Day after…Round 1, Game 1 vs Montreal

 (click to enlarge)

Caps lost to the Habs in OT last night.

It was my understanding that these were the NFL playoffs and one loss means the season is over.

I am convinced this is the only solution for next year.

Well, actually…you can change that to just “Trade Ovechkin.”

Since, y’know, he has disappeared like Joe Thornton every April.

See you all next season.

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Oh, Statistics

With a run-and-gun offense like the Washington Capitals’, it is so easy to say that their weakness is their team defense. (You know it’s actually the penalty killing.) Well, I wanted to see if it really was that horrible. So instead of doing my real AP Statistics homework, I decided to play with some Caps stats regarding categories that typically display how sound a team is in their own end.

If you look at flat out goals against per game, the Caps are clearly mediocre. They land right in the middle of the pack at 16th with 2.77. Three other teams in the playoffs (Colorado, Pittsburgh, and Ottawa) are lower than the Caps in GA/G, but I haven’t heard as much criticism about their defense (but maybe that’s because I don’t pay them close attention).

When you change it to 5-on-5 play, the Caps shoot all the way up to fifth with a total of 136 goals against, just five behind League leading Phoenix.

Just how bad does the lackluster penalty kill (ranked 25th at just 78.8%) make the overall team defense look?

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When you watch NHL on the Fly or read any blog, you usually just hear or read how many goals against a team has; it is never really broken down. Because of that, the goals from man down situations influence people to believe that, at full strength, a team is weaker than they really are.

Looking at how big of a difference total GA/G and 5-on-5 GA/G was, I wanted to figure out how the Caps goals against would look if they had an average penalty kill.

I chose to try two different ways. The first:

TOTAL PPGA
Since there are no outliers in the data, I figured that taking the mean of power play goals against would work fine. That average is ~55 PPGA.

215 goals against (2.62 GA/G) would be good for 11th in the League. Would our team defense still be harped on as much? Don’t know, but that’s clearly an improvement with an average PK.

AVERAGE PK%
A little more realistic, the second method I used was taking the average PK% (~81.6%). I found how many penalties the Caps would kill with the League average PK. And here we go: 

It’s about the same and still puts them at about the 11 spot with exactly the same total goals against as St. Louis, Vancouver, and Montreal.

In conclusion, with an average penalty killing percentage, the Caps would be in about the upper third of the League in goals against in stead of the very top of the lower half.

You can do with that what you will. I really don’t know what I just proved or if I did…

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How I Became a Hockey Fan

Scarlet Caps caused a bit of an uproar on Twitter this morning after its winner for the “How I became a Caps fan” blog contest. While her story was sweet, it didn’t really fit the “became a Caps fan” part completely. Here are a few great blogs that managed to stay on topic: Kathryn, Dana, Anna from Hockey Night in Baltimore, Erika from Ravings of a Rink Rebel, and Meghan from The Hockey Chronicles.

Ever since I can remember, I have always had a love for sports. I danced and played T-Ball for two years, played soccer for nine, field hockey for one, and lacrosse for four. For the amount of space sports took up in my life, I was never actually a fan of watching or closely following the teams that I loved.

My family has always been mostly into baseball and football, Orioles and Redskins. NFL was usually on the TV on Sundays but I was never interested until middle school. I went to a couple of Orioles games with my T-ball team and always asked my brother or dad if “da O’s” won but still was never very really cared to watch when I was little. Soccer was never exciting to spectate either; I had seen two games live and only watched on TV when the World Cup game around. Lacrosse was probably the first time I was ever happy to sit and watch a game play out, and I thought I was the only time I would ever actually be captivated by watching other people play instead always having to be the athlete. Then, hockey found me.

In 2006-2007, my freshman year, our high school got a hockey team. I live in an area where everyone played soccer and baseball or softball growing; clearly, I knew nothing about hockey. At all. But a friend and I had known a bunch of the guys on the team since elementary school and we decided, “Hey, let’s make our parents take fourty-five minutes out of their day so they can drive us out to Waldorf so we can watch our friends play hockey.” We were a little late, and the first period was already under way (except, at the time, we didn’t know they were periods and didn’t know there were only three) with our team already ahead. They ended up winning, and we were ecstatic. But we still had no idea what any of the penalties were or why they were going on and off the ice so much. The next day in first period, I was talking with one of my friends, who was on the team, what stuff was. With some nonsensical babbling, I tried to get him to explain what icing was. He drew me a picture and told me it was called “icing” but gave up on me when I still couldn’t grasp it. I chose to just watch and not care about the rules any more. My friend and I had gone to a couple more games that year. Then, over the next year and a half or so, I lost touch with hockey.

