Friday, July 30, 2010

To be Fehr...

Much has been made over the years about how Eric Fehr was drafted ahead of Ryan Getzlaf in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and, yes, there is a large disparity in their career point production. But to call Eric Fehr a bust seems a little unfair. He's a 20 goal scorer, Calder Cup winner and solid contributor for what was the league's best offense last season. But for some reason, his ice time is held back while others see their time rise (we're looking at you Tomas). Is this disparity in ice time deserved? Let's look at the tape.

As with all our goal analyses, we'll group Eric's goals into a few categories. For the sake of camparison, we'll use the same scoring categories as Tomas Fleischmann:
  1. Skill goals created by offensive zone play/turn overs/face off wins
  2. Goals from offensive rushes/breakaways
  3. Crease work/tap-ins/rebounds/redirections
Based on Eric's goals, he seems to be equally adept at scoring skill goals, dirty goals, and hard working goals, with 8 goals coming from offensive zone work, 7 goals from offensive rushes and 6 more from in close to the goaltender. Oddly enough, when looking for another Cap whose goal scoring style resembles Fehr, my first (and only) thought was of Tomas Fleischmann. He has above average hands and a hard accurate shot and like Fleischmann, he manages to find open space for himself. Fehr isn't a board crasher, but he also isn't afraid to go into rough areas on the ice looking for a rebound.

I find it amazing that Eric had the lowest average ice time (12:08 per game) for any 20 goal scorer in the NHL last season, by 2:36 per game (a huge gap). In fact, you have to go all the way down to John Sim (13 goals in 11:39 in avg. ice time) to find a productive player with less ice time. The last time a 20 goal scorer played less than 13:00 per game was when Jeff Carter, Patrick Eaves and Chuck Kobasew did it in 2005-2006. So once again, the question needs to be asked: is there something about Eric Fehr's game that causes Coach Boudreau pause in calling his name?

We'll probably never know. What I do know is, based on Eric Fehr's game, I see nothing to indicate he's not a 25+ goal scorer in the NHL. With 4 more minutes per game, who knows what we could see.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

...In A Flash

I think it's safe to say that there are two Washington Capitals players that confuse and frustrate fans more than any others: Tomas Fleischmann and Eric Fehr (sorry #28, we all know you're an enigma). At times, they look like scoring machines, capable of playing top 6 forward minutes and producing. Other times, they look lost, afraid of contact and of defensive responsibility. And why is one the Favorite Son while they other is the Whipping Boy?

So which is it? Are they truly skilled players in need of that... something. Or are they products of a system that produces offense? Today, we'll take a look at #14's goals and see if we can tell.

As with all these analyses, we'll break down Flash's goals into categories. They are:
  1. Skill goals created by offensive zone play/turn overs/face off wins
  2. Goals from offensive rushes/breakaways
  3. Crease work/tap-ins/rebounds/redirections
Unlike some of his more skilled teammates (and perhaps due to his 2nd and 3rd line minutes with more grinding linemates), 11 of Felischmann's 23 goals came from working in the offensive zone. Another 8 goals were scored by going hard to the net and either redirecting pucks, tapping in cross-crease passes or Knubling pucks into the net. Only 4 of last season's goals came on transition plays or breakaways. We've seen Tomas score some elite level skill and speed goals in his Caps career (his nickname used to fit), but the majority of last season's goals weren't of that variety.

After watching all of Fleischmann's goals, the first thing I noticed was was his release. There is NO hesitation on Flash's wrist shot, no wind up; he receives the puck and in one motion the shot is off (I'm reminded of Paul Kariya in his goal scoring prime). With the 2nd highest shooting % on the team, Flash was clearly picking his spots well. The second, and perhaps more important thing I saw was his positioning. On many of his offensive zone goals, Fleischmann managed to get into open ice and put himself in position for a good pass. He forechecked well, wasn't afraid to skate out of the corners and went to the places goals scorers go. That's instinct, and that will lead to more goals.

Fleischmann missed the first 11 games of the season and returned to score 7 goals in his first 9 games. But in his remaining 60 games, he managed to score only 16 goals more goals (and none in his last 7 games, including playoffs). Perhaps those Olympic games wore down poor Tomas, after not being able to participate in training camp?

2010-11 should answer quite a few questions about Tomas Fleischmann: Is he a legitimate 25+ goal, 55+ point producer? Can he fill the role of 2nd line center? Can he gain the consistency his game has been lacking in his previous seasons? Does he deserve the high praise his coach heaps onto him?

I guess we'll see.

Stitches and Patches

I've always been a Caps fan. I've written before about my favorite memories of the old Capital Centre and the Caps of old. As a kid, I always wanted a Caps jersey all my own, with Don Beaupre's #33 on the back, but whenever the opportunity arose to get one I always passed. No one understood why.

