Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Wednesday Roundup/Caps 6, Sens 3

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

A month and change into the Bruce Boudreau regime, two major themes have emerged. First, the Caps are a team that will never give up on a game and second, that the team is still learning how to win, i.e. gaining that ever-elusive killer instinct. After giving up two quick goals to start the game, the former was put to the test - and the team passed with flying colors - and following a four-goal explosion, the latter also came into play - the team's first five-on-three goal of the season may have been a nail in the coffin on a big New Year's Day win, but with only 11 shots on goal over the game's final two periods, the Caps could have done a better job of keeping their foot on the proverbial gas (granted, there were injuries to consider). Some other thoughts on the game:
  • Three of Ottawa's ten regulation losses on the season have come to the Caps, a team who has scored 18 goals against them in that trio of games.
  • The Caps entered the game with a single double-digit goal scorer and left with a trio of 'em.
  • Since Boudreau took over, Mike Green has seven goals, seven assists and a plus-seven rating. Also impressive is the fact that he's averaging less than one minor penalty every two games, despite getting huge minutes and tough assignments. Green's pace under Boudreau would project to 60 points over an 82-game season, which would have been good enough for sixth in the League last season. He and Shaone Morrisonn each had a team-leading plus-three rating on Tuesday.
  • Alex Ovechkin has seven goals and 12 points in his last seven games and Nick Backstrom continued his point-per-game pace under Boudreau (6 goals, 13 helpers in 19 games) with a gorgeous pass that Viktor Kozlov actually managed to convert for his first goal since November 8 (and first at home this season).
  • Alex Semin (injured ass) didn't play after around the 12 minute mark of the first period, and Tom Poti (upper body injury) skated his last shift of the game around eight minutes into the second. Both are listed as day-to-day. Incidentally, Tarik referred to Semin as "the Capitals' second-best offensive weapon" - agree or disagree?
  • Michael Nylander had a goal and an assist, but he should have had two helpers - the second being on a giveaway in the offensive zone that led to an odd-man rush the other way and the Sens' second goal.
  • Olie Kolzig was very solid. Martin Gerber was not. Ray Emery is also not terribly good. Despite his troubles so far this season, I'd rather have Olie than either Sens netminder right now. Am I crazy? Incidentally, the win moved Olie into a tie with Eddie Giacomin for the 25th most career wins for a goaltender (289).
  • The Caps had their best New Year's Day attendance since before the lockout (nearly 2,000 more folks than last year and more than 3,000 more than 1/1/06), but you'd have to combine the Caps' total attendance from the last five home dates to eclipse (by 623) the number of folks who took in the Pens/Sabres live.
  • Semin managed to be minus-two in just 1:45 of ice time. Impressive.
  • Jeff Schultz looked terrible on the first Ottawa goal (but ended up with a team-high five blocked shots), and Milan Jurcina and Poti looked awful on the second. I guess no one told them about the early start time (and if Poti is able to go on Thursday, it might be time to sit Juice down for a game, though perhaps the opportunity to show up his former organization will inspire him to start playing like he did for the Caps last season).
  • The Caps won 43 of the games 73 faceoffs (59%), led by Brooks Laich's eight-of-nine. That's fantastic, of course, but I'd trade any four of those wins for a win against Erik Christensen the other night. Laich's goal (the game-winner), assist and plus-two, in addition to that faceoff dominance, made him a very worthy second-star.
  • At this point, I think I'd settle for Matt Pettinger or Tomas Fleischmann scoring. I'm not greedy.
  • Wade Redden and Joe Corvo combined for 14 shots on goal... and a minus-six rating for the Sens.
  • Brian McGrattan can run his mouth all he wants, but until he gets a regular shift, he remains a clown. On the night, he had three shifts and 2:04 of ice time and ran his goal-less streak to 68 games. Donald Brashear, on the other hand, had 16 shifts, 11:37 of ice time - and the primary assist on the game-winning goal, though, in fairness he has now gone two games without scoring a goal.
So here we are on January 2 and the Caps are two points out of second (six points out of first) in the Division, and more importantly are only five points out of eighth in the Eastern Conference. Next up, a trip to Beantown to take on a very beatable Bruins team. Obviously the statuses of Semin and Poti will be important in that effort, but as long as this team stays humble and stays hungry, there's no reason another two points won't be theirs for the taking.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

I wasn't sure who to root for in the Tampa/Toronto game last night, but I was sure I wanted the game to end in regulation. Bastards.... Further to my point above regarding Brash, there's a short piece on his game in The Province.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Ladislav Nagy (3G, 2A, +3, 7 SOG)
  • Ross: Alexander Frolov, Ladislav Nagy (5 points each)
  • Norris: Mike Green (2G, A, +3)
  • Vezina: Ty Conklin (1 goals allowed on 37 shots against in shootout win)
  • Richard: Ladislav Nagy (3G)
  • Calder: Nicklas Backstrom (A, +2)
  • Aiken: Martin Gerber (3 goals allowed on 8 shots against in just 7:34 of work)