We went to maybe two games out of 12 our sophomore year. I still hadn’t figured out about the NHL and I didn’t really ever talk about hockey. I remember being home after lacrosse one night, clicking through the channels on the television and stopping on (what I now know as) CSN. The Caps were playing. I watched all of a minute and changed it. That was about it for hockey. We were done. Then, the most random channel surfing incident led to my hockey and Caps obsession.

Early last season, maybe November, I was looking for something to watch and found a Caps game again. This time, I figured, “What the hell? There’s nothing else on. Let’s see how this goes.” I loved it. Absolutely loved it. I don’t remember that game; the first one I remember was the overtime win at MSG against the New York Rangers. I just remember that it was around Christmas time and the Caps had been down pretty bad after the first. The announcers were talking about how the Caps hadn’t won at MSG in a really long time, and it looked like they wouldn’t for another game. Of course, in true Alex Ovechkin fashion, Ovi started the comeback. The only other thing I remember is Joe Beninati yelling, “HAPPY BIRTHDAY SHAONE MORRISONN!” after Shmosie scored the overtime winner against Henrik Lundqvist. My first game, ironically, was Game 2 of the first series against the Rangers. Even with the loss, it was thrilling. I have loved hockey and the Caps ever since.

I started out as just a Caps fan, but it quickly evolved into a general love of the game. I don’t just root for and watch the Caps. Never did I think that I’d like players from other teams; I basically love almost every player from the US Men’s Olympic team. Never did I think that I would be  going up to Hershey, PA for something other than chocolate and Hershey Park. And never ever did I think that I would be listening to a Swift Current Broncos game on an Internet feed to find out how a Caps prospect was doing. When the WJC came around this year, I watched intensely as American Hero John Carlson came to prominance outside of Caps Nation. I watched American Hero Ryan Miller absolutely dominate in net during the Olympics. And I watched that sonuvabitch rip the gold medal away from the US in a matter of seconds.

Hockey’s one of the best sports in the world, and I can’t believe I ever shunned it.

Okay, that is incredibly long and I veered off of the “How I became a Caps fan” thing a little. I hope it’s at least readable. If not, oh well.

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What will the League do?

In the Caps 2-1 win over the Thrashers, a prime example of what the NHL is trying to eliminate was presented when Colby Armstrong hit Mathieu Perreault. While it was no Cooke on Savard, it was a pretty blantant hit to the head.

Mike Green received plenty of criticism and was said to have placed “one of the worst elbows we’ve seen this year” on Michael Frolik. He was suspended three games for the hit. Although the hits are different, if that suspension was justifiable, there is no doubt Armstrong should have some nachos in the press box.

Click for full size

A few things:

  • This wasn’t a blindside hit, and I personally never thought it was. Matty saw Armstrong. Whether it was at the last second or sooner, he saw him. I’ve seen comments saying something to the extent of, “Keep you head up kid! This is hockey!” This wasn’t a Mitchell-on-Toews kind of hit, where a huge open ice hit was the result of having your head down. Players usually take the hit to make a play, but you are pretty much helpless when a guy decides to punch you in the head.
  • Armstrong clearly does not lean in with a shoulder or elbow. He leads into Perreault’s jaw with his fist.
  • There was debate on whether it was an elbow/forearm shiver. It looks like a punch to me, but Armstrong might have caught Matty in the ear with a forearm during the follow through of his punch.
  • By the bottom frames, Perreault is essentially wearing Armstrong as a backpack. Armstrong is in the air, and in the video, it’s easier to see his skates leave the ice. He does a bit of a spin-o-rama punch.

The debate about the suspension will continue, but it probably won’t reach the irritating level of discussion that Alex Ovechkin, Green, Cooke, and Mike Richards received. We’ve got a guy on a team desperate to just make the post season and another who is just some call up whose name people don’t even get right.

