Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Exorcising the Capitals 2010 Playoff Demons

I have waited almost a full year to do this. After last year's playoff debacle, I stashed my 'Rock the Red' towel specifically for the purpose of lighting it on fire before the 2011 playoffs. The time has come.

Here is the mint condition towel from the 2010 playoffs:

 Here is the burning in action:

 And after the exorcism:

Now that we're through that, it's a new year................LETS GO CAPS!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

DCLS Exclusive Eric Fehr Interview - Part 4: Playoffs and Peng#^%*

In case you missed parts 1, 2, and 3 of our interview with Eric Fehr of the Washington Capitals, they are right below this article on our site. Here is the 4th and final installment of the interview (yes, I shrunk it from my original plan of 5), with Eric waxing about he Caps thoughts going into the playoffs.

 Still Trying to Black This Out

Jon Kelman: How comfortable are you all feeling in the new defensive system at this point?
Eric Fehr: We are a little more responsible defensively, but when we get the puck we still feel like we can go and are not restricted in making plays. As much as it is more defensive, we still feel like we can score just as many goals as we have in the past. It was a bit of a struggle in the middle of the season, so we changed our game around and I think it's for the better.

JK: How do you feel heading into the playoffs this year versus the past couple?
EF: Well last year we were feeling unbeatable when we went into the playoffs and I think part of our problem was that we got taken by surprise. I think this year we understand how difficult it is going to be and we believe in our system going in, so overall are feeling real confident about this year. I think we realize anything is possible in the playoffs and you need to play every game. I think last year when we were up 3-1 we might have thought the series was over, but in reality we had a long way to go, so hopefully we can learn from our mistakes in the past and be better for it.

JK: What do you think needs to improve on the powerplay?
EF: I don't think we need to improve anything, I think we've made the changes we need to in the past couple games and we've been scoring more regularly. Wideman on the point is helping us big time.

JK: What team would bring you the most satisfaction to beat?
EF: Oh I think that one is pretty evident.

Crosby Diving...Yawn....

JK: Would it be a successful Caps Stanley Cup if you did not get to beat the Penguins in the process?
EF: If we end up winning the Stanley Cup, it doesn't matter which teams we beat, it will be a success. At the end of the day, if you're the champion and you're the best team in the league, then it doesn't matter who you face, you're the best. We've got a long ways ahead of us, we'll see what happens.

(Images courtesy of life.com and nydailynews.com)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DCLS Exclusive Eric Fehr Interview - Part 3: Nicknames, Jersey Shore, and 24/7

In case you missed parts 1 and 2 of our interview with Eric Fehr of the Washington Capitals, well it's right below this article on our site. Here is the 3rd installment of the interview, with Eric telling all about being his personal life, nicknames, and being on HBO's 24/7.

Jon Kelman: Who are your best friends on the team?
Eric Fehr: Karl Alzner, John Carlson, and Jeff Schultz. They're around my age and we have a lot in common. We like playing video games, ping pong and just hanging out.
JK: Who usually wins?
EF: Karl is probably the best at the video games right now, but I'd say I'm the top ping pong player right now.

JK: Favorite place to go out in DC?
EF: I like Spider Kelly's in Clarendon, that's one of our favorite spots.

JK: Favorite place to eat in DC?
EF: Ray's the Steaks in Clarendon, and I like Cap(ital) Grille.

JK: Since you play DJ Pauly D in the locker room, please tell me you listen to that in your free time.
EF: I can honestly tell you I do not listen to that in my free time, I'm more of a country guy. I do like some techno, but Pauly D isn't on my iPod quite yet.

JK: What are your favorite hobbies? What would you do if you didn't play hockey? By the way, I Wikipedia'ed you, and it says you are an actor in a real movie, which I know is not exactly the case.
EF: That was just a little thing I did for fun over the summer, just a movie made out in town. In my free time I enjoy playing video games, board games, and playing a lot of different sports including beach volleyball, baseball, and golf - something competitive that gets the juices flowing.

JK: You have any nicknames you want us fans to know about?
EF: Guys on the team call me Frank, which is my Dad's name, and Fehrzy, but that one's pretty boring. I know that some of the bloggers and reporters are trying to make F16 stick, so you can take that however you want. (F16) is fine, but it's not like a quick nickname to throw out, it's long to say. Frank's fine, because some people say I'm a lot like my dad.

JK: Speaking of fans getting to know you, how distracting was it being on 24/7?
EF: I always knew when the guys were around and at times it was kind of annoying when you want to talk to somebody about something private and they're hanging around. For the most part, they did a really good job of staying out of the way and doing what they had to do to make the film. At the end of the day though, I really enjoyed having them around.

JK: Did you guys give Bruce a big pat on the back for stealing the spotlight?
EF: I don't know if that was his game plan or not but it worked. I'm not sure whether he's happy about it or not, but he did steal the show.

JK: Have you guys all watched it?
EF: Yeah I watched every episode as it came out. I was really interested to see what they could make with all the filming and everything. It was cool and I'm waiting to see if they can win a few Emmys with it.

JK: So what did you think about Bruce having a condiment on the face during an interview?
EF: I talked to the producers about it and they said that was just the camera lighting, I think a lot of people had it actually. I dunno, I'm staying out of that one.....

(Image courtesy of sports.gunaxin.com)

Monday, March 28, 2011

DCLS Exclusive Eric Fehr Interview - Part 2: Matt Cooke and Picking a Fight

mIn case you missed part 1 of our interview with Eric Fehr of the Washington Capitals, well it's right below this article on our site, but here is the link. Regardless, here is the 2nd installment of the interview, with Eric telling all about teammates past and present.

Jon Kelman: What did you think of Matt Cooke's hit and suspension?
Eric Fehr: I really didn't like the hit and thought the suspension was good. You know it's one thing if it's the first time a guy's done that, but because he's a repeat offender I think it's good they gave him a bunch of games.

