Wednesday, February 27, 2008

This Game's Going to a Shootout! (NOOOOOOOOOOOO!)

A few odds and ends here... but first! A PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT FOR ALL OF BUFFALO!

BUFALLO! THE DETROIT RED WINGS HAVE A GOALIE IN THEIR SYSTEM BY THE NAME OF JIMMY HOWARD! THEY REALLY LIKE HIM! THEY THINK HE'S GOING TO BE REALLY GOOD! HE PLAYED IN A GAME ON NBC A COUPLE WEEKS AGO AND LOOKED REALLY GOOD! EVEN THOUGH PIERRE MCGUIRE ACTED LIKE THIS KID HAD APPEARED OUT OF THIN AIR, I ASSURE YOU HE DID NOT! THE WINGS HAVE KNOWN ABOUT HIM THE ENTIRE TIME! I REALLY DOUBT THAT THEY'LL BURY HIM BEHIND RYAN MILLER WHO IS GOING TO COST A LOT OF MONEY EVEN IF RYAN MILLER IS FROM MICHIGAN! THEY DON'T CARE! THEY JUST WANT A GOOD GOALIE! WHICH THEY HAVE! NO NEED TO FREAK OUT OVER SOMETHING THAT HASN'T HAPPENED AND MORE IMPORTANTLY, IS NOT VERY LIKELY TO HAPPEN IN THE FUTURE! PLEASE CEASE AND DESIST WITH THE FREAKING OUT!

ALSO, WHILE I HAVE YOUR ATTENTION! SABRES EDGE! I'M TRYING VERY HARD NOT TO INCLUDE YOU IN MY BUFFALO NEWS BAN BUT I COULDN'T HELP BUT NOTICE THAT BUCKY GLEASON POSTED THERE FOUR TIMES YESTERDAY, ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT DAYS IN THE HOCKEY SEASON! THAT IS NOT COOL! I NOTICED THAT HE WROTE, "GEE, I GUESS THEY SHOULD HAVE ACCEPTED THAT OFFER OF 25 MILLION FOR FIVE YEARS" WHICH IS 1) DUMB 2) SNOTTY AND 3) A DIRECT CUT AND PASTE OF WHAT HE WROTE LAST TIME HE SHOWED UP ON SABRES EDGE! I DID NOT ENJOY THAT! ALSO! YOUR COMMENTERS ARE WHACK-A-DOOS! I KNOW THERE'S NOT MUCH YOU CAN DO ABOUT THAT! I JUST WANTED TO GO ON THE RECORD!

(This has been a Top Shelf public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.)

Opinion seems to be divided on how the Brian Campbell trade is going to affect the Sabres. I can see both sides and I'm too wishy-washy on this one to commit to one way or the other. But I am interested to see which way it goes. Is it the final blow to a team that's shown itself to be pretty fragile for stretches of the season? Or will it be a load off their shoulders which will now enable them to really focus on hockey? Campbell was clearly distracted and it affected his play which in turn might have affected other people's play. And I think all the guys were probably distracted because while I can't fully jump on the media for doing its job, it was a total circus.

I fully approve of Dmitri Kalinin moving up to play with Jaroslav Spacek. I kind of hate to break up Kalinin and Nolan Pratt because they've found such a nice rhythm but a Spacek-Paetsch pairing sounds like a nightmare waiting to happen to me. I like Kalinin a lot and I think he'll do a fair job of sliding into Campbell's spot because while he's not the skater Campbell is, he can carry the puck and he does a decent job of getting his shot on net. I also think Paetsch is better off with a steadier defensive d-man like Pratt. So Lindy, if you're nosing around to see what I think, thumbs up, buddy!

I've started the much-promised post on the shootout a few times now and it turns out I just don't have much to say that's very insightful. I hate them. I do think they're fun to watch and I do enjoy seeing the occasional unexpected hero pop up, but I can't get behind it being a good way to decide the winner of a game. It's a skills competition and it's such a weird, specific skill. Some goalies who are very good in-game goalies - even on breakaways - are terrible at the shootout and vice versa. Some forwards who are great offensive players in-game - again, even on breakaways - are terrible in shootouts. Some teams who are not good have great shootout records - Tampa Bay was one of the league leaders last season - and some good teams are terrible in shootouts. (I would've pointed to Ottawa here a few weeks ago but I have no idea what's going on with them right now. Man.) There's absolutely no relationship between how that particular game has gone and how the shootout turns out. Does the best team win every game? No, not always. Does the best team on a given night win every game? Not every time but I'd say usually. But not necessarily in a shootout.

