Bruins beat Thrashers 4-2

Patrick Smith

What is the Bruins guy doing here? (Photo: Patrick Smith)

The Washington Capitals were poised to seize a wild card slot with a win over the Boston Bruins on Saturday afternoon. That’s exactly what would have happened except for the small matter of Boston absolutely dominating the game.

This is going to be one of those recaps.

AARP member Jarome Iginla scored his first of two goals in the second period, exploiting a breakout by the Capitals. Carl Soderberg got a powerplay marker from the not-perimeter while Eric Fehr was in the box. Iginla scored again a few minutes later, but Jason Chimera ended the shutout with a crash-the-net tap-in late in the second period.

The Bruins made it 4-1 on a soft charging call against Alex Ovechkin. Soderberg kinda interfered with Holtby as Bergeron swept the goal home, but no matter: the game was already over at that point. Evgeny Kuznetsov got a fancy no-angle goal in garbage time.

Bruins beat Caps 4-2.

The Bruins are better. That’s the first and last line of this recap. At even strength, the Bruins stomped the Capitals. When the Caps managed to earn a power play, the Bruins had the cure there too. This was a stomping.

The shot attempts tell the story. This game looked like a Caps-Thrashers game from 2009, except Washington is the Thrashers in this simile.

The Capitals were tied– truly tied– with a chance to take a wild card spot in this game. That did not happen, so we’ll continue our nauseated fixation on the Alchemax Out-of-town Scoardboard.

With Hillen out, John Erskine returned to action for the first  time since March 5. Ersk was a bit rusty, and I have a feeling the credit he got for saving Iginla’s hat trick was undeserved; I don’t think he got a piece of it. Ersk seemed particularly besieged when trying to fend off the Bs forecheck in breakout situations.

There’s probably a desire to personalize the problems on the team. It’s this guy’s lazy defense, it’s that guy not getting physical. I think this game is strong evidence that the problems with the Capitals are systemic, not individual.

The exception is the third line of Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera, and Joel Ward. They’re the best thing this team has going at even strength. They cracked the shutout (with the help of Mike Green), served nearly every good offensive shift by the Caps, drew a big penalty in the third, and even got a spot of PP time together. They don’t deserve the vomit GIF, but I’m sticking to the motif anyway.

The officials aren’t the reason the Caps lost, but they still stunk. Tim Peel, at your service.

Braden Holtby was the guy who bore the brunt of the Bruins’ attack, and he did just fine if you ask me. Any goalie who faces 35+ shots and has just one goal in support is facing a losing proposition anyway.

Joe B suit of the not actually Joe B at all

Joe B suit of the not actually Joe B at all

Alright, let’s wrap this up.

The Bruins are the better team. If the Caps manage to make the playoffs and face the Bs, they’ll have to hope for an abbondanza of luck. As constructed and coached, the Caps aren’t a match for the beast of the east.

Maybe Grabovski and Hillen will be back next week, but I doubt that would be the difference maker.

Have a lovely Saturday afternoon. I’ll be here, vomiting.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Good for Kuzya. We were awful for 45 minutes. Refs were awful for 60 minutes. That combo and playing the best team in the NHL will lead to 4-2 losses. Ovechkin was invisible until that awful call. Holtby did well and was interfered with on the 4th goal. Johansson sucks. Woooooo.

  • Cooper

    Refs win!

  • MuzzMuzzington

    Our lines (outside #3)… Garbage
    Our system… Garbage
    Our defense… Garbage
    Our 5 on 5 play… Garbage
    Our consistency… Lumpy diarrhea
    Our powerplay… We got that going for us, which is nice when it works.

    We got a half period of decent play today, so there is that.

  • Chris Cerullo

    This sums up my feelings quite well.

  • Josh Carey

    I really really hope Oates is gone after this year. Does he not realize that the first line with one of the best players in the world is producing nothing? They had a great shift in the third, but that’s probably the only time that’s happened since they were put together. Season is still far from over, but those first 40 minutes were awful.

  • CapsCast

    I appreciate the Barf-a-rama GIFs because it captures the way most Caps’ fans are feeling at this point.

  • Dave

    I know I’ll watch if we make the playoffs, but seriously, what would be the point this season? Missing the playoffs could stop the delusion that the Caps are *this* close to being contenders.

  • Jake Ettawakapow
  • Lawrence

    Tough loss. Must win tomorrow night. This team is just not very good. If they could sustain that 2nd period play for the whole game, they could beat anyone in the league, but they can’t and won’t. That period gave me terrible flashbacks to the Montreal series.

    I can’t believe Ovechkin got a penalty on that, terrible call at a terrible time in the game. First hit ovechkin throws in like 10 games and he gets a penalty for it, what a joke of a call.

    PS: I really missed Joe B this game, where in the world was he?

  • Matthew Kory

    The refs were bad but the Caps were worse. [pukes in solidarity]

  • Caps “fan”

    Uhh holtby sucks?

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

    ??

  • Chris Cerullo

    Um what?

  • Myan

    I’m starting to think that losing Hillen is going to determine our season because his absence means that Erskine plays. What he does (or doesn’t do) doesn’t show up on the scoresheet but he makes minor errors that put us on our heels. Whenever he misses a pass, the puck goes the other way and we’re penned in for :30+. Tomorrow is a must win game.

