Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Wednesday Roundup/Gamenight: Thrashers @ Caps

[AP Preview - Preview]

Opening night. Seems like forever ago, doesn't it?

But it wasn't so long ago (less than seven weeks) that these same Caps opened the 2007-08 season with a win on the road against the defending Southeast Division Champs. Actually, check that - it wasn't these same Caps. Those Caps were without Alex Semin. And they dominated, out-shooting the host Thrashers 40-29 and out-scoring them 3-1.

Since then, the Caps have gone 5-13-1. They've scored three goals in less than a third of those games and have managed to win - get this - one game in which they've allowed more than a single goal against. Let me rephrase that: in games in which the Caps have allowed two or more goals, they're 1-13-1. The power play is 4-for-33 (12%) in November, and the Caps are still looking for their first win all season in a game in which they allow a power-play goal.

It also wasn't so long ago that these same Thrashers were 0-6-0. Actually, check that - it wasn't these same Thrashers. Those Thrashers had their number one goalie, Kari Lehtonen.

But Atlanta, led by Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa (shocking, I know), has made it all the way back to .500, going 10-4-0 since the dismissal of head coach Bob Hartley. They've scored three or more goals in nine of their last ten games and have scored multiple power-play goals in a game five different times with Don Waddell behind the bench.

Quite obviously, these are two teams going in opposite directions right now... just like the Caps and Sens were two weeks ago. On any given Wednesday night in the NHL, any team can beat any other team - maybe this Wednesday will be the Caps' night.

Update. From the Thrash morning skate:
Johan Hedberg will get the start in net tonight. Hedberg is 5-2-2 lifetime against the Caps, with a 2.84 GAA and .849 Sv%.

With the early season turnaround in Atlanta, interim Head Coach Don Waddell was asked if he had any advice for the Capitals. Unsurprisingly, he responded with the politic,
I know them both [McPhee and Hanlon] very well. They're good hockey people. And good hockey people find ways to get out of difficult situations.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Matthieu Perreault is one hot prospect who's tearing up Le Q.... While things may be bad at the moment, at least we have Alex Ovechkin's Hall of Fame induction to look forward to (cue "Yeah, as a Maple Leaf" comment in 3... 2... 1...).... Which NHLer's name sounds more like a Star Wars character - Tuukka Rask or Jarkko Ruutu?

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Chuck Kobasew (2G, including the game-winner, A, +1, 4 SOG)
  • Ross: Chuck Kobasew (3 points)
  • Norris: Cory Sarich (+1, 6 hits, 4 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
  • Vezina: Tuukka Rask (W, 30 saves on 32 shots against in NHL debut)
  • Richard: Chuck Kobasew, Owen Nolan (2G each)
  • Calder: Tuukka Rask (W, 30 saves on 32 shots against in NHL debut)
  • Aiken: Jose Theodore (L, 3 goals allowed on 14 shots against)


focality said...

It's obvious the practicing of line changes will make the difference. Good thing the power play works.

JR said...

the rebuild obviously isn't over. but if you are going to stink, do it right. two more years of top 3 draft picks and we should be set down the road.

hockeypunk said...

Ruutu definetely sounds more Star Wars

Focality said...

Wes Goldstein's article just makes things worse [for Caps fans]:

GM stays behind bench to right ship in Atlanta (CBS Sports)

While reading it, I thought about how cool it'd be if the Caps were the ones saying those things...


1) Tarik talks about yet more line combo/defensive pairing changes for tonight. Shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic?

kb said...

Stealing from Colbert:

First of all, that is a terrible metaphor, Faux. This team is not sinking. This team is soaring. If anything, they are rearranging the deck chairs on the Hindenburg!

pepper said...

Give McPhee more high 1st round picks, and he'll likely (excepting Alzner), reach for an obscure D like Pokulok or Finley.

(And sure those two might be good D for the future, but first round?)

