No Defense, No Problem: Caps beat Jets 4-2

Mojo smear Alex Brandon

Photo: Alex Brandon

The Washington Capitals knew they needed points badly going into the Olympic break, and this game against the Winnipeg Jets seemed like a prime opportunity to get them. One problem: they didn’t really have the ingredients to make it happen. With Grabovski and Green out, Neuvirth sick, and a whole bunch of Hershey squirts filling out the blueline, the Caps had to get a little lucky to get two points out of this one.

Troy Brouwer put Marcus Johansson’s pass in the net about five minutes into the game, but a defensive-zone turnover tied it back up (Erat helped).

Dustin Byfuglien gave the Jets the lead in the second with a pretty goal allowed by some weak Capitals defense, but Tom Wilson evened it up in the third period by catching a rebound low in the slot. Alex Ovechkin recorded number 40 with a dirty one with 12 minutes left, and Troy Brouwer made it a two-goal game with a pretty sweet backhand move.

Caps beat Jets 4-2.

  • Michal Neuvirth was expected to make his fourth consecutive start tonight, but then he got ill, which is a word that has lost all meaning since the Beastie Boys. Braden Holtby took the start and did lovely.
  • Tom Wilson‘s rebound goal was the first even-strength marker of his NHL career. Wilson had been spending most of his season outside of the offensive zone– or cycling endlessly once he got in. This one was different: here Wilson went to the net, a new clime for him, and got a favorable bounce– finally. Way overdue, but maybe that goal will get some company soon. Dude’s gonna need some more ice time first.
  • Julien Brouillette is basically an AHL lifer, but his hard work in Hershey got him to DC, and once here he earned an assist in his first NHL game. I didn’t expect much when Patrick Wey, Wilson, and Brouillette were on the ice. It’s fun to be surprised.
  • Forty goals for Alex Ovechkin, and it’s only early February. Lucky us .#40 was a kanooblian special, a little chip over Ondrej Pavelec, who was basically clobbered by Nick Backstrom.
  • Are we really gonna give Martin Erat a hard time about that own goal? Without a doubt that goal went off him, but it was bad defense by Karl Alzner on the boards and John Carlson behind the net that allowed the puck to get in the crease in the first place. Yes, I get that it’s hilarious that Erat’s first goal went against his own team, but I am a cranky little butt about this. Wah wah wah. 
  • The D was kinda stinky, which is sort of what we’d expect since 2/3rds of the blueline came from the Hershey Bears. The Jets got oodles of shots, a couple extended shifts, and some bonus opportunities that a better Caps squad would’ve disallowed. If you ignore the scoreboard, this was a bad game for the Caps. If you look at the scoreboard, is party now.
  • We can’t put the blame on the D alone. The Washington power play was also pretty wretched– with precious little zone time and more of those fun odd-man rushes against. Could’ve been a different game had Braden Holtby not shut those shorty chances down.
  • This bullet is dedicated to two dudes dressed in lycra and helmets. Troy Brouwer played an excellent scoreboard game despite getting smoked in possession. One nasty goal, one nifty goal. Don’t look now, but Brouwer might have some tricks up his fanny pack.
Joe B suit of the night

Joe B suit of the night

The Jets are an inferior team, so it’s hard to pat the Caps on the back for pulling out the W. Winnipeg has worse offense, inferior goaltending, weak special teams, and a subordinate alphabetical position. These were two points that the team kinda had to get if they wanted to be able to even talk about the playoffs with a straight face next month.

Despite all that crummy defense and unpowerful PPing, the Caps found the goals. Big Tom Wilson made a new argument for more ice time, Alex Ovechkin leveled up, and Troy Brouwer got an excuse to dance.

No Bailamos tonight. Maybe Saturday. This was still a mess. But the guys pulled it out despite roster problems that woulda sunk most other teams.

One game left before the Olympic break.

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  • Jack Conness

    Nice little W from the Caps. Nothing to get too excited about but a win is a win. We need to string together a few more of these.

    The main thing I took away from this game is we are a much better team WITHOUT John Erskine. I don’t care who fills in for him. We are better without him. I hope he stays out of the lineup for good.