  • Caps “fan”

    Sarcasm

  • Chris Cerullo

    If anyone is that deluded anymore (George McPhee) they need to seek professional help

  • Big Chuck

    Their play was as bad as Al Kokens game call : (

    (Third line excluded obviously).

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

    Awful start.

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

    Haha okay

  • Rossineri

    1st line has not scored a 5 on 5 goal since 27th february (did not count the pulled goalie goal last game),this is amazing,how can caps even still be in playoff hunt!? well PP and a great 3rd line effort

  • Justin

    Hey, we played well for about 1/12th of that game! No help from the refs, no help from ourselves or our coaches… it’s going to be a long summer, even if the planets align and we somehow manage to make a quick cameo appearance in the playoffs.

  • JenniferH

    We’ve got a lot of great players, we really do. The problems is that we have a lousy coach, lousy coaching staff and no freaking system (or if we have one, it either (a) sucks or (b) no one but our coach can figure it out) and that is why we are in the situation we are in. So, in other words, yeah, I agree with this: I think this game is strong evidence that the problems with the Capitals are systemic, not individual.

    With that said, as always, I appreciate that even with a heartbreaking loss, I can come here and get a laugh like with the AARP line about Iginla. So thank you.

  • Caps “fan”

    Most of the people I know always blame a loss on holtby and it just kills me. I should have thought better before posting an inside joke, my bad

  • Chris Cerullo

    Oh the days when we were a “one line team” and that line was actually the 1st line.

  • JenniferH

    I’d add our 3rd line continues to be made of our only line of consistent goodness. Other than that, I agree completely.

  • Sam E. Dreamer

    I can’t help but be excited about Kuznetsov, otherwise, game was garabe.

  • Myan

    I love to call our goalies out when they’re leaking goals but this one isn’t on Holtby. When your our D lets Soderberg hang out in your face every time the Bs are in your zone, it’s tough to do your job.

  • Rob W.

    Stopped watching after the B’s 3rd goal, this team finally broke me down mentally. I cant handle the sh*tty play anymore or Oates and Calle. This team is complete mess right now and the B’s showed us what a cup contender really looks like

  • Justin

    Problem Child 2?

  • Rob W.

    i miss our run n gun offense from 09-10

  • Caps “fan”

    It was sarcasm, I completely agree with you

  • JenniferH

    I have no words for how much I detest Adam Oates as a coach. I can barely stand to look at him. And to think I was excited for him when the season started based on that brief, great run before the playoffs last season. What happened?!

  • Rossineri

    Ok the Ovi-line then.

  • Myan

    Sarcasm really doesn’t translate well online :( …come to think of it, I’m pretty bad at picking up sarcasm in real life too…SIGH

  • Lawrence

    Dean!!!

  • Cooper

    Mood

  • Chris Cerullo

    Playing ten minute games are never a good thing

  • Kyle Reid

    Seriously how bad can the refs be. Bruins spend the whole game taking borderline penalties (sometimes not-so-borderline) without getting called yet as soon as the Caps take a borderline penalty it has to be called every time. It doesn’t excuse our terrible play but come on refs.

  • yv

    That’s the names of refs: Tim Peel, Frederick L’Ecuyer. These guys should be puked on. First 30 min were just terrible by Caps, however second half of the game became a little more interesting, but those penalty calls, on Chimmy and Ovi, just broke the Caps surge.

  • Myan

    Edited: he’s doing commentary for Colgate vs Ferris State.

  • Justin

    I blame Ian for upsetting the delicate ecology of the Brouwer Ranger duo.

  • Myan

    мудак

  • swhirly

    Anyone have a gif or video of the Ovechkin “charge”?

  • Josh Carey

    I think he’s lucky that the lockout happened last year and everyone (GMGM included) gave him a free pass on the first half of that season cause he didn’t have a training camp blah blah. And now when he’s got the team for a season and a half he still can’t do anything productive.

    The next coach should just walk in to the room say “hey guys remember what you were doing when BB was coach? Yeah, do that again.”

  • tippykat

    …SAM?! (dean voice)

  • Bilal

    well this freaking ruined The Brouwer Rangers Trio…………………..SONOFAGAWDDAMMIT

  • Diller M

    Oates has no clue, but we also have no identity. This is a hodgepodge team of skill guys and grit guys that share no common thread. We have swedes who are afraid to shoot, Russians who aren’t built to play along the walls and a bunch a overrated Canadians.

    Oates can’t figure out what to do with these players so he’s trying to mitigate weakness instead of playing to strength, that’s the only justification I can find for the endless trotting out of Beagle, Ovi and Mojo. We need to pair up similar skill sets and give each line an identity. Put the Russians together and let them go nuts with Carlzner behind them, put the swedes together to set up Penner/brower in the slot. Let the third line do their thing and get brown/Wilson/other more ice time. Beats to the box. Let Orlov/green activate all the time, we have to start tilting 5v5 inour favor with SAs and we need to start drawing more penalties. Not only are we not getting shots at evens but we’ve stopped drawing penalties.

