The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight

Okay, so in the previous post I teased that in the next post (this one) I would reveal the reason for the Capitals’ offensive difficulties. I have been tracking this for a few weeks now, and even wrote about it once before this season.

To save you the trouble of scrolling through that lengthy Oct. 22 post, here’s the pertinent bit:

Another problem the Caps have had this season is getting shots on net. Washington has averaged 28 shots on goal per game this season, the same number it averaged in 2006-07. But many other intended missiles have missed their mark. The Caps have 196 shots on goal in seven games. Another 106 have been blocked en route and 93 have missed the net altogether. So more intended shots (199) have missed the mark than have gone on goal (196).

Opposing teams have 220 shots on goal, have had 79 blocked and have missed entirely on 67 in the same seven games.

“I think our [defensemen] have to do a better job of changing the angle [of their shots],” says Hanlon. “Every team plays [defensive] zone almost the same; they collapse, they come out to the point. If they’re in shooting lanes, we have to do a better job of just moving them a little bit. It’s hard to get pucks through now. A lot of teams, they start to use [the area] behind the net. Instead of just throwing it at the net, they get people set up behind the net and the cycle starts again because it’s so hard to get pucks through. It’s a skill. It’s an acquired skill to walk three or four feet, move, change the angle and find a new shooting lane. It takes composure and it takes poise. The good ones are better at it.”

The seven defensemen the Caps have employed this season have combined for 60 shots on goal. Another 51 have been blocked and 26 more have missed the net.

Alex Ovechkin’s normally finely honed radar is also off just a bit in the early going of this season. He is averaging better than five shots on goal per game, as he has done over the course of his career. Ovechkin has 37 shots on goal this season, and that’s more than twice as many as any other Capital. Nylander, Kozlov, Poti and Matt Pettinger are tied for second on the team with 16 shots on goal. But Ovechkin has had more shots blocked (17) and more that have missed altogether (18) than any other Cap has managed to put on the cage.

A couple weeks later, things haven’t improved much in the getting-shots-through department.

Beginning with this season, the league added the “A/B” column to its official game sheets. The stat tells how many intended shots skaters had blocked in individual games. As it has for years, the league also tracks missed shots, those intended shots on goal that went wide or high of their intended mark.

The NHL does not make it easy to track these stats on a team-by-team basis, but here’s what we know.

In 2005-06, Alex Ovechkin led the NHL in shots on goal. Ovechkin was second in the NHL with 144 missed shots in his 81 games played, trailing only Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk (159). Ovechkin averaged 1.78 missed shots per contest in his rookie season.

Last season, Ovechkin again led the NHL in shots on goal. Ovechkin missed 148 shots in 82 games, second in the league behind Philadelphia’s Simon Gagne (179). So Ovie fired an average of 1.8 missed shots per game in 2006-07.

This season, Ovechkin is third in the NHL with 68 shots on goal. He has missed the net on 31 attempts (that’s 2.4 per game) and has had 50 shots blocked by opposing defensemen or forwards. You don’t have to be a math major to tell that more of Ovie’s shots have missed the mark (81) than have gone on goal (68).

Ovechkin trails Detroit’s Henrik Zetterberg and the Rangers’ Brendan Shanahan. Zetterberg has 76 shots on goal in 14 games; he has had 15 shots blocked and has missed the net 21 times. Shanahan has 72 shots on goal in 13 games. He has had a dozen shots blocked and has missed altogether 19 times.

So although Ovechkin trails Zetterberg by eight shots on goal, he has actually teed the puck up for 37 more shots than has the Detroit star. Ovechkin has launched 46 more shots than Shanahan, but trails him by four in shots on goal.

The seven Washington defensemen who have played this season have combined for 104 shots on goal. Another 96 attempted shots have been blocked, and 43 have missed the cage. Capitals blueliners have taken more “bad” shots (139) than shots that have gotten through.

Like I said, the NHL doesn’t make it easy to track these things. But I spent several hours this morning tracking a few teams, game-by-game. I tracked the three teams with the most shots on goal in the league (Carolina, Detroit and Toronto). Despite having about 100 more shots on goal for the season than the Caps, none of the three had as many blocked shots as Washington.

