Monday, March 27, 2006

Mike Babcock's mind meld

This photo ran in one of the latest issue of The Hockey News, and I deemed it worthy of a caption contest. It appears Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is doing a little Shang Tsung soul capturing maneovere here on Tomas Holmstrom — but that could be just me.

Whatever motivates your crew, I suppose.

Speaking of which, you hardly hear of the phenomenal job Babcock has done behind the bench of this team. Many are still taking for granted the season Detroit is having — on pace for 121 points — simply because they're, well, Detroit.

But it couldn't have been easy walking into that dressing room as a third-year coach and commanding a group of players that he helped upset as Ducks coach back in the first round of the '03 playoffs. (You have to know Red Wings management took note of how the then rookie bench boss fared with so little while then Detroit coach Dave Lewis struggled with so much.)

Then again, after watching Babcock command some pretty dominant Spokane Chiefs teams for years in the WHL, I'm hardly surprised.

I credit the mind meld. After all, it worked on Bryan McCabe back in the day.

15 Comments:

At 9:29 AM, March 27, 2006, Blogger Jes Gőlbez said...

MK reference for teh win!

 
At 10:06 AM, March 27, 2006, Anonymous snafu said...

I've been amazed by how easily dismissive everyone has been of Babcock's accomplishments here. This is not the same team that won all of those Cups. It was a team everyone expected would finish close to the bottom of the Western Conference playoff qualifiers (if that). They bought out several contracts and reduced payroll by 50%. They found a bunch of "no name" guys lesser teams had cast off.

Yet, like James says here, somehow because Detroit is "Detroit", Babcock can be overlooked. I personally believe his name should be at the top of the list for the Adams award. He has gotten the most of the old guys- and I do mean old - and he's been incredible with the youth movement too.

 
At 2:30 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

It was a team everyone expected would finish close to the bottom of the Western Conference playoff qualifiers (if that).

I don't know that this is true. The Oilers fans I pay attention to had basically figured that the Central was a two team race between Nashville and Detroit. I was surprised by the amount of love Nashville was getting but I had Detroit winning this division all along.

Detroit is +82 at the moment in goal differential. +35 comes from the CHI, CBJ, STL trio. I still think that they're good, but they're not nearly as good as they look.

 
At 3:25 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

mudcrutch, if you devised the standings as if games against the Central Division didn't exist, where would that put the conference standings? To me, it seems like Detroit's had a great record against everyone this year (unlike Nashville, who have really been helped by beating on the bottomfeeders).

 
At 3:46 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger Black Dog Hates Skunks said...

I think the truth is somewhere in between, as it usually is. I think the Wings are good but not that good. If I were to pick a team to come out of the West it would probably be the Stars which means it will probably be the Oilers (oh if only it could be so).

Could the Wings win it all - absolutely.

Could they be in line for a first round flameout - absolutely.

But I think you could say the same about almost every team in the West's top ten except probably the Kings and maybe the Canucks if they don't get Salo and Jovo back.

And back to point - Babcock - awesome coach.

 
At 4:49 PM, March 27, 2006, Anonymous snafu said...

I sometimes look in on the Oilfan site, MC, and have argued the finer points with that lovable curmudgeon 'derrick' about who has the better D-men and young forwards between the Oil and the Wings. The Oiler guys you like referencing were especially hard on the Wings, having bought into the generally accepted [but false] principle that the Wings bought their way to the top, just like the Rangers! The Wings have no drafting or development skills in their organization whatsoever... [sarcasm].

If you go back to the summer after the lockout ended, you'd probably notice that very few of those blokes put the Wings anywhere near the Top 4 in the West. The media probably were equally split between the camp that had them plummeting vs. the fight for top seed in the Central, but certainly not the top seed in the West. When the Wings did appear to be staying put at the top, the exucses about the powderpuff schedule started appearing. Next, they will be too old again. At least we can't blame the payroll anymore.

Now having said all of that, I think virtually every team got worse this year. Everyone was building for the old NHL, then everyone had to scramble to adjust to the new rules and to the cap. No, the Wings are not THAT good, but neither is anyone else... except maybe the Senators who have a freebie year. They get to feel the full effects of the cap this summer, although if it rises, they won't be as hard hit as Tampa was this year. I'd throw the Canes and Sabres into the category of "they look a lot better in this NHL because the traditional powerhouses out East got worse too"... Imagine Tampa Bay if the cap had not come along when it did.

The Stars? Yes, also a very good team. Take away those shoot out points, and they don't stack up as nicely either. They haven't proven they can win as easily in regulation play as the Wings have, for example. Does it mean anything when the playoffs roll around. Nada. (taking a cue from James Spanish mood today)

And unfortunately, thanks to the schedule, how East stacks up against West is anybody's guess.

 
At 6:52 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

The Oiler guys you like referencing were especially hard on the Wings, having bought into the generally accepted [but false] principle that the Wings bought their way to the top, just like the Rangers!

Vic Ferrari and RiversQ were hard on them? Interesting. Well, they were wrong then. To be honest, I have a hard time remembering my position on the Wings but I was a big proponent of the "The Predators are hugely overrated" theory and I correctly picked the bottom three as being horrific, so I'm pretty sure I had the Wings contending for the division by default. Next year I'll be sure to archive my picks on my own site for later ripping.

