Friday, October 31, 2008

Friday Roundup

Here's a stat for you: prior to last night's action, the Caps had taken the seventh-most minor penalties per game in the League at 5.8.

Here's another: prior to last night's action, the Caps had the 19th-rated penalty kill in the League at 78.8%.

And here's what happens when you put them together: no team in the League with a worse penalty kill than the Caps' takes as many minor penalties as the boys in red, white and blue - the team is taking a ton of penalties and not doing a terribly good job of killing them off.

So far this season, the Caps power play has been mediocre. The goaltending has been fair. But if this team's looking for a quick fix improvement (and at the risk of stating the obvious), it should stop taking so many penalties. Easier said than done? Perhaps. But it's also probably an easier route to allowing fewer power play goals against than hoping that a team that finished 25th in the NHL in penalty killing efficiency last year is suddenly going to collectively master that skill with largely the same personnel.

First to go? Cut down on the restraining fouls. Mike Green is tied for the League lead in hooking penalties with four, and Michael Nylander is just one behind. Shaone Morrisonn is tied for the League lead in interference minors with four. These are, for the most part, lazy penalties - move your feet boys (increased confidence in the netminder behind them should help here as well).

Next up? The bench minors. Two in nine games may not sound like many, but it's a pace that would have led the League in two of the last three seasons.

Look, penalties happen. But some teams can afford to take more than others; the Caps are not one of those teams. If they can get focused and show some better discipline, however, they'll likely see their efforts pay immediate dividends.

Here are a few more random stats floating around the hockey universe:
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Bill Clement loves Sergei Fedorov. We love this Bill Clement Caps card.... Speaking of love, still more of it pouring in for Alex Semin (who is everyone's fantasy), but this article includes a brilliant lament from Matt Bradley that "It's kind of depressing knowing I'll never be able to do half the moves he does."... Tuvan Hillbilly has the translation of some good stuff from our buddy Dmitry Chesnokov on Semin and Viktor Kozlov following the Preds game.... The Falls Church News-Press thinks Jose Theodore is in for a good year yet.... Alex Ovechkin with a brunette? Now we've seen it all.... We hate the Pens more than they hate us. No surprise there.... That CHL All-Star team for which Stefan Della Rovere got snubbed? At least Joel Broda made the WHL squad.... Finally, since it's Halloween...


this space for rent said...

The dumb penalties are probably the most frustrating part of watching the Caps play, at least for me.

I wonder how much of that is due to laziness? Is there a relationship between number of penalties taken and number of shots fired? I'd be curious to see that analysis.

Chris said...

It's amazing how you type things as I think them. This team takes the type of penalties that used to get me benched for 5 shifts in college. Lazy, lazy, lazy.

What scares me the most about this is that teams (and individual players) get reputations amongst officials. In the new NHL, where the slightest touch or tug is 2 minutes, I fear that this problem will only get worse unless it is reigned in quickly.

On the bright side, it seems to me that Semin has reigned in his laziness early this season.

I also remember thinking at the Preds game that the team seems to take an inordinate number of Too Many Men penalties. I am curious about the numbers on those starting with the reign of BB. I know BB owns this town, but nobody is perfect and, just observationally, I wonder if he is still getting used to communication and coordination on an NHL bench.

JP said...

Funny you should mention "Too Many Men," Chris. Tyler has a theory that the League has sent out a memo to the refs to crack down on that. To wit, there were at least five such calls in last night's games (though perhaps there are still some early season adjustments going on).

If I get time, I'll take a closer look at whether or not there has been an increase in those calls.

Spud said...

" . . . If they can get focused and show some better discipline, . . . "
These sound like coaching issues to me. Someone please send Big Boo a whip and a cattle prod for Hal'o'ween. Hey, Mo! Zaaaaaap!

On that 'too many men' issue, it seems to me to be so much an on-the-spot semi-arbitrary call on the part of the officials. Well, like he was **almost** over there, so that's okay. But this one was a few more steps away, so --- tweeeet! I dunno. Maybe you're right about the crack-down. But it would seem to me to be an easy rap for a player to beat with just a nano's worth of more attention to his job.

Again, coaching? Zaaaaaap!

Tyler said...

This is wise analysis.

Re: The bench minors for six skaters... Yeah. And it's not just that there are a lot of them suddenly, it's the specific calls that are being made. Guys are almost standing at the bench door waiting to skate off comfortably when fresh skaters are coming on the ice -- and that's the call the linesmen are making. So yeah, I think the NHL is trying to tighten up on line shifts.

(Which is hilarious because you think they might start with head shots or the boarding calls that have been made inconsistently (52!) this year.)

b.orr4 said...

While the Caps are taking way too many lazy penalties (Hello, Mr. Nylander), their penalty killing numbers are a bit skewed. In their first four games, the Caps were awful-killing just 70% of their penalties. Twice they allowed three power play goals in a game. However, since then they've been very good. In the last five games, they've killed penalties at an 86% rate and they haven't allowed more than one PP goal during any of those five. I think part of the reason for the early season woes was the use of Ovechkin and Semin on the penalty kill. In the first few games, the two seemed more concerned with scoring short-handed rather than just killing the penalty. Gradually, though, they've both adjusted to their roles and you could argue that Semin is maybe our best penalty killer. ( I can't believe I just said that)

Tyler said...

@ b.orr4

I can't believe you just said that either. And you're right. (At least for the forwards, which is what we generally talk about when we use that phrase.)

Oneal said...

Was that photo of Ovechkin from this week? If so he doesn't appear to be "spending time with grieving family members."

What the F?

Anonymous said...

I liked the article regarding JT. He'll be fine this year. Maybe even great. Goalies tend to get too much credit or too much blame anyway, when it's more how the team in front of them plays. Huet played well last year, but that was also (more, really) a matter of the team in front of him being on fire and determined to make the playoffs. Does anyone really think Huet is the next Roy?

Jose's size works against him a little, but positionally he's as sound as any goalie in the league, and as long as we (as others stated) cut down on the dumb penalties and better our "D" in general, JT and BJ are a great goalie tandem and life looks good.