JK: How would you feel playing with Cooke now?
EF: It's different when you have a player like that on your team as long as he's staying out of the box and creating energy for your team, but when you're taking dumb penalties and putting your team in a bad situation, you don't want that. He did a pretty good job for our team when he played here. You know it's tough to keep those guys out of the box, but there's definitely a use for guys like that if you can keep them contained. I think you have to give everyone a fair shake. You look at guys around the league and there's a lot of hatred for guys like that, but when they're on your team maybe they're good players so you have to give them all the benefit of the doubt.

JK: If you could fight one player in the league, who would it be?
EF: I dunno, I'm not really a fighter so I can't really say anything because I might end up getting beatup or something. I'm trying to think of somebody I think I could take but I don't want to throw out a bad challenge. It's a real lose-lose situation for me, I'm a big guy so if I fight a big guy and get beatup I lose, but if I fight a little guy and beat him up, it looks bad. So, I would have to go after a pretty big guy if I wanted to fight someone.

JK: Who are your favorite guys to play with?
EF: I enjoy playing with Jason Chimera just because he is so fast and he's a good physical player. I would really like to play with Nick Backstrom one day, he's a really good playmaker and controls the puck so well.

JK: What has Jason Arnott done behind the scenes as a leader?
EF: I just think he's brought a lot of maturity to the room. He's done a great job of making sure guys are doing the right things and following the team system. If I step out of it, he's right there to remind me of what I need to do, and he's not shy to do it, which is what is needed in that case. He's not there to embarrass anybody, he's just there to help guys along and help guys make good decisions. It's more of a 1-on-1 thing off to the side where he's not making a big show in front of everybody. He wants to help everybody out on the team as individuals, so it's more of a 1-on-1 thing.

JK: Is Arnott the definitive leader in the locker room now?
EF: Well we've got a few guys, Knuble, Hannan, and Arnott are all good leaders in the room right now.

JK: When Knuble was brought it, a lot of people saw it as a guy you could learn from and possibly be the type of player you could grow into some day. What have you learned from him?
EF: Yeah, he's definitely helped me. I've learned from him about working the corners and making the simple play. It's better for guys like us who are more shooters and play in front of the net to not take too many risks and get the puck off our stick to guys that can make plays.

(Image courtesy of life.com)

Sunday, March 27, 2011

DCLS Exclusive Eric Fehr Interview - Part 1: Caps Superlatives and Global Warming(?)

I ventured out from the comfy confines of DC about a week ago for a night on the town in Virginia . Amidst this strange land, and after a variety of adult beverages and one busted NCAA bracket, I found myself hanging out with several members of DC's sporting pride, the Washington Capitals. Long story short, I somehow roped Eric Fehr into an interview, following in the proud DCLS tradition created by Nick Young

Good Times 

This exclusive interview has been broken into 5 parts, with this first part being Eric's votes for team superlatives.

Jon Kelman: Who is the best dressed guy on the team?
Eric Fehr: Nick Backstrom. He's got the Swedish style, so it's a little different but I like it.

JK: Worst dressed?
EF: Tom Poti. (Editor's note: no hesitation on that one)

JK: Nicest House?
EF: Nick Backstrom once again. I'm pretty sure Backy has a sauna. It's either that or a steam room.

JK: Most intense?
EF: Right now that would be Jay Beagle or Matt Hendricks, I'd say both of those guys.

JK: Most laid back?
EF: Probably Jeff Schultz

JK: Hardest shot?
EF: I'll give it to Ovie for now. It used to be Jurcina and I'm trying to think of somebody else but no it's probably Ovie. Wideman can shoot pretty hard but Ovie's a safe bet.

JK: Hardest hitter?
EF: Ovie's a real hard hitter, I'd probably give it to him, but Bradley's a good hitter too.

JK: Who has the dirtiest mouth aside from Bruce Boudreau?
EF: That's a tough one. There's no one that really sticks out. There's a couple guys that are all bad, but I don't want to name too many names so I'll say no one really sticks out.

JK: Craziest stick doctor or equipment freak?
EF: Ovie is pretty crazy about his stuff, he likes it to be perfect.

JK: Who has the nicest car?
EF: I really like Ovie's batmobile. I don't even know what it is, but it has a matte black paint job on it like the batmobile. Mike Green has a really nice Bentley that I like as well.

JK: How much fun do you make of Mike Green for driving that Vespa?
EF: Well you can't really make fun of him when he's got a Bentley, Escalade, and a Maserati, so if he wants to ride a Vespa, he can feel free. I don't think he uses the Vespa very often, I honestly haven't seen it parked at the rink once (Editor's Note: Crushing). Maybe he does take it around though, I know Greeny's worried about the global warming thing, so maybe he's trying to save the environment.

JK: Who is the biggest and best bachelor on the team? It has to be Ovie.
EF: I dunno, I don't pay attention to that kind of stuff because I'm married so I have to go no comment on that.
JK: Oh, I'm sorry, I didn't know your wife was standing next to you......
EF: Haha, no comment.

(Image courtesy of infosport.onsugar.com)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Everyone Hates Duke.......

.....which is why this sign is not just awesome for University of Maryland fans:

Even us Hoya fans can say: well played.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

John Wall's Excitement Rating

Sorry for the blogging break, but I had a semi-sudden death in the family and have been away from computers for a week. Back to business.....

I posted on this a little over a month ago, but the website Thuuz evaluates the amount of excitement an unbiased fan would get from a game. I provided a little consulting for them and they have now come up with individual player ratings for excitement. This is awesome news, because it will allow for a lot of individual player evaluation using Thuuz's metrics.

Also, we can shove it back in Charles Barkley's face that the Wizards are indeed worth watching because we've got John Wall.

