Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday Roundup/Kings 5, Caps 2

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Event Summary - WashingtonCaps.com Postgame]

The Caps won't make any excuses for this loss, but it was clear that they were tired and that injuries are catching up a bit. But hand it to Bruce Boudreau and his assistants - they resisted temptation and kept everyone's minutes manageable, with only Tom Poti (24:12) and Alex Ovechkin (21:56) playing more than twenty minutes. That shift management should pay off on Saturday night.

To the recap:
  • The Caps were badly outplayed in the first period, being out-shot 12-3 (more on that in a second), out-hit 18-11, and, of course, out-scored 1-0. Brent Johnson kept it tight, and was only beaten on an unlucky deflection out high.
  • Back to first period shots on goal, check out where those three - all off the stick of Alex Ovechkin - came from. And note that all three were on the power play, meaning that in 16 minutes of five-on-five play, the Caps had saved by ZERO shots on goal. There's no number of injuries that excuses that number. It was at the 8:54 mark of the second period when the Caps finally got their first even strength shot on goal.
  • Was David Steckel motivated playing against the team that drafted him? Whatever his inspiration, he had a strong game.
  • It's no wonder Dustin Brown had 10,000 hits last year - the in-house scorer at Staples apparently has a pretty generous definition of what constitutes a hit.
  • Nicklas Backstrom quickly atoned for choking on an open net on a five-on-three by depositing a beauty of a Viktor Kozlov pass. By the way, Kozlov is playing perhaps his best hockey as a Cap of late.
  • I love Carrie Milbank as much as the next guy (ok, maybe more), but are they really still running the Carrie/Barry Melrose ad?
  • A third period 2-on-1 notwithstanding, Jarret Stoll has mastered the ol' Sergei Berezin give-and-go (you give to me then go to hell - I'm shooting), eh?
  • Related: Brooks Laich, without a stick, is a more valuable hockey player than Stoll with one. With a stick around the crease? Money.
  • Michael Nylander and Chris Clark continue to stink, for the most part, but don't take my word for it - ask Corsi.
  • Heading into the third period, the Kings had a 2-1 lead and were 5-0-0 when leading after two periods, while the Caps had the third-best "trailing after two" winning percentage in the League. Something had to give... unfortunately, it was the Caps' success.
  • Eric Fehr needs to be willing to go to the high-traffic areas, or he'll be headed back to the press box as soon as the team gets a little healthier.
  • Thanks to a pair of empty netters, AO ended the game minus-3 after taking the League's plus/minus lead. Then again, who cares about plus/minus?
So it's off to San Jose for another tough road test. More later.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Could the Blues be a Nylander destination?... Bruce Boudreau: "proven".... Rank your Hart Trophy candidates at the quarter pole.... After the reaction you all had to the Boudreau post earlier this week, I thought better of posting this "Green out for the year" link.... A nice article on the Bears' Rookie Line.... The New Jersey Rockets press release on John Carlson's contract signing (h/t sk8).

34 comments:

rananda said...

nylander's been one of the top corsi performers all year. why you picking on him now; after he's playing with clark and brashear, what do you think his corsi is going to look like? one of my favorite players of all time, ive seen watched him play hundreds of games in the nhl, this situation needs to be resolved for him and the team.

Anonymous said...

they looked tired. passed out after the 2nd period.

Sloan looked pretty good out there (keep him)

-NS

b.orr4 said...

(In honor of Larry King's birthday and because I'm too tired to put together coherent sentences, I'm going old school with my post)

hard as it is to admit, the better team won last night...I had a feeling this game was a loss after the first two minutes...the NHL schedule makers aren't doing the Caps any favors on this trip...last night they played back-to-back against a team that hadn't played since Sunday... and tomorrow it'll be against a team that hasn't hit the ice since Monday...doesn't seem fair to me...Johnnie played a good game but did the King's second goal seem kind of Kolzigish to you...stoppable and late in the period...it may have technically been a penalty, but I thought the interference call on AO was a little cheesy...it looked to me like he was just driving the net for a pass and Brown got in the way...third game in four nights against the best home team in the league. I have a feeling Saturday night could get ugly...someone tell me what Chris Clark is contributing to the team...other than taking a killer penalty with four minutes to go...have we traded Nylander yet...

