Caps Back to Early Playoff Exit Status with Grabovski Signing

On Friday we posted an article in which we mistook a fake twitter account as genuine. I say that to make clear that we at RMNB make mistakes all the time. So when I go medieval on this article below, please know I do it with a degree of self-awareness.

On Sunday morning,  The Hockey Writers published an article about the Caps by Tim Bourcier. Titled “Caps Back to Early Playoff Exit Status with Grabovski Signing”, the article contains some of the most worrying hockey writing I’ve read this year. Normally I’d just ignore something like this and starve it of pageviews, but this example is egregious. Every once in a while, we should give voice to the debate so that we might shout down the trolls all the louder.

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Grabovski > Ribeiro is the Hill I Will Die On

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Since Thursday, our comments and Facebook page have sort of been railroaded by Ribeiro loyalists. These folks have been saying that Mike Ribeiro is the superior player compared to Mikhail Grabovski. I’m gonna let two guys in particular have the floor for a moment, and then I’m gonna be a jerk and tell them why they’re wrong.

Alex: This is ridiculous. Grabovski didn’t do anything for the Leafs last year. How can you possibly compare Grabovski to Ribero? It’s a good signing for the caps, but he does not replace Ribero at all.

Nick: Yeah, Ribeiro knows some crazy [fecal expletive] with the puck. Grabovski has potential, but he seemed pretty much worse than useless last season.

Nick: I prefer to look at real stats. You know, goals, assists, PPG? As opposed to teammate-played-better-assists. tl;dr Objectivity over subjectivity.

Alex: Grabovski can’t even replace Ribeiro, let alone be an improvement. Nick’s right; you cant judge two players by some [fecal expletive] stats. The only stats that matter are the real ones. The other stats are just a replacement for not actually watching the guy play.

Nick: You can say that Grabo was playing with terrible linemates, or that Ribeiro had more favorable ice time, or whatever. The fact still remains that Ribs has produced way better. [. . .] Plus Ribeiro is just jokes to watch [. . .] Anyway, Grabovski will do well, good signing, but I can’t see this is an upgrade.

(Comments were edited for clarity, brevity, and profanity.)

So the argument goes like this: Grabovski didn’t help the Leafs in 2012-13. Ribeiro had more goals and assists, which are better indications of how those players will produce in the future anyway.

And also Ribeiro is something called “jokes”, which is apparently good.

Okay, my turn.

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…He’s an improvement. A big one.

They’re both presumptive second-line centers in UFA status, but George McPhee upgraded big-time when he signed Mikhail Grabovski to take over Mike Ribeiro‘s spot. “Grabovski is not as good as Ribeiro as a point-producer or set-up man for his wingers”, said Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal, “but he is a better two-way player.” That’s technically correct, but it overestimates Mike Ribeiro’s impact on production and underestimates how Grabovski makes his teammates better.

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Say sayonara to the swag. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

Renaud Lavoie of RDS broke the news Sunday night that the Capitals will allow Mike Ribeiro to go to the open market on July 5. No deal will be struck with DC’s second line center, and that’s a smart move by the Capitals front office. Not as smart as trading his rights away — like they did with Semyon Varlamov, a trade for a pick that eventually turned into Martin Erat— but it’s still pretty nice.

Not everyone will agree with that. A big chunk of RMNB readers have been clamoring for a new deal for Ribeiro ever since the trade deadline, and Yahoo Sports’ Harrison Mooney’s takeaway from Chuck Gormley’s profile of possible replacements was that Capitals really should have re-signed him. But to keep Ribeiro in Washington would have been to violate one of Ted Leonsis’ own rules for smart management:

“Signing long-term, expensive deals for vets is very risky.”

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Photo credit: Eliot J. Schechte

Ian and I don’t feel particularly strong about the idea of signing compliance-buyout victim Vincent Lecavalier to the Capitals, but some of you guys apparently do. RMNB is a community, not just a few dudes shouting their opinions at you, so we’re turning the site over to you to make the case why Tampa Bay’s veteran center should come to DC.

For the record, Tampa GM Stevie Y bought out Lecavalier’s $7.7M per year contract, which had 7 more years on it. Vinny is 33 years old, a captain, a former Cup-winner, and a reliable .5 goal per game scorer. Pierre LeBrun reported that Lecavalier met with representatives from the Capitals on Saturday.