Here is the report from Thuuz. Here is the take from Thuuz, "In summary, John Wall crushes it. He's the top rookie and the #7 player overall, even higher than Blake Griffin. We know this rating system works because 'jumpshooter' Ray Allen and 'Mr. Fundamental' Tim Duncan, are two of the lowest ranked All Stars."

Top Twenty Most Exciting Players of the 2010 – 2011 NBA Season (through the All-Star Break)
Player Excitement per Game Excitement Rank Impact per Game Impact Rank
Williams, Deron 90.9 1 44.7 8
Nash, Steve 85.7 2 40.8 14
Love, Kevin 78.8 3 48.1 2
Rose, Derrick 78.5 4 45 5
James, LeBron 77.8 5 50.1 1
Westbrook, Russell 75.8 6 44.5 9
Wall, John 72.5 7 36.4 29
Paul, Chris 71.6 8 44.8 7
Ellis, Monta 69.8 9 40.8 13
Durant, Kevin 68.9 10 46 4
Felton, Raymond 68.8 11 39.8 19
Griffin, Blake 68.7 12 43.3 12
Calderon, Jose 67.8 13 31.3 64
Wade, Dwyane 66.4 14 43.7 10
Curry, Stephen 64.8 15 36.6 28
Stoudemire, Amar'e 64.7 16 44.8 6
Rondo, Rajon 63.6 17 40 16
Randolph, Zach 62.7 18 39.9 17
Bryant, Kobe 62.4 19 39.7 20
Gordon, Eric 62.2 20 38 24
Additional NBA All-Star Starters not in the Top Twenty
Anthony, Carmelo 61.7 22 39.8 18
Howard, Dwight 59 26 46.5 3
Ming, Yao 21.7 225 21.5 143
Additional NBA All-Star Reserves not in the Top Twenty
Horford, Al 57.5 27 38.9 22
Nowitzki, Dirk 57.1 29 38.1 23
Johnson, Joe 56.6 31 34 45
Gasol, Pau 56.4 33 43.7 11
Ginobili, Manu 49.8 51 36.2 31
Pierce, Paul 49.3 56 34.6 38
Bosh, Chris 45.2 69 33.8 47

As I noted before, a problem with the system is that players from bad teams generate more excitement, but a good way to account for that effect is to compare impact to excitement. Impact measures basic stats such as points, assists, rebounds, etc, so by comparing both, one can see who is generating the most excitement per play, sort of. Jimmy is only 29th in impact, but 7th in excitement. Jose Calderon and Steve Nash also fare well when comparing both numbers.

Fine, Blake Griffin should be #1, but the system has a hard time measuring 1 dunk against another. You must also realize that while waiting for Griffin's highlight reel dunks, watching the rest of his game is not as exciting.

Whatever, just let us Wizards win something this year other than the draft lottery. 

(Image courtesy of probasketballtalk.nbcsports.com)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Orioles Will Not Suck Next Year - I Still Will Not Care

Respected baseball analyst Rob Neyer wrote an article for SB Nation last week stating that the Orioles could win 82 or 83 games next year. Yes, Rob freaking Neyer thinks the Orioles could legitimately win more than half of their games.

The fantastic news is that for the first time in way too long we can all watch the O's and expect them to win most of their games.

The bad news is that I still don't care.

83 wins is a big jump from last year's 66, but would still have only put us in last place in last year's AL East. A few of those wins over Toronto would certainly lead us to the promised land: ahead of the Blue Jays, but the O's have a long way to go before they challenge for the playoffs.

An 83 win Oriole season might make them the 4th best team in the American League, but unfortunately this franchise plays in the same division as the best 3. In addition to playing many games against the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, the O's have to pass at least 2 of those 3 to compete for the playoffs, and at least 1 of those 3 to be relevant.

The win total is a nice step forward, but until this team is in playoff hunt, I just won't care. 

(Image courtesy of weblogs.baltimoresun.com)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Cam Newton Rises, Redskins Fans Rejoice

Yes! Yes! Maybe.....

Mel Kiper's mock draft 2.0 has some finally amazing news, Cam Newton has remarkably shot up to his projected #3 overall pick. Which, if close to accurate means something amazing: the Redskins won't even have the chance to draft the bust-in-waiting. I never rule out anything with this team, like trading up, but realistically if Cam Newton goes in the top 9 picks, he will not be a Redskin next year. Buffalo taking another bust is also hysterical.

Here is Kiper's new Redskins pick:

Record: 6-10
* Blaine Gabbert, QB, Missouri
Gabbert might be more ready than Newton to read defenses at the NFL level, and as a quarterback with very good accuracy, instincts and size, he could come into a franchise in Washington that might need him early. Gabbert is a guy whose stock rose a lot this year and will be under the microscope during the workout process. But what he doesn't give you is a quarterback who elicits a wide range of opinions or the boom-or-bust concerns many have with Newton and Ryan Mallett.

I'm still not happy, but this is progress. The key metrics on QB prospects are games started and completion percentage. His career completion percentage is 60.9% and he has started 26 games in college. These are solid numbers, but not spectacular, and not worthy of the #10 pick. If he played 1 more year at Missouri and continued his upward trend in completion %, Gabbert would be worth that #10 pick. I know this sounds ridiculous to non-stat people, but it's a law or something. As a comparison, he has pretty similar numbers to Ryan Mallett right now. In short, Gabbert is an NFL QB, but not a star, and definitely not worth the money he would get at the #10 pick. In other news, Andrew Luck is going to be an absurdly good prospect next year.

Who do I prefer? Of the choices available in Kiper's mock, I like Robert Quinn and Julio Jones as possibilities, but my preference is still for this team to trade down. Not only could we use the extra picks, but the biggest needs for this team are on the interior of the o-line. Once workouts start, hopefully the Redskins will tip their hand, showing they are not interested in a QB. Tipping their hand may be bad for business with other teams, but the anxiety reduction for us fans is more than worth it.

