backstrom-high-five

There’s a saying I hate: What have you done for me lately? It’s ignorant, brushing off a person’s full contributions. But that’s the attitude among a lot of lippy sports fans, especially on Twitter.

I bring this up because after Nicklas Backstrom missed on his shootout attempt at the end of Sunday’s game, some people got frustrated. I get it– to a point.

Folks, let’s not lose sight of the facts. Backstrom is the only reason the Capitals got a standings point in the first place.

Nicky scored on the power play in the third period with this beautiful shot to the top corner of the net. It tied the game at 3.

He also assisted on both of Troy Brouwer‘s goals, including a nifty pass-to-himself to set up Brouwer’s first tally.

So Nick Backstrom had three points, including the game-tying goal. Maybe we should cut him some slack.

Instead of sniping, might I recommend some self-deprecating humor next time.

Tagged with:
 
  • Myan

    Backy played a hell of a game tonight. Not only did he score that on that crucial PP, he also helped out on D like a badass. Even the Preds fans around us had to remark like “dammit, that guy’s good.” I feel awful for all the players that have had to endure this season with Oates & Co.

  • Dark Stranger

    So many questionable lineup moves this year. I know that Oates was trying to add someone with a more defensive mentality to Ovi’s line since it had such a high “minus” but Beagle on a line with Ovi essentially neutralizes Ovi as a scorer. At least, Grabbo took some shifts with them but…….

  • Rob W.

    He is my favorite player but i still think he could be a hell of a lot better shooting from that same spot in the circle, He still is a better shooter than Mojo who couldnt score on a soccer goal

  • Dave

    At that angle, much higher and he would have missed the net completely. It was a great save by the goalie getting his foot up at the last second. Backy actually should have kept the puck on the ice and it would have slid right in.

  • Eric Schulz

    Everyone loves to hate on Oates; well, if Brouwer had played his game all year, and Grabovski doesn’t get injured, we’re a playoff team, easily. Beagle on Ovechkin’s line made sense once Grabovski was injured, since we don’t have enough centers (Oates’ fault? Nope: GMGM’s); it didn’t work out well, and Oates maybe should be faster to make some decisions… but then everybody rips him for changing his lines every 3 minutes, so I guess no matter what he does, he sucks, right? He certainly can be infuriating with some of his line combinations (no Penner on top line, not auditioning Johansson at center with Grabovski out, too little ice time for Wilson), but you know what’s worse than that? Refusing to address a problem area for over a decade (GMGM; top-4 defense). Failing to identify (and address) any of your team’s top THREE problem areas at the deadline when trying to make a playoff push: (1) defense – no partner for Green on 2nd pair; no partner for Orlov on 3rd; no two-way forward capable of anchoring a shutdown line, (2) faceoffs, (3) centers. Instead, he addressed goalie… GMGM needs to get ALL the blame until he is fired (and he needs to be fired, he does NOT deserve to finish out this year); once the new GM gives Oates and Calle Jo a team capable of playing defense, breaking out of the defensive zone, and winning faceoffs, then we can evaluate the coaching performance. Until then, it’s not possible to evaluate a coach of an incomplete team.

  • Chris Cerullo

    Defending Oates is ridiculous.

  • Eric Schulz

    So you think GMGM put together a team that is a top-5 team in the East? If so, then you are clearly the expert on ridiculous.

  • Owen Johnson

    Yeah Backstrom let us down. So did Kuznetsov. And Grabovski. Come to think of it, maybe Halak should have stopped that one shot.
    But its clearly all on Backstrom.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Breaking out of the zone shouldn’t rely on having stellar players. Any good coach can teach a breakout. Don’t get me wrong, GMGM is awful too and deserves to be gone. But any coach that leaves a 4C on the top line when you have your top centers both back is a moron. Also, Oates was one of best faceoff guys while he played but either a) hasn’t realized its a problem that needs to be addressed or b) is not bothering to coach it (we know he can). If he is coaching it and the players aren’t getting it, that’s another issue.

    Also, I’m not sure who was even available at the deadilne to fill that top 4 d-man role, without giving up an arm and leg.

  • Aaron

    That was a heck of a save though really.

  • Chris

    Im sorry but beagle on Ovechkins line makes sense? no it makes no sense at all you don’t put ur lowest point producing forward on your first line. Ovechkin is a shooter he needs people to feed him the puck I would take backstrom over beagle 100% of the time I understand the defense argument but ovechkin is not on the Ice for his defense. The fact that he has not scored 5-5 for twelve games about the amount of time beagle has been on that line is not a coincidence. Stupid coaching decision

  • OlietheGoalie

    It’s all part of the “we tried hard, but didn’t get to the playoffs so let’s shake some things up” rant I -hope- Ted is going to have at the end of this year. We got a point, and that’s good! But not enough to get a ticket to the dance.

