George McPhee is Wrong About a Lot of Things

Photo credit: Bridget Samuels

In speaking to the press last Friday, George McPhee talked about about pretty much everything there is to talk about: his plans for the trade deadline, the Capitals’ outlook for future success, and what in particular has been the team’s problem this year.

And he was wrong about pretty much everything. McPhee either doesn’t recognize how bad his team is or he refuses to acknowledge it publicly.

But first, this mandatory and not-at-all untrue GIF:

So I’ve collected quotes from McPhee’s Q&A with Mike Vogel and his press conference with the whole press corps. I implore you to watch and read the entirety of both, as I’m about to cherry-pick the hell out of them. Below each quote is my opinion/evidence-based analysis/bloviation.


“Those [formerly injured] players have made a real impact since they’ve returned and our team starts to line up the way that we thought it would and we’ve become a good team.”

Certainly Brooks Laich has made an impact since he returned (1 goal, 3 assists, positive possession despite starting in the D zone a lot). Mike Green‘s comeback has been marked by anecdotes both good and bad, but he too has been solid considering his overwhelmingly defensive assignments so far. I’m not sure we can say the same for Dmitry Orlov, who has just one shot on goal in over 75 minutes of ice time and has no detectable influence on ice tilt thus far (one caveat being his team-lowest 38.7% starts in the offensive zone).

But McPhee’s argument is that the team has become good by virtue of these players’ returns, and I don’t think the data back him up.

At the end of February, the Capitals had very low possession — 47.24% of unblocked even-strength shots went the right way– and below average PDO (a combination of shooting % and goalie save percentage, 97.9%). A little over a month later, PDO has jumped up to 100.5% thanks in part to some great goaltending, but possession has dropped to 46.87%. The statistical noise that is PDO is just making it seem like the Caps have improved, but they have not.

The Washington Capitals may actually be worse now than they were earlier in the season. Yes, they have more wins, but they’re still plagued by defensive breakdowns, and the pattern of their play bodes really poorly for their future. I worry that injuries are just an escape goat, a convenient excuse for a team that is either missing crucial components or effective coordination (or both).


“We like this team going forward. We like the players we have in our system; they’ll be real good fits for this team the way things are lined up now. The organization is in really good shape and it’s a real solid team. We’ve just got our fingers crossed that we can get a little bit healthier here and have a real nice run.”

Again, the Capitals are currently ranked in the bottom five at puck possession, the single best predictor of future success, and they are trending in the wrong direction since that ugly start to the season. That is neither good shape nor real solid.

It’s tempting but unwise to expect a “real nice run” in the playoffs. The players this team has seen return in the last month have not made them appreciably better by any metric that predicts success, and even if they get into the playoffs, they probably wouldn’t last long. Recent Stanley Cup-winning teams are the ones that have obliterated their opponents when it comes to possession. The Caps were that team back in 08-09, but they’re not today. The question shouldn’t be how to keep their fingers crossed to buck a convincingly determinative system; it should be how to return to that level of performance.

Blaming injury often a scoundrel’s refuge. McPhee did the same thing last year, and back then I agreed to some extent, as a healthy Nicky Backstrom tends to make the players around him better. But that’s not a well we should drink from often. One player– even one as good as Backstrom or Laich– isn’t the difference between a 47% possession lottery pick team and a 59% possession Cup contender. The Caps’ problems are way bigger than one or two injured players.


“We’ve got a chance to be a real good team and have a good run.”

He is absolutely correct. They have a chance. The Capitals have something like a 1 in 4 chance of making the playoffs. That’s not a good chance, but it is by definition a chance. Now, the team’s chances of actually going deep in the playoffs are worse. Both the team’s record and its possession data predict that they’ll likely lose a 7-game series against their probable playoff opponents (though I think they’d have a chance against Toronto!). If Braden Holtby gets hot or Alex Ovechkin scores on every other shot–  great! But one shouldn’t build a team based off a hope of exceptional and temporary brilliance, and that article of faith is no reason to wave away a real opportunity to improve a team for next season.


