Monday, January 14, 2008

Monday Roundup/Flyers 6, Caps 4

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Super Stats - WashingtonCaps.com Recap]

On Saturday night, Tyler emailed me the following:
TWO basketball games at VC today, early NHL game tomorrow. Sit 17 another game, especially if, as Tarik says, 17 hasn't really tested it yet.
Well, Chris Clark played on Sunday afternoon... and tweaked his groin in what turned out to be an entertaining but wholly disappointing matinee loss to the Flyers.

I'm short on time this morning, so I'll leave the discussion to you guys. Did the Caps ever have a chance to win given the goaltending they got? Is it time to realize that Olie Kolzig is what he is at this point and adjust the defensive mentality a little to help him out by packing it in tighter in an effort to clear the endless rebounds and tie up opposing forwards? Will Alex Semin's all-around game ever develop? Will the team's skill players on the whole realize that not every play has to make SportsCentre to be effective?

Have at it in the comments, and for more thoughts on the game, check out Peerless, CapsChick, and, for an outsider's perspective, Hooks.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Andrei Nikolishin apparently has some interesting things to say.... Happy 43rd Birthday to former Cap Alan May.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Marc-Andre Bergeron (2G, including the game-winner, 3 SOG, 2 hits)
  • Ross: Kimmo Timonen, Daniel Sedin (3 points each)
  • Norris: Marc-Andre Bergeron (2G, including the game-winner, 3 SOG, 2 hits)
  • Vezina: Rick DiPietro (W, 31 saves on 32 shots against)
  • Richard: Andrew Brunette, Marc-Andre Bergeron, Mike Knuble (2G each)
  • Calder: Josh Harding (W, 26 saves on 27 shots against)
  • Aiken: Olaf Kolzig (4 goals allowed on 16 shots against in 26:08 of work)

23 comments:

Rage said...

Olie is killing us, but I'm not sure changing out scheme is the answer. We've done well with Bruce's scheme so far, I say we play it out with what's got us here (since Thanksgiving).

I thought Johnson looked good though.

Right before the Flyers scored their 5th goal, I thought to myself how Semin made a lazy defensive play...and boom, goal.

I've never played hockey, so maybe this is hypocritical of me to say. But is it that awful to hit someone who has the puck? Is it that scary? That painful? What's stopping these guys from playing the body even a LITTLE?

Also, question on Nyls. Did he always keep his left shoulder so high up, sort of perpendicular to the stick? Or is this part of his injury problem?

And Backis' pass to Nylander was sick. Great goal. Great player.

NS said...

i had the same exact thought on the Semin f-up. The second he gave it away in our zone i was convinced it was going to end up in the net.

our defensive players need to be a hell of a lot more physical in front of our net. Even Jurcina, who's sole saving grace is (should be) his size, could have easily prevented a goal by being more physical with his man.

Semin's stick handling is sick, but he loses it much too often to make it worthwile.

There were a slew of great passes that went right through the crease but there was no one there to hit it in. We did not have enough presence in front of their goalie. i thought we already learned that lesson?? get in front of the goalie!!

Green had a great game on both ends of ice. Poti, Erskine and Schultz did not. Sweet merciful crap BENCH SCHULTZ or ERSKINE! put Eminger in that slot for now.

was at the game and the seats seemed pretty damn full. very fun one to attend.

i'm not going to touch the goaltending because there is no immediate solution. i agree with Rage - we should not change our system.

Backstrom got away with an obvious high sticking...not sure how the refs missed it.

all in all, a pretty fair and well played game by the Flyers. I thought it would be dirty but they just took advantage of our breakdowns, like a good team would.


Kozlov has not earned even a quarter of what he is being paid.

Tyler said...

Semin is on this team to shoot the puck and to score goals. When he passes up opportunities to do both he hurts the Caps.

Actually I didn't think the Caps' play in their own zone was that awful. It was missed opportunities in the O-zone that cost them at least a tie.

Olie. Oh dear.

hotdog88gt said...

Caps were winning. Why rush Clarkie back? Is it too hard to ask the Caps to hit Danielle Briere or any of the other Flyers?
And you can bench Shultz-Lerch for Eminger?

