The Awesome Index: Thanksgiving Special

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Technically, this is a dinosaur. You are eating dinosaurs.

Happy Thanksgiving, friends. The Caps lost in OT last night, but there are still a great many awesome things. There is no better time to take stock of all the awesome things in our weird little universe than today.

Let’s change the format today. Let’s throw the ranking out the window and do it like a grocery list. There’s too much awesome for a top five.

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Happy Thanksgiving, hockey friends!

Washington Capitals head coach Barry Trotz kicked off the holiday by participating in the Arlington Turkey Trot 5k charity run/walk. Dressed in a turkey t-shirt with “Turkey Trotz” on the back, Trotz and his brood joined thousands of others to raise money for Doorways for Women and Families and Arlington-Alexandria Coalition for the Homeless.

RMNB Readers and Anne and Lauren W were there. They shared a couple photos and their story.

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Banged Up Alex Ovechkin Scores Two Power Play Goals (GIF)

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Photo credit: Mike Stobe

Coming into Wednesday, we didn’t know if Alex Ovechkin was going to be able to play, as he was dealing with an upper-body ailment after leaving practice on Tuesday.

Nevertheless, Ovi was ready after the morning skate. “Feel good,” Ovi said. “Just one part of my body didn’t feel great.”

Against the Isles, Ovi feel good indeed. While the team continued falling off the even-strength scoring cliff, Ovechkin kept the Caps in a game that looked like it was heading towards disaster early on.

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All This Happened, More or Less: Isles Beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

GWG

Photo credit: Al Bello

“That is my principal objection to life, I think: It’s too easy, when alive, to make perfectly horrible mistakes.” – Kurt Vonnegut

For years, the Islanders have made that quote ring true. Confused ownership, terrible hockey and of course Nassau Colosseum. The old place will soon be gone from our TV screens. The smell, the lighting, the architecture, the scoreboard stolen from the local high school. So it goes.

Now, though, the Islanders are moving on. Pretty soon they’ll playing their games in a decedent building in Brooklyn. They’re also now good at hockey. The Caps had trouble with that tonight.

The first period was mostly dominated by the Isles. Anders Lee put them up top after John Carlson failed to cling to his man. Washington then released a small furry of shots before Alex Ovechkin got the Caps back in it with another one of them goals from the circle place when his team has more people on the ice. Travis Hamonic then gave New York the lead again when his high flying wrist shot made it past an effectively blindfolded Braden Holtby.

The second was mostly Isles, but the Caps came on towards the end. The Isles took another unnecessary penalty and Ovi did The Thing. 2-2.

Isles pressed in the third but there was nothing doing.

In the extra, scrapeless frame, Nicky grabbed someone’s stick. John Tavares threw his hands in the air. That’s all. Isles beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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The New York Islanders are really good, and the Washington Capitals lost their last game to the Buffalo Sabres. The Caps’ best possession player is sidelined with injury, and the Isles are gonna start a goalie who is 100-percent comfortable going up against his old team.

This would be a big road win if the Caps can pull it off. 7 PM on CSN Plus. Your boy Chris Gordon will be covering the game for RMNB solo.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 9-8-3 52.69% 98.22 25.4% 82.0%
New York Islanders 15-6-0 54.53% 100.14 18.8% 76.2%

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Lines aren’t everything. The players a team chooses to ice are more important than the manner in which they get iced. Still, when the beat writers tweet the morning lines, it’s fresh grist for the anguish mill. It’s an infinite stream of content to react to– our of excitement or despair. I’m as guilty of it as anyone else.

Though it’s not as if Barry Trotz has been particularly good at assembling his lines effectively, at least according to the evidence. After twenty games, the Capitals’ best lines have been used irregularly at best. Their most effective trio of forwards hasn’t even skated together since game eight, though Trotz has also found some surprising strength in the team’s depth.

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Photo: Christian Petersen

There are lots of different ways to look at hockey information. The Sunday snapshot is just one of those ways, and it’s far from being comprehensive or fully circumspect. Sometimes the numbers sort of lose their meaning– as if in a vacuum.

Is a 2.14 CorsiRel good or bad? How good or how bad? Is it a percentage or a rate? How does it compare to the rest of the league? What is a CorsiRel anyway?

As a community, we need more and different ways of presenting and intuiting data that can sometimes be untidy and inscrutable.

Here’s one idea. Now that the Capitals have twenty games under their belt, let’s look at Cap forwards in the context of the whole league. No hard numbers here, just big-picture, stack-ranking stuff– a new way of looking at familiar stuff, but with pretty colors this time.

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Twenty Games In: What is the Barry Trotz Breakout?

Trotz

Photo: Amanda Bowen, RRBG Photography

We are a quarter of the way through the first season of the Barry Trotz era. The process has been solid, the results have been decent, and the lineup decisions have, at times, been confusing.

Trotz is the Caps’ fourth coach since 2011, so fans are well aware that a change in coach means a change in tactics. With that in mind, I’m going to take a look at the Caps’ breakout under Trotz.

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Jakub Vrana Records Another Two-Point Night

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Photo: Peter Holgersson / Bildbyran

Capitals prospect Jakub Vrana scored a goal and an assist as his Linkoping defeated Lulea 3-1 in an SHL game. Vrana, who scored the game-winning goal on Saturday, now has five goals and five assists. That was his fourth two-point game of his SHL season.

The 18-year-old forward also had two two-point nights in the Champions Hockey League. This year, he has had six two-point nights in 21 outings.

Videos of Vrana’s highlights from Saturday are under the jump.

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Twenty Games In: Where We Stand

Rob Carr

Photo: Rob Carr

With about a quarter of the 2014-15 season gone, we’re running a series on RMNB about where the Caps stand and where they’re heading. I’ve already gone into some detail, and I’ll have more analysis and opinion coming in the next few days, but for now let’s take a bird’s eye view.

Forgive me, I’m about to draw some pretty broad conclusions.

The Capitals are mediocre, but keep reading.

At scoring, they’re neither good or bad; they’re just about even. They’ve got a coin flip’s chance at making the playoffs.

But the Caps’ goaltending and shooting are both below average and are both likely to get better. The Caps are outshooting their opponents convincingly, suggesting that they’ll start outscoring their opponents in the future, although the team will continue to get into trouble when protecting a lead.

Special teams look stable. Washington’s power play is second best in the league and looks to remain that way. The penalty kill is in the middle of the league, and projects to stay there as well.

In short, the Capitals’ record is unremarkable, but there are encouraging signs below the surface– and the team has opportunity and motive to get even better.

Lemme break it down.

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