Molly Riley

This photo of Beagle and Ovi celebrating a goal is from 2012. (Photo: Molly Riley)

As reported by Adam Vingan, Alex Ovechkin failed to get a single even-strength point in March. He finished the month in grand style by getting outshot* 15 to 5 against the Nashville Predators. Ovechkin is still the favorite to win the Rocket Richard Trophy for most goals scored during the regular season, but when that happens it won’t be because of what’s happening during even-strength play. Ovi’s struggles with puck possession mirror those of the Capitals overall, but what’s happened in the last two weeks is particularly noteworthy.

Since March 16th, Ovechkin has shared the top line with Jay Beagle. Usually a fourth liner, Beagle’s promotion up the ranks has been surprising, though not totally unexpected. Injuries to Mikhail Grabovski and Brooks Laich depleted Adam Oates’ options at the center position. The big road trip in California gave Oates another reason to boost Beagle: splitting up Backstrom and Ovechkin should have created two scoring lines that would have made match-ups harder for home teams.

It didn’t turn out that way. Possession and production among the top six has been scant, and the Ovechkin-Beagle pairing has been the worst of all.

Ovechkin and Beagle have played together for 87 minutes of 5v5 this season, 71 minutes of it since the Leafs game on March 16th. Ovi and Beagle played just five minutes together that night, and Ovechkin tilted the ice in the Caps’ favor with 53.8 percent possession. Not bad, though I’m pretty sure you and me could take shifts against Toronto and manage at least 50%.

Since that night, Ovechkin has not cracked even possession once. He’s been under 45 percent four times, under 40 twice, and under 30 once– against Nashville. Ovi has hardly been in the offensive zone in the past two weeks.

In that time, Ovi has been on the ice for 0 Caps goals and 6 opponent goals. His line has been outshot 100 to 77*. If Beagle and Ovi were a single player, their possession rating would put them equal with Steve Ott, somewhere around the 9th percentile of forwards.

Those numbers, once again:

0 Caps goals scored while Ovechkin and Beagle on ice
6 Opponent goals scored while Ovechkin and Beagle on ice
0% Caps goal ratio while Ovechkin and Beagle on ice
77 Caps shot attempts generated while Ovechkin and Beagle on ice
100 Opponent shot attempts generated while Ovechkin and Beagle on ice
44% Caps puck possession while Ovechkin and Beagle on ice
44% Also Steve Ott’s puck possession

Adam Oates had good intentions putting Beagle and Ovi together in the first place, but after a game or two of abysmal results he should have made a change. He did not. He kept the greatest scorer in the world next to a guy with 14 career assists. That decision, in willful ignorance of the facts, has cost the Capitals goals, wins, and a good chance at the playoffs.

That’s your head coach of the Washington Capitals, Adam Oates.

* I mean shot attempts, not just shots on goal. The cool kids are calling it corsi.

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  • Shaun Phillips

    To be fair, Ott isn’t out there for his possession/goal scoring abilities…

  • salgotnv

    I’m pretty sure the 3rd line is actually the 1st, the 2nd is still 2nd, the 1st is just the Oates troll line hahaha)))

  • Rossineri

    That has never happend to Ovi before off course

  • Hale

    I keep thinking Ovi is wishing for Hunter to come back.

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

    Yeah, but I think that underlines the point. It’s not like I’m trashing Ott for being a facepuncher.

  • Jonah

    Peter you should rename this post “everyone hate on Oates’ one combos”. Cus that’s what it’s going to become #thebank

  • Nathan

    Oates is running this team into the ground.

    Stats do not lie. Mojo-Beagle-Ovechkin is a useless combination. I mention MoJo because of the faint hope that a different winger may be enough to at least drain some sort of positive out of this.

    Since Oates is so adamant about keeping the team’s leading assist-man and leading goal-scorer separated, here is my suggestion for the top line:

    notmojo-notbeagle-Ovechkin.

  • Jonathan Kenny

    McPhee is probably happy with this as it seems to let him off the hook for, say, things like trading Perreault so we could play more AHLers. What I never understood about the Beagle top line thing is why Johansson was not given that spot instead (since Oates wanted to split Backie and Ovi). The Penner on the 4th line puzzles me as well.

  • Jonathan Kenny

    Ovi would rather see Maria get a sex change than Hunter back in town.

  • johnnymorte

    This guy is on his couch right now…

    http://youtu.be/YvBsTrPO0p0

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

    I’d like to see a graph of (happiness of RMNB articles) over time.

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

    I could probably chart % of likes per Facebook impression.

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

    Just for the record, the term “sex change” isn’t considered very nice. Maybe not the best angle for a joke.

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

    In all seriousness, I love Oates, but I’ve lost a lot of faith in him this season. It’s almost like winning games is not his first priority. Like let’s go over a long list of confounding decisions that have plagued this team during the season.

    The Erskine/Carrick d-pairing, Green/Orlov pairing, Beagle centering Ovechkin (for a long sustained period of time), Wilson buried on the fourth line all year when it’s clear he’s ready for more, the three-headed goalie monster, burying Erat, burying Penner (after apparently McPhee consulted him before trading for him), three guys requesting trades, and not tailoring a 5-on-5 system to the roster.

    I’m sure I’m missing a few items here too.

    Go team.

  • Jack Conness

    Goodbye Adam Oates. It’s been real.

    Oh wait, no, it hasn’t.

  • Covesdog

    I can’t believe I actually stayed with the Caps game instead of watching zombies last night.

    It’s a little sad that one of my favorite things to do now during Caps games is to read the disparaging tweets on Caps mobile instead of 100% focusing on the game. I don’t know why, but it’s therapeutic. Granted, Oates has forgotten more about hockey in his lifetime than I will ever know, but if so much of a fan base and numerous pundits consistently question his tactics, isn’t something amiss? He has been a head coach for less than two full seasons, so the guy is still learning. However, I think he needs to be a man and look in the mirror and do a bit of introspection. Of course this roster is flawed, but has his coaching philosophy, strategy, stick length tinkering, resolute handedness obsession, etc. led to improvement in the team’s overall play or made strides in each player’s game individually? Are the seeds being planted for future success? I can’t point to anything that says this team is prime for trending upwards in the near future.

