Photo: Perry Nelson
Things are going very well for the Washington Capitals. At 6-1-0, they lead the Metropolitan Division and are tied for the second most standing points in the league. Heading into Saturday night, several Caps were at or near the top of the league’s leaderboards.
Capitals GM Brian MacLellan should be swinging his pants around his head like a helicopter right now. Let’s recap.
Just like shooting womp rats back home, John Carlson‘s scoring acumen is something preternatural. Take for example his goal on Thursday night, a spin-a-rama from above the circles that had no business being on target and even less business hitting the back of the net.
He wasn’t even looking! Blind, like Polyphemus, Carlson takes the pass and fires with effortless fluidity. Midichlorians flowing. The puck sails past a flailing Swede before beating poor old Scott Darling in net.
Travis Yost recently discussed the utility of individual point percentage (IPP) in forecasting player performance. The article is a great introduction to IPP, so I recommend reading the entire thing if you’re not familiar with the concept.
Here’s a excerpt:
Another metric I like to look at is ‘Individual Point Percentage’ (“IPP“), which shows how frequently a player was awarded a point in an event his team (a) scored; and (b) the player was on the ice. Much like our on-ice save percentage example for defencemen, IPP regresses substantially towards league averages. On average, forwards usually receive a point on about 68 per cent of goals scored when they are on the ice. That number sits at about 30 per cent for defencemen.
Context is key: we simply can’t treat all players as equals in a hockey vacuum. Sidney Crosby(84.8 per cent) and Erik Karlsson (49.4 per cent) lead career IPP and it’s not a fluke – they’re constantly involved in the run of play, and as such, pick up extra points along the way. If we want to identify outliers, we must first observe strong deviations from the league norms, and then observe strong deviations from a player’s career norms.
Let’s apply this to the 2015-16 Capitals.
Braden Holtby just signed a five-year, $30.1 million contract that will keep him a Capital until the next decade. One player that’s very happy about this news is John Carlson.
Photo: Alex Brandon
We already told you that Alex Ovechkin took home the Rocket Richard Trophy for the fifth time and Braden Holtby finished fourth in voting for the Vezina Trophy. But there are a few other juicy tidbits from the NHL Awards ceremony that we missed.
The Summer of Caps Babies continued yesterday with the birth of John and Gina Carlson’s son, Lucca. Via RMNB reader Marianna S., Gina posted an adorable photo of the little man on Instagram and reported he arrived June 15 at 12:30 p.m., weighing in at 7 pounds 5 ounces.
For a team based in America’s capital, the Washington Capitals haven’t had a lot of American players in recent years. That changed in 2014-15, when the team’s number-one defense pairing happened to be same one that played together for the American Olympic team in Sochi: Brooks Orpik and the subject of today’s review, John Carlson.
Carly rules, and these colors don’t run. USA! USA! USA!
Last week, Eric Fehr met the media to update them on the injury that has keep him out of the lineup for most of the playoffs. After two minutes of optimism and indirect answers, the scrum was finished. The day’s routine necessity had been completed. As the rest of the media shuffled away from Fehr’s locker, I made an offhand comment that the F-16 was getting ready for flight.
“There are some bad nicknames out there,” he told me. “Of all the nicknames to have, that’s a pretty cool one.”
I asked what he thought of his other nickname, Fehrsie.
“See, that’s the thing: I hate those nicknames,” he said. “Anybody with a last name with a –y on the end would probably be the worst one. Spelling it –ie doesn’t change anything. You need to be creative. As a group we’ve tried to be more creative with guys. We tried to change it up a little bit.”
Inadvertently, I had just stumbled on a massive scoop. Over the next 10 minutes, Fehr revealed the other hidden nicknames of the Capitals locker room. Some you might know– others you don’t.
Photo credit: Alex Brandon
The Washington Capitals dominated play in game seven against the New York Islanders through two periods. They were constantly parked in the Isles zone, putting pucks on goaltender Jaroslav Halak with ease. The Islanders could barely muster a whimper, with just six shots on goal as the middle frame wound down. Somehow, though, Washington hadn’t found a way to convert: missed deflections, timely saves, and bad bounces led to a scoreboard that reflected little about what happening on the ice.
Then, with 1:25 left in the second period, Joel Ward broke through, poking Brooks Orpik‘s shot through the legs of Halak. Verizon Center erupted into a shining display of pure human joy. But it was still full of Washington Capitals fans, ready to have their hearts ripped out with final game, final period collapse. And just three minutes and 13 seconds into the closing frame, Frans Nielsen did just that with an innocent-looking wrist shot from the slot that trickled through Braden Holtby’s pads. With that, the game was tied. Though the Caps had dominated play, the game looked like it would end with another bitter, bruising fight, with one bad bounce deciding each team’s fate.
But instead, the game-winner would buck the thuggery the series had shown. With around seven minutes left in the zero-sum game, Evgeny Kuznetsov picked up Jason Chimera‘s pass at the far wall, before cutting right through the heart of the New York zone. The play was magisterial, with Kuznetsov floated past Islanders defenders. Instead of firing the puck off at his first look at the net, Kuznetsov held on to it until he got to the near circle. That’s when Halak went down. Kuznetsov saw an opening.
“I just put puck in the net,” he told reporters after the game.
The Washington Capitals have been almost powerless during the man advantage this series. Thirteen opportunities had come and gone with just one goal to show for it.
Early in Saturday’s brawl at Nassau, the Islanders were well aware of Washington’s power outage. The Isles committed two penalties and killed them with ease.
Then Isles captain John Tavares got busted for slashing and John Carlson finally made his team pay.
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