“There are nights when we are playing the way we can play, there are glimpses of how good we can be.”

That’s the thing about glimpses: they’re ephemeral. The problem with a player who has one good night for every five bad ones is not inconsistency, it’s just that he’s not very good. Even Mr. T can score a goal from center ice on a single attempt. How many times can he do it in 528 attempts? A glimpse doesn’t inform. It doesn’t illuminate. It distracts, and it seduces.

The Washington Capitals need a roster upgrade to become truly good. Until then, fans will take solace in glimpses of greatness, but they won’t last. Management has to take the long view. Subsisting on the illusion of sustainable success for too long will eventually make even the most die-hard Caps fans into jaded cynics. Like Cubs fans or Leafs fans or people who watch the McLaughlin Group.


“Our penalty kill– since that 2-8-1 start- we’re probably top 10 in the league or better.”

I think this is provably false. The next chart shows how the Capitals penalty kill has performed (in ten-game moving averages) since the beginning of the season. The league-average PK as of Monday morning is in red, and the threshold for the top 10 is in orange.

PK

The Capitals are not in the top 10 on the penalty kill. They were for a moment. Now they are average, maybe a little worse. If you go by McPhee’s methodology and cut out the first 11 games of the season, the Caps PK is 81.3%– almost exactly the league average.


“I’m not going to do anything at the deadline that in my mind would set us back.”

This is a topic I touched on during while on CapsCast on Easter Sunday. I’m choosing to interpret McPhee’s “set us back” as meaning in the short term since in the long term making a run for the playoffs seems likely to hurt the team’s chances at building a good team for 2014 and 2015.

There’s a lot of talent coming down the pipeline, and by not dealing away temporary players like Mike Ribeiro while his value is at an absurd peak, he’s lessening the punch that guys like Filip Forsberg and Evgeny Kuznetsov will have once they don a Caps uniform. While I’d love watching the Caps in the playoffs, I still think McPhee is mortgaging the team’s future for a way too slim chance at postseason success.

Okay, enough of the grumpy pants stuff.


“We’ve sort of changed our blueline on the fly here the last few years and have created this mobile blueline that can generate some offense.”

I can’t think of any good way to measure a blueline’s mobility, although I’m a bit suspicious that John Erskine and Jeff Schultz have the mobility of which McPhee speaks. Instead of quibbling over that, let’s see if Washington’s defenders are actually generating a larger share of offense compared to years past. I’ll measure that contribution using the percentage of shots on goal that came from defenders in each of the last 4 seasons.

Season D % of shots
2009-2010 21.6
2010-2011 20.1
2011-2012 26.3
2012-2013 25.6

McPhee is right. The Caps certainly have got a larger share of offensive contribution in recent years. Last season may have been an anomaly considering how little offense the Caps offered and how much Dennis Wideman was shooting early that year.

I should acknowledge that while the defense is proportionately generating more this year, the team overall is shooting less. Shots per game has trended down over the last four seasons.


“We really like the way Marcus Johansson is playing now.”

Me too! I wrote an inflammatory hitpiece about Johansson back in February that I’m frankly embarrassed about now. We’ve since learned that Johansson was playing through a concussion during those first nine games. He shouldn’t have been playing at all.

Since he’s returned, Johansson has been much better. He’s actually improving the play of some of his linemates now, he’s a relatively stronger player on the puck. He’s contributing to the offense for the first time in nearly a year. While he’s not all the way there yet, I’m really encouraged by his progress and embarrassed by my attack on a player who needed help, not criticism.

(Tangent: Hey, wouldn’t it be nice to have fully disclosed injuries for all players? Wouldn’t it be cool if there were transparency to a system so clearly broken that some players try to “tough out” their concussions and others medicate themselves to death? It would also enable fans and scouts to evaluate players in context, but that’s small potatoes considering the health of the players themselves. I know this has nothing to do with George McPhee’s statement, but the NHL– like most pro sports — still seems helplessly broken in this respect.)


