Today the spiders who live in IPB’s inbox had to scurry aside for a moment when we got an honest-to-goodness email from someone in response to yesterday’s edition of The IPB Hour. John Fischer very thoughtfully came up with statbitty rebuttals to a few of the assessments we made about which Devils forwards are overachieving and which ones are underachieving. Now, we are very much of the “Tra la la feelings” approach to discussing hockey (as Katebits so aptly puts it), so when someone comes at us with statbits, it’s like we’re in a gladiator movie and our opponent just threw a handful of dirt in our eyes. Now we’re staggering around, roaring with pain from the injury to our pride, and more than that, we’re suddenly having our asses kicked by the net-and-trident guy when we’re armed with what seemed to be a far superior weapon like a battleaxe, or a spiked club.
John F.’s statbits left us reeling; we had to let some time pass, flush the grit out of our eyes, and disentangle ourselves from his insidious weaponized net. But now we’re ready to return to the ring and address his concerns. The player in question? John Madden. We said he was overachieving, and we even went so far as to ramble off on a tangent about something ridiculous like how he deserves the C or whatever. We don’t really remember. We were probably drunk when we said it. But anyway, this is what John F. said:
I have a bit issue with your description of John Madden as an overachiever with his scoring this year. His 19 goals are currently the highest he’s had since 2002-2003 (incidentally, his second highest season in shots with 207). But between then he’s had 12, 16, and 12 then. While his 19 goals have helped a lot, it’s not exactly new for him. Furthermore, his 23 assists is perfectly in line with his last 4 seasons (22, 23, 20, 20). He’s certainly more accurate/lucky this year; but wouldn’t you think it’s a bit of stretch to say he’s overachieving considering his past numbers. He’s just simply having a better statistical year than he’s had since the lockout (seriously, check the +/-).
Aieee! Our eyes! Okay, we’re trying to play it cool and just blink it off. These are salient points, yes, that his assists are just more of the same, and his goal total, while higher than the last few years, is hardly a staggering increase. But the “tra la la feelings” aspect of Madden-as-overachiever is actually manifested statbitstastically there in his +/-. He was -7 in each of the last two seasons and is +2 as of right now. Again, not a humongous increase, but it is at least a bit indicative of the overall improvement of Madden’s game. The thing about Madden’s value as a player is that it’s not entirely measurable in the static statbits. As a checking forward, he’s a guy whose contributions in a game are often just his smarts, or his tenacity, or his speed, or his strength in holding off an opponent; scoring is often just gravy with him. And it has seemed, over the last two years, and especially in the playoffs last year, that Madden’s smarts, tenacity, speed and strength were all eroding. Maybe we were being overly hard on him, but our expectations were lowered considerably after an extravagantly putrid showing last Spring, and he’s been, to borrow Asham’s label, quite the pleasant surprise this year. So while John F. has exposed the weaknesses in our praise of Madden’s scoring this year, we still stand by our belief that Madden’s overachieving in the “tra la la feelings” arena. He might not be having a career year in a “monster numbers” kind of way, but there’s no question when you watch the guy play that Madden has been rejuvenated.
Basically, what we’re saying is this: comparing John Madden’s statbits from this season with where he’s been throughout his career, you end up with “average”. But comparing his tra-la-la-feelingsbits from this season with where he was last Spring, you come up with a massive improvement. Therefore, it is cogently evident that the salient points of our argument are:
Title: Pollice Verso Source: Wikipedia
Okay, we think we’re also saying that John F. remains the king of the statistical analysis for the Devils, which is why In Lou We Trust is as good as it gets.