Saturday, March 22, 2008

Shame On You: Lisa Hillary and Comcast Commentators

After last night's game, Comcast sportscaster Lisa Hillary commented that the Washington Capitals had been outplayed by the Atlanta Thrashers for the first two periods before they came alive and won the game. In so doing Ms. Hillary seemed to imply the Caps had stolen a victory and two points during their trip to Atlanta. Facts and figures are quite contrary to the statement and the implication is wrongheaded to the point of being simply reprehensible. If anything, the contrary is true - Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta's 24 year old Finnish born netminder almost stole the game for his team in front of the home crowd.

Here's the facts -
shots on goal (SOG) period by period:
1st period SOG: Caps - 8; Thrashers - 6; Score at the end of the 1st: Caps 1, Thrashers 0
2nd period SOG: Caps - 14; Thrashers - 9; Score at the end of 2: Caps 1, Thrashers 3
3rd period SOG: Caps - 23; Thrashers - 2; Final Score: Caps 5 - Thrashers 3.

faceoffs won: (25 - 25 overall)
1st - Caps 4, Thrashers 5
2nd - Caps 12, Thrashers 9
3rd - Caps 9, Thrashers 11

hits - one of two tracked statistical categories Atlanta won for the overall game
1st - Caps 4, Atlanta 5
2nd -Caps 4, Atlanta 4
3rd -Caps 3; Atlanta 7 (relevant side note: the Caps were too busy shooting and forechecking to hit for 15 minutes of this 20 minute period).

The other statistical category Atlanta bested the Caps was takeaways (Atlanta 8 - Caps 7); however this is offset by the fact the Caps had four less penalty minutes for the game. Of particular note that is contrary to Ms. Hillary's ignorant comment are two key facts - 1) the first period ended with the Caps up in the most important category 1-0 and ahead or even in two of three categories that reflect the level of hustle and play for a team; 2) when the horn sounded to end the second period the Caps were behind 3-1 even though they were ahead in every tracked statical team category - the one they were behind for the period Save % is an individual statistic and when you look at the shot chart for the second period you can see that this period was Christobel Huet's worst as a Cap. The last statement is not an aspersion on Huet for being a human being for 2o minutes - if the Caps can resign him, they definitely should do so.

The source data for this analysis came from and is available on

Visitors to the Washington Capitals website know that Ms. Hillary is now advertising for the Caps. Lisa Hillary is a Canadian and does know something about hockey. But since she either doesn't have the work ethic to the game to properly research her commentary; or she's not really a Caps fan; or like most mainstream media personages she's just trying to pass through so she get a bigger better gig by creating controversy - I say "Off With Her Head" (figuratively that is, after all she is generally better than average for a local cable newscaster). I urge all my readers to post a comment on Caps Majority Owner Ted Leonsis' blog or email him telling him to pull Ms. Hillary's advertisement and replace it ASAP. I also urge readers to write Comcast and ask that they hold their sportscasters more accountable to better research their reporting. At the very least, Ms. Hillary should be required to attend the Caps' Hockey and Heels night wearing a dunce cap.

Congratulations to Alexander Ovechkin on numbers 59 and 60 in a much needed win. LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Mark, I enjoy your blog and look forward to reading your comments, but you are totally overboard with the anti-Lisa Hillary thing you have going. Give it a break. She said what anyone who reads the scoreboard was thinking--Atlanta did pretty well in the second period and the Caps didn't look all that good in the first, the stats notwithstanding. I don't have to tell you or anyone else there is only one stat worth anything--the score. And the Caps didn't look so great with the score in either the first (albeit we did lead 1-0) or the second periods last night. Now, the third period, that was one for the ages.


Paul R.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

Paul: Okay, I'll dial it back - obviously I'm in the minority. But at least give me the fact that Lisa Hillary would look humorous walking around the VC in a dunce cap next year during Hockey & Heels night. Also, I'll give you that the first and second period last night were not the Caps best. But, all those in disagreemnt with me should give me this - they (the first & second periods) were far from the Caps worst, even in the short Boudreau era and Kari Lehtonen was pretty impressive for 50 minutes.

dmg said...

I admit I did not see the Comcast broadcast - living in Atlanta as I do I got the Thrashers feed (which was interesting in that I got to see Kari Lehtonen swear on live tv in the postgame interview), but unless she went into some long-winded Don Cherry-eqsue rant about how badly the Caps had been outplayed I don't think it's really worth noting.

In my opinion the Capitals outplayed Atlanta a bit in the first and were outplayed in the second - at that point in the game I think you could have made a fair case that either team was having the better night. Truthfully the Capitals were lucky to get out of there with two points - not that they played poorly by any means, but most teams aren't going to get outshot 23-2 over the course of 20 minutes when they're defending a lead.

Although, I also have to note that if a local sports personality wanted to " most mainstream media personages she's just trying to pass through so she get a bigger better gig by creating controversy" there are much, much, much better ways to do it that making a comment about the first two periods of a regular season Capitals game.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

dmg: Like I said to Paul - I give. Reflecting, my issue really is comparing anything about the Caps play vs. the Thrashers on Friday, even implicitly, to their truly poor play on Wednsday vs. the Blackhawks is - in my opinion - wholly unfair. But since everyone - including Caps coach Bruce Boudreau, who is a statitistics watcher far more than I - is united in opposition to my view, I give. Your point about ways to get ahead in MSM is well taken. In fact I may even apologize to Ms. Hillary in another post shortly, though I still really think the numbers are on my side, clearly the subjective aspects - as interpreted by the mass of everyone else who follows the Caps closely - is on Ms. Hillary's side. I even truly believe they really feel that way and it's not because she is sooooo much better looking than me. ;->