Posted on: February 10, 2012 11:49 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 12:34 am
By: Adam Gretz
It didn't get quite as much attention as the goal-scoring drought that Montreal's Scott Gomez was riding, going a full calendar year without scoring, but Anaheim's George Parros entered Friday's game in Detroit without a goal since December 1 ... of 2010. Because Parros isn't one of the highest paid players in the league and playing in the hockey madhouse that is Montreal, his run of 84 regular season games (89 games if you include the playoffs) without a goal kind of slipped under the radar.
Also because he's known more for using his fists (and for having what is perhaps the best mustache in the league) than he is for scoring goals.
Still, that's a long time between goals and on Friday during Anaheim's 2-1 shootout loss to the Red Wings (a game that saw the Red Wings extend their home winning streak to 19 games) Parros finally found the back of the net, using his skate to re-direct a pass from Rod Pelley past Joey MacDonald. The play had to be reviewed to confirm that it wasn't a kicking motion (and it wasn't).
The role Parros plays for the Ducks is pretty easy to see when looking at his career numbers, and since his last goal he only played about six or seven minutes per night and had been involved in over 15 fights, racking up 170 penalty minutes while recording just 26 shots on goal.
His goal on Friday was the 17th of his career.
Also at Eye On Hockey
Gomez finally ends his goal drought
Gomez: by the numbers
For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: November 19, 2011 10:05 am
Edited on: January 22, 2012 8:47 am
By: Adam Gretz
In an effort to improve their overall team defense prior to last season, the Pittsburgh Penguins made two significant investments on their blue line by signing two of the top free agent defenseman that were available on the open market -- Paul Martin, who had spent the previous six years of his career with the New Jersey Devils, and Zbynek Michalek coming off a five-year stint with the Phoenix Coyotes.
Combined, the Penguins committed a total of $45 million over five years to the two rearguards, and the results on the ice spoke for themselves in their first year with the team. The Penguins went from being 20th in the NHL in goals allowed during the 2009-10 season, all the way up to 6th best in 2010-11, while allowing nearly a half-goal fewer per game. That's no small improvement, and the additions of Martin and Michalek were a vital part of it.
Through the first 19 games of this season, Martin has had an up-and-down campaign and seems to be facing a growing amount of criticism from the Penguins' fan base for his minus-10 rating entering play on Saturday. That is currently the worst mark on the team and the second-worst mark in the NHL among all defensemen, ahead of only Colorado's Jan Hejda. When you're counting $5 million against the salary cap and near the bottom of the NHL in any category it's going to draw some attention, and hey, every fan-base needs its whipping boy.
So what's wrong with Paul Martin, and is he playing as poorly as the usually misleading plus/minus would suggest?
Nothing that can't be fixed, and not exactly.
So why is his plus/minus currently getting slaughtered? In its simplest terms, plus/minus, in general, and as honestly as it can be said, sucks as a useful measuring stick for the quality of play from a player, and offers little context in to what is going on with the player in question (who is he playing against? What situation is he playing in? Etc.). So let's try and add some context, if we can, and try to better understand his role with two main points that are, in a way, connected to one another.
1) The Penguins aren't scoring goals when Martin is on the ice
And yes, as a player that's on the ice, Martin does have to take some responsibility for this. But it's not going to continue. At least, it shouldn't be expected to continue.
During 5-on-5 play this season the Penguins have scored just four goals with Martin on the ice, which is an extremely low number, especially when you consider the number of minutes he plays. A lack of goals at even strength will obviously have a negative impact on a players rating, and this should not be expected to continue, for this reason: The Penguins, as a team, are shooting just a little over 2 percent when Martin is on the ice during 5-on-5 play, a rate that is unsustainably low over the course of the season.
