Wild beat Caps 5-3 in Braden Holtby’s Crummy Comeback

Ovi and Cookie - Bruce Kluckhohn

Ovechkin and Cookie get stupid. (Photo: Bruce Kluckhohn)

You could say the Caps have been struggling. Their puck possession has disintegrated over the last couple weeks and they haven’t been able to make up the difference with special teams, shot quality, or lucky goaltending. Heading into Minnesota, where no one wants the puck, you’d think the Caps would start the turnaround. But shot quality is a fickle fairy, and tonight she spread her lucky dust on the sticks of the Wild.

Marcus Johansson cleaned up a rebound to convert a first-period power play. Thirteen seconds later, Mike Green put some messed-up moves on Matt Cooke to make it 2-0 on the very next shot, just 13 seconds later. It was fun.

Nino Niederreiter scored on the Wild’s second shot of the game, early in the second period as no one in particular played defense. With Steve Oleksy and Karl Alzner serving time in the box, the Wild’s Ryan Suter struck twice– both times with Dany Heatley screening Braden Holtby. I’m not even gonna try to explain the tying goal, which Mike Green got credit for, so just read our story on that one. The Wild got the lead back with a bouncing puck finished off by Jason Zucker.

And then Ryan Suter got the hat trick after serving a tripping minor in the third period.

Wild beat Caps 5-3.

You knew this next one was coming, right?

BackstromVsBackstrom

  • Over the last couple weeks I’ve been appreciating Marcus Johansson‘s work as the low man on the power play. He’s been trying this east-west stuff move right in the paint without success, though that certainly worked when he turned Alex Ovechkin’s rebound into Saturday’s first goal. Good to see his hard work rewarded, even if Johansson is still struggling to score at evens, where he’s got just one more goal than Martin Erat, who has none.
  • Bask once more in the glory of Mike Green‘s moves on janky old Matt Cooke. Teh skill.
  • Speaking of Cookie, the reformed pest goaded Alex Ovechkin into conduct unbecoming of a sportsman at the end of the first period. I don’t know how guys don’t see right through that. It’s like when Maury Povich would invite the KKK on his show all the time. You know they’re gonna stir up stuff, so can we just ignore ‘em instead? Does this count as Godwin’s law?
  • After twenty minutes, the Caps led the Wild in shots 11-1. Braden Holtby, who hadn’t played since before Christmas was so totally on top of that one shot. Everything was looking good, but then the second shot beat Holtby (and five eyewitnesses in Capitals uniforms), then the fourth, then the fifth. It’s hard to be screened any more than Holtby was. Dany Heatley, who is 6’4″, 220 lbs, was permitted just sorta kick it in the crease. If he were any more welcome there, he’d have ordered bottle service.
  • John Carlson was on the ice and on the hook for both of those powerplay goals by Ryan Suter. John Erskine joined him for the second one.
  • Man, did I not miss the delay-of-game penalties. Puck-over-glass whistles plagued the Caps earlier in the season, but it seemed like they were on the wane since November. We saw two tonight– one from Alzner and one from Mikhail Grabovsky. Both DOGs bit.
  • The Capitals have allowed hat tricks in consecutive games. First Jeff Skinner, now Ryan Suter. Mike Green did positively nothing to break up the odd-man rush that became Suter’s third goal– something of a pattern for him.
  • Remember when the Minny fans booed their team after the first period? I miss that.
Joe B suit of the night. LOCKER IS FREAKISHLY HUGE.

Joe B suit of the night. LOCKER IS A GIANT.

It’s weird. The Capitals obliterated the Wild in puck possession in the first. They dominated at evens. The team with the puck isn’t supposed to give up penalties, but they did, and that’s how the Caps lost control of this game. That and just wretched team defense.

And don’t forget Braden Holtby, whose comeback game was about as bad as comebacks come. The Wild didn’t shoot a lot, but a combination of happy bounces (Zucker), awful screens (Suter I, Suter II), and odd-man rushes (Suter III) meant a really really bad save percentage for the team’s number-one– I guess– goalie.

So, we won’t see Holtby again until the end of the month. If you do badly, you get two weeks off. That’s the way it goes, right? Oates?

Alright, I’ll just say it one more time, and I’ll keep it brief. Braden Holtby has saved 92% of 2517 shots in his NHL career before Saturday. We know he’s a good goaltender, and we’re pretty damn confident he’s an above-average goaltender. We are not so weak-minded to let a 11-shot sample shake us from wisdom. Right?

Yes, this was a garbage game from Braden, but looking at the replays you can see how it came to be. The Caps D was really really bad.

goal

Team derp-fense (via Jeffrey Kleiman)

Put the bad reads on top of some bad penalties, and even a puck-possession monster team with a 92% career goalie is gonna lose. The Caps have 75 days off before their next game in Tampa on Thursday. Maybe they can work on defense between now and then? Maybe they can work on rosters too!

