Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thursday Roundup/Caps 5, 'Canes 1

[AP Recap - Game Summary - Event Summary - Postgame]

On a night when the Caps faced off against the Hurricanes in Raleigh with first place in the Southeast Division on the line and utterly trounced their gracious hosts, one was left with a singular and somewhat frightening impression: this Caps team can be better.

In fact, outside of the top line and d-pairing, nary a Cap had a point, or even a plus. The third defensive pairing took four minor penalties. The power play took only seven shots in 7:49 of time with the extra man. And so on.

As thorough a beating as the Caps handed the 'Canes, it wasn't a sharp, 60-minute effort, and it wasn't this team at its best. Granted, the score (and Carolina's desire to roll over and play dead rather than put up any sort of fight) allowed the visitors to ease up a bit, but what we saw last night was still just a (rather large) handful of glimpses of what the Caps can be - and what we're all waiting on.

A few quick thoughts on the game:
  • As good as the top line was on the scoresheet, they were again guilty of being overly cute at times and guilty of poor defensive coverage often (and throw in a couple of "vintage" Alex Semin hooking penalties for good measure). For as dominant as the line appeared to be (and, as far as finishing goes, was), would you believe the line had the second-worse Corsi Rating of any of the Caps' threesomes? I would. And while I'd take that on any night if they're going to finish with a combined plus-12 rating and a dozen points, that's not going to happen every night. A bit of a curious night, statistically, to say the least.
  • Alright, that last point came off a bit negative. Here's the positive - three Semins and a Malkin. Don Cherry just crapped his Depends. By the way, check out the League's top five in plus/minus, but make sure you didn't just take a sip of coffee.
  • Back to the negative, Semin's "tribute to Richard Simmons" goal celebration was awkwardly wonderful.
  • I don't think I've ever seen a "superstar" have a worse period than Eric Staal did in the first. He botched tap-ins on an extended 5-on-3, lost a key defensive zone draw that led to the Caps' second goal, and just flat out stunk the building up. It's probably a different game if he has a better opening stanza.
  • Sticking with picking on the 'Canes, Niclas Wallin's attempt at defensing Alex Ovechkin on his goal was shameful.
  • "Secondary" Nicklas Backstrom had a trio of other-than-primary assists and a lay-up of a goal. Suddenly he's not off to that bad a start, with 10 points in 15 games.
  • Milan Jurcina's game went from bad to worse, as he had three penalties (though the refs were whistle-happy all night) and little confidence by the time the final buzzer sounded. If Shaone Morrisonn can go Friday, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see Juice in the press box.
  • Back to everyone's favorite stat, Chris Clark, at minus-three, had the Caps' worse CR (and only negative rating), and Mike Green's plus-17 was best on the squad. He was stellar.
  • Brent Johnson came up huge late in the first period before exiting with a hip injury, and Jose Theodore did a great job in relief, especially considering he hadn't played in ten days.
  • Memo to Fox Sports Carolina: The Caps haven't used the eagle logo since Rod Brind'Amour was good. If you want to be taken seriously by the rest of the League, you've got to be within a year or so of current on your graphics, mmm'kay?
And so we'll wait. We'll wait for a home-and-home series with a shaky Devils team that commences tomorrow night. We'll wait for Morrisonn and Sergei Fedorov (and perhaps Johnson) to get healthy, and we'll wait for the power play to click. We'll wait for the other number one goalie to get hot and we'll wait for the MVP to be the MVP. We'll wait to see what this team can do when they're firing on all cylinders.

But in the meantime, this ain't so bad, is it?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Go vote for All-Stars if you're into that sort of thing.... Your weekly Power Rankings find the Caps up three spots to 12th at, up seven to 9th at The Hockey News, up five to 9th at, up four to 13th at, up 14 to 4th (?!) at, up ten to 13th at, and up six to 9th at The Detroit News. Are the still a "bad team," Kelly?... The Caps collected more than a ton of food at their annual canned food drive on Saturday. No word yet on how much of that made it to the intended charity and how much was intercepted and eaten by Nick Backstrom along the way.... Via CapsChick, a hearty welcome to the 21st Century blogosphere to the Caps Media Staff.... Finally, via the Caps Message Board, if you're headed to the VC for Friday night's game, check out Dr. Gridlock for street and Metro closures.


JP said...

Know what's awesome? When no one comments and then, around noon, I wonder why and realize that it's because I've accidentally disabled comments for a post.

I suck.

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

And here I thought you were just trying to stifle dissent. I had so many things to say this morning, now all my best stuff is on someone else's site. I guess it was a good game. Go Caps! (sorry, that's all I've got.)

JP said...

I snooze, we all lose.

If anyone ever notices comments turned off, give me a poke at the email in the sidebar and I'll remedy the situation ASAP.

HotDog88GT said...

There are nights when the other team just plays well - and then there's last night. Would like to see more than one line scoring per game. Having said that, a few layups from Staal would have made that a different game.


