Patrick Smith

Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues required the Washington Capitals to withstand a protracted comeback effort in the second and third periods. The effect of protecting a lead meant most Caps players got outpossessed. That’s not really surprising, and it’s totally fine considering how strong the Blues are on the puck and the game’s eventual outcome. A bit more surprising, however, was Troy Brouwer‘s shot-attempt differential that night.

In 10 minutes of 5v5 play, Brouwer was on the ice for 17 Blues shot attempts …and zero by the Capitals.

That’s like 0% possession*.

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Scoarboard Watching: The Caps Have Been Eliminated

lost

“The team will make the playoffs, as I promised, ten to fifteen years in a row.”
Ted Leonsis, 2011.

The Wings got a point and the Jackets beat the Stars, thereby officially eliminating the Washington Capitals from playoff contention. After six straight years of making the postseason, the Caps will be tearing down after their final game on Sunday. There will be no Capitals playoff games for me to write about. I don’t know what to do with my hands.

Summer beckons. Tee time. Watching someone else win the Cup. Watching Pittsburgh flame out in the first two rounds. Watching the Os and the Nats. Drinking frozen mai tais poolside. People getting fired. The draft. People getting hired. Free agency. Dev camp. Sunburns. And then we’ll do it all again in the fall.

We invite you to wail in grief below. Come join the GIF party.

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Cancelling the Apocalypse: Caps beat Blues 4-1

Brou Oshie

Brouillette rides Oshie through the defensive zone. (Photo: Tom Gannam)

Put your knives away for one more night. The Washington Capitals played a tough road game against the St Louis Blues and came out victorious. Thanks to the novel concept of top-six forwards playing in the top six, the Caps survived an elimination game against a great opponent.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 50th goal of the season in the first period, a signature Ovi shot from the Ovi spot. The Blues, who dominated even-strength play, got one of their own off Maxim LaPierre’s stick early in the second period, but Mikhail Grabovski fired a slapshot from the faceoff dot to restore the Caps lead a bit later. Ovechkin served up Nick Backstrom for a rare even-strength goal late in the second period, creating a two-goal lead going into the third period. Uh oh.

Okay, relax. Backstrom unleashed a wrister from the circles early in the third.

Caps beat Blues 4-1. Staying Alive!

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holtby face

Photo: Bruce Bennett

Braden Holtby quietly achieved a milestone over the weekend. In Sunday’s shootout win over the New York Islanders, Holtby faced his 3000th shot. That’s a big deal. Young goalies are really hard to forecast. Half of the ones that play over ten games wash out before they hit 3000. When they finally get enough reps, we should bask in the increasing clarity.

.917 Holtby’s career save percentage
3023 Number of shots faced in career
45.5 Percentage of career shots faced under Adam Oates

He’s looking pretty good, and I think he can get better.

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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.

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The Caps Didn’t Win 16-3, But That Woulda Been Cool

csn-math

The Caps beat the Islanders 4-3 in the shootout, but if you were peeping at CSN Washington you might have got the wrong idea. An innocent mistake from the graphics department for sure, but imagine for a second how great that would’ve been.

It would’ve been the biggest blowout ever– tying with Montreal beating Quebec by the same score in 1920. Troy Brouwer and Nick Backstrom would have scored twin hat tricks. Jay Beagle would have scored two. Alex Ovechkin would, naturally, have done the Ovechtrick. All three goals against would have been scored while shorthanded.

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Playing for Pride: Caps beat Isles 4-3 (SO)

Mike Stobe

Photo: Mike Stobe

With a 1.2 percent chance of a postseason, the Washington Capitals were basically playing for pride against the New York Islanders on Saturday afternoon. I’m supposed to be analyzing these games in addition to just recapping them, but I’m having a hard time sussing out exactly what we just watched.

Are they thick and proud? Are they a mess? Is all coming together? Is there any urgency? Are they surging late? Have they given up?

I’m gonna go with contradictory yes across the board. The Caps went into a two-goal hole, and then climbed out, and I don’t know what to make of that.

Cal Clutterbuck struck first for the Isles, taking advantage of the Brouillette-Strachan defensive pairing. Evgeny Kuznetsov tied it up in the second period after a pass from Marcus Johansson that was either brilliant or dumb luck. The Isles struck back 90 seconds later, as a Caps opponent is wont to do.  Frans Nielsen made it 3-1 for the Isles on an iffy goal, but Nicky Backstrom returned fire a little after the halfway mark by cleaning up a broken play. The third line (Mojo edition) continued to be insane-o with Joel Ward’s game-tying goal, his 23rd of the season.

The third period was quiet. Too quiet. Overtime too. So, here we go again…

Shootout bullets!

  • Nielsen got denied.
  • Kuznetsov roofed it.
  • Strome got padded.
  • Grabo also got padded.
  • Nelson, who is not Nielson, got stopped.

Caps beat Isles 4-3 in the shootout. Yey.

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brooks

This could not come at a better time. Once and future Caps forward Brooks Laich starred in a segment with Cabbie Richards of TSN called “Five Things Every Man Should Know.” Guest-starring Dustin Penner and Evgeny Kuznetsov– as girls, the video teaches you (not me) everything you (not me) need to know about how to be a manly man.

Brooks guides us (you mostly) through the vagaries of manly tasks we (you) so often get wrong. It’s indispensable viewing: instructive, entertaining, has nothing to do with the Caps’ season, and features D.P. and Kuzya as girls.

Enjoy.

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RMNB Meetup: Hockey Night at the Frederick Keys!

keys

Ian and I were born and raised in Frederick, Maryland, which is the greatest city on the face of the Earth. This is relevant information, because now we’re inviting you to town.

Our hometown baseball team, the Frederick Keys, are having their hockey night on Saturday, April 12. We’ve missed the event two years in a row, but we’re definitely going this time– because Craig Laughlin and Alan May will be there! And we want you to come too.

We’ll eat peanuts, drink beers, talk hockey, watch baseball, and generally have a blast.

Who: You! Us! Craig and Alan! Glynn Davis!

What: Hockey night! Keys vs Lynchburg Hillcats! (Boo Hillcats! We don’t like them!)

Where: Harry Grove Stadium, 21 Stadium Dr, Frederick, MD 21703

When: Saturday, April 12, 2:00 PM

Why: Because the weather is nice, the people are good, and the hockey makes us sad.

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The Arguments For and Against Firing Adam Oates

oates

Photo: Alex Brandon

In Adam Oates’ fourth game as head coach for the Washington Capitals, he put Alex Ovechkin on the top line with Joey Crabb and Jay Beagle. We should have seen trouble coming then.

Later that season, the Capitals narrowly made the playoffs and got booted in the first round. In 2013-14, with a full preseason under his belt, Adam Oates has led the Capitals to their worst season in almost a decade. They’ve got less than a 1-in-10 chance of making the playoffs and an astronomically small chance of doing anything meaningful once they get there.

If you measure the Caps by their shot differential, Adam Oates’ team is closer to the fire-sale 2003-04 team than they are to the scoar-moar-goals heyday of 2008-09. On the other hand, Alex Ovechkin is likely to win yet another Rocket Richard Trophy and the Washington power play is the best in the league.

In this article, I will carefully measure both the arguments for and against the continued employment of Adam Oates as head coach of the Washington Capitals.

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