    Fundamentals are a problem on this team. Isn’t tape-to-tape passing a fundamental? Doesn’t he want wingers to play their strong side to be able to receive passes on their forehand? And to be able to make better passes because it’s a forehand pass? Are we a better passing team now as a result of Oates? How many times in our post-loss pressers do we hear Oates lament sloppy passes and poor breakouts? And has anyone ever asked him why he is so dogmatic in this philosophy that he would sacrifice minutes for talented players to waste away on the 4th line than have them play on their off-wing? Might this also be one of the causes for our excruciatingly bad 5×5 play? Don’t lefties have better shooting angles on the right wing (and righties on the left)? Wait a second…isn’t that what Oates does on the power play? You mean Ovi shoots from the OviSpot(TM) on the left wing? And Backstrom, Grabovski, and Johansson are on the right half-wall with a better angle to pass down low or shoot? Aren’t they all…left handed?

    Ugh, I wish I could spend half the day writing out my gripes, but commenting doesn’t pay the bills.

  • picturesandtalk

    Can we talk about the time Oates put out Grabo-Beagle-Ovi as a line last night? I just don’t understand how a guy who was one of the premier centers in the league looking at his roster and saying “Beagle is definitely a top-line center. Since that leaves Grabovski as the odd-man-out, I’ll just make him play LW.”

  • Graham Dumas

    Peter, is this why I saw you at Al’s Discount Torch and Pitchfork Emporium the other day?

    Seriously, though. I’m not a hockey coach of any level, let alone the NHL, but you’ve gotta think that Oates may have some trouble admitting when he’s wrong.

  • Graham Dumas

    I kinda liked green/orly last night, at times. But yeah… Opportunities lost and wasted.

  • Graham Dumas

    Erm, unfortunately, it HAS been real. Real bad.

  • Graham Dumas

    Also, i think you missed Goalie Wars, aka The Hot Hand Strikes Back.

  • Lawrence

    I still think Oates hasn’t been given a fair shot, but many coaches never are. This roster is very flawed and I believe we would have this discussion with any coach. Major changes need to come from the top down, including GMGM and Oates.

  • marcusdlg

    Honestly, just had a friend of a friend try and rip me apart on Facebook with a Dale Hunter claim. Tried to make the argument that Ovi playing less led the Caps to win. Honestly, I appreciated Hunter’s defensive minded game plan. If that meant Ovi was on the ice less, then it just meant that he had to work harder while he was on ice. Unfortunately, he didn’t respond that way right away, but it would be interesting to see how he would respond if Hunter came back to town. I bet Ovi would dig deep like we saw in his playoff performance that year Hunter was behind the bench. Nobody wants their star player sacrificing the body to block shots, but if that is what Ovi needs to do to take the Caps to the playoffs then it must be done. Oates was a hell of a player in his day and deserving of his hall of fame status, but he appears to be a better coach to individual players than he is for a team. Could you imagine the money he could be making coaching superstar players on an individual basis? He got Ovi motivated earlier this year, but can’t find a way to get a system set in place to make the entire team successful.

  • marcusdlg

    At what point do we ask Oates to resign (because you can’t fire a HOF player-coach) and then fire GMGM? There is no standard timeline for stuff like this, but I imagine it happens in the next two years if we miss the playoffs this year and next.

  • Shaun Phillips

    That was the point I was trying to make too. #SarcasmFail. Also, unfortunately for my fantasy hockey team, Ott does less face punching these days. :( #NeedMorePIM

  • Lawrence

    Btw, why is GMGM getting a free pass with most of you? Do you realize how long he has been our GM, with little to no results? In fact the one time he had results, he decided to completely 180 the team’s direction and look at where we are now? Not even a playoff team.

    How many coaches/years/failures does it take for you guys to put the blame on the guy hiring these “failures” of coaches.

  • Owen Johnson
  • riggorules

    Salty, I like it. Right there with you.

  • Guest

    GMGM put together a cup-worthy team from 08-10 and Brucie and the players threw that out the window. He made some very good signings with players and is great at drafting. Erat move was pretty terrible but Forsberg hasn’t amounted to much yet.

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

    He will not resign, nor should he. But you bring up a great point: how awkward it’s going to be when a former Captain of the team/Hall of Famer gets fired.

  • CJ

    Honestly still perplexed by Oates and the manner with which he implements players. Many of us here, myself included, are still soured by what happened with Erat and his lack of production. That said with Penner’s usage I believe it has become clear that, despite what anyone says about the trade, it was poor usage by the coach that created the problem. This is repeating itself in Penner and concerns me going forward.

    I respect Oates’ loyalty to the guys on the team he has had and were here first but his mismanagement of those same players is confounding; I am genuinely starting the believe he does not know what to do with new players and am exceptionally glad that Kuzy hit the ground running or else he too could have been relegated to the 4th line forever.

    I will give at least a nod that Wilson is trapped under Ovi, Brouwer, and Ward at the moment. I am the biggest Brouwer fan you will find (right there with the Brouwer Rangers) and I have followed him since he was in Chicago but even I would have loved to see what Wilson would have done if they traded spots for 3-4 games back in November when the second line was a ghost line.

  • riggorules

    Riding the Laich-Brouwer black hole line for wayyy too long.

  • CJ

    Also just going to point out that Erat had positive influences on the team’s possession but was relegated to the 3rd/4th line much of the time. It does come back on the coach at least some when he plays Laich and Brouwer on the terrible 2 that lined up for months while shunning a guy who had been a top 6 player for about a decade….

  • marcusdlg

    I guess I conveyed that point about resigning poorly. I’m not saying he should do it now, but should he do it to allow the organization to save face when the time comes?

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

    I’m not giving GMGM a free pass, but a better coach could have made the playoffs with the roster Oates was given. Definitely not a Cup though.

  • CJ

    I actually agree with you on this much as I am growing a distaste from what i have seen from Oates. Personal opinion is that no coach should be fired for performance reasons in any sport/league with out being given at least 3 full years/drafts to work with. That said he has made so roster decisions that boggle the mind and depress the skilled players we have rather than utilizing them and is slow to react to the need to change a problem.