You see, those early Caps jerseys had one fatal flaw: the replica jersey and the authentic, worn-on-the-ice jersey were different. While the replica jersey crest was a simple, pre-stitched patch with the 'Washington Capitals' logo and some stitched-on (or often, screen printed) stars above the crest and down the arms, the authentic jersey was a work of art; each letter individually lined up and sewn on, along with the large 'L' stick and all the stars. Even the small puck was stitched on. The jersey was heavy and felt like something a hockey player would wear. By comparison, the replica felt fake.

As far as I could tell, it was the only NHL jersey that was like that. Heck, even the replica Rangers jersey's letters were individually placed on their jersey! THE RANGERS! No thank you, I'd wait until I could get an authentic jersey.

Then I started playing hockey and subscribing to The Hockey News and started getting the Great Skate Equipment Catalog. Somewhere in the middle was the jersey section. And there, at the very top of the price list, was the authentic Washington Capitals jersey, at around $320 with no customization (over $400 with it). You see, in the era of 'people make this, not machines', all that stitching was super time consuming and expensive. Now I understood why no one ever got me one for Christmas. I couldn't afford it and still actually play the game.

Now, all these years later, I still see the odd #5 authentic jersey roaming the halls of the Verizon Center. It still evokes memories that can't really be described. In my opinion, if the Caps are wearing a vintage throw-back jersey on 1/1/11, it say CAPITALS in big, bold, proud letters. I trust Ted will make the right decision.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Doubting Tomas?

$2.6M is now the going rate for a 23 Goal, 50 Point player.

Well, actually, it's pretty close to the going rate for such a player. There are currently 17 NHL forwards (other than Fleischmann) making between $2.5-3M per season (via Using just their peak performances (most goals and points in a season, not necessarily the same season), their collective averages are 24.4 goals and 52.1 points. If you narrow the list down to players under 30 (7 total players), the averages are 23.6 goals and 47.1 points. Tomas Fleischmann's best numbers happened last season, with 23 goals and 51 points, which are pretty consistent with his salary peers.

As the under-30 players have longer careers ahead of them, it's reasonable to expect at least some of them to improve on their career numbers. If these players grow into the same kinds of contributers as their 30+ counterparts are, you're looking at career average highs of 24.9 goals and 55.5 points. Not a hugh improvement, but an improvement none the less.

And if you consider that only one 30+ player put up their career numbers prior to turning 27 (Sergei Samsonov, 22-23 years old), there is a good chance we haven't seen the best Tomas Fleischmann has to offer. Hopefully.

Monday, July 26, 2010

World's Smallest Ovie

There's this guy over at that creates these little things called Minipops, which are essentailly tiny pixelated representations of famous people/athletes. Seriously, click through the list... you'll find yourself amazed how accurate you can make a portrait with almost zero detail. But there are no Minipop hockey players.

So, without further ado:

I figure, if you're going to go for the world's smallest hockey player, you may as well go big.

UPDATE (13:38): I think something gets lost with the dark background, so the image has been white backgrounded.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Red Light, Green Light

So it’s inevitable that we’d eventually get around to taking a look at Mike Green’s 19 goals from the 2009-2010 season. Personally, I had a couple of questions about Mike’s game: “How many times did Mike go end-to-end on the rush and score?” and “How often did he look like a defenseman in scoring a goal?”

Once again, I reviewed each of Green’s goals and placed them in a category. As it turns out, there were 5 categories:
  1. A slap/wrist shot from the right point
  2. A shot off an offensive rush
  3. A shot from the left side
  4. A shot from below the face off dots with the play set up in the offensive zone
  5. An empty net goal
The findings? Well, let’s just say that Mike isn’t a fan of the left side. And he's no Paul Coffey.

Of his 19 goals, 9 were scored on a hard slap shot or wrist shot from the right point, the counter to Ovie’s left-side power play one-timer. Another 4 goals came on an offensive zone rush where his shots came from the middle/right and from below or between the circles. 3 more goals were scored by sneaking down low from the point (the 'Gonchar') and another was a long range empty netter. Mike only scored 2 goals from the left side last season, both from the left faceoff dot.

For the most part, Mike scores the way most defensemen score: from their position on the point and from selectively sneaking in for back door chances when left alone. Mike also has enough speed to join the rush at times, which makes him dangerous trailing the play. But he never broke out for an end-to-end rush like he has in the past (at least he never scored a goal that way).

I found it interesting that so few of Green’s goals were scored from the left side. Usually, for a right shot, playing the left side allows you to open up for a one-timer. Maybe this is because that's Ovie's spot? Mike did, however, almost always take his time with the puck before he shot it, picking his spots rather than blindly throwing pucks at the net.

To me, this analysis was interesting. It showed me that Mike is truly deadly shooting pucks in from the point, not abandoning his defensive responsibilities in favor of skating the puck (something he still does quite often, to the displeasure of many a Cap fan). His point production might be cut a bit if he took fewer risks and skated with the puck less, but his defensive game would likely improve.

Then again, he wouldn’t be Mike Green if he weren’t risky. And quite often, his risks reap rewards.

Is Mike Green the New Kevin Hatcher?

As former Caps offensive defenseman Kevin Hatcher gets ready to join the US Hockey Hall of Fame, I got to wondering how he compares to our current star offensive defenseman, Mike Green.

