Takes and trash talk from both ALL sides of the NHL's most obscure PATHETIC* rivalry

* Thanks, Kevin Lowe!

Monday, November 27, 2006

Ducks Pre-Game Day: Countdown to the Oil

Tomorrow: Anaheim Ducks (17-2-6, 1st in west) at Edmonton Oilers (13-8-1, 6th in west)

Oh, so many things to talk about! In honor of ol' #8’s 500th goal and 600th point as a Duck, here’s 8 storylines leading into tomorrow’s game:

1. Return of the Orbs. Really, this ProngeRage is probably the most overblown part of the whole deal, but what can I do? This date has been circled on so many Edmonton calendars that you’d think Rexall was doing a PS3 giveaway. I’ve said it before; there’s plenty of room for Oilfan sympathy, but let’s not pretend they’re the only team to lose their star player days after a painful SCF G7 loss.

2. 1,000 game club. I suppose of lesser importance will be that this game will also be Scott Niedermayer’s 1,000th career regular-season game. It’ll be interesting to see how the Oil faithful will handle that announcement; will they bother to ‘boo’ or is that all being saved for Pronger? Teemu Selanne (984), by the way, is scheduled to have his 1,000th game (health-permitting) in about a month, while Travis Green (941) will likely never get there if he doesn’t start improving on his 2-appearances-in-25-games role.

3. Schedule getting tougher. I really do have to talk about strength-of-schedule when it comes to the Ducks’ success thus far. Anaheim has played 17 of its 25 games at Honda Center, and tomorrow begins a stretch of 13 of 17 on the road. From last year’s playoff teams, the Ducks have not yet this season traveled to the following cities (home record in parentheses): Detroit (6-1-3), Dallas (8-2-0), Nashville (6-1-2), San Jose (9-2-0), or Edmonton (10-2-0), so there are still a fair amount of questions to be answered about how good these Ducks really are. And the two times the Ducks have played a previous-year playoff team on the road? They got shutout in Calgary and lost a shootout in Colorado.

4. Goaltending secrecy. The Ducks do like keeping goaltending injuries a Pentagon-level secret, like last year when, out of the blue, J.S. Giguere was unavailable for the first game of the playoffs. Similar story last night, when instead of our usual Giguere-Bryzgalov tandem, the Ducks started Michael Wall (AHL), backed up by David McKee (ECHL). Per today’s L.A. Times, Giguere says he is “99 percent sure” he is starting tomorrow, but who really knows? If McKee ever gets the nod, by the way, he will join Andy McDonald, Chris Kunitz, Dustin Penner, and Ryan Shannon as Duck players this year who were never drafted, but instead signed with the team as UFAs. (Side note: apparently Nashville claimed Michael Leighton from the Ducks off waivers also, and Anaheim will be paying half his salary. Sweet.)

5. Moustache watch. George Parros, after a crummy start, has looked a lot better in the last 4 games he’s played in. He still has yet to be on the ice for an Anaheim goal-for, but at least he’s not surrendering goals and when he does fight, he’s done it well enough. Still room for improvement, though, as both Todd Fedoruk and Shawn Thornton were able to produce at even-strength as well as fight. Parros has yet to be even close to useful in a game in which he does not fight.

6. Anaheim Norris race. It’s astounding to me how much Duck message-boarders seem to be stuck on the notion that Scott Niedermayer has been this team’s MVP thus far, when the Pronger-comparison numbers really aren’t that close (well, except power-play production, since they share so many minutes there). Here’s some key stats:

Even-Strength:
CP: 435 minutes, 2-11-13, EV+ 29, EV- 14
SN: 404 minutes, 3-8-11, EV+ 19, EV- 14

Power-play:
CP: 156 minutes, 2-11-13, PP+ 22, PP- 0
SN: 154 minutes, 2-8-10, PP+ 20, PP- 0

Penalty-kill:
CP: 96 minutes, 0-0-0, PK+ 1, PK- 8
SN: 85 minutes, 0-0-0, PK+ 0, PK- 12
So overall, Pronger (in about 44 extra minutes of ice time) has been on the ice for 52 goals for and 22 goals against. Scotty, meanwhile, has been on the ice for 39 goals for and 26 goals against. I would buy the argument that Pronger being paired with Sean O’Donnell should have better defensive implications than Niedermayer being paired with Francois Beauchemin, but in terms of production, you gotta give the nod to CP here.

