Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Thursday Roundup/Gamenight: Caps @ Sens

[AP Preview - Preview]

Kudos to EMac for posting a perfect-for-the-blogosphere quote from Alex Ovechkin following Tuesday night's disappointing overtime loss to the Thrashers. When asked whether or not he'd be in Washington next year, AO replied (translated from Russian to English):
"I don't know yet where I will be next season. I am not negotiating my new contract. I want to stay in Washington. But who knows what is going to happen?"
Well, we all know exactly where #8 will be playing next year, don't we? A few years down the road may be another story entirely, but he'll be in D.C. next year - you can call Rick Tocchet and bet the house on it. Alex isn't going back to Russia to be the big fish in a small pond, and the Caps would, in a heartbeat, match any offer sheet another team would sign him to (if it somehow got to that point), even if Mike Milbury and Kevin Lowe got together and dreamt up the offer over a bottle of tequila and a handful of roofies.

Sure, the lack of news regarding an Ovechkin extension is no doubt frustrating to all parties involved - the player, the team and the fans - especially given the benchmark deals already in place for players like Sidney Crosby, Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Jarome Iginla and others. But go ahead and order that Ovechkin jersey for Christmas - he's here for a while yet.

The more interesting question is whether or not the off-ice business is impacting AO's on-ice play. After all, Ovechkin has but one point in his last four games. Want to know the last time he suffered through such a stretch? March 15-21, 2007. And before that? Two weeks earlier. In other words, it happens. During the current stretch, he has fired 18 shots on goal (which is more shots than he registered during his last four-game goal-scoring streak), and has had countless other misfires (which are somewhat troubling and a whole other topic for discussion), but he's still playing hit-everything-that-moves-and-shoot-from-anywhere hockey, and until he has a few games in a row where that's not the case, chalk it up to an individual and, perhaps more accurately, team slump.

The bottom line here is that AO is frustrated on the ice and he's frustrated off the ice. But he "wants to stay in Washington," and he will stay in Washington... at least for the foreseeable future. Period.

With that out of the way, let's dare to turn our focus to tonight's game.

At 13-1-0, the Sens are off to the best start in NHL history after 14 games. At 5-9-1, the Caps have the fewest points in the League. Ottawa is scoring 3.50 goals per game - more than a goal per outing better than the Caps - and are giving up a miserly 1.93 tallies per affair. They're great five-on-five and down a man or two, shoot a ton, win faceoffs and don't relinquish leads (they've yet to lose a game when scoring first or leading after the first or second period).

As for individual players, Martin Gerber has been positively ridiculous thus far this season, going 10-1-0 with a 1.80 goals against average and a .941 save percentage, and Daniel Alfredsson is already in double-digits in both goals and assists.

I could go on, but won't. The point is that this is as lopsided a game, on paper, as you'll see in the NHL. But games aren't played on paper, and the matchup looks little different than it did on December 6 of last year. Or on November 6 of last year. The Caps will certainly miss the home ice they had in those two games, as well as the Chris Clark and Alex Semin they had in those two games. But the Sens aren't unbeatable. After all, they've already lost this season... once.

Why The Senators Will Win:
"The Sens will beat the Caps because the only team that had any success against Ottawa in the past 12 months had Pronger and Neidermayer on the blueline. Poti, Pothier, Green, Morrison, and Jurcina? The Cap trainers better get the ice packs ready for Olaf." - Battle of Ontario

"At their current pace, it would take the Washington Capitals another 24 games (so 39 total) to get as many wins as Ottawa has in our first 14 games. Our forwards have more goals, assists, and points. Our defencemen have more blocked shots and better plus/minus ratings. Our goaltender has more wins and a better save percentage and goal-against average. Sorry, Caps fans." - Sens Army

"Because Washington has too much Poti and Semin." - Hockey Will Tear Us Apart

"Ottawa will trounce the Caps Thursday as a special favour to me as I picked Semin and Backstrom in my pool and THEY ARE KILLING ME!!!!" - Sens Underground

"'Cause this train is on a roll! The Senators are the kids the popular gang made fun of and picked on in school only to come back rich, hot and popular. Or some other similar-type of metaphor. - Scarlett Ice
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Michael Nylander was more clutch than Alex Ovechkin (among others) in October. So sayeth USAToday.... With six goals and five assists in seven games, Caps prospect Travis Morin was named the ECHL Player of the Month. He has since been recalled to Hershey.... More power rankings, with the Caps at 27 and 27.... Bobby Clarke says Eric Lindros is a Hall of Famer. Just over two years ago, I said the same thing, but now I'm not so sure - a couple of years of average play make it harder to remember the greatness that once was.... Hey, James - what about the Caps?... Mike Modano is now the highest scoring American-born player of all-time. Is he the greatest? He's certainly closer than I had him back in January of '06.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Ian Laperriere (2G, A, +3, 4 SOG)
  • Ross: Peter Mueller, Chris Pronger, Mathieu Schneider, Steven Reinprecht, Ian Laperriere (3 points each)
  • Norris: Chris Pronger (3A)
  • Vezina: Marty Turco (W, 38 saves on 39 shots against)
  • Richard: Peter Mueller (3G)
  • Calder: Peter Mueller (3G, +1, 5 SOG)
  • Aiken: Ilya Bryzgalov (4 goals allowed on 18 shots against in 37:10 of work)


depressed caps fan said...

