this week: there aren’t enough adjectives in the vocabulary

Shadowy men, in a shadowy Garden: Bruins host Maroons at Boston's Garden, circa the mid-1930s. (Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)

Shadowy men, on shadowy ice: Bruins host Maroons at Boston’s Garden, circa the mid-1930s. (Courtesy of the Boston Public Library, Leslie Jones Collection)

“Happy holidays everybody!!!,” tweeted @AnzeKopitar this week, “#besttimeoftheyear”     

In Ottawa, Governor-General David Johnston told CTV’s Powerplay what he thought of his next-door neighbour’s book, which is to say Stephen J. Harper’s A Great Game: “I enjoyed it enormously.”

“God fortsättning!” offered the Rangers’ goalie, Henrik Lundqvist. “Hoppas ni haft en härlig jul och att ni får ett gott nytt år!”

New Jersey’s Jaromir Jagr scored his 13th goal of the season this week in a 5-4 win over Washington’s Capitals. It was the 694th of his career, too, which ties him with Mark Messier in seventh place on the list of all-time NHL goalscorers.

“He amazes me every night I come to the rink,” Devils’ coach Peter DeBoer said of Jagr, who’s 41. “I don’t have a lot more adjectives to describe him, but he’s a pleasure to work with.”

Don’t cry for the Toronto Maple Leafs and their injured, coach Randy Carlyle said this week, via James Mirtle of The Globe and Mail. According to Carlyle, 108 players are out of action at the moment, or fully 15 per cent. “There’s a lot of injuries taking place,” Carlyle said. “We’re not the only ones.”

“There aren’t enough adjectives in the vocabulary to keep describing Jaromir’s goals,” said a teammate, Rick Tocchet. That was in 1992, back when Jagr played for Pittsburgh.

howe, lindsay

Terribly Ted: Detroit’s Red Wings announced this week that Ted Lindsay and Gordie Howe will be participating in the team’s alumni game against Toronto on December 31 leading up to the Winter Classic game at Comerica Park in Ann Arbor, Michigan. (Photo: @DetroitRedWings)

Evgeni Nabokov was the Islanders’ goalie yesterday when they lost to the Devils.  “It’s the same music all the time: Why don’t we win?” he said afterwards.

Wisdomly words came from @Bernieparent this week:

The miracles of our dreams lie beneath our foot soles — in each and every tiny step we take as we journey towards our dream

While from Stephen Harper, a prime ministerial shout-out:

Best of luck to our guys representing us at the World Juniors in Sweden!

Adjectives that have been used to describe Jagr, over the years: unbelievable (1992); superlative (1996); fun-loving, charismatic, immature, gifted, emotional, courageous (1999); scary (2000); amazing, phenomenal (2001); ageless, aging, remarkably healthy, top-six, otherworldly (2013).

In Russia, organizers of February’s upcoming Olympics in Sochi introduced the pucks that will be in play. The’s Martin Merk reported their thickness (2.54 cm) and diameter (7.62 cm) and noted that Vladislav Tretiak was on hand at the puck conference to make a ceremonial save.
“You have to make friends with the pucks,” Tretiak advised, “it’s the main piece of equipment for hockey.”

Canada named its women’s team for Sochi this week, and it included veterans Hayley Wickenheiser, Jayna Hefford, and Caroline Ouellette. Also Mélodie Daoust, 21, a first-time Olympian, who said she cried when she got the news.

“This is the start for me. I will try to write my own history, but at the same time, those girls are great role models for me. I just want to do the same thing as them because they had such a great impact on us and all of Canada.”

Vancouver defenseman Chris Tanev scored a game-winning goal this week against Winnipeg, when winger Zack Kassian set him up in front of the net.

“I just jumped in the slot,” said Tanev. “I don’t know if Kas was trying to wrap it or pass it to me. Either way, it was a good play.

“It seemed like the seas parted when I got it.”

“THoR has roughly the same validity as Corsi and Fenwick but it is considerably more reliable,” Michael Schuckers was explaining this week.

He’s a professor of statistics at St. Lawrence University in Canton, New York, and one of the principals behind Statistical Sports Consulting. THoR stands, somehow, for Total Hockey Ratings, the mighty system of rating players that Dr. Schuckers and Jim Curro introduced last February at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, taking second place in the competition among research papers.

What’s new now, this month, is this: having streamlined the system and published a manifesto on why THoR is such an effective metric to measure non-goalie hockey-player quality, they’re ready to declare that Edmonton’s Jordan Eberle and Dustin Byfuglien of Winnipeg top the heap of NHL forwards and defencemen, respectively, at even-strength.

From the Statistical Sports Consulting blog:

THoR is a two-way player rating that accounts for the [sic] all of the on-ice action events when a players is on the ice as well as their linemates, their opponents and where their shift starts. Each event is assessed a value according to the chance that it leads to a goal. THoR uses a statistical model to determine the value of each player’s contribution to the overall outcomes that occur while they are on the ice. We can assess a players value by looking at their Total contribution (THoR=Ratings x Number of Plays Per Player) or by Standardized contribution (THoRStandard=Ratings x Same Number of Plays Per Player). The values for THoR … are given in wins over an average player for an 82 game season.

Following Eberle on the list of forwards are Alexander Ovechkin, Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kunitz, and Patrik Elias, with no Sidney Crosby anywhere in sight. For defenceman, P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Duncan Keith, and Christian Ehrhoff fill out the first five.

Alexander Semin didn’t want to talk, this week, about 2010. That’s when the Russian team he played for at the Vancouver Olympics lost 7-3 to Canada in a quarterfinal. “I don’t want to recall it,” Semin said. “We clearly failed at the tournament. As for me, I once and for all erased Vancouver Games from the memory. The most important thing in Sochi is to win, and it doesn’t matter how we do it or whether I will score.”