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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Mike Green Musings

During the broadcast of last nights Capitals-Flyers game, the Twittersphere erupted in pure sadness when hockey insider and truther Bob McKenzie started talking about Capitals defenseman Mike
Mike Green
Green, who becomes a free agent after this season.

I was at the game. I didn't hear what he said, and I have failed in finding a video to see what exactly he said about Green.

Fortunately, a ton of people happen to tune into "Rivalry Night." So I asked on Twitter what exactly Bob McKenzie said. Justin Trudel saw it, and offered his explanation:


I wanted to clarify:


Like I said, whatever Bob McKenzie says is pretty much the truth. But that doesn't mean it isn't really sad to hear.

Green is a third line defenseman. Green gets paid a lot of money to be a third line defenseman.

In fact, here's how much the Capitals defensemen get paid:


Green is obviously at the top. In fact, Green has the 11th highest cap hit among defensemen, sitting behind Erik Karlsson of Ottawa ($6.5 million) and in front of Brent Seabrook of Chicago ($5.8 million). Every single player in the top ten of that is a top line defenseman.

At the time Green's extension was signed, after the 2011-2012 season, he was coming off a 32 game season where he had just three goals and four assists. The contract represented more of what could be, and not what he had accomplished his last two seasons (in his 2010-2011 season, Green had 49 games, eight goals and 16 assists). This is a guy who was churning out 70 point seasons. In the 2008-2009 and the 2009-2010 season, Green had 149 points. Since he signed that contract extension, the one he is currently in, he has played in 140 games.

Green will never produce that point rate that he accomplished in those two seasons ever again. No one that is still on this team from those seasons will ever accomplish that amount of points ever again. But at the time, he was worth the money simply because he was a pretty good defenseman. He just hasn't played much since that contract.

What I'm saying is, that while it appears to be a pretty crazy contract from the beginning, it really wasn't too bad. But, that's not the point. My point is, do we have a chance at re-signing him.

Do we? I have no idea. Maybe he really loves hanging out with his teammates. Maybe he doesn't. I don't know, I'm not Mike Green. Maybe his wife Courtney loves the DC area and wants to start a family there. Maybe she doesn't. I don't know, I'm not Mike Green's wife.

What I can realistically guess is that Mike Green does love money.

As the Caps stand at this moment, Green, Joel Ward, Eric Fehr, Jay Beagle, Aaron Volpatti, John Erskine and Jack Hillen are set to become unrestricted free agents. Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Nate Schmidt and Braden Holtby are set to become restricted free agents. The cap is currently projected to be at $73 million next season. The Capitals have already spent $49,735,128 in contracts for next year, meaning they will have $23,264,872 to work with (obviously this number could drastically change before the Capitals begin the offseason). Regardless on who they plan on re-signing, (I see six or seven guys, I'll let you guess away) money will be kind of tight. 

I think the only way it is even realistically possible for the Caps to re-sign Green is if he truly wants to stay here, and he's willing to go no more than $6.2 million.

To me, Mike Green benefits the Caps (more on that later), but I don't think he's worth that price. He's only worth that price because it will keep him away from other teams.

I don't see that happening. He'd be insane to not test out free agency. Because while I don't think he's worth much over $6.2 million, some team out there thinks he's worth $7 million.

Think that's not true? Excuse me while I proceed to laugh in your face as I look at every top free agent signing of defensemen since the absurd 13 year, $98 million signing for Ryan Suter. The game has changed. When a team signs a player to a contract, they aren't just giving him money for how much his talents are worth. They are paying him that extra million so they can call him "mine" and wave him off to all the other teams. They are paying an extra million so that the enemy doesn't get him. And Mike Green can command that attention. He and Marc Staal are by far the big UFA defenseman prize this upcoming offseason.

How valuable is Mike Green? Very. J.P. of Japer'sRink showed how awesome he and Dmitry Orlov were last year. And he is still kicking ass this year at possession:


Is he a little sheltered defensively? Yeah, but he is deployed in offensive situations because he is an offensive-minded defenseman. He has 23 points in 35 games this season, well on pace for his highest totals since 2010. He is the top power play guy on the point. As far as I know, there is no way to statically point this out, but if you watch a Caps power play, and you see Green compared to Matt Niskanen and John Carlson (it's far more evident with Carlson), Green dominates out there. He has the ability to put the puck exactly where Ovechkin wants it 99 percent of the time, and Green is not afraid to shoot. He quarterbacks that offense. He makes one of the best power plays that much better with his presence.

I can go on a rant about how Green is the third most valuable player on this team, but I'm like 40 percent sure I've done that in the past. Do I think he should get more ice time? Yes! And I think he could easily prove his value if he did. But, I also don't think Carlson or Niskanen should be demoted. It's just a really odd situation.

I've come to terms with the fact that it is highly unlikely that Green re-signs with the Caps (though I would be pretty happy if he did). So, what exactly should we do with him, and who could possible be his replacement?

There are two options for what we could do with Green. We could trade him at the deadline, or we could just let him walk.

The Caps should not trade him at the deadline.

First of all, he has a modified no trade clause, so while I don't know why exactly it's modified, it's a reasonable guess to say that he can't be traded without his permission in the last year of his contract. But even still, this team is very much a contender in the wide open Eastern Conference. Why on earth would the Caps be willing to trade away such a valuable player on their way to a playoff run? They would only trade him to another contender, definitely in the Western Conference, and no matter who they get in return, it won't be worth it. Trading Green for a bunch of prospects would just hurt the Caps chances, and I don't see any team trading away a $6 million man straight up for Green. It would just hurt both teams. Keeping him allows the Caps to work with their best defensive unit they've had in years, and it gives them a respectable chance in for a playoff run.

So I'd be cool with letting him walk if that were the case. Maybe they could continue feeling him out and seeing if he'd be willing to re-sign. Maybe they can ship his rights to a team for a draft pick, like they did with Tomas Vokoun and Jaroslav Halak, but would a team be willing to do that with a relatively high profile free agent? It has a chance of backfiring. But they don't have to get someone in return. It's really not the end of the world.

But who could possibly replace a guy like Mike Green, a great, puck moving, right-handed defenseman?

If they look towards free agents, the pickings are slim, as I showed you earlier. If they aren't willing to go big on a free agent signing, like they did this past offseason, then they will probably be looking for a $2-$3 million man. I would have said Toronto's Cody Franson at the beginning of the year. He will have gone through three straight one year deals after this season, but he is kicking butt this year as one of Toronto's top defensemen. He's averaging 21:07 minutes a game, second highest on Toronto, and he has 27 points, good for first among defensemen on the Maple Leafs. And even though Toronto is laughably bad, Franson is definitely not the reason:



 I highly doubt he will be available to the Caps. I also would have said Johnny Boychuck, who is also killing it for the Islanders, the Islanders have money to spend, and they are already talking about extending him 

So the options for a third line replacement include a very slim number of decent defensemen. And of the ones that are set to become free agents, there is a solid chance that a good percentage of those will just be extended anyway.

