Thursday, April 1, 2010

Phenomenal Video

The playoffs. Where Gordon Bombay happens.

(Hat tip to Olmsteazy)

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Poll Results: Crosby vs. Backstrom

About 76% of you believe Nicklas Backstrom will overtake Sidney Crosby in the points race - the race for third, that is, behind Henrik Sedin and Alex Ovechkin.

I might have been inclined to agree when the poll was posted over a week ago. However, it's looking less and less likely that our brilliant Swede will beat out you-know-who. Crosby is now sitting at 94 points with 6 games remaining, all of which will be vital to the Pens playoff seeding. Backstrom, at 91 points, is mired in somewhat of a slump and playing in games that aren't necessarily meaningless (see: President's Trophy), but at the same time aren't crucial.

If I was a betting man my money would be on Crosby, but what the hell do I know anyway?

Six games. Three points. Can Nicky do it?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Are the Caps Historically Good........Period?

I already posted on our insanely amazing powerplay, and while doing research on our PP, I started to see just how good we are......all the time. Even though we are mired in a 3 game losing streak, we have been the best team in the league for this regular season (magic number for President's trophy is 7), and potentially historically good.

The first order of business is our 5-on-5 scoring ratio, for which, by nature, the league average is 1.00. The Caps' scoring ratio is 1.54, which not only leads the league by a ridiculous margin (the Canucks are 2nd with 1.28), but is the best figure by any team in at least 12 years! The stats only go back 12 years, and considering the next-best rates are still lagging far behind at 1.49 and 1.48 from the '05-'06 Senators and Red Wings, it could be a long, long time since a team has been this good 5-on-5.

If the Caps are historically good 5-on-5 and on the powerplay, then it stands to reason that we are having a historically good regular season. While we have been phenomenal, our overall numbers are not out of line with other top regular season teams from the past 12 years. Our goal differential sits at +77, which would be tied for 6th-best amongst the last 11 seasons, with the best number put up by those same '05-'05 Sens, at +103. If we can pull ourselves up to +84 by the end of the season, we would end up with the 4th best goal differential.

If you are more traditional and only care about wins and none of this nerdy metric business, we have 110 points with 6 games to play, which projects out to 119 points for the season. That figure would be the 2nd-best of the past 12 years, but bare in mind that points were not awarded past OT before the '05-'06 season, and we have won 5 shootouts this season. If you add 5 points to the total of the teams that didn't have the benefit of shootouts to increase their point total, then 119 points would put us in a 3-way tie for the 4th-best total.

My first question from this research is how is our goal differential not the best of the past 12 years? Our PK is ranked 25th right now (78.2%), which is awful, but having an average PK of 82% would only boost our goal differential by about 9 goals, which is still far from surpassing the +103. So what gives? This took me awhile to figure out, but the '05-'06 Sens had the benefit of 490 powerplays to 476 penalty kills. These numbers probably mean very little on their own, but this year's Caps have only had 286 powerplay chances and 292 penalty kills! Our numbers are not odd, as the most PP chances in the league is 314 for this year, whereas the fewest number of PP chances in '05-'06 was 411! The league just used to have a lot more penalties, which played to the strengths of teams with the best special teams. If you give the Caps the same number of PPs and PKs as the '05-'06 Sens, then our goal differential would likely be right around the Sens total at the end of this season. This 'historical' evaluation should be relative to each team's league though, so the Caps lack of PP opportunities should not be a factor.

So are the Caps historically good? Our offense is certainly historically good, but it appears that we will end this season as merely one of the better regular season teams in the 'modern NHL' and not as 'historically good'. If the Caps do manage to reach 120 points and a +84 goal differential, then we would have a case as the 2nd best team of the past 12 years.

The only team to better those numbers? That title belongs to the '05-'06 Red Wings, who garnered 124 points and a +96 goal differential. That team spectacularly lost in the 1st round of the playoffs, which shows how much regular season domination can really indicate about playoff success. I'm sure all of us Caps fans will settle for just a 'really good' regular season and a Stanley Cup.