1) At this point Green is clearly the caps 'second best offensive weapon'. The way he skates and shoots makes one recall a certain Edmonton/Penguin blueliner who had decent offensive/skating skills
2) Imagine how much better the caps would be IF Semin were performing to expectations!?
3) Can't take the Sens as a legit threat to win the East let alone a Cup with a goaltending tandem of Gerber/Emery. Sure Gerber had decent stats coming into the game, but does anyone see him carrying them through the playoffs?

JP said...

There's one vote for Green. I think a strong case could be made for Backstrom as #2. He even got Viktor Kozlov to score a goal, for cryin' out loud!

I do, however, think Semin is the team's second best goal-scoring threat.

~Mark said...

So, did the Sens take us too lightly after the 8-6 spanking? Too lightly, or, those guys are for real?

Anonymous said...

Poor Semin...a -2 on a handful of shifts due to huge, boneheaded gaffes by Schultz and Poti/Jurcina AND a bruised tailbone. Tough day indeed...

That said, when he's in a groove, he is the Caps second-best offensive weapon. No doubt in my mind, but he has yet to develop any chemistry with his linemates.


cd said...

JP, while always a brilliant recap of the game, you failed to mention the most important aspect of yesterday: since the Caps scored six goals, 1 POUND OF FREE CHICKEN WINGS FROM AUSTIN GRILL FOR ANYONE THAT HAD AN ACTUAL TICKET TO THE GAME!!!!

i'd also like to point out two things about the opening anthem singing: Yes, it was funny that the singer had to check her crib sheet TWICE while singing the Canadian anthem. However, whoever the ass hat was that booed during the Canadian anthem is about as classless as they come.

NS said...

"ass hat" needs to be used more often. well done.

b.orr4 said...

With all due respect to Tarik, the second-best offensive threat on the Caps is Backstrom who just keeps getting better and better.I love watching him play almost as much as I do Ovie. Yeah, Semin was a -2 but really Schultz should have collected all five minuses for that Neal goal. Jeez, he looked slower than Joe Reekie on that play.

Tyler said...

Dude, this was hilarious. I LOL'd four times. (And, of course, I didn't even see the game because Caps hockey isn't so popular on SoCal beaches.)

I vote for Mike Green too, because 'offensive weapon' is different from 'goal-scoring threat.'

Am I the only one surprised that McGrattan isn't a Flyer yet?

I've always liked "assclown" too.

JP said...

The beautiful thing about Backstrom is that he can make the players around him better (sorta like whatshisname). As creative a player and as good a sniper as Semin is, he doesn't really have that ability.

Focality said...

My votes for Backstrom. That kid is a pretty good hockey player.

McGrattan is an asshat.


1) Just "a nice problem" that you guys actually can have an argument about who is the second best offensive player. Two seasons ago there was AO, and............? Come a long way!
2) Green is a RFA after this season? If so its only a matter of time before Garrioch has a story of his his impending trade or contract problem.

Anonymous said...

Nylander anyone?


These are our best scoring threats.

sonia said...

though ass injuries are always funny, i hope semin's isn't bad- i broke my tailbone when i was in 8th grade and i "couldn't" participate in PE class for 8 weeks. it was a tragedy, really. (though seriously, it was the most painful thing i've ever experienced)

Rage said...

Tarik is reporting that Semin will play in Boston, but Poti is out. Erskine will take his place.

Who's daughter did Eminger nail to deserve this?

NS said...

give Sascha a butt-donut and he'll be good to go.

kb said...

@ Anonymous
> Nylander anyone?


JP said...

No takes on Kolzig vs. Gerber vs. Emery?

DMG said...

I think Semin is the second best offensive weapon the Caps have when he's healthy, but I think Backstrom is close and could easily surpass him by year's end. Unlike some I think Semin actually is a very good playermaker but that he hasn't been using that ability to it's fullest potential. In fact he seems to only pass when the player he's giving the puck to has a great chance and a lot of the time they looked surprised.

Gerber vs. Kolzig vs. Emery - I'd put Emery last. His on ice performance hasn't been good and his attitude and maturity level need to improve. Although Gerber was lit up by the Caps he still has a .917 save percentage to Kolzig's .889, due largely to soft goals. I think Gerber is maybe a little better on the ice but Kolzig is better off the ice so I'd call it a toss-up.

NS said...

Semin is going to be a maddening player to watch/coach for most of his career, i think. He can be brilliant at times and forgettable at others.

