Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The dumbest things we've said this season, featuring Ryan Lochte and Alex Ovechkin

By Finesse (follow me on Twitter)

We don't say a lot of things, but when we do, they're usually right.  Except when they're not.

With Pens season in full calm-before-the-storm mode, we thought now was the ideal time to go back and evaluate ourselves by asking tough questions:  Did we say anything dumb?  Anything that later turned out to be wrong?  If so, is there a way we can argue that we were not actually wrong?

We combed the archives and came up with the examples below.  The scale we're using is the "Lochte," in honor of Ryan Lochte's new reality show, "What Would Ryan Lochte Do?" which is followed every night by a half-hour live after-show, "Stare Blankly At Nothing In Particular."  One Lochte means our statement was kinda dumb; a full five Lochtes means we need to rethink this endeavor.

(NOTE: Nothing in this post should be construed as an apology. We do not want this post to result in us being called "classy.").

Find out whether we were dumb, after the jump...

January 17, 2013: "Is it possible that Dan Bylsma is kind of like that kid in elementary school with the enormous trapper keeper and perfect handwriting and sick organizational skills who, when you peeled away all the layers, really wasn't that smart?"

Classic tactic on display here, with Artistry taking a statement that carries a great risk of being dumb and turning it into a question so he can later deny that this was his actual opinion at the time. He's not a father by accident, people.

The thing Bylsma has going for him is that we don't really have to peel back the layers because he's working with an insanely stacked lineup that is almost bad-coach-proof.

"I'd like to take a crack at that."
It's also the biggest obstacle to him getting the credit that he might deserve -- we don't really know how good of a coach he is because, other than a stretch in 2011 when he performed spectacularly, he's worked with much shiner tools than his counterparts.  But Phil Jackson played with shinier tools than anyone and you know what?  He has 11 rings.

2 Lochtes for questioning a guy on pace to break every "fastest to __" coaching record ever
 January 17, 2013"This is the year of Bob Bortuzzo."

Another strong claim from Artistry in our preview (though in context it wasn't very strong).  Through Wednesday, Bobby B skated in 15 games and performed at least to expectations, if not above them.  He's a big body who's not afraid to stick his chin right in the mix, and he's only 24 so he has room to improve.  But whether this was "the year of Bob Bortuzzo" probably depends on your answer to this question: Are you comfortable if injuries force Bortuzzo into 10-15 minutes/game in the playoffs?

Perhaps we were a year early on Bobby B.
January 17, 2013"The Penguins are not the Stanley Cup favorites, so shut up already, Las Vegas."

Technically accurate at the time it was said. No longer accurate.

Coming off last spring's disaster, the Pens were not the favorites heading into the season, and early on it looked like it would stay that way.  The Hawks and Ducks were unbeatable, the Devils picked up right where they left off, and everyone kept insisting that the Rangers were good.  But then Crosby became Crosby again, Tomas Vokoun stole a bunch of games, and Ray Shero blackmailed like 5 different GMs at the end of March.  And now we're here.

We didn't have enough faith.
January 19, 2013: "Really liked what I saw from Brandon Sutter and Tanner Glass."

Anything positive about Tanner Glass was flagged.

As for Sutter, he definitely has his moments, but in one of the more prescient things we've written this year, "Brandon Sutter needs to find the place between greatness and invisibility and occupy it more often."  Circumstances have not required him to be an every-shift player, meaning a guy who makes a positive impact every time on the ice.  The playoffs are a different circumstance.  He can't be so quiet for such long stretches anymore.  We don't expect he will be.
Like I said, positive comments about Tanner Glass were flagged.
January 30, 2013: "Stale, disinterested and mediocre: Your 2013 Pittsburgh Penguins?"

This was the title of a post summarizing a 4-1 loss to the Islanders that left us and everyone in the comments questioning everything.  What we learned shortly after this loss, is that a team with guys in their early 30s like Kunitz, Dupuis, Cooke, and Adams, and Sidney Crosby coming off two of the most uneven years a professional athlete can experience, may need a few weeks to shake off the rust.  But if every post we wrote at the beginning of the season was a caution against making judgments, well, that would be pretty boring.

