Photo: Bruce Bennett
Let’s forego a flowery intro and get right to the point: Brian MacLellan crushed 2015 out of the park. The Caps GM had a spectacular year and currently presides over not only the hottest team in the NHL but the best team as well, according to the standings. Basically, Brian MacLellan was The Undertaker and 2015 was Mankind on top of the Hell in a Cell.
To celebrate MacLellan’s year, we’re going to revisit his three best moves of the past calendar year, with an honorable mention thrown in for good measure.
Photo: Mark Nolan
There’s been a lot of talk recently about how to improve the game of hockey– bigger nets, smaller goalie gear, smaller goalies, more teams, and so on. But I would ask a different question: What’s so wrong with it right now?
It’s true that it’s getting harder out there for goal scorers. Last season saw the lowest league-leading scoring total since Stan Mikita could only muster up 87 points in 1967-68 (in a 74 game season). The days of Gretzky scoring more than 200 points per season are long gone.
But so are the days when only a few teams in a given year had a real chance to win it all. During the high-scoring days of 1969-1993, eight different teams won the Stanley Cup. In those 25 years, Montreal won it nine times. Edmonton won it five times. In the 20 years since, 11 different teams have won the Cup, and only Detroit has won it more than three times.
The scoring hay-day created some historic moments and essentially shaped the brand of hockey that fans expect from the stars of our game today, but I think many of those championship teams would be hard pressed to be in the top four or five in today’s NHL. The way the game is played today hardly resembles that of the ’80s Oilers, but that’s not to say that today’s NHL is worse. Far from it.
As a team, the Capitals deserve glowing reviews through their first 22 games. I’m talking A- or B+ at the lowest. They’re tops in the Metro in points per game, they’re in the top five in most stats, and now even Vegas thinks they’re a contender.
We’re using this momentary lull between games to assess the team on an individual level. Every player is taking home a report card today, and mommy and daddy are hoping they get high marks.
Did you know that offside in hockey used to be defined as any forward pass? Yes, you read that correctly. Before 1927, a forward pass in hockey was considered offside. The rule is obviously different now, and certainly less restrictive, but does the game benefit from the restrictions caused by the current offside rule?
Imagine you were explaining hockey to someone who knows absolutely nothing about the sport and you were explaining offside to them. And then, right in the middle of your explanation, this wise, wise person asks “what is the benefit of having an offside rule?”
What would your answer be? I’ve posed the question a lot recently and I’ve yet to come across an explanation that satisfies me. Please note that I’m not saying hockey should get rid of offside. I’m simply looking for how the game benefits from the existence of the rule.
I’m not asking what having an offside rule does. Yes, it prevent cherry picking and the like. But I want to know what the benefit of preventing cherry picking is. Don’t explain what the rule does, explain what the benefit of the rule is.
It’s Thanksgiving weekend, which means you’re ready to unload your cash quicker than at one of those rigged carnival games. Just one more try, honey. I’m going to get that ring around that damn milk bottle. I got this.
This year, RMNB is here to help you find the perfect gift for that cherished Capitals fan in your life. And if we miss any good gifts or Black Friday deals, we’re sure one of our readers will let us know about it in the comments below.
The RMNB crew whiles away the hours during intermissions and off-days by chatting about the things that matter to us. I’ve made a pie chart of our most common topics.
As you can see, the relative hotness of Caps players is a main point of discussion, narrowly edging out pro wrestling. Almost no one cares about Miatas, which are stupid cars.
To be frank, this debate is running me ragged. I’ve had it up to here [points somewhere sorta high] with hot takes on hot Caps. So I declare it’s time to settle this democratically.
I present to you now this authoritative Cute Caps ranking, which is not at all using technology I have shamelessly re-appropriated from Japers Rink.
Photo: Chris Gordon
On October 12, 2013, Nate Schmidt made his NHL debut against the Colorado Avalanche. A little more than two years later, Schmidt has played 83 NHL games. His journey to the NHL has been unsteady with his coaches trying to figure out whether he’s an AHL prospect, a healthy scratch candidate, or typical third pairing defensemen. But Schmidt is none of those. In fact, he may be one of the better defensemen in the NHL. And with a lower body injury sidelining top pairing defenseman Brooks Orpik, Schmidt finally has a chance to prove it.
“I don’t think we’re seeing anything different,” head coach Barry Trotz told me of Schmidt’s play. “Nate, we felt, we had the most trust in at this point that we moved him up, gave him the opportunity. The things that he does well is skate. He’s skating and getting up ice, getting back on the breakouts, hard on the forecheck, and he defends well because of his mobility and stick. He’s a very effective player for us.”
Alex Ovechkin has not scored a goal in the last four games. Sure, he’s put a puck in the net twice in that span [one, two], but neither counted. For twelve days he’s been stuck at 483 career goals, tied with Sergei Fedorov for the most scored by a Russian.
Since November 7, Ovechkin has stubbornly tried to score number 484. Instead of trying, he should just accept his fate as a 483-goal scorer. Forever.
Photo: Amanda Bowen
Barry Trotz has been singing Nick Backstrom‘s praises since he took over as coach of the Caps. He’s basically called shenanigans on Backstrom never receiving the Selke (awarded the the league’s best defensive forward) and also called him the best two-way forward he’s ever coached.
Last season, Backstrom finished 11th in Selke voting. If voters are paying attention in 2015-16, they may notice Backstrom’s making his best case for Selke yet.
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