(Image courtesy of isportsweb.com)

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Redskins 2011 Starting QB Options Are Horrifying (Courtesy of Football Outsiders)

There may be something awesome going on with the Redskins this offseason. There has been plenty of bad news with Brandon Banks getting stabbed, Cam Newton lined up as our projected pick (twice), and Fat Albert Haynesworth becoming completely untradeable.

But letting Santana Moss's contract void, allowing him to become an unrestricted free agent, sends a clear signal that this team may finally be ready to fully commit to rebuilding. I'm not holding my breathe, but Tana is still a good player and letting him walk will hurt the team next year, so this move can only be seen one way. As much as the Redskins have done their best to destroy every ounce of rational hope in me, I still have my optimism.

This brings us to the QB position. Football Outsiders (FO) has been writing a 'Plugging the Holes' piece on espn.com covering each teams' offseason, and yesterday the article covered the NFC East (Insider only alert). As they point out, Sex Cannon was not impressive, posting a -19.4 DVOA, whereas Donovan McNabb managed a 0.1 DVOA. 0.0 is average, so yeah.....

They also note that Shanahan has never started a rookie QB, so even if we take Cam Newton (I feel like my kidney is being twisted), he will almost certainly not start next year. McNabb looks like he is on the way out, particularly if the team is rebuilding, so who are the options out there? FO presents three options:

"One is Kolb, but it's hard to imagine the Redskins trading more draft picks for yet another Eagles quarterback after the McNabb failure.

The second is Matt Hasselbeck. His contract with the Seattle Seahawks is up, and Seattle will likely choose to go with Charlie Whitehurst or a drafted quarterback of its own. Hasselbeck had a -9.8 percent DVOA last year while struggling with injuries, but the Redskins would provide him with the best offensive line he's played behind since the halcyon days of Walter Jones and Steve Hutchinson.

The other candidate with significant experience in the West Coast offense? We hesitate to say his name for fear that he'll appear again. Let's just say he holds a lot of records, is really fond of one particular brand of jeans and recently retired again. Few organizations would be willing to take on the sort of circus that he brings to the table, and even fewer teams would actually get an upgrade from his likely level of play. The Redskins are perhaps the only organization that would fit in both categories, and with Brett Favre, retirement is just a state of mind. Oops."

So to recap, we have awful Sex Cannon, never going to be good Newton, overpaid mediocre McNabb, reasonably paid mediocre Jason Campbell, costly to obtain Kolb, washed-up Hasselbeck, and, well......'ooops'

(Image courtesy of www.examiner.com)

The John Wall Is On the Billboard Charts

I already posted this on Bullets Forever, but this news is just too awesome.......

So Blake Griffin has completely overshadowed John Wall, and even Landry Fields has more Rookie of the Month awards. Little do most of us realize that our man John Wall has spent the past 7 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100. Don't worry, Wall is not going to pull a Ron Artest and ask for a month off to promote the album (or only sell 343 copies), because he is not the artist, but rather the subject of Troop 41's Do the John Wall.

The group is from Wall's hometown of Raleigh, NC, and judging by their Twitter account and MySpace page, they generally only perform around the Carolinas.

The song has reached as high as #76 on the chart, and currently sits at #92. Here is a sampling of the lyrics:
"Everybody clear out, hand me the rock Time winding down 3 seconds on the shot clock Break the defense homeboy I can't be stopped All about my money so you know I'm hitting bank shots I'm trying to tell them, boy you can't guard this Beast on the court homeboy I play the hardest."

Kind words are welcome, although I don't I agree with, "Jump shot deadly, you know that we kill on them." Something to aspire to maybe for Jimmy Wall.

And finally, the video:

Say what you want, but the song is growing on me.

.....to ball like Wall, well you gotta do the dance....

Saturday, February 12, 2011

DCLS Favorite Brandon Banks Stabbed in DC

News is out this afternoon that Redskins KR/PR Brandon Banks was stabbed last night outside of the club The Park. Doing a little investigative reporting with his Twitter account, it appears Banks started the night at Bar 7 with Vontae Davis and Darnell Docket, then was goaded into attending The Park by a very good looking woman if not others as well. A fight then occurred and Banks and a friend were stabbed.

The good news is that although his buddy is still in the hospital with 'Serious' injuries, Banks has been released. The 'stabber' has been arrested, and combining that Bank not being in custody, one can assume that he is not at fault other than being dumb enough to get into a big fight at a nightclub. We can only hope that this was a fluke isolated incident and not indicative of Banks as a person.

I personally am going to hold off on ordering my Brandon Banks T-Shirt until we learn more.

(Image courtesy of content.usatoday.com)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Knee for A Knee

For those of you who haven't heard, Wizards traded for more (less?) than a bad contract and an over-the-hill player in in Rashard Lewis. Nagging tendinitis is not the worst thing in the world, but Rashard's contract is looking heavier than ever.

The good news is that Rashard sitting might actually be a good thing to let the young Wizards play and improve our draft position. The even better news? Gilbert Arenas' knee is ruined.

The man formerly known as Agent Zero already had the worst contract in the NBA, and we knew he lacked the explosion of his pre-surgery days, but the confirmation that the knee is giving him trouble, even in limited minutes, is sad. Stan Van Gundy wants him to rehab the knee, but seriously, the guy played about half a season's worth of games over the past 3 years - he has had plenty of time to rehab. It appears that Hibachi/Zero Hero/Agent Zero is no more.

When the Lewis-Arenas trade was made, my feeling was that we had to get rid of Gil and his contract any way possible, so it was a good move. My only hesitation was that I thought Gil would get a little healthier, play a little better, and improve his value. The news of the condition of his knee reveals that the Wizards actually sold high.

This is a sad revelation for all of us who enjoyed Zero Hero in his glory days. Perhaps it is only fitting that the aftermath of Gilbert Arenas in DC is bittersweet. 

