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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Game Recap: Caps Vs. Coyotes (2-1 Caps Overtime Win)

After two straight losses, and bad losses at that, the Caps looked to end their losing streak against the Coyotes. At first, it looked likely, but then as the game carried on, the Caps began to fall out of it. Braden Holtby kept the Caps in it, battling shot after shot. And once the overtime began, it was the Capitals' Eric Fehr who struck first, giving the Caps the win.




Positives

Jay Beagle - I'm officially going to stop giving this guy crap. Really, the only reason why I ever do in the first place is because I don't think he should be on the first, second or even third line. But Beagle has been performing quite well. His goal tonight was really one of two serious offensive chances the Caps got on five on five. He also works his tail off, which is what virtually every Cap says about him. I still think he is a fourth line player, maybe a third. And tonight he did play on the third, and he certainly looked like he belonged.

Brooks Orpik - I actually think that was one of his better games he's played in a while. He finished with a positive corsi (54%), good for sixth highest on the team and tops among Caps defensemen. I'm not quite sure why he was the Palm Player of the Game, but, then again, I disagree with that award virtually all the time. But he certainly earned his award in overtime. It was Orpik that took the point shot that gave Fehr the rebound goal. Solid game for the physical forward, who was certainly physical.

Braden Holtby - He strung another solid game. Remember when everyone was freaking out about him? Why? Why did you do that? The guy has stopped 112 of the last 118 shots he's faced in the last four games, good for a .949 save percentage. Did you honestly think he was going to stay at a .890 save percentage all season? On top of that, the Caps are still maintaining a low amount of shots against them, which will be excellent in the long run. Now, they just got to start generating some offense, and then things will really start rolling.

Negatives

Lack of Offense From Top Lines - That's now three plus games without a goal from a top six forward, according to Japers Rink. That is pretty awful. If guys like  Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom aren't generating offense, the Caps won't win. In fact, well, they haven't. They lost in a laugher of a game to the New Jersey Devils and then proceeded to get immediately outplayed against the St. Louis Blues. Oh, and they just squeaked by the Coyotes. The defense is getting the job done. Holtby is getting the job done. The forwards are just not. That's what is separating the Caps from being a top team right now, which is odd, because when has this team ever struggled with offense? Pretty much never since the Ovechkin era, which is why I believe it's just a matter of time before all of this magically clicks together. Just be patient.

Tom Wilson - I get that he was the "Honest Abe Player of the Game." I get that he is still only a few games into the season after coming back from his injury, and I get that he had a very physical game. All of those things are excellent, but I just don't think he played well as a top line forward this evening. Were his hits great? Yes. But is that his sole responsibility on the top line? No. He needs to generate some offense, and tonight, he wasn't. He wasn't at all. And it showed, Fehr eventually saw some time on the top line. He needs to improve if he wants to stay with Backstrom and Ovechkin, and man, oh man, do I hope he does.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Eric Fehr - 75% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Troy Brouwer - 75% (89% offensive zone start)
  • Marcus Johansson - 65% (89% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 61% (88% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 60% (57% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Tom Wilson - 32% (17% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 35% (29% offensive zone start)
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 36% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 42% (78% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera and Joel Ward - 43% (73% offensive zone start)
Team Total Corsi - Even, 50%

Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Fenwick Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is for 5 on 5 even strength time close game situations only, through 18 games.

Graph Via War On Ice

Scoring

Goal - Jay Beagle (2)
- Assist - Jason Chimera (2)

Goal - Eric Fehr (OT) (3)
- Assists - Brooks Opik (5), John Carlson (10)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 23 saves on 24 shots, .958 save percentage

Quote of the Night



"Holts? Great. I mean, I think he's great every night. I mean, I'm....he's a great goalie, so..." - Jay Beagle, stuttering through his quote because he couldn't understand why anyone would question how good Holtby is.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Game Recap: Caps vs. Blue Jackets (4-2 Caps Win)

All of the sudden, the Capitals look like they are entering a bit of a hot streak. After a big first period that left the Caps with a 3-1 lead, they never looked back and collected their third straight win over divisional rival Columbus.



