craig j spearing

“Shoggoth” by Craig J. Spearing

It’s f@$&ing freezing here and I didn’t eat dinner. My dog is being an @%^$*. A water main exploded up the street from me, so there’s a river of ice outside my door that has its frozen heart set on shredding my #brittlegroin. Everything sucks and so do you.

Here’s my recap of the Washington Capitals at the Columbus Blue Jackets. Read it at your peril.

The first-period Caps gave up a pair of shorthanded breakaways, the second of which resulted in a Columbus goal. Then Ryan Johansen escaped some decidedly dainty defense to make it 2-0. Brandon Dubinsky’s softy on Braden Holtby early in the second period made it 3-0, and Ryan Johansen got his second goal a little after that.

I drifted into rage blackouts and delirium, but I came to momentarily as Joel Ward got a shorty of his own halfway through the middle frame. Eric Fehr tricked one past Bobrovsky to make it 4-2 and somewhat interesting, but Cam Atkinson extinguished the rally with a quick-response goal.

Blue Jackets beat Caps 5-2.

  • Alex Ovechkin (Photo credit: Nightserpent @ Deviant Art)

    Alex Ovechkin (Photo credit: Nightserpent @ Deviant Art)

    Burn the tape, don’t read the recap, purge your mind of the irreconcilable horrors of Caps at Jackets. Thinking too loud on the incomprehensible, non-Euclidean wretchedness of this game just might turn you into a fish person. I’ve seen it happen.

  • The powerplay withers. Alex Ovechkin had to trip a dude to stop a shorthanded breakaway, and then McKenzie outdueled John Carlson to open up 100 feet of ice and a shorty for Lumbus. You want money, you go to the bank. You want shorthanded chances, you go to the Washington Capitals. At evens and with the man advantage, the Capitals leaked odd-man rushes like the scions of R’lyeh leak an viscous black oil from the eyes and ears.
  • Alex Ovechkin was on the ice for every Columbus goal. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. His plus-minus shall forever be etched in the Necronomicon.
  • In the stagnant swamps of New Orleans we find an eerie green statue of Tom Wilson. Wilson put a late hit on Nikita Nikitin after the latter, whose name rules, dumped the puck into the offensive zone. That was a pointless hit, but it went unpunished– at least until Nick Foligno forced Wilson into a fight on the next shift. Since October I’ve been worried Tom Wilson’s talent would be wasted as a sideshow. Now that Wilson is getting more ice time and better linemates on the third line, he’s still being wasted. The Nikitin hit didn’t affect the game one iota, but it did start a fight, and it probably gave Bruce Jenner a “they started it” excuse for this next bullet…
  • Boone Jenner smeared Mike Green into the glass in the first period. It was an awkward but innocent collision until Jenner smeared Green’s head into the glass. Green, who has a history of concussions, did not return to the game. The Caps defense isn’t remotely good enough to withstand his absence. We must hope Green isn’t disabled like a German submarine, filled with dead soldiers, rotting at the gates of the city of the dead.
  • Let’s look beyond the Capitals, to the unimaginable and infinite blackness of space, to talk about the night’s big signing. Colorado extended Semyon Varlamov for five years at six million per. That’s a lot of money to spend on goaltending (and a goaltender whom I think is overrated), but I guess the Avs are banking on the salary cap going up a lot soon. If that happens, it won’t be such a bad deal. Either way, it’s probably a credit to George McPhee that he rarely overspends for goaltending– opting instead to spend that money on scoring or defense.
  • Connor Carrick, the Deep One, had four shots, more than anyone not named Eric Fehr.
  • The creeping mists and unholy chain lightning of quick-response goals have not receded. Whatever flicker of hope the Caps and their fans had after Ward’s and Fehr’s goals, Cam Atkinson dumped seawater upon it until it went dark. Dark like ink. Like the inky, putrid discharge of some twisted, tentacled thing waiting off the craggy shore of Innsmouth.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night, a macabre mockery of these meaningless masks we wear.

So, not a good game.

Raise your hand if you like the way the Caps play. Chime in if you enjoy watching your team chase the puck, give up breakaways, and fight out of frustration. Holler at me if you think Adam Oates has a handle on this thing. Hit me up on my pager if you’re psyched by watching the Caps get outshot by more than 150 so far this season. Send me a Snapchat if Alex Ovechkin’s goals are enough to quench you. Scribe me an illuminated manuscript if you prefer the Caps goalies to deal with a half dozen odd-man rushes or more every night. Put up a smoke signal if you believe Connor Carrick and John Erskine are enough to get this team to the Cup.

