[NHL.com Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]
Hey, it's the Penguins. Killer.
I could make a crack about Sidney Crosby's 41-point pace. Or comment on how horrid their power play has been through four games. Or how Marc-Andre Fleury has already seen far more rubber than any other goalie in the League.
But these are the Penguins. You know who they really are (hint: who you think they are, of course) and what they can do, especially when they are, um, due.
And while it's hard to make much of anything of early numbers (a wise man noted that we don't know anything about anything), a few early data points bear watching, as small samples sometimes turn into trends which, eventually, can inform that which we do know. With that in mind, let's take a look at what's clicking and what isn't, through three games.
What's clicking: The offense. The Caps are averaging a League-best 4.33 goals per game and the second-most shots per outing, have the second-most 5-on-5 goals in the League (behind only the Rangers, who have played two additional games), and have a 26.7% power play efficiency (good for fourth in the League).
What's not clicking: The penalty kill - 77.8% would have finished dead last a season ago. Granted, if they had just one more successful kill so far they'd be at a more comfortable 83%... but if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle. So there's that.
What's clicking: Alex Semin and Mike Green. The duo have combined for six goals in three games - one more than Tampa or New Jersey has.
What's not clicking: Faceoffs. A year after finishing ninth in the NHL with a 51.2% efficiency in the dot, the Caps are off to a slow start, winning just 45.6% of their draws, with only Sergei Fedorov among the regular centers above the 50% mark.
What's clicking: Second periods.The Caps are out-scoring opponents 7-1 in the middle stanzas.
What's not clicking: The goalies (early, at least). The Caps have allowed six first period goals in three games (and only four total over the second and third periods), including markers 0:26, 4:02 and 8:20 into games (and all six within the first 14 minutes of games).
What's clicking: Mike Green's... defense. He's leading the team in blocked shots and plus/minus (even though all of his goals have come on the power play).
What's not clicking: The defensive pairing of Tom Poti and Jeff Schultz has combined for one hit on the season thus far. I know they're not bangers... but one hit? Michael Nylander has as many.
So while we may not know anything yet, after tonight we might know a bit more. And if any of the above continue tonight and into the weekend, we might know a lot more.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Matt Cooke is "iffy" for tonight's game. Matt Cooke is iffy for every game.... Yawn. Another day, another rumor (or three).... You've seen the cover of this week's The Hockey News, but am I the only one who thought there was also a cover story on Wyshynski teased in the upper left corner?... Matt Pettinger is trying to work his way back to the NHL.... Keith Seabrook has his confidence back.... Finally, don't forget to make your SPG picks.
1) These silly rumors will persist throughout the season. Nylander and Poti are going no where! Kozlov is hurt so he's probably safe. When healthy he would probably be the most likely target for a deal IF GMGM does indeed need to shed payroll. Do they? Anyone really know their salary cap number?
2) Way too early in the season to try to find 'trends'. Maybe after each team has passed the 10-15 game mark one could start to see a trend or two.
I'm shocked that I haven't heard a media frenzy on Milbury from last night. He was talking about the death in the KHL and stated that there were questions regarding the care Cheraponov got and said, "that's what you get when you play in Russia"
Another day, another Nylander trade rumor. Maybe the best way to figure out who might be up for a trade (if you're inclined to such an exercise) is to look at the prospects who are NHL-ready or close to it, and see who on the big team they're closest in style and talents to. If GMGM really is looking to shed payroll, then I'd bet on him looking to replace from within rather than a free-agent signing with the possible exception of a fairly cheap defenseman. Even that is pretty suspect, given how much blueline talent we've got down in Hershey just a year or two away from being NHL-ready.
That said: do we have an analog to Nylander's playmaking in the pipeline? Some might say Chris Bourque, but having finally watched them both, I think not. Do we need Nylander or someone like him? HELL YES. Add the NMC to that and I think he's going nowhere.