  Positives

Marcus Johansson - Can we really say enough about this guy? With his two goals tonight, Johansson now has eight points in his last six games. Oh, and he already has as many goals this season as he did last year...that's absurd. Barry Trotz has clearly figured out how to work with Johansson, and Mojo is turning into the exact type of player the Caps desperately need...a bonafide second line scorer that's a threat every time he hits the ice...something they haven't had since Alex Semin.

Jay Beagle - I have whined and moaned and groaned about this guy on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nick Backstrom. I will continue to whine and moan and groan until he is no longer on the top line, because I simply don't believe that he has the right skill set to work with those two. But, I will be happy to give credit where credit is due, Beagle had a very good game tonight. He won board battles, and even tallied a beautiful assist on Ovechkin's second goal, a between the legs drop pass to the great eight. I still don't want to see him on the top line, because I don't think he can fit in the long run, but man I hope he proves me wrong.

Karl Alzner - He was a machine tonight, one of his better games all season. On the penalty kill in the third period, Alzner blocked two critical shots right in a row. He and Niskanen have made for a great pair, and it's hard to believe any other team has as good of a second line defensive pairing as Alzner and Niskanen. Alzner is quietly efficient, and when you play the role like Alzner plays for this team, being quietly efficient is golden.

Negatives

Braden Holtby - First of all, I want to start off by saying yes, I am very harsh on Holtby, and I will always be harsh on Holtby. When it comes to Caps goalies, I always treat them the hardest out of any on the team. These guys are like brothers to me, and until Holtby is damn near perfect, I will continue to expect better from him like any older brother would. And until he reaches the absolute best he can, which I truly believe could possibly be a Vezina Trophy, I will never be like a proud Papa to him. Before this section gets anymore bizarre, I do think, and always will think, Holtby can be better. His first goal came right off the draw through a bit of a screen, but I feel like this isn't the first time Holtby has let one go right off the draw. I don't know if he's just not ready for it, or if it's just been the perfect shot behind a screen, but it may be something Mitch Korn would consider working on. His second goal was also soft, glancing right up his shoulder, and then he kicked it in. The great thing about Holtby is that he is always hard on himself for stuff like that, and I'm fully confident he will work his hardest to make sure stuff like that never happens again.

Barry Trotz - For the love of God, take Beagle off the top line.

Everyone Else - Everyone else that is not Marcus Johansson, Jay Beagle, Karl Alzner, Braden Holtby or Barry Trotz, because they all played well and I can't put them in the negative section, and that negatively affects my recap. Except, you all could try to play a full 60 minutes of hockey, it would make some of our lives a little less stressful.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Nate Schmidt - 70% (38% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 63% (100% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 62% (29% offensive zone start)
  • Mike Green - 58% (44% offensive zone start)
  • Troy Brouwer - 57% (100% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi Percentage at Even Strength
  • Jason Chimera - 25% (40% offensive zone start)
  • Brooks Orpik - 27% (50% offensive zone start)
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 28% (46% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 30% (46% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 30% (56% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through 15 games.

Via War-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - Marcus Johansson (7)
- Assists - Troy Brouwer (5), Andre Burakovsky (8)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (PP) (7)
- Assists - Mike Green (8), Nicklas Backstroke (11)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (8)
- Assists - Jay Beagle (1), Nicklas Backstrom (12)

Goal - Marcus Johansson (8)
- Assists - Andre Burakovsky (9), Nate Schmidt (1)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 24 saves on 26 shots, .923 save percentage

Quote of the Night



"It's helped out a lot. Usually when you get back, especially with a weird preseason with getting injured and only getting one game in, so when you get in, you know it's nice to get some minutes and get rolling and kind of get into a groove. And also, you know, for coach to show confidence in putting me in big situations and big minutes, it's huge for your confidence. And I don't take that lightly. I go out and try to give it everything I have because of that." - Jay Beagle, on being the first line right wing.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals vs. Canucks (4-2 Capitals Loss)

At the tail end of their trek across Canada, the Caps ran into a Vancouver team that had been waiting for their arrival for two days. After a sloppy first, they found themselves very much alive. But that quickly evaporated within just 107 seconds.