(Image courtesy of blogs.orlandosentinel.com)

Monday, February 7, 2011

Crosby Puts a Dagger Into Pittsburgh!

This is actually a football post, kind of. For any of you who missed the Super Bowl (crickets), Mason Crosby's late FG sealed the 31-25 Green Bay Packers victory. So yes, a guy named Crosby helped finish off Pittsburgh.

Words Not Really Necessary Here

A few other quick bullets on Sunday:
  • Hooray Pittsburgh didn't win, and this time I am talking about both the football and hockey games today. 
  • Pittsburgh sucks.
  • Dallas had a terrible Super Bowl hosting performance by all accounts.
  • It is terrible that Charles Woodson and Donald Driver, who has waited their entire careers to play in a Super Bowl, get hurt and on their way back to the locker room in what has to be a deeply personal and traumatic time for them had to run through a gauntlet of fans in a bar because of Dallas' ridiculous stadium.
  • If the weather in Dallas was such a huge problem, I have a hard time seeing how DC gets a Super Bowl. Our only chance is if the 2014 game in New Jersey does well despite a snowstorm.
  • Matt Cooke's hit on Ovie today courtesy of SB Nation DC. I watched this a few times and Cooke definitely looks like he sticks a knee out intentionally and did not just 'click skates' as the Pens said.
  • Still 3 points behind Tampa and 4 behind Pittsburgh, but those were not only 2 huge wins, but huge performances. Tampa claimed it was their fault they came out flat, and the Pens are without Crosby and Malkin, but the Caps showed some fire. I was about ready to jump ship on these guys, but count me as a believer. Let's see if they can keep the intensity for any other game now....

(Image courtesty of tengossip.com)

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Reflections on the Caps: How Should We Feel Going Into the 2nd Half? - Part 3

With the 2nd half of the Washington Capitals season kicking off, I thought it would be a good time to get a little DCLS survey of thoughts on the team. The Caps entered the break as the #5 seed in the East, aligned for a first round playoff matchup against the Penguins - yikes. Here are the thoughts of DCLS contributor ResidentOslo.

For starters, GOD F***ING DAMNIT!!! I bother to watch these games a day delayed half way across the world and a little piece of me dies every time I do so. Is Backstrom carrying cinder-blocks in in his pants? Did Ovie get a penis enlargement procedure in the off-season that is now causing his wang to interfere with his stride and acceleration? I don't know, I'm not a doctor. But what I do know is that I'm sick and tired of grasping on to my fading optimism as it gets slowly beaten to death on an almost daily basis. I'm actively embracing the other end of the scale at this point: Despair here we come!

Power play looks to me like paralysis by analysis. Too many offensive guys on the ice at the same time all worrying about whether or not they are hogging the puck or shooting too much, or passing too much, or not shooting enough, etc. Put Ovie on the half-wall, put Green and Carlson on different PP lines, actually run two completely different lines, and just be more decisive and aggressive. This is a coaching failure of the highest magnitude since it is mental, BB has failed to instill the proper mentality in his players. BB does not define the culture and mentality through sheer force of will, as a good coach should, and instead should be delegated to a position concerning tactics, not leading or coaching a team. This extends further into the the overall play and mentality of the team which is best characterized as flaccid. If Laich doesn't think they're coasting then that is simply an indictment of the standards to which they are holding themselves to (Editors note: this refers to an interview this week Brooks Laich gave to WFAN in which he took offense to the idea that the Caps are coasting). No more excuses, you are mediocre and weak willed, accept it and deal with it.

The problems with this team is not something a mid-season trade will fix........let's not turn into the Skins here. BB, as much as I like him and appreciate the success he has been apart of the past 3 years, has got to go (although most likely won't). He is like the Charlie Weiss of hockey, great offensive mind but not head coach material. A good coach would've gotten Ovie to adjust his game now that D-men shut him down with ease and regularity. A good coach would've figured out how to get such a "talented" and "skilled" team to enter the zone more consistently without resorting to just dumping the puck in every time. It is uninspired.

All that being said, I still think we've got a good shot at getting to the cup if nothing else based on the defensive nature of the playoffs and the overall crapshoot that is small sample sizes. As bad as we are, we're still performing better than half the league. Good goalies and PK enough to take us through the playoffs? Luck eventually turning our way? Or maybe we're just the Jim Kelly Bills: destined to fail on the main stage. Time to take my schizophrenia meds.

(Image courtesy of sportsillustrated.cnn.com)

Reflections on the Caps: How Should We Feel Going Into the 2nd Half? - Part 2

With the 2nd half of the Washington Capitals season kicking off, I thought it would be a good time to get a little DCLS survey of thoughts on the team. The Caps entered the break as the #5 seed in the East, aligned for a first round playoff matchup against the Penguins - yikes. Here are the initial thoughts of DCLS Editor Red Rover.

Watching this year's Caps is like being in bizarro netherworld. Last year, I watched games with comfort. I knew no matter what the score or time remaining, the offensive machine would produce more more more goals. I reacted to goals against like an elephant would to a fly hovering over its arse - I barely noticed. Goals came cheap both ways. Just like Crosby's mom.

Now, I watch games with the stress of a thousand game 7s. Every goal is CRITICAL. I jump to my feet in eager anticipation at even the crappiest of 25-foot Eric Fehr wristers. This way of watching games is an awful, horrible shock to the system that shouldn't be happening. I was given no warning and no transition period. I understand now why they have methadone clinics; if there were an equivalent for recovering "spoiled fans of historically dominant offensive juggernaut"-addicts, Caps fans would overflow such a place.

The optimist in me says: this is good preparation for the playoffs! They play defense consistently and reliably! They are getting more reps in close games! They are in the playoff race instead of their own spoiled pressure-free bubble!