I tracked the three teams in the league with the best shooting percentage (Philadelphia, Buffalo, Calgary). None of them had as many blocked shots as Washington. I tracked the three teams with the fewest shots on goal in the league (Vancouver, Boston and Atlanta), just to see if maybe they had the fewest because they were getting a lot of shots blocked. Nope. They’re just not taking a lot of shots.

I tracked Ottawa, because they’re so good. I tracked the Rangers, because they’re getting shots on goal but not scoring. Including the Caps, I tracked a dozen of the league’s 30 teams. None has had more shots blocked than Washington. Only Toronto (206), the Rangers (173) and Carolina (170) have missed the net more than Washington.

I also tracked the Caps’ opposition in the 13 games to date this season. Caps opponents have totaled 373 shots on goal. They’ve had 142 shots blocked and they’ve missed 126 times. So although Washington has been outshot by seven in terms of “shots on goal,” they’ve actually taken 103 more shots than their opponents.

Of the 12 teams I tracked, the Caps were the only team whose total of shots missed and shots blocked exceeded its total of shots on goal.

What are we to make of this?

“We do look at it and I know the reason for it and I’m not going to go into it because it’s part of our system,” said Glen Hanlon prior to the Philly game on Friday, in which Washington had 26 shots on goal and 25 blocked. “Trust me, I don’t sit and say, ‘Okay guys, I want to have a whole bunch of shots blocked.’ But I know the reason why it’s happening. We have to make the proper play. There’s a play that has to be made there. I know the reason for it, but I don’t really want to get too much into it.

“It’s a very simple adjustment. We have plays to accommodate that. Lots of nights it’s on, and some nights the processing of the information is not there.”

The adjustment wasn’t made (or maybe the info wasn’t processed) on Friday, but it’s worth looking for as the current road trip progresses. Here’s what three other Caps had to say about the problem:

Defenseman Brian Pothier:
“It’s something we need to get better at. We’re not doing a very good job at getting pucks through. Teams nowadays they really harp on that. They know if they limit point shots, they limit rebound opportunities. We need to work just as hard at maybe stepping aside, finding a lane and getting some pucks through.”

Defenseman Mike Green:
“We’ve just got to be smart at getting pucks down low. We’re successful when we get pucks behind the net and battle and cycle. We’ve just got to be smarter as a defensive group at getting pucks through. We work on it a lot.”

Goaltender Olie Kolzig:
“The one thing I do see is that our [defensemen] aren’t moving their feet. They stay stationary and they allow the forward to really key up on the puck. If they get their feet moving a little bit, it’s going to be tougher for the forward to eye up on the puck and you’re also dragging that forward away, so it opens up the high forward for a one-timer.”

By the way, Pothier and Tom Poti are the only two Caps defensemen whose totals of blocked and missed shots combined do not exceed their shots on goal totals.

Guys who take a lot of shots are going to miss their share of shots, just like the guys who handle the puck more than other players are going to be the ones who are among the league leaders in giveaways. It goes with the territory.

Since the beginning of time immemorial, hockey coaches have preached the importance of a consistent point shot, one that’s hard and low and gets through to the opposing net. Point shots that get through sometimes result in rebounds, and sometimes those rebounds result in goals. Point shots that get blocked sometimes result in turnovers at one of the most vulnerable spots on the ice, the offensive blueline. Think back to the game-winning goal in Thursday’s 2-0 loss to the Rangers in New York. The sequence started after a Mike Green point shot was blocked and the puck trickled all the way back to the Washington end of the ice.

The Capitals are taking an average of 57.23 shots per game. Only 28.15 of those are getting to the net. One can’t help but wonder if a few more of those 744 intended shots had gotten through, and led to other shots and maybe a few goals, maybe the outcome of one or two of Washington’s four one-goal losses might have been different.

Washington has been starving for goals all season, and its power play has lacked luster. Alleviating the point shot problem could go a long way toward fixing both problems.

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40 Comments on “The Gang That Couldn’t Shoot Straight”

  1. sidehillman Says:

    Well, at least I didn’t have to waste more then 10 minuets tonight. What a bunch of crap. 3 goals in 10 minuets. They will be lucky to reach 50 points this year.

