Week 25 Snapshot: The Wonderful Future

Bruce Bennett

Photo: Bruce Bennett

This was the week the Capitals’ playoff hopes effectively died.

Sports Club Stats says the Caps have a 2.7% chance of making the postseason. To help you better understand the probability there, that’s the same as the chances I will NOT go to Chipotle today.

We should not be surprised by this. The Capitals were never good at even strength. In week one we said, “These numbers do not describe a good even-strength team at all.” Almost eighty games later, and that has not changed. The only teams who do worse than the Caps during 5v5 (which is how about 75% of their season has been played), are the following: the Avalanche, Oilers, Leafs, Sabres. That is poor company.

So while this season is a foregone conclusion, the Caps must now decide who they will become in the future: a bottom-five team or not.

These are the numbers as of noon on Sunday, April 6th, when the weather is beautiful but I’m spending all morning crunching numbers and making graphs. The sample is just 5-on-5 play while the score is close. That means within one goal in the first two periods and tied in the third. That way special teams, blowouts, and comebacks don’t color the data. Stats of note are highlighted in powderpuff pink and discussed below.

See previous snapshots: week 1, week 2, week 3, week 4, week 5, week 6, week 7, week 8, week 9, week 10, week 11, week 12, week 13, week 14, week 15, week 16, week 17, week 18, week 19, week 20, week 21, week 22, week 23, week 24

Forwards

Player Pos GP TOI GF GA SA% Sh% Sv% PDO ZS%
Aaron Volpatti L 41 205 3 5 39.5% 4.3% 95% 99.3 52.6%
Alex Ovechkin L 74 678.9 20 31 48.6% 5.6% 91.8% 97.5 59.7%
Brooks Laich C 51 397 12 13 46.5% 7.1% 93.3% 100.4 51.6%
Dustin Penner R 14 94.7 1 0 50% 2.4% 100% 102.4 48.8%
Eric Fehr R 69 557.1 18 23 49.7% 6.7% 91.8% 98.4 45.8%
Evgeny Kuznetsov C 13 105.7 4 6 38.9% 11.1% 90.2% 101.3 50%
Jason Chimera L 78 616.2 31 29 46.8% 10.1% 91.5% 101.7 44.1%
Jay Beagle C 58 371.9 4 10 46.7% 2.7% 94.1% 96.8 50.5%
Joel Ward R 78 598.7 30 26 48.3% 10.2% 91.7% 102 45.3%
Marcus Johansson C 77 648 20 33 48.2% 6.7% 90.5% 97.2 52.6%
Michael Latta C 17 67.6 3 4 48.1% 10.3% 88.2% 98.6 48.5%
Mikhail Grabovski C 54 478.7 21 14 49.9% 8.4% 94.4% 102.8 51.3%
Nicklas Backstrom C 78 698.5 23 34 48.3% 6.5% 91.3% 97.8 56.4%
Tom Wilson R 78 390.8 10 11 45% 7% 94% 101 55.4%
Troy Brouwer R 78 630 19 22 47.6% 7% 93.1% 100.1 48.3%

Defense

Player Pos GP TOI GF GA SA% Sh% Sv% PDO ZS%
Nate Schmidt D 29 283.1 12 10 50.6% 8.5% 93.4% 101.8 55.9%
John Erskine D 37 336.7 13 15 45.1% 8.4% 91.7% 100.1 47.7%
John Carlson D 78 785.6 25 29 47% 6.8% 92.8% 99.7 49.6%
Karl Alzner D 74 736.8 23 25 47.2% 6.7% 93.4% 100.1 50%
Mike Green D 70 806.9 27 30 52% 6.8% 92.2% 99 54.8%
Connor Carrick D 30 256.4 6 10 43.5% 5.5% 93.3% 98.8 47.2%
Dmitry Orlov D 50 599 18 22 53.3% 6.1% 91.8% 97.9 52.2%
Jack Hillen D 13 116.3 2 6 38.7% 5.4% 92.3% 97.7 50%