As Mike only has 4 full NHL seasons under his belt, I decided to start with his first full season and use Hatcher's seasons at the same age (so age 21-24).



Obviously, Mike's rookie season point totals don't compare to anything he's produced since then, but as far as development goes, it's important. From age 21 on, Hatcher is the more consistent of the two in offensive productivity. But even with a slow rookie season, Green manages to out-produce Hatcher (+6G, +2A in only 3 more games). It's also interesting to note that something important occurred after the 1989-1990 season that may have directly led to Hatcher's 20 point increase: the departure of top defender, Scott Stevens.

But Mike is THE man on the back line in DC these days and has been for 3 seasons. The big question is, what kind of production can we expect from him in the coming seasons? Let's take a look at Hatcher's age 25-27 seasons (his last 3 in a Caps jersey):


Looking at Hatcher's next 3 season brings his 34 goal season into play (the same season Al Iafrate and Sylvain Cote also netted 20+ goals), which led all defenders. But that same season, Hatcher  also led in league in goals against while he was on the ice (162) while only managing to be the 7th most productive defenseman in the league. Kevin's goals seemed to come at the expense of his defense, something Green critics often point out.

In the end, it's really no contest. Kevin Hatcher was never considered the best defenseman in the league while Mike Green has done plenty to strengthen his case as the best. Mike Green has already led the league in goals and points by a defenseman for two consecutive seasons. As his maturity and understanding of the position increase (and all signs indicate that NHL defenders take some time to fully grow into the position, especially defensively) we could see some impressive offensive numbers for Mike in the coming seasons (and hopefully some on the defensive end as well).

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Mops and Brooms

Yesterday, the Greatest Owner in Professional Sports Ted Leonsis said he would actively participate in cleaning up the Verizon Center after a game. Having seen Ted and his son wait in line to buy merchandise, having heard him speak to fellow riders of a crowded Kettler elevator about the success of the Caps’ fan relations efforts, I genuinely believe Ted will do the same with his own staff at the Phone Booth and make changes where they're needed.

But I hope Ted is ready for what he’ll find after a Caps game. It won’t be as easy as grabbing a broom or a mop. Here are some of the things Ted should be aware of before he sets out with the cleaning crew:

-No matter how hard you scrub the arena’s seats, those horrid purple-colored stains just won’t come out.

-You’ll find a slight difference between the upper and lower levels as far as the amount of cleaning needed. Lower level: light dusting. Upper level: power washing, with the occasional use of a sand blaster.

-When you’re finished cleaning the home team penalty box, Alex Semin likes it if you leave a mint for him for the next game.

-When these make it onto the merchandise racks, they should immediately be placed in the trash.

-I doubt you’d pick a Game 7 for your post game ride-along. But if you do, all the arena’s garbage will be probably somewhere on the ice surface.

-Craig Laughlin is always drawing on the ‘Telestrator’ with a Sharpie, so have some Windex handy. (Someone really needs to tell him CSN has never owned a Telestrator…)

-When you take the trash out to the dumpsters, you need to make sure Sean Avery goes into the ‘compostables’ container. If he gets into the ‘aluminum cans’ container, it causes all sorts of issues for the people at the recycling plant.

-When you run out of cleaning rags, there should be a few of these you can use.

-You can’t just flush the Sidney Crosby pictures out of the urinals. You have to reach in and grab them.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Seventeen Years In Newark

The announcement that the NHL has rejected Ilya Kovalchuk's 17 year, $102 million dollar contract with the New Jersey Devils does not come as a surprise. See, there are some influential people in the NHL that will look at the possibility that Ilya will be productive for 17 more seasons and cringe at the thought of him breaking some very important records. And that simply cannot be allowed to happen. If Kovalchuk continues on his current per-season averages for another 17 seasons:
  • He will play 1940 games, besting "Mr. Hockey", Gordie Howe's record by 173 Games Played.
  • He will score 1056 regular season goals, besting Wayne Gretzky's combined regular season and playoff total of 1016. You won't even have to add in the 12 postseason goals Ilya will have scored by then!
  • He will become only the second player to pass the 2000 regular season point barrier. Of course, he'll still be over 800 points behind The Great One thanks to assists, having never intentionally passed the puck in his career.
  • His career +/- will be -234. Finally, a stat that looks right next to the name 'Kovalchuk'.
  • He'll score 365 PP goals. As Dave Andreychuk can attest, this means absolutely nothing to the Hockey Hall of Fame.
  • Ilya will take over 7000 shots, approximately the same number of shots taken per episode of Jersey Shore.
  • He still won't be as good as Alex Ovechkin.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010


Well Caps fans, now that last weeks' Development Camp has come and gone and we're left with no Caps affiliated hockey activities until September, there is a tendency to get a bit bored with the lack of things to do during the warm months. We're here to help.

Here are a few suggestions of what to do with you hockey downtime:

1. Find some water.
If you can believe it, water is actually just warmed up ice!! (I know, crazy right!?)

2. Grill out.
Food always tastes better when it's grilled. You can use a gas grill, charcoal grill, or CCM sticks to obtain the right temperatures to cook with.