  2. fauxrumors Says:

    1) No, no, no, Sidehillam you forgot the good part of that 1st period, the Caps got 19 shots ON goal. It doesn’t matter that NONE went in. Its all about ‘adjusting’. and giving a good effort. Winning is over rated.

  3. kenhockey Says:

    Convinced yet?

  4. Muddapucker Says:

    It seems like to me that the Caps are trying to play too controlled of an offensive game. I see a lot of cycling along the boards and work behind the net but not much in the way of give and goes or cutting for the net. Additionally, we aren’t seeing many “garbage” goals but a lot of that has to do with the inability of the defense to get the puck on the net.

    I am particularly disappointed in Jurcina this year as opposed to last. I don’t see Backstrom living up to his billing, but am willing to give him more time before reaching a conclusion. Is Nylander holding the puck too long or does he not have anyone to pass it to? When Ovie has the puck on the half boards and moves toward the net, it seems like his teammates go with him and he has no one to pass to because they’re about 8 feet away and no one can get a shot off.

    Our checking line is just that. Power play is hugely disappointing. Power kill still has, I believe, potential.

    I don’t know, it is very frustrating. It seems like our team makes all the other goalies in the league look great. I have never seen a team that seems to fire the puck into the opposing goalies pads as much as the Caps do.

    I am at the point where I think a small shakeup is necessary, maybe calling Bourque up. It just seems like to me that somebody needs instill some fire in lineup. The controlled “system” approach is growing old, I think we need a bit more reckless abandon. I wish I had the answers.

  5. Oneal Says:

    I agree with every word of Muddapucker’s analysis.

    There was only one professional team on the ice tonight. The Caps struggled to complete one pass, clear their own zone or get into the zone on-side. Meanwhile Carolina strung together passes, executed set plays and converted on the power play.

    Hugely disapointing.


  6. strungout Says:

    Is it me or all we all starting to over analyze the problems this team is having?

    PP, injuries, hitting players with pucks….what’s next…odd man rushes given up with less than 10 seconds in the attack zone while playing 3 left handed shots at forward?


    That’s all that matters at this point.

    Fix it McPhee.

  7. Mudderpucker Says:

    I am not trying to be doom and gloom. The Caps are my team and I have stuck with them for years and I will stick with them in the future. I am just making a few observations. I have held off up to this point and after this many games having been played I think its warranted.

    Injuries are a huge part of the problem, no doubt. But even the injuries indicate the lack of depth the team has when it comes to skill players. We have pluggers and we have grinders but we don’t have much in the way of a skill or finesse game in terms of depth.

    Anyway, the season is far from lost. Let’s hope we can get a few players back and get on a run and get back in the playoff race. I think that we would all agree that there are no playoffs in the Caps future unless things improve. How’s that for stating the obvious?

  8. Empty Maybe Says:

    For the first game on a “huge, huge road trip” the Caps got goose-egged and had five against. Again, that’s the only pertinent stat.

    Krusty isn’t coming.

  9. angstboy Says:

    The season is far from over, true. However, I’m 99% convinced that yes, this is a bad hockey team. The Caps have good players and whether or not it’s a chemistry or coaching issue, they cannot seem to gel as a team, and it’s KILLING them. It may be early, but patterns are forming, bad, foreboding, familiar patterns that anyone who has followed this team for any number of years should be able to recognize. It’s the attitude and the spirit with which this team seems to play that is broken and until that is fixed winning a game here or there won’t matter in the least.

  10. Vlad Says:

    Right now it’s just a team desperately trying to believe that it’s a good team.

    For sure, we’re overanalyzing, as the savvy Hfboarder points out. But the alternative is either rage or apathy 🙂

    It’s going to be very hard to turn this season around.. but at this point, I just want to see one line that clicks. Then at least there’s some sort of hope for eventual success.

  11. sidehillman Says:

    Apathy is fast approaching. I am trying to outrun it, but I am not getting any help.

  12. M- Says:

    It seems as if the Caps never progress. They’ve had a ‘scoring problem’ for over 10 years now.

