This week we’ll take a quick look at how the top 6 line combos and blueline pairings are doing at even strength and how the goalies are doing overall, with respect to scoring chances. In the following weeks (as I get more comfortable with SQL) I will add goals scored for and against. For now it’s just scoring chances. I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. As always, you can find the spreadsheet online.
A despondent Braden Holtby looks on after giving up the third goal of the night. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)
Ovi reacts after missing a shot in the second period. (Photo credit: John Bazemore)
When Joe B. and Locker finished their pre-game intros and CSN cameras zoomed in for the opening face-off, it was hard not to notice the rows and rows of empty seats in Phillips Arena. The Capitals, seemingly aware of their surroundings, lacked energy and focus and proceeded to play down to their opponents. After giving up three quick goals to Ben Eager, Nik Antropov, & Evander Kane respectively, Braden Holtby was quickly summoned to the Caps bench by an enraged Bruce Boudreau.
Michal Neuvirth was steady in relief, but unfortunately for the Capitals, they were never able to locate their game after the switch. The offense was blessed with quality scoring chance after quality scoring chance but all resulted either in a missed shot, a ping off the post, or a solid save by Thrashers goaltender Ondrej Pavelec.
Evil cheeseburger-eater Dustin Byfuglien then put the game officially out of reach, closing the second period with a nifty short-side wrist shot past Neuvy. And let’s not even talk about that Burmistrov goal. I’m still angry at Jeff Schultz, who stopped skating, got deked out of his jockstrap and resembled a giant, awkward pylon on the play. Whatever.Thrashers win 5-0.
On November 14, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
“Can you believe we won this???” (Photo credit: Greg Fiume)
Boulton and Erskine beat the tar out of one another. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
This third meeting of the Washington Capitals and Atlanta Thrashers was not overshadowed by injury like the season-opener was by Ondrej Pavelec‘s collapse. Instead, we were treated to a cavalcade of slapstick puckery. The puck had a mind of its own tonight, and the game’s three goalies were none too happy about it.
Alex Ovechkin opened it up early with a lucky bounce knocked in by goalie Chris Mason. Mason had already bobbled an earlier shot; this one he knocked in all by himself. Mike Green piled on with a mustache-fueled power play goal hooked up by Eric Fehr and Mike Knuble. Atlanta’s Rich Peverly turned in what was either a world-class goal or a total fluke (we vote the latter). Tyler Sloan dove in front of a shot to lead to a turnover and breakaway for Alex Ovechkin. Ovie’s pass enabled Alex Semin to score a dazzling deke-and-goal that should humble the authors of the All-Star game ballot.
Like an out-of-control garbage truck full of terminally ill kittens, the second period brought destruction and woe to all in its path (i.e. the Capitals). Andrew Ladd scored one and Bryan Little scored two, the last of which was a shorthanded breakaway furnished by the careless puck control of our very own Russian Machine.
The third period languished on for 13 minutes before John Erskine– yes, that John Erskine– rocketed the game winner past relief goalie Ondrej Pavelec. Then David Steckel found the empty net as Capitals players are so eager to do.
Phew, that was exhausting. Caps beat Thrashers 6-4.
The upshot: The Caps squeak by an uneven bout with the trouble Toronto team to win in the shootout. But man, there’s a lot more than that. The Red Army has yet to play solid games back to back. The defensive end had lots of trouble, especially in the third, but the oh-fense was spectacular. The first period was sleepy, the second period electric, the third period a near disaster.
If that last paragraph reads disjointed, it’s only because the game was too (that and I’m not using conjunctions).
For the nth game this season, the Capitals were polite enough to let the other team score first. Nikolai Kulemin takes the puck, gets John Erskine to dive, and lures Michal Neuvirth a bit wide before shooting. MG52 answered with a PPG (now that’s what we’ve been missing!). Jason Chimera showed determination in the slot, accepting a deft pass from Boyd Gordon in the corner and then repeatedly swatting the puck until it snuck under Jonas Gustavsson‘s loins for the go-ahead. Either John Carlson (slapper) or Tomas Fleischmann (tip-in) scored the third goal, and the jury may be out on that one for a long time.
The third period was a bloodbath, filled with a troika of Leafs goals from Kaberle, Versteeg, and Bovak. Toronto claimed the lead, and it seemed the Caps were headed for a loss. And then Alex Semin, whom Boudreau almost scratched due to illness, converted an unlikely power play chance. Overtime came and went. The shootout found Ovechkin and Semin scoring wizardly goals and Michal Neuvirth stopping two attempts. Even though the Canadian bastards escaped with a point, at least we can say Caps beat Leafs 5-4 (Shootout).
On October 21, 2010, In Game Recap, By Peter Hassett
Varly looks like DeNiro in Raging Bull, only angrier. (Capture by @Caps_Girl)
Milan Lucic and the Bruins are too much for the Caps to handle for a second straight night. (Photo credit: Mary Schwalm)
Every great song is about loss of some kind: loss of life, loss of a beautiful woman, or loss of that loving feeling. The Capitals should probably download some Righteous Brothers on their iPiddles about now. Maybe some Chuck Brown to commemorate the miserable funk they’re in. Maybe some Hank Williams to soundtrack the drowning of sorrows. Or maybe some Dark Tranquility– you know, death metal: really brutal stuff to remind them of how brutal this game was.
What can we say? Besides the last ten minutes, this was some of worst Caps hockey we’ve seen in more than a year. But we can’t deny that Bruins were truly dialed in, most of all due to senior goalie Tim Thomas, who stopped 38 of 39 Caps shots (a season high). But it must be said that the lion’s share of the shots he faced seemed predestined for his pads. Not that he wasn’t terrific, but that Caps awfulness might have inflated that perception.
It seems unfair to pick any players out for bad performances; it was almost uniformly bad. Like last game, the Caps are still wracked by injury, direly missing Boyd Gordon and Mike Green in particular. Like last game, they struggled to clear the defensive zone and coordinate forward thrusts, often feeding avaricious Bruins perching on the forecheck. Like last game, they didn’t put pucks in the air against a virtuoso butterfly goalie who owned the low area. And just like last game, they were hoisted with their own petard. Bruins beat Caps 4-1.
With five games in the books, I survived my first week of logging scoring chances, including DVRing the game Saturday night and catching up Sunday. If you haven’t read it already, my first post explains what I consider a scoring chance. As always, you can see this spreadsheet on Google Docs where I update them every week.
Readers of the blog know I put a lot of stock into numbers to help put context around which players are performing and which aren’t. Corsi is one of my favorites because it is a good proxy for territorial possession in a game. To get a player’s Corsi rating, simply add up all the goals, shots on goal, missed shots and blocked shots of that player- both for and against- when he is on the ice. If it is positive, that player helps create scoring chances, and if it is negative – well, the opposite happens. Or, simply go to Behind the Net, and let them do the work for you.
In front of a sparse Monday morning crowd, the Capitals’ rookies took to the ice for their second day of Rookie Camp. The prospects were put through a extended practice that consisted mostly of tedious timing drills. The usual suspects, guys like Cody Eakin and Marcus Johansson, impressed the coaches with their skill while RMNB worship idol, Stanislav Galiev, showed-off his blazing speed. Trevor Bruess also showed improvement throughout the session, darting easily through the timers that were set up to record their speed.
Bruce Boudreau noted that all of the players were in great condition for camp. And it’s true. The boys were moving faster and looking less winded after each and every drill. However, the session ended with the dreaded set of Herbies, which we can only describe as the worst suicides on earth. The sprints included skating back and forth repeatedly across varying widths of the ice, full throttle. By the end, all of the players were doubled over, struggling for air.