This isn’t a post about plus-minus or debating its merits. I don’t like it and neither should you, but that’s not my purpose here. You can love plus-minus and still read this post without becoming enraged. Probably.
Jeff Schultz‘s plus-50 in 2009-10 was the highest rating we’ve seen since Peter Forsberg in 2003. When Caps fans or hockey fans in general make fun of plus-minus, Schultz’s name is almost always invoked. Even Ovechkin did it.
But we don’t often look too closely at Schultz’s 2009-10 season. It was uncommon and– most importantly– really, really lucky. Below is a player usage chart for the Caps defense from that season that will serve as the foundation for examining Schultz’s season.
Early Saturday morning (east coast time), the Los Angeles Kings defeated the New York Rangers 3-2, winning their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. But most importantly– and I need to shout this next part:
JEFF SCHULTZ IS A STANLEY CUP CHAMPION!!!
For the record, that’s 55-point text. Double nickel size.
What started as an awful joke, is now a reality. I feel like I’m going to puke rainbows at the headline photo right now.
Next question: Will Sarge get his name on The Cup?
Over the summer, Schultz signed with the Los Angeles Kings. He didn’t make their team out of training camp, so he spent the entire season with American Hockey League’s Manchester Monarchs. He put up pedestrian numbers there–two goals and 11 assists– but Sarge has never been a stellar boxcar stat guy. On Monday night, with Robyn Regehr injured, Schultz was given a jersey by Kings coach Darryl Sutter. He looked like a changed player.
It was weird– and not only because he was playing his first NHL game since DC against Bruce Boudreau, Mathieu Perreault, and the Anaheim Ducks.
A Boston writer named Michael Hurley wrote an article about how Alex Ovechkin‘s plus-minus rating is really bad and therefore Alex Ovechkin is really bad. I’m going to link to it here because that’s the responsible thing to do, but please don’t read it. Hurley, who actually gets paid for this dreck, goes through some half-hearted apologia for plus-minus (“As everyone knows, plus-minus is a greatly flawed stat”), and then he uses it as the centerpiece of his argument (“Still, it’s not completely meaningless, as some would like you to believe.”)
So, real quick, I’m just gonna bust out a couple reasons why a) Alex Ovechkin’s plus-minus is low, b) plus-minus is not an indicator of talent, and c) Michael Hurley’s column is bad and he should feel bad.
Sarge hasn’t changed one bit! (Photo credit: Kyle Mace)
After nine glorious seasons with the Washington Capitals organization, Jeff Schultz was bought out of the final year of his four-year, $11 million contract over the summer. With that buyout ended a brilliant career. Remember the time Sarge led the NHL in plus-minus? Or the time he recited the Declaration of Independence? And the time he led the league in plus-minus? Oh, I said that already.
The Los Angeles Kings cut Schultz during training camp, so he spent the fall with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
Early Morning Skate: So, the last time we were here, we were there. Filthy Philadelphia, needing a solid road win, and feeling optimistic to start. In fact, we were all, like, yay here we gowhattheflipwasthat?! and c’mon Holtbeast get it together and then yay Groooouuubsie and boooo Max Talbot grrr grrrr and ow that traffic-cone orange makes my soul weep and that was pretty much the best summary of that ugly mess of a game I can imagine.
Mmmm…tastes like Cheez Whiz
What exactly was it that happened that terrible, cold February night at the F-U Center? Where, exactly, were manimal Troy Brouwer and Captain 8 (despite being probably the best in Red on the ice that night) and John “Towelie” Carlson and the Millionaire and his wife and the nameless rest? Certainly not there to play hard, or at least battle back through a tough start. And why was it, exactly, the Lord Supreme in His wisdom didst create that dung-heap of a burg to begin with?
Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.
You see, I’d like to chalk up that bumbling bungle of a game simply to our visiting the giant spirit suck that is Philly and its moronic fans. Like to, but cannot. Yeah, there were a couple fluky puck bounces and what-not, but those things give as much as they take. No, what we saw was a failure to launch by the Capitals after a dis-spiriting start. It was not, in any possible permutation of the concept, ‘good.’
The Puck Drop: But it’s Spring, and Easter (for some) or Maru (for others) or Passover or Nowruz or we’re just going to stop this now. Traditionally, it’s a time for rebirth and renewal and rejuvenation and reloading and all that. For the Capitals’ flock, it’s once more the race to the playoffs.
For several years now, the Capitals have demonstrated fine mettle in April, much like the pale gossamer jonquils besotting the landscape, if those jonquils were angry, snarling, forechecking, glass-smashing monsters made of steel and laser beams.
In short, there’s two ways this ends. One: we leave Filthydelphia redolent of Whiz, covered in soot and chagrin; or two, you can eat me Peter Laviolette. No wait, that’s a given. Oh yes; or two, we bounce outta Barftown and kick it into grinder gear for the coming match-ups against the Canes and ugly Islanders (revenge want now) and be the team that showed up to rub Winnipeg’s nose in its own dark, dark shame. I know which one I’m hoping for.