This week we’ve got a great example of goalie analysis, the difference in salary a player can expect depending on whether he is a restricted or unrestricted free agent, what might explain the difference in predictability and parity between the NHL and other sports (namely, the NBA), and a nice profile of the Capitals.
My job is not easy tonight, friends. This game obeyed no laws of hockey that I know to be true, and it shakes me to my very core. The Tampa Bay Lightning take two points and a victory away from their 7-4 win over the Washington Capitals, but they leave questions and doubts in the minds of Caps fans worldwide. For starters, wtf just happened?
Let’s get this over with:
There’s more to say about this game. As Master Blogger Ian “Oland-is-the-kind-of-hammer-you-want-on-your-back-end” (and yes that’s a Craig Laughlin quote) Oland said, tonight felt like a few dozen games strung together. Frankly, we’re demoralized. The Capitals got outplayed and outfought for fifty nine minutes and fifty nine seconds. We’re thankful that the officials handed out a mercy kill and spared us that last, grizzly second.
The Washington Capitals have THREE more games to play this week. Tomorrow night the boys from Chinatown will drag their bruised carcasses to Sunrise, Florida. Here’s the part where I usually say something optimistic, but it’s hard to be plucky when your favorite team just got beaten up– figuratively and literally.
Last Saturday the Caps awesomely dominated the Thrashers in Atlanta 8-1. Not only was there a lot of highlight reel goals, Comcast SportsNet also managed to find a lot of local Caps fans invading the Lower Bowl of Phillips Arena. Who said the Caps don’t travel well?
While on Twitter we even randomly mentioned a few of them:
russianmachine: Backie score because of crazy bouncing puck on crazy terrible ice. #Caps fan in 5th row happy!
russianmachine: Knuble gets goal #2. Russian Machine gets another assist. Crazy lady in knit hat happy.
Well, ironically enough, a few days later I got an email from The Crazy Lady in the Knit Hat: Elyssa Klopfenstein. Not only did she shoot me a picture of herself and Stacey Watkins on TV, she told me that she bought a few of our Mike Green – Canada’s Best Defenseman: Snubbed T-Shirts. The even better news:
As soon as our Snubbed T-shirts come my friend and I definitely want to wear ours to a practice at Kettler and see if we can’t snag a picture w/Green in them. He seems like a cool enough guy, and I can’t imagine he wouldn’t also totally love them.
Or as one prominent media member intelligently pointed out to me, he may not want to be seen around them because it could potentially anger the people who control his Olympic chances in 4 years. I guess we’re going to see!! Hooray for social experiments!
Regardless Elyssa, be gentle with @Greenlife52 when you put the shirt over his head. Say please and thank you. Snap the picture quickly. We’ll have the car running out back.
Anyways next Tuesday, we’ll have a brand new shirt in our store, and it’ll be worth the wait – I promise. And yes, our contest is still going on. Get Green to sign your Snubbed T-Shirt with photographic evidence, and you get entered into a drawing for a free t-shirt. Get Green literally in our shirt (or maybe even holding it up with a big smile and thumbs up – my discretion), you get 2 free upper level tickets to an upcoming Caps game.
As for now, please peruse our current offerings and let us know what you think in the comments below: http://russianmachineneverbreaks.spreadshirt.com
The Capitals’ Semyon Varlamov has been one of the better rookies in the NHL this season, and he’s certainly in the running to maybe take home the Calder Trophy. Several of the more highly touted rookies haven’t quite lived up to expectations, which leaves the field still wide open. By the nature of these kinds of awards, the winner tends to be the guy who played over his head the most and the longest. That means that the player who is on top now can easily regress and possibly even finish out of the top 10 at the en. Also, since it’s hard to compare players at different positions, the Goals Versus Threshold numbers that Behind The Net recently added are useful to put everyone on the same playing field. A little more than half-way through the season, here are some of the top contenders.
Fedor Fedin checks in again with a translated article published in today’s Soviet Sport. The article is written by Dmitry Chesnokov and is titled, “When I speak, do not stare at the ceiling!” It refers to Alex Ovechkin and a joke he makes about his new-found Captaincy. Honestly, could there be no greater title to an article? I think not.
In the text below, Ovechkin talks about Russia’s Failures in the WJC, defends Nikita Filatov, and discusses what it will be like as Captain of one of the best teams in the NHL. Let’s go:
Fedor Fedin lives in Moscow, Russia, and he’s a huge fan of the Washington Capitals. Personally, that’s awesome. I love it. But there’s one giant problem, from our collective perspective here in America, we assume that it’s easy following the team overseas. But the reality is, it’s quite the opposite. We asked Fedor to talk about some of his experiences and let us know what it’s really like. I hope this opens some eyes. Welp, take it away, buddy:
Some Americans think following the Capitals in Russia is easy. It actually is quite hard and you are made fun of quite a lot. Here are some of the problems:
[Ed Note: This guest post was written by Addison Huber, who some of you know as ahwahoo2006 on Twitter, after being invited into the Owner’s Box last Thursday for the Caps/Senators game. Thanks to Addison for the post and for the awesome Christmas Present. Also, we <3 you, Ted. Thank you for being the best owner in all of sports.]
For many sports fans, the mere mention of the name of the owner of their local team is enough to send them into heart palpitations and evoke a litany of curses that would put a sailor to shame. Within recent history we have seen owners trade away fan-favorite stars thought untouchable (Peter Pocklington) and take measures to ensure that their fans were unable to watch their teams on television without paying a hefty fee (Bill Wirtz). Even locally, in the Washington DC area, we are not immune to fan-unfriendly practices (see: television rights battles and sign confiscations). Luckily, Washington-area hockey fans are blessed with a different kind of owner: an owner who has gained recognition from fans and both traditional and non-traditional media alike as an owner to be admired and emulated.