    We need to get a minimum of 91 so 11 out of 16 to get to 75% chance of making it. 13 of 16 will get us to a virtual lock, but that would take a run we haven’t seen this year from this team. Here’s praying the goalies get white hot and Oates gets out of the way.

  • Diller M

    Seconded

  • Diller M

    Can anybody tell me when Nickey’s stopped shooting? He has 30 goals in the past, is this per Oates or is this just his nature, we really need him to step up to open up the offense for guys like Ovi, green and Kuzya

  • Roy Schue

    In 09-10 we had 8 guys with at least 19 goals, that was definitely NOT a one line team

  • Alex Newcastle

    If the caps miss the playoffs, I hope that’s the final straw for GMGM. So tired of the way he has built team. Maybe it will lead to the dismissal of Oates and Calle as well

  • Lawrence

    Really? Why would that take precedent over a Caps game?

  • Myan

    I’m hoping that Oates and/or Calle go first. Defense is a mess and Oates can’t stop shuffling the lines every 3 minutes.

  • Myan

    Prior contractual obligations?

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

    Nicky stopped shooting when Boudreau left. He dropped from 8 shots per 60 minutes in 09-10 to 6.5 under Hunter and between 5.5 and 6 under Oates.

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

    Classic.

    RIP John Ritter.

  • Matt Lauer

    The California trip was great, but I am officially now back on Earth, deflated and bitterly realistic about things in general.

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

    you are me

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

    Haha.

    Also, those spikes in the red line– almost all third line shifts.

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

    <— never seen this show

  • Austin

    I’m just gonna say what I don’t like.

    Oates
    Mcphail
    The beagle ovechkin mojo line

    I don’t like mojo

    Fire the coaching staff + blane forsythe looks like he wants to kill himself every interview

    Sorry penner that you have to be wasted by Oates

    Now some other things

    I miss grabo

    Orlov is very skilled

    Get rid of erskine, Hillen, and I don’t even care for green

    This team is a shitshow

  • Austin

    I am also hungry

  • swhirly

    Thanks Peter, (and Pete Blackburn) Would just like to say, I really appreciate the work you all put into this blog, not only the articles, tweets, updates, breaking news, etc. But jumping in the comments and getting engaged and, in this case, helping out. MUCH appreciated.

  • bskillet

    Maybe we can kidnap BB and ask for forgiveness, and oh promise to can McPhee.

  • swhirly

    “27-30″ What is that you say? That is the record of Coach Mike

    Krzyzewski in his first two years at Duke. Sorry to bring Duke up in a Duke-hating area, but no one can argue that he is a bad coach. No one. Yet after his first two seasons, he posted a losing record. This is my reply to the Oates hate mail. Give him time. Changing coaches every two years doesn’t help anyone – the players, fans, management, anyone.

  • Chris Cerullo
  • Chris Cerullo

    I know but thats what we were labeled as by the opposition most nights.

  • OviandOil

    Tavares is reportedly not happy with the NYI, i think the caps should make a real serious push for him. Trade away 2 1st round picks(2015 and 2016) a 2nd rounder(2016) Johansson and carrick.

    Although McDavid might be available next year, i doubt the caps finish last in the NHL, also Tavares is already a young superstar, and could challenge for top 3 players in the world. If you think there’s no way a trade like this goes through, just remember that garth snow is the gm of the NYI.

    Trade Erskine,Brouwer,Laich and Green(along with other assests,picks,prospects) in the off season for 2 stellar shutdown dmen. Sign Halak (1 year) and Grabo (2-3 year) deals.

    Kuznetsov-Backstrom-Ovechkin
    Tavares-Grabovski-Wilson
    Chimera-Fehr-Ward
    Laata-Beagle-Brown

    Alzner-Carlson
    Orlov-Shutdown dman
    Hillen-Shutdown dman

    Halak (He’s in his prime and could be a great mentor)
    Holtby

    What’s your guys’ thoughts?

  • Justin

    Obviously joking. Love the fact that Ian was a man of his word, I just wish that the Caps could have fed off of his Spandex energy.

  • Diller M

    I wonder why?

  • swhirly

    my only concern is that the upcoming drafts are loaded, giving away first rounders the next few years could hurt later. Plus. We are paying OV, paying Backstrom, Tavares deserves that contract too you could argue – makes it sticky. Though I like how you think. I would concentrate more on the shutdown D, less on a scorer. If we can balance our D with our firepower, we become immediately a contender.

  • OviandOil

    aha thanks man, but the caps need to win now, i think once the ovi era runs out, we rebuild the team and become a contender again, at the end of the day the point is to win the cup now and not later.

  • Bugs Fire

    Folks who are depressed by this loss must have been delusional before the game started. Caps worked hard for most of the Cali trip and had good game against Kings afterwards (which they had to lose by all accounts, but managed to scrape one point out of it). Who told you that Caps were supposed to win this one?

    In the remaining time, there are two more games they will almost automatically lose – Blues and Hawks. Just be ready for it, it has to happen.

    Take solace in the fact that they can and must win 6 out of 8 remaining games: Preds, Stars, Devils, Islanders, Canes and Bolts. If they do, they got 92 points and a decent shot at actually making the playoffs. The 12 points in last 9 games was their ceiling, nobody can realistically expect from the team as it is right now to beat Bruins, Blues or Hawks. On the other hand, fans will have every reason to be mad if they see any more luckluster performances in 6 must-win games I listed.