ovechkin just isnt as good as he was offensively during his rookie year

caps fans NEED to realize this. he'll average around 90 points for most of his career.

i'm not saying he'll never hit 100 again, but he's evolving into a more balanced (note: i didnt say complete, because he is far from it), but he is a more balanced player now.

rookie year, he was given the go ahead to roam free and have fun and score goals and points as he wanted

last year, they told him to play better defense and worry about being a better overall player

this year, he's shown spurts of creativity and good offensive prowl, but nothing like his rookie year. this year, he hits more, blocks shots, skates back on defense. that's why he's a plus player.

however, at this point, this team NEEDS him to go back to his rookie years and SCORE goals. we need to take more risks offensively or we'll never win. because face it, other teams will score regardless. it's now time for us to try and keep up by opening up our offense a bit more.

obviously having semin back will help, but we cant sit around and rely on that because no one knows when he'll be back.

Joe said...

Unfortunately for AO, he is getting no help from any of the other lines in the scoring department. Until that happens he will be blanketed by the oppositions best defensive units and it will be very difficult and frustrating for him to score.

depressed caps fan said...

again, with the same old excuse as last year.

does that still apply when ovechkin is being double shifted and he has ice time on the 2nd line when he doesnt face that sort of 'blanketing' defense as you describe?

he still isnt scoring at the pace he was his rookie year or even last year.

he's on pace for around 80 some points this season. for a superstar in this league, that wont cut it

we need more than that to win

Joe said...

Even when Alex is double shifted, say with Backstrom and Flash. Do you think the defense is concerned with anyone other than #8? All I'm saying is that the team needs some secondary scoring not only to free up OV but to win a hockey game.

Anonymous said...

Ahhh! Mass Hysteria!!!

Hooks Orpik said...

as a close observer, may i offer:

depressed -- It's easy to expect Ovechkin to score more over the course of a season than what he's done to this point. Ovechkin hasn't been the problem.

The problem's been getting other guys going (injuries no doubt playing a role) and the frustration of losing.

I think the key words in that translation were "I still want to be in Washington". It's not as if this is broken beyond repair.

The only thing AO could do better is maybe NOT shoot so much. He'll shoot from anywhere, often times at angles where it's hard to get the puck on net, or when it's easy for defenders to block/deflect it harmlessly away. If he could be a little more patient and work to get in better scoring angles and clear out shooting lanes that might help him. But hey, I wouldn't give Jeff Gordon driving pointers so who knows.

Bottom line is winning solves all problems and losing just compounds them, but again that's not exactly rocket science either.

Anonymous said...

Why give kudos for posting a comment that you point out is pointless?

James Mirtle said...

I just don't think Semin's the reason this team hasn't been winning.

DMG said...

Semin isn't. But Semin, Clark and Poti? Those three combined for 74 goals and 97 assists last year. You have to think with how often the Caps are losing by a goal or two having those guys in the lineup could have made a difference of several wins by now.

Plus Poti is the leader in minutes per game, Semin and Clark play first line minutes and Poti and Semin play first PP unit minutes.

kb said...

As agita inducing as Ovie's comment was to some, he's got nothing on Jason Blake.

On Ottawa:
"We are nowhere near where Ottawa is and I think everybody realizes that. In order to beat a team like that, you have to compete harder than them.

"They do everything so well. They move the puck. When you move the puck, fast, quick, that's what happens."

On the New York Islanders:
"No. 1, they have an unbelievable coach," Blake said. "Ted Nolan's the best. No. 2, we played like the Senators, that way. We weren't as talented, we weren't as big, we weren't as strong but we moved the puck. We tried to hit the open guy. No. 3, we had Brendan Witt, one of the most underrated defenceman in the league."

On his own team, the Leafs:
"It has nothing to with adjusting to a new team. I've adjusted ... It's certain things ... I'm not going to say what it is....Where would I start?... I can't say what ... I'm not going to ... It is what it is."

via Sens blogger, Black Aces

norske said...

Thanks for posting the certainty that Ovechkin will be here next season. I keep trying to tell people that, but they insist on wringing their hands about it.

I'm not sure it was really necessary to post comments by Senators bloggers about why the Senators will win tonight. Unfortunately, I believe we're all pretty clear on that point.

Anonymous said...

what the F?
we win?

no way............

Totally Satisfied *wink* said...

I totally knew they would pull out the upset tonight, it's just typical Caps - never know which team you are going to get. On another note, never in a million years did I think that JP would provide a link to a young naked hockey player. You are now officially my hero.