  • dcsportsfan85

    Well it was Oates’ fault that we got rid of Perreault, who would have been a much been top six center in the event of any injuries.

    Plus, his line combinations all year have been so perplexing. Playing Ovechkin with Beagle is a complete waste of Ovi’s talent. He’s not a great defensive player and he’s most effective when his line is constantly putting pressure on the defense and possessing the puck. That’s not going to happen with Beagle centering the 1st line.

  • dcsportsfan85

    I could not agree with you more Chris. Playing Beagle with Ovechkin completely neutralizes what he’s best at doing and he needs to be on a line that dominates puck possession so they don’t need to play defense as much.

    Backstrom played a hell of a game last night though and he was one of a few Caps that seemed to be playing a desperate game and was doing everything he could to get the two points.

  • Shmoo

    Backstrom is the most consistent, best player on this team. Ovie is a circus freak shot out of a cannon. And I love him for it. But Backstrom is the Capitals.
    Shhhh, don’t tell Oates, though.

  • Diller M

    Nickey shot and scored!!! Now shoot at evens!

  • dcsportsfan85

    I agree that this organization needs some type of shake up, but I’m not sure exactly needs to be changed? I’m not a huge McPhee hater and think he did a good job re-building the team. He’s also been pretty good in the draft and my only complaint would be there lack of finding talent past the 1st Rd, but that is something that has gotten much better in the last 5 years or so. They have drafted some good talent post 1st round and have been very good about hitting on their 1st round picks. 1st Rd(Carlson, Johansson, Kuznetsov, Wilson, Forsberg, Burakovsky) Post 1st Rd (Orlov, Holtby, Grubauer, Eakins, Wey, Carrick, Barber, Galiev, Stephenson, Bowey, Herbert).

    I think the Caps will have a new wave of young talent to openning a new window for Ovi & Nick. I’m not sure what to do with Brooks Laich or Mike Green. It’s a huge risk not to use our compliance buyout on Laich and if Mike Green can ever figure out how to be consistent again he’s awesome.

    I was really optimistic about Oates coming into this year, but the weird line up choices he made last year that made him look so smart are making him look pretty bad this year. I’m still not exactly sure what his system is and I think the biggest issue under Oates has been his inability to instill an identity or culture for the team. Under Gabby we were a wide open run n’ gun offense that was going to out score teams and dominate offensively. Under Hunter the Cap’s played “Hunter Hockey”, which was much more defensive and they were blocking shots all over the place. Under Oates I’m not sure what this team is anymore. The only thing that I can identify with Oates tenure has been inconsistent or poor even strength play and an awesome PP to bail the team out.

    We should be getting more out of our forwards for what they are getting paid and we need an upgrade to the defense. The salary cap is going up and we’ll have more flexibility soon. So I still don’t think the caps are too far off talent-wise, but they need an identity other than an inconsistent, lead blowing team that has to rely on a stellar power play to win games.

    I think the organization as a whole also needs to place more emphasis on a puck possession style of game, as my biggest issue with McPhee recently is he’s comments about our style of play giving up more shots.

    I think we still need to hold onto Mike Green because when he’s playing good he makes the Caps a different team. Plus his contract only goes one more year. I think it is too big of a risk to not buy out Laich, unless he comes back this season and it appears this new procedure worked. He’s eating up too much cap space for his production and for a guy who can’t stay healthy.

  • Myan

    MacDonald, Mezaros. They may not be Top 4 material but they would have at least been a solid addition to the 3rd D pairing so we wouldn’t have this carousel of AHLers & Erskine (shudders).

  • James Desautels

    It’s really easy to judge that as we watch replays. It’s happening very fast out there and even the most marginal or 3rd string NHL goalie is still one of the top 100 or so IN THE ENTIRE WORLD at making saves on an NHL shooter. I had a chance to skate with the SJ Sharks a while ago and even their practice goalies couldn’t be scored on by amateur players. These guys who get the shot at the top level are much better than they even look on tv.

  • Myan

    Dude, seriously? GMGM hasn’t put together a perfect team but as a coach you are literally paid to create an effective system that the team you have can execute. Our breakout and transition through the neutral zone is HORRIBLE and that is 100% on the coach, not the GM.

    Our defensive scheme has been absolutely terrible this season and yet there have been exactly zero changes made to how we defend. Guys skate the puck into our zone, hold it just past the blue line to wait for their guys to skate into the zone and then they cycle the puck deep and we’re penned in for 1:00+. It literally happens that way every effing time. If I can see it, every coach in the league can see it. Why hasn’t there been an adjustment? Why don’t we meet them at the blue line and force them to dump it in? Once other teams get the cycle going in our zone, why does it take us over a minute to get it out? Why do we give up so many goals on D zone turnovers right after we win the faceoff? These are all questions of coaching.

    Don’t be mistaken: I am not excusing GMGM for his failures to address our D, but let’s recognize the problems this team has and hold the right parties accountable.

  • Myan

    I thought we traded away Perrault to make cap room for Wilson? Oates’ misuse of Wilson is terrible, though.

  • Shaun Phillips

    MacDonald is horrible for puck possession. Also, he’s probably going to want a large pay day after this season is over (would’ve been a rental). Glad GMGM didn’t go after him. Not sure how Meszaros’s possession numbers are but similar salary situation. I think GMGM set the team up well for this off-season in terms of cap space and workable contracts, even if he’s (hopefully) not here.

    And it wasn’t a carousel until Oates decided he didn’t like Binky and started playing Carrick. Granted the d wasn’t great up until that point, but it seems like it went downhill after that.

  • Myan

    I’m going to argue that MacDonald was on a very poor Islanders team before he was traded so I don’t expect his possession numbers to be positive. The fact that he would only be a rental is the exact reason why GMGM not making a move for him before the deadline is silly. GMGM made all these moves in the trade window to strengthen the team for a playoff push and yet failed to recognize that our weakness was in the bottom D pairing…MacDonald would have solidified that pairing for us, even if it was only for the duration of this season. He’s shown that he can play on a bottom pairing in the league and his cap is below $600k. It’s actually less than Carrick’s. I don’t know about you, but I’d take Andrew MacDonald over Carrick for my 3rd pairing any day of the week.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I’d argue the trades were two-fold: playoff push and cap management. The former purpose is questionable as to how much a (now) 4th liner + new starting goalie (which was never the team’s problem) can help. The latter is definitely an improvement and will allow GMGM or the next GM a lot more flexibility over the summer.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Oates misuse of just about everyone is terrible. I’m not sure if there’s a single person who has been properly used (Ovi + Beagle + 1st line = not proper for any of them).

  • Eric Schulz

    He needs to be on a line that dominates puck possession? A) So does everybody, and b) that’s why it makes sense to put Ovechkin on a line with the best faceoff man on the team. Possession.

  • Eric Schulz

    You can’t take Backstrom, because the point is that those two are being split up! I didn’t say I’d prefer having them split up, I have numerous times (every time) said that you CANNOT split them up. My point was, IF YOU DO, then Beagle makes some sense. Also, he hadn’t scored 5-on-5 for at least 9 games before Beagle was put on his line.

  • Eric Schulz

    Our breakout and transitions suck… it takes us too long to clear the puck out of our zone… we can’t win faceoffs… um, yeah, we don’t have centers who can win faceoffs (we don’t have many centers); we don’t have defenders who can take the puck away from the other team and force them into mistakes consistently. Those are ROSTER problems. Roster problems = GMGM’s responsibility.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yeah, moron coach, having only two centers decided to use the worse one with our best winger to try to manufacture depth. What an idiot.
    Or… maybe you realize that having two centers on a team isn’t enough, and suddenly you realize the blame (again, and always) lies squarely at the feet of GMGM.

  • Eric Schulz

    We know he can teach faceoffs, yet we still suck at them. Yeah, so clearly he has decided to stop teaching faceoffs… or, again, the players are so bad at faceoffs that they can’t even learn well enough to compete… again, GMGM’s fault, personnel issue.

  • Eric Schulz

    GMGM screwed up our cap situation so badly that you don’t think we would’ve been able to resign Meszaros? He’s done a horrible job, but I think we would’ve been able to resign him pretty easily. MacDonald too; as you say, he’s horrible for puck possession. He’s not going to be making $3.5 million+ or anything (well, he’s on Philly, so I guess he’ll probably get around $4.8 now, but had we acquired him, we would not have had to break the bank to resign him).

  • Eric Schulz

    MacDonald is not as good as Alzner or Carlson; there’s no reason we wouldn’t be able to resign him for around $2.5 million for 3 years or so. That trade, in my mind, would not be a rental.

  • Eric Schulz

    Yes, it was an improvement over the quagmire GMGM put us in entering this year… it was worse than we were before he made the Erat trade. All he had to do was keep Forsberg, and suddenly we have a top tier prospect that will either provide top-6 caliber play on an ELC, or be used as trade bait to address the top-4 defense that so badly needs addressing (so, the former, because clearly GMGM thinks our defense is stellar and needs no improvement, given that he has decided to not address it year after year after year).