Positives

Peters in the First - Justin Peters was nothing short of excellent in the first period. He had several fantastic stops, most notably on a John Carlson giveaway, where Peters found himself sprawling across the ice to make the save. By the end of the period, Peters had seen 14 shots come flying his way, and he was able to block every one of them. Without his efforts, and the complete lack of effort from the Caps in the first, this game could have been out of hand very quickly.

Justin Peters
O'Brien's Perfect Timing - I thought that Liam O'Brien had a very solid game. He's obviously not a guy that you are consistently going to notice when he's out on the ice. He's not a fantastic puck handler, he doesn't have great vision. But what separates a good fourth liner from a great fourth liner is timely plays, and O'Brien did just that tonight. When the Caps saw themselves down 3-1, they needed a quick shot of momentum, and O'Brien delivered that off of his deflection that went past Vancouver goaltender Ryan Miller. Oh, and that was O'Brien's first ever NHL goal. Pretty cool.

Ovechkin's Two Way Play - We are slowly, but surely, seeing a new form of Alexander Ovechkin blooming before our very eyes. He has completely begun to transform his game. We are seeing a more defensively responsible Ovechkin. In yesterday's game, we saw it when he laid down and blocked the shot. Today, we saw him dive across the ice to poke check a crucial puck away, and he crashed into the boards. There is cause for concern that Ovechkin only has seven shots in his last four games. But there is absolutely no reason to believe that he simply will just stop scoring again. Although, Ovechkin is taking the right path towards success. You know who also cut back offensively late into his career and focused on becoming a more two-way forward? Steve Yzerman. And he won three Cups.

Negatives

Everyone Besides Peters in the First Period - Such a sloppy period. Carlson turned it over in his own zone, Evgeny Kuznetsov turned it over in his own zone. Virtually every blue liner failed to clear the puck out of their zone when they should have. No Capital seriously challenged Miller with any sort of scoring chance. It was just bad to watch. This team really needs to just learn to really pour it on in the first period. And they have done that a couple times this season. This may have just been a case of being in the tail end of a back to back game after a lot of traveling. I expect to see a different start to the game on Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings.

Peters In The Second - The first goal he let in on the power play was truly unfortunate. The puck took a few unlucky bounces and landed on Henrik Sedin's stick. Peters tried to slide over, and he actually got a good chunk of the puck, but it just wasn't enough. The problem I had was the fact that he just deflated, giving up two relatively soft goals just a little over a minute later. That just can't happen. It's one thing to let up one goal, maybe another that quickly. But three just completely kills the momentum, and that clearly happened tonight. Now, I'm not blaming all of the goals solely on Peters, in fact, I almost never blame any single goal solely on a goaltender, but he just had to have a couple of those tonight.

John Carlson - I just was not happy with his play tonight. I feel like this is the third season in a row that Carlson has just had a slow start to his season. It just seems like he needs to play a good chunk of games to really get back at his playing level. We all know he has the skill set to be this teams top defenseman, but playing as poorly as he did today just won't cut it. I've already mentioned that turnover like a bajillion times, but it wasn't just that. He was out of position, had trouble clearing it, and then the dagger of a delay of game penalty at the end. Just not his night.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi-Close Percentage at Even Strength
  • Joel Ward - 77% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 77% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Michael Latta - 67% (60% offensive zone start)
  • Nate Schmidt - 61% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 58% (64% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi-Close Percentage at Even Strength
  • Jay Beagle - 27% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 31% (50% offensive zone start)
  • Matt Niskanen - 37% (82% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 41% (62% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 42% (75% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through eight games.