  • riggorules

    If this team was playing to its potential under a decent coach (potential = second round of playoffs), I’d be all over GMGM for his failures to make this a true Cup contender. But by turning a playoff roster into a non-playoff team, Oates steps into the firing line.

  • marcusdlg

    I guess what I’m trying to say is, “How embarrassed should the organization be if the experiment fails, and how do the remedy the situation while not making a HOF alumnus look like a piece of shit?”

  • Josh Carey

    GMGM has built an good team through the draft. His team was in the finals in 1998 and has made the playoffs for 6 straight years. It isn’t his fault.

    I’m not even convinced the Erat trade was a bad thing. When used, Erat was a great possession forward. It isn’t McPhee’s job to put him in a useful spot in the lineup every night. Further on that point, Michael Latta has had more of an NHL impact than Forsberg so far.

    The biggest fault of McPhee was firing Boudreau. Everyone knows why he was fired, but it shouldn’t have happened. Otherwise, McPhee has done a wonderful job.

  • Josh Carey

    Boudreau managed it. Hunter managed it. Why should Oates be given a pass when he’s been dealt a similar hand to Hunter and has simply made bad choices?

  • rotating-earth

    can this team get any more embarressing?

  • Lawrence

    Oates team is that much worse than Hunter’s team? Hunter’s team barely made the playoffs as well, just like this team may scrap into the playoffs. Amazing how people lose sight of what used to be, people were calling for Hunter’s head more than Oates is now. The roster Bruce B had was way better than the roster that is now.

    GMGM screwed the pooch imo, all he had to do after 2010 was keep signing the players, keep the coach, and focus on improving the defense. He does those things, and we would still be a contender, and yes even if Oates was our coach.

  • marcusdlg

    I mean, there was a Thrashers reference made the other night. I like to think that’s as bad as it gets. Although, lets be honest, we could be the Canucks and have that rat Torts as a head coach.

  • Lawrence

    1998, was that not the first year of GMGM’s tenure? Anyone can lose and anyone can win in the playoffs, 1 year of success during your first year as GM, when you haven’t even seen a draft yet, should not cancel 13 years of failure.

    As I said below, GMGM almost had it right in 2010. If he kept with that plan, it negates his past failures, but here we are 4 years later, 3 coaches in and we aren’t a playoff team. That falls him.

  • Lawrence

    Well , aren’t we almost a playoff team anyways? Is that really that much worse than Hunter? Hell we might even be a playoff team this year anyways, does that mean GMGM and the coach should get a pass? No it doesn’t. The core of this team can compete with the best in the world and could have the last 5 – 6 years,Tell me this, what has GMGM done right since 2009 – 2010 that should purify him from blame?

    It seems like we are taking the easy route out and blaming the coach…again. Are we going to have this conversation one year, two years, five years, down the road?

  • CJ

    Blanket off topic discussion but an interesting point since many of us are talking about Oates’ decision. Look at how much better Troy Brouwer has played since Laich has been either A) injured or B) off his line. The first 1/2 of his season compared to his second is dramatic and astounding.

  • Josh Carey

    I think you severely underestimate the difficulty of winning a cup. It’s not basketball where the same 4 teams play for the conference finals every year.

  • Diller M

    Hunter’s product was boring as hell, but the team understood and executed it effectively. So much so that they upset and excellent team. Oates product is less boring but more confounding. This team is better then what Hunter had. Orlov is better now than he was then, Grabbo is a great addition even despite the time he has missed. The only difference is Hunter had Semin, but Semin wasn’t really a plus for Hunter’s system anyway. Oates is also getting excellent goaltending which is masking some of the defficiency of this team.

    I agree that he needs another season, but changes need to be made to the system. Oates needs to put his ego away and realize that what he has designed is not working 5v5. It’s almost like he has a philosophy of only focusing on special teams. If it weren’t for the PP we would be in the toilet.

    GMGM is not to blame this season, unless you blame him for hiring Oates in the first place, which I would expect. I have a feeling that is the decision that will finally usher GMGM out of down.

  • Diller M

    Peter, this is somewhat off topic, but I have been looking for an analysis that looks at the impact of FO% on Corsi and I can’t find anything. Do you have any insight? I would think that there is a direct relationship between good FO% and higher Corsi, it seems like common sense, but i’m curisous as to the degree of the impact.

  • Diller M

    CJ to your last point, if we had identified Wilson as a stud, and spent the money to keep him here, we needed to make the adjustment necessary to get him playing time. Ovi can play LW, I know this goes against Oates’ philosophy, but since the swithc was designed to help Ovi 5v5 and it really hasn’t done that, why not make the changes necessary to make the team better? I am all for Ovi on RW but this team lacks depth at LW, so why not let him go back? I don’t think he would care since he still drifts back to LW half of the time in transition anyway.

  • Shmoo

    hugs for this reminder.

  • Shmoo

    That joke was dogshit. Like Oates’ line combinations. ?

  • Lawrence

    And the caps took the stanley cup champions to 7 games in 09. Same “success” as Hunter had. Bruins were coming off a cup run and weren’t as hungry as they were the year they won.And they also won in a game 7 overtime btw, they could have easily been knocked out in the first round Grabo would fit any better in Hunter’s system than Semin did? Carlyle would tell you no. Aslo, your point about goaltending? Holtby stood on his head that series (which is exactly what hunter hockey needed in order to have any success).

    I am saying Oates needs to be fired for sure, but GMGM has to go with him for us to see any results or we will have this same conversation in 3 to 4 years when another coach is the “failure”.

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

    Again: I’m not giving GMGM a pass. I don’t know how you could read what I wrote think I said otherwise.

    The roster GMGM gave Oates is certainly worse than what Hunter had. If Hunter coached these Caps, they could be bottom 5 in the league.

    And GMGM is accountable for coaching decisions too, but balance is important.

    GMGM obliterated his defensive depth and the strength of the bottom six forwards, but he also put together one of the best prospect pools in the league.