    And a side note: I know Connor Carrick has a lot of developing still to do but I think he has looked pretty solid the past couple of weeks. He looks a lot more comfortable offensively. I like what I see. He still needs to work quite a bit on his defense but he is progressively getting better.

    One last side note: I love Marty Erat. He’s a good player. Very good. He will get his goal. One day. Some day. In the other team’s net. Not ours. It will happen.

  • Henrik

    Did Alex recieve a kiss from Kirilenko there when they were celebrating? It looked like it! :D

  • Nicole Lippy

    I feel the need to say that Erat deposited into the wrong bank. But anyway, Brouwer is awesome.

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DXvMT_mVbqw Brouwer gave props to “K.C. and JoJo” during the postgame interview. So.

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    Vive lé Brouillette!!!

  • Matt Lauer

    Took the words right out of my mouth. I had no idea Erskine was bringing the team’s speed down THAT much. And I’ve been having the same thoughts about Carrick the past few games. However: WHY NO SCHMIDT???!

  • ChrisN

    Martin Erat has more goals against us than for us…… TRAITOR!!!

  • Matt Lauer

    Peter, I think you doth protest too much about this game. I didn’t see it as a total mess at all. Just my two cents.

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

    36 shots against

  • JenniferH

    We won! Brouwer Power! Holtby in net! Uhm, we won! Eh, crappy team, but we won!!!

  • Jack Conness

    Why no Schmidt? Why no Oleksy? Why no Latta? Lots of questions. Most importantly, why is Erskine still on this team?

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

    boo on your ass, second period

  • Matt Lauer

    Well, I’ve written about this before, but I don’t consider shot volume all that important a stat.

  • Diller M

    It’s not good times when we have to point to inferior alphabetic positioning as one of the things we have over the Jets. Nice one Peter. But we got a win I frankly didn’t think we would, and we didn’t deserve, AND Ovi with #40! If only he weren’t so one dimensional he could have 20 goals and a positive plus minus right now. Oh well I guess we will have to take what we can get.

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    Thanks for not piling on Erat. Ha a bit snake bitten but he’s always playing hard.

  • Diller M

    Maybe he’s trying to speed up his trade

  • Jonny

    I love how Ovie gets highsticked with blood on his lip and tells the ref. The ref does nothing. Ovie thinks, “OK, I score goal without PP, watch!”

  • Jimmie

    I want Erat to do well while he has the chance.

    WHY WON’T YOU DO WELL MARTY? WHYYYYYYYYYYY????

  • Diller M

    Da, I score goal we win game, da

  • Diller M

    Watch Erat be the leading goal scorer at the Olympics

  • https://twitter.com/Haddaweezy Holy_Cal

    That’s like saying hits aren’t important in baseball, of course shot totals matter. The more you shoot the better your chances of scoring are. It’s pretty elementary.

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

    Somebody needs to explain that to Erat and MOJO

  • Graham Dumas

    Seconded, as usual. Also, PLAY TOM WILSON MORE!

  • http://twitter.com/1bscarbro Benjamin Scarbro

    Peter never specified what team Erat would score for… Funds restored.

  • Matt Lauer

    I disagree. Shots are subdivided among quality shots and low-percentage shots, of which the Jets had many tonight. If you simply allow a fair amount of low-quality shots, that’s actually reasonable defense.

  • Graham Dumas

    If you’re going to cite shot stats, isn’t it more telling that it was 30-18 after two?

  • Graham Dumas

    I’d make a pastry joke, but that’d be too obvious. And a little gross if you overthink it.

  • Graham Dumas

    Serious, honest question: how many buy-outs do we have this off-season?

  • Yo8
  • Rob W.

    call me crazy but this wellman kid can play some puck

  • Shaun Phillips

    And I didn’t get the notice that Holtby was starting last second so didn’t get credit in fantasy for it. :(

  • Christoffer Salo Salomonsson

    and dont forget the goal he stole from Green by taking a stupid penalty.. he is actually -2 in goals this season.. kinda impressive..

  • Christoffer Salo Salomonsson

    erat is crap and needs to be traded.. worst 1line player in the NHL by far!

