A Boston writer named Michael Hurley wrote an article about how Alex Ovechkin‘s plus-minus rating is really bad and therefore Alex Ovechkin is really bad. I’m going to link to it here because that’s the responsible thing to do, but please don’t read it. Hurley, who actually gets paid for this dreck, goes through some half-hearted apologia for plus-minus (“As everyone knows, plus-minus is a greatly flawed stat”), and then he uses it as the centerpiece of his argument (“Still, it’s not completely meaningless, as some would like you to believe.”)
So, real quick, I’m just gonna bust out a couple reasons why a) Alex Ovechkin’s plus-minus is low, b) plus-minus is not an indicator of talent, and c) Michael Hurley’s column is bad and he should feel bad.
Sarge hasn’t changed one bit! (Photo credit: Kyle Mace)
After nine glorious seasons with the Washington Capitals organization, Jeff Schultz was bought out of the final year of his four-year, $11 million contract over the summer. With that buyout ended a brilliant career. Remember the time Sarge led the NHL in plus-minus? Or the time he recited the Declaration of Independence? And the time he led the league in plus-minus? Oh, I said that already.
The Los Angeles Kings cut Schultz during training camp, so he spent the fall with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
Early Morning Skate: So, the last time we were here, we were there. Filthy Philadelphia, needing a solid road win, and feeling optimistic to start. In fact, we were all, like, yay here we gowhattheflipwasthat?! and c’mon Holtbeast get it together and then yay Groooouuubsie and boooo Max Talbot grrr grrrr and ow that traffic-cone orange makes my soul weep and that was pretty much the best summary of that ugly mess of a game I can imagine.
Mmmm…tastes like Cheez Whiz
What exactly was it that happened that terrible, cold February night at the F-U Center? Where, exactly, were manimal Troy Brouwer and Captain 8 (despite being probably the best in Red on the ice that night) and John “Towelie” Carlson and the Millionaire and his wife and the nameless rest? Certainly not there to play hard, or at least battle back through a tough start. And why was it, exactly, the Lord Supreme in His wisdom didst create that dung-heap of a burg to begin with?
Now this is our idea of a hot Fly team. Really.
You see, I’d like to chalk up that bumbling bungle of a game simply to our visiting the giant spirit suck that is Philly and its moronic fans. Like to, but cannot. Yeah, there were a couple fluky puck bounces and what-not, but those things give as much as they take. No, what we saw was a failure to launch by the Capitals after a dis-spiriting start. It was not, in any possible permutation of the concept, ‘good.’
The Puck Drop: But it’s Spring, and Easter (for some) or Maru (for others) or Passover or Nowruz or we’re just going to stop this now. Traditionally, it’s a time for rebirth and renewal and rejuvenation and reloading and all that. For the Capitals’ flock, it’s once more the race to the playoffs.
For several years now, the Capitals have demonstrated fine mettle in April, much like the pale gossamer jonquils besotting the landscape, if those jonquils were angry, snarling, forechecking, glass-smashing monsters made of steel and laser beams.
In short, there’s two ways this ends. One: we leave Filthydelphia redolent of Whiz, covered in soot and chagrin; or two, you can eat me Peter Laviolette. No wait, that’s a given. Oh yes; or two, we bounce outta Barftown and kick it into grinder gear for the coming match-ups against the Canes and ugly Islanders (revenge want now) and be the team that showed up to rub Winnipeg’s nose in its own dark, dark shame. I know which one I’m hoping for.
I saw this on eBay and I just had to have it. Capitals Sport & Decor, a memorabilia shop at Dulles Town Center, sometimes hosts signings with Washington Capitals players. They put up some of their extra signed merchandise up on eBay, and that’s where I unearthed this gem. It’s a signed 16 x 20 photo of Capitals defenseman Jeff Schultz checking Sidney Crosby down to the ice. Schultz’s signature is at bottom. To the left is an inscription that reads, “Hows the Wood Sid!”
The Washington elite and tourists turned out in droves on Monday, filling the nation’s capital for the second inauguration of Barack Obama. Revelers packed the mall and filled (most) of the streets along the parade route. The crowd downtown reached around 800,000 by the time people finally got off their Metro trains, down from the estimated 1.5 million people four years ago. Members of the Washington Capitals were no exception. General Manager George McPhee — a dual citizen of the United States and Canada — scored a spot at the Canadian Embassy, a prime viewing area near the intersection of Constitution and Pennsylvania. From my view next door at the Newseum, the scene looked festive with our friends from the North putting up a large “Canada salutes Barack Obama” banner and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police patrolling their sovereign land.
McPhee wasn’t the only Cap in attendance. Matt Hendricks, an American, posted a picture of Canadians Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz stuck on MetroRail with approximately 348,236 other people on their way downtown to view the celebrations.
The parade wasn’t much to write home about. Sadly, there were no massive inflatable Muppets. There were, however, a bunch of high school marching bands and a 40 minute delay. And then another couple thousand high school marching bands. But that’s neither here nor there. This was a day to come to together and freeze as one.
[Editor's note: Over the next however long, we'll be pondering a few ways to brighten up the hockey world. Sometimes silly, sometimes not: here are our proposals for the 2012-2013 season... whenever that may happen.]
Goals, assists, plus-minus. That’s supposed to be how you tell how good a hockey player is. When a skater’s name pops up on the CSN-Washington chyron, they show goals, assists, and plus-minus. ESPN, Yahoo, and NHL.com place plus-minus among their marquee stats for ranking players. But the more we learn about hockey and statistics, the more we know that plus-minus kind of sucks at measuring talent.
Proposal: This season, let’s throw out the plus-minus stat. In this article I’m gonna tell you why I think plus-minus has gotta go, and I’m gonna pitch a stat to replace it.
Jeff Schultz has a good, strong German name with lots of consonants, which makes it very satisfying to yell. This is fortunate, since we yelled his name a lot this season. If you yell it angrily enough, it almost feels like swearing, doesn’t it? We appreciate the small blessings.
After the grueling march of disappointment that was Game Three, we expected a rallying effort from the Caps. But we weren’t naive enough to expect a different kind of game. We know by now that the Capitals are capable of playing only one-goal games. What we didn’t know is that they could get goals out of Alex Ovechkin, Nick Backstrom, and Mike Green in the same game. It was like 2009 up in here.
Artem Anisimov tied it up early in the second by beating Braden Holtby, who was left helpless when Brooks Laich and Alex Ovechkin couldn’t block a weirdly bouncing pass. Nick Backstrom reasserted the lead by tenderizing Artem Anisimov and then putting Chimera’s pass in the net. Artem Anisimov won an icing race against Jeff Schultz and set up Marian Gaborik for another tying goal through Holtby’s five-hole.
Mike Green put the Caps up with a powerplay goal late in the third. It was the game-winner. Caps beat Rangers 3-2.
The Washington Capitals had only a 38% win percentage on the road this season, so getting the W Thursday night is crucial; they just can’t depend on victory away from Verizon Center. But Monday’s home loss to the Bruins was an ugly affair, and the once well composed team fell to shambles. To win Game Four, the Caps are gonna have to dig deep.
I have compiled a series of modest steps the Capitals should take to make it happen. And then we threw in the secret weapon. (Okay, we’ll tell you: more posters.)