Of the 536 players that have played a minimum of 10 games this season, only 12 of them have been on the ice for a lower shooting percentage. Look at it another way: If you go back to last season and take the players that played at least half the season in the NHL (40 games), the lowest on-ice shooting percentage belonged to Anaheim's George Parros at 2.54 percent, and he was one of only two players (the other was New Jersey's Adam Mair) that were on the ice for a team shooting percentage of below 3 percent. Over the past four years Martin's teams in Pittsburgh and New Jersey have shot no worse than 7.4 percent over the course of the season with him on the ice.
When you're talking about a player as talented as Martin, playing on a team that scores as often as the Penguins do, eventually, over time, these percentages are going to start work out for Martin, especially when the Penguins generate as many shots on goal as they do with him on the ice.
2) He's playing more minutes than any other player on the team, and he's being asked to play some of the "toughest" minutes on the team
Due to various injuries, including Michalek and Brooks Orpik, as well as a two-game suspension to Kris Letang, Martin has played significantly more minutes than any other player on the team. Entering Saturday he's at 464 overall minutes, 351 of which have come during even-strength play. Letang is the only other player on the team to crack the 300-minute mark at even-strength, while no other player is over 285. Not only is he playing more often than everybody else, he's playing in significantly more difficult situations.
You can tell a lot about a player, and what that player's coach thinks of him, by the situations he's put into. This season Dan Bylsma and his staff are giving Martin some of the tougher assignments in the NHL, and definitely the toughest assignments on the team. Consider his QualComp (Quality of Competition -- the higher the number, the tougher the competition) numbers and the limited number of Offensive Zone face-offs he's been on the ice for.
The only Penguins defensemen that's seen tougher competition is Orpik, while no other defensemen has started fewer shifts in the offensive zone.
Martin's game has definitely hit a bit of a rough patch over the past couple of weeks, and he's had his moments where he's been beat by opposing players one-on-one. But there's also a lot of things working against him right now, including some bad luck (hello, unsustainably low shooting percentage) and playing some of the heaviest minutes on the team, and playing a lot of them.
That's an extremely difficult role. Playing against the other team's best players and starting most of your shifts in your own zone (defensive zone faceoffs are dangerous) is a difficult task for any player, and will have an impact on your ability to score, as well as the other team's ability to score against you. Players that play the most minutes against the best players in the toughest spots will see the more goals scored against them and have a more difficult time scoring goals.
Take another look at the above table and look at the quality of players Matt Niskanen, for example, plays against, and the number of shifts he gets to start in the offensive zone. He's a team-best plus-five this season. No disrespect to Niskanen intended, but there isn't a coach or GM in the NHL that would take him over Martin, now, or at any other point. Give Martin those minutes and assignments, and vice versa, and see what their ratings look like.
I went back and looked at every goal that's been scored against the Penguins this season that would count against his plus/minus, and there's some pretty fascinating things in there. On at least two of them the Penguins were stopped on prime scoring chances at the other end of the ice before the play went back the other way and resulted in a goal at the other end. On one of them his defensive partner, Michalek, fell down on the opening face-off in Winnipeg which resulted in a flukey turnover -- and goal -- eight seconds into regulation.
None of this is likely to change the opinion of the person that takes his plus/minus rating as gospel, but if you think he's currently the second-worst defenseman in the NHL, or somehow not worth the cap hit to the Penguins, you're simply wrong.
The Penguins defense is a critical part of their success, and Martin is, and will continue to be, a key cog in that machine.
(Statistical data via BehindTheNet)
Photo: Getty Images
Posted on: November 1, 2011 12:25 pm
Edited on: November 1, 2011 12:37 pm
He might be more than a mustache as a hockey player, but it's pretty darn defining. Heck, even Parros' popular Twitter account is @stache16.
Really, it will go down in the sports annals of great upper lip hair history. Personally, I'm not convinced Parros' is even the best in the NHL right now thanks to Senators coach Paul MacLean, but that's no slight. Parros' 'stache is in the running for a spot on the Mt. Rushmore of hockey facial hair.
“It’s burly,” Parros told Puck Scene of his mustache. “It’s manly. It demands respect.”