Via Wa-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - Marcus Johansson (3)
- Assists - Andre Burakovsky (5), Mike Green (4)

Goal - Liam O'Brien (1)
- Assists - Mike Green (5)

Goaltending

Justin Peters - 30 saves on 33 shots, .909 save perc,entage

Quote of the Night

"We haven't given up, I don't think, more than 28 shots this year. And they had 34 today. So to me that's an indication that we weren't managing the puck. We talked about it, but we weren't sharp. That was our first test at back to back. I don't want to take anything away from Vancouver. They played a pretty solid game in a lot of areas. They forced us to have to play a certain way, and we didn't want to do it, and we turned pucks over. You know, we're worried about our Corsi scores, I guess. But it doesn't work sometimes. We sometimes got to get it to the next level." - Barry Trotz

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals Vs. Flames (3-1 Capitals Win)

The Capitals continued their Canadian journey, heading to Calgary for a late night game. Ok, fine. It wasn't late for them. But it was pretty damn late for us. Anyways, they walked away with a big win, and looked relatively dominate in all aspects of the game.



Positives

Brooks Orpik - That guy had ten hits tonight! Ten. And they weren't love taps. Every hit he took was absolutely earth shattering. He would even have sequences where he would just run right through guys. I don't think Orpik can maintain that physicality every game...in fact, I know he can't. It looked very similar to his season opener, and this is the first extremely physical game I can think of since then. But, the games where he does bring it are games he gives the Caps the best chance to win. He was a force out there.

Joel Ward - Joel Ward clearly got the message with his demotion to fourth line duties, scoring two goals. He looked much better than he had in his previous few games, even if you take away the goals. In fact, the whole fourth line, Liam O'Brien and Michael Latta, looked pretty good tonight. Latta had played fantastic along the boards, and made a tough pass on Ward's second goal. I can't imagine we see Ward playing on the fourth line for much longer, especially if he continues to play that well.

Holtby and the Entire Defense - Seriously, good for every one of them, especially Holtby. I don't know if it was just me, and whether I thought this because it was a late game, but man, that game was boring. I can sit and watch any game and find some form of entertainment, but that one was just dull. Holtby never really saw any serious scoring chances, minus the one that went in. Dennis Wideman was credited with the Flames lone goal on the power play. It looked to me that it got deflected, or at the very least curved down. Holtby got a piece of it, but it was a difficult save to make. But seriously, kudos to those guys for staying alive for this one. We know they have had trouble in the past getting excited for certain games, so to see them play well tonight was satisfying.

Negatives

Honestly, None - I could probably think of something, but I'm just too tired. But they all played quite well tonight.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Mike Green - 66% (71% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 65% (40% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 62% (53% offensive zone start)
  • Nate Schmidt - 61% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Eric Fehr - 56% (42% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Brooks Orpik - 37% (22% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 43% (25% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 47% (20% offensive zone start)
  • Matt Niskanen, Joel Ward, Marcus Johansson - All with 50% (Niskanen - 62% offensive zone start), (Ward - 38% offensive zone start), (Johansson - 83% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through seven games.

Via War-On-Ice


Scoring

Goal - Joel Ward (PP) (3)

Goal - Joel Ward (4)
- Assists - Michael Latta (1), Brooks Orpik (3)

Goal - Nicklas Backstrom (2)
- Assists - Karl Alzner (2), Matt Niskanen (3)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 20 saves on 21 shots, .952 save percentage

Quote of the Night


"We are very committed in all areas of the ice. We know exactly what's going on. We are very prepared, and we are being held accountable. We know there is a ton of work left to do, but we are showing signs of being a very good hockey team. We just got to keep pushing forward." - Braden Holtby, on how Barry Trotz has changed this team.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals Vs. Oilers (3-2 Capitals Loss)

The Capitals headed into their Canadian road trip as the only Eastern Conference team without a regulation loss. They were facing off against Edmonton, who had just gotten its first win in just the previous game. Stellar goaltending from Ben Scrivens earned them another one over the Capitals.




Positives

Mike Green - Once again, I thought Mike Green played a spectacular game. I think Barry Trotz's main goal with Green this season was to get him right back on track to his offensive ways, something he had gotten away from in the past few seasons. Green doesn't have the defensive pressure that he's had in the past few seasons, due mainly to the additions of Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen. In fact, he's got the second lowest total on ice competition percentage on the team, meaning he's not getting that much time against the oppositions top lines. That's perfect, as Green has always dominated possession and generates shots. His goal tonight gives him three total in five games, and Green is fifth in the league with six points.

Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson On the Power Play - I could probably include something from the power play as a positive for every single game, but tonight the positives were from Nick Backstrom and Marcus Johansson. I mean, these two might just be the second and third most deadly power play players in the league, behind only Ovechkin. Johansson can just have a field day behind the net. He just has so many options. He can stuff attempt it himself, he can feed whoever is sitting in the slot, or he can dish it back to Backstrom. Backstrom has even more options. He can take it himself, feed it back to Johansson, feed it to whoever is in the slot, slide it over to John Carlson, or, if the defense is really caught sleeping, fire it over to Ovechkin. But what he does, and I love this, is he calmly holds the puck and inches towards the net. It freaks the defense out. It is widely known that this is the best power play unit in the league, and if nothing is happening, panic begins to set in. And Backstrom is just calm as can be.

Overall Defense - The defense played pretty well tonight. I mean, they held Edmonton to just 20 shots on goal. Considering last year they averaged 33.5 shots against, that's pretty excellent. And that's the sixth time this year they've held their opponents under 30 shots....which just so happens to be every game this season. That is extremely refreshing.

Negatives

Dumb Luck - I mean, that's seriously what this was. The Capitals fired away at Scrivens and the Oilers, but they just simply couldn't score tonight. If you are leading your opponent 34 to 20 in shots on goal, you should win the game, like, 99 percent of the time. But they were just unlucky tonight. In fact, the Caps PDO tonight was .909, while the Oilers was 1.09. Not going to win many games if there is that drastic of a difference.

Alex Ovechkin - Is he playing poorly this season? Absolutely not. Did he play poorly tonight? Yeah, it wasn't his best game. It was Ovechkin who fanned on the shot immediately after Green's goal, which allowed Edmonton's Ryan Nugent-Hopkins to coast his way to the net, ultimately leading to the Oilers second goal. But, that wasn't my only issue with Ovechkin. He had just two shots on goal tonight, as many as Nate Schmidt. Ovechkin just needs to fire away at all times. He is bound to score if he's ripping five, six, seven, eight shots a game. This was just a fluky game for him, although it is a bit concerning that this is his second consecutive game with just two shots on net.

Braden Holtby - It wasn't one of his better games, which is disappointing considering his parents were in the stands. I'll give him the first goal. That was a great setup pass for the Justin Schultz goal, who basically had a layup to give the Oilers the early 1-0 lead. The second goal was questionable. He had a clear path of vision on the Nugent-Hopkins shot, but just straight up missed it. I'm willing to bet he'd love that one back. And the power play goal was pretty difficult as well. He was screened heavily in front of the net, and Nikita Nikitin shot the puck on edge. It looked like it dipped, curved or deflected off of Carlson. So two out of three were understandable. But I have such high expectations for Holtby this year that it has just become expected for me to think he will be perfect, which isn't fair, but I don't care.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)


Top Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Nicklas Backstrom - 80% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Troy Brouwer - 78% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 76% (33% offensive zone start)
  • Michael Latta - 75% (67% offensive zone start)
  • Marcus Johansson - 73% (60% offensive zone start)
Bottom Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Jason Chimera - 50% (29% offensive zone start)
  • Joel Ward - 54% (25% offensive zone start)
  • Eric Fehr - 57% (17% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 58% (67% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 61% (29% offensive zone start)
Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through six games.