Shut up, Ian.

  • Freedoooom

    If this was the KHL, this reffing crew would of been suspended, should be fired due to the fact they don’t know how to count.

    http://i.minus.com/jqPIDTPr1B05D.png
    http://i.minus.com/itHLeHCiMj444.gif

  • Owen Johnson

    Who is #70 and what did he do to Braden Holtby?

  • growupyoucumguzzler

    Yeah, it’s the refs fault…

  • nicoley-poley

    i thought it was steve oleksy and karl alzner in the box for the two minnesota PPGs?

  • Freedoooom

    Also, tired of the awful anti-Ovechkin crap on this blog.

    http://i.minus.com/jxD6yesnxsuw6.png

  • Ben Reed

    “Mike Green did positively nothing to break up the odd-man rush that became Suter’s third goal”

    That play was classic lost-confidence Green. He wavered on the pinch – which he had under control – by pulling back at the last second and placing himself perfectly into no-man’s land for the 2 on 1. The rest is poor-positioning-history.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Holtby was just bad. Which is kind of alright since he’s had time off. But blah.

  • Bob

    Without calling any individual player out ill just say this game was embarrassing. I know a lot of people on here believe its just a matter of time before this team turns it around but i just don’t see it. This team is still playing as inconsistently as they did earlier in the season. They are just lacking in something and its painful to watch. I hope they prove me wrong though.

  • Matt

    They just had to suck when Holtby came back. They just had to,

  • Marky Narc

    I tell ya, I am really looking forward to the massive defensive upgrade the Caps are going to get when Jack Hillen comes back from the IR.

    What a sentence that is. Unfortunately, I’m actually half-serious. *sad face*

  • Dave

    I don’t understand why the penalty for Delay of Game is any different than the penalty for icing. A minor seems a little severe, right?

  • Myan

    I don’t care that Holtby has a career save percentage of 93%. He is ineffective right now. That was a 54.5% save percentage and that isn’t good enough. He may be “an above average” goalie but right now he is a mediocre goalie.

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

    My mistake! I have Backstrom on the brain. Thanks for the correction.

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

    You always, as a defender, want to force the person with the puck to shoot on a two-on-one break. Let your goalie concentrate on one shooter, not two. Green is consistently poor when trying to defend odd man breaks.

  • Myan

    I don’t understand what this picture has to do with anti-Ovechkin sentiment.

  • Lawrence

    That was a pretty depressing game to watch. Holtby has been so solid in the past, its sad to see him struggling so much. Ovechkin had that look on his face too, the one where he knows no matter what he does he won’t win (seen that face in the playoffs a few times). I love this team, but part of me wonders if Mcphee has made the right roster moves the last few years. :(

    I just don’t want Ovi’s prime years to pass us by with no team awards.

  • old man

    some one needs to get the hell rid of this crappie goalie. 11 shots 5 goals send the jerk somewhere else

  • Adam Johnson

    Well that was quite the shitty game from Holtby.

  • wholovespizza

    I’m baffled on what this team is doing. I don’t understand how you can be so bad at times, with so much talent.

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

    Bob, I’m glad you’re not a GM. Making a staff decision based on 11 shots? GLWT.

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

    11 shots.

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

    Btw, I was wrong on Twitter earlier. It’s 92% not 93%. My bad.

  • Chris

    But this is like the 4th odd man rush were Green has not stopped the pass in the last 3 games… Should some one say something to him?

  • loserdouche

    This dude always comes here and trolls the posts. Ionno how they aren’t banned yet. It is always negative, hateful things. I honestly don’t think I’ve ever seen them say something positive.

  • Bob

    the amount of odd man rush’s they give up is disturbing, so is the lack of 2-1’s the caps get

  • Red

    It’s inexcusable for a professional team to be this inconsistent. This one is on the players and the coaching staff.

  • Matt McNeely

    Because this is the first Wild goal, which as somebody already pointed out, was a 2 on 5. I can’t say for sure because I don’t know the system, but that sure looks like Ovi’s guy. I mean, nobody in this picture is looking for their guy, but I’m pretty sure as a RW Ovi should be defending that spot on the ice… and he is not.

  • maddyjl

    This is a friendly reminder not to feed the trolls.

  • Owen Johnson

    You mean the guy we rode during the playoffs the last 2 years? Yeah, that guy sucks!

  • Ben Reed

    Oh he absolutely sucked on the 2 on 1. But it only happened because he pulled away from the O-Zone pinch at the blue line.

    Confident Mike Green follows through and the puck stays in the offensive zone.

  • Owen Johnson

    Well he didn’t really bail them out like he normally does.

  • Bob

    ugh, the lack of defense on this team at times is depressing

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

    Here’s the domination thing. Le sigh.

  • Matt McNeely

    I’m beginning to understand Dale Hunter.

  • riggorules

    Most depressing loss of the season?

