Friday, November 21, 2008

Giveaways

Carey Price And His Crease

I do agree with Tobalev's assessment that last night's performance by Carey Price was worthy of praise. He did what he is paid to do – guard the net – with exceptional efficiency and style.

But as ever, Carey (still learning) would endeavour to make his life in net more difficult than it needs to be. Last night (particularly during the first period), though he was making stops easily, Carey was giving me fits. On a few occasions he found his way behind the net to allay his boredom and showed off his overly calm and inept passing ability off to the Sens.


(The timing of this piece is a bit unfortunate, as I don't want to be a downer on Price who earned us two points with some fantastic saves. But it has been on the cards for some time and I wanted to get it out.)

First Sens goal
Following the first Senators goal, my current favourite hockey mind Benoit Brunet, quickly laid the blame on the shoulders of Andrei Markov. Markov he said "is an experienced defender and should have been able to deal with the puck in the crease". Fair enough. I see his point.

What he didn't mention for some reason was how the innocuous build up was turned into a dangerous possession for about the third time in as many minutes by a foray behind the night form our talented (and beyond RDS reproach, apparently) Carey Price. Had Komisarek or O'Byrne made the same fluffy pass up the boards to an advancing Sen, we'd have heard about it to no end. Had Brisebois done the deed, the fans would have called for blood. But Carey got the free pass.

Now, Tobalev seems to think someone had a chat with Carey before this game about the puck-play. I would suggest that if they did, it may have happened in the first intermission. The talk if it did happen was criminally overdue. If it didn't, I'm clamouring for one now.


Goalie giveaways
Goalies are lucky buggers in that it's difficult to access their giveaway stats on the NHL website (well if you're a lowly blogger, anyway). As such, Carey's numbers are kept hidden to public scrutiny. But, luckily for us Hockeyanalysis.com keeps more detailed accounts for us on giveaways, takeaways and other interesting statistical fancies.

As you can see from the list (which is not updated automatically, so doesn't include last night's games), there are a few Habs on there. Andrei Markov – biggest giveaway man in the league according to NHL.com. On the hockeyanalysis list, Andrei is a proud second (having his giveaways pared down by a certain ratio because the website feels Montreal stats gatherers are more free with what defines a giveaway than the NHL average). Other Canadiens are there too. All in all, it's not surprising. After all, the list reads a bit as a who's who of players in the NHL – reflecting the fact that giveaways are inevitable (not desirable though) for anyone, given enough ice time.

The anomalous inclusion on the page is Carey Price with the 51st most giveaways in the league after adjustment (and not counting last night). His generous downgrade by the website means he is about 35 places below where his 19 giveaways would put him today based on the extra two from last night).

Regardless of whether he is top 50 in the league or top 25, the fact remains that Carey shouldn't even be on such a list. There is only one other goalie in the top 100 adjusted (Peter Budaj). We all know enough about Colorado to realise that Price and Budaj are not normally mentioned in the same breath. Nor do I want them to be.

Thinking about it, being a goalie in the NHL is the only position where you could be perfectly immune to the giveaway. You see, rebounds are not giveaways – so if a goalie stayed in the net 100% of the time he would have 0 giveaways for the season. I expect that's where all the other goalies are. If this is true, shouldn't we expect and ask our goalies to keep the giveaways to a minimum?

Is it not reasonable then to ask for Carey to stop handling the puck? At least for a while?

I understand that he thinks he's good at it, but he must realise his limits, or someone must tell him. He has been compared to Martin Brodeur, but he is more Patrick Roy in the puckhandling department. For goodness sake, if bloggers around the league (and Carolina) know how bad he is at handling the puck, you can bet coaches build this into their game plans. I can see as much, with opposing forwards salivating when he ambles behind his net and chooses backhand. Rollie should nip this in the bud as of now, work on the passing in practice and bring it out at a later date.

Last night was the perfect example – he can make the saves, control the rebounds, intimidate the shooters, but he cannot pass the puck (or at least make a half decent judgment on where he should pass it). Cut this out and we'll be one little step closer to being the team the "100th season" marketers dream of.

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