I am not saying McPhee is a liar or an idiot. Far from it. He built my favorite hockey team (yours too, I suspect), and his job is phenomenally hard. He’s been deviously clever in the draft and has masterfully managed his goaltending talent. The facts certainly agree with some things he said on Friday, and some of my points above are purely subjective.

But the Capitals team I’ve been following so closely doesn’t resemble the one McPhee described. Maybe the Caps have internal metrics that would dispute what I’ve got– (I’d really welcome more data). Maybe McPhee was speaking strategically to position himself for some big moves on the trade deadline. Maybe he was speaking aspirationally, as if the mere saying of these things might help make them true. Maybe he just wants the players to know that they have his confidence at a crucial part of the season.

Still doesn’t make it true. Here’s one last McPhee quote:

“No one likes criticism.”

Well, yeah. I don’t think I’ll be getting a Christmas card from the McPhee McPhamily this year, but I’m still a fan. I still think this organization and this team can do great things. I just think a shared understanding of a problem is essential to its solving. So this is that.

Crash the net.

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  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Why should McPhee tell the truth about anything? He doesnt gain anything by airing out his laundry in public

    It’s the very same with the Orioles’ GM Dan Duquette. What they want you to hear and what is actually going isn’t the same thing.

  • http://twitter.com/VirtualYehudi Karaism

    Fire GMGM..

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I tried to imagine a bunch of reasons why GMGM might “spin” how good the team is in that last section.

    And don’t get me started on the O’s. Not today.

  • katzistan

    Great post. As the other commenter here noted, it’s not like McPhee is going to do a press conference and announce how terrible the team is, but points taken.

    You did get one thing wrong:

    “Subsisting on the illusion of sustainable success for too long will eventually make even the most die-hard Caps fans into jaded cynics.”

    Of course, any die-hard Caps fan is already a jaded cynic. No more ground to travel there…

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Haha. I feel so lucky to have missed the Jagr era (partially due to college, mostly due to Jagr). I’m so much less bitter than I would’ve been if I had watched every game.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I’m just saying the only person he has to actually answer to is Leonsis.

  • brdweb

    Don’t hate the guy but jeez, he’s been given enough time that if what he was doing was going to work, it would have by now.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=692356341 Matt Mendelsohn

    Good post as usual. The Post may get the comments but you have all the substance. I don’t see any of this kind of analysis over there anymore. You have the ability to be jokey and sarcastic in a way that Katie et al. don’t, but I still don’t see any kind of beat reporting from them.

  • thecatsinthecradle

    I would love to see an opinion article on what YOU think the caps should do/should have done at the trade deadline. I have seen some interesting ideas from many different people, I am curious on your take Peter.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    If the team doesn’t trade Ribeiro so that they can re-tool for Forsberg and Kuznetsov’s era, it will be evidence for me that this team is less about winning the cup and more about making money. Lemieux didn’t win a cup until a second wave of players. Yzerman didn’t win a cup until a second wave of players. Let’s start looking towards those years and retool a little bit! Being aggressive now will reap a huge reward later.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Okay, but I don’t consider myself a good negotiator OR an armchair GM.

    I’d try to deal Mike Ribeiro to the Ducks for a 2014 first round pick and a prospect or 2013 second rounder. ANA thinks they’ll make the playoffs next season, but it’s not a sure thing.

    Many players are untouchable, but lots and lots of UFAs can go. Fehr and Woski get re-signed.

    No rentals.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Thanks, Matt.

    WaPo comments are wild, right?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    So very true. It’s apparent that they are definitely NOT rebuilding, so Leonsis’ well documented rules for a rebuild (e.g. transparency) are not in effect. To admit a rebuild would be tantamount to admitting failure.

  • MiddleFingerLake

    You are SO right about the Washington Compost. It has let the Capitals coverage become stagnant and resemble a child’s rendering of Twitter comments.

  • MiddleFingerLake

    Go take a look at the posters on the Washington Compost’s “Capitals Insider” (and that term must be used loosely) if you want to see some robust hate going McPhee’s way.