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

    DAMMIT MATT

  • Mike Lunsford

    I can’t help but let me love for this team cloud my judgement…I keep hoping that this is all just a bad stretch…but hope isn’t what wins games or Stanley Cups. Something has to change, I’m glad Green is scoring again, but his lack of defense is driving me insane.

  • Myan

    Small sample size, huh? I’ve always felt that good goalies can come up with huge saves even if they’ve had bad games. Holtby had an atrocious game. He didn’t come up with one good save tonight. After 3-2, he looked shaky.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Agreed. I love the kid, and I know that he was screened, but… damn. A 54% save is not purely because of bad luck.

  • Myan

    thanks for being honest, Peter.

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

    Sure it is. It absolutely is. If it’s not based on bad luck, then it is — by definition– something that will repeat and sustain. If it’s not luck, it’s his talent. Since Holtby is not anywhere near a 54% goalie, it has to be luck– random variance. (Which doesn’t let him off the hook, but it does mean that his Sv% won’t stay this way.)

  • James Desautels

    Ian, 100% agree. As a Dman you take the pass or at least attempt to by forcing the puck carrier to make a snap decision to force a play by covering as much of the passing lane as possible, IE LAYING DOWN, which Green seems 100% allergic to. It happens EVERY game. It is now, a #thing.

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

    I didn’t think most of the goals were on him (again). Also part of the problem of him looking uncomfortable is BECAUSE HIS HEAD COACH KEEPS BENCHING HIM AND HE HASNT PLAYED SINCE WHEN DINOSAURS ROAMED THE EARTH.

  • Umad

    This is called loser talk.

  • Myan

    I wish he would’ve shown us a bit of his talent by making one of those saves tonight….

  • OlietheGoalie

    I know he is not a crappy goalie – I have his jersey. BUT tonight he was bad. Even with the screening taken into consideration.

  • Myan

    Anybody know our record since Erskine’s come back??? I’m not trying to lead a witchhunt against him but I am curious.

  • Umad

    This was also Holtby’s softest goal.

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

    Right– I’m just saying that random luck (or, if you prefer, shitty D) could explain this performance completely. If it didn’t, we’d have to interpret this game as a signifier of his talent overall. Which would be insane.

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

    I agree

  • James Desautels

    Ben, agreed to point on Greenie. I thought he could get to that puck but that slight moment of hesitation put him between not making it and giving up a 2-1 break. When Green was playing at his old level he either gets that puck or takes the body enough to slow the play. What he did tonight was JV. At the pro level you have to make the call and commit 100% or the other guy smokes you. Either pinch and take the body if you get there late or immediately turn and cover the zone. We give up more odd man rushes than my mens league team and its ridiculous.

  • Myan

    But he was given starts before this 2 week benching and he was average in those appearances. If I remember correctly, he was giving up 3-4 goals in each of those appearances. You can’t expect the coaches to play him when there’s another guy playing better and winning games between the pipes.

  • Umad

    So is this the same shitty D that allowed 11 shots? The least since 1996? Can’t have it both ways. Holtby was terrible, this is on him.

  • James Desautels

    We are making the same mistakes over and over each game. Its groundhog day. Does Oates skip the film sessions and go straight to story time? WTF.

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

    Whatcha mean by inconsistent?

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

    Don’t conflate puck possession and shot quality. Dany Heatley’s screens, Zucker’s lucky bounce, Nino’s open lane, and Suter’s 2-on-1. Those are all super high-risk situations allowed by the skaters.

  • Matt McNeely

    I know… I know. It’s just… I dunno. You think maybe his defensive system was so terribly stifling because we frankly didn’t (still don’t) have the defensive talent on this team to play regular defense?

  • Ben Reed

    There is something to be said for the appalling lack of defensive coaching, both in terms of skill and team concept. So to answer your question, yes.

  • OlietheGoalie

    Dunno if D is to blame (and I’m usually the one to show them under a fleet of buses). Yeah, they should have pushed the Wild forwards out of Holtby’s way, but they also only got off a dozen shots. That’s pretty good. Or someone took a lot of blocked shots to the face.

  • Ben Reed

    Exactly – if you have confidence, you commit. But he has a coach who won’t give him the Green light (pun intended!), teammates that don’t get back on defense, and a system that seems to continuously put him in these shitty situations.

  • Umad

    Agree, but those situations happen every game. You don’t score on 100% (or 46%) of them because you have a competent goalie. I beleive Holtby is more than competent but the lack of game reps has slowed him. The D did enough to win the game by limiting shots and allowing only a few opportunities where you are leaning on your goalie, Holtby let them down in those situations.

  • Ben Reed

    The “poor-positioning” was a two-for-one: Green and Holtby.

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

    Ask the 1999-2003 Capitals teams that same question. Generally it’s too many veterans underperforming.

  • Matt

    The D was good 5v5, but the PK was atrocious.

  • James Desautels

    Hey at least the Eagles lost.

