Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Mail Bag!

So I got an email from my pal Eric today, a passionate Rangers fan who watched the game against the Devils last night. We had a little back and forth that I thought was interesting enough to reprint here. Here's the highlights of the game in case you didn't catch it:

By the way, I asked him if he was OK with me publishing this, and he said he had no problem with it, so long as he wasn't "disparaged." I immediately agreed, which is why I have selectively edited out all of his statements detailing his love for German fecal-porn.


Eric is actually a very knowledgeable hockey fan and a smart guy. I have no evidence that he has any disposition towards fecal porn of any kind, German or otherwise. Still, I will say that if he was into fecal porn, it would probably be German, seeing as he's the kind of guy who appreciates the best things in life. From wine to beer to food to music to sports to art, he's a class act, and if I applied his appreciation for the other passions he has in life to fecal porn, I'd think he'd go German. I'm just saying that from what little I know about the subject, if you're going to go for fecal porn, the German variety is pretty much universally considered top of the line.

But he's not into fecal porn.

As far as I know.

That's not disparaging, is it?

But I digress- here's his original email:

Subject: Numbers Game

12--The number of shootouts that the Devils have participated in this season. So they play 65 minutes of conservative, "not to lose" hockey so that their hall-of-fame goalie can win them an extra point.

27-The number of consecutive non-sellouts (including last night's game vs. the Rangers) at the Continental Airlines Arena.

Think there's a correlation??

Just asking.

Here's my response:

I dunno- I was in and out of the room, but I thought last night's game
was a pretty good one.

In terms of playing "not to lose hockey" and the negative effect on
turnout, you're playing a bit of a rhetorical game there. I mean, sure
"playing not to lose" sounds boring, but "playing a tough defensive
game with great goaltending" sounds pretty good to me.

I only bring this up because I am against troop buildups in Iraq, yet
am pro-"surge."

Plus, if anything, the Devils defense, at least along the blue line,
has been weaker than it's been in years. When Jagr came out of the
corner on the power play in the last two minutes of overtime and
Brodeur laid down and stopped him, it was every bit as exciting as a
two-on-one break the other way would have been.

(NOTE: That play was inexplicably omitted in that highlight package I found above. Get your heads out of your asses, NHL.)

And, yeah- the Devils don't score much, but they're using what they
have, which is a great goalie. Gauging by the amount of fan jerseys
with goaltenders names on the back around the league, it's hard to
argue that winning with a great goalie is something fans dislike. I
think it's a damn risky strategy, but they seem to have the goalie to
pull it off in the regular season. Whether that's enough to win four
playoff rounds is entirely another.

If I had to pick one factor that negatively effects the gate, it's
probably the fact that the game has officiated out some of the
intimidation that makes it feel just a little bit dangerous.

There were two factors that made me excited to tune in last night, and
it was the addition of Sean Avery and Cam Janssen in the line-ups.

Fights and violence in hockey are the naked pictures in the early
years of Playboy. The fantastic athleticism, grace, speed, finesse,
passing and goal-scoring are the great articles. So- do I read Playboy
for the articles? Yes, I do. But I picked it up for the pictures.

That said, I hear you that losing a game like that in a shootout has
got to be frustrating as hell, and I certainly don't like the way the
points are handed out in the OT/shootout.

Intuitively, it seems to me that there should be only two points up
for grabs in every NHL game. Just as they once argued that a team that
loses in overtime deserves a bit more than a team that gets blown out,
shouldn't a team that wins in overtime get a bit less than a team that
gets it done in 60 minutes? If two teams play to a tie, they each get
half of one point. If there are only two points awarded in every game,
then at the end of regulation, one of the points is gone. OT and the
shootout if necessary, allows them to play for the remaining point.

Therefore, an OT win is not as good as a regular season win, as it's
only worth a point and a half. A team who loses in OT doesn't go home
totally empty. They get half a point.