  • MiddleFingerLake

    Fehr and Wolski????………..I’d invite them to camp but that’s about it.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I think a rebuild is pretty far fetched to begin with, roster turnover in hockey is high enough that what I might constitute as a rebuild would have to be getting rid of all of the “young guns”. Ovie, Backstrom, Green etc.

    A partial rebuild in this current scenario is more like trading Ribs and Chimera, and moreso stocking up for next season.

  • freckleface81

    Wait, when did we learn that MoJo was playing through a concussion? Clearly, he got it playing in Sweden if it was for the first several games. So that leaves HOW many of our players sidelined at the beginning of the season from playing overseas or in the AHL (seriously, how many….5?) Anyone ever figure out what Backstrom’s “neck bruise” really was?
    Also, I know that there was some talk about players who were injured playing for other teams during the lockout not being paid for their time on injured reserve….any truth to that? Was Laich ever on IR or just a scratch for 25 straight games? Could that be wny MoJo was playing with a concussion? Backstrom being cagey about his “non-injury” injury?
    And for Ribs—any way we can have our cake and eat it too (sign him AND still have room for all the prospects?). I know we’re probably not going to the playoffs (but I have yet to internalize that), but I mean…we could still use a guy like that next year you know?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I treat WaPo comments the same way I do YouTube comments

  • Deej

    Excellent post, thank you.

    It’s tough that one of McPhee’s and the organization’s best strengths are in drafting and that they aren’t playing to that strength by moving players for picks. That said, I do believe that one of the key’s to winning a cup is making the playoffs as often as is strategically possible. There’s hot streaks, luck, and a whole mix of randomness that can propel mediocre teams on a deep playoff run, just as the same as true for the best teams getting bumped out early (I’m convinced Pens are going to get bumped early this year for their hubris).

    I feel we should move the players that will provide a high return at the deadline (Ribero) and still fight hard for a playoff spot. Will we go far without Ribs? Doubtful, but we aren’t tanking enough to get a top 5 pick next year and we aren’t winning enough to warrant picking up anyone at the deadline. Acquiring draft picks and hoping to slip into the playoffs is our best chance to have our cake and eat it too.

  • Ash

    I agree with the analysis here, though I think expecting a GM in general and GMGM in particular to come out and either be transparent or critical in a negative sense about the team is extremely unlikely. I mean, there is absolutely nothing in GMGM’s history to suggest he’d ever do this; the man’s as close-mouthed as an oyster. But of course the article wasn’t suggesting he do this, only analyzing what he actually said.

    Even though I love speculating, I know that I don’t know enough and that I’m not in the game. I do believe there is a ton of info we’re never privy to, and that the general fan (and even blogger!) are only seeing a fraction of the info and experience and factors that go into running a team and making its decisions. So, it’s hard for me personally to come down on some of the decisions because I ask myself what’s the more likely scenario: that I’m actually smarter than the people running the organization, or that I’m just not aware of some (if not most) of the internal factors.

    But I dunno. I like McPhee. I don’t necessarily agree with the direction he’s going in. But I also ask myself who would be a comparable or better replacement GM for him that the Caps could definitely obtain, and I come up blank quite a lot.

  • http://www.facebook.com/sph922 Sean Hunt

    You guys are being too stubborn with the idea of trading Ribz. Bringing in Forsberg and Kuzya isn’t guaranteed to be the saving grace to all our problems, at all. Every time this team has struggled, we’ve pointed to an issue, saying oh we just need to solve that and then we’ll be great. Well we just did that in the offseason finding our second line center, and it doesn’t matter what the debate is about, the young guys we have now (MoJo, Perry) can’t fill that spot, and our top prospects may or may not even do well in the NHL at all at first. We aren’t the Oilers or the Blues or one of those teams made up of young guys, and as you can see that’s not working out so well for them despite all the speculation. We absolutely need Ribz, I mean come on our only good figure this season is our powerplay and that’s because we have Backy and Ribz feeding pucks to Ovi. You wonder why his production is up this year? And what would we even get for him, 2 young guys? I would think bringing in 2 more young guys would discourage Fors and Kuzya more than keeping Ribz around

  • Deej

    I think McPhee’s tendency to slightly over-value who we have and how good we are are more the motivation than money for not re-tooling this team, but I’m definitely in agreement that we can have a powerhouse roster for the next few seasons with a few solid draft-based improvements. It’ll be incredibly frustrating if we sacrifice any part of our future this season to try and improve this roster in the short term.