  • Umad

    But the flyers…

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

    You’re right that you don’t score on 100% or 46%, but if it those are 30% shots, then it’s totally plausible for a team to score 4 or 5 of them on 11 shots.

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

    I am 100% against keeping three goaltenders on the team. One guy isn’t apart of the team, wants a trade, and can’t do anything to improve his trade value; the other — who has proven to be an above average goaltender — is frustrated.

    How about we just play Holtby and try to fix the other things because goaltending is not this team’s problem. Grubauer will have his time eventually, but it should not be now. We’re not going to win a cup anyway, with the team’s defense and its low possession, so they might as well start trying to fix the other problems, not piss off the guys who are not actually ones.

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

    Ersk used to be good at that. Heatley never shoulda been in front of Holtby on that second one.

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

    Yeah. Just seems like bad asset management to me. You’ve got one guy with value plummeting after requesting a trade. You’ve got another, supposedly the franchise goalie, sitting om the shelf for half a month.

  • EmilyC

    So, actually, we’re consistent. Consistently bad.

  • Owen Johnson

    Goals weren’t on him as all 5 I thought were very high percentage shots/lucky bounces. Still, I normally expect him to make 1 or 2 of those saves.

  • Shawn Murphy

    I can’t help but feel like this was somehow my fault.

    (pic taken ten seconds prior to Suter’s 3rd goal of the night)

  • Shawn Murphy

    definitely should’ve gone with the thumbs down, really MG52’d that one =

  • James Desautels

    This wasnt on Holts. He flat out didnt see 2 of the goals. I will put #1 and #4 on Holts. Both were manageable with slightly better reads, but the others were totally screened or lucky and unsual bounces. That Zucker goal was ridiculous. The puck literally BOUNCED over everyone in front of net and landed JUST inside the post. Ive played for 20 years, pucks typically dont do that and end up in your net.

  • Myan

    Let me clarify that I don’t think this game is a signifier of the kind of goalie Holtby is but it was very telling of the kind of goalie Holtby is right now. The way I see it, he’s lost whatever confidence he had and I don’t disagree that the benching has affected him psychologically. It’s a tough part of the game but great players are the ones that find the confidence to play through it and make the most of the limited chances they get. Holtby’s gotten his chances since Grubauer came to town and he hasn’t used them to win the job back.

    I’m actually torn on what I want the management to do. A part of me wants Oates & Co to show confidence in him and let him play through this slump. The other part of me though, can’t ignore the fact that we’ve lost every game Holtby’s started since Gruby’s been in DC. I know that’s a small sample size, but as of now, that’s how the data stands.

  • James Desautels

    Im aware. But its not Cup season yet, and frankly the Caps or the Flyers arent tangling with any of the top 4-5 from the West or the Bs in a series.

  • James Desautels

    Yahtzee.

  • Umad

    I see your point, with only 11 shots percentages will get sensitive…but I think that’s also my point is they needed one or two more saves from holts in those situations and it would have been a game. He took them out by being soft there. What if they had 20 shots? I’m guessing one more goes in then it’s a blowout.

    There is nothing short of an ovechtrick that would have won the game, this was like having grossman at QB. Doesn’t matter what the other guys do.

  • Myan

    Exactly. I expect goalies to come up with at least 1 crazy save and Holts just didn’t tonight.

  • Myan

    I’ll agree that the D doesn’t help him out, but Gruby is playing with the same defense in front of him. I refuse to believe that Holtby’s .545 save percentage tonight was purely bad luck.

  • Matt McNeely

    Here’s a frightening thought: Obviously one of these goalies is going to be dealt. Are we sure it’s not going to be Holtby? We’re going to have to give up a lot to land that top 4 D. I think we can agree that Holtby is worth more than Neuvirth. They’ve been playing Grubi like they think he can be a #1. Or certainly like they want to find out if he can be, at least…

  • James Desautels

    Not saying that, 2 he could or should have positioned better on, but 2 he didnt see at all thanks to our D letting large men stake out a homestead in his crease, and 1 (Zuckers) was such a lucky and random lightning strike of a puck bounce what goalie does make that save? Go bounce a puck outside on the ice in your driveway right now and tell me it ever even bounces 5-6ft in the air let alone lands anywhere near the area. That bounce was absolutely ‘puck luck’ for Wild. The phrase ‘the puck dont lie’ works…Greenie got a 1/1000 G off a random bounce, we got bit on one.

  • Ben Reed

    goddamnit you jerk, this one’s definitely on you.

  • Shawn Murphy

    Whatever the diametric opposite of a perrycelly is, I deserve it

  • Holtby Fan (Katie)

    Yes, Holtby faced 11 shots and only stopped six. I can hear the ” Trade Holtby” jerks now. But if the defense didn’t rack up the penalties it would have been a different story. I don’t think Holtby deserves to be judged because of this “crummy” game. He still deserves to play against Tampa Thursday. He’s played well against them in the past. I think the next four days needs to be filled with practice working on the defense and the PK- what the hell has happened to that? I hope Holtby get his confidence back up. He is an awesome goalie. We’ve seen him kick ass plenty of times. Go Holtby. Go Caps.

