Why Caps Fans Need Tålamod With Marcus Johansson

Marcus Johansson during warm-ups

Photo credit: BridgetDS

Nothing like skating on the best real estate in the NHL in only your 9th ever NHL game to ratchet up expectations. Enough that some question if MJ90 should even be in the NHL. The answer is: of course he should. How else will the Caps know what moves to make in April?

And make no mistake, they will have to make a move because even with all the patience in the world, MJ90 is probably not the answer for the second pivot slot this year. And that’s OK. Tomas Fleischmann, who was recently benched asked to take his turn sitting out, isn’t either. Neither is Matheiu Perreault (sorry Nicci), Cody Eakin (again, sorry Nicci) or anyone else currently in the Caps organization. Patience (tålamod), not rash thinking, is what’s important.

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Breaking Down The Capitals Line Combinations

Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom share a laugh on the bench.

Neil delivers Caps scoring chances through Nov 14, 2010 (Photo credit: Gerry Thomas)

Despite some terrible second period performances that made me want to use my new iPad as the world’s most expensive frisbee, I still managed to log the scoring chances for the week. 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.

The three of you that actually read these posts may notice a new format. Let me know if you think this is more helpful.

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Caps Scoring Chances thru Nov 7, 2010

Boyd Gordon (Photo by Mitchell Layton/NHLI via Getty Images)
Boyd Gordon leads in scoring chance percentage. (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Another week in the books, and I have three questions:

  1. Is there a hidden value to having Sloan on the ice?
  2. Will we see more Uno Seis in our face or on the bench?
  3. Who’s with me on a”Vote for Boyd” campaign?

Luckily, these questions are easily answered because I log scoring chances every game. 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.

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Armchair GM: Fiddling with the Roster

Marcus Johansson looks great in a Bears Uniform.

The Capitals’ awful, awful, very bad, no good week came to an unexpectedly pleasant finish on Saturday night. Alex Semin’s hat trick and Tomas Fleischmann’s OTGWGFTW capped off a miserable stint for the team.  Two deflating losses to the Bruins provide an excellent case study in the Caps’ problems: aside from a soaring PK squad and a competent netminder, the Caps are struggling.

That’s why we assembled the Russian Machine Brain Trust, formed to fight the foes no single hero could withstand. We put on our tweedy jackets, pack our pipes full of snuff, put some Mingus on the hifi, and did some armchair GMing. What follows is our panicked odyssey through the Capitals roster, our premature prognostications, our malevolent molestations, and one cheap crack about John Erskine’s facial hair.

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Caps Steal Two Points in Nashville. Win 3-2 in OT.

Brooks Laich deflects home Alex Ovechkin's shot from the point as the Caps steal a win in Nashville, 3-2.

Brooks Laich celebrates his OTGWG. (Photo Credit: Joe Howell)

With Tom Poti and Mike Green out due to injury, we all knew that the Caps’ defense was going to be a little bit suspect tonight. But really, the main issue for the visiting team ended up being their collective effort. Case in point was the opening face-off where Tomas Fleischmann lost the draw cleanly to Cal O’Reilly. He then turned and watched helplessly as Steve Sullivan raced past his four other unprepared teammates and went in alone on Michal Neuvirth.

But for Neuvy, it was no big deal. He stone-walled Sullivan 8 seconds in. He stone-walled five Predator powerplays, including 29 seconds of a 5 on 3. And he made 37 saves in total to collect his fourth straight win.

Thanks to ten minutes of actual hard-work in the third period and two minutes of pure domination in the extra session, the Capitals leave Bridgestone Area with a huge 3-2 character victory.

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Caps beat Isles 2-1 in a Squeaker

Nick Backstrom tips-in Alex Ovechkin's slap shot from the point. Caps win 2-1.

D.J. King's first bout of the year only took one shift. He should have a nice shiner tomorrow. (Photo by Nick Wass)

D.J. King's first bout of the year came on his first shift of the year. He should have a nice shiner tomorrow. (Photo by Nick Wass)

Nicklas Backstrom’s first goal of the year is the game-winner! (Photo Credit: Bruce Bennett)

The Caps’ final game of their three-game residency at Chinatown maintained their perfect record there, but also continued the sloppiness haunting this early season. Despite a few soaring, individual efforts, the team as a whole could not click. For the second game in a row, it was the efforts of Alex Ovechkin and Michal Neuvirth that made all the difference.

Alex Ovechkin‘s second period goal and third period deflection via Nicklas Backstrom were all that was needed to put the team over the Islanders’ lonely score by the fresh-faced Nino Niederreiter. Little Mikey recorded 23 good-looking saves to endear himself a remaining skeptical minority of Caps fans.

This mid-October, mid-week match with the New York Islanders was a bit of a snoozer , as the Caps keep on looking ugly and winning anyhow. Lessons still need to learned apparently. Oh well. Caps beat Isles 2-1!

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Caps Scoring Chances: Week 1

Marcus Johansson

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.

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Flash Scoring 65 Points? Take The Under

Caps Fleischmann at 2010 Training Camp

Tomas Fleischmann is the front runner to center the Caps second line between Brooks Laich and Alexander Semin this coming season, which has the fantasy guys at THN claiming he will likely get 65 points whether he plays wing or center. Like I said: fantasy.

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Andrew Gordon Answers Our Readers’ Questions: Part 1

gordos-take9

A few weeks ago while the blog took a week hiatus, we asked if any of you had questions for player-turned-blogger Andrew Gordon. And boy did you! Tonight we present to you the first five answers out of the ten best questions we received. Also, make sure to check out the photos in this entry. They are from Game 6 of the 2010 Calder Cup Finals where the Hershey Bears celebrated the franchise’s 11th AHL Championship. The photos are from Gordo’s digital camera that he had on the ice. Take it away, Andrew!

Hi, everyone! Looks like this will be my last blog of the summer. Training camp is right around the corner, and once that hits my focus will be on hockey, not writing! I’m going to try to answer all these questions as best I can, but keep in mind some of them would take me forever to fully explain, so I’ll try to cover as much ground as I can without making this a complete yawner of a read. Thanks for reading!

tfirey asks, “Gordo: I have a lot of questions about how pro athletes train (as it’s a world that I’ll never know — alas!). Can you tell us what you do in your workouts? Are any exercises hockey-specific, as opposed to standard endurance and strength-building? How does your routine change throughout the year?”

Thanks for the question, tfirey.  All players have different things they like to do to prepare for upcoming seasons. It’s kind of a trial-and-error thing. The majority of us have had trainers growing up, in junior, in college, and at various pro levels.  They each have their own philosophies and training methods to get a player to the optimum level of fitness.

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What Can We Expect From Mathieu Perreault?

mathieu-perreault-leafs

The Caps need for a center resolved itself a little when Tomas Fleischmann signed a one-year, $2.6 million contract a day before his arbitration hearing on July 27th. Couple that with George McPhee stating that he was prepared to go into the season with the team they have, and that makes it clear the Caps will look within the organization to fill their need for a much-needed pivot in the long term.

One of those options, 2009 first rounder Marcus Johansson, appears to need more time to adjust to the North American game, while 2010 first round pick Evgeny Kuznetsov needs another Russian spy swap to play out his 2-year KHL contract. That leaves “undersized, but feistyMathieu Perreault – who has had a lot of success at the AHL level with the defending Calder Cup Champions Hershey Bears.

Our question is: Will Matty P’s success in the AHL translate enough to sustain him at the NHL level?

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