The End of the Trend

trotz and co

I’m really excited about the upcoming Caps season. After replacing Adam Oates with Barry Trotz, I predict the Caps will– finally– reverse their five-year decline and start to get better in 2014-15.

end-of-the-trend

But people who expect a coaching change to immediately transform the team into a Cup contender won’t find solace in the literature.

Teams changing coaches saw their Fenwick Close % increase about 0.35%; after a coaching switch, teams averaged one more Corsi attempt for and 0.4 more Corsi attempts against per 60 minutes, and saw very slight decreases in shooting and save percentages.

Nick Emptage, NHLNumbers.com

Long-term, there seems to be a 1-point boost (from 48.4% to 49.4%) once a team replaces its coach.

Gabriel Desjardins (I think), Arctic Ice Hockey

By that math (and before accounting for roster changes) we might expect the Caps to have around 48-percent puck possession next season. That would kind of suck. I’m a bit more optimistic.

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Offensive Defensemen and the Orlov Myth

Photo: Chris Gordon

First, a quick literature review.

“Orlov is a talented, smooth skating offensive defenseman who prefers to press the attack and create scoring opportunities at all times.”

 - Hockey’s Future. No date provided.

Q: The public at large in the U.S. knows only that Orlov is a D-man. Is he a “stay-at-home” defenseman or an offensive defenseman?

A: I would say it’s offensive… But we don’t know what the coach says in the locker room. He’s not a “stay-at-home” defenseman, that’s for sure. His attacking skills have actually led him to play some games as a forward. He scored twice that game.

- Evgeni Starikov, a Metallurg Novokuznetsk fan, to RMNB. January 2010.

“He loves to attack on the rush and this will lead to him earning points on a team like the Capitals (though they have become more defense-minded).”

Dobber Hockey. April 2012.

He’s a great offensive player. He’s very effective on the power play and everything. It definitely hurts when he’s not there.”

Cam Schilling to the Washington Times. December 2012.

Since even before Dmitry Orlov made his Caps debut back in 2011-12, we’ve heard that he’s an offensive defenseman, the eventual successor to Mike Green’s throne as the Caps blue liner most likely to attack.

I’m not so sure.

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alex_morgan

There were probably folks who had their hearts set on Alex Ovechkin winning a Nickelodeon Kids Choice Sports Award. I don’t know any of those people, but they probably exist. Probably in Fairfax County. Anyway, those people are all heartbroken right now. Ovechkin has lost the award for Sickest Moves (no, seriously) to soccer star Alex Morgan.

This is okay. Everybody breathe.

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bumper_sticker

It’s July, so you’re probably not getting your FDA-recommended 30 hours of hockey per week. That’s bad, but friend-of-the-blog Eric Rigsby has a way to get your recommended summertime hockey and help out a worthy cause.

This weekend at Skate Frederick, the 2014 Old Fat Bald Guys Hockey Tournament and Silent Auction will be held, and yes that’s the actual name. There will be a bunch of Caps and Bears memorabilia available, as well as ticket packages to pro and college games. And all the proceeds go to The Fisher House Foundation, a fantastic charity that provides housing and travel to military families while their loved ones get treatment.

Details are below. If you can’t attend, please help spread the word– especially if you or your friends are in the Frederick area.

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CSN Washington Thinks You’re a World-Traveling Sex Fiend

CSN-washington

The Capitals page of CSN Washington’s site has some funny ideas about what’s trending among fans on social media. The “Capitals Pulse” widget scans for popular tags and topics on Twitter. You can see dev camp stud Jakub Vrana getting a lot of mentions because of his new contract. Alex Ovechkin’s up there too because he’s freaking Ovi.

And then, at right, the widget has picked out YOUR active hashtags.

hashtags

Welp.

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fab-5-freddy-spike-lee-andy-warhol

Ian and I got together on Monday night to talk about the draft, free agency, development camp. That was the plan at least. Instead, we talked about Transformers, Ninja Turtles, the sitcom Dinosaurs, #rmnbwedding, and our never-ending war for burrito supremacy.

Pull-quote: “Gluten is the Corsi of nutrition.”

Plus, we answer your questions on the #YoRMNBRaps hashtag. So go ahead and add us on iTunes and enjoy! We’d appreciate it if you’d rate and review us.

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Screen Shot 2014-07-08 at 1.22.44 AM

UPDATE, 11:40 am: I spoke with a representative of Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic who apologized for the oversight. This kind of stuff happens, and CSN is usually pretty good at attribution, so we consider the matter closed. The original post follows.

This isn’t a hockey story, so feel free to skip over this one.

On Monday morning we published a partial translation of an interview by the Russian news agency ITAR-TASS. In that interview, Alex Ovechkin discusses the departure of Mikhail Grabovski and his feelings about Adam Oates’ dismissal from the Capitals. Our own Igor Kleyner translated from the original Russian, and Ian Oland provided the introduction. I did a sloppy proofread on the piece, which will become relevant in a moment.

On Monday night, reader Alison let me know that CSN might have used our translation on their SportsTalk Live show. That would have been very exciting for us if only CSN had attributed us. They did not.

That’s not very nice. And then, to see for myself, I had to watch Brian Mitchell, which makes it even worse.

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orpik

The Washington Capitals’ defense was really bad last season. Adam Oates and George McPhee suited up fourteen (!) defensemen over the course of the season and got little success for their effort. Fixing the blue line was priority one in free agency for new GM Brian MacLellan, and he delivered in a big way, bringing ex-Pens Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik to town (as well as their former defensive coach, Todd Reirden).

The new Caps D-corps is definitely improved– but at a great cost. Orpik and Niskanen cost a combined $11.25M per season. Washington now sports the most expensive defense in the league (more than Philly once you factor in Chris Pronger’s sadly never-ending LTIR). With all that– rather pricey– new blood, let’s explore how the Caps might line up in October.

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The Orpikalypse Test

orpik

I’m starting to get the feeling not everyone agrees about the Brooks Orpik signing. The ex-Penguin defender brings experience and grit to a blue line that lacked both, and for some that makes him a good acquisition. For others, he’s an aging, struggling player on a too-long and too-expensive contract. I count myself among that campI think Neil Greenberg at WaPo did a good job summarizing that position.

Still, there’s always a chance I’m wrong. I’ve certainly been wrong before. I was wrong about the decline of Marcus Johansson. I was wrong about the viability of the Chimera-Ward pairing. I was wrong about the Capitals’ playoff chances in 2013. I could be wrong about Orpik. Like any rational person, I reserve the right to change my mind when more information is presented.

Maybe this is a good opportunity to set terms. What would make for a successful tenure for Brooks Orpik in Washington? I’ve got a proposal for you.

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niskanen

It’s not over yet. The Capitals have announced that they have signed defenseman Matt Niskanen to a 7-year contract with an AAV of $5.75 million. Niskanen joins Brooks Orpik, who was signed to a five-year deal earlier today.

Washington has now acquired two UFA defensemen off the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were not a good defensive team, at a total cost of $67.75 million. What is going on in Arlington?

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