When Ted Leonsis bought the Washington Capitals in 1999, there were already indications the he was not going to be a typical ivory-tower owner. In a Washington Post article, Mr. Leonsis noted that his strategy in running the Capitals would be to “let the hockey people run the hockey team,” and take a more hands-off approach to the personnel issues. It was evident, however, that Mr. Leonsis would shine in the areas of fan relations and marketing. As the same articled described, “[Capitals management] want fans to feel like “members” or “shareholders” in the Capitals, not merely ticket holders… They said they would like to meet every season ticket holder and establish a better line of communication between themselves and the fans.” (Washington Post, May 14, 1999, D1) From the start, Mr. Leonsis was not shy about reaching out to and engaging with fans. A few months into his tenure as a rookie owner, Mr. Leonsis “took a 40-minute break from his vacation last week to telephone a Washington Capitals season ticket holder and lobby her to renew her seats.” (Washington Post, July 13, 1999, D1)
That trend of accessibility to the Capitals chief executive has not only continued to the present, but has blossomed into an incredible demonstration of the power of social media and fan relations. Under Mr. Leonsis’ direction, the Capitals were among the first NHL clubs to utilize and legitimize bloggers as a news medium, granting them media credentials and crafting a Blogger Code of Conduct after blogger Eric McErlain of Off Wing Opinion contacted and met with Leonsis in 2005. In addition to his duties as owner of the Capitals, Mr. Leonsis serves on the board of directors of several companies, including RevolutionCard, Rosetta Stone, and SnagFilms. Nevertheless, he finds time to engage fans and season ticket holders via myriad communications avenues, such as AIM, email, his blog Ted’s Take, and Twitter. Mr. Leonsis also takes time to highlight extraordinary fans like Kiddo, the young Capitals fan struggling with numerous health issues.
Until recently, however, these concepts remained fairly abstract to me. While I was certainly aware of Ted’s reputation as a responsive owner, I had not been fortunate enough to experience it firsthand. That changed just before Christmas when I sent Ted an email regarding a recent post on Ted’s Take in which he expressed disappointment in the number of negative emails constantly clogging his inbox. I composed a reply in which I expressed my contentment with the team and thanks to Ted for everything he had done to bring about the hockey resurgence we are witnessing in Washington. True to his reputation, Ted responded within hours, asking for my phone number so he could call me. He called the next day and we chatted about the team and hockey. At the end of the conversation, Ted invited me to stop by the owner’s suite at Verizon Center during a game in early January. As I result, I found myself in well-appointed Suite 103 during the January 7 game against the Ottawa Senators. Ted was extremely gracious, posing for pictures with me and my friends, chatting us up, and providing snacks and desserts while we watched the Caps cruise to a 5-2 win over the Sens. The experience was truly memorable, and I really felt like a true stakeholder in the team, exactly what Ted intended with his fan-centric approach to management. Washington and the Capitals are lucky to have an owner like Mr. Leonsis, and his management bodes well for continued success in the years to come.
Below the fold are photos from Addison’s Night in the Owner’s Box with Ted Leonsis:
As we prepared for tonight’s Caps/Thrashers game, we were alerted to three crucial things: 1.) The Caps had plane troubles again and had to depart for Atlanta very early this morning (per Capitals Insider) 2.) Japers Rink told us via Twitter that the Caps have never won in Atlanta on a Saturday night (0-3-1) and 3.) Capitals 9th string Goalie Brett Leonhardt made this awesome observation on Twitter: “There is legit spots on the ice in ATL where you can see the cement… guess the teams’ not the only ones mailing it in.”
Wow, huge #verbfail there, Brett.
But with these convenient excuses on hand, we here at the Russian Machine felt like it was a perfect night for our hometown team to have another mindless, letdown game and be done in by the dreaded “Reverse Lock.” Or – at the least – witness Sasha take 6 offensive-zone penalties and see just how hard Bruce could angrily stare at him without his eyes bugging out of his head.
But alas, we were treated to a blowout victory, as the Capitals took the Thrashers to the freakin’ woodshed and won by a Touchdown. … Sorry, it’s Saturday… I’m a little drunk… I’ve gotta do it:
(Ed note: fast foward to 1:47 mark)
On to the bullet points:
If tonight’s blistering win over the Ottawa Senators is emblematic of anything, it’s our team’s enduring hatred of Canada (America Junior). Yeah, the country’s teams have been problematic for the Caps all season, but Canada really bit off more than it could chew when it overlooked the best defenseman in its country, Mike Green, for the 2010 Olympics. Taken with Tuesday’s victory over the Canadiens and John Carlson‘s OT goal to win the World Junior Championship, tonight’s beatdown is the icy punctuation on the Caps sentence: Eat it Canada. Eat it hard. Eat delicious buffalo wings.
The Caps have been caught unawares in the first period for the past two weeks, but tonight they broke the habit with a goal by… wait– what? Boyd Gordon? We didn’t even know he was playing tonight, and all of a sudden he’s the first on the board. Joined by vet Mike Knuble, the Caps ended the first frame with a two-point lead. The team cooled off, as it alway does, in the second period, but they came back with fury unleashed in the third. The Verizon Center was crackling with energy all night, and we look forward to a report from Ian “blogpocalypse now” Oland on his visit all night.
Let’s do the bullet points.
As the east coast prepares for another storm, the Washington Capitals suit up to face off against the Ottawa Senators. And guess what? We’ve got some injuries. Stifle yourself.
That’s it for now. If there are any more updates on tonight’s players, we’ll be sure to mock them mercilessly right here.
In other news, Blogfather Ian Oland will be at the game tonight. My guess is he’ll be wearing one of our totally bitchin’ t-shirts. If you see him, run up to him and kick him in the groin for me. Cheers!
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