James, I'll take a stab at something like what you're saying and see what I come up with.

 
At 6:59 PM, March 27, 2006, Blogger James Mirtle said...

I had the Wings winning that division, but being much closer to the pack and finishing behind a few Northwest teams in the standings. I had thought the Calgary/Colorado/Vancouver trio would be battling for the division and and conference lead, but that doesn't look possible with the new schedule format.

 
At 12:47 AM, March 28, 2006, Anonymous Earl Sleek said...

if you devised the standings as if games against the Central Division didn't exist, where would that put the conference standings? To me, it seems like Detroit's had a great record against everyone this year (unlike Nashville, who have really been helped by beating on the bottomfeeders).

Excluding games played against Columbus, Chicago, and St. Louis, here are the top ten western teams in terms of points earned per game:

1. Detroit 1.346
2. Dallas 1.311
3. Calgary 1.186
4. Edmonton 1.177
5. Anaheim 1.155
6. Nashville 1.151
7. Vancouver 1.133
8. Colorado 1.113
9. San Jose 1.102
10. Los Angeles 1.034

So yes, Nashville does drop, Detroit does not.

 
At 12:57 AM, March 28, 2006, Anonymous Earl Sleek said...

Oh, here's how the top 10 normally look (all opponents considered), for comparison:

1. Detroit 1.471
2. Dallas 1.394
3. Nashville 1.296
4. Anaheim 1.229
5. Calgary 1.211
6. Colorado 1.194
7. San Jose 1.171
8. Edmonton 1.167
9. Los Angeles 1.141
10. Vancouver 1.139

Looking at this, it is interesting that Detroit and Nashville approximately lose similarly in points-per-game, just Detroit has that large a lead that they don't lose position.

Also interesting how Edmonton has lost points-per-game by having to play these "bottom-feeders", and Vancouver is hardly affected at all.

 
At 8:34 AM, March 28, 2006, Anonymous snafu said...

Thanks for the number crunching, Earl. I hope James lets me reference this from a post at Hf (http://www.hfboards.com/showthread.php?t=235341).

Detroit is at 103 pts, and at 101 w/o Shootout pts. Dallas is in 2nd with 99 pts, but falls to 88 pts if we take out the SO. Nashville also falls from 92 to 87. Everyone else in the West has fewer than 90 pts to Detroit's adjusted 101 pts. (This was before last night's games.)

 
At 11:07 AM, March 28, 2006, Blogger mudcrutch79 said...

You want something to complain about snafu? If Dallas ends up tied with Detroit, they're overwhelmingly likely to win the tiebreaker, despite the fact that they've just won a bunch of skill competittions. Now that's bullshit.

 
At 12:37 PM, March 28, 2006, Anonymous snafu said...

MC-

Overall though I can't complain too much. I figured we'd have tougher year than what has transpired thus far, although not as bad as most had predicted. Let's hope Detroit can avoid going to a tie breaker.

 
At 6:58 PM, April 05, 2006, Blogger Vic Ferrari said...

Hey MC:

I found this link while checking the 'recent keyword activity' for the IOF blog. And here's something creepy for you, someone linked there today using the keywords "mc79hockey stats penis" [shudder].

On Detroit. Ya, I tend to agree, though I did have them pegged as the 1st overall in the west in preseason, I didn't think they'd garner this many points (I'd guessed them at 106), and didn't think that any of CHI, CBJ or STL would be quite this bad.

The oddswriters liked all of the top four NW teams to make the playoffs, with none eclipsing 100 points in the regular season. Personally I thought that VAN would be able to turn that trick ... but now it looks like CGY might be the one to trip 3 digits. (preseason O/U for the Godless ones was 99.5)

On Babcock: Ya that's some f'ing tedious 2-2-1 trapping hockey. Like Lemaire with better players. But when you have that much talent it's not quite as bad to watch. Not 'quite'. Not as bad as Hartley's mind numbingly boring LW lock when he ran the COL bench. And they would have had a fun team to watch then too, terrific talent. A shame.

I think you have to give DET props though. They're winning a lot against good competition too. And part of the reason that the dregs of the Central have such bad goal diffs is because of DET's play against them.

 
At 12:45 PM, April 06, 2006, Anonymous mudcrutch79 said...

On Detroit. Ya, I tend to agree, though I did have them pegged as the 1st overall in the west in preseason, I didn't think they'd garner this many points (I'd guessed them at 106), and didn't think that any of CHI, CBJ or STL would be quite this bad.

Makes sense to me. I'm surprised you thought CHI, CBJ and STL would be better though. Those teams were terrible looking from Day 1.

I think you have to give DET props though. They're winning a lot against good competition too. And part of the reason that the dregs of the Central have such bad goal diffs is because of DET's play against them.

Well, they're about -35 between them against Detroit. Considering that they're -204 overall (and that they play a ton of games between themselves thay net out to 0)...it ain't just Detroit.

Nevertheless, I agree that Detroit is good. I just don't think that they're the slam dunk contender that they appear to be. If they draw SJ in the first round, I might favour the Sharks. If they draw EDM (which seems likely) and Roloson plays well, the Wings would be only slight favourites.

 

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