  • RT23

    Rode where? It wasn’t a very long trip either year.
    We don’t have a franchise goalie yet. We’ve been hoping one of these three (and Varly before that) would become one, and maybe one will, but none of them are yet (except maybe Varly). Se we keep giving at least two of them chances to prove it unless we can trade for Ryan Miller. We no longer have much on-ice talent to spare so maybe we can offer Buffalo a few marketing execs; we’re strong in that area.

  • Holtby Fan (Katie)

    Exactly Ian!

  • Freedoooom

    No its not. Its a clear 5 on 2 with a line changing going on. The smart play and the play Ovechkin chose, was to be ready for the puck to reversed up the boards, instead Green lost a board battle, Erat let the puck go between his legs and Beagle wasn’t near a damn single person.

  • Matt McNeely

    Yeah okay. I’ll buy that. Plenty of shittiness to go around no doubt.

  • JenniferH

    *sigh*

  • Jack Conness

    I’m feeling like this is becoming an Oates Problem.

  • H70

    Man, this is getting old. Blow the roof off and then epic collapse. Not fun to watch. Not fun at all.

  • A_Shoe

    So basically, what I have taken from these last few games is that stats only matter for teams that don’t suck. Our team sucks right now.

  • A_Shoe

    Of course GMGM hasn’t. The guy’s been here since 1997, and the Caps have been past the second round ONCE since then. Terrible personnel management is what this has to be chalked up to.

  • BJ Robey

    I’m not even bring up the fact that Cooke should have been handed an interference before Ovi even had a chance to conduct in a manner…yadda… His feet are planted, stick on body, between him and a line change.

    That’s pretty hardcore cut and dry. This still should be copied into the (hopefully existent) ref manual as a good example of something you can’t do.

  • Topher Gee

    Does this mean we will be the surprise nerd pick of the playoffs!

  • JenniferH

    If you’re talking about who I think you are, yeah, he can be negative, but he clearly loves the Capitals and I’ve fallen prey to the idea that he’s only negative, but really he’s just a frustrated fan. He’s had a lot of good points and I’ve agreed with him more than I’ve realized until I started paying more attention.

    It’s just easy to get frustrated lately as a Caps fan. :(

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

    Actually, yeah. That’s a really intuitive way to say it.

    Possession stats matter– except when PDO stats get wacky.

    PDO has been wacky this week, so it feels like the Caps suck, despite improving possession.

    Damn, that was really clever. Bravo.

  • Jonathan Kenny

    You don’t have to understand Dale Hunter because he wasn’t the best defensive coach we’ve had in the Ovi era. That belongs to the current Ducks coach, Bruce Boudreau, whose Capitals were 4th in Goals against/game and had the 2nd best PK in 2010-11.

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20112ALLSAAALL&sort=penaltyKillPercentage&viewName=summary

    http://www.nhl.com/ice/teamstats.htm?fetchKey=20112ALLSAAALL&sort=avgGoalsAgainstPerGame&viewName=summary

    Yes, Gabby was a much better defensive mind than he is given credit for.

  • Jonathan Kenny

    Let’s start with Holtby: a 54.5 Sv% may be an aberration–as it is for EVERY goalie in the NHL–but what is not an aberration is that right now Holts resembles Nabokov more than he resembles, say, Lundqvist (should I’ve have said Grubauer?). The fact is the Wild only had 11 SOG…and that’s with 4 PPs; so it seems like the Caps were doing something right. But MIN still scored 5 times. Sure there where defensive breakdowns, but Holtby was not sharp enough to compensate for any of them. He needs to fight through screens but I am not going to get too down on him for this because it is CLEAR HE GETS NO PRACTICE AT KETTLER DOING THIS as the Caps themselves don’t screen the goalie. Dany Heatley taught the Caps a huge lesson by standing in front of Holtby; but I doubt the Caps were listening or will take heed. Or perhaps they will screen the goalie for a game, maybe two games just to tease us into thinking they are going to do it consistently…Nope… Do you hear that!? That’s Keith Moon playing the middle drum break to the Who’s Won’t Get fooled Again. Will somebody go pull 41-year old Mike Knuble out of whatever hardware store he’s working at right now and give him a sweater and skates so he can show this team how to get in front of the goalie as he does here:

    http://youtu.be/-ECXS_jb5FA

    Please don’t quibble with me about that goal being disallowed. You get the point, even if Oates and the Caps don’t.

    The Caps had 10 hits for the game. Lame
    But at least they won, uh…45% of the face-offs. Yeah, that’s lame, too.

