Alex Ovechkin

Photo credit: Bruce Bennett

Last season I got some flak for projecting Ovechkin would score on average 42 goals, plus or minus 8 goals over the 82-game season. The former two-time Hart winner ended up setting career lows in goals (32) and points (85), while once again suffering an early exit in the postseason.

Before anyone accuses me of being right a jinx, consider that in each of the two seasons before that he saw most of his offensive numbers decline:

Season GP G A PTS EV PP S S% TOI
2008-09 79 56 54 110 36 19 528 10.6 1817
2009-10 72 50 59 109 37 13 368 13.6 1569
2010-11 79 32 53 85 25 7 367 8.7 1688

So, despite this downturn, what can we realistically expect from one of the NHL’s best players this upcoming season?

Continue Reading

I Don’t Hate Jeff Halpern

Jeff Halpern

Photo credit: Mitchell Layton

Fan-favorite Jeff Halpern, who captained the Washington Capitals during the 2005-06 season, was signed this offseason to a one-year deal for $825,000.

Last year Halpern logged the second-most shorthanded minutes (2:20) per-game among Montreal’s forwards and also finished second on the team in faceoff percentage (56.9%). His 11 goals and 26 points were his most since the lockout ended, and he is expected to center the fourth line and see time on the penalty kill.

“He got 26 points last year, which is more than we got out of that position last year,” General Manager George McPhee said when Washington signed Halpern in July. “We want players to be able to fulfill certain roles but also generate offense.”

At the risk of being sacrilegious I am here to say, please, keep your expectations low. Very low.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Tomas Vokoun Washington Capitals

Photo credit: Christopher Pasatieri/Getty Images

One day after trading Semyon Varlamov to Colorado for a first and second round pick, General Manager George McPhee got the bargain of a lifetime when Tomas Vokoun agreed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract. Finally, a veteran goalie talented enough to provide skill and stabilization in net who could help put his team over the top.

“I don’t think we anticipated being this fortunate,” McPhee said.

Spending time with Montreal, Nashville, and the Florida Panthers for the past four seasons hasn’t given Vokoun a chance at winning too often, but could the move to Washington put him in position to win the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s best goaltender?

Continue Reading

Introducing: The Sasha Index

As the postseason winds down, we finally have a chance to answer the questions that have plagued us all year. And one question above all others keeps us up at night:

Who exactly is Alexander Semin?

Sure, he’s a 6’2″, 205-lbs., Siberian-born forward for the Washington Capitals; that’s the straightforward answer. But he’s also a mystery — wrapped in an puzzle — and nestled in one of those 3D illusion posters where you have to lie to people about seeing the hidden sailboat. A hat-tricking firecracker on one night and a reckless penalty factory on another, we now know two Alex Semins. But how do we tell which is which?

Continue Reading

Photo credit: Bill Wippert

By all accounts it was a disappointing individual season, as much as you can call 32 goals and 85 points “disappointing.” No Hart nomination. No Lindsay, Art Ross, or Richard trophies either — none of the individual accolades we are used to seeing from the game’s most dynamic player.

So what can we expect next year for Alex Ovechkin? Will we see another Hart-worthy performance, or is another 30-goal season in the offing? The most glaring change from this season to the others, besides the diminished scoring, was the way Ovechkin was used throughout the season. Using data from Behind the Net, we can see some definite trends during even-strength and when Washington has the man advantage.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Evgeny Kuznetsov poses with George McPhee and Ross Mahoney (Photo: Bruce Bennett)

Each off-season I catch up on my reading. I alternate between a Bill James’ Abstract (I have 1984-1989 to get through); something music related (currently Straight Edge: Clean-Living Youth, Hardcore Punk, And Social Change and Precious Metal: Decibel Presents the Stories Behind 25 Extreme Metal Masterpieces); and one or two hockey books– including the new one called The Art of Scouting, which “delves into the secretive world of hockey prospecting.”

After only eleven pages, I got struck by what the authors claim is the consensus of a successful draft, summarized by Mike Futa, co-director of amateur scouting for the Los Angeles Kings:

“It’s the only job where you can be right 15 percent of the time and be ruled a Hall of Famer for success, You are going to be wrong 85 or 80 percent of the time, and if you hit on 2.5 home runs every Draft, you are par with some of the best scouts ever.”

Two NHLers out of seven players drafted, assuming no trades are made, seems like a low bar, so I decided to see how the George McPhee era has done in regards to scouting.

McPhee joined the Capitals in 1997, so the first draft we can attribute to him is in 1998. Since it takes about five years for a prospect to develop, we will look at his draft record from 1998-2006. Let’s consider a prospect a success if he has played in at least 200 games at the NHL level. That gives him five years of 40 games played to qualify.

Spoiler: The results are not great.

Continue Reading

Photo credit: Rob Carr

The signing of Alex Semin to a one-year $6.7 million deal may be slightly overpaying him for a year’s work, but the length of the contract is a smart move from a cap management perspective; the chance he will perform well enough to deserve it, even over one season, is a longshot.

Continue Reading

Tagged with:
 

Photo credit: Greg Fiume

You knew it was coming. It happened when the Washington Capitals lost to Pittsburgh. It happened when they were ousted in the first round to Montreal. And here we are again after being on the losing end of a playoff sweep as the number one seed, discussing the inevitable: trade Mike Green.

Continue Reading

A happier time. (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)

Less than a day after the Caps dropped their second game of the series to Tampa Bay, Bruce Boudreau was asked to assess the state of his club:

Continue Reading

Ovechpunch! Ovechpunch! (Photo credit: Jim McIsaac)

On Wednesday, the Washington Capitals will take on the New York Rangers in Game One of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. The Caps haven’t faired well against New York this season, losing three out of four regular season games including 6-0 and 7-0 shutouts. In fact, the 7-0 shutout was so bad, Alex Ovechkin found it necessary to fight. However, that was then. This is now. Let’s take a look at the numbers to preview what should be an interesting matchup.

Continue Reading