I think the Caps best option is to look from within.

I know Trotz likes left-handed players on the left, and right handed players on the right. I kinda dig that too, but the Caps best defenseman that hasn't played for the Caps yet this year happens to left-handed, and that's Orlov. Contrary to what you may believe, he's not dead. I actually saw him yesterday. He does in fact still have a hand. In fact, it looks like a standard hand. It's not deformed or green or anything. I'm not a doctor, much like I'm not Mike Green or Mike Green's wife, so I have no idea what is going on with him. But hopefully he comes back, especially next year, because the Caps might need him.

If Trotz wants to go with a right-handed defenseman, and he wants to stay consistent with puck movers on the right side, he could go potentially go with Connor Carrick, or even rookie Madison Bowey. When Carrick was up in the NHL, he was compared to Mike Green. I can't remember who it was exactly that made the comparison, though I think it was either Craig Laughlin or Alan May, but don't quote me on that. Anyway, Carrick was terrible when he was in the NHL. But the guy was just 19, playing with a bad coach and sub-par defensive partners. He's doing alright in Hershey this year, with four goals and 16 assists in 36 games. He definitely still has potential to be solid in the NHL, despite poor play as a 19. I can't stress it enough. He was 19. Bowey is probably a bit more promising, though I'm not convinced he is ready for the NHL. Bowey will be 20 next season, and while he has a 60 point season with the Kelowna Rockets in the WHL, and has already 33 points in 28 games this year as Kelowna's captain, and was one of Team Canada's top defensemen in the World Junior Tournament earlier this month, producing a goal and three assists in seven games, is Trotz really going to give him time next season? Maybe. Wouldn't surprise me.

Again, my hope is that Green some how extends with the Capitals. The Capitals are awesome, D.C.'s awesome, and Green's awesome. Then again, maybe the Caps don't think he's awesome. At least, Braden Holtby might not:


It's a perfect fit. I don't know what his options are, and I don't know what he's planning, because I'm not a fortune teller. Did you get all that? I'm not Mike Green, I'm not Mike Green's wife, I'm not a doctor, and I'm not a fortune teller.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Game Recap: Caps Vs. Blackhawks (3-2 Win)

To kick off the new year, the Caps had the honor of hosting the Winter Classic. The biggest regular season game of all regular season games didn't disappoint, and the Caps walked into the dugout (yes, a dugout) with a 3-2 win after a late Troy Brouwer heroic.




Positives

Eric Fehr - He is Mr. Winter Classic. The guy has played in two Winter Classics, thankfully both times for the Caps, and has three goals, which makes him the all-time leading goal scorer in Winter Classics, which will win you virtually every bar bet you will ever make. Much like his second goal in his first Winter Classic, Fehr got a clean breakaway, gave a little shoulder fake, and slipped it right by Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford. This guy has become one of the Capitals most valuable players. And to think we traded him to make space for a Roman Hamrlik signing. Ok, it wasn't just Roman Hamrlik, but pretend it was because that makes the Caps sound like the bad guy in that situation. I never want to part ways with Eric Fehr ever again...actually no, ask me that again in a couple more years.

Alex Ovechkin - That man played like his hair was on fire. I don't even know if that's the right expression, but even if it's not, Ovechkin was acting like his hair was on fire. He was flying out there. His excitement was so evident the second he took the ice, further cemented when he scored, even further cemented when he hit the post and cross bar, and even more further cemented when Brouwer scored the game winner. That excitement is fun for everyone to watch, and it will get everyone on his team going. More importantly, that excitement and his furious play was able to convince virtually every media member that he has "bought in" to Trotz's system, whatever the hell that means. Oh well, if it took an outdoor game for the media to be convinced at that, at least we won't have to hear about it anymore.

Brooks Orpik - With each game that I get to see him out on the ice, the more I love the signing, which crushes me because it's almost certain that he will drive me insane in his later years with the Capitals. Thank every Hockey God imaginable that he somehow did not get hurt in the previous game against the Islanders, because losing him for an extended period time would have been a disaster. He has played decent hockey of late, and while he's not the best defenseman on the team, he certainly makes this team better. We were able to see glimpses of just how important he is to this team after this game. His team was so happy to have him on the ice, and it was expressed in this video when he was given the Honest Abe award. It was further expressed in his postgame interview, where you could tell he felt so bad for taking Nate Schmidt's spot, and that Schmidt was one of his bros on the team. I don't feel like the Caps have had a veteran defenseman like Orpik in a very long time, and I think he is helping these guys immensely.

The NHL, The Washington Capitals, The Washington Nationals, NBC and the many, many others who helped put on this event - I wasn't actually there, but I could tell that this was one of the better Winter Classic's. The Capitol dome and the "reflecting pool" opening ceremony accompanied by a fly over looked pretty amazing. The stadium looked amazing. The game itself was awesome. Even though I wasn't there, what made it special for me was the camera angles NBC provided, with the birds eye view and everything, it was truly unbelievable to see the game that way. I can't imagine the Winter Classic going any better in the nations capital. Also, I have one suggestion....put that Capitol dome right behind the center field wall in that grassy area!

Negatives

This win put me in far too good of a mood to point out any areas of improvement.

Posession (via hockeystats.ca)


Top Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 67% (53% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 66% (60% offensive zone start)
  • Tom Wilson - 64% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Jay Beagle - 63% (58% offensive zone start)
  • Michael Latta - 63% (83% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Joel Ward - 36% (27% offensive zone start)
  • Eric Fehr - 42% (25% offensive zone start)
  • Brooks Laich - 42% (27% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 45% (71% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 45% (50% offensive zone start)


Scoring

Goal - Eric Fehr (11)
- Unassisted

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (18)
- Assist - Mike Green (15), Jack Hillen (3)

Goal - Troy Brouwer (11) (PP)
- Assist - Alex Ovechkin (14), Mike Green (16)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 33 saves on 35 shots, .943 save percentage

Quote of the Night



"I think it's just the whole day was unbelievable. This event was outstanding, you know. The atmosphere, on the ice, was like since first second unreal. It's going to be for all our lives, and I'm pretty sure we're going to watch this hockey game and we're gonna enjoy it. So, 100% I think. It is what it is." - Alex Ovechkin.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Game Recap: Caps Vs. Islanders (4-3 OT Loss)

For the vast majority of this game, it didn't seem like the Capitals could get into the game. After two slow periods and a short handed goal, the Caps found themselves down by three with less than a period to go. But with three quick goals, the Caps stormed right back into the game.




Positives

Eric Fehr - This guy is the absolute man. He goes into each game with a can't lose attitude and he pumps out an efficient shift every time he's on the ice. He's scoring goals, and driving possession of the puck. He, Brooks Laich and Joel Ward have banded together to create a line that is extremely fun to watch.