  • Swhirly

    Playoffs this year versus building up this team for the future – easy decision. I’m not going to be a caps fan JUST this year, so if we miss the playoffs, WAH, but let’s concentrate on making it the next 6 years, when I will still be a fan. Long term view is extremely important when your current team has showed flashes of brilliance paired with many, many flashes of ineptitude and nonchalance (as proven by Peter with this post and Negative Neil in all of his posts). With realignment putting us in a way more difficult spot, re: playoffs, after this season, something must be done. Clean this house, George.

  • capsaremyfav

    Sooo you’re saying mcphee should just wait around and have a horrible team until the draft picks show up. Sorry, you should blame the NHL for allowing draft picks of players who sit out. What other professional sport drafts potential players rights. All I’m saying is would you rather have a decent team every year or a horrible team every year while waiting for your stars to come from overseas? You can’t win the cup unless you’re a playoff contender.

  • andthesilverspoon

    Okay, okay. Fair enough. I agree with the Mike Ribeiro, unless he takes a pay cut to stay here and we all know that isn’t going to happen.

    What are your reasons for keeping Woski?

    Also, what are your thoughts on the goalie situation? It looks like Holtby is getting the starts from here on. Is Grubauer good enough to be a backup and move Nuvy to somewhere else?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    I went over my Wolski reasons here: http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2013/03/27/wojtek-wolski-is-kind-of-getting-screwed/

    Both he and Fehr are scoring forwards who can’t play really tough minutes, but can be optimized to put up goals. They’re both REALLY cheap too.

    I’d let Gruby develop (which McPhee said he’ll do), and sign Neuvy to an extension (shouldn’t be too costly given his stinky year). The Caps will still have one of the cheapest goalie pairs in the league.

    Lots of money left for UFAs and blueline improvements!

  • MiddleFingerLake

    How about the value he places on the sad sack “rentals” he’s brought in to DC in the past? His scouts deserve a lot of credit for the success this club has had in the draft but his overall ability to “manage” this hockey club is atrocious. He has poisoned the atmosphere in Washington and it will take his removal to begin lifting the stains from the brand.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    “Forsberg and Kuzya isn’t guaranteed to be the saving grace to all our problems, at all. ” Exactly, which is why you trade a 33-year-old center (who will never have a higher trade value), for prospects and picks who can help give this organization depth for the long-term. If you look at the Hershey Bears, they are devoid of high-end talent. Garrett Mitchell has worked his butt off to make himself into a legitimate prospect (who I think should have been brought up while Laich was hurt), Grubauer looks like he’ll be a goalie in the NHL some day, and Cameron Schilling is a great skater. But they need more. Much more.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    I don’t read them because they’re SCARY

  • littleboyblue

    That is reasonable. How long do you think they will extend Nuvy for?

    I know it is still early, but any idea on what the free agency will look like? Are there some reasonable pick ups that the caps could make? Will GMGM plan the offseason with the expectation or possibility of adding Forseberg and kuznetsov?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    Oates said he had a concussion. I’m guessing it came from his collision with Ovechkin during the preseason: http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2013/01/15/video-alex-ovechkin-and-marcus-johanssons-brutal-collision/

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Negotiations are hard for me to predict (I’m really bad at it). I think a 3-year deal would be mutually beneficial. MORE ON THIS TOPIC LATER THIS WEEK.

    Don’t expect Kuzya until summer 2014.

  • MiddleFingerLake

    Agreed, housecleaning is in order. Please unload Ward and his $3 million.

  • http://twitter.com/annielockyer Annie Lockyer

    Great piece, Peter.

