On April 11, 2015, In Highlights, By Peter Hassett
That’s the puck, stuck in the back of the net.
Stan Galiev has taken a grand total of two shots in his two games in the NHL, and he’s already recorded his first NHL goal.
In garbage time of the Caps’ loss to the Rangers in the final game of the regular season, Barry Trotz gave his rookie line the ice. Like usual, the rookies raided the offensive zone. Michael Latta loosed a desperate shot, and Galiev corralled the rebound for his milestone marker.
The Washington Capitals didn’t win their final game of the regular season, but it’s already an afterthought. The Rangers got an early lead and didn’t let go. Doesn’t matter– we’re moving on– just as soon as we do this recap.
Kevin Hayes struck first, sinking a backhand scoop on Braden Holtby. Derick Brassard put the Caps in a two-goal hole on the power play, and then Dominic Moore’s Crosbyesque backhand goal made it three. Alex Ovechkin punched back with his 53rd, an Ovi shot from the Ovi spot.
Jesper Fast got an empty netter in the third, and then Stan Galiev recorded his first NHL goal in the final minute.
This is where the Isles play. That’s not where the Caps will play today and it’s not the place where the team they’re playing today plays, but it’s the place where the team they’re playing next week will play and how much they’ll play there depends on how the Caps play against the team they’re playing today. Please don’t make this more complicated than it needs to be dammit, this is the final #rego pregamer of the season. Don’t make a scene.
The New York Islanders. They’re not the team the Caps will play; they’re just the team the Caps will be thinking about as they play today. The Penguins’ loss last night (p.s. ha) means the Caps and Isles will certainly meet next week in the first round of the playoffs. The only question is how many games the Caps will have to play at Nassau. If the Capitals win today, it’ll be less. Errr… fewer. Dammit, final pregame of the season and I can’t remember which word to use.
Anyway, Caps and Rangers at home at noon thirty on CSN. Right in the middle of your beautiful Saturday when you’d otherwise be gardening.
Photo courtesy of Monumental Network/Amanda Maglione
I was reading the PuckBuddys’ coverage of Alex Ovechkin’s Ride of Fame thing the other day. To celebrate Ovi’s success, this “mobile monument” tour created a custom bus emblazoned with his face, cruising around the Penn Quarter. It was a nice moment for a special player– and it seemed to me a complete reversal from where we were one year ago.
In early April of 2014, the only bus I was concerned about was the metaphorical one the team’s coach kept parking on his players.
Here and now, at the setting of a successful season and the dawn of the playoffs, I’m struck by the transformation this team has made in the last year. You’ve come a long way, baby.
The Caps looked so freaking ready for the playoffs during Wednesday’s blowout win over the Boston Bruins.
John Carlson scored in the first, taking a cross-ice pass from Nick Backstrom and shooting high glove. Backstrom also pinched in on the next goal, a cannon by Matt Niskanen. In the second period, Marcus Johansson scored his 20th of the season off a wonderful pass by Evgeny Kuznetsov.
Braden Holtby looked a god among insects in the third period.
Caps beat Bruins 3-0. Holtby’s league-leading 9th shutout of the season.
Since their last game, the Capitals secured a playoff spot. At this point it’s really unlikely they’ll even need a wild card spot. Tonight’s game against the formerly big bad Bruins and Saturday’s finale against the Rangers are really about vying for the home-ice advantage that being a higher seed affords.
If that makes this game less exciting for you, let me remind you that Alex Ovechkin will be playing in it.
Understanding 5v5 hockey using shot attempts starts with a number: 50 percent. That is even possession– one for the other team, one for your team, repeat. If your team is above 50 percent, you’ve either denied your opponent some attempts or you’ve managed to create a few extra of your own. Being “in the black,” with a possession number above 50 percent is a sign of an above-average team.
The Capitals are above 50 percent. They’re a 52-percent team– or just about. But I’m not so sure they’re truly or significantly above average. And it’s Buffalo’s fault, dammit.
If you ignore the Sabres (using some sloppy, back-of-napkin math), then the league’s average isn’t 50 percent– it’s more like 50.4 percent. And over on Puckon.net, the median teams have around 51.2-percent score-adjusted possession. It’s like grade inflation for hockey– making the Caps look just a bit better than they are because they, just like everyone else, got to beat up on the worst possession team of the modern era (and maybe longer; I’d love to know the 74-75 Caps’ shot-attempt differential.)
That has nothing to do with what’s in this week’s snapshot, but I thought it was curious.
What’s actually in this week’s snapshot: the Caps have really good young players, but are they fast enough for the Islanders?
With less than a week to go, the Capitals got an important win on the road from the Detroit Red Wings– drawing ever closer to making their playoff fate a lock.
The Caps got an early lead off Evgeny Kuznetsov’s stick (and a sick bounce). Mike Green’s Easton made it 2-0 in the second period, but Darren Helm got a power-play goal after a great pass from Pavel Datsyuk. The Caps held off a brilliant empty-net attack late to earn two crucial standings points in #rego.
Happy Easter, which is traditionally a good holiday for the Washington Capitals, yes, definitely. The Capitals squandered a comeback and a chance to lock a playoff spot last night, but no worries– it’s not like the Wings are a strong 5v5 team with good coaching and a distinct home-field advantage.