  • Myan

    And yet Backstrom’s FO% has steadily decreased since Oates. FO% isn’t solely on the player…a good coach recognizes patterns, points them out, and the player makes the adjustments. Throughout his career, Backstrom’s FO% has been above 50 but under Oates they’re in the lower 40s and somehow he “cent even learn well enough to compete”? Our players have shown that under the right tutelage they do more than compete – they challenge. I don’t understand how you can take one season under a poor coach as representative of the players’ overall ability to play the game.

  • Myan

    Oh my god you must absolutely despise our players and think they are all absolute crap if you judge their overall ability based on a poor defensive system and the overall physics of ice. When a player “takes the puck away from the other team”, it’s an anomaly. A good defensive play is knocking the puck off the guy’s stick to take away a scoring chance and your buddy swoops in for the loose puck. When that buddy isn’t in the right position to get to a loose puck, that’s a systematic problem. When our players win a FO in our D zone and still turn the puck over because they have nobody to pass to, that’s a systems problem.

  • Eric Schulz

    Backstrom, Grabovski, Beagle. Three; with Grabovski injured, that’s two.

  • Eric Schulz

    I don’t hate our players.. but I realize they aren’t perfect in all aspects of the game. I see where they are weak, and feel like we should acquire players that complement others’ weaknesses… and GMGM doesn’t feel that way at all. I feel like offense starts with defense, and that the better we are at harassing teams into making mistakes and then transitioning to offense. We don’t have enough defenders who can do the first, and we also suck at faceoffs; we don’t have any centers I feel like can win key faceoffs, and we haven’t since Steckel.
    That’s a personnel problem; it all starts there. If you don’t give a coach players who can prevent goals, then you can’t really evaluate that coach… if you don’t go to practices, and you don’t understand or even know what a coach is trying to accomplish, then you can’t evaluate that coach. Certainly, I don’t like how Oates has handled line combinations; I’ve never been shy to admit that. But I also don’t know what our defensive pairings should even look like. I don’t see how our forward lines can possibly work in the event that we sustain an injury to somebody like Grabovski or Backstrom. We don’t have depth, and we don’t have enough defense. I KNOW GMGM sucks, and I know he hasn’t put together a roster than you can fairly expect to make the playoffs; I’m not sure how I feel about Oates yet… bottom line, we’re fighting for a playoff spot, which is about where we should be, given Grabovski’s injury, Hillen’s, Kuznetsov’s late arrival… etc

  • Myan

    Laich is a center and at trade deadline he was still playing. Grabo just reinjured himself and we didn’t know the extent of the injury. 4 centers. After Laich & Grabo got hurt should we have called up Latta who’s a center? Absolutely but because I don’t know who’s responsible for call ups, I’m not going to eviscerate one guy.

  • Eric Schulz

    Laich has played some center.. just like Fehr.. but he’s a winger. Also, to be fair, there’s no way to have foreseen a scenario in which Laich finished the season out on the IR, so I totally understand why GMGM wouldn’t try to acquire some backups centers.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I meant now that Grabo is back. We have our top 2 centers + Beagle (and yes, 3 centers is not enough, too many eggs in the achy-breaky-groin basket). Yet, Grabo is on the wing instead of center and Oates has buried Kuzya on the 4th line with the rest of his doghouse. I was fine with Ovi+Beagle as an experiment for a few games, but it hasn’t worked (Ovi hasn’t been less productive all season) and yet, he sticks with it.

    I know GMGM is primarily to blame, but a coach has to try and do something with what he’s given. Hunter realized the limitations to this team and, while it wasn’t exciting hockey, it was winning hockey.

  • Eric Schulz

    It was winning hockey in the same way that what the Caps are doing now is winning hockey… Hunter did a much worse job than Oates as far as utilizing talent. We had Semin on that team as well as Ovechkin, and we played a sit-back, don’t-play-in-the-offensive-zone brand of hockey. The only reason we won as often as we did was Ovechkin seemed to score every time we needed him to; don’t credit Hunter for Ovechkin being the most dominant player in the game today. Hunter had nothing to do with that; all he did was leash Ovie, and prevent us from every putting a team away. With Oates, we give up way too many two-goal leads; with Hunter, we never got them, because once we led by one, it was time to dump and line-change… then retreat. Then, once we got scored on, it was time for Ovie to go out, score on one of his first three shifts, then repeat. It was dumb, dumb, dumb hockey. In the 60 regular season games he coached, we went 30-30… in the playoffs, we went 7-7… that’s “winning?”
    Ovechkin’s career-low in points before Hunter: 85. The ONE season with Hunter: 65! He made the most dominant player in hockey a 65-point scorer! (Obviously that wasn’t *all* Hunter’s fault, but he deserves blame more than any other single factor.)