3. Go to the zoo/aquarium.
The rink isn't the only place you'll find Panthers, Predators, Thrashers, Sharks, Ducks, Bruins, Coyotes, Penguins and Karl Alzner's beard. We recommend you don't jump against the glass though...

4. Play street hockey.
It was good enough for Wayne and Garth, it's good enough for you!

5. Read a book.
May I suggest a few books I mentioned in a previous post. And no, there is no such thing a Curious George Plays Hockey. There is 'Z Is For Zamboni' though!!!

6. Go see Hockey!
They're a band! They're at Lollapalooza this August! You can tell people you saw Hockey, outdoors, in August in Chicago!!!

7. Watch Ultimate Gretzky.
You know, since last season's Caps are constantly being compared to Gretzky's Oilers, you may as well see what they're all talking about. Be prepared for your jaw to drop a bit... they're better that you remembered.

8. Take a class.
Pottery is always nice, or maybe learn Russian. Or, may I suggest one endorsed by Brooks Laich?

Leap Towards a Cure

In the fall of 1993, my home room teacher was a large, loud, friendly woman named Mrs. Henderson. Everyone called her 'Froggy' and she was beloved by all who met her. She wasn't afraid to tell it like it was, but was also one of the few adults that would truly listen if you had a problem or just needed to talk. For me, she was the teacher I went to when I wanted to try to get the school a hockey team.

While it certainly wasn't something she'd have actively done on her own, she gladly provided her name as a sponsor and set out to do the leg work to help make my dream a reality. While I graduated a few years before my dream was realized, Froggy continued fighting on with new students, passionate about the game of hockey. A few seasons later, in 1998, the school finally got its hockey team and Mrs. Henderson was the key reason behind it.

We lost Froggy this past spring, but we'll never forget her. A few of those passionate former students and hockey players have decided to start up a memorial fund in Mrs. Henderson's honor and as the first way to help raise money for it, they're holding a charity adult hockey tournament on August 6-7 at the Gardens Ice House in Laurel, MD. It's actually more of a hockey 'event', with a charity auction, art show, hockey skills competition-type stations and much, much more. All the details are below. It should be an amazing weekend in honor of an amazing woman.

High school hockey alumni leap towards a cure

LAUREL, Md. – Following the death of art teacher, mentor and friend, Andrea “Froggy” Henderson, Eleanor Roosevelt High School alumni have become reacquainted in efforts to leap towards a cure, forming the Andrea Henderson Memorial Fund.

The Andrea Henderson Memorial Fund, set up by ERHS alumni Jason Harab and Abram Fox, is a trust set up in honor of the late art teacher to benefit cancer research at the Sidney Kimmel Comprehensive Cancer Center at Johns Hopkins, where Henderson was receiving treatments for breast cancer.

On August 6 -7, 2010, the Andrea Henderson Memorial Fund will be hosting its inaugural event, “Leap Towards a Cure,” a charity adult hockey tournament.

The tournament focuses on a family friendly environment. Saturday, August 7, the Gardens Ice House roller hockey floor will be used as an event venue to hold the student art gallery, a silent auction, hockey activities, including an accuracy station and a shooting speed station, and a full days worth of ice hockey. Local area mascots, such as Washington Capitals Slapshot and Bowie Baysox Louie, will also be present to sign autographs.

There will also be an ERHS Ice Raiders Alumni game with intermission entertainment -“Mites on Ice” featuring the Fighting Falcons, Chuck-A-Puck, and an obstacle course to get the crowd involved.

In addition, all players and spectators are invited to partake in a continental breakfast, lunch spread and a dinner catered by Outback Steakhouse.

Henderson, who lost her short battle with breast cancer on April 12, 2010, was the ERHS Ice Raiders hockey team sponsor from its inaugural season in 1998 through 2008. She was not only the high school art teacher and hockey team sponsor, but a second mother, inspiration, and shoulder to lean on to many. In an interview on Jimmy Kimmel Live, Martin Lawrence, ERHS class of 1984 alum, credited Henderson with helping him get his comedy career off the ground by encouraging him to go to clubs to learn and perform.

Abram Fox, class of 2001 and co-founder and vice chairman of the Andrea Henderson Memorial Fund, says his love of art and art history was inspired by taking Henderson’s Advanced Placement Art class, and is currently seeking his doctorate in art history at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Upon hearing of her failing health, Jason Harab, co-founder and chairman, began thinking of ways to honor Henderson. “I wanted to bring all of the guys back together, let them know Frog was sick and figure out a way to do something good in her honor.” Harab, the oldest of three brothers, all of whom played for the Ice Raiders, never took her art classes, but still considers her “the best teacher [he] ever had.”

“I got some of the old team together and decided the best way to do this with as many people as she touched would be to do a huge community event, doing what we all do best – play hockey,” says Harab.

“Froggy was very important to all of us, and she kind of brought us all together in a way and did so much for everyone – on the team, at school, in the community – so it is really important that we do a little good back for her after all she did for us,” says Alyssa Walker, class of 2006.