    He signed away Perreault for peanuts, but he also got Grabovski for the same.

    He picked up Erat and Penner, who should’ve been contributors except for dismal coaching– which is definitely the bigger problem. That doesn’t mean I’m minimizing management problems; I’m just keeping them in context.

  • Shmoo

    Can we just make Ted fat again and get back our fat coach? Things were so much more fun (and gaseous) then.

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

    I don’t have a single good study to share, but I can tell you that DZ and OZ faceoff wins are significant for a short stretch of time.

    If you can win an OZFO, you’re gonna generate more shots in the seconds after that than you would had you won the FO during the power. play http://www.arcticicehockey.com/2011/10/18/2491154/impact-of-winning-an-offensive-zone-faceoff-even-strength-vs-power

    Plus, those shots are more dangerous on average.

    But overall, FO% isn’t a big enough factor to correlate with winning alone. http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2013/7/10/4508094/what-statistics-are-meaningful-in-a-given-season-corsi-fenwick-PDO-hits-fights-blocked-shots

  • Lawrence

    So because it’s hard to win a Stanley cup, means we should be content with barely making the playoffs?

    Tell that to Chi, Pit, Bos, LAK, Det. Don’t act like its impossible to build a franchise that has a shot every year, How many teams have had the luxury of having one of the best play making centers and the games best winger in the game?

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

    Dude, you know I’ve got this story in drafts. Spoilers!

  • Lawrence

    I don’t mean just you, I meant in general that the idea of Oates is the only issue with this team and tbh I haven’t seen you say many negative things about GMGM (especially in contrast to how much Oates is bashed). Yes GMGM has made some great moves, and some terrible moves, as most GM’s have a record of, but tell me what other GM in the league has had the leash that he has? The more years that pass by under GMGM, the harder it will be for another GM to fix this team (Backy, Green, Ovi are only going to get older), time is not on our hands here. The time to act on GMGM is now.

  • CJ

    I do feel I have to comment of the PP side of your rant. On a Power Play, unlike 5v5 where you need to break out, your positioning is different. Notice how about 75% of the actual ice time Ovi spends at his spot, he is not “facing forward” but rather facing across the ice for the pass. Think about the angle of his stick as a right handed shot. From the left, looking right across the ice, his stick is in the right hand away from the goal in line for a shot. If you played him in the same spot on the right his stick would be in the air TOWARDS the goal he need to be shooting at, thus not in line for a shot. This hold true for everyone else needing to be a lefty except the sweeper (guy in the crease (often Brouwer)).

    The logic is as follows. Nikky is a lefty but spend a good portion of the time by the goalie’s net facing backwards. This is designed so he can make his passes with his stick, and ultimately the puck, closer to the boards making it easier to defend from the defense-man (maintaining possession). He can make safer passes all the way back to the point, along the boards and is better positioned to keep defense-men at bay. Alternatively Ovi has his shot lined up and can face the PP as it progresses rather than having to turn around for an inline shot.

    As for the sweeper it’s best if he is the same sided shot as the desiganted ‘primary’ shooter (Ovi). This is because in addition to blocking the goalie and disrupting defense-man theyact as a the Right winger for the ‘line.’ remember mos of the time these players are not facing forwards so when Brouwer is pacing/pressuring he is generally facing the right wall, thus giving him an inline shot just like Ovi as well as allows him a better angle for tap-to-tap passing tot he point. It also gives him better positioning for collecting any rebounds from shot by any one else on the right.

    Hockey scoring chances are all about angles of attack, thus why idiots who yell shoot the puck at games drive me batty. YES zero angle shot have gone in before, no it isn’t wise to risk losing the puck to throw it at a goaltender who is facing you with the pipe next to him while a defender is pressuring; someone is open with a better shot.

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

    I hear ya. If you do a search of RMNB, you can find a handful of really crankypants pieces about GMGM by me though (and a few by Ian too).

    http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2014/03/06/george-mcphee-is-totally-okay-with-the-capitals-getting-outshot/

    http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2014/02/04/george-mcphee-may-or-may-not-be-colossally-wrong-about-caps-goaltending/

    http://www.russianmachineneverbreaks.com/2013/04/02/george-mcphee-is-wrong-about-a-lot-of-things/

    I’m all about exploring the complexity of the situation. I think GMGM has made mistakes, but I also think he’s built a decent club– with flaws.

    Oates wears nice suits and has a nice power play. Other than that, I think he’s been a disaster. You’ll see more about Oates in the next couple weeks from me than you will about GMGM, but if Ted thinks its time for him to go, I’d be hard pressed to disagree.

  • OviandOil

    What I think Ted Leonsis should do:
    Let Geroge Mcphee go
    Hire Jim Benning (Assistant GM with the Boston Bruins)
    Fire Adam Oates
    Hire Peter Laviolette

    This will bring in experienced guys who have won before, they know what it takes.

  • Guest
  • Patrick Neimeyer

    Similar to Samir’s response to a faulty printer, the RMNB cohorts should do the follow to each copy of the capitals 2013-2014 playbook…

    http://fc07.deviantart.net/fs71/f/2011/365/1/f/office_space_gif_by_wheen_store-d4kus1k.gif

  • Josh Carey

    I’d argue that three out of the last six years we’ve been contenders with 2010 being our best shot. We haven’t just barely made the playoffs, unless winning the president’s trophy fits that definition.

    You’re arguing against GMGM and now saying that we have the personnel in Nick and Ovi? He drafted both of them. Something tells me that’s a systems issue, not upper management.

  • Josh Carey

    How can you say Hunter’s team was much better?

    Hunter had Knuble, Semin and Perry.
    Oates has Penner, Grabo and Kuzya.

    If used correctly the roster now is just as good as the roster Hunter had.

  • mostholy2

    “frustrating” is a mild word for it. The lines after he brought Grabo up to play with OVI included shifting Kuzy down to play with the “4th line” of Penner and Wilson, instead of keeping one of the 2 better LW (Kuzy or Penner) up with the top line. While putting MarJo with Backstrom and Brouwer.

