Grabo face Patrick McDermott

Grabo’s face (Photo: Patrick McDermott)

Those of you nursing a hangover on Sunday afternoon found yourself in good company as the Washington Capitals and Buffalo Sabres played a sleepy game in which not much happened.  The Caps should have been able to dominate the worst team in the league, but that only kind of happened. Three Caps lines and four defenders seemed to be in control of this one, but the Sabres pwned the Caps depth enough to force overtime and win it in the gimmick. Take a whiff of some coffee grounds and follow me to the scoring summary.

Jason Chimera got on the board first as his centering pass went off a Sabres defenseman who was trying to stop Marcus Johansson’s net-crash. Tyler Ennis struck back for the Sabres with a rebound goal on the power play. The second period was uneventful aside from some penalties. Late in the third, Ryan Miller robbed Mikhail Grabovski and Karl Alzner’s go-ahead goal got undone by a tripping call.  Buffalo owned overtime but couldn’t put the biscuit in the basket, so here comes the shootout recap. Yey.

Shootout recap bullets!

  • Eric Fehr didn’t put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Matt Moulson didn’t put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Alex Ovechkin didn’t put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Linus Omark didn’t put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Nick Backstrom didn’t put the biscuit in the basket.
  • Cody Hodgson put the biscuit in the basket.

Sabres beat Caps 2-1 (SO).

  • RIP two-game winning streak. It was very nice of the Caps to give two standings point to the Sabres, who really needed it.
  • Does Philipp Grubauer have rebound control issues? Tweeter Eric mentioned it during the game, and he might be onto something. I know little and less about goalie tactics, but there did seem to be an abundance of loose pucks in front of Philipp. Overall, another strong performance from the Grubi the newbie, letting just one of 31 shots past him.
  • Credit for the goal went to Jason Chimera, but Marcus Johansson will treasure his plus jealously. It was his crash-the-net move that forced the own-goal for the Sabres. Had Mojo got a piece of it, that would have been just his second 5v5 goal of the season.

  • Connor Carrick got his first career assist on that one. Carrick made a pass to Ward in neutral to set the whole thing up. That pass went off the heel of a Sabres stick and could easily have led to a turnover. Beyond that, Carrick and Erskine got smoked on the ice, stuck in their own zone for pretty much always.
  • Troy Brouwer had a pair of bad penalties in the middle frame, a roughing and a high-stick, that served to extinguish that Caps’ forward push. He’s smarter than that. He was one wandering stick away from Mike Green-caliber disaster period.
  • Lots of love on the CSN broadcast for the fourth line, who looked good during the minute fraction of time (around 25%) they spent in the offensive zone. You may have heard Aaron Volpatti hit a couple dudes, which totally makes up for not generating offense or limiting opponent shots. Tom Wilson‘s ill-advised charge facilitated the Buffalo goal.
  • Also setting up that goal: the no-call on Ennis wiping out Joel Ward five seconds earlier. Stuff like that is why players sometimes “accidentally” punch refs in the face.
  • Why am I so cranky today? I apologize. Here are corgis on a treadmill.

  • Better now?
  • Thank you, everyone, for your opinions on green Caps gear on le twitters earlier. I personally rock a green Caps hat sometimes, but only because it’s hard to find a OSFA mesh snapback Caps hat that isn’t in a really loud shade of red.
  • Ryan Miller is awesome. That save on Grabo is beyond my recapitude. It was just inhuman. I may not like Miller’s millerness right now, but I’m gonna freaking love it in Sochi. I hope he gets some Lundqvistian, jumbo-sized pads that make him look like the Stay Puft marshmallow man. Miller is a free agent after this season, so I have to think Buffalo will shop him around after the Olympics and before the deadline. Imagine him in Pittsburgh. Wait. Don’t do that.
  • Karl Alzner would have scored the seventh goal of his career in the final minute of regulation, but Nick Backstrom’s trip nullified it. It was a pretty one too, with Karl sneaking up on the net before unleashing a monster slapper to the far corner. Nicky owes Karl a gift basket. Alzner still has a few more months to tie his single-season scoring record. Of two.
Joe B suit of the night (thanks, @DakotaConduct!)

Joe B suit of the night (thanks, @DakotaConduct!)

Kind of expected more from this one. The Sabres are the worst team in the league with virtually no offense and the worst possession numbers in the league. The Caps should have trounced them, and yet the Sabres pretty much outplayed the Caps– particularly when Washington’s bottom line was out. A few bad penalties didn’t help either, as Big Mo’ rarely favors the teams missing a dude on the ice.

Oh well. The Caps at least got a standings point, which is exactly what they need to do right now, since the schedule will get nasty soon. But they shouldn’t have waited until the 59th minute to really test Buffalo considering Ryan Miller was pretty much perfect in the shootout.

The Caps host the Sharks on Tuesday. Maybe we’ll have a trade by then? How about Erat for Yandle, straight up? Yes. That will definitely happen. Definitely.

