Narrowly Escaping Defeat, Caps beat Sens 3-2 (OT)

Alex Ovechkin scores the OT Game-Winner Against the Sens. Verizon Center Erupts in Joy.

Your new desktop background: Ovi’s  OTGWG. Click to enlarge. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Well, you could argue that the Washington Capitals did not deserve tonight’s win over the Ottawa Senators. You’d probably be right. If not for the superdeluxe hockey of the Great Eight, the Senators would take a matching pair of points with them as they leave D.C.  Despite a dominating performance for the entire game, the Senators trailed 2-1 until Ryan Shannon‘s beautiful wrister beat Michal Neuvirth. But it was Alex Ovechkin who, in overtime, displayed some future highlight reel material to beat Chris Phillips and Pascal LeClaire for the game winner. Mocking expectation, the Caps picked up the win, and they’ve also got a ton of new injuries to show for it. Oh well. Caps beat Sens 3-2!

Deke, deke, fake, bullets to the five hole for the win.

  • The elephant in the room is the Caps’ special teams. The penalty kill is still perfect, and the power play has only one tally to show for their effort. The Caps had many chances to make it happen with the extra man tonight, but there’s something just wrong about how the they’re conducting the PP. To the untrained eye, it looks like they need more traffic up front when the shots are (finally) made.
  • Eric Fehr picked up his second goal of the year with a lovely execution off of a Matt Hendricks‘ pass below the goal line. The 2nd and 3rd lines officially have more chemistry than the marquee.
  • Tom Poti‘s late scratch was a huge downer for the Washington defense. After establishing some synergy last week, BB was forced to suit up Tyler Sloan and switch up the D pairings. Maybe that fiddling revealed John Erskine‘s myriad flaws. Big John lacked restraint in his late-game roughing penalty, and he lacked coordination in his later-game pratfall that almost cost the game. Get well soon, Tom!
  • Matt Bradley took only three shifts tonight. He’s now reported as injured. I’m too emotionally raw to discuss this. Please send me a honey glazed spiral cut ham, some mayonnaise, and some wheat bread. I’m not capable of feeding myself right now.
  • Alex Ovechkin had an awful night for the most part. He gave up two dumb penalties, managed only a few shots on goal, and seemed to have hurt his wrist. Yet, like the sainted Adam Banks before him, Ovi shook it off and ended the game in grand fashion. Remember this night when we start talking MVP, okay?
  • The Senators should have rolled some cots and a hot plate into the Caps zone; they spent enough damn time in there. JUST CLEAR THE PUCK, JOHN.
  • Michal Neuvirth. I feel bad that he has to give up two goals in every game; he’s better than that. But goalies must be fed to the Caps machine in order for it to run. At least Mikey looked like a seasoned vet with those back-to-back pad saves against Peter Regin late in regulation.
Joe B's suit-of-the-night

Joe B's suit-of-the-night

All that ends well, I guess. But let’s not let Alex Ovechkin’s mindbottling OTGWG be the only thing we take away from tonight. There are oodles of bad hockey for the Caps to pore over before Wednesday’s appointment with the Islanders. I don’t want to pee on the parade– a parade is appropriate– but let’s not play too many more hockey games like this one.

  • madcap

    agreed…thank you for the prompt well-written article, that’s one thing I love about RMNB! The Caps looked rough tonight…there is a lot of work to be done!! Where is King? I want to see this “big rig” in action! Hope they are watching a lot of tape tomorrow and BB Brings it! Thank you, Ovi-wan…are you our only hope????

  • greg

    All in all, I felt it was a pretty good game. Semin’s line continues to be a bright spot, 19 and 8 seem to be in a funk, Neuvy is playing admirably. This was definitely not as bad a performance as the opener in Atlanta.

  • CapsFan1975

    Tonight’s theme was atonement for an otherwise brutal game.

  • Tim

    I’m glad the Caps pulled the win, but what is with the top line? Both on ES and PP they are simply playing horribly. Backstrom is just not moving as smoothly and effortlessly as he usually does, and the entire line is suffering from that.

    On the bright side, what an acquisition Hendricks has been. He fights, hits, blocks shots, sets up linemates, kills penalties… I think I might be getting a man-crush here.