The Capitals aren’t bad, but tonight they were atrocious. Puck possession, shooting and save percentages, special teams– pick one; they were all atrocious. But the thing that keeps irking me is this team’s proclivity for letting the other team get a run on them. The odd-man rushes are an infection– one that Adam Oates’ system seems to invite.

When I say the team’s puck possession is trending up (which it is, aside from this stinker of a game), my subtext is that it’s happening in spite of this team’s corpus of tactics and roster shortcomings. No one anywhere thinks this team as constructed will see any meaningful postseason success without an embarrassing abundance of dumb luck.

Fhtagn. Bad things fhtagn. Trade fhtagn. Upheaval fhtagn. Change, glorious change: fhtagn.

I’m growing impatient.

  • dylan wheatley

    5-2 pete. you need to stop writing these things the monday before

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

    Refresh homey

  • dylan wheatley

    let’s talk about buying out laich, and trading chimera, wardo and brouwer.

  • Stephen Chastain

    How bad was this game? I went to the fridge to get the last leftover Miller Lite from a party last weekend to try to cope. Miller Lite.

    It wasn’t there. Someone else had it. I couldn’t even have that.

  • Ash

    That blew goats.

  • Seth Malaguerra

    Can the Caps hire a coach who yells? I’m afraid they aren’t being yelled at enough right now.

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

    that comeback attempt means nothing to me

  • Chris Cerullo

    At this point a blind monkey could put together better line combinations. 1st line was horrid, Carrick looked like a 15 year old, and our bottom 6 outplayed our top 6. Holtby should have probably had 2 out of the 5 but his defense was sure of no help whatsoever. If we lose Grabo/Green for a long period of time I have no real hope left in this team moving forward. We need a change or 6 and need it soon. Tom Wilson was the best player on the ice for me and he played 7 minutes. I don’t have much else to say. Just a sorry sorry team right now. Got my homework done early though, so there’s that.

  • Simonezero

    I… I was ready to win tonight. It would have meant something. Thank you for unfailing and entertaining recaps, that’s all I’ve got.

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Now comes the point where Ian and Peter revert to Satanic rituals to get wins and points. How many souls will it cost to make the playoffs….human sacrifices?

  • Jack Conness

    Tear it down and begin to rebuild. These goals in less than two minutes are on Oates. So is the pathetic 2nd line.

  • JenniferH

    This was so bad. This was so bad. This was so bad.

  • Rob W.

    Let me start by saying that if i see any caps players after the game say they weren’t ready or took them lightly, im going to flip the f**k out. But this game was pretty comical after the 2nd CBJ goal. The defense continues to play like they have a negative IQ and nobody plays mean enough to hurt a fly. I wish the caps had some young speedy forwards who can create scoring chances like the jackets, right now brouwer, laich, and chimmer are not cutting it. Ill finish by saying that Calle has to go, his message(whatever it is) is not being heard

  • Heidi

    What’s your pager number?

  • lilwolf30

    Just…wow

  • Mark Gillis

    If Green is out for any kind of long period of time this team is done. They have basically zero defensive depth

  • Brackaphobia

    Welp. Nothing a sixer of Brewers Alley Kolsch can’t fix.

    Better luck next time boys. We need some defense.

  • Jaime

    I had taken a break from recaps for a bit since they’d gotten fairly depressing, but you had me at “Cthulu.” I’d like to request that all subsequent game recaps have delightful fictional tie-ins.

  • Mark Gillis

    Occasions like this are the reason I keep a bottle of scotch stashed away in the cupboard.

  • Bugs Fire

    It may have seemed like a virtue at some point, right? Cool and collected coach who uses other means to motivate his players. Like Claude Noel, who said these are professional players who should be motivated already because they are, well, professionals.

    Boudreau was fired when he admitted he no longer knows what he can do to change the trajectory of the team. Could one of those reporters ask Oates whether he has a plan?

  • VeggieTart

    I was glad my boyfriend was able to stop by the local bakery/care and get me a couple of donuts. I needed them both to cope.

