Wheel of Fortune Host and Washington Capitals season ticket holder Pat Sajak was on PTI tonight. Sajak filled in as Michael Wilbon and Tony Kornheiser’s celebrity stat boy, filming an Oddsmaker segment in the middle of the show. And he did the damn thing while wearing a Caps jacket.
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Capitals owner Ted Leonsis during an event last week in Southeast DC. (Photo credit: Chris Gordon)
It’s been 40 years since the Capitals first took the ice in the 1974-75 season. The team has been celebrating the occasion incessantly, honoring the franchise’s best players with video tributes that air every night at Verizon Center and when CSN+ doesn’t have anyone in studio for the late game.
Despite the trumpeting of their former players, the Capitals will not be hosting an alumni game prior to the 2015 Winter Classic, which heretofore had been a tradition. According to the NHL, this was a decision made by the Caps. Speaking to Capitals season ticket holders last week, Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly suggested one possible reason for the move: the League didn’t agree to a deal with Nationals Park until September.
The Washington Capitals have gone to major lengths to promote Barry Trotz since hiring him this summer. And while Trotz is certainly an improvement over former coach Adam Oates, the Caps still find themselves as a middling team (after a scintillating October), with fans finding little to be excited about for the future.
Sigh. Am I all alone in thinking that Caps fans are kind of at a low right now? The team is still way better than the Oates!Caps, but this ain’t exactly working either. All the great stuff the Caps were doing in October is gone now, and all the inefficiencies in the lineup are costing goals on a nightly basis.
We’re one month out from the Winter Classic, but the community seems melancholic. I don’t blame ‘em; at some point wins are needed to justify enthusiasm. The Capitals have let you down.
Meanwhile, Trotz’s former team, the Nashville Predators are undergoing a renaissance without their former bench boss. The irony is miserable.
Thursday night at Pepsi Center, the Colorado Avalanche honored Peter Forsberg for his recent induction to the Hall of Fame. At the 8-minute mark, CSN Washington came back from break to capture the entire Caps bench rising to its feet and slapping their sticks against the boards in an awesome salute.
Forsberg was joined by Nicole Nordin, their young son Lennox, and daughter Lily in the luxury suites.
Ovi backchecking? You better believe it. (Photo: Luis M. Alvarez)
Jen Lute Costello of Puck Daddy recently wrote a nifty post about shot suppression. I’m paraphrasing her, but the basic idea is that there’s more to being a great possession team than simply having more shot attempts than the other team. While having more shot attempts than your opponent is the essential ingredient, it is optimal to also limit the number of overall shot attempts or “events” (the combined number of shot attempts between two teams in a game). Again, my paraphrasing does not do Jen’s great work justice, so I recommend reading her work.
The Capitals are a much better shot-possession team this season compared to last. But our optimism shouldn’t stop there. The Capitals aren’t just owning a higher percentage of overall shot attempts, they are also allowing fewer overall opponent shot attempts, so they’re owning the puck more AND better suppressing shot attempts against.
Epix, that new, weird television channel the NHL is forcing us to watch, has released a teaser trailer for its four-part Road To The Winter Classic series. The footage is like 75 percent players pumping iron, but hey, whatever, NHL. It’s something. I’m excited.
I went ahead and GIF’d literally every clip of the Caps in it. There’s something comforting and hypnotic about watching infinite weightlifting and fist-pumping.
If you sign up for Epix now, you’ll be able to watch the series. You should probably do it right now (and give the Epix people the marketing material they need to be in more homes). The series starts Tuesday, December 16th at 10 PM.
For decades, the ugly Christmas sweater has been a fashion faux pas, an ugly, handstiched gift from grandma that you felt obligated to wear on the one day out of the year you actually see her. The colors are often a garish red and green, featuring designs of reindeer, snowmen, holly, and a waving Santa sewn on it. It looks terrible. You look terrible.
The NHL is attempting to out-ugly nana this year by selling their own version of the ugly Christmas sweater. They are so hideous that they are kind of beautiful. You must own one. There is a design for most NHL teams. Three players are immortalized in wool: Jonathan Quick, Patrick Kane, and our own Alex Ovechkin.
The Caps penalty kill is currently ranked 23rd in the NHL, killing off 77.1% of all shorthanded situations. This may give you a ‘here we go again’ feeling due to how truly awful the Caps penalty kill was last season (They would have been much worse than 16th place if not for very strong goaltending.)
But rest easy, Caps fans. This Caps penalty kill is actually really good and could very well end up among the top in the league once goaltending improves. It could be even better if Barry Trotz starts deploying the penalty killers in a more optimized manner, as it seems he’s been giving the wrong penalty killers the most ice.
This isn’t a post about plus-minus or debating its merits. I don’t like it and neither should you, but that’s not my purpose here. You can love plus-minus and still read this post without becoming enraged. Probably.
Jeff Schultz‘s plus-50 in 2009-10 was the highest rating we’ve seen since Peter Forsberg in 2003. When Caps fans or hockey fans in general make fun of plus-minus, Schultz’s name is almost always invoked. Even Ovechkin did it.
But we don’t often look too closely at Schultz’s 2009-10 season. It was uncommon and– most importantly– really, really lucky. Below is a player usage chart for the Caps defense from that season that will serve as the foundation for examining Schultz’s season.