Photo: Patrick Smith
Tom Wilson almost made it through a Caps-Flyers game without getting involved in something foolish. But with six minutes and 51 seconds left in a one goal playoff hockey game, Wilson decided to board defenseman Andrew McDonald. It was an obvious penalty.
Thankfully for Wilson, Wayne Simmonds, who led the Flyers in regular season goals (32), decided a late game comeback push was the perfect time to retaliate. Simmonds took a roughing penalty before he and Wilson decided to punch each other in the face, negating any advantage for Philly when they needed it most.
Photo: Amanda Bowen
On Monday, we published a smart and layered discussion by Myan Tran about Tom Wilson‘s development. That article comes after months of discussion among the RMNB staff on the same topic. That article and those discussions all seemed to revolve around the idea of a bust, a delightfully subjective and nebulous term that is also a function of expectations that vary based on whom you ask.
In a beautifully complex world of fractal mathematics and ASOIAF conspiracy theories, a yes/no debate about a divisive player is excessively stupid. The conversation quickly wanders off topic and into a battlefield. GIFs are deployed like explosive ordnance. Proxy wars are waged by strawmen.
But I come to you from above the fray to settle, once and for all, the Tom Wilson bust debate.
On Wednesday night, the Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in a shootout. That game carried extra weight as those teams are likely to face one another in the first round of the playoffs: Washington as the one seed, Philadelphia as the eight.
On Thursday afternoon, esteemed hockey data visualization person Micah McCurdy released the startlingly pretty graph you see excerpted above. It shows first-round match-ups and each team’s likelihood to advance past that round and beyond.
Micah’s model has the Capitals facing the Flyers — and losing — in the first round. Sorta.
When I first started designing my hockey-themed basement last year (please notice I didn’t say man cave because women can have caves too), I really wanted a goal light. In a perfect world this goal light would be connected to my wifi, synced to games, and go off when the Capitals scored. Even better: it’d have a horn.
I never thought I’d find something like this. And then Budweiser Canada invented it.
I’m going to be honest. There are things in this world that would be nice to have but you don’t really need. Then there are things that are nice, but you downright need to have in your life. And guys, the Budweiser Goal Light is the latter. It’s life changing.
Photo: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY
Sunday night’s defeat at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins has left some Washington Capitals fans in angst. This team, who has been described as a Stanley Cup contender so often this season, did not look as such in their 6-2 loss. But that’s just the most recent point in a longer, concerning pattern.
I’ve caught myself recalibrating my expectations for the Caps over the last few weeks. As of right now, I no longer think they are the Team of Destiny. This is not The Year. The road they’re on right now ends in the first or second round of the playoffs.
It’s not too late to change course, but we must first acknowledge that the course we’re on now is a bad one.
It’s never fun to watch the Caps lose — especially when it’s a 6-2 drubbing at the hands of the Pittsburgh Penguins on national television. The Caps came out hard, but could not handle the Pens’ speed, falling behind two goals in the game’s first ten minutes. The Pens would pull away later in the second and third period, scoring four unanswered goals.
The Caps gave up five even-strength goals. Dmitry Orlov and Brooks Orpik were on the ice for four of the Pens’ six tallies.
“We got exactly what we deserved tonight,” Barry Trotz said after the game.
“I’m not going to let guys off the hook,” Trotz continued. “There’s no excuse for the sloppy play and the lack of execution when the heat was on. We had some guys who were not strong tonight. You can’t do that against a team that’s trending well. They’re probably the hottest team [in the NHL].”
Let’s take a look at the Pens six goals and see what patterns we find.
Photo: Nick Wass
Last summer, I asked twitter to rank Washington’s blue line. I’m sure I had a hidden agenda when I did it, but I can’t remember what it was anymore. Probably something about Nate Schmidt being awesome. Yeah. That sounds right.
Apart from injuries and a couple depth moves, the Caps’ defense has been remarkably stable this season. But in light of a few bad games for Orlov, Carlson’s re-injury, and Niskanen’s hot streak, I thought I’d try again.
The results, he said with a dramatic pause, may shock you.
Look I’m not superstitious, but if I put my pants on right-to-left instead of left-to-right, I take them off, light them on fire, throw them in a trash can, and jump back in bed. Try again tomorrow, right? I hate it when people call me superstitious. No, I’m not superstitious.
[Realizes I forgot to dab 3 drops of shampoo in my hand instead of the customary 2, begins panicking.]
Okay, fine, I’m superstitious. But this is why I needed to share this with you. Over the weekend, my parents visited my house and handed me a light-blue tin can, which had an embossed gingerbread man design on the top. I had no idea what was inside, but my mother had this crazed, excited face like she had just won the lotto. I opened the tin can only to find the greatest thing I have ever seen in my life. At that moment I understood.
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
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