    I’m more and more thinking that Calle Johansson, as much as I love him as a player, is not a very good assistant coach. According to the Caps bio, he has had more broadcasting experience than coaching since he retired. Oates certainly knows hockey and how to play defense, but for some reason this team is not being coached well in that part of the game.

  • Baran StockPicks

    Look at my mind blowing magic trick I just uploaed on youtube
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lEmFa-E4gHo
    100% Exclusive NEVER BEFORE SEEN/./';/;

  • OVECHKING

    “When the coach trusts you, it changes everything. With Jacques, he had a style where you wanted to play hard for the guy. So that’s what happened. Jacques was one of those guys who would always say the right things at the right time, and he’d put every guy in this room in the right position to be the most successful. That’s why we were playing so well.”

    This was Ilya Kovalchuk speaking about Jaques Lemaire right after the Devils hired Pete DeBoer.

    I’m not sure any player on the caps really “trusts” Goates. Ovi doesn’t trust goates… all goates has done with Ovi is given him similar ‘responsibilities’ aka free roam he saw under boudreau era to do whatever he wants and that’s all ovi needs to be “happy”. I don’t think anyone can honestly say Ovi or any other player on this roster “plays hard for the guy”(oates). Detroit RedWings players play hard for Babcock. Kings players play hard for Sutter. Blues players play hard AND smart hockey for Hitchcock.

    It is what it is. Its rare veteran teams (which is what the caps are now) trust rookie coaches. Especially not one who is such an arr0gant, in your face, his way or the highway, egomaniac like Oates. Explains why 3 players have asked for trades in a matter of a month which is something that from my research has never happened on another franchise in NHL history.

    The common denominator in all of this is the General Manager. Lou and Ken Holland know how to run a franchise, Mcphee does not.

  • OVECHKING

    I’m a little lost at the “so much talent” part. Joel Ward is the second leading goal scorer on this team.

  • Roman Z.

    No I’d say that honor goes to the game we lost against Buffalo

  • Roman Z.

    If you’re talking about Fredooom, the guy is NOT a troll, far from it. He brings up valid points instead of just leaving stupid quirky/semi-funny posts like some people on this blog do. I never understand why some people try to constantly find excuses for the losses the Caps endure game after game. You say he’s negative, I say he’s fucking tired like many of us to see them play like headless chickens. There’s no chemistry between the lines, passes are all over the place, I’m sick and tired of their dump and chase strategy that’s clearly not working. Heck, team Sweden at the WJC played better than the Caps during any of their games. And since when do you ban someone for expressing his opinion ?!?

  • Nomo

    Seriously, how come this guy hasn’t been fired already ?

  • CM

    I think you need to be careful here. Two anecdotes.

    1) For the past year I’ve walked into my closet, turned on the light and picked out an outfit. On the 366th day I flip the switch and the light doesn’t come on. I say, “the probability that the light will come on during any given day is 365/366 = .997, so I probably don’t need to change the light bulb.”

    2) The historical DJIA closing cost since inception is (don’t have exact data) $3000. You’d be an idiot to buy stocks today.

    Deviations from global statistics != luck. If you take a player with a good body of work and he starts to perform differently, and you only look at long term statistics, you’ll bias your estimates of player worth towards their global statistics. These statistics may no longer be valid. Then you’re just using statistics to keep your head in the sand.

    Not saying this is Holtby. The sample size of his badness is still too small. But caution is definitely warranted.

  • Matt McNeely

    You think maybe Bruce Boudreau’s offensive system was so aggressive because he knew he was gonna need a lot of goals because we frankly didn’t (still don’t) have the defensive talent on this team to play balanced defense?

  • Myan

    I’m sorry but that’s stupid. If your light bulb which has worked for 365 days suddenly stops working, it’s probably a dead bulb. You need to change that thing. Poor analogy.

  • Elchadeo

    That Dog of a game up in MN looked alot like the one vs Car a few days ago!

    We Faced their #2 goalie

    We score early and get out to an early lead

    5-3 pp gives them the game tying and go ahead goal.

    Hat Trick for an opposing player

    Dumb dumb penalties– TWO delay of games. Horrible. Lack of discipline here and in our defense overall are linked…

    I dont care how good Ovi is playing or how good our PP is- you cant win by playing solid Defense 63% of the time-

    Really, This group has never been able to play consistent defense

    Hunter saw this and shut down the O to manufacture a defensive baseline- and while it was not exciting it enabled the deepest run in the playoffs

    This team has to be a nightmare from a coaching perspective…i am sure Gabby and Dale are both very happy not to be here….

    Oates NJ style system is great if you have the right players to play a true two way game – we do not. devils draft for their system very well- which is why they are usually very competitive despite less $$

    green at 6.25 mil a yr is a huge anchor around our neck- hes making Erik Karlsson $$ but is costing us every night- bad decisions and poor discilpline– and his and the fact he is supposed to be leading the D corps is corrosive– they finally paired Oleksy with him because putting him with Orlov is ridiculous when you consider his play defensively…

    At 46 Penalty minutes with no fights he has more minor penalties than anyone on the team — hes averaging almost a minor a game!!

