Because: why not?
Because: why not?
Here are some sports related gifs I found this week:
Is it just me, or does it seem like sports trend of using and studying more statistics (especially newly tracked numbers) to improve your team not really affecting hockey all that much. There’s been a trend toward Finnish goaltenders who are great at not giving up rebounds and forcing the puck to the corner, but I don’t think that was due to any study of the actual numbers, just people realizing that the goaltenders coming from Finland are awesome.
Something else I’ve never understood is the whole dump and chase style of play. It just looks like a way of giving up the puck to the other team. And the people behind the delightfully nerdy named NHLNumbers.com are tracking this data on their own and coming to the obvious conclusion:
Carrying the puck in is way better than dumping it in, more than twice as good — and it’s not because of odd-man rushes or player skill or any other external factor; it’s just because having the puck in the opponent’s zone headed towards the goal is a lot better than trying to outrace the opponent to try to get the puck in the corner.
Most people don’t recognize just how big the difference is, and the data suggests that teams should be trying harder than they are to carry the puck in. If coaches are telling their third line to dump the puck, they are probably giving away scoring chances. If coaches are telling the players to dump the puck in borderline situations where they think carrying it might lead to a turnover, they are probably giving away scoring chances. Even regrouping and trying again might be better than dumping the puck in, especially when the team has their top line on the ice.
Of course this all needs to be taken with a grain of skepticism, as the dataset is very small and who knows what a larger amount of data will say about these preliminary conclusions.
There’s about 1 week left of the hockey (NHL) regular season and the Bruins bear has started to make his appearance. Here’s his new show:
And in completely unrelated news, Amazon has a book called Even You Can Learn Statistics: A Guide for Everyone Who Has Ever Been Afraid of Statistics on sale for the Kindle for a whopping $0.00. So go download it and ignore it.
On Saturday night, the Boston College men’s hockey team beat Notre Dame to capture the national championship. As an alumni, obsessed fan and former mascot, this pleases me greatly. But I wasn’t as absolutely thrilled as I thought I’d be. For the past two years, the BC team had their season ended with a championship game loss. Accordingly, for the past two years, I was crushed. Just flat out crushed. Hockey is our sport. We own hockey. Yes, BC has a perennial Top 25 football team and a basketball team that makes the tournament most years, but hockey is our thing. We pull the best recruits in and usually win three times as many games as we lose. And so getting to the finals of the Frozen Four and losing is agony.
And that got me thinking. When you love a team, losing hurts far more than winning heals. When the Yankees won the World Series a few times in the 90s, I was thrilled each time. But since, each early playoff exit hurts me like having an old wound throb. When they won, I celebrated for a nighta and woke up the next day feeling good. But when they lost, I was out of commission for a whole weekend. It seems hardly fair. Why is the human mind so geared towards wallowing in heartache and so ill-prepared for good fortune?
I was focusing on this so much that the taste of victory started losing its zest. I began to dwell on how bad it would’ve been to lose. If Notre Dame beat us, it would’ve been entirely unacceptable to BC diehards. They would be calling for Coach Jerry York’s head. Their message boards would be alive with lamentations over the end of hockey dominance in Chestnut Hill. I began feeling as if I had just survived a plane crash instead of feeling like I witnessed my alma mater win a championship.
What a terrible way to live. Happiness is fleeting and the default mode of the sports fan is crushing disappointment. Why do we do this to ourselves? I wish I had an answer but I don’t. Though I supposestaying home alone.
Nerds on Sports correspondents Serpico and myself watched BC win a nail-biter in overtime,, to take the Beanpot from those upstarts at Harvard. Watching hockey in that quiet interlude between the Super Bowl and the start of spring training inspired us to post some frequently asked hockey questions (FAH-Q).
Q: Why does the NHL draft work different from NFL or NBA drafts?
Serpico mentioned that John Muse, BC’s frosh goalie, started this year only because BC’s prior goalie was drafted straight out of BC. In the NHL, players can be drafted while still in college … but they get to complete their education and then play. “What a remarkable system,” I said. “Why can’t football or basketball work the same way?”
We came up with two theoretical answers:
(1) Despite its violence, there’s less chance of career-ending injury in a year of hockey than a year of football. No team would be willing to waste a draft pick on a running back who could easily snap an ankle in week 9.
(2) Multiply that by the many millions of dollars that basketball and football are worth. Hockey’s popular, I guess, but it’s not the same kind of business. Franchises can only afford those kind of risks in the NHL. And maybe lacrosse.
Q: Is a zamboni technically a ‘vehicle’?
A judge ruled the four-ton ice rink-grooming machines aren’t motor vehicles because they aren’t useable on highways and can’t carry passengers.Zamboni operator John Peragallo had been charged with drunken driving in 2005 after a fellow employee at the Mennen Sports Arena in Morristown told police the machine was speeding and nearly crashed into the boards.
Police said Peragallo’s blood alcohol level was 0.12 percent. A level of 0.08 is considered legally drunk in New Jersey.
Peragallo appealed, and Superior Court Judge Joseph Falcone on Monday overturned his license revocation and penalties.
In other news, at least one citizen of New Jersey named “Falcone” is on the right side of the law.
Q: Why is the Eastern Conference Championship called the Prince of Wales Trophy?
