Well, That Went Well: Kings Drop Caps, 4-1

The Caps lose to the Kings

Photo credit: Jacquelyn Martin

The last time these two teams met, the headless Caps were reeling. After trading away captain Chris Clark, Washington failed to put together a full 60 minute effort and just looked plain off in Los Angeles. Now, more than a year later, the boys from DC have a man with a ‘C,’ but that tune still sounds awfully familiar.

Just over a minute into the contest, Alex Ovechkin ripped the Capitals only tally past Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier. The goal came the moment I was settling in with my nachos at Verizon Center. Coincidence? I think not. However, Anze Kopitar would have something to say about that in the second, flipping the puck over a seated Semyon Varlamov to knot the game at one. Then with 16:24 left in the third, Andrei Loktionov gave L.A. a 2-1 lead as the biscuit once again got past an out of position Varlamov. It would only get worse for the Capitals as Michal Handzus and Jarret Stoll pushed the lead to three. By the end of the game, Verizon Center was half empty. Kings beats Caps, 4-1.

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New Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin (Photo by Heather Mabb)

Caps "Kapitan" Alex Ovechkin (Photo by Heather Mabb)

Fedor Fedin checks in again with a translated article published in today’s Soviet Sport. The article is written by Dmitry Chesnokov and is titled, “When I speak, do not stare at the ceiling!” It refers to Alex Ovechkin and a joke he makes about his new-found Captaincy. Honestly, could there be no greater title to an article? I think not.

In the text below, Ovechkin talks about Russia’s Failures in the WJC, defends Nikita Filatov, and discusses what it will be like as Captain of one of the best teams in the NHL. Let’s go:

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Mike Green Falls Hard to the ice as Caps lose to Kings 2-1

The Russian Machine doesn’t have much to say about the Capitals 2-1 loss the Los Angeles Kings today. It was crap. In fact, we felt this photo of Mike Green pretty much summed it up.

The Caps once again, came out in the first period with absolutely no push. To that effect, they’ve been out scored 6-0 in their past three first periods and out-shot 35-11. (Thanks Capitals Insider)

We want to take the easy road and say “Man, with Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina gone, this team is in absolute disarray. They’ve lost three straight games.” But you’ve got to look deeper than that. If you go by that logic, then the Hershey Bears are 10-1 in their last 11 because they brought Chris Bourque back . The problem is the secondary scoring for this team has been absolutely nonexistent lately and the team has not been playing a full 60 minutes at their level. The lack of intensity from anyone other than the Young Guns is troubling. And honestly, Jason Chimera seems to still be trying to find himself in Bruce Boudreau’s system.

The Capitals look like they’re a step slow. They’re losing battles. And with this being one of the NHL’s most skilled teams, we figure this is a tall-tale sign of either a team losing its focus or is in general tired. Someone needs to start banging into some bodies and create some space for others.

We hope with two home games on the slate this week, the Caps will bear down and play better in front of their own fans. And The Russian Machine Will Even Offer A Bold Prediction: We will be excited to see who will be named Captain in the coming days (Alex Ovechkin For Kapitan!!!) and receive the instant gratification of refocusing the team after soundly defeating the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday Night. Okay guys, make it happen!

Capitals Make Bold Trade For Jason Chimera: Our Analysis

Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina in a Blue Jackets Uniform

Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina in a Blue Jackets Uniform. Weird.

The Washington Capitals made a trade this week, picking up Jason Chimera from the Columbus Blue Jackets for Chris Clark and Milan Jurcina. Given that I spent all weekend putting together a spreadsheet trying to approximate the Goals Versus Threshold that Puck Prospectus uses to give an idea of a player’s contributions, I thought it would be a good time to put it to use. I wasn’t able to match their GVT exactly, but I got close enough to make the thing potentially viable.

First, on what GVT is:

“To explain in terms already familiar to sports statisticians, GVT is very similar to VORP in baseball: it is the value of a player, in goals, above what a replacement player would have contributed. The fact that GVT is measured in goals is crucial: statistics that divide up “Win Shares”, so that the ratings of a team’s players sum to that team’s number of wins, are very erratic and non-linear, since wins don’t increase or decrease linearly with team caliber. While hockey is ultimately about winning or losing, players’ contributions always come down to scoring goals and preventing them. A player cannot “win” a game, even though he may be put in a situation where scoring a goal or making a key save would create or conserve a win. Each player’s role, no matter his position, is to try and increase the goal differential in favor of his team. An offensive player who scores a hat trick only to see his teammates allow 4 goals against has nevertheless done his job; a goaltender who stops 39 of 40 shots only to lose 1-0 has likewise performed well. Using this standard, all players can be compared by the same yardstick: how much did they help (or harm) their team’s goal differential?…

  • GVT is measured in goals. This makes it a convenient unit that hockey fans are already comfortable with.
  • GVT compares hockey players of all positions and over any period of time.
  • GVT only uses statistics that lead directly to goals. You cannot incorporate goaltender wins into GVT, because they are not a measurement of goals prevented. However, if you can rationally explain what are the odds of a faceoff win (or loss) leading to a goal or goal against, it would be possible to incorporate faceoff wins and losses into GVT, though I have not done so.
  • GVT has built-in accounting. The sum of player GVTs on a team equals that team’s GVT plus the replacement level. This is essential, as player statistics often come with caveats. “Kovalchuk scored 43 goals, but he doesn’t play defense and his team isn’t good”. This makes it much easier to measure “how good would this team be replacing player A with player B?” It is also essential in that player success is correlated with team success, which after all is the entire point of the sport.
  • GVT automatically normalizes for the strength of the league…

GVT does not measure a player’s talent. The statistic measures a player’s contribution to his team’s goal differential. A goaltender that faces zero shots will have a value of zero, regardless of whether he is Patrick Roy or Andrew Raycroft. Likewise, a player that is injured or gets little ice time will see his GVT reduced accordingly. It also does not take into account environment: a player will score more with better linemates, and I make no attempt to adjust for that…

GVT does not measure intangibles. Things like leadership do exist in hockey, and they do help to make your teammates better. However, there is no way to measure this through statistics, and any attempt to quantify it is futile. In effect, we are not trying to see what information is “hidden” in the statistics; we are simply trying to better characterize the information that is at hand”

Alright, on to the trade!

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Chris Clark vs. Steve Staios Fight

If some of you missed it, since nothing happened here except bear hugs and helmet punching, here is the fight between Washington Capitals captain Chris Clark and Edmonton Oilers Defenseman Steve Staios. Who won – minus the PA Annoucer who put on that country song in the middle of the scrap? Well, neither got in a good shot, and when the takedown happened, both players seemingly fell to the ice on their sides at the same time. So we’re going to rule this one a draw, and a total yawn.

Thanks to HockeyFights.com for the video.