  13. jwh37 Says:

    I know how to fix that problem of getting shots blocked while on the PP………MOVE!!!!
    If you just pick a spot and stand in it, the defense just parks in the shooting lane, and block all the shots. Maybe if they all moved around some they might be able to find an open shooting lane, or even an easy goal. Just sayin’.

  14. Mike L Says:

    Joe and Craig also brought that up during the Rangers game when they posted a graphic that the Rangers had something like 15 blocked shots and the Caps had less than a handful. Craig couldn’t believe the numbers, but they’re there.

    The game against Philly, the Caps were having shots blocked all over the place, esp. at the point. Erskine, Morisson and Jurcina have a lot of their shots blocked.

    While it may seem like a problem, it can also be exploited. What the Caps have to do is keep teams honest. Have the guys wind up for a shot, when the oppoent goes down to block the shot, alter the play, and pass the puck to the corner. If there’s someone down there who is a good passer (Nylander, Kozlov, Ovie, Backstrom), they should be able to make a quick pass to the front where someone chan bury it (Clark, Pettinger, Semin), or in the case of Ovechkin, shoot it in from the corner (if someone can do it, he can).

    They do have to get something going though, this can’t continue…

  15. gusty161 Says:

    Since we’re talking stats, mull these over. Since that 3-0 start ( did that actually really happen?), the Caps have gone 2-9, been outscored 26-38, the powerplay is operating at a 13.2% efficiency and the powerplay is churning along at 78%. Oh, did I mention they’ve been shutout two out the last three games. The season isn’t a washout yet but the edge of the cliff is fast approaching. I know it’s not always fair, but if ever a coaching change was needed, this is it. I mean, it’s not like they’d be letting Scotty Bowman go.

  16. bill ball Says:

    An echo to Mudda regarding the lack of give and go plays and ugly goals. And acting like pylons on the power play.

    I’ve mentioned to Mike before, this team has lacked any sort of ruse or element of surprise for some time now. With the addition of skilled players (ie more guys that can actually pass well), this should no longer be an issue, but for some reason it continues be. The opposition reads our guys, pure and simple.

    But it’s not just on the power play. There just seems like a lack of adaptive strategy in general. I continue to hear the Caps outplayed a team and lost. I heard this about the last game vs the Rags. I’m not sure if I agree. The Rags’ D did well to cut off passing plays and keep things to the outside with 5 on 5. Lundqvist aside, you can take shots from the outside all night and make any NHL goaltender look good.

    I’m seeing cycling and I’m seeing possession (when a costly turn over is not being made). It seems like our guys do want the puck. Their just seems to be huge disconnect with what they do with it afterward. I can’t tell if we’re getting outplayed, outcoached or both.

    I’ve been critical of the depth issues too, but as Mike mentioned on one of the last podcasts, how many teams have depth in top 6 forwards? Point taken. With that, I’m not sure why Hanlon is juggling the lines so much. If a problem with this team is gellling and chemistry, figure out who our best two healthy guys are to go with Ovechkin and leave it for now. Different looks doesn’t mean crap when you’re not scoring. We only had 1 scoring line for the past two seasons anyway. Why not stack what you have on the top line and the 1st PP unit and until we have Semin and Clark back, let line 2 figure itself out. Backstrom and Flash have shown some chemistry anyway.

    I suppose anyone can armchair right now while we’re in the dumps, but more of the same obviously isn’t working.

  17. Shaggy Says:

    Props to Bill Ball and Mudda; we have guys who can skate and control the puck (Nyls and Kozzie are about the best you’ll see) but no one to get he puck down low to – it happens game after game after game. No one goes to teh net – ever. Sure, Clarkie and Petty like to plant it in front but with our deadly inaccuracy from the outside the puck never gets close.
    It’s instructive to watch (gack) The Penguins dive bomb the goal, particularly on the PP, with Crosby and Malkin setting up their patented back door plays time after time. Now granted, not many are as gifted as Crosby and Malkin but Ovie, Semin, Koz, and Nyls aint far behind

  18. CapGoodie Says:

    Vogel, you must have the worst/most difficult job in hockey right now. I don’t envy you in the slightest. From reading you over the years I also know you see the game pretty darn well from posts during the “good times”- and that you probably know better than what your compelled to write about these days.

