Monday, November 26, 2007

Monday Roundup/Gamenight: Sabres @ Caps

[AP Preview - Preview]

Game Three A.H. brings a familiar foe to town tonight, namely the defending New York State Champs. Call it a hunch, but I'm guessing there won't be as many Sabres fans in attendance at tonight's game at the Verizon Center as there were back on April 7. Granted, it's a Monday night this time around (as opposed to a Saturday afternoon), but a .500 Buffalo team just doesn't bring 'em out of the woodwork the way a 30-games-over-.500 Sabres team does.

Anyway, the Sabres have been rolling of late, winning four straight (three of which were victories over Montreal) and outscoring their opponents 15-5 in those games to get back to .500 (10-10-1). Their power play has gone 4-for-12 and their penalty kill has been 12-for-14 over that stretch, which has certainly helped in piling up the wins. And, like the good Sabres teams of recent years, balanced scoring is the name of the game - despite being in the top third of the League in goals per game, they don't have a single player in the League's Top 70 scorers (Derek Roy's 17 points leads a team that has nine double-digit point-getters - contrast that with the Caps' four).

The Sabres have had trouble winning away from home - their three road wins is tied for the second-fewest in the League - but they'll face a Caps team whose three home wins are tied for the fewest in the League. Then again, the Caps are undefeated at home under Bruce Boudreau. Let's see if they can't keep the streak - and hope - alive.

Why The Sabres Will Win:
"Because Thomas Vanek has started taking over games and controlling play, even when he's not on the scoresheet. Because the penalty kill just held the top PP in the league to 1/9 over the course of two nights. And because the young guys are finally starting play like they really believe they don't need Drury and Briere instead of just saying it." - Top Shelf

"The Sabres will win the battle of the basement-dwellers for one reason: the turnaround has begun. Four games really is a winning streak. Lindy, and the Sabres will beat the Caps on the back of Thomas Vanek to move above .500." - In The Crease

"The Caps are on a coach-killing high...which might be cause for alarm if the Sabres weren't on an even more potent rediscovering-their-moxie-after-recovering-from-a-bad-break-up high. The Caps' journey toward self-discovery is just beginning, but the Sabres are back in the game for reals." - The Willful Caboose
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Michael Nylander isn't worth what the Caps are paying him. At least that's what a guy at says, so you know it's true.... Boudreau's just like John Tortorella with less hair.... Since was already throwing a Larry Brooks piece (of garbage) at you yesterday, I decided it would be too much to also make you read something from Bruce Garrioch, so I saved it for today. Apparently GMGM is the next in line to be fired (not that I wholly doubt the veracity of what Garrioch says on this point), and Olie Kolzig will soon be an Oiler. I'm sure.... Ten years ago tonight the Caps sent Rod Langway's number five to the rafters prior to the final game to be played at the Capital Centre in Landover. In that game, Peter Bondra became the second player to score 250 goals with the team (Mike Gartner, of course, was the first).... Finally, I think I stumbled upon a new marketing opportunity for Coach Boudreau(x) and, perhaps, Jeff Schultz.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Ryan Getzlaf (2G, +2, 4 SOG, 2 hits, 83% faceoffs won)
  • Ross: Jamal Mayers, Todd Bertuzzi, Ryan Getzlaf, Francois Beauchemin (2 points each)
  • Norris: Francois Beauchemin (2A, +1, 3 hits, 2 SOG, 2 blocked shots)
  • Vezina: Roberto Luongo (27-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Jamal Mayers, Ryan Getzlaf (2G each)
  • Calder: Mike Smith (W, 39 saves on 41 shots against)
  • Aiken: Alex Tanguay (0 points, -2)



1) Oh, the best part of the Garrioch fantasy piece is whom Leonsis is supposedly considering to replace GMGM. Mike Milbury is mentioned! LOL LOL
2) Of course Mike, with his amazing resume of 10+ years helping the Isles win Zero playoff series will get tons of attention from owners looking for a new GM. Ted would have to drink quite a bit of Ouzo to consider mad Mike!

Anonymous said...

The best part of winning with BB is that the Ovechkin hasn't missed a step yet =-D

Unknown said...

Hmmm. While GMGM's days may be numbered, I think Leonsis will give him until the end of the season to right the ship. At this point in the season, the table is set and the pieces are in play. The only chance a GM is going to make any significant changes will be at the trade deadline. Just about everyone was happy with the FA acquisitions that McPhee made over the summer. He has done a nice job of stockpiling draft picks as well.

I am not a GMGM apologist, but I think we need to see what the coaching change can do in the short term.

Unknown said...

GMGM has also made mistakes: Such as apparently believing that NHL teams don't need RWs.