Observations

  • Team-level puck possession (i.e. even-strength shot-attempt percentage when the score is close) is heading in the wrong direction. After sticking at 49.31% for two weeks, it has stumbled down to 48.86%. The Caps haven’t outshot an opponent– either overall or when the score is close– since the Leafs on March 16th. To do that deliberately, a team must rely on shooting and save percentages to win games– two famously unreliable stats. The Caps’ shooting and goaltending haven’t managed to be good at the same in that span except once: last night’s overtime win over the Islanders, who are also not a great team. Keep that in mind next time you hear a soon-to-be ex-coach ramble on about hockey being all about gaining territory and not necessarily having the puck.
  • Alex Ovechkin has been the target of ire this week. I don’t wanna do another rant on how accurately measuring a pro athlete’s “compete” level is both impossible scurrilous, so instead I’m gonna explore how Ovi’s possession has changed throughout the season and take a few guesses as to why.

chart_1 (6)

  • Ovi was pretty great through the middle of December, then he dropped hard. His linemates didn’t change, his deployments didn’t change much; I don’t really know what happened there, but Ovi’s drop in effectiveness coincided with a devastating slump for the Caps as well. Ovi bounced back when Adam Oates paired him with Mikhail Grabovski and Eric Fehr, and there was much rejoicing. The original top line was reunited until early February, when the Laich and Grabovski injuries pushed Oates to move Marcus Johansson off Ovechkin’s line. Then, after the Olympics, it got really bad– even before Beagle joined up.
  • The lesson: I have no idea. Whoever is coaching next season would probably do well to put the Fehr-Grabo-Ovi line together with 60% of their non-neutral zone starts in the offensive zone. And maybe don’t let anyone go to the Olympics? I don’t know.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov‘s sample size is really small, so don’t freak out, but his shot attempt percentage in close games is below the Uh Oh Line of 40 percent. It’d be wise to change up his scenery now, lest Kuzya spend the last week of his first NHL season hemmed up in his own zone getting scored on a bunch.
  • I don’t have much more to say individually. This team has been static for a while now, and there’s not a lot of surprises left. So instead, I’m thinking this is a good time to take stock, gather context, and try to place the Capitals of spring 2014 into a useful perspective.
  • If the Caps field this team and this system next season, they will be one of the worst teams in the league. Have a great Sunday, everybody!

Glossary

  • GP: Games played
  • TOI: Time on ice
  • GF: Capitals goals for which the player was on the ice
  • GA: Opponent goals for which the player was on the ice
  • SA%: Percentage of shot attempts (from both teams) that went towards the opponent’s net, excluding blocked shots
  • Sh%: Capitals’ shooting percentage while the player was on the ice
  • Sv%: Capitals’ goalie save percentage while the player was on the ice
  • PDO: The sum of Sh% and Sv%, a number that regresses closely to 100 in larger samples; a proxy for luck, in a sense– i.e. high ≈ lucky
  • ZS%: The share of shifts the player started in the offensive zone, excluding neutral-zone starts; data not limited to close games.

Thanks to ExtraSkater.com for the stats.

Tagged with:
 
  • drew6

    you need a girlfriend

  • Rob W.

    To Future Coach, no more dump and chase. Sincerely, everyone

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

    You are not alone in this opinion.

  • MuzzMuzzington

    We are something like 25th in 5 on 5 goals for and 25th in 5 on 5 goals against.

    I said it last year and I will say it again. Having a great PP is nice for getting to the playoffs, but in the playoffs when guys go all out to block shots and you hardly get PP chances, unless you are the Rangers and Joannette is officiating, the PP doesn’t factor as much.

    I’d rather have the 25th PP and a top 5 offense at full strength.

  • Cooper

    I say the caps go crazy and win all the remaining games. I think they will because I can see ovi is getting mad, ovi mad is not good for other teams. You can thank me later. #TheBank #LetsGoCaps

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

    I just ordered Chipotle, so the Caps are doomed.

  • Lisa McMullen
  • SadFan

    I just can’t anymore, the caps ruined me

  • 5280Fan

    “The only teams who do worse than the Caps during 5v5 (which is how about
    75% of their season has been played), are the following: the Avalanche,
    Oilers, Leafs, Sabres. That is poor company.”

    I don’t know… seems to have worked out pretty well for Colorado so far. Maybe what the Caps need is a top-flight goalie like the guy the Avs have been leaning on…

    …Oh. Right. :/

  • Smiley456

    “If…they will be one of the worst teams in the league.” OUCH!