I do so want Alex Semin to improve his play. I really really do. But is the 'n' in "Semin" silent in Russian. Does he show up only half a period, half a shift, half a game? Maybe his ass bone isn't completely healed. I've never been high on this guy - despite his 38 goals last year. (I want to think highly of him but I keep remembering him gloving the puck and throwing it at the net). He's bi-polar on ice. One moment he make a dazzling play with the puck, the next he's careless with it. He's immature. If he goes back to Russia after his two years are up I would not be surprised.

Did he cost us the game? No. Bad defense caused us the game. We scored enough goals, but when the enemy crashes the net our guys just couldn't clear the puck. It looked like there were 7 Flyers on the ice yesterday. They wanted it more, especially after losing to the New Jersey Bruins.

On the plus side, The Cowboys loss made the Caps loss a little more tolerable.

NS said...

side note: the Mites On Ice intermission games were sick.

Chris said...

I agree on the Semin and Olie comments. I will add a couple of more thoughts. First, the negative--

1. Nylander is playing horrible hockey. He looked terrible Sunday afternoon (his goal was a gift from Backstrum and he took an absurd offensive-zone holding penalty) and he is now up to a -19! If we are going to get on Semin's back for bad D and turnovers, don't forget Nylander. To think I was one of the excited ones when they signed him. Something needs to be done.

2. Even I will admit that he has been playing a little better lately (not saying much), but what is Brashear doing on the ice down a goal with 6 minutes left in the third, especially after having taken a stupid penalty? I love Bruce, but I have to question that coaching call.

Now the positive. The Caps were down 4-1 to a good team and came charging right back. A few weeks ago they would have folded.

Enjoyable game, but at this stage every game is a playoff game. We can't afford to score 4 goals and lose.

keydet said...

Anyone else see the Flyer (didn't catch his number) push Laich's face into the ice while he was down? Laich swung his stick at him as the guy skated away..

The Flyers were playing dirty yesterday, and I'm really surprised it didn't boil over into something bigger.

Gustafsson said...

"Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks: .... Happy 43rd Birthday to former Cap Alan May."

And to the Japer's Rink proprietor.

Cheers!

JP said...

Thanks, G - and the very same to you.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) What has to be most troubling to caps fans was another less than stellar Kolzig performance. It further hilites the murkiness of their future in net
2) What do they do? Kolzig would seem to not be a good back up and doesn't appear to be able to handle the starters role consistently well anymore. What does GMGM do?
3) Could this be Ollie's last year?(It should if the Caps want to make the playoffs next season) Or do they resign him as repayment for his past efforts and the fact that there is no one better to step into the role of starter?
4) Johnny is a good back up but is NOT the answer to be the starter. GMGM has some serious decisions to make for the most important position on the team!

Focality said...

More growing pains. Thinking of the playoffs isn't the right mindset. Sure, we'd like to get in there for the fun (and Ted wants to make money), but let's not kid ourselves.

-Injury plagued season
-Developing young players
-Glaring weaknesses in defense
-Glaring goaltending weakness
-Have Kozlov, Nyles and Poti performed up to expectations? Are they worth their contracts? Was GMGM duped by their numbers on teams where they had better chemistry?

I'd like to see a true no.1 defenseman playing for the Caps. Someone who can spot errors, correct on the fly (hopefully) and get the defensive corps to where it needs to be (e.g., playoff quality). Teach them to make good checks, break up plays, etc.

Goaltending has to be addressed. We all love Kolzig, but maybe it's time for him to retire. I'm sure GMGM and Ted will have a position for him in the organization. Using young, developing, netminders can be painful, but it has to happen.

NS said...

signing another starting goalie is going to really make it tight in the off-season.

This upcoming off-season will be as important as the last one, IMO.

Tyler said...

Ya know, the recently injured player we're not talking about is Tom Poti. Minus-three yesterday. Maybe he's not ready to back...

Dan, Jr. said...

Keydet, the Flyers play dirty everyday. They were also using there sticks, wacking Clark near his....."area".

NS said...

we should pick up Huet in the off-season :)

...or Bryzgalov if available...

DMG said...

While I've been very critical of Kolzig in the past I don't think he was as bad as the numbers indicated yesterday - the D bears some responsibility on all five of the Flyers non-empty net goals.