Even the most dabbling of sports trivia fans knows that the NHL trophy is known as “Lord Stanley’s Cup.” But why is the Eastern Conference Championship – which the Bruins haven’t won since 1990, I might add – known as the “Prince of Wales Trophy”?
The easy answer is because Edward VIII, Prince of Wales donated it to the League in 1924. British royalty has had an odd fascination with the game of hockey for more than a century, starting with Governor General Stanley’s creation of a “challenge cup” for the best amateur Canadian ice hockey team in 1893. The cup followed the National Hockey Association when it merged with several other leagues to form the NHL in 1917. When the teams were originally divided up, Boston (and the Northeast) played in what was called the “Wales Division.” Hence the cup’s name and origin.
Q: How’s Richard Zednik doing?
After taking a skate blade to the carotid, Florida Panthers player Richard Zednik was rushed to Buffalo General Hospital*. He’s stable but shaken. The Florida Panthers’ organization would like to thank the medical staff at Buffalo General, the Buffalo Sabres organization, the staff at HSBC stadium and all the loyal hockey fans who kept Zednik in their thoughts.
Q: Does Harvard even have a mascot?
Harvard’s mascot is The Man, an officer in full riot gear. His only known cheer is to glare through a tinted visor at the opposing team’s bench and ominously thwack a baton into his open palm.
Q: Is the Beanpot a big deal in Boston?
Let me put it this way: I saw more people scalping tickets outside a non-conference hockey rivalry than I did at the Celtics game I went to a month ago – and unlike Harvard, the Celtics are doing well. As Serpico put it, the Beanpot brings together four Boston area schools all within a thirty minute train ride of each other. That’s classic rivalry fuel. See it if you can – it’s a hell of a thing.
Also: let’s go Eagles.
* They were playing in Buffalo; this wasn’t an oblique attempt to prolong his agony.
Here is a list of Popular Sports and their Improvised Indoor Equivalents:
Equivalent: Paper Field Goals
Setup: Fold a piece of 8.5 x 11 paper in half so it’s long and skinny. Fold it in half again the same way. Now triangle it up like you’re folding an American flag. The resulting wad should be a very compact little triangle. If you don’t know how to fold an American flag, join the Boy Scouts and suffer like the rest of us did.
Rules: One guy holds his hands up, palms out, and touches the tips of his thumbs together. The other guy tries to flick the paper football through the open space in his hands, like a field goal kick.
Accuracy: This game omits every aspect of traditional football – running, passing, blocking, tackling, play-calling – except kicking field goals. As such, it’s a remarkably faithful imitation of a Ravens / Colts game, but otherwise not very close.
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Equivalent: Trashcan Basketball
Setup: You need a trashcan and anything that can be held in one hand. This can be a crumpled up piece of paper, a crushed soda can, a ball of rubber bands, a stress ball, anything.
Rules: One player attempts to throw the projectile into the trashcan. The other player plays defense. If played in an office, the players may confine themselves to wheeled office chairs for an added challenge.
Accuracy: Remarkably close. What the game loses in scoring and fouls, it more than makes up for in the volume of trash-talking.
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Equivalent: Coin Hockey
Setup: Three coins of equal denomination and a long smooth surface, like a conference table.
Rules: Put the three coins together like a triangle. Tap the coin closest to you very firmly. The force will be transferred to the other two coins, causing them to scatter.
You then work this trio of coins up the table by sliding one of them between the other two. The moving coin can’t touch either of the stationary coins and it can’t fall off the table, or play changes hands.
If the coins get to the end of the table, shoot them through a goal made by the other player’s hands.
Accuracy: Notional. There’s a goal and you slide a flat object through it. It barely has any correspondence with the game of the same name. I mean, come on. It’s like people don’t even watch hockey anymore.
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Equivalent: Home Run Derby
Setup: A small object (same size as Trashcan Basketball) and a long, flat object. A binder full of procedures, a cafeteria tray or a textbook will work just fine.
Rules: One player throws the object. The other player swings his “bat” at the object and sends it as far as he can. He then imitates his favorite announcer’s method of describing a home run.
Accuracy: Most people don’t even keep score.
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Sport: Mixed Martial Arts
Equivalent: You Wanna Go?
Setup: Two guys in a hallway, conference room or classroom.
Rules: After a mock insult is exchanged between the players, they bump chests, throw their arms up into the air, and taunt each other with some variety of, “You wanna go? You wanna throw down, cupcake? You gonna back up that tough talk? What? What you looking at? What?” This continues until one or both players back down, saying some equivalent of “That’s what I thought” or “Yeah, you just wait.”
Accuracy: Close enough.
Technically speaking, readers, today (Tuesday) is Business Day One of the workweek. So though I didn’t post on Monday, I don’t think I’m entirely in default for my weekly commitment. Thank the good lord for sweet technicalities – they’re the only thing that keeps me going. Anyway, let’s do this.
I logged on to ESPN this morning and was legitimately stunned that the front-page article up was about Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals. I was half-expecting news about Roger Clemens’ minor league start or something about the Spurs-Jazz series. But no. There was an honest to goodness hockey article up there. There is in-depth analysis around this now-marginalized sport on one of America’s most frequented websites, and it is putting me in a very odd place, sportsmotionally. Read More