  • swhirly

    I like Ward, but I agree, with the cap coming down, it makes him expendable. A few others as well.

  • http://twitter.com/John_Atchison John Atchison

    Who do you see this club using Amnesty on in the offseason, if at all? My call would be Schultz…

  • http://twitter.com/John_Atchison John Atchison

    And i see we just made another one of our useless “minor league” trades

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=42211077 Owen Johnson

    They don’t need to rebuild, with the talent they have coming in, they just need to ship off a couple pieces so they can be ready when they come in.
    Reload is the correct word.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Meh, semantics.

    They need to get rid of a lot of players and bring in a lot of new ones. I’m not saying fire sale, but yeah the team needs to become something *different* to win.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Thanks, Annie!

  • Yv

    I agree with some points of the article, however, not to be picky, but if to look on statistical table more accurately you will find that as of today Caps have 1/3 chance to get into playoffs (32+%), still not as high as desired but, at-least, going up. Moreover and more importantly, the other possibility that shouldn’t be overlook from the same tables, Caps have quite high probability to win division and get third seed. Just for comparison, Jets have 35%, Car -26% and Caps-22%, quite close. Win tonight vs CAR and Jets loss to Rangers and those chances will become highly in Caps favor, probably 50+%, considering favorable schedule.
    So, the easy question is whether GMGM or anybody is ready to sacrifice high probability to get 3d seed and play beatable TOR/OTT in playoffs, or will still think about supporting the future seasons and waves? I don’t think that any GM in the league will risk an opportunity to play.
    It looks to me that Caps will do something, however without hurting their chances this year and not mortgaging their top future prospects.

  • Bucky Katt

    Amen Brother Ian. I’m not really excited at the prospect of going in as a 3 or 8 seed and then seeing the Caps get their @$$e$ escorted out the door in 5 or 6 games of the first round. I’d rather they make a play to get some picks and make some adjustments. Saw the Hillen re-signing today and first thought was “Really? Hillen?”.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Yv,

    Sorry, I wrote the article before the % was updated for today.

    Let me add that I don’t think Sports Club considers talent of future opponents when calculating that %. I did so in my halfway post, which explains some of my pessimism.

    Like I said, I think the Caps could whip Toronto, but I don’t think they can go further. I’m making a value judgment– that it’s better to create a team that could win the conference finals in the next 3 years than it is to have a team luck into the playoffs this year and likely go no further.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rusty-Shackelford/1434757800 Rusty Shackelford

    McPhee is starting to sound like those people who read “The Secret”, and if they wish hard enough for something to come true, it will. Also reminds me of that one down-on-their-luck person we all know who refuses to make the hard choices needed to improve their situation, but according to them, by golly, better days are ahead. Why, they can just FEEL it.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    I laughed at the WaPo. comments because it’s true. We are an angry wild bunch.

    Great post Peter! You or Ian should be the beat reporter for the Caps.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rusty-Shackelford/1434757800 Rusty Shackelford

    Agree, but the powers that be seem more interested in selling tickets than building a team truly capable of contending for a championship. You might be a fan in six years, but a lot of the people who jumped on the bandwagon in 2008 won’t be. Many probably won’t be after this season, especially if there are no playoffs. In some ways I think the Caps suddenly getting hot in 2008 was the worst thing that could have happened to the organization. It came out of nowhere and rather than focusing on how to leverage the sudden success into doing the right things to become a perennial contender, the team focused more on stupid marketing gimmicks in order to attract and keep the attention of people that didn’t even realize DC had a hockey team, until they started winning games.