Nicklas Backstrom - Much like Fehr, Backstrom is also the absolute man. He's really picking the right times to shoot the puck. I mean, for his goal tonight, it was pretty obvious that he needed to shoot the puck, but he is picking and choosing really well this season. He's scored on 16.2 percent of his shots this year, just under 5 percent more than he has averaged over the course of his career. Does Backstrom run the risk of slowing down? Certainly. Is his shooting percentage unsustainable? Maybe. But for now, Backstrom is on pace to score 25 goals this season, which would be his second highest output of his career.

Michael Latta - He obviously does not see much ice time (only 8:15 tonight), but when he's out there, he's making the most of his time. Can we reasonable count on him for a goal? No. But, what we can count on from Latta is the fact that he will wear the opposition down. He added three hits tonight to his resume, and one early in the first really sent a message. It was a big hit after Tom Wilson himself was knocked to the ground. Latta answered with an even bigger hit. It's been touched on in the Epix Road To The Winter Classic episodes a couple of times, but Barry Trotz really appreciates physicality, and if you believe what he says, other teams are taking notice that the Caps are a tough team to face. That starts with Latta, who is trying his best to become a shimmer of glee in the Forsberg trade.

Anthony Capuano - Ok, this one has literally nothing to do with the game or the Caps itself, it's more about an interaction I had tonight. Towards the end of the first period, I found myself bored and wishing the Caps would do something a little bit more entertaining. As a result, I had to try to find other forms of entertainment within the game. This is when Islanders Head Coach Jack Capuano popped up on the screen. Within this particular shot, Capuano looked particularly Italian. So, I wrote out Italian people that Capuano looked like. I went into detail about how he looked like a Sopranos henchman, and then I tweeted out this:



A little while later, I found this in my mentions:



Yes, that is Jack Capuano's son, Anthony, who plays baseball at the University of Maine, explaining to me that he is, in fact, not a Guido.

Negatives

Top RW - There really isn't any one person to blame for what has become a relatively big issue. It's easy to point the finger at Trotz, but, can you really blame him for trying virtually everything? Wilson has been a bit underwhelming. Chimera was a bit of a stretch. Myself and many others have stated Fehr should be there, but he is seeing success on a different line. I don't know who should be there, but I do know flip-flopping several people over the course of the season and during the game will not work. Ovechkin and Backstrom need a consistent line mate, and the more this plays out, the more I'm starting to believe that someone needs to be brought in to play as a top line right wing. But that's for the trade deadline....

Power Play - This power play has deadened recently. I have no clue what is causing it. If I did, I would be making a lot of money. But, two things have stood out to me within the past couple weeks or so. First, the offensive player that is taking the shot is 95 percent of the time Ovechkin. When you have one person taking the shot, it becomes extremely easy to defend. Backstrom has stepped in from the half boards a little bit more than he did last year, and that helps. Troy Brouwer, or whoever else is situated in front of the net, doesn't seem to be getting the puck as often as last season. Mike Green, or whoever else is at the point on the power play, is not shooting the puck, like, ever. Green, John Carlson or whoever is at the point needs to start shooting the puck more often. Green has a fantastic shot. But he is not utilizing it enough on the power play. He's one of the top offensive defensemen in the league, but he's just not shooting the puck enough on the power play. He just feeds it over to Ovechkin, and while he does score often from that spot, teams will be able to figure that out, if they haven't already. If Green steps up and poses a threat as a shooter, it will just keep the opposing team's penalty kill more honest. This, in my opinion, needs to start.

The Third Line - The third line is not who you think it is. It's not Laich-Fehr-Ward. It's Johansson-Kuznetsov-Brouwer. Look at their times on ice. That's how it has been for quite some time. On top of this, and I wish I took a photo of it, but when I was in the Capitals locker room in their last home game against Ottawa, they have a board with the lines drawn out, and sure enough, 21-16-42 is officially the second line. I have no problem with that. That line is producing, and while it is your prototypical third line, they are succeeding as a second line. However, Johansson, Kuznetsov and Brouwer is not your standard third line, and it is showing. Those guys were practically invisible tonight. I don't think it is necessarily their fault. They were doing well earlier this season, but that was when Andre Burakovsky was centering them, but that's a whole different issue. Can this line see more production if it just plays more? Possibly. But, all I know is that is an average second line, and that is a very ineffective third line.

Orpik Injury - This was devastating to watch. Orpik hard into the boards, and his knee awkwardly bumped into Cal Clutterbuck. Immediately, Orpik was in pain and was down on the ice, holding his knee in the air gingerly. He had to be helped off the ice, and didn't return for the rest of the game. Orpik has become a huge part of this defense. He is the most physical blue liner by far, and is the leader among the young defense. Having him out for an extended period of time would be awful. More will be known on the extent of the injury tomorrow, but it already sounds like some of the Capitals are pretty optimistic 

Posession (via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Michael Latta - 60% (0% offensive zone start)
  • Brooks Laich - 59% (62% offensive zone start)
  • Eric Fehr - 55% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Joel Ward - 55% (50% offensive zone start)
  • Jay Beagle - 53% (67% offensive zone start)


Bottom Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 33% (36% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 35% (50% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 38% (45% offensive zone start)
  • Tom Wilson - 38% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Brooks Orpik - 39% (45% offensive zone start)


Total Team Corsi - 39%

Scoring

Goal - Eric Fehr (10)
- Assist - Brooks Laich (4), Jack Hillen (2)

Goal - Nicklas Backstrom (12)
- Assist - Alex Ovechkin (13), Mike Green (14)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (17)
- Assist - Nicklas Backstrom (26)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 35 saves on 39 shots, .897 sv%.

Quote of the Night



"First two period were unacceptable. Start of the third, we give up another one. At the end of the day, you could say 'oh yeah, pat ourselves on the back, we got a point when we are down three-nothing' but why are we down three-nothing? We didn't play well enough in the first 40 minutes. That's not the way we played in Pittsburgh, we thought we were fine there. We didn't play that way tonight. We got to play better." - Brooks Laich

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

World Junior Championship 2015 Preview

If you're like me, you are probably extremely excited for the upcoming World Junior Championship. You don't get to see some of these kids play on a regular basis, and they really are the future stars of the NHL. Most are already drafted into the NHL, some won't be drafted until this year's draft, and some won't even be drafted until the 2016 draft.

You know who to watch. You gotta watch the two superstars in Jack Eichel of the United States and Connor McDavid of Canada. The sure thing first and second overall picks in the 2015 draft were both named captains of their squad, and the hockey world will explode with excitement when the two countries square off on Dec. 31st. You probably even know about Auston Matthews, the United States forward who is projected to be the top pick in the 2016 draft.

But, as a Caps fan, who should you really be on the lookout for?

You really can't go wrong if you simply, you know, just watch all the games. But, there are going to be quite a few guys that you will be seeing on a regular basis in the near future within the Metropolitan Division. Let's take a look at some of those guys.

United States

Carolina 

Alex Nedeljkovic, goaltender (Plymouth, OHL). Drafted 2014, Round 2, 37th overall.

