Should We Be Concerned About Brooks Laich?

Brooks Laich

Photo credit: Joel Auerbach

Before the season began, a lot of people were looking for Brooks Laich to “turn it on” in his contract year. After three straight years of scoring 20 goals or more, many felt we would see his game taken to the next level. His season up to this point:

Instance G A PTS S TOI
Laich through 49 games 9 18 27 116 889
proj 82 games 15 30 45 194 1488

So far, underwhelming. Or is it?

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Evgeny Kuznetsov drives hard to the net

Photo credit: BuffaloWorldJuniors.com

As we already wrote, the Caps were well represented in 2011 IIHF World Junior Championship, sporting five prospects in the tournament. Philipp Grubauer played on the weak German team and Patrick Wey had a situational role on the bronze-medal USA squad.  The other three Caps prospects played in the finals and each had great success in the tournament. So what did they do in the gold medal game? Here is our look at their best moments.

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Prospect Watch: Russians Win WJC, Eakin Gets Traded

RMNB Prospect Watch

Ed. note – Fedor Fedin and Roman Piontkovsky of GlobalCapsFans live to dish out salacious gossip about those players orbiting just out side the Capitals’ exosphere. Here is your sorta bi-weekly edition about kids in the Caps system (CHL, USHL, NCAA, KHL, TL;DR).  It’s Prospect Watch!

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Alex Ovechkin nets a hat trick against in the Leafs.

GROUP HUG! (Photo credit: Abelimages)

Braden Holtby stones Tyler Bozak on a breakaway. (Photo credit: Graig Abel)

Braden Holtby stones Tyler Bozak on a breakaway. (Photo credit: Graig Abel)

The last time the Capitals played on Hockey Night in Canada, they destroyed the Calgary Flames 7-2 on October 30th, 2010. Coincidentally, it was also the last time that The Great Eight had a multi-goal game.

Eighty-four days and thirty-eight NHL games later, that streak would finally end for Ovechkin against a team he consistently has success against: the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Tonight, the Capitals managed to get on the board first for the second consecutive game. Jeff Schultz unleashed a howitzer from the point, and a hard-charging Russian Machine tipped Sarge’s shot past Maple Leafs’ goaltender, Jean-Sebastien Giguere. Despite both teams combining for forty shots through the games first two periods, scoring would not resume until the third.

One minute into the games final’s frame, Ovechkin would strike again, as he set up shop in his new home in front of the net. Unfortunately, the two-goal lead would only last a minute and a half. Leafs’ fourth-liner Tim Brent ended Braden Holtby’s shutout bid, going five-hole after Jay Rosehill’s shot from the point was muffled. The Leafs then astutely seized the momentum and came at the Caps in waves for the next several minutes. That is until Bruce Boudreau wisely called time-out after an icing call.

Matt Hendricks then scored the most beautiful goal of his career on a breakaway and Ovi’s ENHTG (empty net hat-trick goal) sealed the deal. Caps win 4-1.

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Introducing: Feed The Machine

Feed The Machine

One of the things we love about Russian Machine is how engaged and creative our audience (that’s you!) is. All that artwork and those guest posts are among the very best work we’ve ever published here, and we want to keep that going. So we’ve invented a new column that requires your help.

Helmed by Neil Greenberg, Feed the Machine is our version of the “Dear Abby” column, except crazier. Here’s how it works: you email us your thoughts about anything. Maybe you have a question about those impenetrable statistics (PDO, what’s that?) or an observation you’d like to share on Joe Beninati’s wardrobe. Maybe you’d like us to demystify the arcana of AHL-NHL eligibility rules.  Maybe you need dating advice and it hasn’t occurred to you that we’re the worst possible people to ask.  Whatever. Just drop us a line, and we’ll get back to you– by writing about it on here on the site.

The lines are open, and operators are standing by to take your call.

Let’s get it started.

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The Machinist: January 21, 2011

This week we created the Russian Machine tumblr site. We promise never to post anything not completely pointless there. Hop on over, giggle at silly photoshop jobs, and carry on with your day.