That it does. It commands so much respect, that Parros was able to convince every player in the Ducks locker room to show their support for the Movember movement, an attempt to raise funds and awareness for men's health, particularly prostate cancer through the power of mustache. To do so, Parros actually had to chop of the big bristling 'stache to begin anew for the start of the month.
"Well the stache has been cut!" Parros tweeted. "They broke a few razors but made it through. the race is on...may the best mo win!!!"
Looks weird, huh?
You can hardly recognize him without his furry friend. And soon enough, you might not be able to recognize the other members of the Ducks in their mustaches either. Even goaltender Jonas Hiller, who originally elected to have a special mask made for the month instead of growing out his own mustache, is reconsidering.
“I haven’t decided,” Hiller said. “I originally planned not to and instead to wear the mask. No one sees it and it’s itchy and bothers me anyway, but now with everyone else doing it I almost have to grow one.”
When the power of the 'stache can't convince him, there's always peer pressure. And don't get discouraged.
“Everyone’s able [to grow a mustache],” Parros said. “Whether or not he can grow a successful one is a different story.”
For more excellent Parros wisdom on facial hair, including his own beard and trimming techniques, read the whole story at Puck Scene.
With that, we present a very Bleacher Report-esque best mustaches in hockey lineup. Enjoy. (*Disclaimer: This list is not exclusive. There are surely some terrific mustaches not included. Thanks you.)
Here is George Parros with his mustache in full bloom.
Next we have aforementioned Senators coach, Paul MacLean.
How about the mustache that Parros calls underrated, Terry Rushkowski?
Here's some appreciation for the referees, specifically Bill McCreary.
One of the most fondly remembered mustaches the ice has ever seen, Wendel Clark.
Last but certainly not least, the near consensus No. 1 mustache in hockey history (and maybe in sports history), Lanny McDonald.
Photos: Getty Images
Posted on: October 22, 2011 11:51 am
Edited on: October 22, 2011 11:56 am
By: Adam Gretz
Anaheim Ducks forward George Parros is known mostly for two things: being one of the NHL's toughest fighters, and owning perhaps the best mustache in the league (though, Ottawa head coach Paul MacLean certainly has an argument for that title). He also might soon be known for being the next player to earn a suspension for a blindside hit to the head thanks to Friday's game against the Dallas Stars.
During the second period of Anaheim's 3-1 loss, Parros was involved in a colission with Stars forward Krys Barch that has gained a bit of attention this morning and sparked some discussion as to whether or not it was a violation of Rule 48.
Here's the play...
There was no penalty called on the play, but the head definitely appeared to be the principal point of contact. Just because it's worth repeating, here are the nuts and bolts of Rule 48: "A hit resulting in contact with an opponent's head where the head is targeted and the principal point of contact is not permitted. However, the circumstances of the hit, including whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position can be considered.
And now we wait to see whether or not the NHL and Brendan Shanahan feel this play was a violation and worthy of a suspension.
More NHL Discipline News Here
Posted on: August 15, 2011 4:22 pm
Edited on: August 15, 2011 8:03 pm
I remember as a kid growing up attending minor-league hockey games, nothing would excite me, or the crowd, like a fight. Goals were nice -- and there were plenty, the Tacoma Sabercats were regular contenders in the now-defunct WCHL -- but a sure-fire way to get the people out of their seats was a good ol' scrap.
This isn't limited to the small leagues, you can see it all across the NHL. Not to speak too broad, but people love fights. They're exciting. They get the blood pumping, on the ice and off.
To further illustrate, I recall my fondest memory of going to the rink growing up wasn't when I watched my hometown team win the championship, but it was a fight that went too far. After a fight sent an opposing player to the sin bin, things got heated with a fan sitting near the penalty box. Next thing you know, a beer comes flying from about 10 rows up and hits the box. From there the player, rightfully, snaps as the fan comes rushing down the stairs and starts pounding the glass. All the while, the player in the box begins grabbing anything he can -- sticks, water bottles, whatever -- and is throwing them at the guy right below him. Realizing that isn't working, he attempts to climb out of the box, skates on and everything. Standing on the bench, he tries once or twice to jump over the boards before he and the fan are eventually subdued and hauled away by police.