    So that’s it. Caps must win these 6 games. This is their punishment for not getting job done earlier, for giving up two-goal leads and not playing hard enough against bottom-feeding teams. And they have the personnel to do it. No excuses, no blaming coaches. For heaven’s sake, there is enough hockey wisdom on the roster to know you are not supposed to allow a goal within a minute after scoring one. If they need some kind of coaching help with that, it’s a problem with players motivation.

    Of course, all of this is just so that they can lose the first round to Pens or Bruins. Big deal.

    What I would love to see at this point is players only meeting to do some late soul searching. Yes, Oates is a rookie coach who is either inexperienced or too inflexible (or both). Yes, George McPhee has not addressed the blue line issue and made some bad moves. But ultimately it’s the players who go out and leave everything on the ice. I hope they will.

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

    I hope you can find a more constructive way to phrase this stuff. Calling people delusional is not a nice way to start a conversation.

  • swhirly

    I agree with that to an extent. We have our best chance in the OV window. But I think JT would take up resources that could better be used for a dman, so to give up those resources and lose first rounders for a few years…that would be hard to swallow. If we could somehow get the Isles to take all the baggage we have in terms of Green and Erskine, we keep either Laich or (pref.) Brouwer, give up one first rounder, maybe a few later rounds plus other considerations, I’d be on board. With his knee injury and their lack of managerial sense, that could be considered yet another “get” for GMGM

  • Josh Carey

    Why would we be considered delusional? The Capitals have played extremely well against the Bruins in the past, and were also playing very well coming into this game. While I didn’t necessarily expect them to win, I definitely thought there was a good chance.

    Also, I’d like to disagree that the Caps will “automatically” lose against the Blues and Hawks.

    The Caps played, in my opinion, their best game of the season against the Blues and beat them pretty badly. Definitely a possibility to win there. Also, with respect to the Hawks, (and I realize these teams are probably different since the first game of the year) but the Caps lost 6-4 (one being and ENG) and the GWG being a soft shot from way outside that Holtby should have had. The Caps matched up well with the speed of the Hawks, and there’s no reason to believe they can’t do it again, this time at home.

  • Dave

    Opponents take note: just lower your head into Ovechkin’s elbow when he’s skating toward you.

  • Bugs Fire

    Sorry – did not mean to offend anyone. Which word would you approve to describe “belief held with strong conviction despite superior evidence to the contrary”? Keep in mind that English is not my primary language, so I may occasionally misplace a meaning, even not too subtle.

    If it’s any easier for anyone, I do consider myself delusional for still believing that Caps can make playoffs. But I think we should focus on which games they can actually win. 6 points in 4 games prior to drubbing by Boston were a gift from hockey gods. Even with their best effort, Caps were not supposed to get any out of Sharks, Ducks and Kings.

  • Josh Carey

    Exactly. Just be sure to skate with your head down, and when you see someone 6’3″ 230 lb coming at you, DUCK!

  • Eric Schulz

    We have Ovechkin, Backstrom, Kuznetsov, Brouwer, and Wilson… I think we just need to keep Grabovski (and I’d love to keep Penner too). After that, we can put together a 3rd and 4th with guys like Fehr, Chimera, Ward, Laich (I don’t see a reason to jettison him next year, at least not with the cap projections as I have seen them; if he doesn’t show improvement next year – he was this before surgery… surgery cutting his season short could be a good thing, with more rest, we’ll see – then next offseason we’d need to buy him out, to find money for Kuznetsov and Holtby,at least… but no rush on that, IMO), Johansson, Beagle, Brown, and others. If I addressed the forwards at all, it would be to get a really nice two-way centerman for the 3rd line, a Jarrett Stoll, Frans Nielsen, Ryan Kesler, Jordan Staal, type. (As I’ve said before, Johansson and Carrick could be the foundation of that trade if we were acquiring a guy from a rebuilding team).

    The defense is the problem. At this point, I like Alzner and Carlson as the top pair, Green on 2nd, Orlov on 3rd… we just need some legit defensive people-movers to pair with them. There should be some solid ones in free agency; I’d just try to address it there by adding one for each pairing. Then, during the season, see how the team performs, and you could still have some nice pieces to dangle for a higher-end shutdown guy if we still weren’t good enough on defense. I think adding a Reekie-type for Green and Klee-type for Orlov would be enough if we also added that two-way forward… the problem is on defense, but it isn’t ONLY the defenders. It’s hard to find a way to create room for better defensive-forwards, but I think we could create room for one there, and address our face-offs also (again, helping out the defense merely by dint of puck possession).
    Penner – Backstrom – Ovechkin
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Brouwer
    Laich – Nielsen – Wilson
    Chimera – Fehr – Ward
    Alzner – Carlson
    Matt Greene – Green
    Orlov – Scott Hannan
    Holtby
    Grubauer
    (I have no problem with keeping Halak, but I don’t see it happening.) I’m gonna say we traded Johansson, Carrick, a 2nd, and Galiev for Nielsen. Maybe another prospect, on par with Kundratek… w/e. I bought out Erskine.
    Then, we also have Beagle, Brown, Stoa, Wellman available for callups/scratch, prospects like Barber and Burakovsky at forward; Hillen and Oleksy for scratch/callups, prospects like Schmidt and Bowey on defense…
    The biggest problem I’d imagine others having is the Chimera-Fehr-Ward as the 4th line. Well, first of all, that’s way more talent on the 3rd, so I just don’t see how you argue to flip them… also, MUCH MORE importantly… ROLL FOUR LINES! I like those lines, just allot minutes something like 20-16-12-12.