219 people reached the site looking for Ovechtrick, and all of them were disappointed. 27 people were looking for Charissa Thompson, and I guess they took a wrong turn somewhere.

SHOE alert: Do yourself a favor and read Kathryn’s recap of Hershey’s shutout SHOOTOUT (my bad!) loss to Lake Erie. Kyle’s photo of Holtby pouting in the paint is priceless.

Now, let’s do the Machinist.

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Caps beat Isles 2-1, but the Cake is a Lie

chimmerscores

The top line converts, but Ovechkin is pretty mellow. (Photo credit: Lou Capozzola)

I know a special place. A magical place. A place where the beer flows like wine. Where normal men are giants, and struggling hockey teams play like they’ve never been better.  A place called Long Island.

The Washington Capitals spent the evening in that benign growth of land dangling unloved off the mainland. There they met the New York Islanders (29th in the league in… oh let’s just say everything). But the Caps didn’t play down to their competition. Instead they looked like the studs we know deep down they really are. But looks can be deceiving.

Nick Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin delivered a masterful possession that Jason Chimera finished off from the goal mouth. Backstrom then broke his 21-game goalless streak by cleaning up an Ovechkin rebound. On a rail, NYI’s Michael Grabner beat John Carlson’s coverage and Braden Holtby’s read to put the Islanders on the board, but the third period was scoreless. Caps beat Isles 2-1.

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Last Goalie Post. Promise.

Braden Holtby, Semyon Varlamov, & Michal Neuvirth

It’s important when using statistics to make arguments or try to sway public opinion that you are not above learning something new. For me, this includes the effect of zone starts on scoring, how Corsi correlates to winning, and why scoring chances are an important metric to track. Each one helps put a player’s performance into context to try and determine the true skill level of a hockey player– both past and present. This is why I don’t change my mind, but I do make new decisions based on new information.

Take Washington’s goalies for instance. At first, I felt Michal Neuvirth deserved the right to be the “number one,” and I wasn’t wrong. He had a wonderful November and performed admirably. Then Semyon Varlamov’s groin started to heal and showed that he was ready to reclaim the number one spot– especially in the context of how he performed in different game situations.

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How Not to Win at Hockey: Flyers beat Caps 3-2 (OT)

King Fights Shelley

King vs. Shelley: a portrait of pointlessness. (Photo credit: Len Redkoles)

The Washington Capitals quenched their wanderlust, beginning their 15-game voyage (only 5 stops at home!) with an evening hosted by the Philadelphia Flyers. The conference-leading home team sported their explosive offensive, keeping busy the Washington goalies all night. The Capitals, except for a 40-second spurt, had precious little presence in the offensive zone. We went to overtime, but we didn’t stay long.

91 seconds into the game, Michal Neuvirth failed to track Jeff Carter’s wraparound and allowed a goal on the night’s first shot. Claude Giroux doubled down against relief-goalie Semyon Varlamov by seizing on a second chance. In the third, Marcus Johansson and Mike Knuble stormed Sergei Bobrovsky’s crease for a goal. 40 seconds later, Alex Ovechkin fed at the trough to tie it up. But in overtime, Jason Chimera gave Andrej Meszaros more than enough room to fire one home. Game over. Flyers beat Caps 3-2 (OT).

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The RMNB Alternative to NHL Guardian ‘The Capital’

The NHL has been trickling out superheroes to promote the All-Star Game. The Guardian Project challenges comics legend Stan Lee (and possibly artist Neal Adams) to create a “guardian” for each team in the league.  Sunday sees the debut of the Capital, an eagle-headed thing that sees real far.

Splendid.

Since we at Russian Machine are totals nerds for comics, we thought we’d play, too. Penciled by resident artist Rachel Cohen and inked & colored by Ian Oland, we have created our own version of The Capital– your lame, crass and tokenistic, D.C.-themed superhero™ guardian.

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