  • dylan wheatley

    the update url bears silent witness to your inexcusable blunder

  • Rob W.

    With this teams mental toughness, id hate to see their feelings get hurt

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

    hell yeah

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Now comes the point where Ian and Peter revert to Satanic language to produce wins and points. In honor of this transition I felt like that melting guy from Indiana Jones after it became 5-2 jackets…

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

    when things get bad, we make our own fun

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

    whoa whoa whoa

    Lovecraft is not Satanic. Satan cares. He hates. The Elder Gods are just indifferent, which is way scarier.

  • Seth Malaguerra

    That’s what I want to see. I want an authority figure to tell them that they suck. Serious. Balls.

  • Bugs Fire

    To all those who think Mike Green is bad – here is what a game without him looks like.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I’m not sure I want Mcphee to be in charge of where this team is headed though.

  • Hitt

    Holtby is awful, I wish Grubi was playing. Tom Wilson had a nice game, what do u guys have against his physical play? He was one of the only guys who looked like he cared.

  • Cthulu’s Alarm Clock

    Crappy game aside, I approve of the nods to Lovecraft…

  • Hyusis

    Bloody Farts

  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Pardon my neglect of Mr. Lovecraft’s prose…

  • Mark Gillis

    Exactly. When you have a guy who can skate the puck into the offensive zone almost effortlessly, it really hurts to lose him.

  • Jack Conness

    Holtby was awful? Have you ever watched Erskine, Carrick, Brouwer, and Laich try to play defense before? Talk about awful.

  • Diller M

    If green is down with another concussion (which after watching the hit a few times I think he might be) I fear this might be it for him. Three concussions is enough to force anyone’s hand. This is bad for two reasons: 1) we cannot afford the loss of Green on the PP or on D at all. 2). It opens up all sorts of cash (6M) which I fear GMGM will make some desperate and futile move with that I fear will cost us Burkovsky or Barber (Miller?). I’m really disappointed in Oates, I have officially given up onnts season, but I will continue to watch for Ovi’s goals and I will continue to read these great posts on this, my favorite of all websites. Keep it up homies!

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

    I love physical play, it’s just that what Tom’s doing is so tangential to the shooty, scorey part of the game. If he puts those hits on a guy while clearing the crease or getting the puck back, I’d love it.

  • fingerman

    “No one anywhere thinks this team as constructed will see any meaningful postseason success without an embarrassing abundance of dumb luck.”

    Postseason success? What about this team would lead one to believe that this team is going to make the postseason the way they’ve been playing the whole season, and more specifically the last few weeks?

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

    It won’t be easy, but they can still make the playoffs.

  • Graham Dumas

    Who is this Brewers Alley-Kolsch? Is he a top defensive prospect, whose stick is made of magnets, glue, and 105-mm howitzer shells? Are his feet actually tiny jet engines that allow him to rush back from a bad pinch at Mach 0.98 to stop odd-man rush?

    More importantly, is he a good Canadian boy who fights and will make Don Cherry explode from both his heads with glee?

    If not, I don’t wanna hear about him no more.

  • yv

    Funny recap on otherwise another embarrassing night.
    I don’t know what system Caps playing, but what I know it’s not working.
    Ovis -5 would be all over hockey world.

  • Dominic Kreiner

    This team makes me feel like drugs and alcohol are a proper way of dealing with my feelings. This Harlan Ellison recap gives me the inspiration to at least be masochistic about it too

  • Red

    Sloppy and undisciplined play. It’s like watching the same game on replay week after week. Where are the adjustments? Where is the defense? Where’s the PP? Tired of seeing short-handers against and fast breaks against. In fact, the only reliable part of our game, the goaltending, is now in complete disarray. We have no structure to fall back on, which means there’s a lot of ugly hockey still left unplayed. Did I mention that I’m really looking forward to the winter Olympic break?

  • Chris Cerullo

    It’d be nice if he played more than 7-10 minutes a night but our apparent RW “depth” says no. And he needs to stop being our designated fighter. Volpatti has done nothing but suck this season, the least he could do is play his role and free Tom up.

  • Dave

    At least Wilson’s fight tonight led to a Caps power play. So we got that going for us, which is nice.

  • Graham Dumas

    Yes, no, no, yes? I feel like Chimera and Ward are still OK third-liners.