I think the problem is that with Jurcina, Schultz and Erskine all playing the defense is just too slow to not get caught out of position. Erskine at least is real physical and Schultz usually plays a smart, conservative, positionally sound game but Jurcina just looks like he's lost out there...and he had zero hits yesterday. Zero hits. For a guy who's 6'4'', 235.

Kevin said...

i honestly believe that Caps fans are being way too harsh in their criticism of Olie. I'm not an apologist and yes, he's older, etc but there's no way he could have prevented those goals. It seems like an unfair, knee jerk reaction to blame him for goals that have way more to do with defensive break downs (knuble goal(s)?), bad turn overs (semin?), and crappy luck (tipped shots). He's not killing us, he's the goalie that's been playing through TREMENDOUS team lapses and giving them a chance to win virtually every night since Boudreau's hire. Should Johnson play a bit more? Sure. Should Semin occasionally dump it in to prevent an oncoming rush? Sure. Olie is not the problem we're making him out to be. But like all players, he needs to be handled more effectively to ensure better team results.

DMG said...

Kevin:

Olie is ranked 39 of 44 in GAA and 42 of 44 in save %. He went through a period where, by his own admission, he let in one soft goal a game.

The defense should have helped more yesterday, yes, but one of Knuble's goals was due to Olie lack of movement and on Umberger's - well if the puck hits you in the glove, you should stop it if you expect to be a starting goalie in the NHL.

kevin said...

dmg,
i see your points, and they are quite valid. and i probably should have stated that in the discussion of his play and worth, it's obvious that Olie isn't the vezina/Caps MVP contender that he has been in previous seasons. That point is clear, but the goals he's allowed, like the ones yesterday, remind me of a quarterback who is blamed for overthrowing the ball when his receiver quits on the route. Maybe he could have anticipated certain plays better, but his defense often looks awful when the goals happen and Olie is left alone sprawling on the ice. His numbers are bound to suck when the defense routinely don't clear out the slot or he repeatedly gets those kinds of pinball shots against him.

Sorry to play the "I used to play college hockey" card, but I was a goalie and everyone knows that it's freak luck if you stop a deflection--unless you're Luongo in which you are simply a beast of a goalie. But that brings up a point that seems to be valid (since we're all just coaching in between our real jobs)in that he's not a classic butterfly goalie---he's an old school, flop and cover guy and when you play that style, you can look pretty bad when scored upon. Blaming him for the Umberger/Knuble goals amongst others I think is symptomatic of this bias (the style still works---look at Brodeur)and washes away the attention that should be drawn towards our biggest problem---our defensemen are second rate.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Anyone who watched Ollie this year and in years past can see a significant reduction in his ability to quickly move laterally.
2) He is still very positionally sound and plays his angles as well as anyone, but if forced to quickly move from post to post, he's tardy more often than not.

Hazardous said...

Honestly, Olie isn't young anymore, but he's not bad. He isn't our biggest problem. Defensive zone coverage is, if you ask me.

However, I think you're all a little too quick to point a finger. Semin had a great game overall. He isn't a defensive player, so I can't say I'm shocked that his 2-way game isn't all that good. But the biggest problem I have with Semin is that almost every game he gets bitchslapped around. I can't remember which goal it was, but I think it was the short-handed one the flyers scored... they flat out raped semin and then bumrushed olie with the puck. He got cross-checked in the back and someone hit his face with the stick as they took it from him. That goal should never have happened. Had it not, we had an entirely different game.

Maybe I'm too quick to let something crappy slide, but when someone gets cross-checked and no whistle is blown, I can't hold that against the guy.a

DMG said...

Kevin,

I played goalie too, on travel teams in the D.C. area and while deflections are hard to stop, if it hits your glove you should still have it if you expect to play in the NHL

Hazardous said...

Dmg,

I admit Olie isn't playing top-notch right now, but the truth of the matter is, it was a deflection. A goalie's worst nightmare. Just because it touches his gloves doesn't mean it should be a save. NHL or otherwise. Be glad he got that much of the glove on it, it shows he still has reflexes to speak of. But when the puck is deflected, be glad if the goalie even reacts to that, because most times, you won't see it.

That said, I still stand that the biggest influences to our games is not the play level of our goalie (while it's true for some specific games, most it isn't).
In order from least to greatest influence on our game-to-game play:
Defense, Penalties (earned or otherwise), and non-calls.