    These are plain ugly days right now for the Caps. Probably not a good idea to try and bring in ‘evidence’ to the contrary until this team actually gives you something to work with IMO. The shot block stat doesn’t provide anything but more evidence this team hasn’t the will to win that other teams do. Take a look at the shot charts from these games – bombing away from the perimeter into the shin pads of guys willing to sacrifice for their team. Meanwhile the Caps themselves have only broken the league average in shot blocks ONCE this year, partly beacause they don’t have that same willingness to sacrifice, partly because they allow (or other teams are determined enough to get in there) shots from the actual scoring areas.

    This shot block stuff can’t be looked at in the vaccuum of not looking at where these shots are coming from (shot chart graphs), or without looking at the other side of the coin – that this aspect of hockey that doesn’t require either skill or experience, just a will to sacrifice (see Dawes in the NYR game, or Cobourn in the Philly game)- is something the Caps themselves simly aren’t showing up for.

    This is all just more ugly evidence of an ugly team. They aren’t sacrificing to get shots from scoring areas where these things don’t get blocked – and they aren’t sacrificing to block shots themselves doing the work to keep other teams from getting shots from scoring areas where they have less chance of getting blocked

    Man this is a rough time as a Caps fan – probably roughest of all for someone with Vogel’s job.

  19. dumpnchase Says:

    The lack of garbage goals is and has been troubling. Clark’s absence can’t help in that facet; he was just heating up and he’s the master at scoring without even shooting at times. I think it speaks volumes that this team is 3-8-3 when he is not in the lineup since his arrival. We could use a couple more like him, needless to say.

    I think Jurcina has been fine although last night wasn’t one of his better ones. Backstrom is going to be an excellent player. Keep in mind that he’s 19, he’s adjusting to new country, culture, ice surface and style of play.

    We probably are over-analyzing. Losing leads to that, looking for ways to fix things. Maybe I should resort to just writing scores and “5-9,” “5-10” or writing about stuff besides hockey or just putting links to all my buddies’ blogs here, eh? 😉

    I appreciate the levity the Krusty reference provides. Nicely turned. Thanks.

    I can’t call them a bad hockey team yet. They’ve had the lineup they wanted coming out of camp for exactly two games (they won both) and by the end of both games someone had gone missing with another injury. If they were healthy and they were 5-9 I might be inclined to agree.

    Certainly one of the problems on the PP is the lack of movement. It’s like they’ve got lead skates on sometimes. Seeing Carolina’s PP at work merely reinforces that.

    Mike L,
    You’re exactly right, and I think that’s what Olie was getting at in his comment. We’ve got a lot of guys who seem to think that they’re Danny Vermin and they can shoot through schools. Instead of taking a low percentage shot, fake it, move, pass or shoot.

    Bill and Mudda,
    Very good analysis, but you’re both good at that. Even on the nights when the Caps get a lot of shots (like last night) a lot of them seem to come from the perimeter. And a lot are still blocked and wide, too. I still think that if they can get more of their point shots through, some rebound and second chances will result and some garbage goals could occur. If, of course, there are guys down low to clean up.

    My job isn’ nearly as bad/difficult as Hanlon’s and McPhee’s are about now. And I’ve always maintained that the game entertainment guy has it rough, too — no matter what music he plays, half the house is bound to hate it.

    You’re right about the shot blocking to a degree. You also have to remember that the Caps — in terms of pure “shots taken,” are outshooting the opposition by more than 100. So the Caps have fewer opportunities to block shots than their opponents.

    It’s rough right now for all of us, no more for me than for all of you who are invested in this team in a night-in, night-out and year-in, year-out basis. As bad as it gets, I still look forward to the next game and I’m sure most of you do, too. Kills me that this one isn’t on TV tonight. Although I reserve the right to be thankful for that later.

  20. BernieWolfFan Says:

    Vogs, Mudda, Angst, guys, help me here. When was the last time we had mngt and/or coaching with Cup Rings here in DC for any length of time? Doesn’t the fact that John Muckler and Bob Hartley are available make you question Ted’s mind set? Other teams make changes as soon as a winning opportunity arises. Calgary, Columbus as examples. Do you guys think Ted even considered a Keenan or Hitchcock, or a Muckler for that matter? I’m sure they are “great guys” but with George and Glen at the helm we will not finish above 70 pts like we did last year. God this is getting old.