Many of you tied your argument for Lecavalier to the assumption that Mike Ribeiro will not be back next season. Some made the point that re-signing Ribeiro is a priority as well, and while I strongly disagree with that, we’ll talk more about that later. For now, the site is yours.

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Ribs salutes the fans after his overtime goal in game five. (Photo credit: Patrick McDermott)

For perhaps the final time in DC, Mike Ribeiro is street. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

For perhaps the final time in DC, Mike Ribeiro is #swag. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)

The Washington Capitals have been searching for a second-line center for years. Last summer, they finally got one. In a shortened season with the Caps, Mike Ribeiro was excellent — even when his team wasn’t. He anchored Washington’s power play, turning Alex Ovechkin – a guy the Caps have invested $123 million in — into a lethal threat.  He stabilized the top six. He led the league in points on the man advantage, a huge source of the team’s scoring. He will soon be a free agent. The captain wants him back, though, and so does the coach.

“The most important thing is to re-sign Ribs,” Ovechkin told Slava Malamud. “It will be tough without him.”

“You all saw how valuable he was to our team,” Adam Oates added. “Hopefully the parties will work it out because we love him.”

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Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Game five of the Capitals-Rangers series was just as taut as the preceding four, but the Caps seemed to have the upper hand from the second period on. Still, it took until overtime for the game to be decided– and by none other than the Caps’ much-maligned bad boy, Mike Ribeiro.

Often known as a hot-head weak on the faceoff dot and prone to bad penalties, Ribeiro was the opposite of that on Friday night. Ribeiro won 70% of his faceoffs– many of them crucial defensive-zone draws– and drove play better than any other Caps forward. His pestering of Brian Boyle drew the penalty that led to Joel Ward’s tying goal, and his relentless occupation of Lundqvist’s net led to a pivotal game-winner.

You wanted CRASH THE NET? I give you MIKE RIBEIRO.

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Caps beat Ranger 2-1 (OT): Ribeiro Rules!

Patrick McDermott

Photo credit: Patrick McDermott

Ack. I’m all jammed up like a Phish live record over here. This series is not good for people, plants, or other living things. The corrupted bastardization of hockey the Rangers have foisted upon the Capitals is some perverse thing not spoken of in polite circles. Where’s all the end-to-end action? The shot totals in excess of 40? The goalies giving up goals like Galileo dropped the orange? The Rangers forced the Caps into a constipated brand of hockey that is actually making my back seize up as if I were eating pancakes. Everything is all tensed up, and it goes on way too long. We’re supposed to enjoy it, but it’s really just survival.

The Rangers grabbed a lead in the game’s first minute, putting the entire DMV area’s bowels on red alert, but playoff hero Joel Ward tied it up in the second. The Caps leaned in during the third period, but we headed to overtime anyway– where Mike Ribeiro became a Capitals legend.

Caps beat Rangers 2-1 (Overtime). Caps lead the series 3-2. Sunday is an elimination game for New York.

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erat-crazy-assist

Martin Erat is a skilled guy. He’s registered 49 points or more in the last eight seasons and when the Capitals acquired him in a trade for Filip Forsberg a few weeks ago, he was Nashville’s leading point-getter. Consistently putting up that many points can be a sign of good hands, which is exactly what Erat showed off on Thursday, assisting on the Capitals’ only goal in the team’s 3-1 loss to Ottawa.

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MartinErat

Photo Credit: Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals think they have a shot at the Stanley Cup. This season began with a pitiful start under new head coach Adam Oates, but the team is better now. They’re used to his system, they’re healthier, and they’re picking up pieces to help them in the short-term.

“We weren’t going to be sellers,” said George McPhee yesterday. “You never know once you get in. Let’s see what happens.”

“We have a good thing going here,” said Mike Ribeiro. “We know how good we can be.”

“I have complete confidence in the guys in this room,” said Troy Brouwer. “We have the ability in here to make a splash in the playoffs.”

“I want to play for the Stanley Cup,” said Martin Erat. “Washington is one of the places where you have a chance.”

On Thursday, the Caps moved into playoff spot for the first time this season.

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