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  • Jack Conness

    Our new “1st” line is an absolute joke and disaster. Oates has to be totally clueless to put Brouwer and Laich on the same line. Hasn’t he tried this before? IT DOESN’T WORK! I can’t stand how much he loves those two. Backstrom’s numbers will continue to suffer with these two knuckleheads on the same line. Laich and Brouwer would be nice 4th liners on this team. Maybe. Bump Wilson and Beagle up. Especially Wilson.

  • Joben

    Was I the only one suffering from deja-Gru during that game?

  • Andrew Walker

    Marc Joannette is the worst person ever.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    There is absolutely nobody that Oates can put between the Wonderless Twins to make them productive while being on the same line. Crosby would have a career worst season if he played between those two.

  • Red

    Dat Miller save. Wow. Almost worth the loss. Almost.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Absolute worst NHL official. Missed us having 5 players on the ice in OT. Missed countless interferences.

  • kemiisto

    Oates is a joke.

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

    One of the worst possession teams in the league. And the Buffalo Sabres too.

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

    Jokes are funny

  • Bob

    Blow up the first line please, 20 and 21 are a cancer to the success of nicky. This was another unacceptable effort against an inferior team and no one should be happy with 1 point. Ryan Miller is camped out inside the heads of every caps player and is just trolling them with ease. If they play like they did today against SJ and Pitt, things will get ugly

  • Diller M

    Thanks for the recaps they make being a caps fan bearable

  • Marky Narc

    *snaps to attention* Whoa. Sorry about that, this game pretty much put me to sleep.

    Man, when Buffalo decides to start shopping Miller, they can legitimately ask for all teh things.

    Also, blah blah blah something something playing to the level of competition something whatever bourbon.

  • Bob

    corgi’s on a treadmill made me feel better though

  • Henrik

    Am I the only that noticed that the caps had 5 men on the ice for like 10 seconds in OT? :D

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

    All 5 players was in so small radius that it is just hilarious that all 4 officials missed it.

  • Andrew Walker

    I’m not going to pretend he was a decisive factor in the game, but every time I see him on the ticket, I get out the ice cream and my trusty crying pillow.

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

    Thank you!

  • mr_dunnyrat

    If we exclude officials, I am pretty sure that everyone who watched the game noticed it.

  • scrubversive

    The officiating drove me absolutely insane with rage. But damnit, it’s the Buffalo Sabres. We should be able to take the Sabres and the Zebras at the same time, even if the net is protected by some kind of puck catching cyborg (Made in the USA).

    Miller was amazing (poor Grabo). He was all up in our heads – especially #8 in the skills competition. A well placed snipe would have been more effective than trying to fake that guy out -.-;

  • JenniferH

    Look, I like Grubi, I do, but I’m gonna say this, and feel free to call me a Holtby-fangirl, I’m fine with that. This totally could be my bias talking, I admit that freely. Grubi is good, he is, really, really, really good, but he doesn’t win us games regularly. He saves goals, he helps to save games, but he doesn’t WIN us games. We lose as many games under him as we win. The first half of this season, arguably a good chunk of them we won because we had Braden ‘Holtbeast’ Holtby in net. He freaking helped WIN us those games. We wouldn’t have won them without him in net doing what he does. Some say well when did we last win with him in net? Well, he’s played three freaking games in the last month! And of those games two of them he was plagued with really crappy puck luck, craptastic penalties, horrible defense, lucky bounces for the other team and insane angles that he had no chance of saving. It happens. And unfortunately it happened to him in two of his only three games. Oates needs to stop whatever this goalie go-round he’s doing and put Holtby back in the net regularly. Period.

    I’m soooo bummed about that loss of the Alzner goal even if it was fair and square that we lost it due to the Backsie penalty. I’m also really bummed because we should have trounced Buffalo, but we didn’t. And I don’t know what the heck is going on. Clearly something is. I don’t know if it’s Oates. I don’t know if it’s GMGM and they’re just tired of it. I don’t know if it’s the trade requests. I don’t know if it’s a lot of chaos/unhappiness going on in the locker room. But stuff is not working and it’s showing up on ice now. There is not chemistry, there is not cameraderie. Whatever it is, this is just not working. And it needs to if this team wants to get it going. And I really want this team to get it going.

  • Kate

    Welp.

    At least this gives me hope for the Olympics. #USA

  • mr_dunnyrat

    Oates smiled today first time during this season, so there is microscopic chance that someone around him still have some quality time.

  • Stephen Chastain

    Miller had better play that well for team USA or else I’m going to make an unsubstantiated and vague threat on which I have no intent or ability to carry through.

  • kemiisto

    Gruby is playing way better than Holtby right now. There is nothing even to discuss here. Yes, you are a Holtby-fangirl.

  • Stephen Chastain

    Corgis on a treadmill have better possession stats than 20 and 21 as linemates

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

    “Right now” = “recently” and recent performance means a small sample, which is meaningless for predicting future success.