  • Peter Hassett

    If I recall, it took 19 a few games to get started last year, too. Actually, I think it was a game against the Islanders… and a fluke dump-in from center ice. Mark Wednesday on your calendar.

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  • Matt

    Backs got his first goal last season against the the Rangers, but he was still setting up OV and Knubs well before that. Not sure what the deal was with him, he looked especially weak last night when he had the egregious giveaway to set up the Sens’ GTG in the 3rd.

  • Neil – RMNB

    Another solid game for Carlson: The only defenseman who during 5v5 was net positive for Fenwick (Goals+Missed Shots+Shots on Goal) AND takeaways AND penalties drawn.

    Carlson: +1 Fenwick, +1 Tk-Gv and +1 Penalties Drawn – Taken
    Green: -6, -2, -2 (his +2 on the night is deceiving)
    Schultz: -2, -3, -2
    Alzner: -6, +1, -1
    Erskine: -5,+1, 0 (his -2 is NOT deceiving…)

    Only forward with postive Fenwick at 5v5 was Laich (+1)

  • Rachel

    Sure the Caps didn’t play great…but to be fair they were playing against a SUPER desperate team. It is always hard playing against a team on a loosing streak. I am happy the PK is more agressive, and the PP will work itself out…I refuse to worry about it for at least another weak. And yes…Erskine is TERRIBLE!

  • Neil – RMNB

    I am willing to give Erskine a pass so far: Its only 3 games in but #Caps Erskine has only started in offensive zone 28% of the time so far. It was 49% last year. Usage change by BB?

  • Tim

    Backstrom started strong last season – 8 assists in his first 3 games (3, 2, 3 respectively). It could be partially due to the fact that he took a shot off his leg during preseason that required him to have 14 stitches.

    With Erskine, could the dmen he has been paired with be part of the reason for all the defensive zone starts? It was Poti for the first 2 games and Carlson last game, if I remember corectly.

  • 28ISGREAT

    The lack of synergy on the 1st line is a little unnerving. The Flash/Semin/Laich line on the other hand – wow!

    And what about Knuble? I like the guy, but in all honesty he isnt doing nearly enough of what he’s supposed to be doing out there. He’s missing passes, botching shots, and has rarely been where he’s supposed to be – in the crease. Get him out of the passing game – and get him back to in front of the goal.

    As for the PP – there’s no reason why 28 and 8 shouldnt be put out there together for the duration. They play incredibly well together and their back and forth passing is nearly perfect.

  • Katie

    Not our best game, for sure. Neuvy is looking strong and would look stronger if he wasn’t being so relied upon to keep us in the game. The top line really isn’t clicking yet. But you can’t keep guys like them down for long. My biggest worry is the power play. It is great to see such an aggressive pk though. And hey, we found a way to pull out the win. I’ll take the two points however I can get them and keep faith that chemistry will fall into place soon.

  • Neil – RMNB

    @Tim: Perhaps, but as JP (Japers’ Rink) told me today: Carlson was paired with Erskine “for more than half the D-zone draws last night.” “8 D-zone starts, 1 O-zone start for [Carlson] last night.” That’s significant. A player starting in their own zone should see a depression of his Fenwick/Corsi numbers, and Carlson was POSITIVE for the night. Super small sample size, sure, but encouraging nonetheless. Worth noting and keeping an eye on.

  • Sean

    @Neil.

    I call bull on Green’s +2 being deveiving. He was a stud on the defensive end last night (and has generally played solid defense in the first three games).

  • Peter

    Neil,

    Please restrict your statistical black magic to your own posts. They make me feel dumb and frighten the children. What is corsi anyway? Is that the guy who sells fudgey the whale birthday cakes?

  • Chris (VaMedic)

    Great photo. I count about 6 women in the first three or four rows across the entire photo. Kim Jon-Il sees fewer helmets in a parade. This should be addressed.

    Oh, and nice goal by Ovi. Early season game. We will be better and better as this season goes on.

  • Darla

    Mind-*bottling*???? What kind of bottle do you use when you bottle minds? And whose minds, for that matter?

    Or mind-boggling? ;->

  • Guinnessfan

    Mind bottling is from Blades of Glory. It was one of the drunken comments made by Chazz Michael Michaels.