  • Eric Schulz

    Well, Boston was part of that awful stretch. We got 6/10 points from an ANA/LA/SJ/LA/BOS sked.. that’s fine.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yes… I hate Erskine playing…

  • OviandOil

    i would’ve liked to keep penner too, but no way he stays in Washington after what oates has put him through. He went from top line with the ducks to the bottom line with the caps

  • Eric Schulz

    Nope, GMGM is worse than those 2. He’s presided over a team that has been on a downward trajectory for a LONG time. He’s shown that he thinks our defense is just fine by NEVER addressing it. The other two can, and will, get better. GMGM will not. He’s a bigger problem.

  • Eric Schulz

    Agree… I’m not a fan of Johansson’s defense, and it’s mind-bottling to me that he wants us to play like that, since he was good when he played defense… but it’s pretty easy to argue that he and Oates will get better with time. GMGM HAS to go… the coaches will get better though. Unless Boudreau wants to come back, I don’t see there being anybody available that is an obvious upgrade that would be worth it. Changing systems all the time isn’t great; not as bad as in football, but changing coaches every 2 years won’t lead to sustained success.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, I don’t think it’s impossible to repair that in a way that enables us to keep him.. it’s not realistic, but I think that situation will be mutual; it just seems like we don’t want to keep him, AND of course I see no reason why he would want to come back.
    The thing is, if we DID want to keep him, we’d use him more, so he probably WOULD want to come back (or at least would be open to it). It’s kind of circular logic: we don’t think he’s good enough that we want to keep him, therefore he isn’t playing top-6 minutes, therefore he likely doesn’t want to come back, therefore we probably cannot sign him, and we don’t want to resign him because we don’t perceive him as being good enough to warrant top-6 minutes… etc. If we just broke ONE thread of that cycle… damn.

  • Bugs Fire

    I’d like to defend Adam Oates (maybe for one last time, OK?). You can hear people say he has no clue. I don’t think so. I think he is smart enough to run a great hockey team.

    Problem is the mismatch between his system and players he has. Nobody is sure what this system is, but it does include fluid transition through neutral zone. Not having D-men who can actually do that breaks the whole thing. I want to believe that Caps were playing better recently because Hillen was back, which would support my notion.

    Let’s assume Oates is a great coach with a vision. Abandoning his vision to fit the roster he has would be a knee jerk reaction. It may be a right decision long term to stick with it and ask that certain needs of the roster are fulfilled. In this scenario, Caps win the Cup in two-three years once all the right roster moves are made.

    Well, I do realize this logic is contradicted by some incomprehensible deployment decisions. I also do realize the same thing can be said about Randy Carlyle (and there are some scary similarities here: Grabovski/Erat + low possession game plan).

    Oates is perhaps not the greatest motivator. Which means he needs a motivator in team captain/veterans. Don’t need many roster changes to fix that.

  • johnnymorte

    McPhee you suck, this is the fruition of your abysmal construct of mediocrity. Oates, loved you as a player and maybe I’ve got blinders on for you, but sometimes a good tongue lashing is in order for a team that just decided to come out like they’re ready to golf in a couple of weeks. Vechkin, you need to get your head in the game, son! Sochi is over and you guys blew it, nothing you can do. The game is turning defensive and you need to work on your forechecking skills. You need summer camp with Lou Lamoriello like I need a friggin’ toilet right now. These GIFs are making me queasy like I’m on a sailboat and this is the perfect storm. This shit actually happened to me in Coney Island in 1985 on the Scrambler. I can’t believe you did this to me Hassett.

  • Bugs Fire

    Per Peter’s comment, let me assure you that I regret the word choices I made. On the substance, it just cannot be expected that Caps beat Bruins at this point, because their strengths are perfect match for Caps weaknesses.

    On Blues, I think we should be prepared for Caps to lose, and lose badly. If I recall correctly, Caps were badly outshot (20-47) in that game and had the benefit of shaky Halak which resulted in three goal lead very early. This is not a winnable matchup. This game will be in St Louis, and Blues have Miller. I agree with you that there is nothing “automatic” in hockey game outcome at NHL level (another poor word choice of mine). But odds are overwhelmingly not in favor of boys in red. They stole that first game. 20% SH% is unsustainable.

    I feel Caps have better chance against Hawks, for two reasons. Firstly, the home ice. Secondly, this is penultimate game of the season, and Hawks may not care much by that point assuming that playoff home ice advantage is no longer in play. I fully agree that Hawks are a better matchup for Caps than Blues, but that is pretty much the extent of it.

    Caps can and should try to win against Blues and Hawks. I am just saying if they don’t nobody should be mad. Odds are not in their favor.