(Image courtesy of All stats courtesy of and

Monday, March 29, 2010

Pros & Cons: Caps' Potential 1st Round Opponents

The Eastern Conference locked up and the President's Trophy within arm's reach, let's take a look at each of the five teams that might be slotted in that 8-spot come playoff time.

Montreal Canadiens (37-31-8, 82 points)

Pros: The Canadiens don't have the firepower to keep pace with the Caps. They're 24th in the NHL in goals per game (2.59) and don't have one scorer above 70 points on the year. Should-be starting goalie Jaroslav Halak has only started one game in the postseason in his career. Also, a matchup of the most decorated franchise in NHL history against the most decorated player currently in the NHL would have ESPN TSN and the rest of the hockey world salivating.

Cons: The Caps have been absolutely abysmal against Canadian teams this season - for their standards, that is (6-5-3). Against Montreal, they are 1-1-2. Something about that 2nd ranked Montreal PP against our 25th ranked PK just doesn't sit right in my stomach, either.

Philadelphia Flyers (38-32-6, 82 points)

Pros: Where to start? Their goaltender is Brian Boucher/Michael Leighton. I could end there but I'll keep going. Jeff Carter may not be back for the playoffs. Claude Giroux has one goal in his last 15 games. Danny Briere is still a pussy. Caps are 3-0-1 against them this year.

Cons: Where to start? The Caps have a strange habit of making journeyman netminders look like studs (see: Niittymaki, Antero; Biron, Martin; etc.). With a healthy Carter the Flyers have an impressive group of talented forwards. Daniel Carcillo is a clown and I could totally see him getting to a guy like Mike Green all series long. I would have to listen to my asinine friend Daniel say "Chris Pronger is nastttttttyyyyyyy" at least 23 times during each game. Chris Pronger may also still be nasty enough to neutralize Ovechkin (probably not, though). There's also this, but you don't really need to watch that again.
Boston Bruins (34-28-12, 80 points)

Pros: They are the most offensively inept team in the entire league (2.42 goals per game). Their best offensive player, Marc Savard, is out for God knowns how long. Zdeno Chara has really taken a step back from his Norris Trophy winning efforts last season. Caps are 2-0-0 against Boston this year, winning 4-1 on both occasions.

Cons: Both wins have come against Tim Thomas and not Tuukka Rask, the Finnish phenom (18-11-4, 2.11, .927) pictured above. I am absolutely terriffied of his ability to steal a playoff series. Thomas is no slouch, either, but Rask is a guy I'd rather not have to face. The duo has given up the least amount of goals in the league (177) this season. In a matchup with the Caps, something would have to give.

Atlanta Thrashers (33-30-12, 78 points)

Pros: They have never won a playoff game. Their all-time best player and one of the best current players in the NHL, Ilya Kovalchuk, was traded to New Jersey. They are 26th in the NHL in goals against per game (3.07). Caps are 4-0-0 against the Thrashers this year, the last two being 8-1 and 5-2 drubbings.

Cons: Potential playoff starter Johan Hedberg absolutely tortured the Caps in the 2001 playoffs (10 goals against in 6 games). The Thrashers may actually have the firepower to keep up with us, 7th in the NHL at 2.92 goals per game. Not really a lot to dislike about this matchup from a Caps fan's perspective, though.

New York Rangers (33-32-10, 76 points)

Pros: Rank 25th in the NHL in goals per game (2.59). They have only two 40-point scorers and one 20-goal scorer on the year; the Caps have eight and seven, respectively. Caps are 3-1-0 on the year against the Rangers and have proven themselves in a seven game series against these guys last year. Ovechkin in Madison Square Garden is always fun.

