Photo: Greg Fiume
One of the biggest differences between the Caps under Barry Trotz and the Caps under Adam Oates is the role of defensemen in offense. In February, Alex Prewitt described that role like this:
Blue-liners in Coach Barry Trotz’s system hold the freedom to pinch inside the offensive zone, collapsing onto pucks along the boards to keep possessions alive, but they also are asked to do their fair share of long-range flinging.
Last week, I looked at how badly the Caps’ forwards other than Alex Ovechkin struggle to generate shot attempts. But with Prewitt’s insight on the role of defenseman in Trotz’s system in mind, here’s a look at shot generation from the Caps defensemen, from a bit of a different angle.
There’s a glossary at the bottom, so be sure to check that out if the chart doesn’t make sense. We’re going to look at what percent of the overall shot attempts by Caps defenders each regular blue liner takes, as well as how effective each defensemen is at getting his individual shot attempts through and getting them on net.
While we use shot attempts as a proxy for meaningful puck possession, this doesn’t mean that all shot attempts are of equal value during game play. Generally, an unblocked shot attempt is preferred to one that is blocked, and a shot on goal is preferred to a shot attempt that goes wide. With that in mind, here’s a look at the six Caps defenders who have a sample size worth looking at.
Photo: Greg Fiume
Last night, Ian wrote about pending UFA Mike Green’s desire to stay with the Caps until death or retirement do them part. Already this season, I’ve looked at what it could cost to re-sign Marcus Johansson and how much Braden Holtby is worth, both of whom will be RFA after the season. Green’s case is a bit different, as he is set to hit unrestricted free agency come July 1st.
Some have pointed to Johnny Boychuck‘s 7-year, $42-million extension with the Islanders as a floor of where Green’s negotiations should begin. It’s a decent comp, but I’m going to dig a little deeper to look for salary comps for Green.
Photo: Chris Gordon
Original young gun, Mike Green, is set to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Green has arguably been the team’s best defenseman this season. He’s fourth on the team in points (39) and has the best possession (52.6 percent) among regular Caps defenseman. He improved the Capitals’ shot-attempt percentage two percent when he’s on the ice (after adjusting for score effects). He’s a big part of the team’s success.
So far this season, general manager Brian MacLellan has been vague on Green’s future as the $6.25-million defenseman has had his name bandied about in trade rumors. Meanwhile, Barry Trotz believes some legwork has been done already for a new contract.
When speaking to Sportsnet about Green’s upcoming UFA status in February, Trotz said, “I think Mac is talking to him, and talking to his representative about what they’re looking to do. We’re in that process I’m sure.”
Trotz said that Green is “an important piece.”
On Sunday, I asked Green what exactly was going on.
Photos: Chris Gordon
Seven years ago, Joseph Caprario’s father took his eight-year-old son to a Washington Capitals game after winning a charity auction. This was back in 2008, when Mike Green was electric and on his way to a 31-goal season. After that game, little Joseph met Green. The defenseman gave the fan a game-used stick and signed the blade with a silver Sharpie. Joseph treasured it; he hung the stick on his wall. For the affable Green, it was a routine gesture.
“A few months later, I started playing hockey myself,” Caprario told me. “Meeting Green was what inspired me to do so. I started as a defenseman. He was my favorite player.”
Elyssa Cole, a 29-year-old teacher in Sterling, Virginia, has always been a huge fan of the Caps and an even huger fan of Mike Green. She loves collecting Caps memorabilia. Five years ago, she found on eBay something she had to have. It was a Mike Green game-used stick. Cole splurged, shelling out $200 to buy it.
On Sunday, both Caprario and Cole made the hour-long trip to Kettler Capitals Iceplex to give back to the guy they felt had already done so much for them.
“I figured that if this stick is so good to him that he plays better, this was the right thing to do,” Cole told me. “As a fan, I’d do anything to help the team win.”
The Caps have announced that they have recalled defenseman Nate Schmidt from Hershey. This is an emergency recall. Apparently, Mike Green is banged up. The Caps listed him a day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
Schmidt has 2 goals and 4 assists, and a 53.4-percent shot-attempt percentage in 29 games for the Caps this season. He recently returned from a fractured shoulder blade.
We also like Mike Green.
While the loss of Green on the blue line is a big blow to the team, it appears as if it’s a short-term thing. Having a replacement as capable as Schmidt waiting in the wings speaks to the blue-line depth that Brian MacLellan has built in his short time as General Manager.
Haha, his smile’s so goofy.
The Capitals’ second line has struggled with scoring this season, but the times, they are a changing.’ New trade-deadline-addition Curtis Glencross has just scored his second goal as a Capital. It came after a beautiful pass from Mike Green and Mike Green’s magical, discontinued Easton Stealth Stick.
There it is. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)
At the start of the 2008 NHL season, Mike Green came to camp with just 15 sticks. They were Easton Stealth CNTs. At the time, Green said his sticks had been discontinued for “a while.” He would be getting no more. Over the course of that season, Green posted unbelievable numbers for a defensemen, scoring 31 goals. Looking at the goal leaderboard for that season, Green is just below some of the most high flying scorers in the league: Malkin, Toews, and Crosby to name a few.
At one point Green scored a stunning 10 times in eight straight games. The goals during the streak all came off the same Easton, which Green said was the best stick he’s ever played with. Reluctantly, he agreed to donate it to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
“You can only be superstitious for so long,” Green said.
Green’s moment of reckoning came on May 2, 2009. Playing in game one of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Pittsburgh Penguins, Green broke his last surviving Stealth CNT.
Photo Credit: Gregg Forwerck
Hard to play against, tough customer, character guy: those were some of the hockey superlatives thrown around by Barry Trotz and his players when asked about Tim Gleason, the team’s newly acquired D-man.
“He’ll keep people honest,” Trotz told reporters at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “You want to take a shot at Greenie, he can back it up.”
Yep, despite whatever my zany Russian political science professor and Some People on the Internet say, Mike Green isn’t going anywhere.
Photo: Alex Brandon
Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman released his latest 30 Thoughts article this morning. There are two big nuggets of news. First, he believes Mike Green will be staying in DC for the rest of the year, which corroborates recent quotes from Brian MacLellan and Barry Trotz. He also believes the team will try to add a veteran defenseman and a winger to play with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin.
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