  • Josh Carey

    The Capitals have a winning record against the Bruins in the last 10-12 games. I would disagree with your assumption that the Bruins strengths are a perfect match for the Caps weaknesses.

    With the Blues, the shot differential wasn’t absurd until the Capitals had a big lead in that game. You can expect a push from the Blues down by three goals two different times. I must say though, given Miller’s history with the Caps, it makes me less confident.

  • Bugs Fire

    Not sure about Tavares (even assuming it would be realistic to get him). I feel Caps have personnel in front, D that can get puck to forwards on a more consistent/organized basis is what’s needed.

    I’m a big of fan of strong second offensive threat (think Crosby-Malkin). Tavares would fill that void, but I think/hope we may already have that in Kuzya.

    Not sure why would Islanders trade him – they are not rebuilding, are they?

  • alchemistmuffin

    We got couple of games. Even with this loss (which I expected it sadly) we are still in.

    The team MUST win tomorrow though. The Perds are toast, and in my opinion, that game is pretty much considered “automatic standing points”even though it is likely going to be dead close.

    PS: Watched the leafs highlights, and it reminds me of Capitals losing streak in January. While this team had the losing streak in January, the Leafs started at the WRONG TIME. Hell, they look worser than the Caps, and the only thing that kept them alive was the goaltending. Take that away, and bam, you have the losing streak. Bernier isn’t even the same guy after the injury in my opinion.

  • Bugs Fire

    If I am not mistaken, Oates is 3-3 against Bruins. Not bad given his record against Pens (0-whatever). But this is an accident, Caps could have beaten Pens at least four times with some luck. I believe they actually have a better chance against Pens given style similarities (but not execution, of course).

    Bruins have strong forecheck and great shutdown defense. Caps have trouble getting out of their zone and under pressure just dump the puck into the neutral zone (so turnovers). Caps forwards need room/speed to be successful. This sounds like perfect match of strengths against weaknesses. Where am I wrong?

    Miller worries me a lot, hopefully he will be too relaxed now that he has D in front of him. As for shot attempts in the first game, this

    http://a.disquscdn.com/uploads/mediaembed/images/705/4616/original.jpg

    tells a different story. Caps scored second and third goal despite of sustained pressure by Blues. By the time Grabo made it 3-0, Caps were down by 50% in shot attempts. This seems like the very definition of getting lucky.

  • Dark Stranger

    Sounds like he had a sore throat and couldn’t do the commentary for Colgate vs Ferris State after all.

  • Dark Stranger

    Now I’m hearing a report that Julian Broulliette is (or has been) called up. He’s a scratch today for Hershey and rumor is that he may have been called up.

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

    you know why I upvoted

  • Bugs Fire

    Yes, Caps roster has a lot of talent (or so we are told). Certainly enough talent to have ten more points and comfortable playoff situation. Yes, Adam Oates made some questionable decisions (oh boy, that he did). But let’s not absolve players of responsibility. I am sure Oates did not tell Orlov to go smash Brayden Schenn into the glass so that Flyers can have fun with 5-minute power play. I’d think Ovie knows he did not do well in shootouts this year and could either ask for help or ask to be removed from top-3 list. Most of all, players other than rookies probably understand that winning games against Buffalo, Calgary and Islanders is what lays the foundation of getting into playoffs.

    With that said, it’s quite fitting that Cardiac Caps have Cardiac season.

  • Bugs Fire

    Totally agree. They must beat Predators, otherwise they cannot get to 92 points without beating Blues or Hawks.

  • RESmith

    As far as I am aware, GMGM’s contract is up at the season’s end. The only way he stays, it appears, is if the Caps make it to the playoffs and past the second round.

    But carefully what you wish for. It can get much worse. We only have to look at that mess in Ashburn/Landover.

  • alchemistmuffin

    Blues and Hawks, those are also marked as losses for me. (Unless a miracle happens and we win those games)

    For now, I’ll be vomiting my intestines out with Peter.

  • swhirly

    I have said before on this board, I am fine with Calle going, Oates, not so much. Boots isn’t coming back, so to me, the main fix I see is replacing CJ. And I wouldn’t cry over it.

  • Owen Johnson

    PK has been pretty good lately.

  • BennyP

    I’ve regularly lurked this site for a few years now and never gone to the lengths of making a profile/ commenting, but today’s the day: Maybe it’s because I’m tired of GMGMs ‘targeted players'; maybe it’s the fact that our defence refuses to earn their namesakes; but more than likely its because I’m procrastinating.
    I love what Grabo, Kuzya and Wilson (though he needs a chance with some skilled players) have shown this year, but this team is not a contender.
    Not even close.
    We need to miss the playoffs this year if anything is going to get done. we have too many hangers-on. Need to bite the bullet and make some big trades – Outside of: OVI, Backy, Carlzner and the new young studs, everyone is replaceable. If we cant offload some players at the end of the season we need to bite the bullet and buy-out some of the worst offenders (Laich I’m looking at you). As much as I love the way Ward has been playing this year I would be looking to move him too – too many players on this team are being paid ridiculous overs for their role, and although Ward has been excellent, I don’t think its feasible to built a solid team when we are dropping that much money on third liners.