  • Charlie Murphy

    what the flip is ‘gaining territory’ even supposed to mean?

  • Yo8

    I thought the first days after the Olympics Ovi was doing great. Better than the emo stage I was expecting. A few weeks later is another story.

  • jowitt09

    So the % chance of a massive deuce for yourself and the caps season is…..well….100

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

    I think it means pushing play into the offensive zone even if it means not having the puck– i.e. dump and chase hockey.

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    Between last week’s nugget that there hasn’t been a league-leading-scorer/worst-plus-minus combination since 1967, or something like that, and today’s gem that the Caps are 0-48 in games they’ve scored two or fewer goals since the Oates era began, you really have to wonder, as crazy fans as we all are, do the Caps even deserve to be in the same playoffs as teams like the Kings and Bruins and Ducks? I don’t care if it’s a 1% chance anymore. We so desperately need a new direction–not new players or new calls ups from Hershey, which seems to be our m.o. these days anyway, but new direction. New leadership. It used to be us groaning each year why we couldn’t win the Cup or get past the first round. Now we’re wondering why we can’t even make the playoffs.

    In a way, the stat about Ovi is the best thing that could have come out of this because it shows the utter dysfunction of a team that can have the top scorer in the league and also (whether you subscribe to +/- or not) one of the absolute worst defensive and/or team players around. We love Ovi, we hate Ovi. It’s our blessing and our curse. But if you remove Ovi from the equation completely (pretend he’s not on the team for a sec), what really do we have? We’re a team of Backy, Chimera and Grabo and Ward (God bless them) surrounded by AHL call-ups. And that’s not to diss our call-ups but no one is exactly quaking in their boots.

    We’ve squandered and mismanaged so many folks over the years that it’s no longer a question if GMGM has a master plan that we all don’t see. The emperor has no clothes and it’s been going on for years.

  • Marky Narc

    In better news, I’m getting a head start on my Joel Ward/Jason Chimera slash fiction. ♥♥♥♥♥♥

  • Brackaphobia
  • Jimmie

    I need a hockey smartie person to explain that to me. Seems to me the important part of “dump and chase” isn’t the dumping or chasing but the unspoken (but usually assumed) “possessing” after the chase. If you dump and chase and the other team wins the puck more often than you do, they get to start their own breakout only you’ve graciously stuck two or three of your own guys deep in their zone thanks to the dump-in. If one of those guys is a defenseman, you’re in even worse trouble.

    So, from what I can see, “dump and chase” is only good if you have a team that grinds hard in the corners and wins puck battles — you know, stuff like Erat, Perreault, Penner, etc. did well to my recollection and very few of the current Caps players do well.

    Perhaps the reason the Chimera/Fehr/Ward line has been so successful is because all three players are really good at ferreting out the puck after it’s been dumped in. Neither Ovi nor Backie are, so you have to put them with someone who is, like Penner or Erat and not MoJo. Ovi/Grabo/Fehr likely worked well because Fehr is a ferret-er, who could get the puck to the steely-eyed passer-man Grabo who could find Ovi.

    Under this theory, we *might* have three good lines next season:
    Penner/Backie/Ovi
    Kuzya/Grabo/Wilson
    Chimera/Fehr/Ward

    Of course, that assumes Oates figures out he has to assemble his lines to match his system, which I’m not sure he’ll do.

  • Sarah

    Mmmm… Chipotle. In the words of El Macho, “I know that look all too well. It is the look of a broken heart. I, too, have spent many nights trying to drown my sorrows in guacamole.”
    Maybe they could start making chip hats?

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

    There’s a great item about this on 538 today: http://fivethirtyeight.com/features/the-people-pushing-the-nhl-into-the-advanced-stats-era/

    In general, it’s better to carry or pass the puck into the offensive zone rather than dump it in. That’s because– overall– you’ll average more shots after a controlled entry than you would after chasing it.

    Some teams, like the Kings, are weirdly good at creating offense after a dump. They’re the exception.

    Maybe Ward and Chimera are like that too, though from what I can tell, their success is mostly due to high shot quality, which may not last next season.

