Sunday, November 11, 2007

Sunday Roundup/Lightning 5, Caps 2

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

Following Saturday night's 5-2 drubbing at the hands of the visiting Lightning, the Caps have four days before returning to the ice Thursday night in Miami. If ever there were a time to pull the trigger on a coaching change, that time is now.

It's Rememberance Day and the Caps have the worst record in hockey overall and over their last ten games (tied with a handful of other floundering teams there). They are near the bottom of the League in goals for, are in the bottom-third in both special teams categories and have only two home wins in seven tries.

Without question, injuries to key players have played a part, and a coach can only play the cards his general manager has dealt him. But there are problems with this team that go beyond injuries, and those are the more troubling issues.

Even with the injuries, any team with a sniper like Alex Ovechkin and a playmaker like Michael Nylander needs to be more effective on the power play (and, frankly, with skill players like the Caps have, they shouldn't be in the bottom-third of the League in power play opportunities per game). There are teams with a lot less talent who have a much better power play than the Caps, and that is, at least in part, due to coaching.

The fact that Donald Brashear not only continues to get a sweater every night but also power-play time while Mike Green can't get a sniff of extra man action and Chris Bourque gets called up to provide a spark and barely sees the ice is, at least in part, due to coaching.

Most importantly, that a team can come out flat to start a game or a period at home against a division rival and fail to play with a sense of urgency when the game is still very much on the line is, at least in part, coaching.

It's easy to dismiss all of this as an emotional reaction to yet another disappointing loss, but these aren't the types of problems that were unique to last night's game. If you've seen a team that gives a full sixty-minute effort every night while playing for an astute tactician who makes all the right in-game adjustments and knows just what buttons to push to motivate his team, then you've been watching a different team than I have for the first seventeen games of this season.

I love what Glen Hanlon has given to and done for this organization - he guided an under-manned team of kids through incredibly tough times and did it with class and sensitivity. But at this point, I fear he's wandering the desert - these aren't supposed to still be those same incredibly tough times. Hanlon's message is either not the right one, or it's falling on deaf ears. Either way, the sum of the parts adds up to a need for a new voice to get this team back and headed in the right direction.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Bruce Garrioch "reports" on the Ovechkin contract negotiations and says that "[i]t's believed Ovechkin's camp, which includes his mother Tatiana, is looking for a bigger deal [than Sidney Crosby's], in the $9-to-10 million range." The missing data, of course, is the length of the deal (it's as if your friend were to set you up on a blind date with a girl who weighs "around 150 pounds" but doesn't tell you whether she's 4'9" or 5'9"), but one quick question: what makes AO think he's worth 3-15% more than Sid?... Kevin Paul Dupont has a lengthy profile on Chris Bourque in today's Boston Globe - just in time for C-Bo's return to Hershey.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Kimmo Timonen (G, 3A, +1)
  • Ross: Kimmo Timonen (4 points)
  • Norris: Kimmo Timonen (G, 3A, +1)
  • Vezina: Tim Thomas (W, 45 saves on 46 shots against)
  • Richard: Daniel Alfredsson, Shawn Horcoff, Anze Kopitar, Alexei Ponikarovksy, Marian Hossa, Rod Brind'Amour (2G each)
  • Calder: Andrew Cogliano (2A, +1)
  • Aiken: Marty Turco (L, 6 goals allowed on 34 shots against, including 5 on 14 in the third period)


keef said...

"what makes AO think he's worth 3-15% more than Sid?"

That's an easy question. If this was any other team in the NHL, he probably wouldn't be. But with a team that hangs their hat on his hat rack, they need him.

If Ovie goes, they lose their star and probably some audience in the process. His flare has brought a lot of fans to area hockey and he does as much for Ted's wallet as he does for the Caps' play.

Aside from that though - what's the likelihood Hanlon actually goes? I was waiting for last night's game before rounding up the torches and pitchforks and they didn't give me a reason to have more patience.

This is a team in coaching turmoil - they should easily be over .500 at this point. They have the talent, it's just not strung together well.

JP said...

I agree that AO has the team over a barrel, but I think the full answer to the question is either "Because his mommy told him he is and he has the team over a barrel" or "Bruce Garrioch is full of shit."

Fact of the matter, though, is that without including any data on the length of the contract, the dollar figures are somewhat meaningless.

NS said...

if they can't figure out a way to sign AO to a long term deal, they might as well move the franchise out of DC.

just watched a clip on NHL On The Fly of the open net goal at the end of the game. was that AO smashing his stick on the net after the goal? (looked away at the last second)

Joe said...

I was there. It was definitely Ovechkin.

Anonymous said...

ill say it again, if ovechkin isnt on this team next year, or for the next ten years, i will never watch a capitals game again in my life. furthermore, i would root for the penguins before i ever rooted for the caps again. f-ing ridiculous

Focality said...

I hope it's an interesting couple of days before the Panthers game. If the Caps do nothing regarding their performance, i.e., personnel changes, then it's clear--to me, at least--that Caps management doesn't possess the acumen needed to succeed in this league.

The fist three wins of the season, the win in Toronto, and especially the win against the Sens may be flukes. Perhaps some things clicked (or the opposition--TOR--sucks).

I don't know. There's the need for patience; those that have made that argument make some good points.

There's the group of fans convinced GMGM and/or Hugs need to go, and they, too, make some good points.

The players have said injuries are not an excuse, but it was GMGM last week on the radio that pretty much blamed the injuries. Which is it?

Kolzig and others make heartfelt statements after these losses, but nothing seems to sink in.