Even such extremes like that aren't limited to the minors. Remember this nostalgic Nordiques-Sabres scrum?
The Islanders will be hosting a party where they will replay the big brawl the team had with the Penguins. The Puck Daddy blog runs a summer series interviewing other writers and celebrities about their hockey Guilty Pleasures, with one of the standard questions asking the subject for his/her "Favorite Fight or Brawl of All-Time." Heck, there is an entire website out there dedicated just to fights in the sport -- Hockeyfights.com.
For those reasons alone I am a fan of fighting. The way I see it, you give the customers what they want, and they have shown they want fights, the most ardent fans that is. That's what TSN concluded in 2009. Attend any game across the league and notice how the reaction for a fight can be nearly equal to that of a goal (regular-season game, at least).
But as I said, you can't put every fan into one stereotype, there are plenty of people who oppose hockey's gladiatorial nature. That crowd is growing by the hour. The more injuries that occur, the more people are waking up to the serious dangers and risks enforcers put themselves through. Take a look at what Penguins defenseman Deryk Engelland looked like after a scrap that was caught in HBO's 24/7 series. Watch (NSFW warning: language).
The more brain trauma gets linked with former fighters such as Bob Probert or tragedies happen to fighters like Derek Boogaard's death, the closer we will get to fighting being removed from the game. I believe I will see fighting all but phased out of the NHL in my lifetime. It's not happening yet or very soon, but eventually.
Here is what NHL spokesman Frank Brown told the Washington Post earlier this year: “We believe it’s a safety valve that prevents worse from happening on the ice.”
That's pretty much the same rationale people give for supporting the legalization of drugs. If you erase the underground nature of drugs you can reduce crime and the logjam of the criminal justice system. (Plus it would help with the nation's deficit, but that's another discussion.)
That last part. It's what I have to do to play in the NHL. Try convincing the players and NHLPA to cut fighting, because if you do you are cutting jobs for those guys who do it for a living, it's how they earn their paychecks. It's what they have to do to play in the NHL.
At some point, though, it has to be about player safety, doesn't it? In today's NHL when they are always examining ways to eliminate dangerous shots that have sidelined players, isn't fighting the next logical target? Won't somebody please think of the children!
Peter Raaymakers (how awesome is it that a guy who writes a blog post on fighting has a name that rhymes with haymakers?) at the Silver Seven blog did, writing an excellent post concerning the mental toll the enforcers take.
Of course, if every fight looked like this, nobody would care. (Hat tip to Puck Daddy.)
Now back to the regularly scheduled programming. ...
People will forever debate for and against fighting in hockey. The traditionalists believe there is a place for it, saying its vigilante justice is imperative and fights can be key to momentum. There's a reason fighting exists and it's more than pure primal rage. But I would counter that if fighting were so important and vital to the sport, why does it all but disappear in the biggest games of the calendar; the playoffs?
The game transforms more and more every year to a skilled version that is opened up. Remember all the rules the NHL established after the lockout to increase scoring and thus interest? Fighting doesn't necessarily fit in.
A look at the numbers show fighting has gone down since the start of the century, with a slight decline in fighting since 803 in the 2001-02 season. Take a look at the chart below (source: hockeyfights.com) to see for yourself. It is still prevalent, but the same way Rome wasn't built in a day, you won't have a sharp decline in it overnight without more stringent rules to deter.
Admittedly, I'm OK with fighting in hockey. But I would be OK without it, too, and I find myself trending that way more and more each day. Would the game really be missing much? Well, colorful guys like George Parros might not be as visible or even in the NHL, which would be shame, but from a standpoint of the game? I don't think so.
So here's our informal poll: Do you want to see fighting taken out of the game?
Photo: Getty Images