Should have been titled, "Stale, disinterested and mediocre: this game against the Isles."
January 30, 2013: "Marc-Andre Fleury. He needs to be benched."

Written by me in the same recap.  Nothing frustrates the mind like bad goaltending, but to suggest that Fleury should have lost his status as the guy who gets more starts than the other guy was premature for the same reason it was premature to judge the whole team as "stale" -- sometimes you just need to get warmed up.  But in my defense, Vokoun did start the next night and shut out the Rangers in New York.  So there's that.

Still on a fairly short leash in the playoffs.
January 30, 2013: "But whatever happens, make no mistake, this is the most important week of Dan Bylsma's coaching career."

Still seething from the Islanders nightmare, we joined the chorus of people openly questioning whether Dan Bylsma's job was in jeopardy without actually suggesting that we wanted him fired.  He responded with a 5-game win streak, outscoring opponents 23-8.  So if it was the most important week of his coaching career, he did aiight.

"It was just aiight for me."
Now armed with a loaded lineup that's getting healthier, starting next week, every week is the new most important week of his coaching career.
Are you finally remembering how bad that Islanders game was?
February 5, 2013: "Tanner Glass is a man."

Again, everything about Tanner Glass was flagged, even if it was merely a factual statement about his gender.

February 14, 2013: "Zach Boychuk is a terrible version of Sidney Crosby. But he looked OK on the third line."

If everything we wrote about Tanner Glass was flagged, then we dumped a gallon of highlighter liquid on everything we wrote about Zach Boychuk.  He made the Janne Pesonen era feel like the Cal Ripken era in Baltimore.  Did you know Boychuk is from Aridrie, Alberta?

Most interesting thing about him.
March 21, 2013: "But this is a new year, so it's time to be optimistic again."

I said this about Pitt basketball the morning of the first day of the NCAA Tournament.  I then wasted two hours of my life that I can never have back.

Dixon is due. Have to stay optimistic.
February 27, 2013"If Tanner Glass is going to use his ice time to contribute nothing but bad penalties, wouldn't it be better to give that ice time to (gasp) Zach Boychuk? He hasn't shown much, but it might be helpful to have someone with some skill on the ice while Geno is out."

Nooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!! Glass and Boychuk in the same sentence!!!!!!!!!!

"I wouldn't even do that."
February 20, 2013 and March 18, 2013: Everything we said about Alex Ovechkin.

We could take the approach that nothing in our posts highlighting Ovechkin's abnormally significant statistical decline was inaccurate when it was written.  It wasn't.  But that doesn't mean we should have written it.

Even though we acknowledged that our posts were going to jinx Ovechkin into getting a hat trick against the Pens (he had one goal), we didn't take seriously enough the possibility that they would single-handedly propel Ovechkin into the best stretch of his career, one so impressive that he's become a legitimate threat to steal Sidney Crosby's Hart Trophy.  Amateur hour at GTOG.

We'd come across as idiotic if we didn't acknowledge the awesomeness of Ovechkin has done over the past month to lead the Caps to a division crown (23 goals, 11 assists in 21 games).  As fond as we were about saying that his decline was nothing short of remarkable, the same has to be said for his re-ascendancy.

This past month's resurgence precludes us from calling Ovechkin's previous two seasons a "decline" anymore.  But now they may be something worse.  If Ovechkin had this in him all along, where was it the past two years when he became just another good player? Without diminishing what he's doing now, doesn't it speak volumes if he could have been doing this all along but, for whatever reason, just wasn't?  Sidney Crosby basically lost two years of his prime to injury. Did Ovechkin throw away two years of his for any reason at all?

That discussion is for another day because as Ovechkin has shown, things can change rather quickly.  If we could change one thing we've written this season, it would be our stuff about Ovechkin.  Not because it was wrong.  Because now we don't want to see him in the playoffs.

"What were you thinking?"

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