Henderson taught art at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Greenbelt from its opening in 1976 to 2008. Mother of two sons, neither of which played hockey themselves, Henderson still took on the role of the hockey team sponsor in 1998 knowing nothing about the sport.

Henderson, 60, grew up in New York and was the eldest of three children. She is survived by her mother, Alice; her brother, John; sister, Meredith; and two sons Joshua and Adam. Her large, booming personality and even larger heart touched innumerable lives in the hockey community, at school, and with everyone she came in contact to.

For more information please contact Alyssa Walker or Jason Harab at or by phone at 301-541-FROG.


Monday, July 19, 2010

Sniper Swede

Scoring goals in the NHL is a study in style and preference. Most pure scorers have a few specific ways in which they score the majority of their goals and even though those methods are well known, most defenders can’t do much to stop the inevitable red light.

This past season, Nicklas Backstrom quietly became a goal scorer, raising his goal total by 11 from his sophomore season. He joined an exclusive club of players with 30+ goals and 65+ assists in a season since the 2000-2001 season (Malkin, Crosby, Datsyuk, Jagr, Thornton) and joins Crosby as the only player on the list to put up such numbers while not leading his team in scoring.

So how did he do it? How did Nick become a 30+ goal scorer after being previously thought of as Alex Ovechkin’s set-up man? To find out, we once again go to the video replay. For Nick, we broke his goals up into the following categories:
  1. One-timer snap/ slap shot in middle
  2. Cross crease tap in
  3. Shot off an offensive rush
  4. Shot off loose puck/ turn over
  5. Rebound/stuff-in
  6. Play from behind the net/ wrap around
  7. Tip in
  8. Other shot in offensive zone
The majority of Nick’s goals were scored while floating in a position near or between the hash marks and came off a well placed one-timer snap or slap shot (10). Eight of Backstrom’s goals came off work down low, putting in rebounds or jamming home loose pucks. Another 4 goals came while on an offensive rush, including his thrilling OT winner against the Blackhawks. Nick scored 3 goals from cross-crease, back door passes, 3 goals when capitalizing on loose pucks or defensive turnovers, 2 on wrap-around type goals, 2 on tip-ins, and 1 from a spin-o-rama plain old, long range backhand.

The first thing that jumped out after reviewing Nick’s goals is the quality of his snap shot. While not in the same class as Ovechkin's missile, Nick's shot proved to be quite hard and deadly accurate enough, accounting for all but 5 of his goals on the season. His one-timer snapp shot often came while in high-traffic areas and was released with little or no wind-up. Also, his work from behind the net brought back visions of Peter Forsberg for some. It appears quite obvious that Nick has developed a few preferred ways to put the puck in the net.

Some of Nick’s increased goal scoring can be attributed to the almost 50 more shots taken than in his previous season. Nick’s shooting % also rose by over 2%, from 12.6% to 14.9% (better than every Cap but Knuble and Fleischmann). Somewhere, Backstrom not only decided to shoot more often, he learned how to score.

While Ovechkin and Semin tend to get all the attention as the Caps’ “Pure Scorers”, Nick Backstrom quietly helped the Caps lead the league in the number of 30 goal scorers. Based on his still-ascending goal scoring talent, the Caps could potentially have another 40 goal man in Nick. If he wants to be one, that is.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Ghost of Matt Pettinger

This morning's Caps Equipment sale went very well, or at least better than it had gone the last time it was held at Kettler. There was a 4 stick maximum, which left quite a few nice sticks for the many local players hoping to find some decent gear on the cheap. My crew of adult league skaters and high school players each managed to find something they were pleased with.

As I mentioned as a partial joke in an earlier post, there have been a few Matt Pettinger sticks at every equipment sale for the past few years. Matt's Last season in Washington was 2007-2008, so you'd think most of these things would be long gone. Once again, the Ghost of Matt Pettinger showed at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

No less than a half dozen of these twigs stood along the wall during the sale, and not a one was purchased. I guess we'll be seeing these guys again next year. 

Friday, July 16, 2010


Today Monumental Sports & Entertainment, led by Ted Leonsis, released its official logo. It's a nifty logo, for sure. But I must admit I was a bit disappointed by the lack of any piece of logos of the three teams the group is comprised of. I recommend that, while the logo is still new, it under go a small facelift:

There. I think that works much better. Aspects of all three teams' logos makes it truely Monumental. Although now this logo is reminding me of a certain internet pop culture icon...

Congrats Ted. It's about time.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Development Camp Testing

Caps prospect Joe Finley has been writing ‘postcards’ from this week’s Development Camp for On Frozen Blog, providing some insight into what goes into such an endeavor. In some of his postcards, Joe talks about tests that the prospects must complete, both on and off-ice. While most of us assume these would be physical tests of strength, endurance, speed or agility, I have to wonder if there is a written test involved as well. Fortunately enough, we’ve managed to get hold of a copy of the questions.