Alex Nedeljkovic is probably the backup goaltender on this team behind Boston College and Vancouver Canucks prospect Thatcher Demko, but he still will more than likely see a game or two. Nedeljkovic is a relatively small for a modern goaltender at just 6'0" and 190 lbs., but he is an extremely athletic goaltender. Prior to his drafted, one scout said he was the most athletic goaltender in the draft, and would have been a first round choice if he was a bit bigger. In his draft year, Nedeljkovic excelled for the Whalers with an outstanding .925 save percentage and a 2.88 goals against average in 61 games. This year, he's not doing as well, posting just a .905 save percentage and a 3.43 goals against average in 26 games. The butterfly goaltender will be relied on should anything happen to Demko.

Columbus 

Sonny Milano, forward (Plymouth, OHL). Drafted 2014, Round 1, 16th overall.


Sonny Milano (Source - Bruce Bennett)
I am a big fan of Sonny Milano. In fact, earlier this year before the draft, I was really hoping the Caps selected Milano. He is an extremely gifted puck handler who can just embarrass you out on the ice. He plays with a very similar style to Patrick Kane. I don't think he will be as successful as Kane, but a talented American puck handler like Milano makes it hard not to compare the two. Milano was committed to play for Boston College this year, but Milano instead went ahead and signed a professional contract with the Blue Jackets, making him ineligible for college hockey. Milano know plays for the Whalers, where he's put up eight goals and 23 assists in 20 games. Milano projects as one of the top forwards for Team USA.

Ryan Collins, defenseman (University of Minnesota). Drafted 2014, Round 2, 47th overall.

Prior to the 2014 draft, I was also a fan of Ryan Collins and, again, I was hoping the Caps would select him in the second round. Collins is a gigantic kid at 6'5", 205 lbs. He is almost entirely a defensive defenseman, with just four assists in 11 games for the University of Minnesota. Collins likely won't be relied on for top minutes on this team, but he has the ability to step in and play a physical game at any given moment. If he does make the roster (one more defenseman will be cut), he can make for a reliable blue liner.

New Jersey Devils

Steve Santini, defenseman (Boston College). Drafted 2013, Round 2, 42nd overall.

Steve Santini may not even be healthy enough to make the roster. He had wrist surgery on Oct. 28th, and has only played in four games this season for Boston College. Santini is one of two returning blue liners for the U.S.'s World Junior team, and will be relied on heavily for leadership. A mobile defenseman with good size, he is an incredibly smart defenseman with a high hockey IQ in his own zone. Santini will make the Devils in no time once his finished with his collegiate career, and he could be a huge part in the Devils future. (Editor's Note: Santini did not make the roster due to his wrist and will not take part in the World Junior Championship)

Miles Wood, forward (Noble and Greenough School, USHS). Drafted 2013, Round 4, 100th overall.

I admittedly don't know too much about Wood. Here's what Hockeys Future had to say about him:

"Wood, the son of long-time NHL forward Randy Wood, is a finesse, skilled player with the prototypical size of a strong power forward. Arguably the best player in the New England prep school league, his skating is his greatest asset but over the years he has learned to use those around him when he has the puck. His playmaking and hockey IQ continues to improve and he should continue to develop as he faces a higher level of competition during his college career."

Wood apparently was supposed to play for Boston College this season, but instead decided to return to Noble and Greenough School. Noble and Greenough has apparently only played one game so far this season, and I don't believe Wood played in that game.

New York Rangers

Brandon Halverson, goaltender (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Drafted 2014, Round 4, 59th overall.

With Demko and Nedeljovic in front of him, Halverson is a long shot of seeing any significant amount of time in this tournament. When the Rangers drafted him, he was a backup for the Sault Set. Marie Greyhounds. They liked his size at 6'4", his athletic ability and they way he handles the puck. This year, Halverson has seen a little bit more duty for the Greyhounds. In 24 games, he has a .908 save percentage and a 2.93 goals against average. Is he a bad option for the United States to have in this tournament? No way. But is he better than Demko or Nedeljovic? No. That being said, if Halverson continues to see his game grow and he continues to develop nicely, he could see some time in New York in no time.

The New York Islander, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins do not have an American prospects playing in the World Junior Championship. 

Other Notable American Prospects: Forwards J.T. Compher (Buffalo), Alex Tuch (Minnesota), Chase De Leo (Winnipeg), Jack Eichel (2015 Draft Eligible) and Auston Matthews (2016 Draft Eligible). Defensemen Anthony DeAngelo (Tampa Bay), Noah Hanifin (2015 Draft Eligible) and Ian McCoshen (Florida).




Canada

Columbus

Dillon Heatherington, defenseman (Swift Current, OHL). Drafted 2013, Round 2, 50th overall.

Dillon Heatherington has good size at 6'4" and 205 lbs., but he probably won't be relied on too terribly much. Heatherington is also a ways away from making the Blue Jackets anytime soon. There is simply not too terribly special about the way he plays. He has the size, and he is certainly more of a defensive defenseman, but he's really not all that special. Collins is ahead of Heatherington on the Blue Jackets depth chart, and he has several more defenseman in front of him. For this Canadian team, Heatherington will see some time on what will probably be the second unit penalty kill, but again, he won't wow you.

New York Rangers

Anthony Duclair, forward (New York Rangers). Drafted 2013, Round 3, 80th overall.

If you happened to watch any Rangers games this year, you may have seen Anthony Duclair already play. Duclair was a pleasant surprise for the Rangers during training camp, and was a surprise add to the team. The previous year, with the Quebec Remparts in the QMJHL, Duclair put up 50 goals and 49 assists in 59 games. This season with the Rangers, Duclair has tallied one goal and six assists in 18 games. Duclair is an extremely fast skater, and is more of a shoot first, ask questions later type player. Duclair will be relied on heavily to produce some goals for Canada this year at the tournament.

Philadelphia Flyers

Samuel Morin, defenseman (Rimouski, QMJHL). Drafted 2013, Round 1, 11th overall.


Samuel Morin (Photo - Sarah Mongeau)
Samuel Morin is about to be the ass-hat we all love to hate for the Philadelphia Flyers. The guy is 6'7" and 225 lbs. Good. Lord. He is also tremendously talented. He's an extremely physical player that moves the puck decently well for a big guy, and has a gigantic shot. He doesn't put up amazing offensive numbers, but he does log a ton of ice time for Rimouski Oceanic. Morin is pretty close to playing defense for the gigantic pile of trash that has become the Flyers blue line. Here is what Morin had to say for himself recently:


"They want to be patient with me and that's OK. I think when I'm 25 years old I'm gonna be one of the best D-men in the league."

Ok Morin, slow your roll. You're beginning to sound like a Flyer already. This guy is going to play a huge role for Canada in the upcoming tournament. He will be really fun to watch.

The Carolina Hurricanes, New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins do not have a Canadian prospect playing in the World Junior Championship.

