Monthly Archives: February 2010

A thankyou

The boys from CAPS Lock would like to say thanks to JP From Japers Rink (the best damn Caps blog out there) for linking us on his site, as well as the Big Guy, Mr. Ted Leonsis for doing the same. It was prettaaayyy cool. Time to watch the USA Finnish (HA! Get it?!?) this curbstomping, have a good one.

-Nate

My Take On The Hart Trophy Race

We’re three-quarters of the way through the season, the home stretch is looming, and the cream is rising to the top. At this point in the season is where you see the elite players begin to separate from the pack and assert themselves as legitimate Hart Trophy candidates. Gone are the Anze Kopitars, Patrick Marleaus, and Marian Gaboriks, while the Ovechkins and Crosbys remain. That’s not intended to be a slight against those players, but that’s just the reality of the situation. First things first: this is going to be a piece rife with opinion, so I don’t want people to think I believe what I say here is gospel, even though I will likely say something to that effect several times. Honestly, we all know that winning a Stanley Cup is the #1 priority, but you can only talk about needing a physical defenseman, or another center so much, so let’s not continue beating that horse to death. A third straight Hart Trophy for Ovechkin is historic, and places him in the company of some of hockey’s all-time greats, so it’s worth talking about. With that being said,  let’s take a look at the tale of the tape of who I believe the top 3 contenders for the award (in no particular order):

Alexander Ovechkin

Games played: 54

Goals: 42

Assists: 47

Points: 89

Points Per Game: 1.65

Plus/Minus: 43

Goals Versus Threshold (read this link to know what I’m talking about): 25.6

Ovechkin started the year like a house on fire (notching three straight three point games to kick off the season), and he never seemed to let up. He was on pace for career highs in goals, assists, and points (yeah, no kiddin’) before taking an injury, and missing 2 games due to suspension. In all, Ovechkin sat for 8 tilts, but never seemed to miss a step, scoring on his first shot back from injury/suspension. Despite spotting the league 8 games, Ovechkin sits atop the points leaderboard with 89 (9 more than 2nd place Henrik Sedin), while maintaining a Points Per Game average (1.65) that is the highest the league has seen since Mario Lemieux’s 1995-1996 campaign. His +/- rating is tops in the NHL at 43, with Mr. Nasty Jeff Schultz coming in second at 37. So far, it has been an absolutely dominating season from #8, and if not for the vacation he was forced to take in November, there was a solid chance he would have set career highs in virtually every statistical category. Currently, the Capitals sit atop the NHL with 90 points.

Ryan Miller

Games Played: 52

Record: 30-14

SV %: .930

GAA: 2.16

Goals Versus Threshold: 29.1

Miller is the reason why the Buffalo Sabres sat as high as second in the Eastern Conference for a good percentage of the season. He spent a significant portion of the year north of a .940 SV%, with a sub-2 Goals Against Average. He hasn’t been as sharp in the past several weeks, which has caused his SV% to drop to .930, but he’s still been the best goaltender in the league for the season, and is getting a lot of buzz.

Sidney Crosby

Games Played: 61

Goals: 42

Assists: 36

Points: 78

Points Per Game: 1.28

Plus/Minus: 9

Goals Versus Threshold: 21.3

Crosby did not start the season very well, as he was just around 1 point per game for the first quarter or so. Since then he’s been scoring at an elite rate, including a stretch that saw him score 18 goals in 18 games leading up to the Olympic Break. He’s currently 3rd in points, behind Sedin and Ovechkin, but will likely surpass the former following the Olympic Break. Crosby broke his previous career-high of 39 goals, and seems to be in a good position to post his first 50-goal year.