  • Bugs Fire

    Maybe our only hope is Ovie winning Olympic gold and getting on fire like never before. I just don’t understand why Capitals as a club have this as their game plan.

  • Alex Hughes

    Well this was a terrible game. Now with Mike Green most likely out for tomorrow, it’s probably going to be Tyson Strachan getting called up. It just wasn’t the 1st lines night tonight. Thought Marty Erat had a decent game. I didn’t like Holtby on that 3rd goal which was a game breaker. You just have to come up with that save. I just don’t like the way he’s playing. I’m glad that Neuvy gets the start tomorrow but I think we should give him more starts. You can’t give away that many penalties and expect to win hockey games on a regular basis. Still hating the Carrick-Erskine, D-pair and I’m disappointed that Nate Schmidt had only one game to prove himself again. Hopefully we have a better game tomorrow at the Joe.

  • Jack Conness

    No offense to you guys and no hard feelings here, but I don’t know why you guys are hating on Tom Wilson. I like his play. Especially tonight. I realize he takes some stupid penalties. But he is young and he will figure it out. Tonight, I loved how he finished his hits. All clean. Hard hitting. I like his style of play. And he adds another assist tonight. I feel like his game will come along nicely if given the chance. I hope he keeps playing the same style of hockey.

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

    awww yeah

  • Manitoba_Mercy

    He’s soooo much better on the point during the PP, he’s our best defensive puck mover, his D is steadily improving, and he restricts erskine from getting more ice time. If he is out long term he will be missed surely.

  • Jack Conness

    Agreed. Overhaul needed.

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

    DAMMIT DYLAN

  • Alex Hughes

    Giving up 3 goals on the first 6 shots. C’mon Braden. This is the second time this has happened this season

  • Chris Cerullo

    He deserves 12-15 minutes a night. The fact that Troy Brouwer plays over him on this team makes me want to gouge my own eyes out.

  • Jay DeLancey

    Mr. Hassett — i see what you did there… GMGM saving on goaltending by spending on defense and scoring….

  • anyone with a brain

    If you think this loss was his fault, you’re an idiot. The one slapshot goal was bad. The rest were due to horrible defense.

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

    I think a lot of people are misinterpreting my criticism of Wilson.

    “Since October I’ve been worried Tom Wilson’s talent would be wasted as a sideshow. Now that Wilson is getting more ice time and better linemates on the third line, he’s still being wasted.”

    That was all passive voice– things being done TO Wilson. He’s made some moves I think are dumb, but I think he’s a good player. I’ve been arguing for a line promotion since like week 3.

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

    Hey hey hey, you can disagree without calling your commenting bro names.

  • Brooklyn Brawler

    Fighting in hockey > Peter.

    I love that it rustles his jimmies

    every. single. time.

    Wilson brought it tonight. Love having this kid on the roster.

  • Alex Hughes

    Anyone against bringing back Grubauer?

  • fingerman

    Sure, they can–but they’re going to have to win a number of games against good teams in March (or have a bunch of teams in the division completely collapse like last year, but I have a hard time seeing that happen). They’ve got five games before the break against teams near them in the standings–if they can’t get 7-8 points in that stretch, it’s going to be really tough.

  • Chris Cerullo

    *Raises hand*

  • Jay DeLancey

    he needs to stay in hershey

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

    Not at the cost of spoiling two decent goaltending assets, the lesser of which needs some support to be made non-toxic.

  • Dominic Kreiner

    August Derleth would be proud

  • Ash

    Oh man, this is gonna mean the return of Voldemort, isn’t it.

  • Jennifer Carignan

    Replace “Lisa” with “Caps” to summarize how I feel right now. http://youtu.be/czkiijdiUJ8

  • Alex Hughes

    I’m not saying this loss was entirely his fault but that goal right at the beginning of the 2nd was at a crucial time of the game and killed really any relevant chance of the Caps coming back.

  • Dave

    There’s no effing way this team makes the playoffs. They are lucky to have as many wins as they do (via SO wins), and have a difficult schedule ahead.

  • Chris Cerullo

    The “give a shit” factor after the 3rd CBJ goal is a great way to get back into a game.

  • Manitoba_Mercy

    Indoor sporting event!

  • Graham Dumas

    Feel like a Kindergarten teacher much?