Other Notable Canadians To Watch: Forwards Sam Reinhart (Buffalo), Curtis Lazar (Ottawa), Jake Virtanen (Vancouver Canucks) and Connor McDavid (2015 Draft Eligibility). Defenseman Josh Morrissey (Winnipeg). Goaltender Zach Fucale (Montreal).



Russia

Carolina

Sergey Tolchinsky, forward (Sault Ste. Marie, OHL). Underrated Free Agent Signing

Sergey Tolchinsky was more than likely passed over in the NHL draft because of his size. At just 5'9" and 170 lbs., Tolchinsky didn't project as the next Martin St. Louis (also undrafted) or Johnny Gaudreau (drafted round 4). But Tolchinsky has gotten off to a good start this year in the OHL with the Sault St. Marie Greyhounds. In fact, Tolchinsky is in ninth in the league this year in scoring, with 17 goals and 32 assists in 32 games. Tolchinsky will be expected to be one of the better forwards in what will be a weaker than usual Russian team for the World Junior Championship. Tolchinsky failed to make the Carolina Hurricanes during his second training camp, but if he continues to put up strong offensive numbers and has a strong World Junior tournament, the only thing that may be holding him back is his size.

New York Islanders

Ilya Sorokin, goaltender (Metallurg, KHL). Drafted 2014, Round 3, 78th overall.

It's not immediately clear who will be the primary goaltender for Russia in the World Junior tournament, but Ilya Sorokin has a 52 save effort earlier this month in an exhibition game against Canada. So, it's a comfortable bet in saying that he will more than likely be the starter for Russia. Sorokin is your average size goaltender at 6'2", and has put up decent numbers in the KHL. Sorokin has posted a .906 save percentage and a 3.25 goals against average this season. Sorokin is a few ways down the depth chart for the Islanders when it comes to goaltenders. It will be quite some time before we see Sorokin in an Islanders jersey.

New York Rangers

Pavel Buchnevich, forward (Severstal, KHL). Drafted 2013, Round 3, 75th overall.

Pavel Buchnevich is a pretty fast skater with a solid offensive game. He's already playing professionally in the KHL, and he's playing a respectable game, with 10 goals and 11 assists in 32 games. He is a very fast skater that primarily plays an offensive minded game. This will be Buchnevich's second World Junior tournament. Last year with Russia, Buchnevich tallied two goals and five assists in the seven games, and he will once again be relied on as one of Russian's top forwards. Buchnevich has yet to sign an entry level contract with the Rangers, and he is already pretty low on the prospect depth chart. It will be quite a long time (if ever) until we see Buchnevich in a Ranger uniform.

Igor Shestyorkin, goaltender (SKA Kareliay St. Petersburg, VHL). Drafted 2014, Round 4, 118th overall.

As previously mentioned, Sorokin is the likely starter for Russia. That being said, Shestyorkin has played in seven games for Russia's junior team this year, and has been nothing short of outstanding. He rocks a .948 save percentage and just a 1.38 goals against average. These numbers are very much similar to his VHL, where he has a .943 save percentage and a 1.72 goals against average. Shestyorkin can't seem to crack time in the KHL just yet, where he saw just one game this year. Much like Sorokin, Shestyorkin is far from NHL time for the Rangers.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins do not have a Russian prospect participating in the World Junior Championship.

Other Notable Russian Prospects: Forwards Ivan Barbashev (St. Louis) and Nikolay Goldobin (San Jose). Defenseman Ivan Provorov (2015 Draft Eligible).


Sweden


Carolina

Lucas Wallmark, forward (Lulea, SHL). Drafted 2014, Round 4, 97th overall.


Lucas Wallmark (Photo - Ludwig Thunman)
Lucas Wallmark played for Sweden last year, where they placed second, and Wallmark was an important part of that team. He had three goals and five assists in seven games in the Malmo tournament. He will again be relied on heavily as a top playmaker, especially since Andre Burakovsky will not be available for the tournament. Wallmark has four goals and nine assists in 13 games for Lulea. He is a skilled playmaker that will see a lot of time on Sweden's power play. Wallmark dropped pretty low in this years draft, especially for a player that performed quite well against top junior level competition in the World Junior tournament. His wiry frame isn't quite ready for NHL play just yet, but a few more years of development could do Wallmark well.

New York Islanders

Linus Soderstrom, goaltender (Djurgarden Jr., SuperElit). Drafted 2014, Round 4, 95th overall.

The Swedish goaltending isn't very special, and if this team struggles in the tournament, goaltending will be the reason why. It isn't even quite clear who would play in goal for Sweden. Buffalo's Jonas Johansson was one of the top contenders for the spot, but he was ruled out for the tournament due to illness and was replaced by Fredrik Bergvik, a San Jose Shark's prospect. Now, it's really between Soderstrom and undrafted Samuel Ward. Soderstrom should be the front runner, but he is certainly not Oscar Dansk, who marched Sweden right through the tournament last year. Soderstrom is posting a .909 save percentage and a 2.81 goals against average in 13 games. He's got great size at 6'4", but he is a very, very long way from being NHL ready.

Philadelphia Flyers

Robert Haag, defenseman (Lehigh, AHL). Drafted 2013, Round 2, 41st overall.

Robert Haag is probably one of the closest prospects in the Metropolitan Division to playing in the NHL not named Anthony Duclair. He's already seeing quality time with the Flyers AHL affiliate Lehigh Valley Phantoms. Hagg was drafted as a two way defenseman, and he had 11 assists and two goals in 30 games before he was loaned to Sweden for the tournament. He has good size at 6'2", 207 lbs., and will be relied on as one of Sweden's best defenseman on both the penalty kill and power play. Hagg is another returning World Junior player. His experience and leadership will be fantastic for Sweden.

Oskar Lindblom, forward (Brynas, SHL). Drafted 2014, Round 5, 138th overall.

Oskar Lindblom has blossomed into a great late round prospect for the Flyers. He's played 17 games in the Swedish mens league and has four goals and five assists to his name. He is a very strong two way player. Lindblom could see time as a top forward with some of Sweden's best players, and he could be a breakout player for Sweden. He needs to bulk up a bit before he can make the Flyers roster, especially if he wants to continue his two way game and play in the dirty areas. But, Lindblom could be a surprisingly fun player to watch in this tournament.

The Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Pittsburgh Penguins do not have a Swedish prospect participating in the World Junior Championship.

Other Notable Swedish Prospects: Forwards William Nylander (Toronto), Jacob de la Rose (Montreal) and Adrian Kempe (Los Angeles).

Finland

Pittsburgh

Kasperi Kapanen, forward (KalPa, Liiga). Drafted 2014, Round 1, 22nd overall.

Everyone was a little shocked to see Kapanen fall as much as he did in the first round. The son of Sami was projected to be a top ten pick, but instead fell all the way to 22nd to the Penguins. His stock was most likely hurt because he didn't take part in Finland's World Junior Championship winning team due to a shoulder injury, and he played for a really bad professional team in Finland. Kapanen is a fast forward who can really play both sides of the ice pretty well. He had a legitimate shot of making the Penguins earlier this year, but they elected to send him back to Finland for a little more development. Kapanen is the forward prospect in a weak prospect pool for the Penguins, and all eyes will be on Kapanen when he takes the ice.

The Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers do not have a Finnish prospect participating in the World Junior Championship.

Other Notable Finnish Prospects: Forwards Artturi Lehkonen (Montreal), Mikko Rantanen (2015 Draft Eligible). Defenseman Julius Honka (Dallas). Goaltender Juuse Saros (Nashville).


Denmark

Columbus

Oliver Bjorkstrand, forward (Portland, WHL). Drafted 2013, Round 3, 89th overall.

Nikolaj Ehlers and Oliver Bjorkstrand are going to provide virtually every bit of offense for Denmark. Bjorkstrand plays a Canadian style game, which has earned him 21 goals and 19 assists in 28 games for the Portland Winterhawks. That puts him well on pace to pass his 109 point effort just last season for the Winterhawks. Bjorkstrand has made frequent appearances for Denmark in the past three years, and while he is one of the better offensive talents that Columbus has to offer, Bjorkstrand just won't be able to supply enough offense to see Denmark succeed in the World Junior Championship.

The Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins do not have a Danish Prospect participating in the World Junior Championship.

Other Notable Danish prospects: Forward Nikolaj Ehlers (Winnipeg).

Czech Republic

The Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins do not have a Czech Republic prospect playing in the World Junior Championship.

Other Notable Czech Republic Prospects: Forwards David Pastrnak (Boston), Pavel Zacha (2015 Draft Eligible) and David Kase (2015 Draft Eligible). Defenseman Dominik Masin (Tampa Bay).

Switzerland

There are no Swiss prospects participating in the World Junior Championship from the Metropolitan Division.

Other Notable Prospects: Forwards Kevin Fiala (Nashville), Noah Rod (San Jose Sharks) and Timo Meier (2015 Draft Eligible). Defenseman Mirco Muller (San Jose Sharks).

Slovakia

There are no Slovakian prospects participating in the World Junior Championship from the Metropolitan Division.

Other Notable Prospects: Forwards Peter Cehlarik (Boston), Matej Paulovic (Dallas), Martin Reway (Montreal).


Germany

There are no German prospects participating in the World Junior Championship from the Metropolitan Division.

There really isn't any notable prospects participating for Germany.

Those are all of the prospects for the other evil teams in the Metropolitan Division. But, there is one super important them that has yet to be included in this massive World Junior Preview, and that's the super awesome Washington Capitals prospects.

Madison Bowey

Madison Bowey should play an important role on this Canadian team. As the only right handed defenseman and an excellent puck mover on a talented team, Bowey should be relied on as a top power play player. Though the two haven't played a game together yet, he and Morrissey are now Kelowna Rocket teammates, and I imagine they will be paired together as either the top defensive pairing or the second defensive pairing. Bowey has eight goals and 25 assists in 28 games this year, and he captains Kewlona for the second straight year. Bowey, in my opinion, had a fairly disappointing training camp earlier this year. He just didn't seem to click as well as everyone had imagined. Bowey is in a rough spot. I think within two years or so he is going to be ready for the NHL. The Caps already have three solid puck moving defensemen in John Carlson, Matt Niskanen and Mike Green, and two of those guys are signed long term. Green, however, becomes an unrestricted free agent. Is Bowey the answer as the replacement for Green? If not, and Green is signed long term, where does Bowey fit? And even then...where does Connor Carrick fit in the equation? Bowey may be stuck in a tough spot within this organization. But a good showing at the World Junior Championship will be pleasing to see.

Jakub Vrana


Jakub Vrana (Photo taken by me)
If you're a Caps fan, you need to tune in to the Czech Republic games all through the tournament purely to see Jakub Vrana play. For the most part, we have really only been exposed to his highlight reel plays. But we did get to see him at the development camp and for parts of training camp, and there is no question, he was the most talented prospect that participated in those camps behind only Andre Burakovsky, who has made a relatively strong case to sit firmly in the NHL. Vrana and Pastrnak will lead this talented Czech team offensively. The Czech Republic are projected to do pretty well in this tournament, and that is credited primarily to Vrana. This will be Vrana's second World Junior championship. Last year, Vrana finished with a goal and an assist in five games. After putting up nine goals and seven assists in 23 games for Linkoping, we can expect a whole lot more from Vrana in this tournament. He could sneak in as the player of the tournament if all goes right for the Czech Republic.

Vitek Vanecek

I did not really understand why the Capitals drafted Vitek Vanecek in the second round of this past draft. But this tournament has the chance to be Vanacek's coming out party. He has been excellent this year, playing in the Czech League 2, where he has a .923 save percentage and a 2.27 goals against average in 16 games. If he comes out and becomes a brick wall for the Czech Republic, the Caps all of a sudden won't look so crazy in drafting him relatively early.

Here is a guide for the tournament. Enjoy!

Information obtained from Eliteprospects.com and Hockeysfuture.com. World Junior Rosters have to be officially submitted by Dec. 25th, and only Canada has officially submitted their final roster. Therefore all players listed are simply presumed to be on the final roster. Article will be updated if a player did not make the team.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

A Merry Capsmas



It's that time of year again, where everyone begins to celebrate all of their holidays of giving.

And with Christmas just around the corner, why not try to decide what the Capitals would like for Christmas this year?

First we have to look at who has been naughty and who has been nice. Lately, pretty much every Capital has earned a spot safely on the nice list with 7-1-2 record in their past 10 games. They have been nothing short of excellent, and therefore, everyone should earn some sort of gift. Well, almost everyone.

I sent out this tweet:


And got some interesting results. Let's see what some Caps fans think some certain Capitals should get for Christmas.


I never noticed this. I mean, he has pretty big teeth in a pretty big smile, but I've never noticed if they were discolored or not. I guarantee you, the next time I see Nate Schmidt, I will be looking right at his teeth. Directly at them. With the way he has been scratched over the past couple of games, I'm sure there are another set of white strips that go across a crest that Schmidt would like to see this holiday season...



Oh, you're still reading? I figured you would have just closed this article immediately after clicking on the lame white strip crest joke for the Winter Classic. Anyways, yes, this would be awesome. With the way the Caps have been playing lately, they have been among the hottest teams in the league. But, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, the wins haven't really been against impressive teams. Minus two amazing Tampa wins, the Caps have beaten up on the New Jersey Devils, the Carolina Hurricanes, the Columbus Blue Jackets and the Ottawa Senators. Those are pretty bad teams. Again, these wins have been awesome, and it is something Caps fans haven't seen in quite some time, but it will be 10 million times sweeter for me if they can stroll into the Madison Square Garden and knock the socks off those broadway bastards, and then march right up to Consol Energy Center and slaughter some Penguins in a nationally televised game. That would be super awesome. I have no doubt they can do it.


