Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Roundup/Blues 4, Caps 3

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats - Postgame]

Since starting the season 3-0, the Caps have dropped six of seven. Maybe that's why it's hard to feel like this year's edition of the Caps is much better than last year's.

Or maybe it's the fact that they have fewer points through 10 games (last year's team was 3-3-4 versus this year's 4-6 squad). Or maybe it's that the team's goals per game is down a whopping 22.5% (from 31 to 24). Or that the power play is actually worse, down from 16.67% to 14%. And while Alex Semin's limited availability has contributed to these stats, don't forget that there are four new "upgrades" in the lineup as well.

But progress has been made in other key areas. Penalties taken are down from 62 to 51. Shots on goal against are down from 36.6 to 29.3. Faceoff percentage is up from 48.13% to 54% (good enough for third in the League). Non- shootout goals against are down a bit (from 32 to 29).

So either it's just a matter of time before it all comes together, or it's more of the same here in D.C. I guess your take on that probably is influenced by the most recent game's result, and given that last night's wasn't great (and sure, the Caps were undermanned)... well, let's just say there's plenty of room for improvement.

As for Saturday night's 4-3 loss to St. Louis, some quick thoughts:
  • Michael Nylander took an offensive-zone hooking penalty with 12:35 left and the Caps down two - not a very veteran move.
  • In his first full NHL game as a center, Nicklas Backstrom finished with a minus-two rating, but did win five of his nine draws.
  • Alex Ovechkin was credited with six hits last night, more than Shaone Morrisonn, Milan Jurcina, Brian Pothier, Mike Green and Jeff Schultz... combined.
  • Another strong game for Greenie, with two goals (as many as he had all of last year), five shots on goal and a plus-one rating.
  • Speaking of Ovechkin, he's got to change his shooting angles and/or release point - last night he had five shots blocked (most, if not all, by Barret Jackman).
  • Schultz led the D with 20:35 of ice time and finished minus-two on the night.
  • Viktor Kozlov has a team-high six shots on goal.
  • The last minute of regulation - with Brent Johnson pulled - was as ugly as it gets. If the League awarded goals for simply getting the puck into the offensive zone under control, I'm not sure the Caps would have tied the game.
  • Remind me again why the Bruins traded Brad Boyes to St. Louis for Dennis Wideman.
  • On the injury front, Semin is day-to-day after re-injuring his troublesome ankle, Chris Clark may go tomorrow night and Tom Poti sounds less likely to play.
Next up, Toronto on Monday night. Are things going to continue to get worse before they get better, or are there signs that the ship has been righted?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Kevin Paul Dupont discusses the Rangers woes and the Randy Jones/Patrice Bergeron hit.... Through five home dates, St. Louis's average attendance is up 5,995 per game, from 11,820 to 17,815. Not to take anything away from the team's resurgence, but it certainly helps that by the start of the season, the Cards and Rams were both done for the year.... It was a night of firsts in Newark, as the Devils opened their new building. "First boos: 7:13, when defenseman Karel Rachunek is introduced. The second boos follow immediately, when defenseman Johnny Oduya is announced." Nice.... Only 29.8% of NHL defensemen are right-handed shots (three of the eight on the Caps roster are).... Orland Kurtenblog interviewed Tarik the other day....Finally, our favorite (and John Tortorella's) hockey columnist, Larry Brooks, has some provocative things to say about this Capitals team. (Thanks for heads-up, Faux.)

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Rod Brind'Amour (3G, A, +3)
  • Ross: Rod Brind'Amour, Ray Whitney (4 points each)
  • Norris: Nathan Paetsch (G, A, +2)
  • Vezina: Martin Gerber (W, 31 saves on 32 shots against)
  • Richard: Rod Brind'Amour (3G)
  • Calder: Jack Johnson (+2, 3 SOG, 2 blocked shots, team-leading 23:36 of ice time)
  • Aiken: Rick DiPietro (L, 6 goals allowed on 14 shots against in just 27:48 of work)



1) Thought you guys would find these two paragraphs from Larry Brooks' NY Post column today of interest:
"The Capitals were a tougher team to play against in 2005-06 than they were last season and than they are now, despite accumulating more talent by the year. This is not a particularly good reflection on the coaching staff directed by Glen Hanlon, but then, any organization that signs Viktor Kozlov isn't doing many favors for its head coach, is it?
2)This one will surely get some reponse: "No, the Penguins are not actively seeking a goaltender to supplant Marc-Andre Fleury, but if the kid doesn't close some of the holes in his game, expect GM Ray Shero to take a serious run at renting veteran Olaf Kolzig if the Caps are sellers at the Feb. 26 trade deadline.

Tyler said...

Noted: The confluence of Fauxes and Larry Brooks.

That was not Brent Johnson's best night.

The third line had some really great puck possession shifts and I kept wondering how those shifts might have ended differently if we could put 17 back on that line. And if we had another RW in the lineup.

This team is still playing like it's close to breaking through. But it is becoming a problem that it isn't.

NS said...

once again, the D was AWFUL at making smart moves to get the puck out of their own zone.

3rd line was the best line out there the entire night.

I think Hanlon should think about keeping Backstrom as first line center and have Clark on the RW on the first or second line. Kozlov as the other RW.

Does our team even block shots?? The only one i remember is Backstrom from the previous game.

From what i have seen so far from Flash, he obviously can shoot the puck, but if you play THAT badly without it, you should not be in the starting lineup. Not averse to trading him anymore.


Wendigo32 said...

Injuries happen. How a team copes and adjusts to them makes the difference. Some teams fall apart, others have guys step up and perform.

I saw a lot of dumb turnovers. The first goal of the game was a result of one. Then there were the no-look passes as the Caps cycled in the corners or attempted to move through the neutral zone.

This game saw Ovie and Green trying to do too much again, carrying the team on their backs.

Johnson shouldn't mess around outside the net. Maybe a helluva lot more practice doing such maneuvers and I'd be more comfortable when I see him leave the crease.

The PP looked okay but the PK wasn't as aggressive as in the first three games. Lots of standing around watching the puck. But the PK units did get the job done.

Still wondering whether or not Leonsis is meddling too much or if the coaching staff will get a shakeup.

It's slow but steady improvement, but there needs to be a real spark somewhere besides the other Caps watching Ovie skate.

DMG said...

I still think the Caps are improved over last season, as evidence by their improved shots against and the fact they are outshooting opponents most nights.

I agree injuries happen but the Caps have had significant ones. First there's Semin, who had 38 last year and has hardly played this year - most teams don't have issues like that this early in the year. Poti is their #1 defeseman in terms of minutes and is #1 on the depth chart is terms of overall success. He missed both games this weekend; Clark missed last night and Semin missed most of last night. Having those guys in the lineup(s) could have made the difference in the pair of one-goal games where the Caps did outshoot their opponents.