JP said...

Well done, B. I meant to mention that the 2nd goal was soft - caught Johnny cheating and playing the pass.

And I agree that AO's interference was more incidental contact than anything, a hockey play that sometimes happens and is rarely penalized.

And don't forget, too, that Nabokov is supposedly going to be ready to play Saturday after missing a handful of games due to injury.

jason said...

The Caps were clearly gassed - no forecheck, no pressure. When they did forecheck it worked well, but it was too little, too late. It's a tough back-to-back, given the physical, dirty play of the Ducks and the trapping play of the Kings. Hopefully the day off will help...getting Fedorov back would also be a big help.

I have to agree about Clark. He's trying hard, but he's just not getting it done out there and is taking penalties (and got away with at least one in the Anaheim game).

Anonymous said...

swedish newspapers think that "nyllet" (nylander) is already packing his suitcases and on his way to airport and chicago

DMG said...

@ anon #2,

I wouldn't be surprised - Brent Sopel and Dustin B were both scratched last night and the only way both of those guys get scratched when healthy if they're about to move.

I don't know who else (teams or players) might be involved but the thought of getting another top four defenseman or a 245 23 year old with 20 goal scoring potential makes me downright giddy.

jason said...

DMG,
I agree, I think the Sopel + Fugly package is a greater asset than Nylander, but the salary cap looms and will continue to be an issue if that's what we take back. Of course, two less expensive but useful players might be more easily fungible than Nylander when it comes to cutting costs.

Also, whew on Green's shoulder.

this space for rent said...

IMHO, I'd rather have just Sopel and a couple of draft picks plus the cap room. It's not like our system isn't chock full of good scoring forwards. A veteran blueliner is what we need the most, and a means of refilling the system. I can do without Byfuglien.

But what do I know?

Wisper said...

Saturday will be a gut-check game. On paper, we are going to look WAY over matched drag-assing into the Shark Tank against a well-rested Number-One-team-in-the-NHL with their Rock Star goalie returning from injury.

We will either rise to the moment and take it to them or we will get HAMMERED and sent skidding in to Minnesota.

DMG said...

@ Jason,

I agree with you - I'd love to have both Sopel and DB but their combined cap hit is ~ 5.3 million; Nylander is 4.875 (I think) and Fehr (who I think would be the most likely other played to leave town) is 735k, so the overall gain in cap room would be about 300k prorated, so about 250k...I don't know if that's the kind of savings the team is looking for. You think they'd want enough to be able to promote Alzner, so ~1.2 million. Although I guess it's possible that if they acquire Sopel they move Morrisonn or Jurcina in quick order, either in a trade or on waivers.

b.orr4 said...

Now admittedly, math is not my strong suit, but how can we trade Nylander for Byfuglien and Sopel when we'd actually be adding $800,000 MORE to our cap than we'd be losing. We can take one or the other, but we can't take them both. Not unless we send a couple of other players with Nylander. After all, the reason for the trade is to free up significant cap space and allow King Karl to make it to the big club.

b.orr4 said...

Damn you, DMG! I swear I wrote that before I saw your post. Oh well, great minds.... :-)

Leah said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DMG said...

@ b.orr4,

I've had that happen before: you're typing on in the meantime someone has posted the exact point you're writing. I agree with the great minds concept, though!

Here's the way I figure it: if the season's 25% over, promoting Alzner will cost $1.27 million.