  • Josh Carey

    Brouwer, Kuzya and Nick scored the first 5v5 goal for the Caps in 20 years and Oates splits them up. Sounds about right.

  • DJ Jones

    Here is the big question, why are we to feel this roster will win? Since 2011-2012 season, it has not changed. We’ve Ribeiro, Wolski, Crabb, Erat, Volpatti, Wilson, now Penner and Kuzy on the offensive end. Defense, Poti, Schultz, Hillen, Carrick, Wey, Oleksy, Orlov. From the call-ups, which only happen for injuries, Wellman, Latta, Brown, Deschamps, Stoa, Brouillette, Strachan, Schilling, Schmidt.

    Why is it that this team is suddenly going to break through? Nothing has changed but coaches. This is the exact same team that has exited the playoffs 3 years straight (it’s been longer than that but I’m speaking roster wise). GMGM is quick to extend players based on nothing, example Hillen and Erskine, Hillen was hurt most of last season and he still got a deal and unfortunately he has 0 luck and has been hurt 99% this season. Erskine is well Erskine and still gets a deal.

    There is no center depth at all, this conversion thing needs to stop. Fehr is not a natural center, he will give you all he has but he won’t ever be a centerman. And then they get the kid Brown and say hey were making a playoff push, you’re a natural RW, how about you play center. Great idea! Yet you have Latta sitting in Hershey playing the center position like he always has and they don’t bring him up. Great move dumping Matty P for no one.

    This team will not win until some big changes are made, why all of a sudden should we feel that this team can win, they’ve been together long enough to have the chemistry and work ethic and it has produced 0 results.

  • factoryofsadness

    and yet, he is still better than tortellini….man if they were rioting a few years ago, i wonder what’ll happen in vancouver at the end of this season.

  • Myan

    My major issue with Oates is his tendency to tinker with what is working while failing to see what isn’t. Our roster is flawed but as a coach, you have to make it work…you are literally paid to build an executable system around the group of guys you have. More so, if he himself is so inexperienced as a head coach, why does he bring on Calle Johansson whose only experience is 1 year as the defensive coach for a Swedish league team that finished 4th from the bottom in goals against? When we’re down 3-0 at home, instead of taking a time out to refocus the group, he decides “the guys have to figure out right now.” No, Adam, YOU need to figure it out…it is literally your job to figure it out. He’s had his chance and he’s failed. It’s time for him to get the hell out.

  • Myan

    I don’t think anybody is giving GMGM a free pass…he’s responsible for hiring & keeping Oates on board.

  • JH

    This I think is exactly right. That would argue for extending GMGM’s contract. Will/should Oates be fired? I’m still on the fence.

  • JH

    I would add to the discussion of Oates and GMGM that in GMGM’s case, you have to measure not just the product on the ice at any given time, but what has he put in the pipeline. He’s drafted some pretty damn good players. So his body of work, if you will, has a lot of bright spots even if this year’s on-ice performance has been lackluster. Oates,otoh, is to be judged solely by what’s on the ice. And that deliverable is wanting.

  • Stevarooni

    Whatever numbers are pulled, we can’t say the Caps wouldn’t have done worse on the west coast swing with a lineup that didn’t include Ovechkin with Beagle, and thus we can’t say that the team wouldn’t be in a worse situation standings point-wise today without that pairing over this period of time they’ve been paired.

    But it should have been a temporary look, it’s time to change things up again. To um, get the playoff lineups comfortable playing together again [cough]

  • Marky Narc

    And there were better commercials on CSN.

  • Marky Narc

    Agreed. I would like Oates to be gone, but I feel like the only way that will happen is if GMGM is gone first. Then, whoever comes in as the new GM cleans house and starts anew. (I mean, it would be weird if they brought a new GM in and was not allowed to install his own coach/staff/etc.)

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

    Sure you can. If Ovi had better than 40% possession and more than 3 shots in Los Angeles, the Caps might’ve won.

  • Stevarooni

    “I can’t believe I actually stayed with the Caps game instead of watching zombies last night.” Season Finale?

    I can give you a recap (spoiler alert):
    It all ends up right where they’ve been before- different season, same result. The top actor saying wait til next season, they don’t know who they’re dealing with.
    Sure along they way this season they’ve lost some people and brought in some new ones. At times throughout the season we maybe thought we were seeing something new and different. Yet here at the end of the season, we watching at home find ourselves thinking killing a first born appears to be possibly the only way to see a real difference, but deep down we know it’s not going to happen.

    Gardening does seem like a more fruitful endeavor.

  • Thomas

    *Ring-Ring*
    Laviolette: “Laviolette speaking”
    GMGM: “Hey Lavi! Hows it going this fine spring morning?
    Laviolette: *Click*

    *Sigh, I have a feeling he may not want to take on the challenge this team is, can always hope though!

  • Stevarooni

    This is the NHL, every coach better come in expecting one day they will get fired. NHL = Not Here Long – Jerry Glanville nod

    With that understood up front the door between the two parties doesn’t necessarily close permanently thereafter. Unless you’re dealing with a really bitter/hard-headed person maybe.

  • Stevarooni

    “Hey, aren’t you going to wait and greet the Great Pumpkin? It won’t be long now. If the Great Pumpkin comes, I’ll still put in a good word for you. Good grief! I said “if”!!! I meant *when* he comes. I’m doomed.
    One little slip like that can cause the Great Pumpkin to pass you by. Oh Great Pumpkin where are you?!”
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/–vvqrlon5Ag/TpPIhpstyvI/AAAAAAAAAlo/9tVL9750q4I/s1600/GreatPumpkin.jpg

  • Alex Hughes

    If GMGM gets fired, would we bring in Darcy Regier as the new GM or get another “homegrown” player to fill a positon. And if Oates gets fired, who comes in, Laviolette, Ron Wilson, I don’t know who else is out there

  • bggb

    I want him so bad.

  • Joseph Greene

    9 games prior to the pairing, PPOV scored 0 even strength points and the team recorded 9 points. In the 6 games since being put together with Snoopy, PPOV scored 0 even strength points and the team has recorded 5 points.

    It’s made essentially no difference except that the -6 in those 6 games is much better than the -11 for PPOV in the first 9 games of the month.