  • kemiisto

    Hope Sharks and Pens will annihilate us and Oates will be fired. Enough is enough. Loosing to the worst team is not a big deal, but not making any conclusion out of that and loosing to it second time in exactly the same way is a signal.

  • Marky Narc

    All coaches have their favorites, but it’s been a long time since I’ve seen any NHL coach that blatantly open about who he likes and who he doesn’t like, and will play the ones he likes everything else be damned.

    Actually, I can tell you who the last coach is that I remember being that way – Mike Keenan.

    So perhaps there we have it? Adam Oates is Mike Keenan… except without the, you know, actual coaching acumen.

  • kemiisto

    But if you want a bigger sample, then Gruby should play and we will see.

  • Bob
  • JenniferH

    Three games… you are basing ‘playing better than Holtby now’ on three games. That is a miniscule sample size and two of those three games were filled with lucky bounces, insane angles, huge screenings and penalties galore. But let’s not take any of that into account. Sure, why not. (BTW, it’s losing, not loosing, per your comment above.)

  • Andrew Walker
  • kemiisto

    I’m judging on the sample which is available. It is small, but it it better than nothing. You are judging on your personal preferences.

  • scrubversive

    Grubi is playing amazingly, but a fair amount of his success has to be riding on the fact that he’s a rookie. Once “the book” is out on him, is he still going to be carrying the team? Probably not as well. I’m not a goalie expert, but Peter’s mention of rebound control seems fair. I’ve also heard from a few pundits that he presents too much space up top.

    I’m a solid Holtby fanboy and have always been positive on Neuvie. But AO giving Grubi starts when he should be back in Hershey refining has been making me more upset than playing Volpatti and Erskine. We have 2 potential #1 tenders sitting here stagnating and we want to get another. Particularly Holtby, who’s psychological game seems to be fueled by the opportunity to compete and succeed. Failed starts are unfortunate, but I think starving him of starts is worse.

  • Roman Z.

    Hmm I give up, I just can’t anymore … Buffalo ?! Really?!?! Again ?!?!?!?!?

  • kemiisto

    Today Jets fire their head coach Noel. You know what? They have exactly the same number of Regulation plus Overtime Wins (14) like we do. So not counting SO lotteries we are in the same boat.

  • JenniferH

    No, I am not. I am based on Holtby’s play and his stats which are pretty damn good. There’s a reason he’s gotten the praise he’s gotten. He’s pretty damn good. He’s stood on his head over and over for this team. I take offense to you claiming that it’s just my personal preference. Yes, he’s my favorite player, but it’s because I think he’s a great goalie. I’m not alone in this. There are tons of sports critics out there, articles, write-ups, and again, STATISTICS that back this up. The guy has what it takes and has shown this time and time again. Your sample size is about 10 games. Mine is about 2 seasons worth.

  • scrubversive

    I dun been Joanettrolled?

  • Roman Z.

    Also

  • JenniferH

    I agree that Grubi has been doing a fantastic job (I’m still in awe of his Superman like splits-save in the last game), but I also that what this is doing to Holts psychologically is not cool. And it’s not fair to Neuvy (who I also like–although I do like Grubi better). Holtby really does thrive on the challenge, on competing and getting out there and, right or wrong, facing only one shot in his first game back out there in that first period did not help him get back into the swing of things.

    Sitting him game after game, I just don’t see how that is helping this goalie situation at all. I don’t understand what Oates is doing. I guess if Grubi was indisputably winning them games, I could see it, but he’s not. And you’ve got Holts just sitting there… it’s frustrating.

  • kemiisto

    I can easily challenge your statements starting from here: the fact that you are not alone does not mean that you are right. But it is meaningless. May I ask you a question? Were you a Caps fan when Varly was #1? And if yes were you Varly-fangirl or not?

  • OVECHKING

    Love reading all the comments here from people blaming the refs. Somehow, its eludes them that the caps have lost to the worst team in the league twice this year. And have scored 2 goals total in both those games.

  • Rogbo64

    Your best line was ” I may not like Miller’s millerness right now, but I’m gonna freaking love it in Sochi.”

    You remind me of Spider whose first page write ups in ‘Easy Rider’s’ rag were great reads… do you have a recipe for Raisin Pie?

  • OVECHKING

    They way the caps played tonight is exactly how they play in the playoffs.

    Have one line that is generating chances. No effort from the rest of the team. Special teams is terrible. I don’t know if people noticed, the caps had 2 PPs tonight. Their PK continues to falter. No sustained forecheck or zone time. And finally, Nicklas Backstrom, like he does most playoff series when things get tough, disappears. Tonight was one of his worse games of the year.

  • scrubversive

    I’ll admit to having been a Carey-fanboy. I don’t know exactly what I’m trying to say, but it seemed like a good idea when I was 8.