Image Via War-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - John Carlson (PP) (1)
- Assists- Nicklas Backstrom (5, and his 500th career point), Marcus Johansson (1)

Goal - Mike Green (3)
- Assists - Andre Burakovsky (4)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 17 saves on 20 shots, .850 save percentage

Quote of the Night


"The second goal has no business going in. That's the difference in the game. It's just a shot that shouldn't go in. You know, your job as a goalie is to make them beat you with a good shot. I opened up. I misread the shot. Puck goes through me, through my seven hole, and you can't get beat there. It's a play I need to make up for, when we turn the puck over. My job is to make up with that, and I didn't." - Braden Holtby, talking about the Ryan Nugent-Hopkins goal.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals Vs. Devils (6-2 Capitals Win)

The Capitals came out flying early. Alex Ovechkin added his fifth of the year after collecting a Troy Brouwer shot rebounded off of Cory Schneider. After a back and forth first period, the Caps slowly started to pull away from the Devils, and by the third period absolutely ran away with it.



Positives

Marcus Johansson - I cannot stress how important it is to have a winger on the second line shooting the puck like Marcus Johansson has been. He took two tonight, and netted one of them. Trotz and the team has stressed that this is a shoot first league, and the clear cut evidence of that new philosophy is evident through Johansson. This was a guy who would always, always, always pass when he played with Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. And now? He's tied for third on the team in shots taken. This is an excellent trend, and the Caps are definitely hoping it continues.

Andre Burakovsky - I have got to admit, and I'm sure I'm not alone with this, but I thought for sure Burakovsky would not succeed this year as a second line center. I am wrong. I am a big, fat idiot for thinking that. He has been nothing short of spectacular, scoring a point in every one of his games. I had mentioned during the offseason in a tweet, something along the lines of "are we really missing a second line center if we have a young guy that is capable of playing as a center?" I was referring to Evgeny Kuznetsov. I should have been referring to that Sweet Swede, Buracudda, Dr. Dre, or whatever awesome nickname you want to give that 19 year old. He has earned his spot, he will be a critical player during the Caps 2014-2015 campaign, and he is the very, very early front runner for the Calder Trophy, and it's not even close.

(Editors note: The Calder Trophy race actually is pretty close if two rookies continue their output over the course of the season. I mistakenly thought that the L.A. Kings' Tanner Pearson was no longer considered a rookie because he played 25 games in the regular season, plus five playoff games. The Calder Trophy qualification states that a player can still be considered a rookie if they play 25 or less regular season games. They will be disqualified if they play more than 25 games the previous season, or have more than six games played in two different previous seasons. It does not state anything about the playoffs, as individual trophies are regular season awards. Pearson is eligible, and has four goals and two assists in five games)

Matt Niskanen - Niskanen, in my opinion, has been the best defenseman for the Caps so far this season. I was a bit skeptical of Niskanen during the pre season. He had a few turnovers and bone-headed plays. I had hoped it was just pre-season rust, new team jitters, but deep down I feared that it could have been a sign of things to come. But once the season started, Niskanen has looked excellent, both in the defensive and offensive zone. Tonight, he recorded two assists, his first points as a Cap, and there will surely be much, much more.

Braden Holtby - After a brain fart of a night against the Sharks, Holtby came back extremely strong. He wasn't seriously tested in the second or third period, but if it wasn't for Holtby's first period performance, the Caps could have been down big if it wasn't for Holtby. He had two early, huge glove saves, and an absolutely stunning save on Jaromir Jagr on a one timer shot. We are going to see many, many more games like tonight from Holtby, and far less of those Sharks games.

Negatives

Power Play - Now, obviously I'm reaching for the negatives, because I don't think the Caps had that bad of a period at all. But, I honestly wasn't very happy with the power play during this game. Sure, they went 1 for 5 on the extra man, but it wasn't until Burakovsky's bullet against backup Scott Clemmensen. The passes just didn't seem to be as crisp, and both Backstrom and Kuznetsov seemed to force some passes from the half boards. The one thing that I would add is that I'm not quite sure why Mike Green isn't getting more time on the power play (just 3:17, in comparison to John Carlson's  5:34). I think Green runs the power play far better than any one else. He dishes the puck over to Ovechkin better than Carlson, and he has a better offensive shot than Carlson. The power play is always buzzing, and it surely will throughout this season, but Green needs to see more time.