    Beagle isn’t the problem, the fat, lazy, worthless “captain” is.

  • Joseph Greene

    That was someone else’s team.

    BTW, what has the fat coach done since leaving here? That’s right, a first round playoff exit with a higher seeded team. Same crap different smell. He’s a terrible strategic coach that gets exposed in the playoffs every single year.

  • Joseph Greene

    The only time this team had a shot was the short stint under DH where PPOV got benched the moment the team got the lead.

  • Andrew Merewitz

    The real problem is that Bruce should have never been fired.

  • Josh Carey

    Remember that one time where if we didn’t have Ovechkin we’d be in a great battle with Buffalo for first pick? Yeah me too.

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

    You mean the guy who has proven over and over again that he’s a terrible tactical coach who gets outcoached by lower seeds EVERY SINGLE YEAR in the playoffs while also showing he has no idea how to keep a team disciplined? That guy?

    He was nothing more than a gimmick system coach with no ability to adjust in a 7 game series. He is to the playoffs what Oates is to the regular season.

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

    thecrew@russianmachineneverbreaks.com

    If you can write a 500-word column on this theory, we’ll publish it.

  • Joseph Greene

    It’s not a theory, it’s reality, and if I have the spare time I’ll do it. I will point you towards the comments by Jacques Lemaire after the Canadiens won the series in 2010. He was asked what adjustments they made to keep shutting us down that series and his response was that they didn’t, that BB/Caps didn’t make any adjustments of their own.

  • Eric Schulz

    The Erat trade was a MASSIVE disaster. Shawn Thornton has done more in the NHL than Kuznetsov; would you make that trade? Just because Forsberg didn’t make an immediate impact a la Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, or Teemu Selanne, doesn’t mean he’s not better than Erat, a 3rd line winger (hey, we had a lot of those guys) who was way overpaid (hey, we didn’t have a lot of cap space), and past his prime (hey, his prime wasn’t even that great). That’s not to say he has no value as a player… but his value wasn’t going to be remotely fulfilled on this team, no matter the coach.
    The opportunity cost of having Erat really hamstrung our ability to address the weakness of the team in free agency: defense. The opportunity cost of moving Forsberg meant we either lost a very young, very good, very cheap forward; this team is top-heavy, we need guys who can contribute while still on ELCs. The other opporunity cost of moving Forsberg for Erat was… Forsberg should’ve netted us a young, top-4 defender. Mind-bottling that it didn’t.
    He built a good team through the draft? Um, not really. He has been slightly below average in the draft during his tenure; in the first round, he’s done a good job of acquiring picks, allowing him to gamble on guys like Semin and Kuznetsov, but his batting average isn’t above average. In the later rounds, he’s worse than average. Ovechkin was a slam-dunk, easy pick… and we got that pick… I want to say we were the worst team in the league, because generally that’s how you get the 1st, but I have NO idea why we had that pick. We made the playoffs that year… I looked it up some time ago… yeah, no idea.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yes, we had a shot to go down as the dumbest coached playoff team ever…

  • Eric Schulz

    Yep, that’s why he was the fastest coach to 200 and 300 wins.. terrible strategy. See, the regular season is called a “large sample size.” The playoffs is a “small sample size.” If you believe the latter over the former, then you have no business grading somebody’s performance.

  • Eric Schulz

    This team did NOT have 2nd round potential this year. Remember, not that long ago Ward was our 2nd leading goal scorer. Brouwer started slowly (and that’s on him, not Oates), Kuznetsov has played 9 games, Grabovski has missed a huge chunk of games… our 2nd pairing defender, Hillen, has missed just about all of the season… and also, Hillen is supposed to be on our 2nd pairing. GMGM’s fault, up and down the roster.

  • Eric Schulz

    That’s because Brouwer wasn’t playing his game early in the year; Brouwer actually talked about how he needed to get back to playing his game, then he scored 5 goals in 3 games. That’s not on Laich, or Oates. My guess is, Brouwer had a great season last year (33 goal, 55 point pace), and tried to produce points this year, rather than playing his game realizing that points would then come.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yes, so much yes.

  • Eric Schulz

    Hunter. Hahahahahahahahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha. Nope.

  • Eric Schulz

    Hunter = overrated.

  • Eric Schulz

    Boudreau’s crazy gimmick = winning. It’s pretty awesome.

  • Eric Schulz

    No, he doesn’t mean that guy. He means BRUCE BOUDREAU. You know, the guy who is a great coach? Fastest ever to 200 and 300 wins? No idea who you are thinking of, but clearly you are thinking of the wrong guy. I think you are thinking of Bruce Cassidy.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yep… what we should’ve done was adjust our game so that we got a .989 save percentage from our goalie… that’s not… oh, I don’t know, “gimmicky” and the product of a small sample size, or anything (that’s sarcasm, it totally is).

  • Eric Schulz

    I guess you fail to look at the return for Forsberg, and the lack of defensemen who can play defense. With GMGM, it’s all about the roster; with Oates, he also runs practices and shit. How many Caps practices have you been to? How has Wilson improved under Oates in practice? How should Oates be allotting practice time instead?

  • Eric Schulz

    He’s right, Ovechkin is the problem. Were it not for him, none of us would have this hope that maybe we’re a playoff team… we would’ve given up on that long ago… also, GMGM would’ve been fired some years back, and we’d now be facing a brighter future for that.

  • Eric Schulz

    If Semin doesn’t fit your system, your system is dumb.

  • Eric Schulz

    Grabovski = injured for large chunks of the year
    Kuz Nasty = 9 games
    Penner = 20 games?
    Yep.. it’s just as good. Except for not having the players that you mentioned.

  • Joseph Greene

    How many Stanley Cups?

    Now, how many losses on home ice in game 7 to a lower seeded team?

    That’s the problem with you Rock the Red morons, you don’t know the purpose is winning the Stanley Cup and not just winning regular season games.

  • Joseph Greene

    Only in months that aren’t May or June.