  • Darla

    Mind-*bottling*???? What kind of bottle do you use when you bottle minds? And whose minds, for that matter?

    Or mind-boggling?

  • Darla

    Ooops. Sorry for the double tap. Computer went berserk.

  • http://twitter.com/ngreenberg Neil – RMNB

    @Sean: He got a +2 without recording an assist (primary or secondary) or scoring a goal. He blocked 2 shots, had 1 hit and 1 giveaway, plus the Caps were outchanced and outshot when he was on the ice 5v5.

    At 5v5 I have him as being outchanced -2,0,-1 in the 3 games and his defense arguably becoming worse as his Corsi goes from +10 to 0 to -6.

    Show me a metric that illustrates “was a stud on the defensive end last night (and has generally played solid defense in the first three games)” and I will recant. :-)

  • BobbyG

    On the positive side, it’s good to see the Caps can snatch victory from the jaws of defeat despite playing poorly. This is especially true for Captain Ovie who was mostly invisible and ineffective until the OT heroics, a mini miracle on ice, Caps style. This sort of wizardry will only go so far, and IMO should and must be corrected sooner rather than later so that bad habits don’t become fixed and thus impossible to correct as the season progresses.

  • Sean

    @Neil

    Metrics are generally useful (in context) with adequately large sample sizes. Right now, metrics simply aren’t going to give any form of accurate indication of his play because it’s only been a few games. Especially given that Schultz (his typical defensive partner) is recovering from mono and has looked somewhat sluggish. Give it a few weeks and see what his metrics look like.

  • http://twitter.com/ngreenberg Neil – RMNB

    @Sean You had stated Green “was a stud on the defensive end last night (and has generally played solid defense in the first three games).” I was asking by what metric. I gave an example for each game why I thought he was not what he may have seemed to be. Of course people can disagree, but that won’t stop me from asking why they feel the way they do.

    I also disagree with the notion “metrics simply aren’t going to give any form of accurate indication of his play because it’s only been a few games.” While that is certainly true over the long haul, i.e where Green will end up at game 82 vs now, it gives us a VERY clear view of his performance for EACH game, which was the population you introduced with your statement.

  • Sean

    I disagree with the notion that metrics can describe, accurately, how someone played in an individual game. There are simply too many variables that metrics cannot account for. Bad bounces, pucks deflecting off of skates, poor games from linemates, particularly good plays by the other team, bad ice conditions, and all sorts of other factors attribute to individual game statistics, and aren’t actually factored out. It’s entirely possible to play an outstanding game, and have poor stats.

    You were using your favored metrics to discredit another metric (+/-). While corsi and other advanced metrics have their uses, they aren’t flawless and cannot be relied upon for 100% accuracy over the short term (such as a single game). It’s simply not a large enough sample size, and the error induced by unaccounted factors will play a far too large role. We’re not talking about systematic error that can be factored out (zone start, opponent quality, etc.), but rather random error induced on an event-by-event basis.

    Hockey sabermetrics have a long way to go before they’re on par with baseball sabermetrics. And both of them deal primarily with “peripheral” stats. Ones that don’t actually impact the game, but tend to do a good job of predicting outcomes. But they’re peripherals for a reason, and there are guys that outperform, and underperform, their peripheral stats on a consistent basis.

    Given the additional factors in hockey stats not present in baseball stats (which are almost always occurring in a much more isolated environment than hockey), single-game peripheral stats (such as corsi) just aren’t reliable to give an accurate description of an individual player.

  • Neil – RMNB

    Here too I will offer one final comment before moving on:

    @Sean:

    “It’s entirely possible to play an outstanding game, and have poor stats.”

    And the opposite must also be true, which is where I feel Green is.

    “You were using your favored metrics to discredit another metric (+/-).”

    Metrics. Plural. Meaning, more than one to prove my point. I have yet to see any from your side except for “because I said so and don’t agree with you.”

    Look, I understand that this new, progressive way of thinking is not for everyone, either because they don’t want to or can’t understand them. And that’s fine. But just because you “disagree with the notion that metrics can describe, accurately, how someone played in an individual game” doesn’t mean they can’t. People once thought the world was flat and the Earth was the center of the solar system. Eventually, they had to come around. You will too. Until then, thanks and keep reading RMNB.