Cons: Marion Gaborik and Henrik Lundqvist. Gaborik can be a game changer as he proved against us on October 8 (game-tying and game-winning goal in a 2:33 span in the third period). They rank 11th in the NHL in goals against per game (2.67). Lundqvist is more than capable of stealing a series.


No matter what, one of these teams will fall into that 8th spot having played playoff intensity hockey for several weeks prior. The Caps, on the other hand, have been on cruise control for quite some time now. Whatever the matchup, Bruce Boudreau will have to find a way to motivate the boys to elevate their play to the level we all know they are capable of reaching.

Each of these teams presents problems for the Caps, but don't forget that the Caps pose a lot more problems for them. I'd love to see the Thrashers in the first round, but honestly, the Caps shouldn't have any issue finishing any of these teams off in 5 games or less. They are that good.

And yes, I jinx-proofed this post before publishing it.

Glad We Got Rid of THAT Guy

Redskins Insider had a report today that the former bane of Redskin fan existence, Vinny Cerrato, is a big fan of Jimmy Clausen, aka the guy we should not be drafting with the #4 pick. Whew! Good thing we don't have to worry about him anymore, huh? Our draft preview(s) will be posted in the near future, but every Skins fan who has any clue realizes we need to draft an offensive lineman with our top pick unless Bo Jackson's Tecmo Bowl character is suddenly made draft-eligible and slips to #4. We have a QB who is at least mediocre, but an absolute abomination of an offensive line that is at least 2 good players away from being competent. Until we get these 2 or more o-linemen, anyone we put behind center, except maybe Tecmo Bowl Bo Jackson as a running QB, wouldn't have a chance.

Which leads to our draft pick, where maybe Sam Bradford, who is top QB prospect in the draft for at least the past 2 years, slips to #4. I still think it's a bad move drafting him because he will be eviscerated behind 'Stephen Heyer's untapped ability', which will possibly ruin his development, let alone have any chance to succeed anytime soon. Even worse would be reaching for a QB with a lot of question marks in Jimmy Claussen at #4. We should draft offensive linemen with our first two picks, it's that simple.

Given that Clausen hasn't been entirely ruled-out as our guy at #4, Vinny's comments still give me the shakes, but at least make me realize that I'd feel much worse if Vinny was still here. Until the current regime does something stupid (d'oh!), I will give them the benefit of the doubt, but that 'benefit' will cease to exist if we draft Jimmy Clausen per Vinny's 'expert opinion'.

(Image courtesy of

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Hockey Gods Award Caps Magical "Z"

See for yourself. East clinched despite the loss.

Next up (hopefully): The President's Trophy and, if this Hockey God does in fact exist, the Atlanta Thrashers. Say it with me: THE ATLANTA THRASHERS!

15 Losses in a Row Stinks, Unless You're Trying to Get John Wall

I just quickly spoke to Nick Young as he was cleaning his house this evening. A) Shouldn't he be able to hire someone to do that? B) They're just like us! Some quick tidbits from our talk:

On the losing streak: "We're going to get one soon."
I hope so, there are only 10 games left and we get the 9-win Nets in a week.

On the locker room: "We're doing fine, it's still upbeat now."
I'm a little surprised at this, as 15 losses and Andray Blatche going salty against Flip leads me to believe there would be a lot of tension. Young Sushi seemed completely honest and said it without me really prying, though, so I believe him.

On the Andray Blatche-Flip Saunders situation: "I dunno, I dunno."
This sounded like he was clearly avoiding giving me any information, which leads me to believe there is a lot of action going on behind the scenes and that Andray and Flip are still not getting along.

On John Wall: "I haven't watched a lot of (the NCAA tournament), but Wall's good, Wall's good."
Oh, he is better than good...Nick was surprised when I said I think Wall is better than Derrick Rose, but look at these high school highlights (there are plenty of highlights from Kentucky, but these are far more entertaining):

Oh sweet Jesus please yes.

(Image courtesy of