Slow Starts - This is the second game in a row where the Caps have come out slow to start the game. Well, this one was a little different because they saw a really early goal from Ovechkin, and then another first period goal from Chris Brown. But they still let in two goals in the first, and overall surrendered the better scoring chances. If it wasn't for Holtby, the Caps could have easily been put in a position where they would have to dig themselves out of a gigantic hole. If the Caps can extend their play through three periods, few teams will be able to hang with the Caps.

Back Checking From The Forwards - Again, a cheeky complaint, but both goals should have been stopped, and it starts with the forwards. This is the second game in a row that a defenseman has scored twice against the Caps, and while it's good that the Caps are forcing shots from the blue line, it's not that great if the blue liners are making them. The first goal was off of a turnover from Backstrom, and the second was just sloppy play in the defensive zone.

Possession (Via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Eric Fehr - 77% (46% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 69% (55% offensive zone start)
  • Joel Ward - 64% (44% offensive zone start)
  • Alex Ovechkin - 48% (70% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 48% (50% offensive zone start)
(It's not coincidence that Chimera and Ward went from the bottom five last game to the top five this game now that they were centered by Fehr. Are...are the twins actually triplets?)

Bottom Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Chris Brown - 27% (60% offensive zone start)
  • Marcus Johansson - 28% (40% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 32% (75% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 37% (75% offensive zone start)
  • Nate Schmidt - 39% (50% offensive zone start)

Update: Graph of TOI Competition Percentage vs. Offensive Zone Start Percentage. Color Represents Corsi Percentage and Size Represents TOI Per Game. This data is through four games.

Image Via War-On-Ice

Scoring

Goal - Alexander Ovechkin (5)
- Assists - Troy Brouwer (2), Brooks Orpik (1)

Goal - Chris Brown (1)
- Assists - Mike Green (2), Brooks Orpik (2)

Goal - Marcus Johansson (2)
- Assists - Brooks Laich (1), Mike Green (3)

Goal - Nicklas Backstrom (1)
- Assists - Matt Niskanen (1), Troy Brouwer (3)

Goal - Joel Ward (2)

Goal - Andre Burakovsky (PP) (2)
- Assists - Evgeny Kuznetsov (3), Matt Niskanen (2)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 26 saves on 28 shots, .929 save percentage

Quote of the Night


"When you're only about the second or third guy, you don't have to deal with all of the sweat put into it. But you kind of live for those moments," - Chris Brown, after winning the Caps new "Honest Abe" hat.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Game Recap: Capitals vs. Sharks (6-5 Shoot Out Loss)

The Caps very, very quickly found themselves trailing 3-0 in the first period. Goaltender Braden Holtby was yanked out, and we saw the first regular season appearance of the year for new comer Justin Peters. Peters and the rest of the Caps got their act together in the second and third periods, forcing the game to overtime and earning a tough point. Ultimately, the Caps fell in a shootout.




Positives

The Second Line - Or third, whatever. They seem to be interchangeable. I'm of course talking about the Marcus Johansson, Andre Burakovsky and Troy Brouwer line. They were just phenomenal tonight. I'm particularly happy with Johansson, who seems to be more comfortable with the puck than he was last year, especially at even strength. Remember his struggles last year with scoring on five on five? Well...I guess I can't say too much because the only point he's produced has been on the power play (his goal tonight), but still. You can definitely tell that he's been told to shoot the puck more often, which was desperately needed from him. Brouwer's goal was huge tonight. He recognized that Sharks defenseman Matt Irwin fell down, and immediately drove the puck to the net, patiently waiting for his shot. And Burakovsky has just been unbelievable. The guy has gotten a point in all three games, and even when he's not producing points, on every shift he brings the threat. He just already seems to have this confidence, and if he keeps it up, he is going to be an absolute stud...as a 19 year old...as a rookie.

Mike Green - Two goals in as many games isn't bad. When Green brings his offensive game, he becomes one of the most valuable players on the team, behind only Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Braden Holtby if we're including goaltenders. If Barry Trotz is able to rejuvenate Green's offensive game, which has disappeared to an extent in the past few seasons, that is just a whole different level of offensive power the Caps can trust.

