John Tavares is one of the best hockey players on the planet. If the New York Islanders hope to take down Alex Ovechkin, the best hockey player on the planet, and the Washington Capitals, Tavares will have to play a leading role. So, quite obviously, one of the Caps primary concerns when game planning is shutting down the Isles superstar center.
The Isles are a really good 5v5 team. Their possession numbers on the season are strong. They have one of the best players in the league in John Tavares. This is going to be a tough series for the guys in red.
This is a look at how the possession numbers shake out. Included along with the season-long numbers for each team are the numbers over the last 25 games of the season, as possession metrics over the span have been shown to tell us a lot about how a team might fare in the playoffs.
Weather warming, birds singing, Marc-Andre Fleury spazzing out. These are the rites of Spring. When Nick Foligno chipped an innocent shot from the blue line on Wednesday night, the Pittsburgh goalie’s programming kicked in: Must. Allow. Weak-ass goal.
That softie won the game for Lumbus in overtime, tying the series 2-2, and sending Penguins fans into conniption fits. All for good reason: a shot from the blue line has like a 1-in-50 chance of going in– maybe less. It should have been a routine save for Fleury. His gaffe on the tying goal in the third period shouldn’t have happened either.
So Fleury is the Escape Goat, again, but I fear that reputation might obscure how truly bad the entire Penguins team was in this game. Really, it’s the whole team’s fault.
Before he became the Caps’ radio play-by-play guy, John Walton did public announcements for the Cincinnati Reds and called three Hershey Bears Calder Cup championships. He’s already had a great career, but tonight he’s be calling the NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs for NBC Sports. That’s a whole ‘nother level.
If you tuned into NBCSN, you heard the dulcet tones of @WaltonCaps telling the story of the Anaheim Ducks vs the Dallas Stars.
Oh, is this still happening? Is hockey still a thing? I was too busy having barbecues and drinking Flying Dog Barrel-Aged Imperial Porter and wearing flip-flops and liberally smearing SPF 250 all over myself to notice. Who even made the finals? It was the Pens and the Kings, right?
Ahh, the Chicago Blackhawks and the Boston Bruins. The #2 and #4 best possession teams in the league. The regular-season dominating Hawks and some jackholes from a city we’d normally be allowed to call a cesspit but some ultra-jackholes spoiled that, so now we have to pretend to be nice. Yay for Boston. Their accents are endearing, and Ben Affleck totally didn’t ham up Daredevil.
Now we dance. One last time, Ian and I will offer our predictions for the winner of the Stanley Cup. The winner will bask in infinite glory until the dawn of the Second Age. The loser will have to eat 100 pennies.
Each of the four remaining playoff teams has won a championship in the last four years. We’re just recycling winners at this point. There’s no point in watching anymore. There’s no point in anything. Our Capitals have been eliminated, and I can’ t think of any good reason to get out of bed in the morning except for summer weather, two good regional baseball teams, bathing suits, watermelons, Joss Whedon’s commentary track for Avengers, and a new Janelle Monae album.
Other than that, life is a wasteland.
Nonetheless, Ian and I made a promise to publish our awful, hastily assembled predictions on who would win each round of the playoffs. As you remember, I got smacked down in the quarterfinal round, but I’m feeling a little better about the enterprise right now….
Looking back over the last few years, I feel like I could articulate reasons for each year the Capitals got bounced from the playoffs. Last year’s Hunter Caps didn’t generate enough shots to win more than 50% of their games. Boudreau’s 2011 trap-Caps got beat by the Bolts’ suffocating two-man forecheck. The 2010 Caps were a solid team that ran into a white-hot goalie, i.e. they got Halak’d. And in ’09, an injured but explosive Caps crew couldn’t withstand the Cup-bound Penguins.
This year is a bit tougher. Certainly New York’s excellent goaltending deserves a bunch of credit for vanquishing the Capitals, but I’m hard-pressed to characterize this iteration of the team and how they fell short. I think that’s due to the abbreviated season, one bereft of a real training camp for rookie coach Adam Oates to implement his system. And that system itself is harder to peg down– I suppose it relies on a quick transition game (but not as wide-open as the 08-09 version) and using an overload defense (but nothing we’d describe as a trap, thank goodness).
So my goal is to find out — objectively– who these 2013 Caps were and how they got beat by the Rangers. (Plus: kitten GIFs.)
Welp, this is less than fun now, but we’re freaking obligated. The thing about making public predictions is that when you (and by you, I mean me) get ‘em wrong, it’s really embarrassing. I picked just 3 winners out of 8, so basically I’m worse than a coin-toss. I’m having self-worth issues right now. Meanwhile, Ian, used some blind freaking luck to get 5 out of 8. And we’re both emotionally unstable right now.
The 2012-2013 Washington Capitals are no more. Felled in seven games by Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers, the Caps have done the thinkable: an early-round exit from the playoffs for the fifth straight year. Some will call that a pattern, some will call it a curse. Some will call it karmic justice or the inevitable victory of a superior team over a bunch of preening Eurotrash, but those guys are dicks. Screw them. This is our goodbye, and we’re doing it our way.
Goodnight, sweet Caps. I guess it just wasn’t meant to be.