Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Prayer for Ethan Moreau

I've sometimes talked badly about this man's play, and if I'm honest, may continue to do so going forward. That said, Chopper has put in a lot of years with this team and it's never good to see anyone take an injury that may well seriously affect his life outside of hockey. In all sincerity, may God be with Ethan, with his wife and with his kids as they go through a very difficult evening. Amen.

Oilers v. Wild - Titus 1:1-5

Kevin, a servant of God and an apostle of the Way, for the faith of God's only hockey club and the knowledge of the truth that leads to victory — a faith and knowledge resting on the hope of yet another dynasty, which God, who does not lie, promised to us before the beginning of time and, in this appointed season, will bring to light through the moves to be made at the trade deadline and a victory over the Wild.

To Craig, my true son in our common faith:
Be filled with grace from God the Father and with peace from the voices of the Oilogosphere.

The reason I left you without a third line center was so that you might straighten out who was a true Oiler among our youthful centers with help from your captain who was appointed as I directed you.

Friday, February 27, 2009

On the Ice and In the Office - Parallel Narratives

As a fan, it's always important to believe that your team is doing as much as possible to win both on the ice and in the office. For fans of the Edmonton Oilers, last night was disappointing on the ice as we watched the Columbus Bluejackets dispatch of the Oilers quite handily in yet another lacklustre home effort. This morning, fans of the Edmonton Oilers could be quite disappointed with the performance of the front office. So often we hear that it's difficult to make trades because of the salary cap or because other teams are just asking too much for a given player. Last night, Ossi Vaananen was put on waivers.

For some time there has been talk of acquiring a veteran defenceman to help this team. I'm not convinced that it will make a huge difference to the performance of the team and so would be unwilling to part with much of anything in order to acquire said player. Luckily, Vaananen didn't cost any assets except cap space (and money), which the Oilers have in spades.

Vaananen is a 27 year old defenceman who is making 1M this season and will be an UFA next season. Vaananen was a contributing member of the Flyers this season, playing in 46 games and amassing a Corsi of -165 (the team is -200) playing the 5th most difficult minutes among Flyers defencemen (min. 20 GP). He was +28-28 at EV (the team is +112-113) this season (excluding EN goals) and has a PDO number of 102.2. On the PK he logs the third most ice time per game among Flyers D and ranked 5th (of 7) in GA/60. (statistics courtesy of Desjardins and Ferrari). Two seasons ago (his last in the NHL), Vaananen performed at a similar level for the Colorado Avalanche. On a good team he is an effective third pairing defenceman. For the Oilers, this could be very helpful. Vaananen is probably better than both Strudwick and Peckham at this stage of his career. He would also provide cover if the Oilers decide (like they should!) to deal away Steve Staios. This isn't a huge miss and Vaananen is probably worth less than a standings point to this team, so the need for righteous indignation is not great. In this way it is just like Craig MacTavish throwing out Fernando Pisani, Ethan Moreau for the final minute against the Blue Jackets. It probably wouldn't have made a difference either way, but it's still stupid.

Ossi Vaananen was claimed off of waivers this morning by the Vancouver Canucks, a team with much less of a need on defence than the Edmonton Oilers. It's a simple and smart move by Mike Gillis that he should never have been able to make.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Whitney traded for Kunitz/Tangradi

This trade has some (cap) problems for both teams. I think that the key piece involved in the trade is prospect Eric Tangradi. There is a good chance that he can play for the Pittsburgh Penguins within two years. Some comparable players have ended up with very successful NHL careers, others not, but he may well be able to outperform his entry-level contract.

That’s going to be a mighty important thing for Pittsburgh. Shero has, with good reason (see the analysis of the trade by Jonathan Willis), soured on Whitney as an all-around defenceman, but he’s moved a lot of money from one asset class to another. By taking virtually all of the 4M in cap dollars invested in Whitney and putting it into Kunitz the Penguins now have just over 25M tied up in 4 forwards. They're also locked in to an absolute minimum of 5.5M for two goalies because of the Marc-Andre Fleury deal. If the cap moves down to around 50M in the next couple of years that only leaves 19.5M for 7D and 9F. If they aren’t able to move Staal they are going to have a terrible time trying to find some quality on defence. If I was moving Whitney, I would have made sure that I wasn't taking long-term salary back, especially at forward. If Tangradi is more Stone than Cheechoo this is a big loss for the Penguins.

As for the Ducks, the deal depends on whether or not Whitney rounds out his game. It’s not a bet I would be making but it does seem to have some chance of working out and, at the very least, this move looks to have a long-term plan in mind. One of Niedermayer or Pronger will be leaving soon and Whitney is, I assume, being groomed as a(n inadequate) replacement.