  • JenniferH

    I don’t get where people are getting you’re hating on Wilson either. It’s obvious that you’re frustrated with how Wilson is being played. He’s a good player, but he’s not being utilized properly and you’ve been saying that for months now.

  • Daniel Walker

    Im thinking Saturdy, after two consecutive losses and with our playoff odds at around .7%, McPhee will trade away every promising youngster currently in the system plus a number of Caps draft picks who have not been born yet for two months of Ryan Miller.

  • Alex Hughes

    Boone Jenner deserves to be suspended for that 2nd hit into the boards on Mike Green. The 1st part of that play fine it was incidental, but after that he makes no attempt on the puck and just goes straight for the head into the boards

  • Graham Dumas
  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    That game was soooooo ugly, it didn’t have an alibi.

    This just confirms to me that we’re sellers, and with any hope we’ll have a good pick.

  • Diller M

    The lack of any segnificant changes, besides meaningless baffling line changes, tells me that the staff believes they are playing well and just not getting breaks. This is the only tea, I’ve seen that seems to get worse after a few days of practice. At this point why not just try to shake things up. Move Wilson to 2 RW, move Erat to 1LW, bring up latta and send Laich to nacho duty once Grabo comes back. This season is done anyway, as shitty as this division has been , if we can’t beat our cellar-mates then were going nowhere but down. Let Ovi run wild and go for 60+ and get the young guys more experience. Bench Erske and bring up Schmidt for good. Anyway it’s about time for me to return to the fatal position.

  • Mn

    I say he’s gone after this year. Hopefully Leonsis escapes typical DC sports attitude and chooses a new gm who prizes larger long term success over ill advised immediate gratification.

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

    Also his stupid stupid name

  • JenniferH

    Holtby and Neuvy are not the problem. It’s the defense and play in front of them.

  • Matt Lauer

    I was like, “Whaaaaaat?!”
    And she was like, “Heeeeeeeey!!!!!!”
    And I was like, “Naw.”

  • Chris Cerullo

    Ted’s complacency worries me. We’ll see though.

  • Jack Conness

    Okay, I gotcha. I just see tweets and other comments from RMNB that gave me a different impression. But thanks for clearing it up!

  • Bugs Fire

    No doubt D was bad. But on a great night a goalie should stop maybe all of these. Breakaway is not goalie’s fault, but on a great night he stick checks it away. Johansen’s shot was hard to stop, but on a great night a goalie has better rebound control. And of course, Dubinsky’s goal can only happen on a really lousy night.

    I am not saying this loss is Holtby’s fault. But it’s his too, and what is sad to see is that the whole Zmey Gorynych experiment (look it up, it’s a Russian thing) has left him in a state where he no longer has great nights. Will he ever steal a game again?

    Think about it – if Braden stops one of these, Fehr’s tally makes it a one goal game. A hope? A chance. Holtby is no longer keeping his team in the game.

  • Diller M

    Worse then the ride home Tuesday? How long did it take you?

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

    THE ROOM!

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

    who is your daddy and what does he do

  • Alex Hughes

    Agreed, sounds like the name of some guy out in the backwoods of Mississippi.

  • JenniferH

    I work overnights, so I was home Tuesday morning at 8 am (went grocery shopping to stock up) before the storm hit and wasn’t called into work the next two nights so I haven’t had to brave the roads. How about you?

  • JenniferH

    My thoughts exactly. I want to keep Chimmy and Wardo. Laich and Brouwer, eh.

  • Graham Dumas

    IAMNOTADEPUTYI’MAPRINCESS! says, uhhh, not… me…

  • Chris Cerullo

    I think it’s more Ian/Chris than Peter on the Wilson front.

  • Graham Dumas

    Yeah, Holtby was really not the issue here, except for Dubinsky’s goal. If he were awful, it would have been 6-2, 7-2, easily.

  • Diller M

    I think this is it, I’ve said before I think it’s loyalty rather than complacency. He hasnt extended GMs contract which says that this season is make or break, and this is definitely break. I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s gone after the seventh if we lose these next three.

  • Bugs Fire

    Not to defend the indefensible defence, but if Holtby stops Dubinsky’s shot then Fehr’s goal makes it a one-goal game. If he stops one more (by being awesome), it’s a tie. Goaltending has become a problem, just like everything else. Sigh.

  • Chris Cerullo

    I hate to say it but I hope you’re right lol.

