A few days ago in a post entitled “How to Solve Tim Thomas in the Playoffs,” I pointed out that the Capitals have had a tough time scoring on Tim Thomas in the regular season. When they did score in regulation, there was an obvious pattern:
Last season, the Boston Bruins won the Stanley Cup with grit, a stiffing defense, and a big weirdo in net by the name of Tim Thomas. Thomas had an incredible 1.98 GAA, .940 Save Percentage, and 4 shutouts in last year’s playoffs. In the Finals, Thomas went into beast mode, giving up only 8 goals in 7 games, giving Boston its first Stanley Cup since 1971-72. Naturally, he was the Playoffs MVP.
Well the Bruins are back to defend their title and are trying to become the first team since the 1997-98 Detroit Red Wings to win the Cup in back-to-back years. Standing in their way however, will be our 7th-seeded Caps, a rag-tag group of veterans, AHL’ers, and Russians that I’m pretty sure Pierre McGuire and Mike Milbury still think are Eurotrash.
Unless he suffers a gruesome injury or chooses to skip out on a game because of an Obama appearance, the Capitals will have to find a way to consistently score on this Tea Partier from Flint, Michigan. And that, for them hasn’t been easy.
Timmay is a career 14-5-3 against Washington, which includes a save percentage north of .920. He’s consistently beaten the Caps in their own barn, winning 7 of 9 career games against them. While Thomas went 1-1-1 against the Capitals this year in 3 starts, he also stopped 82 of 89 Washington shots. He was nearly impenetrable, no matter how much we only want to remember his — um — poor performance in the March 29th shootout.
So on those 7 goals, how have the Caps beaten Thomas? Is there a particular place on the ice that the Caps have had more success shooting?
By this time Monday, Capitals general manager George McPhee will have already made whatever moves he has deemed wise for the future of his club. With all the prognostication and educated guessing about trade scenarios going around, I have decided not to add any noise to an already muffled signal.
Instead, we conclude this series with a look at two Capitals players who will loom large on Monday in one way or another. Those players are Mike Knuble and Tomas Vokoun.
After spending time on all four lines and becoming a regular in the Caps’ shootout line-up, Matt Hendricks was signed to a two-year deal worth $1.65 million last season. Coming into this year’s training camp, Hendricks’ singular focus was to hit double digits in goals. “I had nine my first year in the NHL with Colorado,” he told the Washington Post’s Tarik El-Bashir. “I played 56 games that year. Last year, I played in 77 games and had nine goals. I need to figure out a way to get over that hump.”
For a player that accumulated 110 points in 43 games during his prep career and was named a finalist for the 2000 Minnesota Mr. Hockey Award, tallying ten or more goals seems to be well within reason. Unfortunately for Hendy, the red light has come on less frequently this season. In fact, it took 30 games for the 6’0’’, 215-pound winger to score his first goal of the year. And another 15 to get goal number two.
But complaining about Hendricks’ goal output and continuing the negativestorytrain on RMNB is not why we’re here. On Tuesday night against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Hendricks — full of determination — opened the game’s scoring with one of the most unlikely and beautiful goals of the season.
The Capitals currently sit 8th in the Eastern Conference, essentially tied with Pittsburgh.
They are second in Southeast Division, one point ahead of the Winnipeg Jets and four behind the Florida Panthers. The bright side is that the Caps have played one game fewer than those teams. Still, the Caps are battling for standing in the division that used to be their feeding ground.
Lady Gaga and NYC Mayor Alex “the gr8″ Bloomberg orchestrate the dropping of the ball.
Caps’ players certainly seemed happy this past weekend. How can you tell? With a Twitter account and a pair of binoculars. The guys were ragging on each other, answering fan questions, posting pictures, the whole shabangabang. I guess that’s what happens when you win four of six games and get Sunday off. Now that our hangovers have finally subsided, here’s a sobering recollection of those tweets.
Join me if you will, RMNB readers, and let’s take a journey into the complex social (network) lives of our favorite players.
Tonight, however, we saw the first real flash of the old Ovi. You know– that creative, “you will not effing stop me from scoring even if you set up a brick wall in front of the goal and tie both hands behind my back” Ovechkin. In the third period against the Senators, with the game tied 2-2, the Caps started a breakout from behind their own net. And then Ovi decided he felt like scoring.
Beyond the discounted signing of Tomas Vokoun, there may have been no better addition to the line-up than the Draft-night trade McPhee swung with the Chicago Blackhawks in which he landed Troy Brouwer for a first-round pick. Brouwer, who signed an affordable two-year deal worth $2,350,000 per year on July 6, was part of the Blackhawks’ 2010 Stanley Cup Champion squad and is known in part for his physical, hard-hitting game. The 26-year-old right wing has also been a proven scorer at every level he’s played, tallying 20 goals in the NHL, 40-plus goals in the AHL, and 100-plus points in Juniors.
So with Opening Night only a few days away, what can Caps fans reasonably expect offensively from Brouwer? Also, how about some bizarre facts about Troy that only RMNB can dig up? Follow me past the jump to find out.
82 games makes for a long and dreary season, but some dates stand out. We’ve perused the calendar for the upcoming season and circled the ones you might want to keep in mind. If you find a date we’re missing, let us know in the comments.