  • OVECHKING

    The goalie who should have started tonight was Nuevy. Not Gruby, not Holtby. Nuevy got the win on friday and played reasonably well to earn the next start. He has an NHL future with this team and ONLY an NHL future. Gruby could be sent down. Holtby and Neuvy should not.

  • OVECHKING

    “I don’t understand what oates is doing”.

    Most people don’t. He’s an AHL rookie coach holding an NHL job.

  • Heidi

    Shootout question…Why does Oates always use Ovi? Yes he can score during games, but Ovi over Grabo in the shootout seems like poor decision making.

  • JenniferH

    You’ve clearly paid no attention to my comments in the past or you would know the answer to that. I’m done discussing stuff with you. I don’t want to argue anymore. It’s not worth it. I have stats, the opinions of others that I respect, the Canadian Olympic Team who picked Holtby for the training camp, sports commentator after commentator who have talked about his skill, I don’t need you to tell me he isn’t a potential future Vezina candidate. I know he has that potential. Life is too short to argue with someone on the internet who is negative. Peace out. :)

  • JenniferH

    A better reply was never given. ;)

  • Rogbo64

    A 12 pack of warm Schlitz and cheddar puffed rice… (yes I am getting old Argentina) is all i need. geezzz puffed rice??? really?

  • OVECHKING

    Why does Oates use Laich, Brouwer, Majo over Grabovski on the first PP? Why does oates give Laich such easy promotion in the line up without zero evidence of solid play to earn it? Why did Oates banish Orlov for so long? Why did Oates use a whole bunch of guys in a shootout against Toronto and never let grabo shoot? Why … I could go on.

    Why? Its because he doesn’t have a clue what he is doing.

    The shootout decision should be people’s LAST concern with this team.

  • Owen Johnson

    Well i guess I’m more excited about the Olympics now. Dammit!

  • kemiisto

    Wait a minute. Scroll up to the beginning of the thread. It was you who blamed Gruby for absolutely no reason, I was just offending him. And I did not say anything bad about Holtby, I just said that Gruby is playing better right now. And we need some wins right now. So why not play him?

  • Rogbo64

    what are the stats on weekend beer sales when going into the third period tied Vs. when going into the 3rd with a lead?

  • OVECHKING

    Anyone count how many times tonight Ovechkin initiated a rush down the left wing or played LW boards at even strength? At least 6 time by my count. Definitely spent more time on the LW tonight than he did on the right wing. Sadly, somehow by doing something OPPOSITE to what oates preaches, that line generated the most chances for the team at even strength.

    One would have to ask, if there is evidence today where Ovi and his line mates didn’t follow oates game plan and played reasonable in the offensive zone, is this L on L and R on R B$ that oates likes really just another massive blunder on his coaching resume? Its looking like that.

  • JenniferH

    No, I didn’t blame him. I said he was really, really, really good. Clearly you just read what you want. But don’t worry, I’m done. You’ve succeeded in sending me away. Last comment here. I won’t be defending Holtby or talking about him or anyone else on RMNB anymore. I’m done commenting. In my old age, I’m tired of the confrontation, it’s not worth it. So you’ll have to find another Holtby supporter who doesn’t think Grubi should be in the net more than him to go after. You’ve managed to send me away. Congrats. :)

  • OVECHKING

    @ChuckGormleyCSN: #CapitalsTalk Nicklas Backstrom says Sabres lulled them to sleep. Says that can’t happen with points so valuable.

    Funny the caps let the worst team in the league dictate the pace of the game… and the caps were playing at home!!!!!!!!!

  • scrubversive

    I had bad feelings about hiring Oates from my perceptions of him when he played for us as captain. I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt at the beginning of this year, even with the scratching of Erat and the MP85 trade. It’s now half-way through the year and his “lovecraftian logic” (as per Peter’s recap of the Av’s game in October) has merely been a bunch of mysterious handwaving to distract us from the fact that he has no clue what he’s doing.

    You don’t need fancystats or a HHOF ring to tell you that Volpatti is not NHL material, Erskine is a fist on skates that would have more positive impact in the pressbox, and you shouldn’t carry two NHL caliber goaltenders so you can start the guy who it would make sense to send to the farm team so that the other two can work on improving or at least be showcased for trade.

    But… something something… “hot hand” something “touches” “good reads” something, blah blah “handedness”. *wave hands magically* I forsee that the 21-20 blackhole will work THIS time! (The definition of insanity…)

  • OVECHKING

    No need to worry friend, Oates will be fired by the end of this season or by November of 14/15 season. He’ll be given his 162 game tryout and that will be that. The biggest problem with the team is the General Manager. He needs to go.