    Ovi is tearing it in re goals but still makes bad decisions with the puck- when you have him/green/orlov out there together you often see wide open breakaway chances for the otjer team- as you did in OT vs Car – as bad decisions by all THREE contributed to a layup for Skinner to win it..

    All of these things that make us fundamentally unsound are magnified x10 in the playoffs– and of course all that ice that Ovi and our Euro Finesse guys (19, 90) disappears….

    I guess their is a Decent chance we make the playoffs…..tho if we were in any other Division in the NHL we’d be in 6th places….in short: if we do advance its a virtual certainty we get embarrassed in the first round–

    The scariest thing is that We have not really evolved in any significant way since 2008–2009. I blame this primarily on not having a GM that understands how to win the Stanley Cup –hes never come close to it as a player and just doesnt get the fact that:

    Guys like Ovi win Richard trophies

    Guys like Dustin Brown win Stanley Cups.

  • Myan

    I totally agree. I don’t know if I totally trust Adam Oates. I certainly don’t agree with his personnel management.

  • Owen Johnson

    The guy who was pretty much the reason we knocked out the defending champs and took the top seed to 7 games. The guy who was a EXTREMELY instrumental to our worst-to-first streak last year. And the guy who kept us in games despite being horrendously outshot this year (until December).
    This is 100% mental for him right now. He’s a good goalie. He just needs to believe it.

  • CM

    That’s exactly the point! It’s stupid! Light bulbs aren’t time stationary random processes and neither are hockey players.

  • Owen Johnson
  • hesadouchcockgetoverit

    uhhh, when we win he is nowhere to be found. during a loss he magically appears and talks shit on the refs, the team, the writers, the other people in comments. It is trolling

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

    I don’t think the lightbulb metaphor is particularly… illuminating! A lightbulb never works again after the filament breaks, but every pro goalie in the world is streaky: http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2013/12/22/braden-holtby-philipp-grubauer-and-ants-on-a-chandelier/

    We’ve got a huge body of knowledge on goalie behavior, and there’s no justification for being alarmed based on 5 goals on 11 shots. That’s a sucky game for sure.

    But everyone does it. Lundqvist had 4 goals on 8 shots in ’06, 4 on 10 in 07, and 3 on 8 in 08. Lots of people still consider him the best goalie in the world.

  • Myan

    The way you presented it there was kind of confusing. I understand what you’re saying now. Even though Holtby has historically been a good goalie, he has been trending downward and I can’t fault the coaches for not playing him-he hasn’t been playing well. I’ve religiously watched sports for 15 years and across all sports, really great players find confidence within themselves and make the most of the opportunities they’re given. I think Holtby’s problem right now is purely psychological but it’s up to him to figure it out and win back his job the next time he’s given an opportunity.

  • Myan

    Ersk needs to go. It seems like as soon as he came back, we lost something like 8 of our last 10. It can’t be a coincidence.

  • Bugs Fire

    Not to make excuses for Alzner and Grabo, but the puck over the glass penalty rule is stupid. Whenever it happens it’s just a player trying to ice the puck. It would make much more sense if it would be treated the same way as icing – faceoff in the own zone and no line change. There is no doubt in my mind that Caps could have won this game (as they deserved) if not this stupid rule. And yes, it is stupid every time Caps benefit from it as well.

    The fact that shooting the puck couple of inches too high gets the same consequences as punching someone in the face (roughing, although I am not sure what exactly Oleksy did to earn it as there was no replay) is just plain ridiculous.

  • Bugs Fire

    I think we all need a healthy helping of optimism. Yes, Caps were playing weaker teams recently, yet following comparisons indicate certain improvements.

    Caps played Canes 4 times this season. First three meetings they were outshot 32-36, 27-32, and 29-41. Last game they outshot Canes 41-33. That is going from average -7 to +8.

    I know Buffalo is the worst team in NHL right now. But Caps tilted the ice 50-17. In four games before and after the meeting, Sabres shot difference was 32-37, 35-42, 27-26, and 20-31. Caps posted more shots than anyone else during that timeframe and allowed less. They had 5 one-on-one chances to win the game, but Miller stopped them all.

    Shot difference against Sens was -3. Negative, but better than -8 they posted during the first meeting this season.

    Hard to believe after last game, but on Nov. 7 Wild outshot Caps 35-27. Caps turned this around by 27 shots (from -8 to +19).

    This looks like a trend. Unless puck possession is for some reason no longer the best predictor of future success, isn’t some optimism/hope warranted?