And he replied:

I thought that Jagr's move out of the corner was his best stuff of the season and that last night's game was pretty darn good, as was the game against Buffalo.

However, would you pay $65 a night to see a team play cautious offense and stifling defense? Great goaltending is only great if the goalie is forced to face quality shots.

I think that three points should be put up for grabs. Win in regulation, get three points. Win in OT or a shootout, get two, with the loser getting one. Make teams play for wins. Or, just play overtime until someone wins, like baseball or basketball.

I'm sure Ben (Devils fan) has something to add to this, and I'm curious about others thoughts on the OT extra point issue. Any ideas, comments, or links to exterior articles or blog posts on the subject are welcome.

PS: Thanks to the Forechecker for giving us props on his Heavy Hitters of the hockey blog list. Also to Jes Golbez, who tagged me on a thread that I didn't have time to respond to. If you're not reading his site, you're missing out.


Jack said...

I'm going to come out against your point fraction scheme, Ritch. And yes, I called it a scheme. The NHL looked ridiculous enough when its box scores had four columns. I know that point-divying might get your precious Bruins to within 4 and half points of the last playoff spot, but that's not a good enough reason. Where would it end? Think of the children!

P.S. Chara molests collies.

P.P.S. Brodeur cost the East the all star game. As a lifelong fan of the eastern part of the US, I'll never forgive him.

Also, holy Christ I'm bored today.

Ben said...

OK. You guys are right about the shootout overall as far as points awarded, but Eric is wrong about the idea that the Devils play to get to the shootout. Brodeur is (I think) 6-6 in shootouts this year, with some godawful SV%. For whatever reason, it's just not his forte. Lundquist, on the other hand, was 5-0 in shootouts coming into last maybe the Devils weren't the ones coasting through overtime. As I recall, NY had almost a full two minutes of 4-on-3 in the Devils' zone in OT, and they couldn't get it done. That must have been frustrating for Rangers' fans, but it sure wasn't boring.

Ritch is dead on re: Janssen/Avery. I was dying to see this matchup, and it didn't happen. Why? I don't know. There were some booming on Prucha by Lukowich, and one on Brylin by I'm not sure who. Clean hits, but crushing ones...and that used to be enough to get a little something going. But no more, and that sucks.

As far as attendance, it's been the knock on the Devils for time immemorial (since 1982). I'm not sure what audience size has to do with quality of product (isn't American Idol the most popular show on TV?) but I can tell you why I don't go to more games...I can't fucking get there. The traffic sucks, the parking sucks (and is expensive), and there's no public transportation. For people like me who work in the city and live in NJ, going to a game midweek means taking the bus from Port Authority to the game, then BACK TO PORT AUTHORITY so I can catch a train home to Jersey. Sound like fun? When the new arena opens, we'll see what happens with attendance. I don't know if it'll go up, but the number of games I attend will go up. So yeah, it's easy for Rangers fans to crow about've got 80 years of history on us, and you play on top of the biggest transit hub on the planet. I fully believe that 5-10 people watching any given Rangers game at MSG are either killing time waiting for a train, or confused tourists looking for the Rockettes.

I thought last night's game was a bit of a snooze until the third, but only because of the constant whistles. The Rangers controlled the play all game, and, I think, deserved the win. And that's what I love about the Devils...even on an off night, they have a chance to win, and it's a better chance than most. But last night's game was not typical Devils hockey, which is way more exciting than most people give it credit for...but that's a different post.

Eric Breitman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Eric Breitman said...

There are many reasons why the Devs don't draw. Yes, the arena is one of them, but if your tale of commuting woe was the only reason, then the Devils would sell out every Saturday and Sunday game. Which, as the empty seats against the Sabres would attest, is not the case. If the team played hockey that was engaging and not, as Ted Nolan aptly put it, like "Watching Chess", then more fans would get on the Turnpike on the weekends. But, hey, since Lou never promoted his stars, why should the fans come and see efficient 3-1 games with each team taking 18 shots on goal. You're right in saying that last night's game wasn't typical Devs. The Rangers had over thirty shots. Robert Altman films weren't blockbusters, and the minority of people who appreciated what he did showed up to see his stuff. But his films don't sell out theaters. If the NHL wants paying customers, they need an entertaining product. And there aren't enough people who see the Devils as entertaining.