  • Diller M

    I am simultaneously disgusted by, and in awe of this post. Bravo Peter, bravo. Also I love the tags you chose. Me joy your evening full of Miller light.

  • Diller M

    We need to win tomorrow and steal a point from one of those games. We also must beat the stars. It’s not looking good right now.

  • Diller M

    The issue with Oates is the constant message he is sending out. He’s unconcerned with getting shots on offense and not worried about giving up shots on defense. Anyone with a rudimentary knowledge of statistics would have a problem with this. Being choosy on offense is fine if you don’t give up many shots on d. We are on the wrong side of the ledger both ways. If it is a personel issue, why so many basic errors?

    My impression is exactly what you eluded to, nobody knows the system. I think he makes it up as he goes along, and the players are trying to adapt to changes he makes which to me, would explain the mental errors all of the time. It seems like o ly the third line has figured out the “system”. Oates doesn’t seem to be able to make the changes necessary to get the whole team on board 5v5.

    All that being said, I think I agree with you that we need to stick it out for one more year, although I don’t see a lot of personel changing this summer, we only have two UFAs so unless there is a buy out there’s not really a lot of room for additions.

  • Diller M

    The money doesn’t work. Tavares is a 8 mil guy. We can’t get Tavares and dmen and Grabo and resign kuzya, although the is an RFA. If you let Grabo walk and bring in Tavares you maybe squeeze in one dman. Hillen is made of glass, you would need to bring up Schmidt or wey and our third pair would still be weak.

  • Owen Johnson

    Not too worried overall, since we just ended I believe a 6 game point streak, and a win tomorrow will put us right back on track.
    My worry though, is if we do make the playoffs, we’ll probably have to play this team who is clearly miles ahead of us. Maybe Halak or Holtby will get hot, but I think it’s more likely Rask gets hot. Also, if we end up with the 7 seed we’ll be playing that one team Adam Oates has never beaten.
    I have a feeling I’ll be only keeping a playoff beard for 7 days.

  • Eric Schulz

    It seems to me that Oates is about an average coach; I wouldn’t mind giving him more time to improve. I would like to see better handling of line combinations, of course… but he’s also been in a bad position after Grabovski went out; next year, with Kuznetsov in the fold the whole year we should be better off, at least if we bring back Grabovski (which, at this point, I think we do). So, in his 3rd year, with a roster that looks more like an NHL roster, I will be more prepared to judge his coaching (although, again, I think a lot of coaching is behind-the-scenes stuff, so it’s hard to judge, which is partially why I’m less harsh than most regarding Oates so far).
    As far as Johansson, it seems a little easier to be harsh with him, although he’s in a worse situation than Oates regarding the roster, and at this point, it doesn’t look like it’ll get better; assuming GMGM doesn’t come back (at this point, I think a fair bet), than hopefully next year *will* be better. I can’t imagine our GM next year will let the 2nd pair go unaddressed in free agency. So, if we do keep Johansson, I’ll justify it with that, and hope that he improves with time and tweaks his system, but that also his system will work better with better players. I’m not sure if he should keep his job, but certainly an argument can be made that he was set up to fail with our lack of defensively conscious defenders, a lack of physicality from top to bottom, and a lack of support from the forwards. I don’t think we have a great forward group to support our defenders; if we had a better partner for Green on the 2nd pair and Orlov on the 3rd, then maybe it wouldn’t be a big deal, but the flip side is that our defenders wouldn’t be exposed if our 2nd line center was Patrice Bergeron, and our 3rd was Jarrett Stoll or Jordan Staal, for instance. Ovechkin is obviously a negative defensively; I think he gets too much shit, he’s not as bad as people think, plus he’s a winger and his responsibility isn’t what his critics seem to think it is, and he does give our defenders an outlet once we get possession in the defensive zone, and things like that get underrated – especially with him… certainly, with a player of his caliber, you are prepared to live with less defense than you would a player like Joel Ward… Backstrom is great in the neutral zone, he’s very good at stick-checking and taking the puck away, but he’s not a guy that will consistently harass great forwards into mistakes… we don’t have any legit shutdown center, or even a line that we could match up with the opposition’s top line… we kind of settle for Chimera – Fehr – Ward due to their positive possession, but that’s not a trio that will consistently force you into mistakes in our defensive zone, we have to rely on them tiring teams out in our offensive zone… when it works, great, but I think that, to be a contender, we need a line that can do both… plus Fehr sucks at faceoffs, the other huge factor that contributes to the team’s bad possession numbers. Laich falling off (hopefully only due to injury… although, if we buy him out, as many want to do, it’ll be a moot point) really hurt. I think he could’ve been for us at least as good as Stoll was for LA when they won the Cup… I don’t think he’s as good as Patrice Bergeron, of course, but I think he was better than most of the next tier of [3rd line] two-way centermen like Stoll, Staal, Peverly, Stajan, Bolland, Vermette, Fisher, and their ilk.