7. Selanne responds to criticism. Don’t forget, though, that Selanne has been on fire also, ever since I called him out in the “don’t vote for Teemu” All-star ballot post. Here’s a little split for ya, before and after I called him out.

Before: 19 GP, 4-13-17, 1.82 even-strength pts/hr
Since: 6 GP, 6-6-12, 5.99 even-strength pts/hr
Yikes. Look out, unknown performance bonuses! (Oh, and Teemu, you still haven’t gotten my vote!)

8. Changing the rules. A weird new wrinkle this year in how division leaders are selected. Assume for a second that Anaheim wins tomorrow by two goals. Per the NHL standing rules (at the bottom of this link), Minnesota would reclaim the Northwest Division lead by virtue of goal differential (Wild +9, Oilers +8) despite identical records. Problem is, these goal-differential numbers count shootout wins and losses as “standings” goals-for and goals-against, a new development this year. Minnesota’s differential is boosted by having a 5-1 record in shootouts compared to Edmonton’s 1-1 shootout record. These would not have factored in goal differential calculations last year.

16 comments:

anaheimduckfan said...

Okay, I am going to leave the long comment like I did for Girl with a Puck...

1. This Pronger this is so lame. I am ready for it to be over...Edmonton fans need to get over it.

2. Scottie's 1000 game announcement will probably not be heard, because the fans will be booing Pronger. Hopefully Selanne's will be at home, Green will never see his if he doesn't step it up. Another fact for you... Sean O'Donnell will play in his 800 game on 12/6 (if he stays healthy). I will be there, up against the glass holding a sign.

3. The schedule is getting tougher. Hopefully the Ducks win on the road, although no one expects them to win every game and be perfect. Some many games on the road in the next month, it has got to be tough on the players to be away from home and their families for so long. Especially tough on Scott Niedermayer, who I heard from Girl with a Puck, that his wife is pregnant and due by the end of the year. Hard to be away for almost the entire month.

4. Girl with a Puck and I were freakin out when we saw Wall in between the pipes and not Giguere. He played well, but hopefully Giguere will be back in for the Edmonton game against Rollie the Goalie.

5. Parros has steped it up with the last two fights. I really wanted to see O'Donnell go up against McCarty again, like it the playoffs. Hopefully he will fill the Fridge's shoes better in the next couple of games.

6. The fact that Pronger is coupled with O'Donnell definitely makes a difference, because O'Donnell is an amazing defensemen and a veteran, compared to the sophomore Beauchemin. Also, are you as sick and tired of always hearing about Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger as I am? Has everyone else forgotten that there are four other defensemen (O'Donnell, Beauchemin, O'Brien and DiPenta) on our team?

7. As for the new rule... What? Oh well, I don't really care yet, although I may care when it is closer to playoffs.

anaheimduckfan said...

I meant to say in #1, that this thing with Pronger is so lame, not Pronger is lame.

Earl Sleek said...

Also, are you as sick and tired of always hearing about Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger as I am? Has everyone else forgotten that there are four other defensemen (O'Donnell, Beauchemin, O'Brien and DiPenta) on our team?

Not to knock the other four guys, but quite honestly, I'm beginning to suspect that these four spots could be filled by a lot of guys in this league (and should probably be filled as cheaply as reasonably possible*).

Right now, though the Pronger talk is certainly well-deserved, his numbers are pretty stunning. No real knock on Niedermayer; he is a lot of fun to watch. I like to count the times he touches the opponent's goal line (three times a game, guaranteed!).

Lately I get scared in those precious moments when our tandem is O'Brien-DiPenta. They're doing fine, but I keep telling my TV, "DiPenta, would you change for Pronger already?!"

Yeah, I guess I'll be pretty pissed when Pronger leaves us too.



* Vishdog was affordable, dammit!

VeryProudofYa said...

I wonder how the crowd will react to Pronger's hat trick.

..

a man can dream.

Andy Grabia said...

WAKE UP, EARL!

anaheimduckfan said...

Don't get me wrong I love Niedermayer & Pronger, but I am not sure Pronger's numbers would be what they are without a vetran defenseman coupled with him like O'Donnell.