There will be the issue of injury. When the Ovechkin-on-Campbell hit happened, people from TSN’s Bob McKenzie to your average fan said, “If there’s no injury, there’s no suspension.” Even Colin Campbell said it himself, “Look, if there’s no injury on the play, we probably, we don’t do anything, but that’s part of the supplemental discipline process. If you cause a player to be injured, then you have to be responsible for the play that you’re involved in, if there’s any carelessness or recklessness in it.” I mean, honestly? Really? Green-on-Frolik: No injury, two games for Green. Ovechkin-on-Gleason: No injury (Gleason was down for a few seconds but continued to play), two games for Ovi. (If you have examples from other teams, please do tell. I’m just more familiar with the Caps.) How exactly is “carelessness” and “recklessness” measured on the Colie Scale?

Then there’s intent. As we’ve heard time and time again, you can never really know if there’s intent to injure and every player will deny that there was. So how exactly do you base suspensions on hits that don’t lead to injury? How is the carelessness determined? Matty clearly wasn’t injuried extensively on the play, but it seems to me like there is some kind of intent when you are looking a guy in the face and bring up your fist to hit him. But who knows for sure?

With all of the hits to the head and hits leading to injury, everyone is constantly asking, “What happened to respect? Players need to have more respect towards each other.” That’s exactly what has come to my mind ever since Perreault was called up. He’s been on the receiving end of a boarding call, a hit from behind, and now this. Some players clearly have no respect for the young center. Maybe it’s that fact that he’s small, listed at 5’10, 174 pounds (and that’s probably a little generous). They figure they can take advantage of him. He’s more of a skill guy, not so much a chirper or grit player like Scott Walker or Caps prospect Stefan Della Rovere. So maybe it’s because he’s not yet established himself in the League like a Martin St. Louis, and he’s not going to drop his gloves. Whatever the reason, the disrespect towards Perreault and other players needs to stop or the hits will just get out of hand with players knowing they can get away with it.

If players see that a punch in the face, not in a scrum or fight, constitutes as a clean hit, get ready for plenty of shots to the head. I mean, the League wasn’t looking to get rid of those anyway…

UPDATE: Colby Armstrong has been suspended for two games. He’ll miss games against Pittsburgh and New Jersey. His first game back is in Washington.

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Headin’ to Hershey

With most leagues ending their regular seasons, a couple of the Capitals prospects are on their way to Hershey.

From The Patriot-News via @hersheybears, Garrett Mitchell  and Anton Gustafsson on joining the Bears and are eligible to play. (A little bit on Mitchell and a little on Gustafsson over at Japers’ Rink)

I’m really excited about Mitchell (whether he actually plays or not)  just because he’s little but scrappy and he’s only eight or nine months older than me (which is a little bit weird). (And he reminds me of the kids who were always about to get left behind on field trips…)

(via GJ Photo)

 

Win.

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OUTTAKES: Practice 3-13-10

I made it just in time for Juice Boy. It came down to Woody and Noobs. The latter lost, probably because all he used was a slapshot. During the game, Chimmer was chasing Brads around the group, and everyone decided to attack Fehrsie. After JB ended, JC was picking up the pucks and had to endure Obnoxious Girl. Bless him.

Now for the pictures. Full set here (newest at the beginning). And outtakes:  

 Gordo doing an Apolo Ohno: fillin’ those lungs with oxygen before an intense game of Juice Boy.     

 Say hello to the peanut gallery featuring Brooksie, Mr. Nasty, Fear, and Deano.  

 Greenie was the only Young Gun playing.

West Bend’s finest.

   Carlson’s out.

It’s all in the hips, Happy. All in the hips.

   Do not touch me, Nasty.

And he’s down.

Lethal.

Hey Knuble, you suck ya jackass!

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On Paper, They Reign Supreme

We’re all gearing up for the US-Canada gold medal game that goes down in about an hour. 

Out of boredom and curiosity, I made a couple of tables comparing the USA and Canada in certain areas. They’re not your typical goals, assists, and points areas; NHL.com has some of that. It’s not news that Canada has the superstars, but here’s a look at the breakdowns of both teams: 

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