  • Jon Thomas

    “We’ve got a chance to be a real good team and have a good run.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rusty-Shackelford/1434757800 Rusty Shackelford

    Well said, and you’re right that the return for Ribiero would likely not be more than two prospects. The only way he should go is if GMGM can convince an anxious GM to WAY overpay, and that would have to include a younger impact roster player. You never know.
    Your comments about Forsberg and Kuz are also dead on. I’m always amazed at how hockey fans are willing to place so much faith in the ability of prospects, who have not yet skated on an NHL ice sheet, to contribute right away or pan out at all. I’ve been guilty of it plenty of times.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Ha I was wondering when someone would invoke the Secret.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rusty-Shackelford/1434757800 Rusty Shackelford

    Fair, but most of the prospects and picks the organization has acquired have been better at helping Hershey win Calder Cups than helping the Caps win Stanley Cups.

  • vahockeymom

    What’s wrong with WaPo comments? I know, I know, we aren’t in the game…

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Beyond my immaturity, here is my issue with the team and how it’s run.
    Sure, we built around the same time as the Kings, Hawks, Pens, Canes, and Bruins. But do you know what those teams focused on in contrast to us? Balance. Every one of those teams made sure to add depth at the center to put out 2 scoring lines, a third line of energy guys, and a 4th line of bruisers/enforcers. Every one of those teams went out to ensure they had a solid blueline. Did it work out every year? No, but they made sure to fill the holes until any upcoming prospects were ready to go.

    Here in Washington, we expected our prospects to fill those roles right away. Threw Schultz on the ice like a kid thrown in water who doesn’t know how to swim. Then Boudreau’s run and gun offense instilled zero defensive responsibility in our forecheckers, and expected D-men to contribute offensively as well. Placed more work on the goalies hence why Varly, Theo, Kolzig, Johnson, and Neuvy were frequently getting injured. Our lack of toughness explains why teams always feel the liberty to take runs at us. Did anyone dare mess with us when we had Simon, Hunter, Tinordi and Berube? Love Hendy, but he is far from intimidating.

    We’re too afraid to make the big moves because McPhee fears he might lose a potential star player, but that’s how it works. You win some deals, you lose some. No prospect is guaranteed to be a star.

  • MiddleFingerLake

    Nice of you to stop by HNiC. I just read this same post over at the Washington Compost. That’s OK though, spread the good word my friend.

  • MiddleFingerLake

    Here’s a friggin beauty from twitter

    Tony Brar ‏@TonyBrar175m
    Ray Shero, GM of the Pittsburgh Penguins, has just traded Charmander + Pikachu to CGY for 2 Limited Edition Charzards! #TradeCentre

  • MiddleFingerLake

    Ward is useless. Try to remember something good that he did recently. $3 million for nothing. We just signed Jack Hillen for 2 years at half that money. Get rid of Ward before it’s too late. Got less than 24 hrs at this point.

  • Hockeynightincanada

    Did the fire on the Charmander’s tail then burn out once he was traded to Calgary?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Ward: positive possession, lots of defensive assignments. He’s not being deployed correctly. He should be in top 2 lines, getting more 17 minutes a night like he did in Smashville

  • Hockeynightincanada

    I post here, there, and CSN. Enjoy this one the best for reading purposes, and the post for commenting. I know, I am crazy.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    That’s a huge mistake. If Pittsburgh pulls an Air or Water type team in the first round, they’re totally hosed.

  • swhirly

    Agreed. He started the year “flashier” – goal scoring, etc. But I think he is above average in background situations. I would also like to see him on a top line with more minutes. I mean, why the hell not?

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com Ian Oland

    If you trade Ribeiro you ask for a prospect and a first round pick.

  • Yv

    Peter, I understand this, but there are absolutely no guarantees that Caps will reach conference finals next several years, as didn’t mighty Caps of 2009-11. I think there is probably zero chance that any GM will pass an opportunity to win division and play home ice and, then, hope for the best. Habs and Flyers of ’10th, Tampa of ’11th and Devils of ’12 also didn’t initially have a chance, but they all ended, at-least, in CF.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bryantpthomas Bryant Thomas

    I stopped going there less because of content and more because there are so many asswipes.