The realist in me watches and says: these guys don't give a baker's fuck. Offense - defense isn't a zero sum game. The lack of offense is from lack of effort. They're the NHL's procrastinators: they don't get motivated until the last minute, then the adrenaline rush kicks in and they try - but alas, too little too late. So many games are a microcosm of this mentality.

And when I think about this, it's hard not to conclude that this is a fatal flaw. Though the goals came easy last year, it was the same. The more I watch Ovechkin and Backstrom float around, make predictable moves, circle back (NYLANDER'S CURSE REMAINS), get called offsides, awkwardly fumble the puck on the power play, glide slowly through the neutral zone, stay to the perimeter in the attacking zone, whiff on one-timers and rebounds, the more I worry that these are the guys that I'm staking my emotional well-being in. CARE. CARE LIKE I DO YOU FUCKS. SKATE HARDER. PASS CRISPER. SHOOT WITH A PURPOSE. STOP GOING OFFSIDES FOR CHRIST'S SAKE!

And it all comes back to Boudreau. Was anyone surprised that NHL players think Boudreau is the easiest to play for? You can't fault his hockey smarts, his (recent) willingness to adjust, etc. But it's clear that on a night to night basis, these Caps are as uninspired as the dog days of the Fall 2007 Glen Hanlon Caps.

Are there personnel holes and injury bugs? Of course. Are there positive signs of improvement in key areas? Yes. But when Matt Hendricks and Jay Beagle provide the most consistent efforts on your team, you are fucked, plain and simple. That, more than anything else, is what scares me, and what must change. Unless things turn around in a few weeks, I don't see how you keep Boudreau behind that bench.

(Image courtesy of espn.go.com)

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Reflections on the Caps: How Should We Feel Going Into the 2nd Half?

With the 2nd half of the Washington Capitals season kicking off, I thought it would be a good time to get a little DCLS survey of thoughts on the team. The Caps entered the break as the #5 seed in the East, aligned for a first round playoff matchup against the Penguins - yikes. Here are the initial thoughts of DCLS Caps Correspondent Iafrate's Baldspot.

Here's what's good: It literally does not matter one ounce of shit where the Caps finish in the standings, and ironically, I actually feel better about their odds against the Penguins than I do about some of the other teams in the conference. It's almost as if this team has been indoctrinated with the singular purpose to compete with Pittsburgh, ignoring the fact that there are 28 other teams they have to face. Maybe the two best games this team has played since Thanksgiving have both come against them, with a whole bunch of shutouts and stinkers the rest of the way. We looked hapless against Tampa when we played them down there, and not being able to muster an effort against your division rivals speaks to the motivation issue that has plagued this team since, well.......forever.

IF the power play ever comes back to operating at some semblance of respectability -- a big IF considering we're not verging on a full calendar year where it just hasn't clicked properly -- this team can still compete. 

We need to make a move, but Jason Arnott isn't the guy, and I'm not sure the guy is out there. Dallas not sucking is a huge blow to our roster. Stephen Weiss is another guy being floated as trade bait but he'd cost a fortune since he's under contract at a reasonable number for the next 3 seasons. Say goodbye to one of the kid goalies (assuming they move Vokoun) plus a roster/advanced AHL forward.

(Image courtesy of www.offwingphoto.com)

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Georgetown Doesn't Need (All Of) Run DMV

This season is not like last year.

Bouncing back from a 1-3 start in the Big East to win 3 consecutive games? Color me as impressed. Remembering those 3 wins were over Rutgers, Seton Hall, and St. John's? Ehhhhh.....moving on......

Going on the road to beat  a #7 ranked Nova team? Intriguing.
Winning that game while getting 0 points and a horrendous contribution from your 2nd best player? Hmmm...

Following that huge road win by defeating #13 Louisville 2 days later? Fully revitalizing.
Winning that game while getting 2 points from your 2nd-leading scorer?  I'm back on the bandwagon!

This should have been a letdown game, a chance for the Hoyas to reveal that the Nova game was a fluke. Not so, and a solid statement against a team that has been playing well. The win puts the Hoyas a measly 0.5 game back of 2nd in the messy Big East standings. Beating Providence on Saturday to cap a perfect week should move Georgetown into about a 4-seed.

Once again, the story was that Run DMV did not need to be firing on all cylinders to beat a top-15 team. This was an ugly contest with turnovers galore, but the fact that the Hoyas can survive a night when Run DMV is just Run DM/DV/MV means that this team will be really dangerous come tourney time. Not only will teams be unable to focus on stopping one of Jason Clark, Chris Wright, and Austin Freeman, but I previously thought a minor injury or even foul trouble for any part of Run DMV could derail this team's season.

Looking ahead, the Hoyas have 8 games left before the Big East tournament, 3 of which are against ranked opponents (twice against Syra****, and once against UConn). The way the Hoyas are playing though, I would actually feel confident in every one of those games, even as tough as C*** is at home.

The fact that I can look ahead with excitement is a dramatic change from just 3 weeks ago when this team was seemingly in a black hole of suck. The Hoyas brought us to the brink, but it have got me fully back on board.

(Image courtesy of usatoday.com)

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Hoyas Bounce Back - Don't Sleep on 'Em

This blog has been devoid of Georgetown Hoyas posts for a bit, but that is understandable given the team's 1-4 start to Big East play, including losses to St. Johns and West Virginia (at home). Call me crazy, but after a loss lopsided loss to then #5 Pitt, this was looking a little too much like last season, when the Hoyas completely collapsed against Big East foes.

I think it is safe to say that the 1-4 conference start was a blip.

The boys have rolled off 4 consecutive wins, culminating in today's gritty win over #7 Villa-no-fun.The Wildcats may be down right now after losing big to Providence, but the Hoyas were on the road, held the lead for most of the game, and won despite an atrocious performance from Chris Wright in which he had 0 points(!), 4 assists, 4 turnovers, and generally looked unsure of himself while getting trapped by the Nova D several times.Good thing his teammate is Austin Freeman.