1. Where do you see yourself in 3 years?

a. In Washington
b. In Hershey
c. In South Carolina
d. Unhappyville

2. Would you get into a motor vehicle with Alex Ovechkin to make the team?

a. No
b. Are you nuts?

3. Would you call yourself a ‘physical defender’ with a chance of making the team?

a. No
b. All of the above

4. Ilya was offered 10 apples. He said no in hopes of getting 10 better apples. Now no one will give him more than 8 apples. How many apples has Ilya lost?

a. 2
b. 4
c. 6
d. Enough to buy 5 Chicago Blackhawks

5. Who wore #32 for the Washington Capitals?

a. Rod Langway
b. Peter Bondra
c. Don Beaupre
d. That scary dude that walks around telling everyone he once coached John Carlson

6. What is the speed limit on the Washington Beltway (I-495)?

a. 55
b. 65
c. 75
d. I am Russian. This question makes no sense.

7. Do you like the end-of-practice ‘Suicides’ couch Boudreau runs?

a. Yes
b. No
c. I like them better than Kugryshev ever will

8. A rental car getting 32mpg leaves Hershey traveling at 60mph with 8 gallons of gas in the tank. The trip from Hershey to DC is 126 miles. Will the car make it to DC?

a. Yes
b. No
c. Depends on if Karl stops to get gas

9. Essay Question: In 500 words or less, explain why Jaromir Jagr is responsible for every bad thing to happen in the world in the last 30 years.

Taking Out The Garbage

In what has now turned into an ongoing series of ‘how do they score’ pieces, we’ve learned two things:

1. Alex Ovechkin is not a One Trick Pony as many believe.

2. Alex Semin scores with his long-range wrist shot

Now, in what I hope will be an interesting analysis, we’ll take a look at our first line garbage man, Mike Knuble. Everyone knows Knuble has made his living sitting on goalies within 5’ of the opposition’s goal. The traffic he creates by screening the goalie, drawing the attention of defensemen, and just being a pain in the butt likely lead to many more goals than he’ll ever get on the stat sheet for. But on a skill based team like last year’s Caps, there existed the possibility that Mike would get away from his bread and butter. Once again, we take a look back through the video machine at each of Mike’s 29 goals.

As with the two Alexes, I placed each of Knuble’s goals in a category. Because this is Mike Knuble we’re talking about, it’s only right to start out with two main categories, ‘Garbage’ and ‘Skill’, and subdivide those:

Garbage Goals - Rebound Goals, Tip-ins, Goals from a pass into a low position (near the goaltender)

Skill Goals - Goals scored while on an offensive rush, odd-man rush goals, empty net goals

As you probably guessed, Mike is a garbage man, with 19 of his 29 goals coming from within 5’ of the opposing goaltender. Of those 19 goals, 14 came on rebounds from a teammate’s shot, 3 came on re-directions, and another 2 came from a pass to him in a low position. Just as importantly, Mike manages to do all this while avoiding the penalties usually associated with dirty work (only 2 Goaltender Interference penalties).

What you may not have guessed is that while Mike certainly does make his living in the crease, he can still score the occasional skill goal. 6 of his goals were scored while on an offensive rush (with 4 of those coming from a hard shot from the right side) while another 3 came on odd-man breaks (specifically 2-on-1s). Add in the lone empty-net goal (scored from the right side, while on an offensive rush) and it’s clear that this garbage man can hang with the young guns without trying to be one.

The important aspect of Mike’s offensive production comes from doing what others are afraid to do. Mike’s rebound goals aren’t simple ‘scoop up a rebound and tap it in’ goals; they’re hard working, ‘bull over the goalie/defenseman, score at all costs’ goals. That kind of play inspires teammates to do the same. Players like Brooks Laich, Matt Bradley and even Eric Fehr seemed to emulate Knuble's play as the season progressed.

Mike Knuble didn’t have a 20+ goal season until he was 31, and has now had 7 in a row. Had he not been injured early in the season, Mike could have had a career year in just about every offensive category. Given the good luck of a healthy 2010-11, there is nothing to indicate that he’s going to stop picking up the garbage.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Caps Equipment Sale

This Saturday is the annual Caps Equipment Sale, held at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. Every year, this event brings local hockey players and Ebay Power Sellers non-players together in a mad rush to find the best sticks from a wall of hundreds of composite twigs. In an effort to bring some order to this chaos, I've devised this handy cheat sheet so you know what to look for when you get inside.