Poti? One thing we don't have a wealth of is veterans on the blueline, and it shows. That's something we can't replace from Hershey. I'd be surprised to see a Poti trade.
What about Schultz? Could he be replaced by Carlson or Godfrey, maybe not this year but in a year or two?
I don't know. I don't have the numbers and maybe I'm just shooting from the hip, but it's a slightly different line fo thinking that might be worth exploring.
"am I the only one who thought there was also a cover story on Wyshynski teased in the upper left corner?." heh heh heh -- I almost actually went out to buy it, just to find out. Almost.
For starters, the rumor comes from the Ottawa Sun, the NY Post of the Great White North. Secondly, they've got Nyls making $1 million more than he actually does. So much for accuracy. Finally, Nylander and Poti are, at this time, our top producing centerman and our best defensive defenseman. So, of course, that would make perfect sense to move either of them. This is why I always chuckle when Canadians claim to know so much about hockey as compared to Americans. It is gratifying, though, to know how much our players are coveted.
@anonymous-As much as I hate to admit it, Milbury is right. I spent three weeks in Moscow and St. Petersburg this summer and the one fact we quickly learned is that you never want to get sick in Russia. One of my traveling companions developed a minor illness that in the U.S. would have been treated in a day. Instead, he was misdiagnosed and mismedicated and was dangerously sick for a week. For all its wealth, Russia is very much a country of haves and have nots. Moscow, after dark, may be one of the most dangerous cities in the world. St. Petersburg has fantastic museums but its infra-structure is in shambles. I know nothing about the KHL but I'm not the least bit surprised to hear that their medical care was sub-standard. I bet that every North American playing in that league is counting the days until they can get back to the NHL.
Does any know if Poti has a NMC?
I agree someone is going to get moved...
"Granted, if they had just one more successful kill so far they'd be at a more comfortable 83%... but if my aunt had balls, she'd be my uncle. So there's that."
I loved that part.
Poti does not have a NMC, only Nylander does for right now.
lord, that NHL preview is just a wee bit slanted, no? I know I shouldn't be surprised by these things, but I was not expecting PENGUINS PENGUINS PENGUINS! oh yeah,a nd there's this other team, the capitals.....PENGUINS!
Why, why, why, why, why can no one understand what a "no movement" clause is?
I guess Dennis Savard didn't have a NMC. He just got fired by the Black Hawks, per ESPN.
Wow, I guess it's panic time in Chi-town already. Jesus. And they just won a game...
Birdie... I didn't see it that way at all. I saw "hey, we're doing slightly better than the penguins right now... at least according to stats. But we know better than to trust the conclusion to numbers alone, this team is dangerous and we all know it... and now for a more focused look on OUR team, the one we WANT TO HEAR ABOUT!" But that's just how I saw it.
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to this game tonight, coming off a ridiculously ass-kicking performance against Vancouver. Good food, good drink and a good hockey game(at least I really hope so), just the sort of pick-me-up I was looking for.
all i can say is this, I went to the game against the penguins at verizon last october, and none other than JOE MOTZKO wa playing.....on a line with OVECHKIN!
we have come a looooong way
Are there no Pens commenters because JP is deleting them, or because you didn't welcome the Pens trolls this year?
Fair points. I've never been to Russia, but have friends that have been assigned there (Foreign Service guys), and their assessment isn't much different than yours. That doesn't change the fact that what Milbury said was in poor taste. Shouldn't be surprised, though - he's an a**hole.
What an awesome third peri- game.
I wonder if Crosby's vagi- groin is okay.
Man. I needed that win.
So did the team.
Hey, how long until people other than me start comparing Mike Green to Scott Stevens after that hip check?
After lurking the Pensblog comments of this game, I smiled huge. As much as I disagree with a lot of you guys, we don't have some of the morons they have. "The season's already over" and "Trade Staal" and, my favorite, "Fuck it, move the team to kansas city."
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