  • Gustafsson16

    Its funny to watch tide shift (again) in the Capitals revolving crease of ‘what have you done for me lately.’ Holtby fans, of all people, should understand how quickly the door can open and shut for opportunity in the NHL. Isnt that how Holtby even got his foot in the NHL door – via injuries to Vokun and Neuvirth prior to the 2012 Playoffs? Dubbing Holtby as a future Vezina candidate based on what? The 2012 playoffs and the lockout shortened 2013 season? Goalies, especially young ones are prone to extreme highs and lows in their development. This is a player that despite his bright future, has not yet backstopped a full NHL season. There are so many more problems with this team right now that if we are forced on having to steal games with goalie play, we are going to be lucky to even make the playoffs. Best way to get more starts and silence naysayers? Perform when given the opportunity, regardless of magical bad angles, poor defense, bright lights of Verizon in your eyes, etc. (see also: Eric Fehr)

  • scrubversive

    Nope, not blaming the refs. Mad at them for being terrible, but that no excuse for our team to get emo and keep sucking. But that, of course, is our MO these days.

    I want to see us improve and do something in the playoffs. But with this lineup and, especially, this management, we’re just bound to spin in circles unless we “get hot” for the entire playoffs.

  • Pat Magee

    I thought Brooks played pretty well. He definitely looked better than Brouwer!!

  • scrubversive

    I want to see Holtby or Neuvie, either of the two, in net every night until we either make a trade or pick someone. So that we can get someone a big enough sample size to know what we have. Locking up a franchise goalie would (I hope) help this team stabilize itself. After being spoiled by the consistency of #37 in my youth, I am tired of having a new goalie every year. Now it’s a mystery who’s our goalie on a night to night basis. Grrr…

  • scrubversive

    What’s it going to take to get GMGM the hell out of here? More playoff disappointment, more coaches, more bad trades? The guy. just. won’t. go. away.

  • Owen Johnson

    Having the same name as Ace Ventura helped…

  • scrubversive

    Yeah. I think I was in to “The Mask” that year. I was legitimately confused as to whether or not they were the same person.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    I’m right there with you, Holtby needs to be getting his starts and he is the best Goalie we have. However, Grubauer wasn’t the issue to losing this afternoon’s game, in fact he kept us in it for the most part.

  • OVECHKING

    Wayne Gretzky… I don’t want to spill the beans here but Grtz has narrowed down his options to be a president of Hockey ops to two teams…

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    That’s not fair to say, they’re not as talented and their media is an absolute circus. Every single mistake Kane and Byfuglien make are under the microscope, no one can thrive in those circumstances.

  • Ash

    Then you’re in for disappointment, because there is no way Oates gets fired before the end of the season, barring him, I dunno, shooting Ovi with a firearm.

  • Georgoroth

    Bruuuuhahahaaaa! Pitiful scrubversive! Don’t you realize that your invective only serves to FEED the mighty Georgoroth? Soon, the keening cries of the faithful will echo across the cavernous interior of my pocket dimension and I shall rise, RIIIIISE!

  • Myan

    I hope that refereeing team gets a really shitty case of food poisoning. Pun intended.

  • Georgoroth

    *HISSSS* It cannot be! The Great Hero come at last? Pray, does he wield the Ajanti Dagger?

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

    Oh my god

  • H70

    Fellow Holtby fan girl signing in… I agree with everything except I do feel like Grubi has won us some games that we probably should not have won. Especially against the Lightning. I do want to see Holts in the net though. He admitted that he needed to regain his confidence and clearly the bench is the best place to do that (not).

  • scrubversive

    I don’t think anybody’s god will save us now, Peter.

    I WAS planning to wake up screaming to some nice tame Ryan Miller nightmares tonight… but I think I’ll just drink coffee all night, huddling paranoid in a corner so that the elder demon Georgoroth won’t sneak up on me.

  • Dcsportsfan85_

    I was really excited about Adam Oates after out late season run and “the revival of Ovechkin”. This season I was really optimistic that we’d have a full offseason and the team understood the system, but the it’s just been mind boggling line combinations, the misuse of talented players, the favorite playing, the MP85 trade, the Erat situation, the handling of the goalie situation, the insistence of playing the Laich Brouwer combo and his overall stubbornness to adapt is just so infuriating and frustrating.

    The thing that has pissed me off the most has been his insistence of promoting brooks Laich up the line up without him earning any on it. I love Laich but this injury has taken a toll on him and he’s only ever been good on the 3rd line or in the top 6 when complimenting a top of supremely talented players.

    I wanted Oates to do so well and was so excited for the season, but I just keep finding myself missing Bruce Beaudreau more and more. Firing him was the biggest mistake this franchise has made and it’s never been the same since he left. Those were teams 1 or 2 pieces or some good breaks from going all the way. Ever since he’s left the capitals have been a mediocre team with some elite generational talents carrying them to the postseason.

    I think GMGM and HCAO have to go now. They have turned a thriving team of young guns into a team struggling to stay afloat. Our rivalry against the penguins is a joke as they have been the car superior team since Bruce left. Time to make a change as a last ditch hope to do so ethnic during this cores window.

  • Andrew Walker

    Hey, well at least the Flyers lost!

  • JenniferH

    Oh, I wasn’t saying that Grubi is why we lost, I was just venting my goalie frustration. It’s why I made the point of saying that Grubi is really, really, really good. Because he is. I think he’s fantastic.

