Last night I put on the TV, and I saw an interview being conducted with a person billed as an expert on the Boston Bruins, in Ty Anderson.
There are no experts in anything anymore, because no one knows knows anything about anything. They have jobs in their field. They are given those jobs because someone has to have them. They are almost always given those jobs for the wrong reasons.
There is virtually no one in the whole of society--outside of sports--who has their job on the basis of ability, until we get down into the trades, where hard work is also involved. There are plumbers, for instance, who should have their jobs because they're good at them and they work tirelessly, and contractors. People who provide services of value.
There's no one who's an alleged sports "expert," though, to give one example, who provides any actual value. In the world. Anyone billed this way, whose platform is built upon this asinine, false notion of their expertise, could be your annoying cousin or your Uber driver, nattering away.
Someone like Ty Anderson's alleged expertise comes down to going to the coach's press conferences, repeating what that coach said to the "expert's" audience, be it in his writing--which is not actual writing, but the listing of quotes that anyone could get, and stats that anyone could get, and injury reports that anyone could get--or on Twitter, a podcast, what have you.
There is no deep knowledge of the game, or even a surface knowledge. It's not someone who knows more than any guy sitting on his couch watching some games and having some chips. No knowledge of history, of course, no feel for how anything works. No knowledge of the intricacies of the game, what's really happening, what makes this guy good, this guy not as good, systems, techniques, etc.
I've written various times about how the Bruins have a huge goaltending problem. I've laid out the reasons very clearly. What do you think the chances are that I'm wrong? Ever read anything I write about hockey and think it's off? Because this is the actual expert, which has been proven hundreds of times over. In professional writing, in interviews, in this record. Time and again. There's no comparison to anyone out there, is there?
Ty Anderson comes on this show to make the opposite point. I thought, okay, I'll listen to this. He goes on to say that the ultimate strength of the Bruins is that they have two goalies who are both really good.
Now, it'd be tough to be more wrong. The Bruins may have multiple fatal flaws, but this goalie situation is certainly one of them. You cannot win it all this way. You have two guys without that killer drive, who are more interested in playing patty cake than being the guy. The winner. The champion. The owner of the net.
You can have two guys more or less evenly splitting time in the regular season, but you will not win by rotating goalies in the playoffs. It goes against natural order, team dynamics, personal psychology, and you will lose.
If you rotate goalies in the regular season, it's that much harder to make one guy the guy in the playoffs.
You know who did this successfully? The dynasty New York Islanders. Why could they do that? Because they had a crazily driven nutcase of a goalie in Billy Smith who only cared about winning when it mattered. The playoffs were his time. He's in the Hall of Fame because of how he played in the playoffs. I'm not saying he wasn't good in the regular season, but he was practically platooned, first with Chico Resch and then Roland Melanson. Do you know how rare a Billy Smith is? So whomever plays in the playoffs has to be the guy who was playing most of the time in the regular season. Who is used to that. Unless, and until, things go wrong; then you make a change. You do what you need to do.
Anderson then opines, expert that he is, that the Bruins should platoon goalies in the playoffs. That ought to be the plan.
I'm so accustomed to people saying the most ignorant things possible, that I almost expect it, but I still had to laugh. This guy doesn't know more about hockey than the meatheads I hear yelling up and down my street during the day, and let me tell you, here in Boston's North End, that's not the most incisively insightful talk you've ever heard. Because when asked how the Bruins should determine who starts what game in goal, you know what Anderson's answer was? This was awesome. An all-timer of "Look at me, I'm a guy without a clue."
He said: "Vibes."
He actually answered vibes. The vibes should dictate who starts in goal. In the playoffs.
It sounds like I'm making this up. Who would say something so dumb besides a casual, drunken sports fan, of a certain age? This is the expert, huh? That's how it works in this ass backwards world of ours. It's like people have their names on pieces of paper and one of those pieces gets picked out of a hat and it's, "You get to be called the expert!"
The vibes. Imagine that? Bruins win with Ullmark 2-1 in Game 1 on a Tuesday, and then 3-2 with Ullmark in net in Game 2 on Wednesday, then the series shifts to the other team's rink, coach Jim Montgomery starts Swayman, Bruins lose 5-4 on a short side goal, and in the press conference a reporters asks, "Jim, why'd you go with Swayman tonight?" and Montgomery answers, "The vibes."
I'm sure that would be fine. Totally sensible.
Anderson continued to argue his point, saying that teams have won playing multiple goalies in the playoffs.
Yes. Obviously. You have to understand how simple such a person's brain is. That they can't understand that those teams didn't platoon goalies by design. It wasn't the plan. Someone wasn't performing well enough. Someone tweaked something. Someone needed a breather.
I don't think these Bruins understand the way they need to understand how different the playoffs are from the regular season. They should, with all of that experience, both on the ice, behind the bench, and upstairs. But it's like they don't. It's weird. I think it's their culture, which is about friendliness and feelings.
Hockey is virtually a different sport come the postseason, as I wrote in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal. Different game that requires a different mindset. The Bruins authored the greatest choke job in NHL history last spring. I don't think they've learned sufficiently from it. It's like they're doubling down in whatever they were doing.
This team overvalues regular season wins. You don't need to win 66 games this year, Bruins, or make like you're trying to. What are they right now, 11-1-1? I'd feel more sanguine if they were 8-3-2 and a goalie had emerged as the starting goalie.
Look at those Oilers teams. And I'm not saying these way, way, way more limited Bruins are like those Oilers squads. I'm citing the Oilers because of their goalie situation and because they were a team that always had a good regular season record. The Oilers had two very good goalies. Hall of Famer in Grant Fuhr, Hall of Very Good if you want to do that thing in Andy Moog.
Look at their regular season win totals. There were teams that would finish ahead of them, or be right up there with them. They weren't going all out for every regular season victory. Come the playoffs, they led with one guy in net. These were two of the best goalies in the league. But they still went with one. Both might play, but that was because other factors arose. For instance, Fuhr got hurt in 1984, so it was Moog who was actually in net when the Oilers won their first Cup.
I don't think the Bruins get that you really have two sports in one here. Just like I think they believe they can keep doing in the playoffs what they've done in the regular season and you can't do that at all. You'll get bounced. See ya.
I see the same damn thing taking shape. Already. Move one of these guys. Get a top two-line winger. I'd move Ullmark, personally. He reminds me of Pete Peeters. I'm not saying I believe in Swayman, but I've seen Ullmark fail in the playoffs twice now. Not that he's been bad every game, but he doesn't look like a champion playoff netminder to me. You don't need a remarkable goalie to win it all now. But solidity and consistency are important.
Anderson seems like a nice enough guy, but this isn't any expert. It's important to have standards. From standards, we foster sense and clarity and value. Not settling for whatever comes out of a hat and vibes.