    Together, they get 48.3 percent of shot attempts but 51.3 of the goals. That disparity should raise an eyebrow.

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

    Let’s make a bet. If Varly hits .925 next year and Colorado makes the conference finals this year, I’ll pay you 1000 dollars. If not, you pay me 200.

    Whattaya think?

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

    Link us when you’re done. All of my fave slashfic authors seem to have retired.

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

    I am allergic to guacamole. It is the Great Sadness of my life.

  • Chris Cerullo

    This was on IFunny today wasn’t it lol?

  • rotearth

    do you have a spare $1000?

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

    I won’t need to.

  • rotearth

    living dangerously I see

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

    Naw. Very few teams who get outshot as much as COL (46.53%) go deep in the playoffs. http://i.imgur.com/zi0yJGp.jpg

    I see 6 out of 70– all but one of them did better than the Avs. They’re gonna be an early round flameout.

    I’d also be really surprised if the Pens go deep.

  • Sarah

    I am truly sorry for you. Guac is the food of the gods.

  • 70Caps

    HYPOTHETICALLY, If by some freak miracle, the caps won all four games, the blue jackets collapsed and ovechkin reached 6 goals with a couple hat tricks and a few other goals, what would his chance of winning the hart be?

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

    Considering recency bias among voters, maybe pretty good.

  • Veloj

    Also a Caps fan in CO. I remember seeing Varly’s record vs. number of shots faced and he actually performs WAY BETTER this year when facing a lot of shots. It’s also weird that the Avs are doing so well despite being at the bottom of the league in PPOs (as always). Though they are ranked higher in PPGs (10th) despite being 26th in PPO. I am still not won over with the possession stats as predictors of success, precisely because of the Avs this season. They don’t look like a “lucky” team to me. Especially with the way they are playing the top teams

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

    Career

    .852 under 20 shots

    .893 21-25 shots

    .906 26-29 shots

    .923 30-34 shots

    .934 35-39 shots

    .937 40+ shots

    There’s a huge survivor bias in there though.

  • Veloj

    what’s the source for those stats? I’d like to compare with other goalies for poops and giggles

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

    Curious. How is it that ovi is 2nd among forwards in SA% and leads the league in +/-? Is this due to deployment (D zone starts)? Quality of line mates? Can it all be attributed to his defensive follies? D pairings used in D zone starts?

  • 70Caps

    I was just wondering what people thought, because all season long, nhl.com writers (and nbc, not that they are reliable) have not even mentioned ovi as a candidate. It is always Crosby, then getzlaf or thornton or a couple others.

  • Martin O’Connor
  • Jimmie

    That just makes sense. The best way to possess the puck is to possess it.

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

    I don’t think it’s his deployment or even his linemates. His defensive problems are DEFINITELY part of it, but not nearly so much as dumb freaking luck.

    https://twitter.com/peterhassett/status/451775806982082560

    His below average on-ice shooting percentage (i.e. he’s the only one scoring when he’s on the ice), and his low on-ice saving (everything ends up in the net) are the biggest factors– as well as the ones most likely to reverse next season.

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

    I’d bet Crosby get 80% of the votes. Without him, that team would be a mess.

  • Matthew Helm

    So you’re saying the mostly negative factors will regress to the mean? Bad puck luck coupled with poor defense?

  • Marky Narc

    This time, they’re stuck in the bathroom… together.

  • yv

    Bruce Boudreau was really dumb-struck with Ovis +- in his interview. He practically opens the door for reuniting with him if there would be such opportunity. Considering all the heat on Ovi maybe such change of scenery is not bad for him. But it’ll also force me to start rooting for Ducks even more. The only problem, Ducks will retire #8 after Selanne so no room for another 8

  • 70Caps
  • Michael Reschly

    So, I haven’t paid close attention to them this season, but don’t they traditionally do well when he’s out of the lineup? Is there roster worse this year than in previous seasons?

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

    The defense will continue to be a problem, but it won’t be this bad– unless he and his linemates and the system stay awful.

  • RESmith

    A little surprised by Kuzya’s CORSI numbers being so low. He seems to past the eye test in terms of positioning and gets it in terms of providing puck support to teammates battling for possession along the boards. But the numbers don’t lie.

