Thursday, December 06, 2007

Thursday Roundup

In case you missed it, Boyd Gordon's injury is a broken hand, one that he received during the first period of last Wednesday's Florida game. It should be noted that he played 15:38 in the game and scored in the shootout. With a broken hand. If he was a baseball player, he'd have been carted off the field and shot up with Novocaine in the ambulance on the way to the nearest hospital.

Another note of interest from Tarik's post is Chris Clark's comment that the ice at Verizon Center is the "worst in the League" (a point expounded upon by Vogs). "There's a lot of ruts in the ice," said Clark. "It's soft. It's wet half the time. I could see a lot of injuries coming from the ice there. It could cost [players] their jobs." Or coaches.

As bad as the ice is - and it is awful - is the poor quality of the home sheet showing up in the stats? Maybe. The Caps are averaging 2.25 goals per game at home and 2.40 on the road (over the course of a full season, that's about a six goal differential). That number may seem negligible, but given the opportunity to make the last line change, a friendly crowd, familiar setting, etc., you'd expect a team to be more potent at home (the Bolts, for example, are scoring well over a goal more per game at home than they are on the road). In fact, all but ten teams heading into last night's games were scoring more at home than on the road (insert adultery joke here). So while the differential here doesn't seem like much, the Caps are likely better than a 2.40 goals per game team on a decent sheet of home ice, and those six or more goals over the course of the season could translate into lost points in the standings. Then again, perhaps the ice is slowing down faster, more-skilled teams and the Caps are already getting those "home ice advantage" points.

Another couple of key indicators show the Caps performing better on home ice than on the road - the power play has clicked at 18.0% at home and 15.7% on the road and Alex Ovechkin has scored 10 goals at home (in 12 games) and 10 on the road (in 15). Of course, maybe on a good rink the Caps have a 20+% effective power play... and maybe AO would already be the NHL's leading goal scorer. [Sidenote: after the shootout against Florida last week, I meant to ask AO if the ice condition played any part in his decision to shoot rather than deke in the shootout, but his postgame time with the media was short, so I just let the big dogs eat.]

There's no question that the ice is horrible at the VC and that bad ice puts players' health at risk (and it has probably cost some guys - Clark, Tom Poti and Alex Semin - some games already this year)., but it's also likely costing the Caps on the scoreboard. Don't forget, however, that both teams have to skate on the same sheet, so it's probably saving the Caps a handful of goals against as well. The real question at this point, however, isn't 'what is crappy home ice costing the Caps?' but rather 'when the hell is someone going to do something about it?'

Anyway, on to the question du jour: Viktor Kozlov - boom or bust? He's got one goal since October 8 (a span of 24 games) and has been held shotless in two of his last four games. Still, he's on pace for 45 points, which is only six fewer than he had last year and 20 more than he had two years ago. The odd stat here is that he's on pace to take 43% more shots than last year (237), but score 64% fewer goals (9). Last year was clearly a fluke on the goal front for Kozlov, who tallied a career-high 25 goals (which equaled his total from the previous two seasons), but the points are still coming and, as is the case with Matt Pettinger, so long as he keeps shooting, the goals should come too. In other words, Kozlov may be playing a little bit below expectations, but if you had been hoping for much more from him, you probably weren't all that familiar with his complete body of work. Or am I wrong?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Andrew Gordon is back in Hershey and everyone's happy about it.... It was twenty years ago today Sergeant Pepper taught the band to play that Scott Stevens set a club record with five assists in a 10-3 win over the Kings out in Landover. The record would stand for a little more than a year before Mike Ridley would rack up six helpers in a 6-3 win over Chicago. Stevens' five points is still the team's single-game record for points by a blueliner.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Zach Parise (2G, 2A, +3, 8 SOG, 3 hits, 2 blocked shots)
  • Ross: Zach Parise (4 points)
  • Norris: Steve Montador (G, 2A)
  • Vezina: Ilya Bryzgalov (W, 28 saves on 29 shots against)
  • Richard: Zach Parise, Patrik Elias, Rick Nash, Randy Robitaille, Olli Jokinen (2G each)
  • Calder: Peter Mueller (G, 2A, +2, 6 SOG)
  • Aiken: Tomas Vokoun (2 goals allowed on 5 shots against in just 7:10 of work)



1) Quite a few arenas in the U.S. have been labeled as having 'bad ice' in the past. Most notably MSG.
2) Supposedly the NHL hired a consultant who was supposed to address this issue. There is NO reason in this day and age for the surface of an NHL arena to be anything but picture perfect!
3) Imagine a MLB field with weeds, holes/divits, etc. Those pansies wouldn't play if they didn't re-groom/re-sod the thing. There is NO excuse. Period!

Anonymous said...

RE: Koz -- "...if you had been hoping for much more from him, you probably weren't all that familiar with his complete body of work." I am sure this is where I am. You identified it unerringly. I fell for the summertime hype. In addition, with his size, you'd expect him to lay out a person now and then along the boards. Not so! In the upper reaches of Section 112 we say "Oh, he musta bumped into that guy by accident." Who said the word "wuss"? Not us!

On the other hand maybe his center of gravity is just too high. Can't be helped!

Mike Ridley was one of my favorite all-time Caps. I have no idea why. I adored him! Old time hockey! Not unlike the example that Gordo has given the team. We were watching him wince every time he came to the bench during that Fla game, but then --gadzooks!-- he kept taking his shifts. Courage award to him and a tip of the hat.


1) Kozlov is one of those enigma players. Seems to have all the talent/skill in the world along with size. Displays some amazing moves, etc. Then only shows up to play once every third shift
2) Many thought his pairing with Ovechkin would get the fellow Russian playing his best regularly. Not unlike when he played with Bure in Florida a few years back.
3) However, it appears the Kozlov we're seeing, is the same as has been underachieving the last few years, and fans should not expect more. He should/could be a legit 1st line forward, but he doesn't appear to have the 'fire in his belly' that AO always seems to display.

Anonymous said...

" ... but he doesn't appear to have the 'fire in his belly' that AO always seems to display."

Good heavens, no one does! No one in the league practically, let alone on the Caps. That's an awfully high bar. I would just ask Koz to at least pretend as if he cares.

wuss, (n. Slang) a weakling, a doormat; a person who is physically weak and ineffectual. Often a male person with low courage factor.