I'm done taking any solace in more top picks, unless its a #1 and there's another no-question top selection.

jh said...

For all of McPhee's issues, picking those d-men late in the 1st round was wise. At the back end of the first round, you're dealing with too many tweeners, especially at F. Often times too many guys with issues (too small, talented but lazy, etc.). Smart move considering in a year or two those D will be coming up and holding their own. It's not McPhee's fault that Leonsis made the declaration that the rebuild was over. That was just plain stupid. Just hold out that GMGM doesn't start moving youth to make some desperate push that will ultimately fall short this year. Take your lumps and draft Stamkos or Kyle Beach to add to the top forward crop already here.

DMG said...

JH is right. I'd just like to add that Pokulok and Finley were 14th and 27th overall. Those are not "high first round" picks. I don't have a problem with taking either in the first round (although if the Caps could do it again they'd be better off not picking Pokulok with the concussion issues he's had).

I think people get it into their head sometimes "oh, first rounder, he should be an immediate impact player". If you back through the draft there are so few players in most years that are great. With the exception of some top 5 picks most guys drafted will take 1-4 years to reach the NHL. Plus there's no absolute with draft positions; draft depth varies widely and you have to take the best player you can get. There were only 3 players taken after Finley who have has an NHL impact so far; only 1 is a defeseman (Vlasic) and he plays a very different style from Finley

And not taking solace in high picks unless there's another #1 consensus pick and the Caps have the first overall? Eminger, Gordon, Semin, Backstrom and Alzner were all first round, but not #1 overall, picks. Plus there's always situations like with Alexandre Daigle. He was one of the most sure-thing consensus #1 picks in recent memory and was taken there, ahead oh #2 overall pick Chris Pronger.

pepper said...

Good points on the draft picks - I'll admit that I'm more than frustrated that Glen is still the coach and that reflects on George, and thus perhaps overly critical of aspects of his job somewhat less-deserving of it.

Though I'm not content as a fan who's made significant ticket (as well as time) investments in the team to "take my lumps" for another year. Many thought the Isles were foolish (for a lot of reasons, but one of which was) to make trades late-season for that desperate push to the playoffs, and sure they lost in the first round, but created some excitement for their fans (not to mention off to a strong start this year - momentum?) and isn't that what its about?

DMG said...

Hey, I'm with you there Pepper. If the team doesn't turn it around big time and right now and Hanlon still has a job Dec. 2 I may have to reconsider my stance on McPhee (right now I'm still one of his supporters).

It makes me feel bad for Hanlon though. The players all seem to like him and are still supporting him in public at least. I just hope that if does go the players aren't so attached to him that the season falls apart more than it already has.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

Well another loss - 5-1 to another division rival - uggh. I thought I was going out of town for the holiday so I sold my tickets for tonights game then ended up staying home and watching on the tube. It's not the same but somehow it's less frustrating to watch things unfold on the small screen rather than in your seats.

Something has to give; one awesome moment, Green got caught up ice and ended up getting a hooking penalty but the moment that was stellar was Ovie rushing back and breaking up the breakaway. That said they still had a lapse where the thrashers just seemed to have their way with our guys.

Watching Hanlon's interview he's just not upset enough - now I know how Michigan and Notre Dame fans felt watching Carr and Weiss after games this season. If you don't have to get results from your team as an NHL coach what do you have to do.

on ice said...

Was it wrong of me to be cheering "ONE TWO THREE FOUR FIVE, WE WANT SIX?"

*sigh* And I really did have high hopes for tonite's game.

Rage said...

I can't even reconcile how upset I feel about this.

usually frustrated caps fan said...

Well I just posted my musings in a blog I started tonight. I figured I'd rise to ted's challenge and join the blogsphere...another loss - ugh - I won't be at Saturday's game either but I will be there for the Sabres hopefully the team will change something to get out of this funk. Anyway Mark's Musings are now at:

JP said...

Welcome, Mark - always room for one more.