Why are there, what, four "As" being worn by the Caps (Ovechkin, Nylander, Brashear, Sutherby)?

What's clear is that Leonsis declared the rebuild over and said this season's goal is to make the playoffs. Premature, arrogant, reckless? Perhaps, but the Caps are in the league basement. Is GMGM the east's version of Kevin Lowe? Do we wait for next year--again?

If the Caps finish the season with a record just as bad or worse than last season's, can we blame Ovechkin for signing elsewhere, or the fans who look elsewhere (other teams, other sports), or the vets like Poti and Nyles expressing a desire to go elsewhere?

Too many questions, but there are some teams with slightly worse records right now. Doesn't make the Caps' situation acceptable, but misery loves company...

NS said...

thanks, Joe.

chanuck said...

JP, Well said.

This team should be doing much better with what they have, even with the injuries. How long do we have to wait for some positive consistency for this team?

Anonymous said...

"What's clear is that Leonsis declared the rebuild over and said this season's goal is to make the playoffs. Premature, arrogant, reckless?"

Given the circumstances when Ted said this, all the pieces were in place to declare the rebuild over. And after the 3-4 year period of post-Jagr, obviously he had a point.

Which was, losing is not acceptably anymore. The team went out and spent money on UFAs for skill players that they needed to, and the young core should have grown to the point where they should be competing for a playoff spot.

Whether it's untimely injuries, coaching decisions or just plain bad luck early (you be the judge) things aren't working.

As a season ticket holder I'm interested to see what steps (if any) are taken to correct the problem. And at this point it will be mighty disappointing if no change is made; which doesn't necessarily mean replacing the coach.


1) Some excellent points in regards to the necessary need for a coaching change.
2) Two years ago this team played with passion/desire for 60 minutes and over achieved for 70 points.
3) Last year there was a slight drop off in intensity, but still usually showed up, and played to expectations for 70 points
4) This team is on pace for 60 points, despite an apparent increase in talent/depth, AND we don't see any of the old Caps intensity we saw two years ago. At worst, this is a .500 hockey team. With the right coach, they could be a playoff team!

ted said...

I can't add much to what has already been said, and the points made are very good. I'd hate to see Hanlon lose his job, but all things point to the coaching as the problem at this stage.

One thing though that hasn't been mentioned -- who should the Caps bring in to get this ship turned around? What coach is currently unemployed that has the qualities needed by the Capitals to be the next bench boss?

Just curious because I have no idea?


1) In regards to AO's contract. Its a mistake to compare what he gets to Crosby. Sid in our opinion could have held out for the max if he wanted, but instead decided to take less to allow the team to build a winner (so far its not working too well)
2) The Caps had the same opportunity as the Pens last spring. They could have offered AO an extension before the salary cap went up and the inflation of salaries occurred.
3) The blew it then, and if the Caps are the hindrance to this not getting done now, they are shooting themselves in the foot again. If feelings harden, the Ovechkin camp can hold out and ask for the max or a contract that lasts only until he is eligible for UFA (4 years after this season)!
4) We agree with what others have written. If AO is not given a long term deal the very existence of the franchise could be in doubt. For if they have trouble filling the building with AO, how many will come out with both he and Kolzig gone?


1) Ted: Not sure of his availability/health, but we'd look into Pat Burns!

b.orr4 said...

I've been following this team since the 70's and I have to say that I've reached the tipping point. I am tired of hearing about injuries. Yes, Semin and Clark are important players but they're only two players. Good teams overcome those kind of injuries in the short term. Or should I say, good coaches force their teams to overcome those injuries. Japes, I'm 100% with you on this. Hanlon is no longer the coach for this team. He was great when they were a bunch of third liners, but it's obvious to me that he doesn't possess the creativity to handle a team with several high end players. I don't know if Boudreau is the answer, but I do know this. If management continues to sit on their hands and do nothing, then I'll follow suit. I can't get back the money I spent on season tickets but I can show my displeasure by leaving my seats empty, by not spending any money on concessions AND by not renewing next season. Ted, you're always worried about getting new fans into the building. It's time to start worrying about losing the ones that have been there for decades. End of rant.

JP said...

Great discussion, guys. Sorry for not getting today's Roundup up earlier, but I basically asked the coaching/personnel question in it, so feel free to continue the discourse in this thread or in that one.

Jan said...

JP, you make an eloquent argument for jettisoning the Hanlon package, which includes not only Game Strategy, line combos, playing time and so forth, but also the Teacher Skill Set, which we hear so much about (ie. the “Hugs” moniker).

Okay then. I’m on board. But as ‘ted’ asked “What coach is currently unemployed that has the qualities needed by the Capitals to be the next bench boss?”

This is so key! I would argue that who takes over is way more important than who gets dumped.

I am not keen on GMGM Spunky taking over the coaching, ala Lou Lamoriello. Am I wrong? Would he be good at it? Is he The Hammer, motivation-wise? Will the players respond? I am doubtful.

I am not at all in favor of promoting Bruce Boudreau, sorry. What we need now is a world-class talent. A grown-up. Not some NHL debut guy, promoted to the big time from down below.

Is Scotty Bowman available? Who mentioned Pat Burns?

b.orr4 said...

I can understand your wanting an experienced NHL coach to replace Hanlon, but here are two reasons why Boudreau would be the logical choice. First, we've got a lot of young kids on this team that Boudreau has coached AND won a league championship with. Secondly, AHL coaches have had great success in the NHL. For example, the last three Stanley Cup champions have been coached by former AHL coaches; Randy Carlyle, Peter Laviolette and John Tortorella. So hiring a former AHL coach is not only not a detriment, it's actually desirable.