I can give you all sorts of fancy analysis, but today was all about the Big East preseason player of the year. Freeman he scored 30 of the Hoyas' 69 points, while shooting 10-19 from the field, a perfect 8-8 from the line, and took over the ball handling duties when Wright struggled. This was a slow-paced, low-scoring game, but the fact that Jason Clark's 10 points made him the only other Hoya in double figures should be all you need to know. Julian Vaughn played a great game, as did Nate Lubick, but Freeman carried the day.

This win puts the Hoyas right back in the Big East mix thanks to several other upsets in the conference. A big test comes Monday night, when the Hoyas host Louisville. One can only imagine what a win would do for this team's confidence, let alone Big East ranking and bracketology.  Joe Lunardi had the Hoyas as a 7-seed coming into this week, but they should be solidly back on the 4-5 line after a perfect week, and beating Louisville and Providence next week.....I'm getting ahead of myself.

I think the greater takeaway from this game game is that if Freeman is on top of his game, this team can survive a poor performance from at least 1 member of Run DMV and beat a good team. That 'depth' will be extremely dangerous come tourney time.

(Image courtesy of abcnews.go.com)

Better Than Watching The Caps and Wizards at Home - SB Nation Viewing Party

All you SB Nation (Bullets Forever and Japers Rink) readers may already know about this, but SB Nation is hosting a Wizards and Capitals viewing party at Mad Hatter near Dupont Circle on Tuesday. This is a great chance to watch both our teams with fellow fans, meet fellow bloggers, and tell me in person that I everything I write is idiotic. If that isn't enough, there are drink and food specials.

The Wizards will be playing the New Orleans Hornets on the road that night, and the Caps have Montreal at home. We'd love for you all to come out, get some discounted drinks and talk shop with your fellow Wizards and Caps fans.

Here are the details:
  • What: Wizards/Capitals viewing party, sponsored by SB Nation D.C.
  • Where: The Mad Hatter (1321 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington DC 20036)
  • When: February 1, 7 p.m.  (The Wizards play at 8)
  • Price: Free
  • Specials: From 7-8 p.m.: $3 Rail, $3 Bud/Bud Light/Alice Amber Draft (the house ale), $4.50 house wins, buy one appetizer get one free. From 8-closing: Half off all draft beers.
I look forward to seeing many of you all there!

Friday, January 28, 2011

Is Nick Young A Long Term Building Block for the Wizards?

The Washington Wizards are trying to win a championship. No, not this year, but maybe three years down the road. To that end, the only thing that matters this season is evaluating the current talent on hand and putting the pieces together for this dreamy future championship run.

My personal opinion is that this current roster has 3 guys  possibly worth keeping for the long-term: John Wall, JaVale McGee, and Nick Young. I can now hear you singing, "one of these things is not like the other, not like the other one...." Young Sushi is more than a DCLS favorite though, and his improvement this year has been more than enough to convince me that he is a keeper.

This post was triggered by an article from Kevin Broom the WaPo's Box Seats that calls Sushi "Fool's Gold." I was going to write a long rebuttal with tons of incredible research and witticisms, but Rook from Bullets Forever beat me to the punch.

The basic argument revolves around the following:
  1. Whether his style of play could fit on a good team
  2. Does he contribute anything outside of scoring, such as rebounds and assists and does he need to?
  3. Defense
  4. Whether Nick will still improve
1. Rook nails this on the head: Nick's current game is very similar to that of Rip Hamilton and Reggie Miller. He is scoring efficiently enough right now, and if Rip and Reggie could play on great teams as catch and shoot players, then so can Nick. As a matter of fact, Sushi's numbers since becoming a starter compare favorably to those of Rip's career, and do not look out of place next to Miller's.

2. With that in mind, Nick is clearly not a great rebounder or playmaker, but those facets of his game are improving. However, he is currently a slightly below average rebounder, but not an atrocious one, and recent evidence indicates that he may improve enough to be at least an average rebounder. He may never be elite, but he is at least acceptable. Although Nick is a historically bad passer, playmaking is a similar story to rebounding. He will never even be an 'average' passer, but his assist rate has risen recently to over 2 per game, which is not far behind the 3 apg of Reggie Miller and 3.5 apg of Rip Hamilton.

I actually think Nick's catch and shoot style is a good fit for him, because it removes playmaking responsibilities from him.

3. Nick's defense is great and while gaining some recognition, is still underrated. Everyone needs to stop being colored by his facial expression and demeanor and watch him play 1-on-1....he is excellent. Sure, his team defense is not amazing, but his defensive impact for every season of his career has been measured as excellent by metrics. To continue the comparison to Rip and Reggie, this one is no contest....Nick is the far superior defender to either of those guys.

4. Nick will definitely still improve. Rook astutely makes the point that Nick has only had a decent coach for about 2 years, and now has only gotten consistent minutes for about 20 games. I will go even further and say that Nick remolded his game from a slashing to catch and shoot, and is really only in his 2nd season of playing this new way. The jump from last season has been incredible, and it hard to see him not getting better when he is still young, and has only 20 starts under his belt. The only counterargument I can see is that he is taking bad shots but making them at what appears to be an unsustainable level. Even though he has kept this pace up for 20 or so games, Nick may revert back to making fewer of these tough shots. On the other hand, Nick may also learn to pick and choose his spots better, and take more efficient shots.....

The bottom line is then whether Nick is worth keeping, and I say yes. I think we have a rich man's Rip Hamilton on our hands, and although Rip won a title on an oddly constructed team, it is pretty clear that a player approximating Rip is a keeper and building block. Coming into this season I thought an improvement in Nick's ability to catch and shoot, coupled with his already great defense, would make him an excellent 6th man. It is safe to say that Nick has now surpassed those expectations and shown he can indeed be a starter on a very good team.