    Maybe it’s the low sample size. Or maybe it is the fact he spent a good amount of time centering the 4th line recently. Or, what is a bit surprising with his zone start percentage, is that it is only at 50%. You’d think with a rookie forward coming in late to the season, especially one more touted for his offensive skills than his defensive ones, that Oates would “protect” him more and his zone starts should be slanted on the higher side of 50. Of course, I’m guessing that might also be scewed by the small sample size as well.

  • Eric Schulz

    OR: One ovechtrick.

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

    When Crosby is off the ice, the Pens get 46.2% of shot attempts. Neutralize him and they’re dead meat.

  • Eric Schulz

    I agree with the top 2 lines; as Hassett said, the Chimera-Ward duo will regress. Everybody needs to tamper their expectations for that duo. I’d put the 3rd line as
    Laich – Johansson – Brouwer
    (although Fehr would look really nice on the RW too – since a) I expect that 3rd to regress, and B) it’d be nice to move him away from C – but I don’t know how we put Brouwer on 4th.. even 3rd may be too low, which means that’s a great line; really, I’d probably flip Brouwer and Wilson, because I think Brouwer at least flirts with 30 goals next year if he stays healthy.)
    Johansson is better at driving play than he’s given credit for, and he’s young enough that it’s fair to expect improvement. I also think he’d be well served being able to be a 3rd C rather than 1st wing on a line that needs him to grind and win board battles. Laich is unquestionably a high-end 3rd liner, if he returns to form; he showed nice signs before surgery, and hopefully the long offseason helps him recover.. we can field an above average 4th too, EASILY:
    Chimera – Fehr – Ward
    and we still have C Latta and C/RW Brown not playing… we have the forwards, the problem is what it’s always been: GMGM (defense).

  • Michael Reschly

    > they’re dead meat

    Reminds me of a tshirt I saw once

  • Barrett

    I think there are more players that are more important to their teams success than Crosby is with the Penguins. It’s hard to claim Crosby is the most important when two other players on his roster (Kunitz and Malkin) are in the top 20 for points. While assists are an important stat, the primary vs secondary debate becomes an issue for me. Crosby has 66 total assists, 32 of which are primary, or 48%. Compare that to Joe Thorton who has 63 total assists, but 35 are primary, or 55%. Nicklas Backstrom is at 40%, Claude Giroux at 42% and Duncan Keith at 35%.

    Max Pacioretty is the Canadiens leader in goals (39) and points (60) to go along with his league high 11 game-winning goals. That’s pretty important for a team currently sitting as the 3rd best team in the Eastern Standings

    Alex Ovechkin leads the league in goals (49) and the Capitals in game-winning goals with 9, tied for second best in the league with Perry and Steen. He also accounts for 23% of the Capitals goal production (most of the league’s top goal scorers are around 16-18% of their teams production).

    Goalies rarely win, but here’s two more important.

    Semyon Varlamov leads the league with 40 wins having played 62 games (second to Kari Lehtonen) back stopping the Avalanche to their 2nd ever 50 win season campaign. He leads the league in total shots against and total saves sporting a .927 save % (4th best in the league) while allowing 2.41GAA.

    Ben Bishop 4th in the league with 37 wins also having played 62 games tending goal for a Lightning squad currently dressing eight rookies and only one true superstar (Stamkos or St. Louis). He’s 6th with a .924SV% and 9th with a 2.23GAA.

    You could make arguments for Jonathan Toews, Phil Kessel, Tyler Seguin, Joe Pavelski or Joe Thorton, Ryan Getzlaf or Corey Perry.

  • Charlie Murphy

    so… you’re saying there’s a CHANCE?

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

    Lots of different ways to come at the beast of MVP. This time I’m just pointing out how weak the Pens are without Crosby (i.e. a non-playoff team). Malkin is a similar boat, he’s the lesser of the two dragon heads on that team. We’ll just agree to disagree about Kunitz.

    I think a lot of those are strong points for the Hart, but I’ve still gotta go with Crosby. I’m not a big believer in the distinction between primary and secondary assists, and Toews and Thornton are great players on teams that are still great without them.

    Gimme Crosby in a runaway.

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

    I suspect (and hope) that sample size and the team’s effect on him are the biggest factors. The team has been in the mid-low 40s lately, and 4th liners are almost always pulling up the rear in possession.

    Definitely not enough info to draw a conclusion, but I guess it’s still enough to go “yeesh.”

  • Shaun Phillips

    Kunitz and Neal aren’t worth nearly as much without Crosby feeding them. It’s Crosby Malkin and everyone else on that team.

  • Shaun Phillips

    You’d reassemble the Black Hole Line?? Yeeash. I’d go Fehr over Laich on 3L just to avoid the BHL and move Laich to 4C to reunite the meat and potatoes, hard checking good defensive 4th line with some offense. Assuming Kuzya, Pancakes, and Willy are in top 6?

  • Shaun Phillips

    That mystery drop in Ovi’s production mid-late December, any idea what the PP was looking like at that time (# of PP, %, linemates, etc)? As we’ve seen most of the year, 5v5 hasn’t mattered much to him; it’s all about the PP.

  • John M.

    Eric, do you recall that the Laich-Brouwer pairing was a serious possession black hole? As in, one of the reasons that RMNB is calling for Oates’ firing? Yes, sounds good on paper, but doesn’t look good on ice.

  • serpent

    I don’t know why you don’t have one,hon. You’re quite handsome, obviously intelligent and hard working. Plus, you live in Frederick and,root for the Caps and Orioles. What’s not to love here?

  • Barrett

    Kunitz still has 20 goals with no Crosby.
    James Neal doesn’t even play with Crosby, Malkin centers his line.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Ward and Brouwer both have 20+ goals without Crosby. I don’t think anyone outside of the Caps would say “Ovi, Backstrom, Ward” like they do with Crosby, Malkin, Kunitz.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Poor Thrashers out there on the right side by themselves.

  • Barrett

    I honestly don’t see what point you are trying to make?

  • Unofficial Capital

    Give him 32

  • Guest

    That Ward and Kunitz are very similar players with one exception, Crosby. If Crosby’s not there setting Kunitz up, no way is he in the top 20 in the league in points and then he doesn’t even enter into the discussion. If you want to argue over who’s more important between Crosby and Malkin, fine (still think it’s Crosby), but to include Kunitz in that discussion is silly.

  • Shaun Phillips

    That Ward, Brouwer, and Kunitz are very similar players with one exception, Crosby. If Crosby’s not there setting Kunitz up, no way is he in the top 20 in the league in points and then he doesn’t even enter into the discussion. If you want to argue over who’s more important between Crosby and Malkin, fine (still think it’s Crosby), but to include Kunitz in that discussion is silly.

    Sorry for the double post, meant to edit the first one and hit delete instead. :P

  • CJ

    What you are describing is the Bruins the last several years. Poor PP, wretched at times, and great at real team play on the 5v5

  • Barrett

    Well, Crosby has assisted on around half of Chris Kunitz’ goals this season, which still puts him around 20 goals on the year. Kunitz doesn’t entirely depend on Crosby for his production in the same way Ovechkin doesn’t depend on Backstrom entirely for his goal production. Just over half of Ovechkin’s goals are assisted by Backstrom and only a quarter of them are primarily assisted by him.

    You take away Crosby from the Penguins and they are probably in the situation Washington is in right now, battling for a playoff spot. You take Ovechkin away from the Capitals and they might very well be the worst team in the league.

    That’s how you determine the Hart Trophy – not comparing the best players and see who’s best. You take all the team’s best player and look at how important they are to their individual team.

    That’s why I think Max Pacioretty deserves serious consideration, even over Crosby. Without Paciretty’s 11 GWG (22 points in the standings), the Canadiens season is over and they are down with the Islanders and Hurricanes with 75 points…good for 13th in the Eastern Conference.

  • CJ

    Just feel I have to add to your list of players we have. Brouwer, despite being 1/2 of the black hole line, has emerged into the best full season of his career and deserves to be mentioned. Kuzya is still a small sample size but I would add him to the list as well simply for the fact that he is one of the only players I am excited to watch play anymore.

  • Barrett

    Why do you think San Jose and Chicago are great teams without Thornton and Toews? Is it because they have guys like Pavelski and Kane and Keith?

    Wouldn’t that be the same argument for Crosby? They still have Kunitz, Malkin and Neal.

    You take away Thornton and Toews and those teams are battling to make the playoffs, just like the Penguins would be without Crosby – because their teams as a whole are good/great like you said.

    You take away a guy like Ovechkin or Pacioretty and their teams aren’t even in the playoff hunt.

  • Shaun Phillips

    Okay I agree with everything you just said. Based on your 2nd paragraph I’d say you just made the argument that Crosby is the MVP of that team (which you seemed unsure of a few posts ago). If the Caps were going to make the playoffs, I think Ovi would have more of a shot at the Hart as a certain component of the voting is definitely how well the team did (whether that’s wrong or not for an individual award). Agree on Patches, but I think playing in Montreal and his overall point total hurt his chances.

  • Barrett

    No, Crosby is the MVP of the Penguins, hands down. I just think their team as a whole is better equipped to lose him than a few of the other teams.

    I understand the argument for non-playoff teams having players never winning the Hart Trophy, because in reality it just doesn’t matter. You lose the “they wouldn’t be in the playoffs without him” argument. If the Canadiens missed the playoffs – Pacioretty’s 11 GWGs aren’t as important.

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    I would agree with you on both. Wasn’t trying to be definitive. You’re correct.

  • Matt Mendelsohn

    I agree. As young players coming to a foreign land for the first time go, he’s doing a-ok. You just need to ask, are we glad he’s here or not? The answer is a resounding yes. One of the few bright spots in a season of darkness.

  • Grant

    So you’re insinuating that Crosby’s points are all secondary assists, but you’re above that?

    Crosby has 22 primary and a only 10 secondary assists while 5v5, those 22 put him in 3rd in the league in that situation, oh benefactor of lucky bounces and rebounds that he is.

  • Eric Schulz

    Jimmie listed his top 3; I agreed with the top 2 lines; if you go back, you’ll see it:
    Penner – Backstrom – Ovie
    Kuznetsov – Grabovski – Wilson
    Really, if you wanted to break up Laich and Brouwer, then I’d put Brouwer on 2nd RW, then have 3rd be
    Laich – Johansson – Wilson
    … lots of combinations with Brouwer, Fehr, and Wilson all able to fill that 2 line RW spot
    I’m not sure if Laich and Brouwer would be so bad if Laich was healthy and back to his old self…this all kind of hinges on my hope that Laich rebounds. If he doesn’t, then I guess he’s a 4th liner next year, and bought out following.

  • Eric Schulz

    A) I would prefer Brouwer on 2nd line, which pushes Wilson to 3rd… but do you recall that Laich was injured and playing hurt most of the year? This is all kind of based on hoping he recovers; if he doesn’t, then he’s pushed to 4th line and then bought out.

  • 70Caps

    Remember that GWGs are the winning goal, not the most important one. Look at his last GWG. His team were already ahead and on their way towards an almost blowout, and the go ahead goal by Eller was not the game winner because ottawa scored a useless goal in the last 6 minutes when the game was already decided.
    http://www.nhl.com/gamecenter/en/recap?id=2013021153

  • Barrett

    I’m going to go out on a limb and say the goal that wins the game is probably the most important.

  • Shaun Phillips

    This summer is the last chance for the amnesty buyouts. Has to happen now or never. So unfortunately, if the Caps play wait-and-see, they could get stuck with 4+ million broken 4C. That’s why I think they should just cut their losses and move on. If he comes back healthy, I’m sure another team will snatch him up.

  • Shaun Phillips

    I miss Chipotle. :(

  • Eric Schulz

    I wasn’t thinking about amnesty buyouts. You can always buyout a player. Given the weaknesses of the team, I think it’s worth the gamble. If we just do a regular buyout, we could still save $3.1 million (rather than the full $4.5). Now, if we could swing a trade for Frans Nielsen (Johansson and Carrick, maybe?) or a player like that, then it would be easier to cut bait with Laich, but we have so few players who can be part of a shutdown line; that’s an element I think we need.

  • HP

    Nope, Crosby has had the hart locked for a while.

  • Capper63

    “The rink for people with Guacamole allergies is over there…” (Disdainfully pointing off into the distance.) – Jimmy Johnson