  • blondinwrx

    While its a decent predictor, possession stats cannot be the end all with regards to future success. Most coaches will tell you shots are not a very good indicator on how well a game went – those coaches are the ones that know the game better then any of us. So that means Corsi and Fenwick are based on stats that coaches are telling us don’t mean everything, yet we are grading teams with them? The biggest thing missing is time on attack. A team could have 35 mins with the puck during a game and have a combined negative corsi from shots – does that mean they aren’t driving possession? What it tells you is that they need to shoot more. Especially with a finesse team like washington which tries to thread the needle every second scoring chance, corsi can be a bit inflated (deflated).

    2 things this team needs to change – byebye Chimera and Schultz. Neither should touch the ice ever again.
    I agree Ribs should be traded. He’s been a huge benefactor of who he has been playing with and rightfully so, his trade value will never be higher. We can make the playoffs without him.

  • blondinwrx

    this team is about making the playoffs. Anything can happen when you show up to the dance. If a team has the right behaviours, all it needs is some puckluck and grit and the show goes on.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    Well, a few things.

    No one, at least not me, says that possession is absolute in its prediction power. It provides a very reliable probability though.

    We’re not grading based on a stat that coaches dismiss, we’re grading based on a stat that is like 80% correlated to victory.

    Possession correlates around 90% to the old zone time stat. You’re gonna have examples where it doesn’t line up, but those will be rare.Time on attack is basically redundant, and it’s probably inferior since dump’n’chase and grind’n’cycle don’t lead to goals very well (see the zone entry project).

    You don’t win by maximizing Corsi. You don’t try to game the system, but it’s pretty damn obvious that a good team shoots a lot, gets rebounds, and limits shots against. It’s a set of skills and procedures abstracted into a stat that leads to success.

    I haven’t seen any data to back up what you mean by threading the needle or deflating possession stats. I’ve seen the opposite– a team that seems to be having a higher quality of shots than normal usually reverts back eventually.

  • http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/ Peter Hassett

    “Absolutely” and “guarantees” aren’t really concepts I’m trafficking in here. The best Caps team of the last 15 years was the 08-09 Caps, and they got knocked out in the second round. That happens sometimes.

    The 2012-2013 Caps wouldn’t even come close to the playoffs in the realigned NHL.

    You suit up the 08-09 Caps again, you might win a Cup.

    You suit up the 12-13 Caps again, you might finish DFL.

    Might, likely, probably.

  • http://twitter.com/mattymatty2000 Matthew Kory

    What if they can’t get that? I’m not against dealing Ribeiro but what seems to be lost on the whole ‘trade him now’ contingent is that someone has to agree to give up something of value and given what Jagr and Iginla netted, I’m not so sure there’s a huge haul out there just waiting for McPhee to pull the trigger.

  • Brad M

    How easily it is to forgot the past few years when everyone was like, “all we need is a second line center” because MoJo or Perreault couldnt get it done… well now we got a good one and people now want to dump him and rebuild… riiiight. Just make the playoffs anything can happen. Kings were an 8 seed last year right????? Yeah.. they were.

  • Mikey

    I really appreciate your humility with what you said about Johansson. It’s nice to see him feeling better and playing better.

  • rebel177

    Much as I love my local May hockey, if there is a legit package being offered for Ribs, then take it. We’re not privy to whatever negotiations are going on so we don’t know what Ribs wants contractually, other than term length. Caps need an infusion of youth at forward who can actually score in this league, not skate their lane and cycle to eat time so lines 1 and 2 can come out. Also, Caps have other pieces { Shultz,MP,Chim, Ward, Neuvy, Hillen, Kondratek,Wolski ] that could be moved to right city for nothing if not some fresh faces. Not saying these players all have to go in a house cleaning, only that they may entice a return that will help in playoffs or 2013/14.

  • rebel177

    Not to hate on Caps but they have a solid handful of players that they can do without in 2013/14. Also have a couple more that are movable if the offer is right.

  • rebel177

    My son has 2 first edition Charizards in mint condition from days gone by. He’ll offer them to GMGM if we can get a scoring forward for OV – Backy { don’t give me this improving Mojo nonsense }

  • rebel177

    gotta re sign Fehr, Wolski on the cheap if he’s still here in a few hours