  • Robert

    I think the point was Holtby shouldn’t have to have an incredible game in net for us to win hockey games. Better defense and those shots don’t even happen.

  • Bugs Fire

    It’s time for players-only meeting. If Oates ain’t gonna yell some sense into them, maybe it’s time for self-motivation.

  • Heidi

    Was the Bruce Jenner reference on purpose? I wouldn’t assume you were a Kardashian fan.

  • Diller M

    The worst part is green to LTIR makes the money possible:(

  • Bugs Fire

    I have the same question as many of you do – if problems are so obvious, why nothing is being done to even attempt to fix them? Could someone please ask Oates in a postgame whether he has a plan?

  • Diller M

    I teach in Clayton so we have been off since Monday. It took my wife three hours leaving downtown at 1:15 Tuesday afternoon to get to tucker.

  • Diller M

    This might sound silly but does anyone else feel like the 4.5M contract does not happen if it weren’t for the tire story?

  • Bugs Fire

    That may have been the point, I don’t know. My point is that defense is not working, but neither is goaltending. There is something inherently wrong with allowing 3 goals on 6 shots. Last time this happened to the other side, Halak was pulled and Caps beat Blues.

  • Dejavu

    Switched to rerun of Groundhog Day. Eerily appropriate.

  • Bugs Fire

    Exactly. I never understood why Oates gave the top PP job to Carlson (I think it happened after Tampa, which makes no sense because Green’s penalties that time have nothing to do with PP).

  • Bugs Fire

    As a side note, I think Erskine’s elbow on Umberger was rather ugly.

    At least Brouwer jumped Jenner. Clueless Columbus announcers were wondering how did that started. I swear one of them kept calling Carrick Green.

  • Daniel Walker

    I wish I could play Monopoly with George McPhee. I would trade him water works plus 1 overpaid, formerly productive railroad for his monopoly on boardwalk/park place.

  • Steve

    Vote Gretzsky for GM!

  • Steve

    Gretzky for GM, pl0x

  • BJ Robey

    I’ve said that the Caps have needed to miss the playoffs for at least 3 years. When something isn’t broken “enough”, it won’t be fixed.

  • brian!

    Meanwhile the Maple Leads won 5-2 tonight. Nothing makes sense.

  • Eric Schulz

    I would prefer “complacency” over pulling the trigger too soon, at least from the owner. It bodes well if we get a good GM. The problem is that it hurts now, since we don’t have one. But, you’d think that GMGM would NOT have felt the need to make a stupid, short-sighted, stupid trade like Forsberg for Erat (and Latta) knowing that Leonsis is patient (or, if you prefer, “complacent”). A patient owner should prevent short-sighted trades like that, at the very least.

  • K

    That’s it…get rid of Green and bring in Miller. I’ll jump off the Chesapeke Bridge if we don’t have another chance to be eliminated in the first round of the playoffs.

  • CM

    My wife’s a Flyers fan so we’re watching the Flyers-Ducks game right now. The Ducks are what good hockey looks like. Fast, strong, playing a coherent system. Watching these two games in sequence is brutally showing me how the gulf between us and any team that could be considered good is so immeasurably large it’s almost impossible to describe. Watching Ducks-PHI I feel like any talk of playoffs, or trades, or improvement is just insane.

    We are organizational disarray. Once in a blue moon we beat Buffalo in OT. Embrace the horror. Sorry for the fan rant. Nothing makes sense.

  • Eric Schulz

    I would say he a) played badly, and b) didn’t give us a chance to win. You can’t ONLY stop the ones you should, plus the third was one you should and he didn’t.
    Were there factors that caused us to lose aside from Holby. Of course: everything. Doesn’t mean Holtby gets a pass. He’s a good goalie, IMO, but he didn’t play well.

  • Eric Schulz

    Ward was over-paid from the start; he’s having a fine season, but even still I’m not sure he’s worth the money… certainly he’s not a terribly useful guy to have on a bubble playoff team (which we may not even be). I DON’T get the hate on Brouwer; I get it FOR THIS SEASON, he’s played badly, but he was on something like a 33-22–55 pace last year, he’s good. Certainly nothing over their career’s beyond this season point to Ward being better. Plus, Brouwer is cheaper than Ward. I’d rather sell high on Ward, than low on Brouwer.
    Also, I’d like to keep Laich, I think he’s good, just going through a rough patch. Not sure if anything prevents us from re-doing his contract like they do in football. He’s obviously not worth what we are paying him, but if you could sign him to an incentive-heavy contract, I’d love that.