    Were I the GM next year, I would (1) bring back Grabovski, (2) talk to Oates about using Penner properly, and if I can convince Oates that a top line of Penner – Backstrom – Ovie would be a line to go to battle with, then I’d work on convincing Penner to resign, (3) add 2 blueliners for the 2nd pair (with Green) and the 3rd pair (with Orlov), looking at guys like Matt Greene, Scott Hannan, Henrik Tallinder, etc for the 2nd pair, and guys like Colaiacovo, Sulzer, Fraser, Brookbank, Eckford, etc for the 3rd; optimally, I’d like to get Greene for the 2nd and an overqualified guy like Hannan for the 3rd (that’s just what I know now, of course, there may well be better choices; were I GM, I would actually scout them and watch a lot of tape on all of them… since I’m not, those are the two that, based on what I have seen, I would most like) and see if I could swing a trade for a 3rd line C to build a shutdown line around. I like Fehr, but I would think that Chimera and Ward between that guy would be the way to go; we have some nice prospects and young talent (most notably Kuznetsov, Wilson, Barber, Burakovsky, Orlov, and Grubauer), but with Ovie (and others) in his prime, we need to be trying to win now, not building for the future, so I’d look to a rebuilding team and see if any of them had a guy that would fit, and see if I could swing some of our younger, not-quite-there-yet talent to acquire that 3rd liner. I would then turn that roster over to Oates and Johansson, and grade their performance accordingly; lacking those pieces, I don’t think I’d replace Johansson yet. I tend to be more patient than most, however… I would not lament his firing, should it happen this offseason… I don’t want to see Oates go so soon though, but he’s certainly on a tighter leash next year than he was entering this year.

  • CapsKel

    That’s a Sabres jersey, isn’t it?

  • scott

    My hope is that we dont make the playoffs, Cause if we do then well just get the same old, “well we made the playoffs and as long as we are in it everyyear we have a chance to win it” crap. When in reality the caps havent had a prayer in the playoffs since 2011.

  • Myan

    I have a feeling that GMGM will fire Oates before Ted gets the chance to fire him. One thing’s for sure: Calle needs to go or next year is going to be brutal…maybe even worse than this year.

  • Owen Johnson

    I agree to an extent. But I can’t root for the Caps to lose. Ever. This year, I’d be fine if we don’t make it simply for the fact that there might be changes.

  • Ken

    Shouldn’t the caption read “what is the Sabres guy doing here?” Cause I don’t know what else you are refering to

  • Shaun Phillips

    2-3 mil for 3rd liners who put up 15-20 goals is actually a pretty good deal, esp with the cap going up. Now, 4.5 mil for a 3rd-4th liner who is injured 3/4 of the season is too much. I would add Grabo to that list of non-tradable as well.

  • Bugs Fire

    Caps making playoffs this year would be a testament to how pathetic Metropolitan division is. After all the off-season talk about how this will be much harder than old Southeast, only Pens and recovered Rangers (who managed to right their ship after coach change) are any good. A little more discipline from Caps (WIlson/Orlov) and Flyers would be on the bottom of the wildcard race. Jackets are OK, but just OK, nothing more (which is better than Caps). Canes/Isles/Devils predictably tanked.

    Reality is that this last stretch is Caps endgame, their playoff against multiple teams, 6-out-of-8 format. They can still make it and it’s not even unrealistic as they are playing 6 beatable teams in those 8 games. But that’s it, that’s the ceiling. Making the (whichever) division finals will be nothing short of a miracle.

  • Bugs Fire

    To defend Oates once more, I think he said that outside, low quality shots are not a concern. That might be agreeable, as shot differential is not always telling the whole story.

    The problem is that Caps are not doing a good job in keeping the quality of opposition shots down, and it’s only through heroics of Holtby-Neuvirth-Grubauer-Halak quartet that Caps are above Buffalo Sabres. Actually, one message from this season was that goalies were very good. When was the last time any of them gave up a game?

    And the reason here again might be the personnel. It is hard to imagine that Adam Oates does not know what screening the goalie does to shooting percentage. It’s unlikely that he ever suggested to his D-men that they don’t need to bother with clearing the crease. I am not even that impressed with Carlzner in this regard. Carrick/Green/Hillen don’t have the physicality to do that. Erskine seems to be too slow these days to do anything, and Orlov is still a rookie and not stay-home D-man.

    I don’t think perimeter defence is the best, but it may work in a regular season if exercised correctly. Which it was not.

  • Eric Schulz

    I don’t know why you have that feeling. GMGM’s contract ends after this season.. I don’t imagine he’ll fire either before the season ends.

  • Myan

    Oh, I did not know that GMGM’s contract ends after this season. That settles it then! Yeah, GMGM is probably gone after the season…and especially if we fail to make the playoffs.

  • Roy Schue

    Oh didn’t pick up on the sarcasm…my bad

  • Eric Schulz

    I hope we make the playoffs… I’ve seen quite a few people saying they hope we don’t, as a nail in GMGM’s coffin… I can’t imagine that that would be the deciding factor. I have to hope the Leonsis knows that GMGM blows, and has to go; not addressing our top 2 defense pairings alone has to result in him being not resigned. And, if Leonsis doesn’t know that now, I can’t imagine that this year missing the playoffs would be the reason he doesn’t rehire him. If the difference between missing and barely sneaking into the playoffs is the factor that determines GMGM’s future with the Caps… then there are even darker days ahead…

  • Chris Cerullo

    Mcphail reminded me of Andy Macphail who is actually very good at what he does. So that was weird.