thomas Vanek's goal was a thing of beauty. He got that puck in the net on sheer will. He decided he was going to score and nothing was going to stop him. I know I've said this after the last couple of games, but this is the player you build a team around. He's so much fun to watch right now.
- I knew Henrik Tallinder was hurt the second he took that hit. My Hank senses were tingling like crazy. I was waiting through the entire second intermission for them to tell us he'd re-broken his arm while Mark kept insisting he was fine. (Me: "QUIT SAYING HE'S FINE! I'M TELLING YOU HE'S HURT! HE WILL NOT BE BACK ON THE BENCH TONIGHT!" Mark: "Are you nervous?" Me: "NO!") Dear Sabres, I told you! Adamantium skeleton! Anyway... Kudos to Toni (Tony Tone) Lydman for stepping up in his partner's absence and helping hold the Canadiens to a big fat zero. And hey, how good has our penalty killing been? Holding Montreal to 1/9 over two games is pretty impressive.
- Part of the reason I love Derek Roy: Vanek is getting cheap-shotted behind the net and Derek comes flying in to take care of it. Derek could fit very comfortably in my pocket so he's not going to do much damage, but hey, he was in there swinging away.
- This is totally unrelated, but I've been meaning to mention it for a few days so I'm going to shoe-horn it in here. Last season Mirtle attempted to develop a formula to determine the best defensive defensemen in the league. It's not an easy task and what he came up with is imperfect - it doesn't factor in how good the team goaltending is for one thing - but I thought it was interesting. He narrowed down the list to the top 90 d-men in even-strength ice time and then narrowed that list down again by picking out the top 60 in shorthanded time, the idea being that good defensive d-men will be a big part of their team's penalty kill. Within that group, he looked at three different criterion: rate of goals against at even-strength, rate of goals against at shorthanded, and strength of opposition. Again, it's not a perfect science and I'd argue that part of the reason defensive defensemen (and defensive forwards) are so underrated and underappreciated is because defense is such a hard thing to quantify. There's no stat you can look at and say, "See? That guy's a great defensive player."
A few days ago, Mirtle wrote an entry about the best d-men so far this season, again using his formula. You can follow the link to see the whole list, but the top ten were Anton Volchenkov (OTT), Brian Rafalski (DET), Chris Phillips (OTT), Nicklas Lidstrom (DET), Chris Pronger (ANA), Jan Hejda (COL), Marc-Edouard Vlasic (SJ), Hal Gill (TOR), Michael Rozsival (NYR), and Kimmo Timonen (PHI). Squeaking in at number 11? Henrik Tallinder, BUF. Again... not a perfect science and I recognize that, but I liked seeing Hank up there, especially since he got off to such a rocky start.
"He likes me! Mirtle really likes me!"