Hopefully he won't turn into another Kozlov.

he is one of the few players thats standing still wrister elicits a "holy crap" from me.

JP said...

Gerber obviously has better numbers than Olie, but he's also playing behind Phillips, Meszaros, Volchenkov, Redden, et al. Put him behind the Caps' blueliners, and I bet he has worse numbers than Olie does.

Gimme Olie (of those three).

goalie the olie? said...

I would have to agree agree with you jp, but thats not really saying much at the moment. with that said, emery did take his team to the cup last year, is still young and presumably has a lot of years left, and improvement to be made in the league. also, olie played well enough to win last night, but i cant get past his effort on the neil goal. it was obviously schultz's fault in the first place, but kolzig is just WAY too slow, predictable and vulnerable on the lateral moves. i would bet at least $100 dollars i could score on him with a simple forehand backhand deke on a breakaway, just like the whole red wings team a couple weeks back. We need a solution and we need one fast. if he continues on this career trajectory, and cant manage to bounce back and somehow get rejuvenated, he simply will NOT do as our starting goalie next year on a team with stanley cup aspirations, much less playoffs.

Rage said...

I'm taking the dude above on the $100 bet. Let's set this up. You make a break on Olie, I owe you $100. But you won't, so prepare a crisp benj for me.

Rage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ogre said...

I think Nyls is our second best offensive weapon. Say what you want about secondary assists, but if you're racking up points, you're racking up points. For him having a ton of secondary assists, no one has any more total assists. So who is the best set up guy? Backstrom, probably. But Nyls has experience in spades, and I'll take him, and I think a lot of what Backstrom is doing has to do with how Nyls is teaching him. Backstrom 3, Green 4, Semin is 5th, when healthy.

Oly_for_Olie said...

It's going to be hard to get a quality goalie at this point in the season, and difficult to get a UFA this summer. If Freddie isn't good enough to be a 1A goalie, there are some options this summer. Turco might be available for a price.

A "left field" thought I keep having is Drew McIntyre in Manitoba (Vancouver). He's doing well in the AHL and he's not going to replace Luongo, plus Vancouver has Cory Schneider. If Nylander isn't as useful as we thought, maybe we can trade him and a defenseman for McIntyre and a bag of pucks

Anonymous said...

Anonymous kb said...

@ Anonymous
> Nylander anyone?


Oh, really? He has the 2nd most goals on this team. Careful there.

DMG said...

I dunno JP, I'm not sure the difference between .917 and .889 can be blamed entirely on stats and Kolzig just had a horrible stretch where he was allowing basically one really soft goal per game; I wouldn't expect that out of Gerber. If Kolzig can bounce back and be solid I'd take him but it's hard to hitch your wagon to a goalie who's let in that many soft ones.

Ogre, I really don't think Semin is the Capitals 5th best offensive weapon. I think he has the best offensive skills on the entire team (shot speed and accuracy, agility, stickhandling ability, playmaking ability, etc) and I think Nylander is well behind in skating, stickhandling, shot...everything but playmaking ability really and while Green is a great skater and has a good shot I don't think he's shown much playmaking ability

JP said...

Hey, don't get me wrong here - Olie has been, at best, average this year and more often than not less than that. I'm just saying if I had to win one game, I'd rather have him in goal than Gerber or Emery right now. That's all.

Cameron said...

My money is all over Backstrom as the teams 2nd best offensive threat (and I am on record as thinking he will catch the Chi-Hawk punks and win ROY).

His passes are honey sweet, and his vision is already nearing an elite level. The only thing he was lacking early on was quality ice-time, and he seems to be getting that under Boudreau.

Nylander makes for a nice Yoda to Baclstrom's young Jedi, but Backstrom's got the bigger lightsabre.

I dig Green big-time, but at this point, Backstrom's the bigger threat.

Colour me among those who would rather have Ollie the Goalie than either Ray-Ray or the Swiss-Miss.

That said, I'd prefer to use a flux capacitor and have the Ollie from a decade ago, but even as a greybeard he's better than what the Sens can front.

DMG said...


that's any interesting approach - if I had to win one game I'd put my faith in Olie ahead of Gerber at this point as well. Yet somehow I feel like Gerber is just as good over the long haul...I guess my gut and my head aren't syncing up too well.

Ogre said...

I put Green ahead of Semin because as far as creating offense goes, they seem about equal, but I see Semin taking less penalties, and Green drawing more. I'll tell you, I like having both in my lineup.
Also, JP, you wanna put in another Vote Weagle link? We're trailing to that stupid stick in rink. "You can see the C" my butt.

Ogre said...

I take it back, I see there *is* a vote weagle link. Fantastic.