So who should the winner be? Well, first things first- the Hart Memorial Trophy is awarded to the player “adjudged most valuable to their team” in the NHL. There’s that damn V word again- “valuable”. No other word in sports causes such a shit-storm when it comes to awarding hardware at the end of a season. How is “most valuable” to be evaluated? And how does “to their team” change things? If we’re going with a strictly mathematical approach then a goaltender should win the award literally every year, because the impact of a goaltender is so much greater than that of any individual skater. If you head over to www.behindthenet.ca and check out their GVT rankings (you did read that link I posted…right?) it shouldn’t come as a surprise that out of the top 10 most valuable players according to that catch-all statistic, seven are goaltenders, while the first skater checks in at #4 (wanna take a guess at who that is?). For these reasons I have decided that if I were given a vote, I would not vote for a goaltender over the top skater, unless they put up a historically great season. Goalies have the Vezina, much like the MLB where pitchers have the Cy Young to win, and virtually never win MVP awards. Ryan Miller’s season is not historically great, and it could be argued that Vokoun’s season is just as good. In light of that he gets tossed.

So now it comes down to Crosby and Ovechkin, the two remaining skaters. In keeping with the traditions of the award, which of these two should be “adjudged to be the most valuable to their team”? Well, again this brings up a lot of questions. How is “valuable” compared between skaters? Crosby supporters will argue that he has been more important to the Penguins’ offense than Ovechkin has been to the Capitals’ (based on % of goals contributed to) and, after all, isn’t that what the award says? Well, if that’s the case then shouldn’t Gaborik take the trophy home? He’s contributed to an even larger percentage of the Rangers’ goals than Ovechkin or Crosby have to their respective teams, so why not him? A common response to that is because the Rangers aren’t a playoff team, and that changes everything. Oh. So the trophy should go to the most valuable player on a playoff team then? Well, Ovechkin has put up the best numbers virtually across the board, and plays for the team with the most points in the NHL so there you have it, right? “Well no, his team is loaded with stars, and his team was still pretty good without him so he shouldn’t get it.” Ignore for a second that Crosby also plays with a bona fide superstar (who he shares 40% of his points with), and plays for the defending Cup champions who were picked by virtually everyone to be the best team in the NHL coming into the season, and we get yet another qualifier that further muddles the argument. Ok, so it seems that in order to win the Hart you should be an elite player, on a good (playoff) team, but not a team that’s so good that the “they’d still be decent without him” argument could be used by drunks in a Pittsburgh sports bar.
STOP.THE.MADNESS.

The spirit of the award is so completely arbitrary that everyone jumps through semantic hoops to justify why their favorite player really is more “valuable”. It’s stupid sports writers racking their brains on the correct interpretation of that word that results in Jimmy F’ing Rollins winning the MVP trophy over someone like Albert Pujols, or why Joe Thornton won the Hart over Jagr in 2005-2006. My opinion is this: outside of extreme cases, the Hart Trophy should simply go to the best player that season, no questions asked. If you follow that rule, then the likelihood of making a decision that will make people in the future go “what the fuck were they thinking?” drops precipitously. For that reason, at this point in time, the only possible answer for the “who should get the Hart?” is Alex Ovechkin. The funny thing is, out of ALL of the arguments I’ve heard for other players deserving the Hart trophy, not a single one of them was “X has simply been the best player in the NHL”. I literally don’t think I’ve heard that argument made for Miller, Crosby, or Sedin (the odd-man out) so far. That should show us something. Ovechkin has dominated the league in a way that hasn’t been seen since Mario Lemieux was still skating. He has missed close to 10 games, but leads the league in points by a solid margin, is tied for the league lead in goals and +/-, and has lead the Washington Capitals to first place in the NHL. Yes, there are 20 games left in the Capitals season, but I have a hard time believing anyone will overtake Ovechkin as the odds-on favorite to win the Hart Trophy.

-Nasty Nate

Rejoice losers!

Sounds stupid…. no.

I don’t think there was a single Caps fan out there that didn’t want to see Russia crush Canada… sucks i know.. apparently Russia showed up with thier Eurotrash game… Crazy Millbury .  Not that I would use the word eurotrash on national TV… but it definately was one of the more dissapointing moments of the Winter Games and watching that game was uncomfortable.