  • Joseph Greene

    Ah yes, the hot goalie excuse. You do realize the .989 was due to our pansy team not setting screens/going to the net and just firing away from the perimeter all series, right? Nah, that would suggest you understand how playoff hockey works and you clearly don’t.

  • Eric Schulz

    Before Grabovski came back, my suggestion would’ve included Johansson (since we have really 3 centers: Backstrom, Grabovski, and Beagle… oh, again, GMGM’s fault… I can’t believe people think he hasn’t been atrocious):
    Penner – Johansson – Ovechkin

  • Joseph Greene

    Simply being a playoff team isn’t enough for people who understand hockey.

  • Joseph Greene

    Playoffs? You know, the thing that actually matters to real hockey fans, coaches, GMs, owners, and everyone else with a clue?

  • Harjot Singh

    Hey man you need to calm down. RMNB is about having fun while the caps are struggling. Not calling names on the internet.

  • Eric Schulz

    One of the best prospect pool in the league? According to who? When? Back before he traded Forsberg, you mean?

  • Stardawg

    I think GMGM’s biggest mistake, one that is overshadowing all of the great moves and draft picks, is that he failed to recognize the value of a solid Dman. The price of a solid Dman has skyrocketed of the last few years and he chose not to pay the high price to sign some available free agents. Now the team is paying the price, so to speak, by forcing guys like Ovechkin to play in their own end rather than to their offensive strengths. If the Caps could get the puck out of their own zone, a lot of problems would be lessened.

  • Eric Schulz

    You want to win in the playoffs… but you evaluate talent and skill and strategy by looking at the larger sample size. When a team gets lucky in the playoffs, you absolutely CANNOT overvalue your team and start locking up all your players and coaches to long-term contracts.

  • Eric Schulz

    The problem with morons like you is that you don’t understand the difference between talent and luck. You need luck to win the Cup; you DON’T need luck to be the fastest coach ever to 200 or 300 wins. If you are the BEST EVER at what you do over a LARGE sample size… then maybe the fluky playoffs are just fluky… maybe you can continue to go to battle with this insanely talented coach… at some point, things will turn around.
    Remember when Tortella won a Stanley Cup. Yeah, WOW, what a coach he is.. continuing to tear the league a new asshole with his AMAZING strategies… remember how Boston didn’t win the Stanley Cup last year; yeah, that’s why everybody on the team was fired, because they are all GARBAGE, and none of them are winners when it matters.
    Next time you call somebody a moron, make sure they don’t have an IQ 30 points higher than yours. Next time you call somebody a moron, make sure you have the slightest idea what you are talking about.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yes, because during those months, the sport of hockey undergoes a change, and suddenly winning strategies become losing strategies… or, you know, luck and fluky bounces can eliminate a great team because it’s a 7 game series.

  • Eric Schulz

    Actually, I watched the games, rather than made up after-the-fact crap like you did. Goalies don’t suddenly get better in the playoffs, dude. We were the best offensive team in the league that year… it’s not because we didn’t know how to screen the goalie or go to the net. Sometimes a goalie will make a great save… other times, he won’t. Over a small sample size, he can get hot, and make you look bad… over a large sample size, he will regress to his natural ability.

  • JenniferH

    That’s your head coach of the Washington Capitals, Adam Oates.

    And if the Hockey Gods are merciful, not too long from now, this sentence will read — That’s your FORMER head coach of the Washington Capitals, Adam Oates.

    Pretty, pretty, pretty please.

  • Eric Schulz

    It’s hard to win the Cup when you miss the playoffs… something you’d know if you understood playoff hockey.

  • Eric Schulz

    That reminds me of those who love to say that Romo is a choke-artist, claiming that he can’t win in December and January, the “games that matter.” He has a 66.7% winning percentage in September, 40% in October, 82.8% in November, and 39.4% in December and January.
    http://grantland.com/features/bill-barnwell-week-15-nfl/
    You are like those who prefers the eye test, and will refuse to believe that great players, great teams, great coaches, can fail (and, the greater you are, the less likely you will fail; therefore, if you DO fail, it almost HAS to be in a small sample size).

    There is nothing inherently different about hockey played in May or June, save that the smaller sample size lends itself to more upsets.

  • Roy Schue

    I agree with you, but the press and probably most of the people complaining now are the ones who were calling for changes. Not to say GMGM listened to any of this. I’m just saying for some reason a lot of people fealt the caps were too soft and one dimensional. When all they really needed was to keep the system they had with Bruce and an upgrade in defencemen and a steadier presence in goal. Bruce’s system was very offensive minded but the real problem was we had was a lack of talent on D. Four years later we still have the same problem with the D and an inferior offensive system.

  • Roy Schue

    Anybody who thinks Bruce wasn’t told to change his system after 09-10 “to be more defensive minded” by upper management aka GMGM is a fool

  • Roy Schue

    Can’t argue with Perreault and Forsberg, but come on Steckel…really. Good FO guy and penalty killer that’s it. One dimensional and what has he done in the NHL since he left…nothing and he is currently rotting in the AHL. As for Semin he was a cancer and you never knew if he was going to actually show up.

  • Lawrence

    Yup.

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

    THE INTERNET WAS CREATED FOR CALLING NAMES, YOU PRIBBLING DREAD-BOLTED MINNOW!

  • Josh Carey

    Okay I’ll play that game too. Grabo will finish the year only missing about 25 games. Hunter had the Caps when Nick Backstrom missed half the season and Green played 30 games. Perreault and Orlov also played about as much as Grabo will play this season.

    Bottom line is this. Hunter got replacements such as Acouin and Eakin to play much better hockey than what Oates has gotten out of his call ups.

    I get small sample sizes sure, but when was the last time anyone in the league was put on the fourth line with nearly 0.80 PPG (Kuzya). It’s about player management and deployment, not personnel.

  • Seth Malaguerra

    Does anyone know what Oleksy did to get banished to Hershey? Out of all the Caps’ marginal NHL D-men, on a team dying from poor D depth, he was my favorite. He’s still 4th in scoring from the Caps blue line with only 33 games played. And get this … + (PLUS!!) 7.

  • Josh Carey

    Apparently Oates is more keen on 19 year old undersized D-Men with potential but nowhere near NHL ready now.