I also hate the third point, which I know was around before the shootout. But I hate that some games are worth more than other games and I hate that for every shootout loss the Sabres handed over an extra point to a team they're fighting with for a playoff spot and only because that team happened to be better at a very specific skill than us. (And yes, I'm not going to deny that I'm partly bitter because we stink in shootouts this year.) And really, as much as I hate the shootout as a game decider, it was installed to guarantee a winner and a loser. Why is the loser of a shootout more worthy of a point than the loser of a regulation game? Because they played good defensive hockey for an extra five minutes? I would probably be more cranky if the Sabres lost in a shootout and got nothing for it but theoretically, if we have a winner and a loser, why does the loser get anything. They lost!

But really my main beef with the shootout is this: Everyone - even the people who like them - say, "I don't ever want to see them in the playoffs." Well, if we all agree that they're not a fitting way to decide who wins a playoff game, why is it okay for them to decide games that determine who makes the playoffs in the first place? Let's use the Buffalo-Philly game as an example. (I know, I know, I said we should pretend it didn't happen. Work with me, people!) That game was between the eighth seed and the ninth seed and the winner was going to finish as the eighth seed a.k.a. in the final playoff spot. If that game had been the final game of the season, who moved on to the postseason would have come down to who has the best shootout shooters/goalie and that, my friends, is a blemish on hockey as we know it! I mean, yes, you could justifiably say, "If the Sabres had won more games during the season, it wouldn't have come down to that." And you'd be right. But you could also justifiably say, "If those other teams hadn't picked up so many extra points because they were good at shootouts, they might not be in the picture at all." If the Buffalo-Philly game had ended in a tie - as it should have because both teams were equally good and horrible, I think - then the playoff spot would've been determined by stuff that actually matters like who won more games and how the two teams fared against each other during the season. Am I making sense here? Because I'm feeling a little muddled.

I'm not a big fan of ties. I grew up watching baseball where there's a winner in the end even if two teams have to play all night and into the next morning. But I understand why hockey doesn't have endless overtimes during the regular seasons and if I've learned anything this year it's that well, some games should end in ties. If you're not going to play real hockey until there's a winner, some games should end in ties. Every Buffalo-New Jersey game this season should have ended in a tie. They were hard-fought, evenly matched games. Both sides should have taken its point and moved on to the next game with the knowledge that if necessary, they'd settle the matter of a winner and loser in the playoffs.

If we must keep shootouts, I'd make overtime 4-on-4 for ten minutes and I'd take away the guaranteed point for making it to overtime. Guaranteed points are for wussies. If there's no guaranteed point, maybe teams would push a little harder to get that goal in overtime, especially if they're not good at shootouts and risk leaving the game with no points and ten minutes would give them more time to do it. Winner, whether it's OT or the shootout, gets two points, loser gets nada. If I had my druthers though I'd do the above and at the end of the OT, call it a tie and send both teams off with one point.

Thirty-seven of you said you have no problem with the shootout. Thirty-nine of you said you hate ties and the shootout. Anyone want to throw out a different idea on what you'd like to see happen and why?

4 comments:

Pookie said...

Well, if we all agree that they're not a fitting way to decide who wins a playoff game, why is it okay for them to decide games that determine who makes the playoffs in the first place?

SUCH A GREAT POINT! And so succint. I'm going to leave now before I get all worked up over this.

Heather B. said...

And so succinct.

I'm just gonna assume you mean, "Way to use 350 words to say what you could've said in 35, right? :P And somehow I thought you'd agree.

Kate said...

Heather, your ALL CAPS public service announcement just made me laugh really hard!

Vanek's Hair said...

Hey lay off Bucky "Bucky" Gleason. Every player could have been had for 5 years $25 million at some point. Don't you know that. That is the magic number that would have kept Briere, Drury, Campbell, prevented the qualifying offer to Vanek, established peace in the Middle East and fed all starving children in Africa.