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

    It’s a mistake, but I’m gonna pretend like I meant it now.

  • Matt Root

    I live just 20-30 minutes from Anaheim and regularly catch cheap-seat Ducks games and I couldn’t help but relate to everything you said. I’ll rock my Matty P gear and drown in over-priced beer at the game. Not sure why I do it to myself. It’s so wonderful and heart-breaking to see Bruce succeeding with the Ducks while we go through this.. uhh.. interesting.. experience.

  • Matt Root

    I’m a Holtby fan and supporter but I think the problem is all-inclusive. It’s very valid to say Holtby could have made a few saves to bail out his team and just as valid to say the guys in front should have helped the netminder out. Thing is, those two stances are valid night in and night out which tells me the whole chemistry/execution/whatever you want to call it with everyone is off. Some nights it’s more one-sided than others, other times its just a collaboration. And then those few string of games where just enough clicks.

  • jennrubenstein

    i wish i had the power to do something. anything. i changed my jersey after the 3rd cbj goal. i’m in the same city as the rabbi who blessed the cow/goat last year, but i don’t think anybody’s calling for any sacrifices since the olympics are quickly approaching plus the team will likely have some trades to make… i feel helpless =/

  • Matt Root

    Thanks for bringing up Varly, Peter. Some of us were Varly fans and haven’t moved on :c

  • JenniferH

    Oh, I agree. I do think that Holtby has definitely been having problems ever since Ollie decided he needed to be “fixed.” And he could have made some better saves tonight absolutely. So not his best game. Personally, I think Neuvy should have started tonight honestly (and I expected Holts to be pulled after the 3rd goal.) I’m not gonna lie, I haven’t been happy with his play overall, but he’s young and he’s had his technique and confidence challenged, I believe he’ll get the technique and get his confidence back. He’s already improving.

    My point above was to say that bringing some other goalie in to fix the problem is not the answer because Holtby and Neuvy (and I stress Neuvy here too) are NOT the problem. It’s the whole damn thing. The changing lines, the benching Holtby (and Neuvy) through most of December and January, the not having a regular starter, there’s no chemistry to this team. Other than Ovi, Oates has taken what DID work with this team and screwed it up and seems like he added a whole bunch of other problems.

    There’s no chemistry, no communication, no flow. It’s just sad watching this team most of time now and that makes me sad because I love the Capitals, I love most of the players on the team and I’m frustrated because I don’t know why things aren’t being done upstairs. But bringing in goalies from Hershey isn’t the answer is my point. We tried that, we won about 3 or 4 games and lost a lot more. It’s not the answer. I don’t know what is, but it’s like other than shuffling lines, Oates and GMGM isn’t trying anything else.

  • Owen Johnson

    It’s mostly that our defense is so bad, any sub par game from the goalies gets amplified.

  • Owen Johnson

    The Ducks remind of this one team. I believe it was the Caps from 3-4 years ago.

  • JenniferH

    Fair enough. I liked Brouwer last season, but this season he’s not producing at all. And I’m thinking of the Ward-Chimera-Grabo line honestly. Plus the fact that (sadly) Wardo is our 2nd top scorer. But I forget how much he’s paid. Laich, I don’t know if they could manage the pay reduction like that. Ugh, this team and how they’re managed. Or rather mismanaged. GAH!!! SO FRUSTRATING!!!!

  • gustafsson16

    Seems like a big contract. Then I look at the Avalanche in the standings, Varly’s outstanding development under Roy and with guidance from Giggy, and Varly’s numbers in pretty much every major goaltending category, and factor how in poor Colorado has been for the last few seasons…and suddenly that contract seems about right.
    Make no mistake. Goaltending didnt win or lose this game. But consistency in net radiates out to the rest of the team, and Im sorry but Holtby just doesnt have it right now. I feel like we are sorely missing Dave Prior back there as goaltending coach.
    Unrelated: after looking at +/- tonight, we seem to be in good shape for the golf season which we’ll able to start early this year if this sort of play continues…

  • Matt Root

    A 3 goalie situation only magnified problems. I totally agree, Jennifer.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I’m thinking its time for another cow and chicken sacrifice.