(Image courtesy of truthaboutit.net)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Redskin Defense is Star-Studded, or So I'm Told

I can't stand it, but the Redskins seem to dominate the news with their absurdity, even in their slowest time of the year. Today's news is that Brian Orakpo and London Fletcher will be joining D******* Hall at the Pro Bowl. Usually I would say 'La dee frickin da!', but instead I am just confused, and not the only one to notice that this doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

For those of you who stomached the Skins this year (or maybe wised up and just read the stats), you know we had the #31 ranked defense in the league, and the #18 offense: that is a horrendous defense and a mediocre offense. Sure, there are no obvious big names on the offense who probably deserve to 'go to the Island', but 3 guys from an awful defense? Are we the most underachieving unit ever and Jim Haslett is the anti-christ? Are the selections on name recognition to blame? Remember, Laron Landry played like a stud too before getting hurt, so could be a 4th selection with a couple more games under his belt.

I actually have an explanation....

You already know my feelings on Hall and I shouldn't need to tell you that his Pro Bowl selection is absurd, so I will skip to Rak and Fletcher. Just look at the Pro Bowl rosters, I count 26 guys who have been selected but are not playing! LFB as a Pro Bowler sounds great, but he has actually only been designated as one of the top 6 middle linebackers in the game. There are maybe 40 starting MLBs in the league, and only maybe half (total guess) play close enough to a full season to be considered for 'the island.' So LFB in the top-6, sure, and really not that impressive, he is better than mediocre, but certainly not being judged as elite.

Along the same line, Rak is gaining recognition as one of the top 9 OLBs in the league, which is slightly more impressive given that there are 64 starting OLBs (not including however many missed significant time with injury).

So 3 players from the 31st ranked D is crazy, but don't look at the Rak and Fletcher selections as the source of the absurdity. You should look at the 3rd guy, who is completely undeserving, but overall, these selections are not as prestigious as they sound, and if you remove Hall, having 2 guys as late additions to the game from an abysmal D is not insane, even if you want to include Landry as being recognized for a fantastic season.

Though the recognition should be mooted, this is a direct reflection of the lack of a supporting cast and the greatest issue that has plagued the Skins for years - going after big names and players at the expense of depth. The Skins should take this to heart, but probably will just chase Carson Palmer and Herschel Walker(!). At least Herschel's comeback would entertain me for what is shaping up to be another rough season DC.

(Image courtesy of goslingphotographyblog.com)

Monday, January 24, 2011

Todd McShay's Mock Shows Redskins Fans No Mercy

Here we go again with Todd McShay's latest (first?) mock draft. This has been out a few days, but I just found it:

Cam Newton, QB, Auburn
This is another reach for a quarterback, but the Redskins have parted ways with Donovan McNabb, and Rex Grossman is clearly not the answer. There's no doubt Newton has the physical tools, and coach Mike Shanahan and his staff believe in their ability to develop quarterbacks, but he's still a long-term project as a pro-style passer.

Stop, it hurts.

When has a developmental QB actually developed? Tony Romo is the only guy I can think of.......At least Newton isn't Jake Locker. I made my thoughts on the Heisman winner at #10 clear already, so won't rant endlessly. To be clear, I support keeping Sexy Rexy for at least another year while we build the offensive line and other parts of the team.

The other train wreck we all can see coming stems from Carson Palmer demanding a trade. I guess the Skins constitute an upgrade over the Bengals at this point given we had a better record last year, but Carson is finished. If one good thing comes of the McNabb trade maybe it will be that we don't trade for Carson Palmer.Someone needs to step in and stop the madness, so consider this my application for the Redskins common sense/voice of the fan. Here's an opening letter:

Dear Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder,

I can give you extensive notes on an offseason plan, but here are some basics:

-Don't draft a QB at #10
-Don't trade for Carson Palmer.
-Try to trade down and draft one of the 3 best interior linemen available (Pouncey, Hudson, or Wisniewski)
-Also stop, just stop

Yours truly,

Disgruntled Redskins Fan

(Image courtesy of voice.regisjesuit.com)

The State of the Capitals - A Discussion - Part 2

Here is the 2nd half of a lengthy email chain's discussion about the state of the Caps that I decided to turn into a blog post (2 actually).

Red Rover: I'm calling it right now (I actually was convinced of this in December): Jason Arnott will be a Cap by March.

Future Capital? Picture this but with a Caps Jersey

Bushwood Bushwacker: Yeah, you made that point before and I meant to agree. We are definitely playing a strategically different and more conservative game, even if Ovie and Semin still float and we are slanted towards offense, and of course the PK has been (magically? luckily? BB influenced?) tight. These are clearly changes for the team, and you could say they are playoff-y team skills. It's hard to disagree. At the very least it's trading some offense potency for defense... might as well change it up since the old style couldn't get it done.

RR: Green and Ovie need to be benched on the PP. Put in Carlson instead. The power play has gone from once-in-a-generation to absolutely unwatchable in 8 months. I don't understand.

BB: The pp is mystery/shit show. Ovie on half wall with Semin on the point? Who knows maybe BB just sucks and can't fix them.

Polish Sausage: I definitely concur with the idea that our overall more defensive game makes us better built for the playoffs, but star output is worrisome. Aside from pp, which needs Ovie on the short boards, I think we are coming into our own and set to peak at playoff time. Mojo has been very good I think, better than meh. Hannan has been meh, Carlzner is awesome. That said, how do we acquire Arnott?

RR: Since he's a UFA end of season he can probably be had relatively cheap, but a bidding war could drive up his price. Worst case scenario: we lose Perrault, but ideally 2nd rounder would do it.

PS: Sounds like a perfect move, I like Perrault and his scrappiness but his contributions are limited in the long term. It would be great to pull a Flash type trade and grab up a solid dude like Arnott. 

(Image courtesy of devils.nhl.com)