Don't get me wrong, I think Brodeur is the best goalie since Tretiak and I think the Devils should be applauded for a system that generates results that we Ranger fans would kill for. Still, I find them hard to watch because it is such an un-entertaining brand of hockey.

Ben said...

Hey Eric--

I wonder what Ted Nolan's excuse is for why the Isles don't sell out weekends? Too exciting, maybe? I admit, watching DiPietro venture from the crease to try and play the puck can be downright pulse-pounding.

Besides the commute (which is really just my personal reason for not going to as many games as I'd like...I'm just assuming some others must be in the same boat), the New York sports market is way oversaturated, and the Devils are, with the exception of the Red Bulls, the most recent franchise to set up shop. The Mets are less popular than the Yankees, right? What if a third baseball team came to town? Would they sell out their park? Even if they won a fistful of penants right out of the gate, it would take time.

It would take a long time to build a fanbase for any relatively new team, but having to pry fans away from the Rangers, when those people's fathers and grandfathers probably took them to games, is no mean feat. Just as New Jersey lives in the shadow of New York, so too will the Devils always live in the shadow of the Rangers. guys have an EIGHTY YEAR HEADSTART.

What I don't buy is that the area is chock full of educated hockey consumers who are comparison shopping teams, and deciding against the Devils because they play a "boring" style. I'm not sure how many games the Rangers have sold out this year, but you can't tell me it's because of the quality of the on-ice product. You'd have to go back at least to Mike Richter to make that argument.

It boils down to a difference of opinion. Yeah, Lou doesn't promote his stars, because the team philosophy is just that...they're a TEAM. It may not be everyone's cup of tea, but I prefer it to watching the New York Jagrs. Building your whole team around a star can be problematic when that star is prone to crippling charley horses and lackluster defensive play.

Eric Breitman said...

"It may not be everyone's cup of tea"

it obviously isn't.

Ben said...

"it obviously isn't."

Well, be that as it may, my fellow Devils fans and I tend to drink our tea out of a big, shiny, silver Cup.

What does the Best Attendance trophy look like again?

nick said...

Avery doesn't fight much any more.

Eric Breitman said...

Ben,I asked you what the time was and you answered that it's raining outside. If you read this thread, I have never quibbled with the results just the attendance. Which you have never been able to answer .
Oh, and as to those cup celebrations, remember (or maybe you weren't a fan then--not many were) that in 1995 McMullen was going to move the team to Nashville. Why? Because of insufficient fan support.
As a NJ resident, you should be upset that your tax dollars are subsidizing a team whose fan base doesn't want to support it. You're actually paying the ownership twice.

Ben said...


Your example is as flawed as Glen Sather's judgment. You may have asked me what the time was, but my answer was not about the answer was that the time doesn't matter. Winning hockey games matters. It's not the National Attendance League, it's the National Hockey League. Do you actually watch games, or do you shut the TV off once they announce the gate?

I have a few theories about why the Devils don't draw, and I've explained those. You don't have to believe them or agree with me (though I note you've failed to dispute them in any meaningful way), but don't play dumb and pretend I haven't answered your question.

A question I'd like you to answer is why you're so concerned about whether the Devils sell out games? One obvious explanation is that you're a fan of a rival team that has won only one more Cup than the Devils in 80 more years. If your team played better, I suspect you wouldn't be so preoccupied with whether my tax dollars are being spent appropriately...not that I don't appreciate the concern.

If anyone is still reading this, Eric's argument can be summed up with this
simple hockey rebus.