Trading Nylander saves the Capitals 3.66 million against the cap; Sopel would add 1.75M and DB would add 2.25M. However, if the Capitals were to trade Fehr as well, that would be 551k off:

Nylander + Fehr = -4.21
DB + Sopel = +4
Savings = 210,000

So the team's only at ~400k under the cap, they'd have to lose almost 800,000 to be able to promote Alzner. Now of course if Alzner is promoted and Sopel's on the team, they can afford to promote/waive/trade two defensemen, who could yield the following:

Jurcina - savings of 660,750
Sloan - savings of 356,250
Total savings: 1.02 million

alternatively...

Morrisonn - savings of 1.48 million

So, by my math and the numbers I have, if the Capitals trade Nylander and Fehr for DB and Sopel and waive/demote Sloan and Jurcina, they should still fit under the cap.

Now I'm no CBA expert, the numbers may be exact and I am be missing something about the way salaries count when trades are made, but I think the Capitals could trade Nyls and Fehr for DB and Sopel and promote Alzner and still fit under the cap.

Uncle Cranky said...

"By the way, Kozlov is playing perhaps his best hockey as a Cap of late." I agree with this, am amazed by this fine shoe by The Big Dawg, and sure hope it continues. He is such an odd player. One week he is utterly and absolutely invisible and the next week he operates like a bigger and stronger version of Jagr (well . . . . almost). What's with him? This week it must have been Heidi.

bigonetimer said...

Clark gets the trash can lid for his idiotic, game killing delay penalty in the third last night. Why is there no clarion call for trading HIM? Only half-kidding...

Back to the heavy mouth breathing I am hearing/reading about trading Nyls: can someone articulate--beyond the cap space we MIGHT clear--why this is a good idea right now? Why are we in such a rush to do CHI a favor?

Frankly, from a cap perspective, the Byf+Sopel deal makes absolutely no sense for either team. The "third team in" is possible, but who can name the last time three or more teams were involved in a trade in November in the NHL...what are we, the NBA? Plus, CHI has to deal or eat 5+M in a goalie contract before anything gets done.

b.orr4 said...

@Uncle Cranky: I think the reason for Kozlov's improvement is health. He's a big guy who relies on his legs and his knee was probably worse than they let on. Now he's finally healthy and we're seeing the result.
@DMG: you're numbers are probably right but I think giving up on Fehr this early would be a huge mistake. And the way BB trusts his Hershey guys (i.e. Flash), I can't imagine Bruce would allow GM to move him now. To me, the answer is to just take either Sopel or Byfuglien and a pick. Then you've got enough cap room to move up Alzner and/or Boruque. If they get Sopel, maybe they include Jurcina and open up even more space.

JJ said...

Anyone see the write up for the rank the hart contenders on the espn link?

So how do you see the race for individual supremacy, SportsNation? Will Crosby or Ovechkin take home the Hart? Or will a veteran like Martin Brodeur
make a stand for the elder statesmen?


I'm pretty sure they've just stopped trying.

jason said...

@bigonetimer,
Just a couple of thoughts. The wisdom of moving Nylander right now would be something along the lines of: he's not playing too well right now, the Caps don't seem to need him (especially if they can call up Bourque), and teams may become less willing to take on his massive salary as the season goes on. Now, I think it might be foolish to assume Nyls can't help the team, but that's the logic. We would also be getting back assets in return (and I think getting Sopel and being able to call up Alzner unquestionably would help our D unit). I wonder if CHI is doing us a favor if they make this deal (and I don't get why they are so eager to do it - they really botched things with the Huet signing, which forced the Lang trade, and this is an attempt to cover by giving up 2 useful skaters. Some Hawk fans consider Fugly part of the team's core).

So yeah, I think you're right about this not making a lot of sense for Chicago. I'm less sure that it doesn't make sense for the Caps. Even if the Caps do take back equal salary, it's going to make it easier to cut salary. Nylander has an enormous contract and the market for him is limited by that. We'd be getting back a young, promising PF that costs less in Fugly - you don't think we could spin that off into a pick or a prospect (not that I would want to)? Sopel would be very easy to move in a salary dump. I think the same is even true about Jurcina or Mo, as long as the Caps are willing to not get a lot back. And any of those moves would make it possible to call up Bourque or King Karl (or close to it), while still keeping around one or both of the guys CHI might send. Just a thought. What is better for this team, now and in the future? Nylander + Fehr + Jurcina (as an example) or Sopel + Fugly + Bourque/Alzner?

