Mike Green, Bottom-Pairing Defenseman

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.


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Carlson’s Couple Not Enough: Canucks beat Caps 4-3

Patrick McDermott

Photo: Patrick McDermott

Like I said in the pregame, it seems like everyone is a little low lately. We really coulda used a soaring, 60-minute game from the Washington Capitals to defeat the traveling Vancouver Canucks. Instead we got a sleepy start and a putrid penalty kill. A couple from John Carlson and a beauty from Brooks Laich just weren’t enough.

The Canucks fourth line won a faceoff in the Caps zone against the fourth line, allowing Bo Horvatt to set up Derek Dorsett for a goal. That’s all we had to speak of in a generally dreary first period.

John Carlson tied the game up in the second, scoring a snazzy wrister via Nick Backstrom with Tom Wilson running interference in front of goalie Ryan Miller. Daniel Sedin restored the Canucks’ lead on a power play, grabbing a pass by from Henrik, who I think is the cuter one. Radim Vrbata put the Caps in a two-goal hole while Jay Beagle was in the box, but John Carlson made it a one-goal game with a brilliant slapper betwixt Ryan Miller’s nethers.

Brooks Laich tied it up with a gorgeous goal during a third-period four-on-four session, but Daniel Sedin got his power-play goal on the rush to restore the Canucks lead with ten minutes left. The search for a tying goal was thrilling but futile.

Canucks beat Caps 4-3.

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Caps vs Canucks Pregame: Good News, Please?


Maybe it’s this head cold, but it seems like everything everywhere sucks right now. Hockey in general, the Caps’ PDO specifically, the weather, treatment of people who aren’t white guys, Detroit’s power grid, Aaron Sorkin’s Newsroom. It all just sorta sucks.

Tonight at 7 PM the Capitals have the opportunity to start making things a little better with a home game against the Vancouver Canucks. It’s on CSN-DC and Joe B promised to wear something nice for you.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 10-9-4 52.3% 98.1 28.8% 77.5%
Vancouver Canucks 16-7-1 51.7% 99.0 18.4% 84.2%

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Capitals defender Brooks Orpik was on the ice for seven opponent goals last week, but his underlying play has actually been improving. His usage is suspect, but he hasn’t been any better or worse than expected. On DC101’s Elliot in the Morning today, Elliot Segal said Brooks Orpik has been just “as advertised,” which I think is exactly right.

Coming off a brutal loss to the Maple Leafs on Saturday, Orpik spoke with Elliot on Monday morning on a variety of topics– though one recurring theme was how awesome Pittsburgh is. Yeesh.

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Week 7 Snapshot: Erosion and Corrosion

Darren Calabrese

Photo: Darren Calabrese

The primary source of frustration last season was knowing that, deep down, the Capitals had the potential to be a good team. Knowing that the Caps had decent players and that they merely needed to be freed of bad coaching was vexing, but it was also comforting in a strange way. We could wave away game-by-game results because careful, informed analysis told us they’d soon be better.

And when Barry Trotz’s Caps started the season as one of the best teams in the league, we felt vindicated. But for ephemeral reasons, the wins didn’t come in October. That’s okay; we knew they would.

Except then they didn’t. The reasons for the Caps’ losses were not static. The goalies got better (wayyyyyy better), but then the offense’s shooting percentages plummeted. Then the team stopped possessing the puck so much. And now, who knows.

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The Caps just aren’t as good as they were in October. Punishing losses to the Sabres and Leafs this week have led to some quiet reflection and some not-so-quiet caterwauling from the community. And rightfully so.

In this week’s snapshot, let’s do some reflecting of our own.

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Leafs beat Caps 6-2: Farting on a Snare Drum


Pic by Ian Oland, who I am told wore pants today for the first time in a week.

I don’t wanna write about this junk.

Bad bounces and bad mistakes made the Caps’ road game against to Toronto Maple Leafs a torrid swamp of chumpswargle hockey. I made that word up.