O'D makes amazing passes and creates scoring oppurtunities. He is also good a blocking shots and clearing the puck from in front of the net. He also has no probblem using his big body to check another player or to drop the gloves.

Beauchemin is also a pretty good defenseman, I can't find anything to complain about.

With the whole DiPenta & O'Brien line, I think Shane is holding his own on this team, but DiPenta scares me. He looks like he is trying to row a boat when he skates, and I constantly see passing errors on his part. I also, don't like to see hin on the ice and secretly wish to see the next line.

Andy Grabia said...

Don't get me wrong I love Niedermayer & Pronger, but I am not sure Pronger's numbers would be what they are without a vetran defenseman coupled with him like O'Donnell.

HUH?

Earl Sleek said...

Beat me to it, Grabia. Fortunately, there is a way to see how Pronger produces without O'Donnell.

See: rest of his career.

Doogie said...

Hey, if Pronger could make Marc-Andre Bergeron look like a top-pair D-man, I somehow suspect he's the one driving the bus, not O'Donnell.

Julian said...

Read what Dennis had to say at IOF, he says he doesn't have the difinitive word on Pronger's leaving, but it sure looks like it to me.
http://vhockey.blogspot.com/2006/11/merry-chris-mas-peca-horcoff-and.html

And oil'swell's point in the comments about Prongers complete lack of regret about how things went is also quite valid.

Anonymous said...

Not to knock the other four guys, but quite honestly, I'm beginning to suspect that these four spots could be filled by a lot of guys in this league (and should probably be filled as cheaply as reasonably possible*). [... ] Lately I get scared in those precious moments when our tandem is O'Brien-DiPenta. They're doing fine, but I keep telling my TV, "DiPenta, would you change for Pronger already?!"

I like the four guys we got... despite the strange skating from DiPenta (I'm sorry, I'm sorry, the man's a very nice guy who takes time to come sign for the fans after nearly every game, but he does skate funny), but I'm partial and I'm biased. I like sticking with a team that's working. I'm not all that worried about cap space, and I wouldn't be really talking about getting cheaper D when the two top D-men eat up a good, what is it, 12, 13, 14 million, I forget) per year! I'm glad you didn't knock on OB too bad (cuz, yeah, I'm real partial to him), but I've been happily impressed with his 2 goals, 9 assists and +7 rating overall. But, I'm not doing to try to compare him to DiPenta... they're just two different types of D-men in my mind, but I won't lie... I get a bit nervous when Joey's out there...

anaheimduckfan said...

Okay, okay... I am not saying that O'D is the driving force of the Pronger combo.

Pronger is the A player in that combo, but if you put Pronger with DiPenta or O'Brien I doubt the numbers would be as good.

If you remember last year, we got along fine without Pronger. (thanks Christy Finn)

Maybe I am just partial to O'D. I can't knock a winning team.

Earl Sleek said...

If you remember last year, we got along fine without Pronger.

Assuming of course that you remember last year through the Colorado series, but not remember much after that.

I'm glad you didn't knock on OB too bad (cuz, yeah, I'm real partial to him), but I've been happily impressed with his 2 goals, 9 assists and +7 rating overall.

Nah, I'm not knocking any of them really, they're doing great. But the main thing to remember is that they are all pretty cheap (O'D is making $1.5 M, and everyone else is like $1 M less). That's probably more important for our market than their actual on-ice contribution. Should one of them make a significant raise (Beauch will get an extra $1 M next year, that's OK), I think we gotta move 'em, though.

anaheimduckfan said...

I think the Defense is fine as it is and we shouldn't make any changes to the winning team.

$1.5 M is nothing compared to what we are paying Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. Honestly, I think O'D is worth the $1.5 M. Put him out there with DiPenta and see what happens.

Earl Sleek said...

Wow. That was surreal.

Just to press the issue:

Scott Niedermayer was on the ice for 2 goals-for and 2 goals-against.

Chris Pronger was on the ice for 2 goals-for and 0 goals-against.

The gap widens.

Anonymous said...

Scott Niedermayer was on the ice for 2 goals-for and 2 goals-against.

Chris Pronger was on the ice for 2 goals-for and 0 goals-against.


I think you pretty much got us all there. And I thought the game was surreal too, more so cuz I looked at my prediction and thought, "holy mackeral... I got that right? heh. luck of the draw." See, I knew that crystal ball would kick in right some time soon.