Stick Facts
Alex OvechkinRCCM Vector U+ Crazy LightThese sticks may actually be on fire! Bring oven mitts!
Nicklas BackstromLBauer X:60Don't worry if you can't find one, as there will be more of these sticks available for the next 10 years.
Alexander SeminRBauer One95These sticks expired April 11th and no longer score goals.
Mike GreenREaston STSee: Semin Sticks
Brooks LaichLWarrior DolomiteCan also be used as a tire iron!
Mike KnubleREaston SE16These sticks are magnetic and are attracted to the blue paint used in goalie creases.
Tomas FleischmannLBauer One95Coach Boudreau is always saying how good these sticks are.
Brendan MorrisonLEaston S19Technically, these are left handed but they can also be used between the legs.
Eric FehrRCCM Vector U+These sticks really should score more, but they aren’t used nearly enough.
Jason ChimeraLBauer One95Aerodynamically shaped for speed!!!
Matt BradleyRReebok 10KBad. Ass. Sticks. May have blood stains.
Tom PotiLWarrior DolomiteThese sticks are sharpened. Seriously.
Jeff SchultzLWarrior DolomiteNot a mark on these sticks, a true rarity for the sticks of a defenseman.
David SteckelLEaston SE16Super tall sticks. Like Godzilla tall.
Shaone MorrisonnLBauer One95Name is spelled wrong on every stick... not enough 'N's.
Boyd GordonREaston SE16These sticks win faceoffs. That’s about all they do.
Mathieu PerreaultLReebok 10KNot the biggest sticks, but really fun to use.
John ErskineLBauer One95These sticks are exact replicas of Captain Caveman’s club.
John CarlsonRCCM Vector U+ , Bauer X:60, ReebokThese sticks come with pride. And red, white, and blue tape.
Tyler SloanLReebok 10KWe still can't figure out why we have these sticks.
Keith AucoinRReebok, WarriorReally long sticks. Compensating for something…
Karl AlznerLReebok 10KThese sticks come with a booklet of rental car coupons.
Quintin LaingLEaston S19These sticks are made from old Army tank armour.
Chris BourqueLWarrior HitmanEveryone always compares them to his dad’s sticks.
Semyon VarlamovRWarrior Swagger, Bauer X:60American girls shouldn’t bother buying these sticks. They won’t work for you.
Michael NeuvirthRReebok 6KThese sticks just want a hug.
Jose TheodoreLBauer X:60We really hope we're not making a mistake by selling these...

Now, for a few basic Equipment Sale Rules:
  1. There is a 4 stick per person limit this year. That doesn't mean you can't grab an armful of sticks and hold them for your friends to arrive.
  2. These sticks are way too long for kids to use. It's OK to shove them aside for your own financial gain.
  3. There will probably be no sticks available for: Ovechkin, Backstrom, Semin, Green, Carlson or Varlamov. You should complain as loudly as possible about this fact.
  4. They wash the jerseys before they sell them. Sorry ladies hoping to get a sweat-nasty Brooks Laich jersey.
  5. There will be a lot of prospect/departing player sticks on the wall. And just a warning: I've found at least 5 Matt Pettinger sticks at every equipment sale for the last 5 years. I think it's a running gag at this point.
  6. Don't worry if you can't find any sticks you're looking for. They'll be up on Ebay later this weekend for 4x as much.
That's it. Have fun, and happy stick hunting!

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Jersey Dilemma

A few months ago, a great friend from Michigan (we’ll call him Uncle Brad) sent my then 3 month old son a present. Inside, my wife and I found a customized, toddler-sized Detroit Red Wings jersey with ‘BRYANT’ and the number ‘10’ stitched to the back in teeny-tiny twill lettering. Aside from being very small and having the flying wheel logo screen printed to the front of the jersey rather than stitched, the jersey is an exact replica of what the Wings actually wear. It's very cool.

Now the dilemma: do I ever actually let my son wear the thing?

I’ve always been a bit of a hockey history buff. My favorite player is Bobby Orr, even though he retired before I was born. I know about Milt Schmidt, Cyclone Taylor, Art Ross, and ‘Boom Boom’ Geoffrion. I also know that the number 10 is retired by the Detroit Red Wings. It’s Alex Delvecchio’s number. Since toddlers are exempt from Jersey Fails, I think that's cool as well.

But as a lifelong Caps fan, can I allow my son to wear a Red Wings jersey? What if, because of this jersey, he were to become a Wings fan? Could I ever live with myself? It’s an interesting study of loyalty vs. doing what’s right. Loyalty says no, he should only ever wear his tiny Ovechkin jersey to games. The right thing would be to allow him to wear his jersey (it was given to him, not to me), and I’ll make sure to teach him about the man who actually wore that same #10 for the Wings. But there’s no way he can wear that jersey to a Caps game. What's a dad to do!?

Fortunately for me, I have an easy solution to this dilemma. As my son’s name is Cameron, the jersey has a purpose. It will prove very helpful in recreating an iconic image sometime in his early life:

Now all I need is a grey suit and a red Ferrari...

Friday, July 9, 2010


With today's news that Semyon Varlamov has changed his number from 40 to 1, here's my list of other Caps who should change their numbers:

  • Mike Green, from 52 to 2. You know, so people will think he's Scott Stevens or something.
  • Jeff Schultz, from 55 to 77. Only the best defensemen get this number (Coffey, Bourque). Only makes sense.
  • Michael Neuvirth, from 30 to 2. Dude, Varly pretty much just did this for you.
  • John Carlson, from 74 to 80. Captian America should pay homage to the greatest year in USA Hockey. USA! USA!
  • Alex Semin, from 28 to 61. Because someone has to pay tribute to the career of Maxim Afinogenov.
  • Alex Ovechkin, from 8 to 87. Because Eff Sidney Crosby, that's why.

