Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Tuesday Roundup/Thrashers 4, Ovechkin 2

[SeSo Open Thread]

Early in last night's 4-2 loss to the Thrash I asked the hockey gods if these Caps could "win just one [expletive] game that they're not supposed to." Maybe the puck deities are saving it for later in the season (and maybe I should have asked for more than just one win), because it sure didn't happen last night, as the Caps lost for the eighty-fourth straight time.

A couple of quick thoughts on the game:

  • Alex Ovechkin did his best Alex Ovechkin impression, scoring the Caps only two goals and hitting the 40-goal plateau for the second-straight year. He now has 41 goals (five back of League-leader Vinny Lecavalier) and has 12 games left in which to score 9 goals if he wants a second 50-goal campaign to start off his career. Is it likely? No. But does anyone doubt he's capable of doing it?
  • Milan Jurcina, Shaone Morrisonn and Chris Clark were all plus-one, the only Caps on that side of zero.
  • Clark's six shots on goal tied Alex Semin for the most on the team last night.
  • To me, Jeff Schultz is like an offensive lineman in football in that when he's at his best, you don't really notice him - he just does his job without doing anything spectacular. Last night was one of those nights.
  • Are Mike Green and Steve Eminger having a contest to see who can regress faster? Since the All-Star break, Green is minus-9 in 13 games and Eminger is minus-11 in 15 games, and both were awful last night, finishing minus-three with 2 shots on goal, 1 hit and 1 blocked shot between them (and all of those were Green's). And how on earth was neither credited with a giveaway?

But of course, the talk of CapsNation this morning are the money quotes in this morning's WaPo from the team's two most important players:

"It's not important for me, it's important for our team," said [Ovechkin]. "We need players. We need help. We are young, that's why we need guys who have experience, guys who [have played in the] playoffs. Sometimes experience wins the game.

"Our bosses know what they do," he said. "This summer [General Manager George McPhee] will sign somebody. Not just players, real good players. Because we need it."

"We need some players who are going to make an impact," said injured goaltender Olie Kolzig, nodding in agreement with Ovechkin's assessment. "We just have to trust that ownership and management will get the players who will help us get to the next level."

Sure, those quotes come from the "No Shit" file, but from an organization that has done a great job of keeping in-house frustration in-house, it's interesting to see these guys voicing these opinions to anyone who will listen. Obviously, we'll see what comes of it.

Anyway, the Caps next travel to Beantown for a Thursday matchup with a desperate Bruins team who, despite shelling out big bucks in the offseason, is fighting for their playoff lives. Take a good look, Caps fans, because that may be your team next year. And we'd all gladly take that, wouldn't we?

Daily Awards

  • Hart: Kristian Huselius (G, 3A, +1, 3 SOG)
  • Ross: Kristian Huselius (4 points)
  • Norris: Rob Blake (G, 2A, +4)
  • Vezina: Mikael Tellqvist (24-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Alexander Ovechkin, Lee Stempniak, Mike Cammelleri (2G each)
  • Calder: David Moss (G, A, +2, 4 SOG, 3 hits)
  • Aiken: Derian Hatcher (0 points, -3, 0 SOG, 2 giveaways, 0 takeaways)


Anonymous said...

Just remember, signing the appropriate free agents is the key. you can't sign a guy just because he has a big name like Chara. Give me a Sean ODonnel over Chara anytime. It's signing the right free agents. They don't have to be ultra expensive just the right ones. Not Andy Cassels or Jeff Friesen but maybe (c)Gomez and (d)Hannah. But who are we kidding. If you were a player and the Caps and the Flyers were courting you with their check books, who would you rather play for?

JP said...

If I'm a playmaking center with the chance to feed the best goal scorer in the League for the next five years, I jump at the opportunity.

Anonymous said...

I agree that I'd just like to see one more f-ing win this season. It is beyond frustrating seeing the success that the Penguins are having right now. It seems to be that the Penguins brought in solid prospects with solid veterans and have put together a team that shows up every night. I'm curious what Caps players have already made their plans to head home in the off-season.

JP said...

Though it's tempting, you can't really compare the Caps to the Pens. The Pens started their rebuild well before the Caps (you might recall they traded #68... I forget where he went).

The Pens have also had 5 top-5 picks since 2000 (4 top 2s, including their pick in the Cheater Draft of 2005), the Caps have had 2, one of whom hasn't come over to North America yet. The Caps presumably will get another top-5 pick this year.

In other words, if the Caps aren't where Pitt is now within the next two or three years, panic. Otherwise, you've just gotta keep the faith, y'know?


1) The question that needs to be asked then: a) will fans put up with possibly another 2-3 seasons without the playoffs?
b) Will the drafted goalies from 2006 be ready to take the reigns from Kolzig/Johnson in 2-3 seasons AND lead the team into the post season?