Power Play - That first goal. Wow, that first goal. Every single player touched the puck on the designed play, which ultimately ended in Ovechkin finding Johansson on the door step for the easy goal. Then, you have Ovechkin scoring from his usual spot, picking his spot on the net. In 13 power play opportunities, they already have four goals. And if they continue clicking like they have for the past several seasons, it's going to be another year where Ovechkin and the gang feast on the extra man opportunity.

Negatives

Braden Holtby - Holtby did not have a strong game tonight. On just five even strength shots, he let in two, and added another goal on the penalty kill. Were they all his fault? No, not really. He could have used some help from his defensemen to force San Jose to take low quality shots. But, Holtby should have had a couple of those, and getting chased out of your crease after you've let in almost 50 percent of the shots you've faced means you didn't quite have the game you were hoping for. He definitely wasn't on top of his game.

The First Period - Good Lord. The Caps were reeling through the first 15 minutes of the game. They just couldn't seem to settle down in their own zone, they seemed to struggle carrying the puck into the oppositions zone, and they definitely had a difficult time possessing the puck in the offensive zone. Thankfully, they got ahold of themselves and were able to salvage a point.

The Third Line - Or second, whatever. They seem to be interchangeable. I'm of course talking about the Joel Ward, Brooks Laich and Jason Chimera line. They want to go ahead and tell the world that they don't consider themselves a checking line, and that they know they can produce offense. Well, they are literally doing very little offensively. When Chimera and Laich were on the ice at even strength, they were able to help produce nine shots, which was as much as Liam O'Brien was able to produce. Ward didn't do much better, with just 11. I get that they are playing against the top lines, if you take a look here, you can see for yourself. But if they want to be considered a point producing line...then start attempting to produce points. The pairing of Ward and Chimera was nothing short of magical last year...so it really makes you wonder how Laich is affecting this line. But, I would love to see this line generate a point on Thursday against the Devils.

Shootout Attempts - Ok, if the Caps are going to have another year where they lead the league in shootouts again, then they absolutely need to start winning some shootouts. We've seen what a literally winless shootout record can do to your place in the standings with the New Jersey Devils last year. I'm not suggesting that the Caps will go winless in the shootout, I'm just saying that some guys really need to become bonafide scorers on the shootout and bury these these things. Because again, these points are important. It's not time to hit the panic button yet on the shootout, but someone has to start making these consistently, like Matt Hendricks was able to do.

Possession (via hockeystats.ca)



Top Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Mike Green - 77% (56% offensive zone start)
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov - 71% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Liam O'Brien - 69% (83% offensive zone start)
  • Andre Burakovsky - 67% (offensive zone start percentage not available)
  • Eric Fehr - 65% (50% offensive zone start
Bottom Five Corsi-For Percentage at Even Strength
  • Brooks Laich - 43% (71% offensive zone start)
  • Jason Chimera - 45% (71% offensive zone start)
  • Joel Ward - 46% (71% offensive zone start)
  • Karl Alzner - 51% (70% offensive zone start)
  • John Carlson - 52% (50% offensive zone start)
Scoring

Goal - Marcus Johansson (PP) (1)
- Assists - Alex Ovechkin (1), John Carlson (3)

Goal - Mike Green (2)
- Assists - Liam O'Brien (1), Evgeny Kuznetsov (2)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (3)
- Assists - Nick Backstrom (3), Eric Fehr (1)

Goal - Alex Ovechkin (PP) (4)
- Assists - Nicklas Backstrom (4), John Carlson (4)

Goal - Troy Brouwer
- Assists - Mike Green (1), Andre Burakovsky (3)

Goaltending

Braden Holtby - 4 saves on 7 shots, .571 save percentage (pulled after 9:34)
Justin Peters - 14 saves on 16 shots, .875 save percentage

Quote of the Night

"It seemed like when they got that fifth one, it took a little wind out of our sales, but then the crowd got going again, and the boys were just resilient all night long. And once the crowd got behind us, it seemed like we were pushing and pushing, and these guys weren't going to let anything get in their way," - Justin Peters, on whether he felt like the comeback was coming.