50 vs 40

About a month ago, I decided to research the question 'Is Alex Ovechkin A One-trick Pony?' by reviewing each of his goals and placing them in categories based on how they were scored. The conculsion was that, no Alex is not a one-move scorer. In fact, Alex scores more goals on plays where he is not leading the rush and when he uses his teammates.

So, with this being the season prior to his Unrestricted Free Agency, I decided to tackle the question 'How Does Alex Semin Score?' Given his performance in the post season, it's an interesting question. Does the way Alex Semin scores goals translate to a decline in goal production in the playoffs?

As with Ovechkin, I reviewed each of Semin's 40 goals on the season and attenpted to place each in a category. The categories are:

  1. "The Semin": A ridiculous wrist shot from the top of the circles
  2. A Breakaway (For the purposes of this list, pantsing a D to get behind them counts)
  3. Power Play one-timer
  4. 2-on-1
  5. Rebound low
  6. Shot from the low circles
  7. Deflection
  8. Slap shot
I've always been a huge fan of "The Semin", as I believe it is the best wrist shot in the game. Semin used it 13 times to score goals this past season. The key to the shot is having traffic in front of the goalie, and placement of the shot (see: his hat trick against Ottawa, 2/11). In the playoffs, Montreal's defenders did a great job of either blocking Semin's shots or steping aside and allowing Halak to see the shot the whole way. And from my personal perspective, there was less zip on Semin's otherworldly shot (an injury, perhaps?). Add in the 4 goals scored scored using his slap shot (which is also a rocket), and 17 of 40 goals were scored from the top of the circles.

Down low, Semin also excels, with 6 shots scored directly from rebounds and another 5 scored from shots from the bottom of the face off circles. With 2 power play one-timers, 2 goals off 2-on-1s and 1 deflection, Semin has shown that he can also work the puck down low and with help from teammates. Finally, his 7 breakaway goals showcase his speed and fantastic hands around the net.

I found it interesting that Semin has no empty net goals on the season. If you take away Ovechkin's 5, Ovie only beats Semin in goals by 5.

Based on the large percentage of Semin's goals coming from the top of the circles, I wonder why he hasn't been considered for a spot on the point on the power play (perhaps Mike Green's spot?). Frankly, the Caps #1 power play unit has far too many right handed shooters (Green, Ovechkin, Semin), so perhaps saving Semin for a point spot on Unit #2 while placing a left handed shooter on Unit #1 would provide more chances on the PP (and make both units less predictable).

In reviewing all 90 goals scored by the Alexes, it's clear to me that the two are dramatically different scorers. While Ovechkin is a bull with the puck, Semin is far more tricky and more creative. His creativity sometimes leads to turn-overs and a high percentage of his shots are blocked or sail high. If Alex can rein in his shot a bit (keep it lower) and choose when to shoot vs. when to pass better, 60 goals isn't beyond his reach.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Jeff "Snarl" Schultz

A lot has been written about the Caps "less than intimidating blueline" this off-season, with George McPhee's clear intention to stay pat with the 7 defensemen under contract.

With the re-signing of Jeff Schultz, who is quite possibly the most 'love him or hate him' Caps blueliner, the conversation has been elevated. Schultz has become the whipping boy for haters, as his lack of physicality doesn't seem to fit with his sizeable frame.

That being said, I have some suggestions for Jeff, to help make him meaner this coming season. With his new spiffy contract, he can afford it.

1. Weight. Add some. At 6'6" and only 220 lbs, Jeff is a bit of a bean pole. Wait. Chris Pronger is 6'6" and 220 lbs? WTF!? That makes no sense...
2. Get rid of the visor. No one takes visored defensemen seriously. Just ask Don Cherry.
3. Vampire teeth. With Twilight being so popular, I'm sure obtaining a pair would be relatively easy, and would make Jeff look THAT MUCH scarier. Or teenage girls would swoon for him. Either way, he's distracting Sidney Crosby.
4. A good story. Someone needs to start talking about the time Jeff wrestled a rabid Grizzly.
5. A number change. Say, to #2. Everytime people see '55' they want to boo or whoop or something. Now #2, you think Scott Stevens. And you'd NEVER whoop Scott Stevens.
6. Red contacts. Badass. With the previously mentioned vampire teeth, even more so:

7. Roughing penalties. Jeff has 97 PIM is his career. Pronger had more than that his rookie season.
8. A full slap shot. Everyone read about his 'half slap shot' and thought "wow, what a pansy". Man up Jeff. Full slap shot.
9. A new nickname. I like 'Snarl'. 'Sarge' just doesn't cut it.
10. Ask Brett Leonhardt for tips. Stretch is super tall too, and he manages 'badass' just fine.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Caps Heat Maps

I was recently made aware of these things called 'heat maps' that track a player's position throughout a World Cup match, which got me thinking about what various Washington Capital players 'heat maps' would look like. SO, without further ado: