backstrom-wut

Led by Corey Masisak, a team of NHL.com writers have published their ranking of the league’s top 14 centers. Washington Capitals center Nick Backstrom is not on that list.

Nathan MacKinnon, Claude Giroux, Joe Thornton, and Henrik Sedin all ranked above Backstrom. Only one writer, Dan Rosen, included Backstrom in the top 14.

I’m not outraged. I can kind of see why they did it, and it all depends on how we define our terms.

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Here’s Your Comcast Sportsnet 2014-15 TV Schedule

The Capitals and Comcast Sportsnet have announced their TV schedule for the season. We’ve got the full list below, but here’s what you need to know now:

  • CSN and CSN+ will air 70 games, with NBCSN picking up the remainder.
  • I count 9 games on CSN+. If you don’t get CSN+, start dating someone who does.
  • Your boys Joe Beninati, Craig Laughlin, and Al Koken are all back.
  • Alan May is back as well, though it’d be better if he were between the benches for every home game.
  • Rob Carlin and Brent Johnson’s gigantic wristwatch will be doing post-game stuff as per usual.
  • The press release threatens, I mean promises, more programming from Brian Mitchell.
  • Five out of eight preseason games will be broadcast. I will recap zero of them!

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Editor’s note: There is news and reporting in here, but it’s also an opinion piece. My opinions are my own. I won’t speak for anyone else at RMNB. I also encourage everyone to do their own research on this and not just take me- or anyone else– at face value. Frankly, I’d rather not write about this at all, but it seems inappropriate for a site named “Russian Machine Never Breaks” not to address this somehow.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin shared the above photo on Instagram this morning.

In the photo, Ovechkin, wearing a t-shirt that reads “No War,” holds up a sheet of paper pasted to posterboard, reading  “#SAVE CHILDREN FROM FASCISM” [sic].

It sounds like an implicit message of support for the rebels of Ukrainian. Those rebels, allegedly been funded and armed by the Kremlin, have been fighting against the Ukranian government in an ever-escalating war. As of this morning, there are reports that as many as a thousand Russian soldiers have now joined that war. That, it seems, is how Russia intends to save children from fascism.

In short, this is chauvinistic Russian propaganda.

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Update on a Replacement for ExtraSkater.com

RIP

I miss it already.

I’ve had a bunch of conversations with people since writing a proposal for a new stat site to fill the void left by ExtraSkater.com. There are a lot of exciting developments, so I’ll just use this space to fill you in and solicit more input from you.

First, to all the folks who have left comments and sent emails: thanks! We’ve got a big pool of talented and passionate geeks who are eager to help out. I’ve not responded to anyone yet as I’ve been taking your notes under advisement and speaking to some folks who are working on similar (but not identical) projects. To everyone who is waiting on a reply from me: I should be in getting in touch soon.

Second, there’s some serious competition out there. That’s a very good thing, and I’m using “competition” facetiously. I’ve been on a few email threads with stat geeks and developers who are well on their way to publishing new sites. These sites look primed to meet some of the core features of Extra Skater and even provide a surprising amount of novel stuff. It’s early, but I’d be surprised if at least one of these sites isn’t up by October. It’s exciting, and the people behind these projects should and will be congratulated.

One result of that good news is the appetite and pressing concern for the project I defined– a free, open-source solution for extensible hockey stats– will be much lower. But I don’t think it’s gone entirely.

I’m gonna reiterate my plan and explain why it’s a) still valid, b) novel, and c) kind of easy.

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joe-b-trotz

Photo: @monumentalntwrk

It never ends, and I’m sorta okay with that. Today in #ALSIceBucketChallenge news, Capitals coach Barry Trotz and fashion maven Joe Beninati took the plunge. Monumental Network video’d the whole thing. It’s quite a production.

The promotion so far has raised over $40 million to fight amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Participants who get dumped on donate $10; those who fail to meet the challenge (e.g. me) donate $100.

I mention this because I consider what Joe and Barry did cheating. They dipped into the pool right after they got soaked, which means they were only chilly for like two seconds, tops. That’s not enough. So I think they should pony up another $90. Your thoughts?

Pretty pictures below.

UPDATE 4:45 PM: Caps Media Relations Manager Page Sagester says there was no cheating involved.

We are unable to confirm the report as we have not yet been invited to swim in the Caps’ hot cold tub.

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RIP.

It’s the twilight of the nerds. Along with Cam Charron, Darryl Metcalf (creator of Extra Skater) has been hired to join the nascent analytics department in Toronto. That’s terrific news for them personally and for Leafs fans in general, but it means a massive brain drain for NHL fans.

I expect ExtraSkater.com to be gone for good. Metcalf likely won’t have time to devote to it, and it might represent a conflict of interest to work on it. With that hiring, the Maple Leafs have taken away the single best resource for hockey fans and geeks and writers and coaches. Plus the other 29 GMs.

We can’t allow that. We need to replace Extra Skater.

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Mike Green Got Married, Looked Excellent

mike green married

Photo by @paul_dubs

Washington Capitals defenseman and fashion icon Mike Green has gotten hitched. Green married girlfriend Courtney on Saturday night in Calgary, as documented by Green’s friend Paul Woloshyn on Instagram.

Green, freshly shaven, looked slim in a simple tux with a bowtie.

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The End of the Conversation

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The hirings of Kyle Dubas as assistant GM in Toronto and Tyler Dellow as analytics expert in Edmonton have sent hockey’s good ol’ boys network into a panic. The contingent of hockey pundits who tout “intangibles” have long suspected and feared a reckoning at the hands of the spreadsheets. Now that it has finally happened, they effetely plead that the new era of analysis would not begin and end with Corsi:

These people miss the point. Advanced statistics aren’t just one piece in a bigger conversation. Advanced statistics are the end of the conversation.

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caps-shorthanded-goal

Photo: Patrick Smith

The Washington Capitals had one of the best power plays in the league last season. They scored 68 goals on 278 opportunities for a 23.4 percent conversion rate, just behind Pittsburgh. They fired 85.8 unblocked shot attempts per 60 minutes on the PP, just behind San Jose. The Caps power play was deadly, but it was not perfect.

The Caps allowed ten shorthanded goals, the fourth highest total in the league. Alex Ovechkin, who played 93.2 percent of the Caps power play, fittingly, was on ice for 9 of those 10– sending his plus-minus, which is dumb and so is your face, down even further.

When we talk about things we want for the 2014-15 Capitals, ‘continued success on the power play’ is always part of it. But the Capitals should also look into what went wrong while playing a man up. Because it’s summer, and because I was worried that story about optimism might have made you unacceptably chipper, here’s a dour collection of 2013-14’s shorthanded goals and an assessment of who was to blame for each. Let’s party.

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Ed. note: Here’s F.O.T.B. Ben Lutz, aka the DC Sports Dork, with an RMNB guest spot all about head coach and GM hires. You can see more of Ben’s work on www.dcsportsdork.com. If you enjoy his stuff, feel free to join his facebook page.

While hockey fans were paying attention to the Stanley Cup Finals, a handful of NHL teams were focused on hiring a new head coach and/or general manager. The Capitals found their guys by hiring Brian McClellan and Barry Trotz as GM and coach, respectively. Pittsburgh pulled off the unthinkable by hiring ex-Hurricanes GM Jim Rutherford as their new general manager.

Hires like these inevitably lead to questions about the candidates’ credentials and organizational philosophies. Is it a good idea to hire a coach that has experience or one with a fresh set of ideas? Does the same apply to hiring a general manager?

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