You know what, you're right. His luck does seem to be changing a bit. Before Hillen came to the Capitals, the only thing I knew about him was that he once took an Alex Ovechkin slapshot to the face.  In fact, that his his top highlight on YouTube. Even worse, three of the top five Jack Hillen videos on YouTube involve Hillen getting hurt. So yes, when you make it to the National Hockey League and you just keep getting knocked around, you have pretty awful luck. I like Jack Hillen. He is a good depth defenseman to have, and he hasn't hurt us on the ice when he's out there. He is playing a far less significant role this year than last year, and he's not complaining about it. More importantly, in the ten games he's played this year, he hasn't really gotten some unlucky injury. Because at the pace he's going at, his next big move is receiving a check that sends him through the boards.




Peters has been nothing but awful in virtually every game he has appeared in, and as a result, he hasn't played since Nov. 29th, which was almost a month ago. It's gotten so bad, that during last nights press conference, Barry Trotz still hadn't made a decision as to who was going to start against the Rangers. This was after Braden Holtby faced 39 SHOTS, the second highest for Holtby this season. If you struggle to come up with a decision as to whether your starting goalie should play a back to back game after facing almost 40 shots, you have a gigantic problem with your backup goalie (Update: Trotz has made a decision, and he is going with Holtby). I've stated before that Peters is just a bad goaltender. Fact is, he was a third stringer for the Carolina Hurricanes, who, as previously mentioned, suck at the game of hockey. But, the problem is, what are they going to do? I completely disagree in trading for Robin Lehner. First of all, it would cost the Caps way to much. He's already making $2.225 million for the next three seasons. Caps don't have that space and, quite frankly, it would be moronic to part with a player to free up cap space in order to obtain a backup goaltender. Secondly, Lehner is the goaltender of the future for the Ottawa Senators. There is virtually no way the Senators would give him up, and, if they did, it would cost the Caps dearly. But, who cares about the Senators. I don't want the Caps to acquire a backup goaltender unless they are somehow able to get rid of Peters. After this past offseason, the Caps are pretty well set at goaltender with Phoenix Copley and Philipp Grubauer in Hershey. Heck, even Edward Pasquale wasn't a bad investment, and I have a pretty good feeling we are about to see Vitek Vanecek tear it up at the World Junior Championship later this month. I would not want them to acquire a new goaltender because they would send Peters down to Hershey and it would mess with Copley and Grubauer's development. So, I guess the only option really is to push Peter's through waivers, where we could lose him forever (though, I doubt it) and bring up Grubauer, which is kind of insane. It's a mess, and it's going to be a pain in the butt to solve it if the Caps simply don't trust Peters.



There are a ton of people that just want to see a Stanley Cup in the city that has waited a really long time for it. Is it this year? No, probably not. But I think the Caps are super, super close. The defense they have right now is the best they have ever had in the Ovi era, and they have one of the better coaches they may have ever had in Trotz. They are simply too young in some departments, where they are relying too heavily on a young and inexperienced Evgeny Kuznetsov to play a third line center role (yes, he's a third line player. In the locker room, I didn't take a photo, but the Caps have a lineup board, and the 21-16-42 line is very much the second line, according to that board). And if it's not Kuznetsov, it's an even younger and even more inexperienced player in Andre Burakovsky. Plus, they are relying on another young and inexperienced forward to play top line minutes in Tom Wilson, who is playing himself quickly out of that role. This team is just lacking one or two more top forwards in order to excel in the playoffs. But, I think this team is extremely close to being a bonafide cup contender.


Done:



Happy Holidays Caps fans!




Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Curious Case of Justin Peters

I want to start off by saying that as I analyze Justin Peters, I am doing so as objectively as possible. This is a straight forward analysis.

Who am I kidding? I just completely lied to you. My goal of this is to ultimately come to the conclusion that everything will be alright with Peters. I have my doubts, but I will still try.

Peters has churned out bad performance after bad performance after bad performance. With the team that has had two relatively good goaltenders for the better part of four or five seasons, frustration has set in virtually every time Peters has manned the pipes. In his last five games, Peters has let in 19 goals. That's pretty terrible. That's, like, really terrible.

As someone who defended Holtby during his horrid run earlier this year, I figured it would only be fair to try to do the same for Peters. So...let's see if I can find any sort of positive trends with Peters to assure everyone (including myself) that everything will be ok with our backup goaltender.

I thought that, first, we should look at how Peters compares to other backups in the league. This season, 37 goaltenders who would not be considered "starters" have suited up for NHL teams. I thought that we could look at each backup goaltenders goals against average per game, and save percentage at even strength. I think even strength save percentage is the fairest way to look at a goaltenders true save percentage. Here is the graph I made.

Now, the graph is set up so that the closer a point is to the upper right corner, the better the goaltender is. The size of the circle represents how many games that goaltender has played (the bigger, the more games). You can see that Michael Hutchinson has been a beast of a backup for Winnipeg. Martin Jones has been great for the Kings. Keith Kinkaid and Troy Gooseneck (New Jersey and San Jose, respectively) have been great in small sample sizes. The dark circle more towards the bottom left corner is Justin Peters. He's not in a great position. He's comparable to Petr Mrazek (Detroits third goaltender), Ray Emery (Philadelphia) and, to an extent, Anton Khudobin, who unseated Peters of his backup role in Carolina. Peters is actually most comparable to Eddie Lack of Vancouver. I removed Lack from the graph because the two virtually overlapped one another. Lack has a .899 save percentage at even strength, and a 3.30 goals against average.

Now, that's not good. There are many goaltenders who are in fact performing better than Peters at this point in the season at even strength, and that's pretty discouraging.

But, again, Peters has only played in seven games. That's not really enough of a sample size to make any sort of judgement. So, let's take a look at some other visuals to try to figure this out.

War-On-Ice

This chart shows all of the shots at even strength for this season. On the left, we see that Peters has seen some shots from some pretty high percentage areas. As you can see, the darker the green, the higher the opposition shooting percentage. On the right, you see the shot locations and shooting percentages in relation to the rest of the league. The redder, the worse. So, Peters does a little worse than the average goaltender.

But again, that's a small sample size. Let's include last years numbers as well. 

War-On-Ice
Whoa, ok. So, including last year, Peters does worse in certain areas on the ice, which are pretty high percentage shooting areas.

But, let's go ahead and just include Peters' entire career, from 2009 to today.

War-On-Ice

Ok! That's good. We are seeing a little bit of blue on the board. They are in the low percentage areas, but remember, we are looking for some positives.

Just out of curiosity, I wanted to see what exactly Peters has difficulty with. It turns out Peters does a pretty bad in two different shot types over the course of his career....

War-On-Ice

Deflections and.....

War-On-Ice

Tip ins. To be fair, those are pretty difficult to stop. 

But, I wanted to see how Peters compares to other goaltenders in the Caps past. The data at War On Ice only goes back to 2008. The Caps have dressed eight other goaltenders since that time. So let's look at the graph.