  • Bugs Fire

    I am as frustrated as everyone, but hockey is the game of inches and sometimes this will happen. It could have been a shutout if not for silly penalties and two defensive breakdowns exacerbated by a rusty goaltender. And it could have been 5-0 shutout if Ovie has scored the two goals he deserved in the third, stopped only by goalpost and excellent defensive skills of Fehr (who was excellent otherwise and certainly just meant to tip the puck in, but stuff happens).

  • Kevin on Earth

    Could this be a Calle problem?

  • Shawn Murphy

    haha! that’s perfect

  • Bugs Fire

    Inventing some pseudo-sarcastic form of coach’s name is certain to turn things around.

    With that said, Adam Oates is either a true genius we cannot yet grasp or… not. There is certainly some virtue in his approach of not worrying too much about a single game and focusing instead on playing the right way. Improvements on powerplay and adding new dimensions to Ovie’s game are undeniable. At the same time, defensive woes seem to be ignored (unless there is some secret plan we naturally are not aware of); lineup decisions look enigmatic; and yes, player requesting a trade means player mismanaged no matter what the circumstances.

    Time will tell whether Adam Oates was the right choice for the last leg of Ovechkin/Backstrom version of this team. But I am certain about one thing – he deserves more than 90 game trial. Jacques Lemaire lost 36.3% games in regulation over his career as a coach. Adam Oates lost 37.8%. Give him a fair chance.

    Coach is important, but so are players. There is little evidence that anyone could have done better with this roster. Look at Boudreau – unless, of course, Ducks will keep choking in the first round while excelling during regular season.

  • Jack Conness

    I think it is a Coaching Staff Problem.

  • JoeA

    Looking at the stats and some game footage one can conclude two things about the game:

    Goaltending was really bad.
    Defense was really bad.

    Except that neither really wasn’t.

    The goaltending wasn’t helped by the 5 on 3 caused by Alzner flinging the puck out of the rink. The goaltending wasn’t helped by the 2 on 1 leading to Suter’s first EVER AT ANY LEVEL hat trick.

    Team defense can’t be that bad if that team only gives up ELEVEN shots on the night.

    Some serious team brain farts lead to a perfect storm of system breakdowns.

  • RT23

    I agree with you on several fronts and not really looking to argue. I like Holtby and will be thrilled if he becomes a franchise goalie for us. Same goes fro the other two goalies. My main point is that we don’t yet have a franchise goalie. Holtby did a good job the last two playoffs and deserves a lot of the credit for the team’s moderate success. But I don’t think he terrifies other teams like some goalies obviously get inside the Caps’ heads. We’ve seen Varly, Neuvy and now Holtby look like they might rise to that next level but it hasn’t happened. Holtby looked like he was heading in the right direction but had inconsistencies and has really looked soft lately. And I agree about the mental thing but if his confidence can’t deal with being sat down in a slump and work to be ready when his chance comes around again then I worry that he may never take that next step.

    I also think it’s worth noting that the few interviews I’ve heard from players, they seem to be very much OK with Gruby in there. Makes me wonder if Holtby looks off at practice also and that would help explain Gruby getting even the back-to-back starts. I hope he gets back to his old self soon. We need some combo of these goalies to hold the bandage in place while some of our other issues get straightened out.

  • Red

    Ultimately, it comes down to work ethic. I’m talking about overall effort and decision making. Both of those categories are so volatile for us that they experience nauseating swings, not game to game, not even period to period, but minute to minute. The reason I say it’s inexcusable, is because consistency is what defines professionalism, whether it’s applied to an individual or an organization.
    We have talent. We have toughness. We have endurance. We have leadership. I simply cannot comprehend what causes our team to lose focus the way they do. It must be an absolute nightmare for the coaches. It’s that sinking feeling when you seem to have all the puzzle pieces but the picture still comes out scrambled.

  • RL

    Braden Holtby is not, nor will he ever be, Henrik Lundqvist.

  • RL

    Ignore the haters. You make my statistics-minded heart skip a beat.

  • Jon A

    I feel like it is a lack of defense problem, specifically qualified defense-men, problem. Although there is not enough effort from forwards on the back-check as should be, the d-men are continually letting opposing forwards camp out in the slot and/or screen shots. That’s going to lead to goals every time, even if their is only 11 shots. A goalie won’t stand a chance. But I also agree that Holt-beast wasn’t having a great game.

    I’m kinda glad I got stuck at a DC bar (Stoney’s on P St.) that refused to play the game in favor of the Eagles game and had to listen to the Caps game.

  • wholovespizza

    Do you understand how many teams would kill to have Ovi and Backstrom? You’re such a downer. It’s depressing.

  • OVECHKING

    That’s TWO players on a team of 21 players. You are so delusional its depressing. I hate that we have so many clueless fans. Its one of the reasons the team sucks.

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

    Please review the commenting policy. http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/comment-policy/

  • wholovespizza

    I’m clueless and delusional because I made a statement about two players? Thanks, you’re clearly a genius.

  • OVECHKING

    Will do. Got carried away. Won’t happen again.