A Game to Forget: Stars beat Caps 5-2

Mitchell Layton

(Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)

The Washington Capitals had the opportunity to prove national dominance against the best-in-the-west Dallas Stars. That didn’t happen.

Michael Ryder took a second chance, banked it off one or two Caps top-liners and past an unsuspecting Michal Neuvirth. On the power play, Nick Backstrom gave a blind feed to Alex Semin, who fired hard from 15 feet out. Neuvirth’s teammates abandoned him to another Michael Ryder goal. Then came John Carlson, who fired an ICBM over Lehtonen’s pads after the faceoff. Adam Burish deked Backstrom and Neuvy to give Dallas the edge early in the third. Hotshot Jamie Benn made it a two-goal lead on the power play. And Eric Nystrom netted off a nice rebound to make it a three-spot. Stars beat Caps 5-2.

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Fancystats Crash the ESPN Mock Draft

Anze Kopitar

Anze Kopitar celebrates a goal last year against the Blackhawks. (Photo credit: Harry How)

Editor’s note: You can win a 1-year subscription to ESPN Insider and a $25 gift certificate to Front Page VA by guessing Neil’s first two draft picks tonight. Check out the details on our Facebook page.

As part of ESPN.com’s NHL family, I was invited to participate in their fantasy hockey draft this past Tuesday. Just me and guys like Craig Custance, John Buccigross, and Scott Cullen.

No pressure.

Victoria Matiash has already given a bird’s eye view of the draft, but I thought I would run through my thought process on various picks and give you some ideas for your fantasy draft. Plus, you can see how I do for the season because we are making the results public.

Here were the ground rules for the draft:

Participants included, in original order, Craig Custance, Tristan Cockcroft, Tim Kavanagh, John Buccigross, Pierre Becquey, Michael Hume, Victoria Matiash, Neil Greenberg, Sean Allen and Scott Cullen. Categories include goals, assists, power-play points, plus/minus, penalty minutes, shots on goal and average time on ice for skaters and wins, save percentage and goals-against average for goaltenders. Slots to fill include nine forwards, five defensemen, one “utility” skater, two goaltenders and a five-man bench.

My philosophy was simple: grab young, healthy, talented players with upside. Let others worry if Patrick Kane would be healthy or if Sergei Kostitsyn can once again score 20 goals on less than 100 shots.

I had the eight pick. With my editor Mike Hume drafting before me (he knows which players I fancy) and Cullen having back-to-back picks behind me I knew I had to make strategic decisions.

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Calder Trophy Contenders At The Half-Way Point Of The Season

Semyon Varlamov is going to have to stop being injured, to actually contend for the Calder Trophy.

Semyon Varlamov is going to have to stop being injured, to actually contend for the Calder Trophy.

The Capitals’ Semyon Varlamov has been one of the better rookies in the NHL this season, and he’s certainly in the running to maybe take home the Calder Trophy. Several of the more highly touted rookies haven’t quite lived up to expectations, which leaves the field still wide open. By the nature of these kinds of awards, the winner tends to be the guy who played over his head the most and the longest. That means that the player who is on top now can easily regress and possibly even finish out of the top 10 at the en. Also, since it’s hard to compare players at different positions, the Goals Versus Threshold numbers that Behind The Net recently added are useful to put everyone on the same playing field. A little more than half-way through the season, here are some of the top contenders.

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