  • johnnymorte

    Why Benning?

  • seandlax9

    Because the Bruins are one of the best run organizations in the league right now.

    I would kill someone to be able to get Benning right now.

  • Diller M

    Why do need to disparage fellow caps fans? If you don’t like what they have to say don’t read it. If you don’t like the team don’t watch. By all means root for the bruin/kings and the trap and “playoff hockey” played the right way, but while you do, go over to one of their blogs and blow your smoke up someone else’s ass because you are making this unpleasant for the rest of us.

  • Diller M

    Seconded and thirded

  • RESmith

    Maybe the best that can be hoped for next year is what happened to Tony Granato in 2004-05 with the Avalanche: http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/news/story?id=1835446

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, that’s not a cancer so much as inconsistent… he was a great 2nd line winger. He gave us depth, and raised the ceiling of the team. I feel like he was a huge part of our depth, and without him we wouldn’t have enough scoring… yeah, clearly I have been proven correct. Ovie went from averaging 54 assists per season to about 21. Obviously that’s not all due to Semin, but losing Semin hurt the team, and Ovechkin is not nearly as effective as he was with secondary scoring, whether it was on his line, taking advantage of Ovie’s criminally underrated passing, or making teams pay for paying Ovie too much attention.
    Steckel: great FO and penalty killer… yeah, wow, how AWESOME would it be to have that now? He’s cheap as hell, another thing we need. I’m not saying he would be anything but a great, perfect fit for the team on the 4th line… he wouldn’t be a top-6 guy, or even a 3rd liner without injuries, but that’s exactly what I’m talking about when I rip GMGM for not addressing weaknesses. We can’t be a team of all Ovechkin and Semin-type players; you need defensive forwards, you need faceoffs, you need size and physicality. Steckel was a very cheap way to add some complementary talents to the team. I hated losing his faceoff ability at the time, and it hurts much more now, given our horrible showing in the circles.

  • Eric Schulz

    If you’re playing a game that involves defending how Hunter handled this team, then you lose.

  • Roy Schue

    The only thing Semin was inconsistent with was his heart and effort. That is what made him unpredictable. He was one of the core four. His lack of effort was a bad influence on ovechkin which caused a bad influence on the team and in turn there was internal turmoil. Griping about people being privileged. This was all in the press, right from the mouths of a few caps. So yes that is a cancer. And as far as Steckel, all I can say is if he would make such a great 4th liner why is he in the AHL. Why does not a single one of the 30 teams in the NHL want him in there lineup. That makes 30 GM’s and 30 coaches that feel he is not such a great NHL skater. That is a lot of hockey knowledge that says…hey this guy just doesn’t cut it.

  • Roy Schue

    Also let me add, I followed Steckel with the Bears before he played with the caps and was a big fan, but like Erskin he is just a step or two too slow for the NHL.

  • Chris

    goodness yes, oates is trolling us all so hard right now!

  • johnnymorte
  • Liston

    The moment I lost faith was hearing Brouwer and Laich talk about how they knew they shouldn’t be on a line together. They try to do the same things and were finding themselves in the same area going after the puck. If columnists, fans and even the players themselves can see something is not working, I think it’s inexcusable for the head coach to be gosh-darn stubborn.

  • Liston

    The other big issue for me is Oates and McPhee are not on the same page. Two years in a row the GM brings in a top-6 type forward (Erat and now Penner) and the Head Coach buries them on the fourth line. Penner was good enough to skate with Getzlaf and Perry for a legit Cup contender, but suddenly is a 4th liner for the Caps? I find it hard to believe McPhee makes that trade if the plan is to have him disappear on the bottom line.

  • Josh Carey

    Ovechkin is a lot closer to a third liner than Beagle is a first liner.

  • Apocalypse Meow

    Bravo

  • Harjot Singh

    I would call you name a name Peter but I can’t think of one :(

  • Eric Schulz

    Indeed; once we lanced our cancer, our team finally started showing some fight, and we’ve been an all-effort, all-the-time team since then… so glad to have that gone.
    And you’re absolutely right about the majority opinion: it’s always right. No team in the NHL could use Steckel’s size, grit, and faceoff ability. Just like no team could use a never-was like Oleksy, a guy who cleared waivers and is toiling in the AHL… while much more talented players round out NHL rosters, guys like Connor Carrick play; Torrey Mitchell, Zenon Konopka, Kevin Westgarth, Jeff Petry, Scott Gomez, Krys Barch, Paul Gaustad, Victor Bartley, Steve Bernier, Mark Fayne, Zac Rinaldo, Adam Hall, Jay Rosehill, Kyle Chipchura, Jeff Halpern, Dale Weise, Chris Thorburn, Adam Pardy, Anthony Peluso, Colton Orr, Frazier McLaren… Clearly, the NHL GMs have spoken, and those guys are definitely good enough to be NHLers, unlike Steckel and Oleksy. Now, I don’t dislike all of those players; I’m a fan of what Steve Bernier brings, and not surprisingly I’m a big Jeff Halpern fan, but at this point of their careers, Steckel is a more valuable player. Chipchura may be more valuable than Steckel, but they both provide the same thing… Chipchura *may* be more valuable than Steckel, but if so I think the only difference is that Chipchura has consistently been playing at the NHL level, while Steckel has had the bad fortune to bounce around and be bumped down occasionally. He isn’t any worse of a player. Guys like that sometimes get lucky and carve out a role with one team… other times, they are traded and don’t stick.
    GMGM let Hendricks go… how many points have we lost by losing shootouts? How many more points do we have with Hendricks in the shootout alone? Are we in the playoffs right now? I say “yes.” How much better are we in possession if we add Steckel’s faceoff winning percentage to the team? How many more points do we have this year with just a few extra possessions? Enough to be in the playoffs? Probably… both of those things are on GMGM… oh, yeah, add in Perreault, a guy we traded away… how great would it have been to have him, especially once Grabovski went down. If it’s Perreault centering the top line (centering Ovechkin) instead of Beagle, are we in the playoffs right now?

  • Eric Schulz

    HA!