Everything was going swimmingly for the Washington Capitals. Alex Ovechkin opened up scoring with two straight goals. Going into intermission, the Caps had a two-goal lead.
Then things changed. Mike Richards scored early in the second. Then, a few minutes later, the Capitals’ first-line center and arguably the team’s best player, Nicklas Backstrom, absorbed a rough hip check near the Caps bench, where the boards meet plexiglass, courtesy of Drew Doughty.
“Los Angeles is just New York lying down.” – Quentin Crisp
The Puck Drop: As hockey analysts go, it’s a fair bet the late Naked Civil Servant numbers among the more improbable. Yet we can’t find a better clear-eyed summation of the 2012 Los Angeles Kings than Mr. Crisp’s tart bon mot. Where the New York Rangers are a team that is on its toes, the L.A. Kings are lazing in a recumbant slough with nary the will to move. (“Someone get me a bucket!”)
Their last game before Monday’s dance with the Caps should illustrate the point. A sorry 31 shots on goal, with eight power plays (one 5-on-3) and not a single puck finds the twine? Against the Blue Jackets? At least in Versailles the ruined monarchy mustered the spirit to play a rousing set or two of tennis, and look what happened to them. Awkward!
Schultz For Norris? Maybe next year, Sarge. (Illustration by @megHamonster)
The Norris Trophy sounds simple to award: “The James Norris Memorial Trophy is an annual award given to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.”
Not surprisingly, it seems the voters (Professional Hockey Writers’ Association) use how many points a defenseman scores in the season as the “offensive component” when looking for their winner. Since the 1997-8 season, only last year’s winner (Zdeno Chara) has been out of the Top 10 in Points for defensemen – and he wasn’t out by much, ranking 12th.
A defenseman’s Plus/Minus factors in to the voting as the “defensive component.” In the same time frame, all but two winners had a Plus/Minus less than 10 – Nicklas Lidstrom in 2000-1 had a +9 and Rob Blake in 1997-8 had a -3 (the only other winner of the Norris with a negative Plus/Minus was Randy Carlyle in 1980-1). And you would have to go back to when the “Secretary of Defense” won the first of his two Norris Trophies to find another winner with a Plus/Minus not in the double digits.
A few months ago, while Capitals fans and myself eagerly awaited the announcement of the Canadian Olympic Team, we only wanted General Manager Steve Yzerman to say one name. We heard Crosby. We groaned. We heard Brodeur. We nodded. We saw baby pictures. We vomited.
We heard Dan Boyle and Drew Doughty. Then Duncan Keith and Scott Niedermayer. Next was Chris Pronger and Brent Seabrook. And then… the 7th and final defenseman… Shea Weber?
After all the days that have passed since, we here at RMNB have still struggled to understand how Canada’s Best Defenseman, Mike Green, was left off the roster. Even as recently as Friday Night during the Olympic Opening Ceremonies, I professed to Daniel that Mike Green’s Defensive Acumen was at worst an 8 out of 10 – but more realistically a 9. And I said “EASILY” too. This prompted Daniel to investigate my claims as he was quite suspicious. Below are Daniel’s findings. How has Mike Green stacked up against his fellow countrymen and the rest of the NHL this year? See for yourself below the jump. You might be surprised.