  • Bugs Fire

    My comment is not about Holtby. I just think it’s unfair to say Grubauer hasn’t won games for Caps. Let’s figure out the definitions. I say if a goalie holds SV% above 95%, he is winning the game or otherwise keeping his team in the game. Caps give up over 30 shots per game on average, and 95% saves means only 1-2 goals, clearly enough to give this team given its presumably strong offence (?) a chance to win.

    Grubauer has played 12 games this season, and had SV% >95% 5 times. I say he won those five games for his team (despite the fact that team might have lost some of those games).

    Most recently, he gave Caps the edge over Tampa. No doubt about it.

    Holtby played 28 games and was better than 95% only 4 times. Don’t get me wrong – Holtby deserves to play. But Gruabuer was just as heroic in the net. You may be right and he is just not yet deciphered by other teams, but you are giving him far less credit than he deserves based on his admittedly small sized sample.

  • Matt Root

    I agree in the sense that I feel Grubi has been pretty stellar in net and has kept the Caps in games they had no business being in as well as won his share of games with his performance. But I also understand Jennifers point in regards to Holtby (And Neuvy for me). The fact is, it can be challenging to give proper cage time with 2 quality goalies, let alone 3.

    That’s the issue for me. It’s total mismanagement on the staff which is leading to too few starts for 3 NHL caliber goalies and whomever the Caps are shopping. Neuvy earned a start tonight and Holtby has earned more than what he’s been given. It’s like bringing a pitcher in cold when you sporadically give Holtby 1 start every 5-7 games or whatever the number has been.

    Sadly, this particular mismanagement of the goalies is par for the course with the overall roster for this year.

  • Bugs Fire

    I think Holtby is one of those goalies who need to get in the rhythm. He was always good recovering after a bad game, and usually mediocre playing after a break. Now all he gets is one game after a long break.

    I still believe it’s too early to judge Oates. This may be a genius cardiac season plan or some such thing. But it’s getting increasingly difficult to ignore certain things. Look, I felt the moment they gave Neuvirth new contract that he will be traded before the deadline unless Holtby gets injured or self destructs. So yes, it makes perfect sense to test the AHL backup to see if he is solid. But 12 starts in 16 games is not testing the waters, it’s being a starter. So is Grubauer a new #1? No, Holtby is still “the man” according to the coach, we are just riding the hot hand. So why not give Neuvy a chance after his excellent performance on Friday, isn’t he a hot hand? This all looks very chaotic, and while I have obviously no clue how to coach an NHL team, am I wrong thinking that chaos is not the best idea?

  • Bugs Fire

    I thought Grabo had his face cut with the blade during that game. Also, one possible reason is that Reiemer knew Grabo really well which reduced his effectiveness.

  • Bugs Fire

    To be fair, all the lineup issues you mention are GM’s business. Is it Oates’s job to find the team willing to take Erat? Don’t think so.

  • Bugs Fire

    Because Ovie is what sells tickets. Don’t get me wrong, Ovechkin is among the best players of all times, but benching him in a shootout is more likely to get Oates fired than anything else.

  • Bugs Fire

    This really does not matter. I wish Flyers win. I wish everyone in Metro division starts winning (they actually had recently), maybe it will wake up this team.

  • Bugs Fire

    Most people I heard here and elsewhere realize that refs should not be able to stop a good team from winning against the worst team in the league. With that said, Joanette and co were dreadful. How do you miss that Caps had 5 players on the ice in the overtime?

  • Bugs Fire

    The best from this game: Green is playing better, this can no longer be denied.

    The worst: Laich and Brouwer are now ruining Backstrom.

  • Bugs Fire

    Fun fact: Caps were not that bad this year against top teams. Season opener in Chicago was very close. They lost badly to Avs who were super hot at the time. They lost by one goal to Canucks (are they a top team?). They lost in shootout to Coyotes and then again lost badly to Avs again next day. Beat Detroit in shootout and StLouis decisively. Lost to Pens bad. Beat Tampa in a shootout. Lost a close game to Ducks. Beat Tampa again.

    This is not exactly a winning record, but notice how except for Avs and Pens most of their games against playoff teams were either won or very close. Thus the problem is not Ryan Miller, Brooks Laich, Martin Erat, Braden Holtby, Adam Oates or even Mark Joanette. The problem is that they don’t have the same effort level every night. And they can’t seem to mobilize against presumably weaker teams.

  • Bugs Fire

    And the doom and gloom squad is out in full force! Miller stops Grabovski’s layup and Backstrom trips someone invalidating Alzner’s goal! Fire the coach! Trade Erat/Laich/Brouwer/Green and everyone else I don’t like! Fire McPhee! Hooray!

    Some people take this way too seriously. As a goalie once said,

    It’s only game. Why you heff to be mad?

  • gustafsson16

    In fairness to Holtby, he’s been rather hastily anointed as ‘the One’ without some key ingredients during his development; coaching consistency (both at head coach and goalie coach positions), seasoned veteran backup mentorship, and a competent defensive corps to take pressure of a young netminder. I somewhat blame the ownership/marketing/media for projecting him as a team star so quickly. The Caps have never had, and honestly dont need ridiculous lights out Holt-beast play if things are going right. All of the solid Capitals goalies that we looked to reliably each year (Kolzig, Beaupre, Peeters) were never the take-over-the-game variety like Hasek, Brodeur, Lundquist – but you could count on them pretty much every night to be composed and make the stops they should make. The other two may not have the same high ceiling that Holtby potentially has, but until he can find consistency (and assuming the other 2 dont fall on their own sword), he’s going to find the starts few and far between with a team/ownership focused on a ‘win-now’ philosophy.

  • Jack Conness

    Even if the Caps win this game 2-1 or 3-1, Oates continues to make very questionable decisions. Keeping three goalies, playing Laich and Brouwer together, Volpatti > Erat. The list goes on and on. Even when the Caps win, they aren’t that great of a team. They COULD be, but they have a lot of work to do.

  • OVECHKING

    When the caps win (just as common as the caps losing) the roses are red, rainbow colored sunglasses, kool-aid drinking world peace squad is out in full force!! The ROCK THE RED and UNLEASH THE FURY folks are the people responsible for why this franchise has had ONE general manager for last 16+ years and a team that has a 3x NHL MVP on its roster and hasn’t advanced past the 2nd round of the stanley cup playoffs. Only organization in NA professional sports to accomplish such a feat <-FACT.

    But hey, don't bother this crowd, they only started watching Hockey 4-5 years ago! Don't believe me? Go read the "introduce yourself" thread from a few days ago posted here. To the fans who started following this team recently or were always hockey fans and can see that the problems with this team lies with management and ownership… this comment is not directed towards you.

  • Bugs Fire

    kemiisto is at least technically right. Holtby played 24 full games this season, Grubauer 12. That is no longer large sample versus small sample. Holtby played many more games last year, but it does not matter – we are talking about right now. Gruabuer’s stats this year are better.

    GAA: Holtby 3.08, Grubauer 2.16.
    SV%: Holtby 0.910, Grubauer 0.934.

    Maybe Grubauer is riding a “rookie wave”. Or maybe he is the second coming of Ollie Kolzig. But there is no denying that his stats are better than Holtby’s this season.

    By the way, I agree with you that Holtby needs to play. Anyone else thinks he will get the start against Sharks? Which is very likely to turn into a disaster that may end in Holtby pulled from the net?

  • Matthew Kory

    It won’t.

  • dylan wheatley

    well this is something

  • M Taylor

    Are you saying you think Oates has lost the lockerroom?

  • Steve Killmon

    Some philosopher once said Mike Ribeiro was “jokes.”

  • Heidi

    I think people would rather see the Caps win than watch Ovi missing in the shootout.

  • Bugs Fire

    And you completely misinterpret my lame attempt to soften the mood. Sure, the main *underlying* problem is the fact that the goal of this franchise is almost exclusively to fill the seats and not win the Cup. Sure, it is disappointing to many (myself included) that one of the arguably greatest hockey players of all times will most likely only win the Stanley Cup if he is traded to a better squad in his twilight years. Yes, Oates may not be the savior some hoped he would be. Yes, keeping Forsberg which would also prevent the need to trade Perrault was obviously a better decision. Yes, it is an absolute disgrace if the reason Brouwer/Laich were not demoted was an unabashed favoritism. Yes, yes, yes.

    But what I do not understand is why some people (I think it’s fair to say it includes you) get so worked up over this. It’s only game. Yes, I also want this team to be the best in the league (if such rank makes sense at all in the era of salary cap). Yes, it is depressing to see them only get two points in two games against Buffalo. Yes, I will likely be very disappointed after Sharks visit to Verizon (although one can hope).

    But I choose to accept this team for what it is. If I would a winning team, I’d go with whoever is winning right now. It is only game, and so I celebrate when they still win against the odds. What’s wrong with that? You are wrong assuming that people who express genuine happiness when Caps beat Tampa, or Toronto, or St Louis, or even Buffalo (we got one more chance to see that this year) are somehow completely unaware of the underlying structural problems.

    Please, take it easy – we don’t have to antagonize each other over this. And please, stop being condescending to those who “only started watching Hockey 4-5 years ago”. There is nothing wrong with being young, in fact, it’s positively awesome. (I am much older than you think :).

  • Bugs Fire

    OK, maybe it won’t. So maybe they will miss playoffs then. So maybe then some seats will go empty. So maybe then management will wake up. Long live Rube Goldberg!

  • RT23

    Backstrom would get more assists if he was centering the 2 corgis. I loved Oates as a player and really want him to be a great coach but I am very worried. Brouwer and Laich have each struggled individually this year but they both play far worse when they are together. I thought Brouwer was actually starting to improve with Grabbo and Fehr and Lacih had some good moments centering Ward and Chimi (but Erat was better). We have some real problems with the jigsaw puzzle on the top 3 lines and I think it is because we are assuming all these guys need to be on the top 3 lines. It’s like that connect the dots thing where the solution is that you need to be willing to draw outside the frame of the dots. Look at this as a 12 forward point of view and there is more flexibility.

    We essentially have 3 pairs that should not be split up and absolutely deserve to play every game and in the top 9: Ovi-Backstrom; Grabbo-Fehr; Ward-Chimera. I think Mojo has earned top 9 time but I don’t think his chemistry is locked in with anyone so let’s platoon him with Brouer, Erat and Laich. I know some will say Wilson. I’m not sold on that but we can give him some chances also..

    So lock in the 3 pairs and then reward players with time alongside them as it’s earned and chemistry is shown.

    1st – OVi – Bakcstrom – Erat/Mojo/Laich

    2nd – Fehr Grabbo – Brouer/Erat/

    3rd – Ward – Laich/Erat/Mojo – Chimera

    4th – Wilson – with whoever is left out above.

    Also, don’t treat healthy scratches as punishment. We should give any of the weaker forwards a night off once in a while to watch and learn.

  • RT23

    I agree with most of your comments but I have always hated the that “definition of insanity”. Doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results isn’t the definition of insanity… it’s the definition of stupidity!

    Insanity is actually much more complicated and interesting. This stubborn bullheadedness is just boring and infuriating.

  • OVECHKING

    What I get worked out about is seeing arguably the best player in the NHL get castrated year in year out because he has not won a cup. The national media does not know what you and I know. All they see is a selfish, no heart, no commitment overpaid russian who has never won a cup. That bothers me and gets me.

    What I get worked up about is watching this franchise ruin a player, who bob mackenzie, at the peak of Ovi’s career, said could “go down in history as one of the 2 or 3 greatest players of all time”

    It really bother me. That phrase “no one player is above the franchise” is true for 99% of the cases. Unfortunately, that does not hold fort for Alex. He is the type of player who is ABOVE this mickey mouse organization and he doesn’t deserve this s***. He doesn’t deserve a team that has Brooks Laich and Troy Brouwer as top line forward. Or a defense that has Mike Green as their #1 option. Or a team that has regressed talent wise every year since winning the cup. Or a franchise that has no real future star players in their system (kuznetsov not included).

    I could go on and on. I live in toronto. The only thing I know is hockey. Its my entire life. I cannot just simply “enjoy it just because its a game”. Its more that to me. I feel a lot more invested as a fan of the caps and the NHL (which Ovechkin is a part of) than you think is probably reasonable. That’s your opinion. But when I constantly see media types in this country on national tv (note the entire hockey media is controlled by canadians) bash and assassinate ovechkin’s character, I just can’t stand it. e.g See McSorley, Cherry, PJ stock, Glenn Healy, Craig Simpson, Nick Kypreous etc and most recently Ron Maclean ( a well respected guy).

    And finally, I put a small disclaimer at the bottom of my comment. Its obvious you are one of the more knowledgeable people regarding this franchise and its motives. You eloquently stated in a few sentences exactly why a small minority (I consider ‘doom and gloom’ types like myself minority) of people can’t take this team seriously.

  • Bugs Fire

    I think we agree in general just differ in intensity. Most people reading a hockey blog are probably invested in hockey above “reasonable” (=average?) level. But you seem to maintain the level of intensity that to most would be hard to sustain. I am not saying this is good or bad, because good/bad concept is not applicable more often than we realize. It’s just the way you breathe. All I am asking is to be maybe a tad more tolerant to others who do not share your level of emotional and intellectual investment.

    As for Ovie’s treatment by some in Canadian media, it is demonstrably atrocious. Look, at the height of his career, in 1981-82 season, the hockey god Wayne Gretzky has scored 92 goals. In the same season, average number of goals scored per game was ~8.03. In 2007-08, when Ovie reached his scoring record of 65 goals, average number of goals per game was ~5.44. Hence 1981-adjusted top scoring number for Alex Ovechkin is ~96 goals on a season.

    I am not saying Ovie is bigger than Gretzky, simply because such comparisons make no sense. Different era, different positions, different styles, different teammates etc. But the incessant attempts by assorted Cherries to tell the world that Ovie sucks is just as infuriating to me as they are to you. I know hockey is as Canadian as maple syrup, and being an admirer of the sport I thank the people of Canada from the bottom of my heart. But just like it turned out that Argentinians, Lithuaninans and Chinese can do fine in NBA, so it is entirely possible that being born north of an invisible line separating Vermont from Quebec is not absolutely required for developing the ability to handle small disk made of vulcanized rubber. Most Canadians I know are open minded decent people, yet there is obviously small but vocal minority of xenophobes who just cannot forgive the Russian dude who plays hockey like a true Canadian.