  • dcv

    I agree. The 3rd period was probably the most positive thing the Caps have done in a month (including the Montreal blowout). And calling the Jets an inferior team is bit harsh too. Since they’ve switched coaches, they have wins against Chicago, Anaheim, Vancouver, Phoenix, … They’re certainly not Buffalo. The Caps definitely were dominated in the 2nd, but they were equally dominant in the 3rd, if not more so. And for once, they got a lead and didn’t let up, even adding to the lead. This team certainly still has issues, but it was a good win.

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

    21 assists

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

    Nu-uh

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

    This is actually a topic that gets a ton of debate up in Toronto. Yours is the same as Dave Nonis’ argument.

    Problem is no one can reliably drive shot quality.

    And while differences in shooting and saving percentage (i.e. shot quality) definitely decide games, there is overwhelming evidence that shot differential decides seasons.

  • R.O’B.

    i called #thebank on Erat last night. my bad guys its all my fault

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

    WE NOTICED.

    (I did too so I’ll share some blame)

    https://twitter.com/peterhassett/status/431581716684505088

  • Hockey mom

    Tis is beyond my technical capabilities, but we need a re-make of “Walk like an Egyption” that goes “Scoar like a Knoooblian” and have it pumped in the locker room for those guys! Loved seeing them crashing the net, there was so much going on, it was hard to tell that some of those even went it!

    Still missing Steve, though…

  • HunterVT

    Caps are up against the Cap, they can’t bring Schmidt or Latta up right now, but could if either Green or Grabovski is put on IR.

  • Joben

    This has got to be a roll bread

  • Matt Lauer

    Fair enough. We certainly can’t reflect shot quality in the stats, but as seasoned hockey watchers/commentators, we can be sure of our instincts. The whole shot volume vs. shot quality debate was pretty much all anybody talked about after the game in Buffalo about a month ago, and as for the prospect of success with high shot quality and low shot volume, we need only look to our very own 1998 Caps’ playoff run. (Although whether this is the exception that proves the rule is a question.)

  • Maureen

    Are we going to ignore the gem of a comment, “…a whole bunch of Hershey squirts filling out the blueline”???

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

    “We certainly can’t reflect shot quality in the stats,”

    We’ve tried. A bunch of people tracked “scoring chances” (i.e. unblocked shots from dangerous areas) over a couple seasons. The data correlated so closely with shot volume that it was found not worth the effort to track separately.

    http://nhlnumbers.com/2012/6/26/shot-quality-revisited-a-look-at-the-correlation-between-scoring-chances-and-shot-totals

    http://www.defendingbigd.com/2011/9/15/2425824/the-scoring-chance-project-introducing-an-exciting-new-statistics

    http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2011/02/27/why-scoring-chances-are-important/

    A high quality shot is more likely to become a goal than a low-quality shot, so you’d expect a team that drives quality to have a team sh% above average– but no team can maintain a high shooting percentage for long. Everybody regresses to or near average over time.

    The 98 Caps were actually a good, low-event possession team. You don’t have to shoot a ton to be good as long as you prevent even more shots from the opponent. Although I think that’s boring hockey, hence SCOAR MOAR GOALS and CRASH THE NET.

  • Matt Lauer

    The scoring chance stat always flummoxed me, but that was mostly due to the fact that I think what counts as a “quality scoring chance” is entirely situationally determined. What I mean there is, to take an example, that a breakaway is not necessarily always a better chance than a shot taken on a one-on-one. Would Erskine on a breakaway be better than Ovi on a one-on-one? Is Ovi on the breakaway better than Ovi from the Ovi Spot?It’s questionable. Also, the constant indecision of the stats people about whether goal posts counted as scoring chances infuriated me.

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

    For the purposes of that project, they identified the location of the shot or miss. Shots from certain distances/locations have much higher sh%– so that’s what they used.

    It’s not impossible to identify a pattern for more dangerous shots.

  • Matt Lauer

    Not nearly enough. But my overwhelming concern is that we’re going to have to eat one on Erat. Otherwise they SHOULD be reserved firstly for Erskine, and then, honestly, for Laich.

  • Graham Dumas

    Agreed. I really think/wish/hope Erat should stay.