DMG said...

I'd be pretty surprised if anyone gets canned before Ferguson, but that isn't the first time I've said that.

I also think this article would have a little more credibility if it didn't refer to Brian Sutherby as a defenseman:

"RUMOURS DU JOUR: Did Ducks GM Brian Burke really give away G Ilja Bryzgalov on waivers? The story making the rounds is the Ducks agreed to take D Brian Sutherby from the Caps for a second-round pick so McPhee would pass on Bryzgalov."

JP said...

To elaborate on the Bryz/Suts rumor, the theory is that the Ducks will want one of Phoenix's D-men later on, so in order to curry favor, they wanted to let the 'Yotes get Bryz for nothing now. To ensure that that would happen, they needed to buy off the Caps, and the price was Sutherby for a 2nd rounder in '09. Not sure if I buy the rumor, but there it is.

Anonymous said...

Re. the ten worst cap-strapping deals in the NHL:

I have no problem with the list including Bertuzzi, Kubina, Penner, Jovanovski, and McCabe...these guys are drastically underachieving and their salaries are primo. Timonen, Richards, and Chara also have pretty rich contracts, but at least they are producing.

However, including Vokoun and Nylander on this list is pretty lame. Vokoun's salary is up there at $5.3 million ($5.7 million cap hit), but he does have a GAA of 2.85 and a .911 save percentage. It's hard to argue that he should be on the list at #4. Nylander is an even bigger head scratcher: he makes $5.5 million ($4.875 million cap hit) and is 6 - 16 - 22 in 23 games for a struggling Caps team. Yes, his -11 is not pretty, and nobody would nominate Nylander for the Selke, but his lousy +/- is probably exacerbated by the Caps crappy play over the last six weeks. As Peerless pointed out, he was -1 on Sat. yet was the second star with a goal and two assists. Nice night for a -1 guy.

To put things in perspective here are the numbers for the big three FA centers signed this offseason:

Briere 12 - 16 - 28 -3 22 GP
Gomez 4 - 13 - 17 0 24 GP
Drury 5 - 10 - 15 -1 24 GP

and their salaries:

Briere $10 m ($6.5 m cap hit)
Gomez $10 m ($7.357 m cap hit)
Drury $7.1 m ($7.05 m cap hit)

Briere is pulling his (fly) weight, although clearly he isn't the best player at even strength either (hence the -3). That production is coming at nearly twice Nylander's salary.


Unknown said...


Good analysis. Not to mention that Nylander hasn't been paired much with Ovie except on the PP and a few experimental shifts. He hasn't had many shifts with Semin for that matter.

My biggest complaint with Nylander is that he sometimes hangs on to the puck a little longer than he should. Even that is minor compared to the alternative where no one last year could posses the puck at all.

Anonymous said...

Anyone know why Pettinger is having a tough time producing goals? I think he is on pace for 5 or 6 goals. He hit 20 goals before, but he is far from that same kind of player. Most games it seems like he gets his fair number of shots on target so to speak, but hasnt really put the 'biscuit in the basket' a la Craigh Laughlin. Corey Masicek (sp?) says he might not play in place of Semin.

I cant see any reason for BB to bench anyone on the BBB line and Laich/Gordon/Steckel/Flieshmann have been playing well enough to keep their spot in the lineup. The odd man out here is indeed Pettinger.


1) The Ducks/Yotes/ Sutherby rumor is pure bunk. If the Ducks wanted to 'curry favor' they could have sent Bryzgalov to Phoenix for a 7th rounder in 2010 or something(nothing) and not had to take the extra costly step of picking up a press box dwellar/4th liner for a 2nd round pick

JP said...

@ Wilbur: Great stuff.

@ Tyler: Such as the Iraq?

@ Ted: I agree - Boudreau is likely a sign that GMGM's job security is tenuous at best. Had they gone with an established coach (a Hartley/Burns type) and things didn't change, it'd be more clear that the coach wasn't the problem and that the personnel was, at which point they'd have to fire GMGM but couldn't really fire the coach, and the result would be a new GM who didn't have "his guy" as coach. This way, BB - who is just an interim head coach - can be relieved of his duties concurrently with GMGM, should the need arise, and the team could bring in a new GM who could hand-pick his own coach.

And I agree that both GMGM and BB are here through the end of the season, barring an unforeseen and highly desirable coach/GM becoming available.

Of course, the Caps screw it all up if Boudreau wins three more games and they remove the "Interim" from his job title and the team subsequently regresses, but we'll jump off that bridge when we get to it.

Anonymous said...

The ESPN guys are idiots, but they are so right when it comes to Nylander. What an absolute waste of cap space.