But, before we do, let's first understand what this graph measures. The y-axis of this graph measures adjusted save percentage. What is adjusted save percentage? Here's War On Ice's definition:

"This adjusts for the fact that some teams give up more high-quality shots, while others give up more low-quality shots. This is the weighted-average of SvPctHigh, SvPctMed, and SvPctLow, where the weights correspond to the league-wide percentage of shots from each of those areas. In other words, this is a goalies save percentage if they faced a league average proportion of shots from each of the three shooting zones (high, medium, and low probability of success). "

And here is a diagram of where the SvPctHigh (blue), SVPctMed (red) and SVPctLow (yellow):

War-On-Ice

Now, the x-axis measures unadjusted save percentage. The color measures the shots per game that the face on average. The bluer the more shots they face, the redder the less. Alright, so here's the graph.

War-On-Ice

OH GOD. Do you even see where Peters is located? Look in the lower left. No, lower. No, even lower. THAT IS NOT GOOD. That is really really bad. I mean, he is facing far less shots than every guy on that list...and he's doing vastly worse than Brent Johnson. Ugh, not good.

Ok, so everything you have seen makes Peters seem, well, pretty bad. So, what conclusion could I come up with?

He won't ever be great for the Caps. But, he will improve on his numbers.

Goaltenders tend to eventually head towards the league average. It can take some longer to get to than others, but they all eventually get there. The league average is .920. Peters won't get there. He never has. But, his career average before this season was .904. He will get there...eventually. He's only 28, and there is no reason to believe he will regress, as he's technically entering his prime years.

There is statistically no reason to believe we will see a vast improvement from what we are seeing now. Well, that's kind of a lie. Consistent .900 save percentage performances is better than his .727 save percentage efforts, like last game against Toronto. He's below average at even strength, and he is awful on the penalty kill, with the 64th ranked save percentage at just .667 (out of 67 goaltenders that have dressed this season). 

I can't honestly say that Peters will vastly turn his game around like Holtby has. But, what I can say is that Peters won't consistently give up four or five goals a game. But, you should always be nervous when he mans the pipes.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Caps Thanksgiving



Thanksgiving is a time where we, well, give thanks. Everyone sits back and looks at all the good things in their lives, and then they eat a lot of food.

The Caps are no different. They should all have things that they are thankful for. So I turned to some of you to say what the Caps are thankful for. And for the most part....

...you are all mean. You are all mean, mean people. But let's take a look anyway.


Yeah, he probably should be thankful for that.

I have never been a fan of Volpatti ever since he arrived in Washington. I just don't think he is very good...at all. The guy is a known enforcer, which is a role that even The Rolling Stone knows is coming to an end. His fenwick percentage last year was atrocious at 39.46 percent on five on five close game situations. But, then you remember, well, everyone had a pretty terrible fenwick percentage last year. But, then you say, ah, let's compare it to the team average. And then you realize that it is 9.42 less than the average of the team last season. Yikes.

So, the guy's brought in to fight, right? Sure, he had five last year, that's ok. But look at the guy's on this roster that can fight and can play decent hockey. Tom Wilson, Michael Latta, Chris Brown, Liam O'Brien. Young guys who can play effectively.

Volpatti missed the beginning of the season due to a neck injury, and he has still yet to play in a game. But when he is fully healthy, is this guy going to even play in a game? I don't see why he would.

So yes, Aaron Volpatti should be thankful for the fact that he's paid $575,000 to hopefully stay off the ice.


Jay Beagle does have a lot of people talk about how hard he works.

I think Jay Beagle is a really hard worker. I think that he's also not a top six forward, and I think that's why everyone loves to poke fun at him.

Beagle is an excellent find for the Washington Capitals. He appears to have a strong locker room presence and is a leader by example for this team. But for the love of God, he's not a top six forward. Even Hockey's Future knew he never would be when they wrote his player profile (Presumably in 2010)
Beagle will compete for a lower line role with the Capitals in training camp.  Beagle's ability to play a wide variety of roles and a willingness to compete all over the ice make him a favorite with coaches, teammates, and fans. His scoring ability and technical skills are not yet developed enough to play a top-six role, and may never be, but with his determination and hustle he is well-suited for an energy depth forward spot.

Yes! That's like a perfect description of him. Beagle is ok when he plays against ok competition, and he needs to be utilized consistently as a fourth line guy. If he's such a hard worker, use him as that grinding forward that Barry Trotz is so used to seeing. I just don't understand the mindset of having the offensive talent that the Caps have, and say, 'hey, let's give undrafted Jay Beagle a shot at the top line.' No, never again.


Yeah, he's pretty amazing.

The consistently underrated Swede is the most complete player this team has. Yes, Ovechkin's the best goal scorer, but he simply doesn't have that offensive touch that Backstrom has. Few players have the ability to find a pass that Backstrom can. Oh, and he's pretty awesome defensively too. Even Trotz agrees he's the best guy on this team.

But just how much should the Caps players be thankful for Backstrom? Well, for starters, he makes just about every player better on the ice when he plays with them. But Backstrom also leads the team in assists, and quietly is in the top of the league in the same category as well. I mean, he's all about giving, and isn't that what Thanksgiving's all about? Or, I guess that's Christmas. Whatever.

The entire world should be thankful for Nicklas Backstrom.


Oh my God. I can almost see the venom in this tweet. The deep hatred for Mike Green.

I will literally argue to the death in support for Mike Green. I legitimately think he is the third most important skater on this team.

I get why some people don't like him. He has had some pretty boneheaded defensive plays in his career, and I think fuel was added to the fire of the "I hate Mike Green" party when he got 18 penalty minutes in one period of hockey. I get that.

But, let's honestly take a look at just how awesome Mike Green is. He was nothing short of fantastic for the Caps last year possession-wise. In fact, he was among one of the better pairings in the league last year with Dmitry Orlov.

Now, he continues doing it again with Nate Schmidt. Playing as the third pair allows he and Schmidt to sit back and feast on the opposition in their offensive zone. In fact, of the defensemen that have played more than a game for the Caps, no one has a higher fenwick percentage than Mike Green's 59.68 percent in five on five close game situations. That's phenomenal! He has the second-least goals against per 60 minutes of play on the team at 2.25. Again, that's against less competitive competition, but it is still good.

On top of that, teams would absolutely love to have a scoring threat from the blue line like Mike Green. He is a huge threat to score when he's on the ice, especially on the power play. In fact, among active defensemen, Green is 13th in total points, and those ahead of him have played significantly more games than Green. The only player in the top 25 among points leaders for defensemen that has played less than Green is Keith Yandle, who has played four games less than Green, and trails him by 41 points.


Yes. Yes he should be.

So yes, the Caps do have some things to be thankful for this holiday season. Marcus Johansson can be thankful for a youthful grouping pushing him to elevate his game. Brooks Orpik can be thankful for the fact that the pressure bloggers are putting on his shoulders is just figurative and not literal. Braden Holtby can be thankful for Korn. And we all can be thankful that we get to sit here and enjoy another non-locked out Caps season.