I don't think it's a slam dunk either way, but I think that's the right way to look at it.

Oh, and if CHI sends both guys, I don't think they have to move a goalie (unless our throw-in would put them over...it would be close if so).

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

In no particular order:

Unfortunately the nature of Kozlov is that he will show flashes like this and then vanish again. As long as the top line is producing, I'm ok with him on it, regardless of what he does.

Nylander is now our 4th line center. He's not failing to produce because he's on the 4th line, but rather on the 4th line because he's failing to produce. This, magnified by his salary, is why he must be dealt.

I think I feel bad for Chris Clark. He had a nice season, signed a contract for possibly less than he could have gotten on the open market, then spent all last year injured and everyone thought he would be a huge addition upon coming back. Instead he's invisible most nights and a goat on others. I don't even like him on the 4th line, I think it actually had some chemistry with Brashear, Gordon and Bradley.

We wasted a great game by Johnny last night. Yes, he'd like to have that 2nd goal back, but that was a nice play - really sold the pass and unloaded a quick, hard shot when Johnson exposed some daylight.

The Sharks have been idle since Monday night. I have a very bad feeling about this game. The Caps will play better but with the injuries and 3rd game in 4 nights, it's going to be a tough mountain to climb. A regulation tie would be huge in my mind.

I have tickets for Monday's game. No Semin, Green and Feds is a major bummer. I'm going to need Ovie to pull a Paul O'Neil and hit a couple out of the park for Bobby.

bil said...

So when we played the Ducks, Morrisonn was injured, but the Ducks have a guy named Morrison.

Then we played the Kings, Green was injured, but the Kings have a guy named Greene.

Do you think the Sharks have a forward named Pothiere?

bil said...

Also:

Why does everybody refer to Nylander as the 4th line center, when that line gets more even strength ice time than Gordo/Stecks/Brads?

bil said...

Also:

I know the Caps weren't very good, but, in all honesty, it was a tight 3-2 loss with 40 seconds to go--why are the three stars all Kings?

Wisper said...

Anyone given any thought to Gordon being the thrown in player, since Bruce has a perpetual "hold" on anyone that's worn a Hershey sweater?

Nylander and Gordon for Byf and picks? This assumes Fedorov is close to suiting up and logging decent ice-time at center, and maybe this gives us room to call up Karl.

bigonetimer said...

Wisper, why not throw in the rest of our Hershey centers while we're at it?

Jason, good points. CHI is A) probably one of a very few teams for whom he would waive his NMC and B) in a worse pickle than we are with the cap. But those two facts don't necessitate a deal; whether Nyls can pull it together under BB is the only thing that matters. If that assessment has been made already (which means, no he doesn't fit or won't fit), then let's be done with it. Says here that Nyls can contribute in this system and perhaps he's not the problem (see "gaping hole on RW").

But from a pure player personnel viewpoint, I think the injuries we have right now means keeping
Nyls on our roster until at least Feds gets back. Remember, Bourque is a LW...center depth is no joke in this league, and if anyone is going to get called up, it's probably Aucoin.

Alzner needs more time in Hershey, IMO. No need to rush there either. If I were the Caps and have to get something done with CHI, it would have to include Cam Barker.

Brian said...

A faux FAUX post:

1) Last year, we had little depth at center after Nyls went down with a shoulder injury. Remember Kozlov centering the first line? Trading Nyls puts us in a precarious position, even if he isn't playing well.

2) Speaking of not playing well, last year Nyls played with the torn rotator cuff as long as he could. Since we didn't know, we complained about his play. With Semin, Fedorov and ShaMo/Green out, might it be possible that Myls is taking one for the team again?