1) Great game for 3 players. The rest were adequate to bad. Won't win consistently when only 3 players are contributing offensively.
2) Lets be fair, Carolina played a bad game. Leighton was hung out to dry, but wasn't a rock in net either. How many lay-ups can Staal miss on one PP? He scores one of those and perhaps its a different game.
3) Sloan looks solid enough that can't imagine anyone would miss Jurcina if they can sit him down. Also, why is Fehr always the odd man out? If he is part of the Caps future he needs to play every night. He shouldn't be 'Eminger'ed'!

CapsCrazy said...

I quoted this post on the NHL Arena (in the Capitals Forum) for some post game chat. Come and join us. We'd love to see more of you there.

Anonymous said...

a complete win. excellent schadenfreude ops in the News and Observer and related blogs today.

I just have to reiterate how well I think Brash is playing in this system. He was actually a force on O last night, not just for one or two shifts either. That whole line played great last night, though blanked on the score sheet...5 plus-4 players??? gotta be a first for the Caps in their history

Anonymous said...

I understand the Juice-hate, but, at the same time:

The second penalty was one of those things everybody does from time to time--doesn't excuse it, but it doesn't signify a player is playing well or not, either.

And the third penalty--your team is up three or four goals, whatever it was, and the other team runs your goalie, simply trying to start something? I got no problem with that roughing call. I applauded the man.

Speaking of hate, I think we all would like to see Greenie play rover a little less often, yes, but have you noticed how well he breaks up passes? And then, after picking them off, starts the offense with a nice pass? There's more to playing good defense than hitting guys.

NS said...

I like Flash & Nyles paired with Laich better than with Kozlov.

Sloan looked good out there (again), to the point where Feds should remain on offense full-time.

i hate myself for saying this but Erskine played well.

Jurcina should be very worried about his job. bench him, put Mo back in, and keep Sloan up.

HotDog88GT said...

Stop hating the Erskine! The man is a steady force on defense and brings much needed grit to the team. The man is a workhorse. He also shoots the puck from the blue line, which is something the Caps have not been doing consistently.

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

I'm calling shenanigans on the Corsi. First of all, 'shots directed at net' is a inherently flawed measure of play as it does not measure the quality of chances, nor does it penalize (I don't think it does) for missed shots, which matter.

Second thing is, depending on the player, it's all relative. Ovie/Semin need about 3 quality chances to score. Chris Clark would need about 10,000.

I realize over time that if you suck it will be noted in Corsi, but one games worth of Corsi is bogus.

Anonymous said...

Hot dog is right: we may as well stop hating on Erskine, he's signed through next year, and he is not as brutal as Juice has been. Jurcina is a big rig but plays small, his cannon of a shot is never seen, and his breakouts obviously blow. Sloan is no Lidstrom but the man can skate and he has nose for the net.

I repeat: Juice is being phased out for better skaters like Alzner and Carlson - meanwhile, Sloan is much more useful.

Anonymous said...

Very soon, Alzner will have played 20 games. As I understand the CBA, his cap hit will then be reduced by about $400,000 bringing it to about $1.2 million. Jurcina's salary is about $900,000. The Capitals have about $670,000 in cap room. If they move Jurcina for a draft choice, there will be room for Alzner to be brought up for the rest of the season. Is my logic wrong?

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

The only chink I can find in that, b.orr, is the Caps might want to drag it out to 40 games.

NS said...

especially if they keep winning due to their offensive output.

(i hate Juice more than Erskine now. its a small step, but its something. don't rush me!!) ;)

Anonymous said...

Re: cap space, Don Fishman said at the Chalk Talk on Monday that the Caps have 174K (I'm pretty sure I heard the number correctly) in cap space right now. Further analysis will have to be done by someone with better math skills than me.

As for Sloan, I think he's been taking up space better than Morrisonn or Jurcina lately so if we can afford him...

Unknown said...

I will admit I am warming to Erskine. The stats in his defense the other day were somewhat eye-opening. He played well last night.

I liked the lines out there last night. The 1st and 4th lines played very well, and I'm hoping that Semin is going to spread his fire to Ovie and Backstrom. Seems to be working so far. I really was impressed by Kozlov on his 4-on-4 shift with Steckel. I don't see him working and being physical very often, and he was last night. I like Sloan's skating ability out there, and Poti has been playing very well of late.

The only real criticism I have is that Clark needs to be replaced by Fehr in the lineup. They are similar players, except that Fehr is younger and playing better. I know Clark needs ice time to fix his problems, but I think it runs deeper than that now.

JP said...

@ Lisa: Tyler was at that same Fish chalktalk, and the number he quoted me was $190k - same difference.

By my math, that's roughly 10 days (not games) of a $2m player, 20 days of a $1m player. So yeah, not much room to wiggle in at all, as it stands now. Move Juice and that gets you a little more, obviously, but not a ton.

Anonymous said...

Lepsito's cap hit is lower than Jurcina's.

JP said...

But higher than Sloan's - which may, in part, explain why Sloan was initially called up over Lepisto (though I think Sloan has shown that there is a definite merit-based component to his being in the show as well).

Unknown said...

Please, please, please stop using "defense" as a verb! What's wrong with complaining about the way Niclas Wallin defended Ovechkin?

I cringe every time I hear an NFL commentator use that term, and I'd hate to see it spread to one of my favorite blogs.

JP said...

Sorry, slusty - defense can be a verb, but if it's a pet peeve I'll try to avoid it.