JP said...

The fans will put up with a maximum of one more year without the playoffs - and that one year better have them in contention until the end.

The young goalies won't be ready in 2-3, but Olie has 1 more year and then will likely sign his final contract for 2-3 years. He can play that long, no problem.

Abhinav said...

JP, I don't think the loyal fans can handle another non-playoff year. Maybe I'm just bitter because of how bad things have gotten, but if the Caps aren't a GOOD team next year, they're risking losing a lot of ticketholders.

But those holders would probably come back once the team becomes a playoff contender, so maybe it's not that big a deal.

JP said...

I think that if management brings in a few new skilled players and the team plays "Caps hockey" all year - hard-working, physical, etc. - and they narrowly miss the playoffs after being in it 'til the end, people will accept that as it will be a big leap forward.

But another year like this, results-wise, and they'll be in big trouble.

I could be wrong... it's been known to happen.


1) You very well may be correct and Kolzig will(hopefully) maintain his high level of play into his late 30's, but there will probably have to be a stop-gap goalie to bridge until one of the youngsters is ready
2) Not the best scenario for a team that is finally ready to compete for the Cup/playoffs, but with this new CBA decent free agent goalies should be easier to find than years past

JP said...

Here's a possible timeline on Kolzig:

2007-08 - 37 years old, #1 goalie
2008-09 - 38, signs three-year deal, #1 goalie
2009-10 - 39, #1 goalie
2011-12 - 40, #1 goalie or splits time with Varlamov, who is 23 by then.

And here's the kicker - at the end of the 2011-12 season, Kolzig will be two years younger than Dominik Hasek and Ed Belfour are right now. Any real reason to think Olie can't go past 2011-12, especially in a mentoring/splitting capacity?

chanuck said...

Its hard being a Caps fan, especially lately, but it also sounds like it is hard being a Caps player.

Let's hope GMGM can get a couple people that can help the team be a little better.

Chris said...

Anyone want a tissue to go with this crying?

I've only been a Caps fan since I moved here in '01, so I'm not really familiar with the greener pasture days. However, I'm a life long Red Sox fans, and sorry guys, this isn't what realy painful fandom is. The team has a plan, and it's been executed exactly as it has been described to the fans. Ownership has been brutally honest with us all.

This was never a team as good as that great two weeks in Nov/December. Great goaltending by Kolzig and some lackluster play by our opponents made everyone think we're a playoff team. We weren't.

Seriously folks. Sack up. The future is bright. If we're having this same conversation next February, then by all means, that's a different story.

JP said...

Chris -

With all due respect, this organization has been around since 1974-75 and has exactly one Stanley Cup Finals appearance (and zero wins), despite a run of 14 straight years in the playoffs (18 post-seasons overall) and some utterly heart-breaking playoff losses.

We thought we had brought in the savior once before and that has led us to the rebuild in which we currently find ourselves, complete with a new savior and nothing else but faith to go on.

While 1974 isn't 1918... at least Red Sox fans had 1918 to look back on.

Chris said...

Not knowing the history of the franchise, I can buy that JP. Still, these two seasons of real, official rebuilding is better than the 02-03 season. I don't show up for games mad, and I don't leave them furious. And I'll still take this over a bloated payroll of underperforming old guys.

JP said...

Amen to that.

Dave in DC said...

... vis-a-vis your comments regarding Green and Emminger. They have been staging an absolute suck-fest of late. Emminger appears worse than lost... his turnovers in TO were just incredibly dumb -- He's Gonchar without the slap shot. Green is only marginally better but in his defense is still in his first plus year. Emminger's been around long enough to knock that stuff off.

That being said, I'll still be a season tix holder next year. But the decision on '08-'09 will have to wait.

Victor said...

JP, I have to both agree and disagree with you about comparing the Caps to the flightless seabirds. The Caps started their rebuilding at about the same time as the Pens...and it started with signing Jagr.

Is that ironic or what?

Anyway, that experiment blew up in everyone's face, as you well know...and the Pens? Well, all they're doing is what they did about 17 years ago: Signed some talented youngsters and kept/signed some experienced players to mentor them.

The Caps did half that: Signed some talented youngsters ...and they didn't sign Bondra. I'll never be able to prove it, obviously, but I suspect Semin and Ovie both would have benefitted from having Bondra around (and I think the Caps would have won some more shootouts had he been shooting, but again, we'll never know).

I'm keeping the faith...believe me, I'm keeping the faith! But I have a feeling at the end of this five-year plan (2009-10 season by my reckoning), Ovie will still have his Calder, but Sid will have played for the Stanley Cup.