So our boys are all done.. and although I know gold is huge… getting them all back home early makes me selfishly happy…and we can all cheer for Team USA without any mix emotions.. or if you’re like my dirty Canadian girlfriend**, Team Canada. The question is who’s gonna show up….

Back to business!! As soon as WED.. which is a bump for the below post written yesterday. If you haven’t read it do so.. that DT fella is goooooddd.

One more thing.. everyone is talking about Semin’s hit yesterday on Boyle… I’m not gonna get into how I feel about it.. but I will tell you this… Semin’s face after being thrown to the ground made me feel akward.. it definately wasn’t man material thats for sure.

** My girlfriend is incredibly sexy and Canada breeds some gorgeous people. She also has a great sense of humor and never takes things too seriously… Please?

-IC

After the Olympics….

It’s tough to get away from Olympic hockey on a day like today but we’ve decided to take a look at five important topics facing the Caps after the break and into the playoffs.  They are listed in no particular order of importance.

1) The Deadline.

GMGM only has a couple days to make a move if he so pleases before the March 3rd deadline.  Will he make a move or will he stay put? The rumors have been flying about the Caps being involved in what seems like every player available.  Whether it be a veteran goaltender, a 2nd or 3rd line center, or a veteran D-man, we’ve heard it all.  It’s all going to come down to price.  If the team feels like they can make a move at the right cost, they’ll do it.  But GMGM is not one to overpay at the deadline.  It doesn’t appear like there’s an overwhelming amount of talent out there right now.  A center would help with the struggles Flash has had in the faceoff circle. He was even switched back to wing before the break.  Another D-man would help because rolling guys like Erskine and Sloan out there just won’t cut it come playoff time.  As much as I hate him, Andy Sutton from the Islanders seems to really fit the teams needs. A big, mean veteran D-man playing some good hockey right now.  Is the price right?  We’ll see.

2) Ovi’s pursuit of a 3rd straight MVP.

Ovi is arguably having his best season ever this year pacing the league in points with 89, plus/minus at +43, and goals tied with 87 from the Penguins with 42.  What makes this all the more impressive is that he missed eight games due to injury or suspension.  He’s played seven less games than Crosby and Henrik Sedin who currently is 2nd in the points race with 80. He’s also become a more well-rounded player with an increased role in the defensive zone.  He’s on pace to easily pass his career high in assists with 54 set in 05-06 and 08-09.  He currently has 47 with twenty games to play.  Oh yeah, not to mention he’s now the Captain of a team that sits first in the NHL which brings me to my next point….

3) The Caps pursuit of the President’s Trophy

The Caps currently are first in the NHL with 90 points, one ahead of the San Jose Sharks.  Chicago is another team fighting for the honor with 87 points and a game in-hand on both the Caps and Sharks.  The Caps as a franchise have never finished with the most points in the league so it would be quite the honor.  Even more important is what comes with the trophy and that’s home-ice throughout the playoffs.  The Caps are currently 23-3-3 at home good for best in the league.  Now we know home-ice doesn’t mean everything but ask yourself if you’d like to be on the road or at home for a Game 7.  Yeah, that’s what we thought.  And knock on wood, but if the Caps are able to make it to the Stanley Cup Finals, having that home-ice would be extremely important for a still young team.

4) Who’s the goalie for the stretch run and into the playoffs.

Cmon, you knew this one was coming.  We here at The Caps Lock touched on this a bit not too long ago so I’ll make it short.  Varly gave up six goals on only 28 shots against Ottawa in his first start in the NHL since Dec right before the break. That’s not very good.  Lets hope it was just rust.  Theo wasn’t great leading up to the break but his last 33 save effort against the Blues wasn’t anything to scoff at.  Money here is on Bruce letting the boys fight it out.  Not exactly the best feeling.

5) The Caps remaining schedule.