  • Eugene Chernov

    This one was a disaster from any point of view. No will, no character. Everybody and his dog serve penalties. And we’ve lost Green after all. So bad.

  • rotational

    Absolutely wretched play. The Jackets were all over the ice and the Caps just looked dead from the opening whistle.

    Not a smart enough guy to know what specifically is wrong but something is fundamentally broken with the team right now.

  • johnnymorte

    Disagree with your assessment of the Varly contract, and also the comment regarding the credit to McPhee is egregious. I believe wholeheartedly that if he had kept Varly we would have stood to fare better in subsequent playoffs. Keeping Neuvirth over Varly especially in the way he performed in the Tampa Bay series was a numbskullian move as I could conjure.

  • Bryan Egan

    On the other hand, did everyone enjoy that scotch commercial they kept showing during Caps commercial breaks? The one where the guy is given his wifes purse and drops it on the ground and then doggy bag picks it up? Solid. Best part of the night in my mind

  • JoeA

    You need to put the parade of penalties on this graph to give better context.

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

    You may have a point about Neuvy in Tampa, but it’s gibberish to say Varly would have improved the last two years of playoffs.

    Holtby has a .931 in the playoffs. Varly’s career is .915.

  • kemiisto

    In my opinion it is more about Grabo than Green. Our defense is terrible anyway.

  • Jonah

    “Goaltending doesn’t win games”
    I refer you to Montreal Canadians halak in 2010 playoffs.

  • Mark Gillis

    Certainly neither one is good. Grabo’s injury is showing this team doesn’t have the players to plug in holes when players go down. They need everyone healthy to be a good team.

  • VIIIGoCapsXIX

    Please make a lovecraft themed shirt!!

  • gustafsson16

    I said “Goaltending didn’t win or lose this game.” Of course it can win games. Right now I’d settle for consistent play that gives up 2-3 at worst.

  • johnnymorte

    19 and 21 GP are relatively small samples. Varly hasn’t seen any post-season since ’09. He was mint in the classic. Also easier to play in a Hunter than a Boudreau. Main reason for my argument is not stat-based however. Goaltending is a position that takes time to develop save for a few outliers like Brodeur, Dryden, Roy. Varly is just farther along in his development. But, as far as talent goes, I don’t see much of a disparity yet.

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

    Bro, don’t come at me with sample size.

    You said, “if he had kept Varly we would have stood to fare better in subsequent playoffs.” You specified a population, not a sample.

    Those subsequent playoffs include Neuvy vs NYR and Tampa, which I agreed was meh, and Holtby’s “subsequent playoffs” — where Holtby’s actual numbers higher than Varly’s career average– our best guess at how he’d do.– though luck is volatile.

    If we were talking about how they’ll perform in the future, than we can talk samples. But you invoked the entirety of playoff games to date post-Varly, where the data are absolutely in conflict with what you’re saying.

  • johnnymorte

    Don’t get your panties in a bunch smarty pants. Actually, in statistics, a sample is a set of data that is collected from a population. In this case, our sample is our population, which is an ideal condition, except for that 19 and 21 are too small to invoke any valid parametric statistical analysis.. Again, the same goalie in a Hunter system is going to fare better than one under Boudreau. That is not proven quantitatively, but I think somewhere deep down you would agree. But yes, as it stands the data is in conflict with what I’m saying and I commend you for your strategy.

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

    A) “Don’t get your panties in a bunch smarty pants.” That’s misogynistic and against our commenting policies. http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/comment-policy/ Don’t do it again.

    B) Coaching plays a negligible effect on goalie save percentage http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2013/7/16/4529962/nhl-save-percentage-tippett-hitchcock-goaltenders-statistical-team-effects-ondrej-pavelec http://nhlnumbers.com/2012/8/11/the-dave-tippett-effect

    C) We’re talking about retrospective analysis of a sample, terms which *you* set, and terms in which *you* were objectively wrong. Maybe don’t insult a guy for researching what you proposed and reporting the facts back to you.

  • johnnymorte
  • gigi

    On a side note: Just saw photos of the depressing rooms the Canadian men’s Olympic hockey team will be sharing in Sochi with 3 guys to a room. Russian Machine Won’t Quit But Looks Like Shit. Quite sure Ovechkin will give those accommodations a hearty NIET!