On December 11, 2014, In Pregame, By Peter Hassett
Fresh off a three-win road trip, the Washington Capitals have returned home… to spawn …and then to fight the Columbus Blue Jackets. At 7 PM at Verizon Center, the Caps will play host the the beat-up Blooj, the league’s most injured team by a mile.
If the Caps keep playing like they have been, they should be able to get their first four-game winning streak since April of 2013.
On December 10, 2014, In Opinion, By Peter Hassett
Photo: Scott Audette
I skipped the Awesome Index last week. There was nothing awesome going on. I tried to think of some, but then I had to wade through the internet’s putrid pools of pissypants to find any. Rather than do something insincere or making it the “awful index” for a week, I decided to take a week off. I’m glad I did. In the seven days since then, we’ve been inundated with Awesome.
The Caps are riding a three-game winning streak, all of it on the road, formerly ice cold players are denting the net, and one guy in particular is looking really good out there. And not just because he’s handsome. I’m talking about Brooks Laich, but before we get to him, we’ve got some other awesomeness to go over.
The Washington Capitals came in like a wrecking ball to Amelie Arena, beating the beast of the east Tampa Bay Lightning in convincing fashion for the team’s third straight win.
Alex Ovechkin scored 40 seconds in, tapping in a pass from Tom Wilson. Brian Boyle, who must love playing against the Caps, tied it up later that period, but Matt Niskanen’s power-play marker restored the Cap lead before the intermission.
Steven Stamkos scored a tricky one from the slot to knot it up in the second, but Brooks Laich’s hardscrabble effort put the Caps up again before the third period.
The Bolts looked fierce in the third, but Troy Brouwer put ‘em in a two-goal hole with an even-strength wrister midway through. The Lightning got a goal in garbage time, but then Ovi also got one in garbage time and I give up.
The Washington Capitals have won three in a row just once this season– from November 7 to 11. Suiting up in Tampa tonight against one of the best teams in the league, the Caps will have a chance to go for three again. It won’t be easy.
Catch us at 7:30 PM as we follow along, begging quietly for some top-line offense. Game’s on CSN, so Joe B better be wearing something pretty for me.
Wins are paramount. In the end, this sport is measured in wins. Goals scored or prevented are the component parts of wins, and shot attempts generated or prevented are the component parts of goals. So when the Capitals got two important divisional wins this week– both in regulation– I reminded myself that those Ws are ultimately more important than the stuff happening under the surface.
That under the surface stuff, as we’ve been documenting, has been degrading since the end of October. But if this is the basement for the team, it ain’t so bad. The Capitals could presumably get a lot of wins and make the playoffs based on their current performance (plus a little more luck). They’re not gonna win a Cup, and we’ll all know deep down that they’re capable of more, but maybe we should just be grateful for what we’ve got. At least they’re not the Skins.
On December 6, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Alzner scores, Alzner gets a the top pic (Photo: Julio Cortez)
Secondary scoring lifted the Capitals to a big divisional road win. With Beagle, Alzner, and Kuznetsov hitting twine, the Capitals were able to fell the New Jersey Devils in a taut, kinda fun game (for the Devs) on a Saturday night.
Karl Alzner, yes, Karl Alzner, scored first, cleaning up off the cycle. Patrik Elias got one for the Devils, tapping in Danius Zubrus’ airborne puck. In the second, Jay Beagle scored a highlight-reel backhand goal to put the Caps up, which Evgeny Kuznetsov added to with a snipe on the power play.
The Devils never climbed out of that two-goal hole. Laich made it three with a lay up in the final minute.
On December 4, 2014, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
The Capitals played another excruciatingly mild game on Thursday night, this time on the road against the Carolina Hurricanes. They had the lead, but then they stopped pressing, and then they didn’t have a lead. If not for Eric Fehr, this would have been an awful night.
Jay Beagle scored on the rush early in the first, cleaning up Jason Chimera’s rebound. The second period went scoreless, but old pal Alex Semin scooped the puck to the top corner early in the third to tie the game. Eric Fehr forced a turnover late in rego and scored solo.
Tommy M gave me a hard time in the comments the other day.
I’d like to point to Green and Schmidt’s fancy stats. Are those two really our best defensemen? Should they be seeing the opposing teams toughest competition as Orpik and Carly are?
Tommy was kind of sticking it to me, which is totally fair, but I think he raises an interesting point. What does it mean for Brooks Orpik to be a first-pair guy and Mike Green to be a third-pair guy? How would they fare if roles were switched?
For background, Schmidt and Green, when healthy, are undoubtedly the Capitals’ third defensive pair. The best way to judge that is ice time, but it’s also reflected in the quality of competition they face. Whatever the measurement, Orpik is tops and Green is bottom. Even compared to defenders across the league, Green and Schmidt are in the bottom third. Green is at the very top of that bottom third, but he’s still down there.
That’s curious. His usage means that Barry Trotz has adjudicated Green to be inferior to as many as four other Caps defenseman, who all get more ice time, but Green’s performance is actually among the best in the league. Maybe Tommy is right and Green’s deployment against weaker competition is making look Green better than he is.