It started innocently enough with a freak bounce of a goal by Morgan Rielly, but then Cody Franson got a sneaky shot from the outside during a Leafs power play to close out the first period.

Holtby took the net for the second and got punctured just 23 seconds in after a turnover by the Carlson-Orpik pairing. Troy Brouwer gave us a glimmer of hope with a hardworking PPG from the slot, but the Leafs answered back like .005 seconds later when freaking David freaking Carlson freaking scored. Tyler Bozak scored his second of the night on a power-play late in the second.

Justin Peters returned to the net in the third, because, why not? Tom Wilson put the biscuit in the basket, making this something less of an abject failure and more of a stupefying bummer. And then Lupul made it an abject failure again. What the heck even is this team?

Oh god it burns. Leafs beat Caps 6-2.

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Caps at Leafs Pregame: Don’t Play Down


I really thought this dude would be gone by now.

The Caps have gone from playing the single worst team in the league, Buffalo, to one of the best, the Islanders, back to one of the worst, the Toronto Maple Leafs. Though they’ve got a better record than the Caps, that poor hockey club just cannot get its act together. Tonight at 7 PM on CSN and NHL Network, the Caps will play visitor to the Leafs.

This is one of those “don’t play down to a lesser opponent” situations. This is also one of those situations where you guys tell me “we are what our record says we are” and I roll my eyes.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 10-8-4 52.0% 98.2 28.6% 80.6%
Toronto Maple Leafs 11-8-3 47.8% 100.4 18.5% 84.2%

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Bailamos is Back! Caps beat Isles 5-2!

Rob Carr

“Red rover, Red rover, send Niskanen over!” (Photo: Rob Carr)

The Washington Capitals looked terrible for the first ten minutes of their home game against the New York Islanders, and no, I won’t blame the turkey. But instead of a lackluster affair, the Caps woke up and played a competitive game against one of the league’s best– a reward for the 18 thousand fans in attendance and the return of my personal Caps anthem below the jump.

The Capitals’ second power-play unit took the ice in the first period thirty seconds before Matt Niskanen unloaded his cannon through traffic to make it 1-0. A glorious snap shot from Marcus Johansson gave the Caps their first 5v5 goal in forever and made it 2-0, but hold on a sec. In the next 66 seconds, the Capitals’ bottom six allowed two goals– one from John Tavares and one from Anders Lee, to neutralize the two-goal lead before the first intermission.

Tom Wilson absorbed a bunch of Isles defenders to open up a seam for Alex Ovechkin to score halfway through the second period.

In the third, Evgeny Kuznetsov feasted upon his second-line spot, scoring at the tail-end of an offensive-zone shift, sliding into the high slot and ripping the puck top shelf. Joel Ward got the empty-netter and there was much rejoicing.

Caps beat Isles 5-2! Bailamos!

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Marcus Johansson’s Snapper Ends Caps’ 5v5 Goal Drought

According to your boy Adam Vingan, the Caps had gone nearly 150 minutes without a goal during 5v5. Marcus Johansson ended that with the kind of goal that gets adjectives like “disgusting” and “gorgeous” in equal amounts.

On the rush, Johansson faced NYI’s Brian Strait as he entered the zone. Johansson did a slight toe pick move before he shot just wide of Strait. The puck found the top corner behind Chad Johnson, putting the Caps up 2-0.

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Kathy Kmonicek

Photo: Kathy Kmonicek

For the most part, the Caps held their own at Nassau on Wednesday. Now, back home in the sub-.500 confines of Verizon Center, the Capitals face the New York Islanders again.

I’d be totally fine with another loser point, but the full two would feel even better for my turkey hangover.

It’s an early one, 5 PM on CSN, so get your shopping done now. I just did sold my soul and first born to Amazon.com, so I’m like 85% done my Christmas shopping already.

Team Record Possession PDO Power Play Penalty Kill
Washington Capitals 9-8-4 51.3% 98.23 27.9% 80.0%
New York Islanders 16-6-0 54.0% 99.93 20.5% 73.8%

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