Saturday, February 2, 2013

All Things Avs positively positive after win at Calgary

Hi! Today, let's take a look at the All Things Avs blog posted to the Denver Post online after the Avalanche's 6-3 victory in Calgary.

Paul Stastny's two goals helped Colorado beat Calgary

Don't spend them all in one place, Avs!
In this blog entry, Adrian Dater shares his thoughts after the Avalanche's victory against the Flames. Dater starts out with a  predictably sarcastic "time for a parade!" paragraph, but then settles into a breakdown of certain players who Dater feels are worthy of praise. The problem is, though, that Dater is so unfamiliar with praise (he admits as much), that it doesn't always come across as what he claims it to be.

Let's start with his words for Chuck Kobasew:

Chuck Kobasew – I’ve taken a couple of shots at him before, probably cheap shots. I regret it. I consider myself tough – but fair – as a reporter. I don’t want to ever take cheap shots at guys, at least not the kind that have no humor in them and and are just dumb.

Dater does go on to write that Kobasew played "a terrific game" with particular praise for his work on Colorado's third goal... but does that first paragraph sound to anybody else kinda like he just called Kobasew both humorless and stupid?

It seems much more likely that Dater is actually saying that it's his cheap shots that are humorless and dumb, which we at Grading Dater would heartily agree with. But that begs the question, if he knows his little cheap shots are neither witty nor interesting, then why even bother writing them at all? It seems that AD believes that when a reporter does rip a player in print—whether they deserve it or not—that as long as it's humorous, that makes everything OK. I'd like to hear what Avs players think about that notion. Even if this is nothing more than a somewhat poorly-written sentence, it still reveals a bit of how Dater feels about his role as a reporter, and I can't say that it makes a lot of sense. How about you don't "take shots" at anybody, and instead just focus on reporting?

John Mitchell – The former U.S. Attorney General under President Nixon….wait, oh. The hockey guy. Yes, he scored two goals and assisted on another and was excellent all night. Think the New York Rangers regret letting this guy go for nothing?

Sounds like real, actual praise to me, with an American History lesson mixed in. Nice. Looks like somebody googled "John Mitchell" and learned something, and has passed it on to his reader... either that, or Dater has revealed himself to be some sort of Attorney General groupie. The smart money's on the Google thing, but you never know...

Jan Hejda – I thought he was real good tonight. He broke up a lot of plays with an effective stick, and even added a little jam at the offensive end. Would it be nicer if he hit a little bit more? Yeah, but for tonight anyway, he was good.

Dater has a gift for making criticisms with his praise. He does say something nice about Hejda's game, but he still manages to wedge in one of those aforementioned cheap shots... a baby one, but it's in there. To paraphrase, "Usually this guy is crappy and he never hits anybody, but for one night he wasn't as bad as usual, even though he still didn't hit anybody."

Paul Stastny – I thought he was just awful in the first two periods, and the numbers back me up. No points, minus-3. But when you score two goals in the final three minutes to win a game, you get a nice notice. Obviously, he was a clutch player for a change in this one. The Avs certainly need to keep getting that from him.

Here again, AD is using praise to criticize. Even if he had written that Stastny's line was awful for the first two periods but then came through in the clutch, it would have been OK, but he had to throw in "for a change."  Why? It seems unnecessary in light of the fact that the guy won the game, and then sealed the deal a minute later. I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunities to rip Stastny later, why not let him have this moment without having to get in that extra little jab?

Matt Duchene – Some shaky defensive moments for sure for No. 9 in this one. But he essentially helped win the game with the penalty he drew with 2:48 left on Mark Giordano. It was a good, aggressive, north-south play by Duchene and it paid off. He needs to do more of it.

This passes the test as true praise. Dater mentions that Duchene wasn't great throughout, which is fair, but he smartly adds that his determined play made a difference that didn't necessarily show up on the scoresheet. Dater often retreats to the stats to back up his lazy analysis (as he did with Stastny, above), but here he looks past the stats and sees Duchene's contribution. So again, nice.

P.A. Parenteau – Another good game. His backhander of a goal probably can be called a soft goal technically, but he showed good skill in being able to corral a pass and get a good backhander off in the first place. His five goals leads the team.

We have here an attempt to write that PA had a great game, but Dater has to add that his goal was "technically" soft. I'm not even sure what that means, but was it necessary? First of all, it was a backhander. Those don't have a lot of zip, so is every goal scored on a backhander going to be "soft" now? And if it was, indeed, soft, that's the goalie's fault, not PA's. I think it was Gretzky who said that "100% of the shots you don't take don't go in."

I just want to add that the spell check on my computer knows the correct spelling for "Gretzky." How cool is that?

Cody McLeod and Patrick Bordeleau and Mark Olver – Nice, gritty job by all three. 

J.S. Giguere – He had to make some tough saves, and played well overall. He was hung out to dry on Calgary’s third goal, by Alex Tanguay, with Stastny making a soft play not getting the puck out of the zone with time running out in the second period. He had no chance on Jiri Hudler’s second goal, too, where the Avs simply were tic-tac-toed on the play. I think Jiggy is still a high-quality goalie. The numbers the last two years back me up.

I bunched these two together because they both are actual, honest-to-God praise, without even a hint of criticism or snarkiness towards McLeod, Bordeleau, Olver, or Giguere. However, if Dater and I are thinking of the same play (the one he's blaming Stastny for not getting the puck out), the way I recall that play Stastny was trying to pass the puck up to Jones for Jones to clear it, and it was Jones who actually wasn't ready for it and missed it. Maybe I'm thinking of another play, but if not I think Jones should get a fare share of the blame, if AD's handing out blame in this praise blog. Which obviously, he is.

Not a terrible entry, but it does reveal that for Dater, doling out praise is apparently a foreign and awkward thing. Hopefully, the Avs will give him many more opportunities to practice it throughout the season.


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