This is important in a variety of ways.  With the Olympic break, how will twenty games in less than a month and a half wear on the boys?  There have been a lot of complaints from players and coaches about the high amount of games in such a small time period.  Some say it’s caused more injuries.  The travel has also been plentiful and guys may be wearing down.  It’s times like these the Caps enjoy having a young team.  The Caps do however have one of the more favorable schedules in the league.  Nine of their final twenty contests are against Southeast division opponents.  Furthermore, twelve of them are at home, including four of the final six.  None of these factors should be overlooked when considering locking up home-ice throughout the playoffs.

It’s certainly going to be a great rest of the season.  Hopefully the boys come up big when it counts.

– Dominic Toretto

Not That You Need Any More Entertainment…

This week’s Hockey has been over the top intense. I had everyone in a 50 mile radius of me cheering for Team USA last night, and good God was it exciting.. and even before “The most anticipated game of the Olympics” played.. We watched Ovechkin and Semin tear shit up. Ovie looked like some sort of possessed machine. It was beautiful.

Thanks goes to Mr. Kevin Lomax over at ESH for bringing this to my attention, thus me bringing it to yours….

Meet Randy Moller.

– IC

Time In

It’s been a few days since the last post has been up… I’m gonna go ahead chalk it up to a couple reasons…

1) The contributors are lazy ass bags that would rather dick around on facebook than post something totally awesome.
2) The CAPS win streak ended… leading to the start of a crap streak.
3) The winter games started… which… have lead to a small conflict in my even smaller brain.

I wrote about this a couple weeks ago… about how I would rather see Washington win the cup than seeing USA win gold.. now I’m watching, and finding myself in a strange mood, and I’ve realized these things..

-I totally want USA to be totally bad ass and win.
-I can’t cheer against any of our boys.
-I hate Team Canada with a passion.

Watching the Russians lose last night sucked… only because of Ovie and Semin (you too, Varly.)… and I REALLY wanted to see them win the shoot out since Ovechkin shot 3 times in 7 rounds.
Thats like an Ovgasm for any CAPS fan..sooo tight

Truth be told, I couldn’t tell you how I would feel watching USA vs Russia…. but I have slight favoritism to the Yanks.. and I think its gonna stick.

*** being that the winter games are finished, my previous statement is null and void. the picture remains.

it is what it is….

Nail biter. Epic. Heart breaker.

Last nights game was all of these things… it was unfortunate, but not devastating. If the streak wasn’t on the line it probably wouldn’t have stung as bad…. I mean c’mon! down 2-5 going into the third and taking it to OT?? You gotta be kidding. Snuck a point out of what looked like a definite regulation loss.
The good news…. the pressure is over. Its back to game by game hockey and not about the sports center story. We’re still on the top.. and it still feels good.

But here comes the hater nation.
Good news for most MD/DC/VA residents is that practically everyone has CAPS fever.. even Obama gives a shout out to Ovie.
Point being you don’t get a ton of haters coming at you from every direction.
I live in LA.
I’m f%ked.
Contrary to what most may think… The Kings have a pretty legit fan base. As do the Ducks…. and the Sharks. Fun right?

Being the only Ovie advocate on the west coast isn’t all that bad…. I enjoy it…I like talking hockey with non CAPS fans. And of course, You get all kinds of garbage thrown at you when you’re doin well.

“Ovechkin is dirty and overrated”
“Washington can’t hang with a team like San Jose”
“No defense means no playoff wins”
“Kobe Bryant is the best hockey player ever”

I haven’t heard much shit talking since the streak started, but I knew for a fact that as soon as we lost a game I would.. and I did. What kills me is the people that run their cock holster who don’t even follow hockey. You know the type… just saw a score flick on the TV and decided “Hey, I’m gona text Ian and say something funny like WAY TO GO CANADIANS LOL”. Fanfuckintastic work.

Watch on the web as well. Columnists and self proclaimed analyst’s will start to write their copy and pasted articles on how Washington’s “high flying offense” isn’t going to cut it…
Why the hell not?

You score 5, we score 6. Seems air tight

…… to be continued.
I.C.