Oilers v. Blue Jackets - Proverbs 3:1-8

Dear Oilers, do not forget Yahweh's demands,
but remember his faithfulness to you.

For his commands will prolong your career many years
and bring you great prosperity.

Let hard work and brotherhood never leave you;
write them on the dressing room door with stickers,
write them on the door of your hearts (but not with stickers).

Then you will win the Lord's Cup
in the sight of both God and man.

Trust in Yahweh with all your heart
and do not lean on your own abilities.

Acknowledge him after every goal,
and he will not let you fall to the cursed Blue Jackets

Do not be wise in Doug MacLean's eyes.
Instead, fear Yahweh and shun the only team he has cursed to never make the postseason.

Do these things and your body will be healthy
and your bones will never break.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

A Curious Trade

To LI - Dean McAmmond, SJ 1st round pick
To Ott - Mike Comrie, Chris Campoli

This particular trade has already received quite a bit of attention. Tyler and LT have argued that this is a poor trade by Ottawa and a good trade by Long Island. The basic argument is that Bryan Murray is a fool for trading away futures (the pick) for today (Comrie) when there was virtually no chance that the Senators would make the playoffs at the time of the trade. The situation here remains the same as the Senators haven't really gained much ground since.

Tom Benjamin understands the trade as being primarily for Campoli from the perspective of the Senators. Basically, Campoli is an accelerated version of what would be expected from the late first round pick. He's on a cheap contract for next season, something that the Senators desperately need given how much money is invested in the top of the roster.

I think Benjamin is on the right track. The goal here is to take that pick from being a young cheap asset in the future and making it a young cheap asset that can help both today and tomorrow. This is pretty reasonable.

However, I think that Comrie is still a big part of this deal. Here is a quote from Bryan Murray:

"We're obviously not where we want to be going forward," Murray said Monday while discussing the Senators' plans for the March 4 deadline. "I hope to go do a couple of other things, whether it's just add prospects or draft picks."

And another:

"The discussion for the last while was if we brought him here, he would be very interested in staying."

I suppose if Ottawa had gone on a screaming run up the standings until the trade deadline the decision would be a little bit tougher, but the reality is, Mike Comrie is going to be traded again or sign with the Senators on a deal that Murray thinks is affordable prior to the deadline. I expect it to be the trade. It might well be for a second round pick and if it's a bubble team, the pick moves from somewhere in the 24-30 range to somewhere in the 41-60 range. So for moving down no more than about thirty spots in the draft, Murray was able to get Campoli. I think this is a great move for the Ottawa Senators.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Oilers v. Lightning - Luke 10:18-20

And Jesus said to them, "I saw Satan fall as Lightning from heaven. I have given you authority over his forwards and defencemen - you do not need my help with the goalies - and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice that the Lightning are woeful in comparison with you but rejoice that your names will be written on the Lord's Cup."

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Oilers v. Flames - Job 1:18-22

Yet another teammate came and said, "When your parents and friends were feasting and drinking wine to celebrate, a mighty scorekeeper swept in from the desert and struck the scoresheet of your last game against those villanous Stars. Now, if you don't score a point against the Flames you will be a laughingstock forever!"

At this, Jaques got up and tore his jersey and shaved his French gautee. Then he fell to the ground in worship and said:

"Pointless I came from my mother's womb,
and pointless am I destined to depart.
Yahweh gave and Yahweh has taken away.
May the name of Yahweh be praised."

In all this, Jaques did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oilers v. Stars - Isaiah 14:12-17

How far you have fallen in the standings,
O Stars, you enemies of God!
How you have been cut down to the ground,
you nemesis of his people!

You said in your heart,
"I will march to the Cup and sit above even God himself,
I will hold the Lord’s Cup above my head,
I will rule over every team,
even those in the far reaches of the North;
I will march over resistance with contempt
I will make myself like the Most High."

But now you are brought down to Sheol,
to the far reaches of the playoff bubble.
Those who see you will stare at you and wonder about you:

"Is this really the team that made the Oilers tremble?
Who disturbed the hearts of the Western Conference?
Who trapped the league to death in the slush
and overthrew teams in their own cities?
Who did not let them - even once - play game seven at home?”

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Budgeting for the 2010-11 Cap

There has been some talk that the salary cap may be going down by the 2010-11 season. This will obviously be a problem for a lot of teams and is something that needs to be taken into consideration by teams going forward, especially into this year's (and next year's) trade deadline. Tom Benjamin has suggested that the Oilers are in trouble going forward. My outlook is not nearly so bleak.

The important thing, first of all, is to have a budget. In the Shoalts article referenced above he suggests that the salary cap could fall to 46 million dollars. This seems like a panic number to me, but, then again, if two years ago you'd forecast that the TSX would be trading between 8,000 and 9,000 that would have looked like a panic number too. Basically, you can't completely discount the 46 million figure but if you're convinced it's heading that way you'll probably end up needlessly bleeding good assets.

So, how could the Oilers find a proper balance. Well, first, I think, they need to start with a long-term budget in terms of percentage of the cap and forecast a middle number for where the cap is going. I would use 50 million and distribute the budget as follows:

1st line - 30% = 15M
2nd line - 15% = 7.5M
bot 6F and bot 3D - 20% = 10M
top 4D - 30% = 15M
2G - 5% = 2.5M

Distributing the cash in this way we can start with what we know. The top line is set for 10/11 with Hemsky (4.1), Horcoff (5.5) and Penner (4.25) slotting in just fine. They're all in the heart of their careers and the line is outperforming against strong opposition. The total figure is 13.85. If the cap moves down to 46M, they'd be allocated 13.8M, so we're basicallly right on target. The thing to do here is stand pat.

The second line only has one committed contract for 10/11 in Robert Nilsson. In my view Gagner should be a priority. His numbers are nothing particuarly special so far this year so I'd try to ink him for 3M or less over 3 to 6 years this summer. It seems very doable. For this exercise we'll say he gets 3M. I'd leave the other spot until you know the cap number for 10/11 in case it's greater than 50M, but if it's 50M, or retreats as low as 46M you'll still have 2M to spend on either Cogliano or a free agent. If we're talking a 46M cap, 2M should be able to get a decent second line forward.

This is where the hard decisions start. The guys in these slots currently signed up are Stortini (0.7), Staios (2.7) and Moreau (2.0). They need to be traded at the deadline. They're not pulling their weight now anyway, so their replacements should be able to fill in. The Oilers will need to pick up a D on a contract that expires either this year or next, but that shouldn't be a problem. Still, it is essential for budget (as well as hockey) purposes that these guys be moved. If that goal is achieved, then the rest falls into place. I'd go with eight forwards on the following pay scale if the cap *actually* comes in around 46M (and I'd try my darndest to make sure none of these guys have deals longer than three years): 1.3 (Pisani?), 1 (Brodziak?), 1, 0.7 (Stortini), 0.7 (Reddox?), 0.7, 0.6, 0.6. The three D-men would be assigned as follows: 1.4 (Smid?), 0.7, 0.6. Now these numbers can all increase a bit if the cap is higher, but with a 46M cap those numbers don't strike me as out of line. At 50M the numbers are 9.3 out of 10M bugeted. If it actually is 46M Smid moves up to the top 4 and is replaced by another cheap (0.7) defender in the bottom pair. That puts this section at 8.6M out of 9.2M budgeted. Smid is an important swing man here. If he can be signed longish term around 1.5 it does this team some good. To end this section, what is needed is to ditch Staios and Moreau. Trade them. Now.

Now to the problem section. In a 50M budget, we have 15M to allocate to 4D. Three are signed for a total of 15M. Uh oh. Except! If the budget is 50M, we've saved 1.15M from our top line, 0.6M from our second line and 0.7M from our bottom feeders. That gives you 2.35M for a top 4 defender if the cap is 50M. To be honest I'd like to pillage another .65 from the goalies and see if we can sign up Grebeshkov at some term for 3M. If not then a D will need to be traded this off-season (so either trade Grebs or trade Souray and use that money to pay Grebs and a FA) and a free agent top 4 signed. That would be too bad to be honest. Let's hope someone can convince Grebeshkov to play for 3M per.

That leaves 1.95M for two goalies if Grebs is signed and quite possibly more if a D is traded. This isn't great, but it seems adequate. I would probably try to bring in three or even four guys around 0.9 each and have them compete through training cap. Stash two in the minors. It could be Conkannen. Or it could be Conklin in Pittsburgh and Detroit.

So that's the 50M cap met, dead on, only 0.1 left over. Tight but possible, and not much talent is bled away. If we need to get to 46M one of Souray and Vish bites the dust via trade that off-season. You'll probably be getting back pennies on the dollar and you might end up paying one of them in the minors, but, to be honest, I really doubt it. Souray's paid 4.5M for a 5.4M cap hit so someone looking to save money could well be interested. The talent level takes a hit replacing Souray/Vish with Smid in the top four and Smid with a cheap alternative (0.7) on D to get under the 46M cap but so long as Smid can handle top 4 minutes by his 5th pro season they should survive. No smoke and mirrors and just one panic button trade in the summer of 2010. You could even look into a loan agreement with a European team for Vish until the cap comes back up.

One other essential note. Do not pick up any more long-term big money contracts! Do not sign a big ticket item this summer unless another is leaving town or it's a one-year deal!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

PK Save Percentage Update

A couple of months ago I looked at the PK save percentage of the top eight goalies in the league. I figured that it could be instructive to take another look now and see how things have progressed. The idea is that these goalies should have their PK save percentage regress toward the mean. The historical average used (with thanks to Tyler's work) to calculate the goals saved above average is .866.

Pekka Rinne is the only goalie to move above .900 (.919) that has faced over 100 shots (124), so the nice string of results Nashville has picked up is probably set to come back to reality.

Keeping in mind that these goaltenders still all have very good numbers (not surprising given the good starts) they have all regressed, with the exception of the netminder in Calgary and Biron who improved ever so slightly. It goes to show how much lucky/good netminding will impact the goal differential of various teams. With a goal differential of -18 already, New York would be in real trouble if they weren't getting exceptional goaltending on the PK.

Wonderfully, Calgary's results also seem propped up by some suspect numbers. Given their goal differential of +12, they're already probably the weakest team among the top four in the West. Salo's save percentage at EV is .919, good for 30th among goaltenders who have faced at least 500 shots just behind Jason LaBarbera and in a dead heat with Andrew Raycroft. That PK save percentage is coming down.

Best of luck to the Calgary Flames this NHL season.

The Historical-Critical Method

Krentz, Edgar. The Historical-Critical Method. Eugene: Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2002.

This book is an introduction to the historical-critical method in the field of biblical studies. The book is concise which is wonderful at all times and especically for an introduction. The author takes time to give an historical overview of the method's development. Krentz also takes time to describe the various practices of modern scholars in finding meaning in the biblical text. He concludes by stating some of the objections that some modern scholars have raised to question the historical-critical endeavour but the book never really deals with postmodern philosophy. Still, it is good to see that there is some awareness of the method's shortcomings. For those interested in how the Bible is read, especially in modern scholarly circles, this book is a very good introduction.

For those that are looking for a way to affirm their religious experience, this book will not do well. Krentz is thoroughly modern philosophically. Most religious settings care far less about obtaining historically verifiable information and much more about their own experience of the divine. For these communities, a method that leads to an explanation of what happened but does not move beyond that is ultimately unsatisfying, especially if it tears down the original religious experience in the process. For Krentz "an existential interpretation that does not have a corresponding reality in history is not helpful" and personal experience is "nonhistorical." Religious readings and experiences are basically set aside in favour of the tools of historical research.

Thus, there is some disconnect between his reading of the Bible and a religious reading of scripture. This isn't good or bad, but the distinction is apparent, even to Krentz. As he says: "The gap between scholarship and the church often is great. Many people still fear historical criticism in biblical studies. The results of critical scholarship have made the Bible a strange, unused, and even silent book."

Does a Veteran 6D Really Matter?

I think the answer is no.

First, we’ll assume that a team of replacement level players is good for 30 points which seems acceptably low.
Second, we’ll assume that the Edmonton Oilers are good for another 60 points which seems about right. Now there are at least 15 other players of equal or greater value to the sixth defenceman (9F, 5D, 1G) and we’re talking about, essentially, a quarter of the season to go here.

If we decide to award standings points to individual players (disregarding luck, I’m such a fool) then that means we’re talking about 4 points per season per player and at a quarter of a season, 1 point per player. Now this doesn’t even take into consideration that the fourth line would contribute something and it assumes that the quality of your 1C has as much impact on standings points as the quality of your 6D which is just stupid. Now, if one wants to increase the importance of the guys playing twenty minutes a game (and you should!), I’d imagine you’d have to diminish the value of the bottom D and F to compensate.

Basically, unless you think a guy like Theo Peckham is way under replacement level, I don’t see how one can argue replacing him with Nic Havelid or Kyle McClaren is worth even a full standings point. Now, naturally, any improvement is fine, but a lot of this talk (at LT’s) about needing a veteran plug on 6D seems overblown to me.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Oilers v. Coyotes, Sharks - Hosea 6:1-3

Come, let us return to Yahweh.

He has torn our defence to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will soothe our wounds with inspired rookies.

In a few hours he will lead us over Coyotes;
and in a few more he will let us humble the Sharks,
that we may rejoice in the favour he gives to us, his people.

Let us acknowledge Yahweh;
let us continue this road trip with faith in him.

As surely as the sun rises, he will give us victory over the Coyotes;
our victory over the Sharks will be a foreshadowing of April, as sure as the rains in the Spring,
as sure as the winter yields snow, Yahweh will give help to his people.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Playoff Bubble - Playing the West

Tyler Dellow took a look at the playoff bubble recently and offers up a lot of really good information. One piece that might be helpful if added is the record of the bubble teams against the Eastern and Western conferences in order to get a better idea of where the points are coming from.

Vs. West

Anaheim 22-16-4 = 0.571 pts%

Vancouver 19-15-6 = 0.550 pts%

Dallas 19-16-4 = 0.538 pts%

Edmonton 20-18-3 = 0.524 pts%

St. Louis 17-16-2 = 0.514 pts%

Los Angeles = 16-16-6 = 0.500 pts%

Phoenix = 19-19-4 = 0.500 pts%

Columbus 18-20-4 = 0.476 pts%

Nashville 18-21-2 = 0.463 pts%

Minnesota 17-20-2 = 0.462 pts%

Colorado 20-25-1 = 0.446 pts%

Vs. East

Minnesota 11-2-1 = 0.821 pts%

Columbus 8-3-1 = 0.708 pts%

Los Angeles 8-5-1 = 0.607 pts%

Dallas 7-4-3 = 0.607 pts%

Edmonton 7-5-1 = 0.577 pts%

Nashville 7-5-1 = 0.577 pts%

Colorado 5-4-0 = 0.556 pts%

Vancouver 6-5-2 = 0.538 pts%

Phoenix 6-6-1 = 0.500 pts%

Anaheim 6-8-1 = 0.433 pts%

St. Louis 5-9-1 = 0.367 pts%

Now obviously all of these teams are going to be facing the Western Conference teams a lot more often than the Eastern Conference teams. The teams that will suffer the most from this shift are Minnesota and Columbus. Colorado benefits the most by far since they still have nine games left against the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for them, they're almost certainly too far behind for it to matter. The other big benefactor is St. Louis since they only need to play the East three more times... unbelievable. If we extrapolate the current point totals using the above percentages for the remaining games we get the following figures:

Dallas = 90.8

Vancouver = 89.8

Anaheim = 88.7

Minnesota = 88.7

Edmonton = 87.9

Columbus = 86.4

Los Angeles = 85.9

Phoenix = 82.0

Nashville = 80.1

St. Louis = 78.9

Colorado = 77.2

Tyler's data suggested that Columbus and Minnesota had the most difficult schedules remaining and this data is only pointing further in that direction. Los Angeles is also probably pumped up a bit by this measure since these results reflect their early home heavy schedule and they're going to be playing almost two thirds of their final thirty games on the road. The other four teams look to be just too far behind. It looks to me like the four teams that make it in are Dallas, Vancouver, Anaheim and Edmonton with Minnesota having the best chance at spoiling one of those spots (probably Edmonton's).

Oilers v. Canadiens - Matthew 27:6-10

The Canadiens lifted up their heads and said to themselves, "It is against the rules to put a man into the boards from behind, since it results in blood and concussions." Nonetheless, feeling no shame, they passed the hat around for Kostopoulos who was suspended. That is why it has been called the Hat of Blood and their hands have been called hands of blood to this day. Then what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: "They took the money that Price had set for them to pay and they caused their hats and hands to be filled with blood, and the Lord condemned them."

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Reading Psalm 139

I have recently started attending a church in Langley that I like it very much. One thing that I do find interesting in this or any church is the way people interpret scripture and what authority is implicit in order to justify that interpretation. The most recent sermon that I heard used Psalm 139 as a base text and focused predominantly on the final two verses:

"Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my thoughts. See if there is any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."

This was interpreted as a plea by the psalmist (interpreted as David) to see his own depravity. The speaker articulated that God will show us only a portion of our wicked ways because we would otherwise be overwhelmed by the depth of our sinfulness. This was linked to some common things that people need to "deal with" like feelings of guilt, bitterness, anger and fear. Thanks to Christ's redemption (the way everlasting) we are able to slowly overcome the things that God shows us.

I found this interpretation very interesting because, from a historical perspective, the opening assumption that God will find the psalmist wanting seems incorrect. The psalm looks to be written in two parts, verses 1-18 and 19-24. The first section is praise extolling the omniscience of God. The second section is the psalmist asking for God to destroy his enemies. The final verses are a reminder to God that he knows the psalmist's righteous ways and therefore deserves to be delivered. I think it is fair to say that the psalmist definitely sounds either angry or embittered:

"O that you would kill the wicked, O God, and that the bloodthirsty would depart from me - those who speak of you maliciously, and lift themselves up against you for evil! Do I not hate those who hate you, O Yahweh? And do I not loathe those who rise up against you? I hate them with perfect hatred; I count them my enemies. Search me..."

Now, as someone that interprets the Bible as a metaphor for the Edmonton Oilers I'm not really in a position to pass judgment, but if I was, I still wouldn't have a problem with the interpretation offered in the church. However, it does speak to the fact that the authority for the interpretation is not coming from what the text meant to the author.

Uh oh. So where is it coming from?

One good place to look is the theology of the community. This is from the statement of beliefs on the church's website:

"WE BELIEVE that the whole world is under the domination of Satan and that all people are sinners by nature and choice. All people therefore are under God's just judgment."

Now that statement comes, not only from the church in Langley, but from the Association of Vineyard Churches Statement of Faith. This statement is informed by a particular understanding of human sin represented by John Calvin among others: people are all completely sinful before God. The statement also seems to ascribe to a particular view of the creation story in Genesis 2-3 in which sin is passed on from Adam to all people. It is interesting to note that this is not presented by the book of Genesis but, over time, became the dominant interpretation in both Christian and Jewish circles (just like the identification of the snake in the story as Satan). The reading of Christ as the way everlasting is ancient indeed. One famous old guy that interprets Psalm 139 this way is Augustine but there are many, many others that read this text with Jesus in mind. Needless to say, the psalmist didn't.

Anyway, all of that to say that the interpretation of Psalm 139 that I heard is being informed by these traditions. For a reader informed by these traditions, the psalmist is not proclaiming his innocence before God because according to the tradition all are guilty no matter what. This theology would also play into the personal experience of the interpreter. Psalms are prayers and people today continue to pray them. If a person with this preexisting theological framework prays this same prayer, that person will inevitably be lead to his/her own feelings of inadequacy before God. The wicked ways that are there for every person will inevitably be found and God will call the pray-er to change. The framework that the pray-er is taking doesn't really allow for any other conclusions. This personal experience of the text could (and probably did) lead the interpreter to believe that this is what the text has always meant.

So what? Well, I just like pointing out that there's a lot more going on in religious circles than "just believing what the (authoritative text) says." There's the early history of interpretation, the immediate community of the interpreter, the larger theological framework provided by the larger interpretive community (like a denomination), the wider culture in which the interpreter lives and the personal experience of the believer. That's a lot of stuff, and it seems good to keep in mind when anyone gets into discussions about what's "right" and what's "wrong" with a particular reading or belief.

Also, it definitely means that what I'm doing with hockey on this blog is OK with God.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Scoring Chances - Games 42-51

Another group have games have come and gone which gives us another opportunity to take a sample of how the scoring chance battle has been fought (and lost). As always, a big thank-you to Dennis for counting the scoring chances in each game. For those that have not yet checked out his work, you can do so here.

(For those unfamiliar with the metric a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is awarded with a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance and awarded with a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play) and SH (Short-Handed). The players are organized according to their jersey numbers.)

Games Forty-Two Through Fifty-One, January 13 to Febuary 5

Ethan Moreau, whipping boy extraordinaire, manages to have his best ten-game segment of the season here. Taking into consideration the fact that he's basically sat out two straight years prior to this season, it seems possible that this resurgence could be real. It's at least something to look for in the next ten games. I, for one, am cheering for him, because if he can actually round into good form against the secondary toughs, this team is in much better shape going forward.

Steve Staios is all kinds of awful. The Smid/Staios pairing is no better than the Strudwick/Staios pairing. If Staios gets elevated to the top four and we see a healthy dose of Smid/Strudwick on the third pairing it may provide some healthy insight into Steve's play. That said, both Smid/Staios and Strudwick/Staios had a good first ten games together, so Visnovsky will need to be out for twenty or thirty games to get a good read. The experiment is not worth it. Come back soon!

AVisnovsky's injury will give us an interesting look at quite a few players in the next ten-game segment. One of those is Grebeshkov. He and Visnovsky were again very good in this segment averaging +2 per game. Phenomenal numbers. If Grebeshkov can keep some semblance of that in tact with Visnovsky on the shelf it may necessitate a re-signing.

Horcoff's injury is no different, as now someone is going to be taking on the tough assignments. Just when Brodziak thought things could get no more difficult for him... That poor sap gets thrown under the bus in the press and on the ice. You'd think it would only be possible for one of those things to happen.

Dustin Penner. Seriously. The guy rarely has negative results and yet he's constantly smashed up for his effort level. What happened to the Dustin Penner that was in much better shape this training camp? A look back at Penner training camp quotes from management compared with his treatment thus far this season could prove enlightening. Regardless, Penner on the tough minutes line with Hemsky and center X would seem to be a must at this stage.

Gagner was put out for a few games and when he returned, his magic with Cole did not. The two of them are still playing better together than apart, but they are no longer a ridiculous force of soft-minute magic. In the one game they had with Potulny they were outchancing significantly and I'd love to see those three make up the soft-minute trio going forward. Alas, Robert Nilsson is blocking the way.

The call-ups all performed well in this segment. Reddox was shifted back in the lineup where he can hold his own and, lo and behold, he managed to break even. This guy should definitely not be getting a sniff at 1C with Horcoff down, given the returns at 1RW when Hemsky was out, but as a fourth line guy, he doesn't hurt you. As mentioned, Potulny succeeds in the soft minute role, but was getting pounded when on the fourth line with bangers. The solution seems to be staring the team in the face, but they've demoted him instead. Brule was also demoted after showing his best work of the season, although that may have more to do with the waiver restrictions than anything else.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Oilers v. Blues, Red Wings, Wild - Exodus 23:20-33

"On this road trip, I am sending an angel to guard you along the way and to bring you victory in the cities I have prepared. Pay attention to me and listen to what I say. Do not rebel against me; I will not forgive your rebellion, since my Name is in you. If you listen carefully to me and do all that I say, I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you. My angel will go ahead of you and bring you into the land of the Red Wings, Blues, and Wild, and I will wipe them out. Do not be intimidated by their players or revere their skill or copy their practices. You must demolish them and reduce their fans to tears. Worship Yahweh your God, and his blessing will be on your point shots and penalty killing. I will take away injury from among you, and no one will hit iron or feel robbed. I will give you a full life span: there will be playoffs."

"I will send my terror ahead of you and throw into confusion every team you encounter. I will make all your enemies turn away from you in fear. I will send embarrassing promotions ahead of you to shame the fans of the Red Wings, Blues and Wild before you arrive. I will not reduce them to nothing for should they become too weak the Wild would bore even themselves with their defensive schemes. Little by little your skill will outpace theirs, until you are ready to take possession of the Cup."

"I will establish your borders from Detroit to the Pacific Ocean and from Edmonton to Texas. I will hand over to you the teams who play in the Western Conference and you will drive them out before you. Do not have pity on them or ask about their gods. Do not let them have even one victory in your land, or it will be a sin against me, as loathsome as the worship of their gods."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation

Schüssler Fiorenza, Elisabeth. Jesus and the Politics of Interpretation. New York: The Continuum International Publishing Group, 2001.

The author is writing a book that deals largely with how a person ought to do interpretation and on the interpretation of the historical Jesus and early Jesus movement. She approaches the task from a feminist perspective which I, as someone that does not read a lot of feminist work, found refreshing. She critiques any method that does not reflect on its own basic theological, political and social interests. According to Schüssler Fiorenza, without a full recognition of one’s own participation in the oppressive and self-interested structures of society, one is unable to do anything but unselfconsciously project one’s own image and thoughts onto the object of study. Her focus is research on the historical Jesus but her point extends to all fields of study.

She concludes that interpreters are doing themselves a disservice when they attempt to arrive at knowledge of the "real" Jesus because, according to her, such knowledge is impossible. Right interpretation should instead be determined by its results: there are interpretive methods that "foster exploitation and oppression" and methods that "contribute to a vision of praxis and liberation." In the end, then, one should not try to find a historical and factual interpretation, but instead a possible interpretation that serves the cause of liberation.

Some warnings. This book is probably for those already at least somewhat familiar with historical Jesus research. The tone is often caustic, especially in her dealings with other feminist commentators, so those interested in an entirely positive dialogue will undoubtedly be disappointed. The most amusing example of the highly critical nature of the book is in her criticism of a fellow feminist commentator: "Does Corley point out the speck in her feminist colleagues’ eyes in order not to see the beam in that of her brother teachers and colleagues?" The reference to Jesus' parable about being introspective rather than critical is both entirely hilarious and an enormous trap (as to criticize its use puts one in a very similar position). Finally many of the chapters in the book were created using several independent articles as a base and as a result some of the information is repetitive and in some instances sentences and paragraphs from one chapter are repeated verbatim in another.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Oilers v. Blackhawks - Mark 8:31-33

MacT then began to teach them that they must suffer an embarassing defeat at the hands of the Blackhawks and be rejected by the fans, bloggers and newspaper writers. He taught them that they must be humbled and then in two days get back to winning form. He spoke plainly about this when Penner took him aside and began to rebuke him thinking that they should try to win every game.

But when MacT turned and looked at his team, he rebuked Penner and the two standing with him. "Get behind me, Satan!" he said. "You do not have in mind the ways of God, but the ways of men! Bag skate!*"

*Some ancient manuscripts read "Fifteen minutes of drills!"

Monday, February 2, 2009

Scoring Chances - First Half Home v. Road

It’s been a few days since I posted anything on the scoring chance data so it seems good to throw up yet another way of breaking down the data for the first half of the season, this time into two groups of results: home results and road results. To see my other work on scoring chances, just click on the scoring chances tag at the end of the post. If you haven’t yet checked out some of the work Bruce has done on the scoring chance results for the period before the all-star break or would like to see the results that Dennis has logged for the most recent games, you can find all of that here. I would certainly encourage people to join in on the conversation there, and if you missed a game, looking at the chance log, augmented by the highlights or a game summary of the major events tells a great story of how the game shook down. And of course another big thank-you to Dennis for doing all of the ground-work on the Edmonton Oiler scoring chance project.

(For those unfamiliar with the metric a player is awarded a chance any time someone on the ice has a chance to score. He is awarded with a “chance for” if someone on his team has a chance and awarded with a “chance against” if someone on the opposing team has a chance to score. The results are broken down into three game states, EV (even strength), PP (Power Play) and SH (Short-Handed). The players are organized according to their jersey numbers.)

Home Games 1 to 20, October 12 to January 11
Missing Home Game 19 vs San Jose

Road Games 1 to 21, October 15 to December 31
Missing Road Games 15 at St. Louis and 20 at Vancouver

Overall, most players do a little bit better at home than on the road and the Oilers as a team have outchanced at home and have been outchanced on the road. This shouldn’t be too surprising. What is surprising is that the gap is not very large. In the games under consideration here the Oilers home record was 9-7-3 and the Oilers road record was 9-10-0. Judging from these chance numbers, the Oilers record in both of these situations is about where it should be. If anything, the Oilers have probably been a little bit lucky on the road since the special teams are much improved at home than they have been on the road. This of course points to the biggest warning in the given sample: the Oilers had 12 of the first 15 games (and 18 of the first 30) on the road. How much of the difference in scoring chances is resulting from an advantage from playing at home and how much is the result of improved play in either the first or second half? It's tough to answer, but I'll look at some of the larger spreads at EV and try to come up with answers for each. Those that are not mentioned here have about the same differential at home as they do on the road.

Nilsson - +8 at home and -4 on the road. I think that this is what most would expect, although I would've expected the numbers to be more extreme. Nilsson is able to create more against weak opponents at home and is a little bit more exposed on the road.

Cogliano - -6 at home and +8 on the road. This is not what most would expect. Given that Cogliano was playing with Moreau in the last ten games, mostly at home, I think that this is a pretty hefty indictment of Ethan Moreau. To be fair Cogliano may have been playing slightly more difficult minutes but... yikes.

Moreau - -13 at home and -41 on the road. Well, at least he's getting beat down worse on the road? I don't know. This is bad. It would seem pretty clear that opposing coaches don't mind thinking of Ethan as the candy minutes.

Cole - +12 at home and -4 on the road. I think that this is mostly the result of his placement in the lineup. The last stretch of games Cole and Gagner were dominant. They may have been a beneficiary of favourable matchups but since they didn't play together on the road it's difficult to say that Cole has been better at home than on the road. It's probably better to say that he's been better with Gagner than without him.

Pisani - E at home and -22 on the road. See: Moreau, Ethan. Also, Pisani at center was a failure and was exposed badly when MacT couldn't protect him. In fairness, the sample at home is only 5 games, but given that it's his better number, I don't know if the small sample hurt him.

Grebeshkov - +21 at home and -5 on the road. More games at home paired with Visnovsky and more games on the road paired with Gilbert. He's also played better later in the year, but I for one would chalk it up mostly to the Visnovsky factor.

Strudwick - -3 at home and -23 on the road. Plays more forward at home and it shows in the numbers. He and Staios (who isn't included because he's bad all the time) were badly exposed on the road.

Stortini - E at home and -9 on the road. He doesn't quite fit the criteria but given his limited ice time I think this shows that opposing coaches are exposing him when the Oilers are on the road.

Gilbert - +7 at home and -20 on the road. He and Grebs were struggling together on the road and since then he's been handling mostly toughs in all situations. The biggest difference might be his partnership with Souray since he'd been doing toughs both at home and on the road. I think it's safe to conclude the partner shifting worked out well for both of the young dmen.

Gagner - +21 at home and +3 on the road. Similar to Nilsson, this is what one would expect and it's good to sign the + on both sides of the ledger. As was mentioned with Cole, they ate the opposition alive in the last ten games when paired together so the home numbers may be inflated.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Oilers v. Predators - 2 Peter 2:10-13

Bold and arrogant, these men are not afraid to take a run at celestial beings; yet even complete goons, although they are stronger and more powerful, do not take such long runs at these beings in the presence of Yahweh. Yet these fools see nothing wrong in what they have done, yes, their shame has no limits (praying to Yahweh of Edmonton so that fans can do those things they do when certain things happen in a Predators game). They are the Predators, apostates and criminals, created only to go bankrupt and relocate, mere beasts that will lose under the Alberta sun.

They must be paid back with harm for the harm they have done.