3) b.orr and DMG both pointed out that the rumored trade is a cap bust for Washington. As JP noted earlier this week, the Caps started the season about 190K under the cap. Chicago is also close the the cap limit, so there needs to be a third team involved to take salary from Washington, Chicago, or both.

4) Larry Brooks is good at trading crappy Ranger players for other teams' good players. Don't fall into that trap. Jurcina, ShaMo, Fehr - some GM has to think they have value in order for a trade to go through.

5) I wonder if GMGM regrets picking up ShaMo's arbitration offer.

Sombrero Guy said...

@JJ - One wonders why they focused on Brodeur but left out such viable candidates as Sundin, Jagr, and Gonchar

DMG said...

@ b.orr4,

I agree that Fehr still has a lot of potential but right now I think DB has to be considered the better play. Thus if DB were acquired Fehr, who's played in 8 of 18 games and is getting less than ten minutes a game, is going to have an awful hard time getting into the lineup. So if getting DB is an option, I think it makes Fehr expendable. Whether or not he's worth more than three times as much as Fehr, I'm not so sure about.

@MacVechkin, fka JR,

I'm not sure Nylander isn't producing. He has more points than any forward other than Ovechkin, Semin, or Backstrom and three points in his last two games.

@ Brian,

A Nylander-for either Sopel or DB trade would lower the Capitals cap hit and so would Nylander plus almost anyone else for Sopel and DB. Even if it were just Nylander for Sopel and DB the Capitals could make it under the cap by demoting/waiving Jurcina.

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

Nylander started well over the first four games. Then he came up with three assists in his past two games. Other than that, the majority of his season was a 12 game span with 0 goals and 3 assists.

Nylander isn't worthless, otherwise no one would want him. But he is a bad value for the Caps at $4.875 per. That contract was signed pre-Mike Green explosion, pre-Ovie lifetime deal and before Backstrom ever played a game. I'd rather see this done now rather than March or over next summer.

Hazardous said...

I have to disagree with one thing... the better team didn't win. Not to show bias since I'm a caps fan, but our team is way better than the Kings. But Anaheim's dirty ass play took the wind out of our sails in a hurry. You knew this game was going to be crap going into it. Still, despite being really damn tired, they found a way to keep the game close, in spite of bullshit call after bullshit call. (yeah, a good few went our way early, but those were earned, I felt. Calls like that interference call are utterly retarded and need to be stopped. Yes, it LOOKED devastating, but the fact is that guy was looking lost and got in Ovie's way, so Ovie pushed him and he fell to his ass faster than Crosby.)

Whatever, bad scheduling and dirty Anaheim play cost us 2 points. Big whoop. I'm not terribly worried that we'll start some big losing skid. Even if we lose the next 2 on this road trip, after we've had some time to rest it'll be back up to normal speed.

DMG said...

@ hazardous,

If we were to believe you, the Capitals would win every game 5-0 if it weren't for the officials.

re Anaheim - physical doesn't equal dirty. The only plays I recall that were dirty were Perry on Gordon and Montador's jab at Ovechkin's family jewels. It was the checking and energy of the Ducks that wore the Capitals out, not those two shots.

this space for rent said...

I gotta agree with Hazardous on one point, though - we were missing not one, not two, but THREE key contributors, were dead tired, and came off a back-to-back and travel, and STILL kept the game close for most of it. That tells me that the Caps are the better team, and had we been at even 80%, the Kings would have been flattened.

Hazardous said...

@DMG : You're right, Physical != dirty.

The ducks played extremely dirty. All game long. If you could only spot the 2 major obvious ones, then I suppose one of us follows hockey better than the other. Just sayin'.

And yes, I'm a firm believer in the referees being absolutely abysmal at their jobs and often making a game seem rather obviously slanted. That doesn't even remotely come close to "the caps should win ever game 5-0." It means the games should be far more fair than they've been and continue to be. And if you honestly don't see a problem with the officiating, well, read above.