    Falls Church

  21. BernieWolfFan Says:

    When you say “Fix it McPhee”, you should be saying “Fix it Ted”, ya know? John Muckler has 5 rings to his name. I’m sure Mucks would have fixed it by now. Evidently Ted does not know who Muckler is.

  22. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    Ladies and germs please don’t panic! I know it doesn’t look like it right now, but the Caps will make the playoffs this year. Trust me, I wouldn’t lie to you kids. On the subject of ‘Blocked Shots’ I would ad that with the exception of Erskine, our D-men take long wind ups on their slappers. To me, this is a big reason why so many shots are being blocked. Cheer up folks, at least y’all didn’t bet a Penguins fan that the Caps would finish in the top Ten in regular season ‘goals for’ at seasons end.

  23. BernieWolfFan Says:

    The Bowman comment. I know, you know, we all know. Oh, except Ted.

    Your mind set is why the Caps have been this way since I got a Bernie Wolf jersey for Christmas. Let’s not go down that road of acceptance again. If we do not demand excellance, we will never get it. My friends and family know way too much about John Muckler and Bob Hartley right about now.
    What do you guys think Ovie is thinking these days? Will I hit another hole in one come april? No, he wants post season and if this keeps up he will! If you guys know what I mean.

  24. Jhershb Says:

    Problem–the “shot on goal” statistic is often spurious, since it reflects quantity, not quality; the far more meaningful statistic is *chances* (whether they result in official shots on goal or not–eg, a shot off the post doesn’t count as a SOG, but a soft flip from center ice that the goalie catches can). Game after game, the Caps sent plenty of “shots on goal” but the opponent gets far higher quality chances, even if fewer SOG. The first period last night was a classic example.

  25. BernieWolfFan Says:

    So how do you propose we remedy this SOG and Chances conundrum? I’m all ears.

  26. Muddapucker Says:

    I am not sure either Muckler or Hartley would be my choice. I am not even convinced a coaching change is in order.

    Glen Hanlon’s style has always been that of teaching and reason. He shows patience and expects people to deliver as he delivered when he was a player. I wonder sometimes whether or not his players have taken advantage of that approach Maybe without even realizing it. They know him as well as he knows them. Players sometimes seek a comfort level and maybe don’t really put out the way they could if they were motivated differently.

    Often times, a new coach brings out play that was not seen prior to a change. I like Hanlon. I think he’s a good man and a good coach. What I would like to see is a departue from his controlled ,understanding and patient teacher personality to more of unaccepting, no excuses tolerated type of personality.

    I don’t really know what the deal is because I am not in the locker room. I am giving you my impressions which I acknowledge may not be worth two cents. His personality might have been tailor made for the “rebuilding” team of the last few years, but not necessarily for the team that Ted says is rebuilt.

    The question is, is he suited for the present team or is someone that is more of a task master and someone that players fear or are uneasy with better better suited. I don’t know but I think its a legit question and one I would imagine GMGM must be thinking about.

  27. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    Bernie, You’re questioning my mind set and yet you think MUCKLER is what the Caps need?

  28. BernieWolfFan Says:

    Muckler as five rings to his name. I really do not know what we/you are afraid of. Winning?!?! Ted has to let go of the finals from a decade ago. We have to move on bro. And IF Muckler does not work out (we’ll give him a decade too), than we’ll move on ya know?

    The best Bench Bosses have been all of what your have said. They knew when to change gears and go with a different personna as needed. You have validated my point exactly. Hanlon is too unidirectional and we fans have been bearing the brunt.

  29. Burgh Says:

    Mike- thanks for taking the time to put this analysis together, awesome work! And it definitely confirms what a lot of us feel when we watch games. I always find myself getting irritated about not getting the shots through and it seems that those feelings are justified. Good point by Olie about how the D doesn’t move their feet. I’m not sure how to take Hanlon’s comments. His gameplan is what leads to the missed shots?

  30. BernieWolfeFan Says:

    How long do any of you guys think Lindy Ruff will be in Buffalo?

  31. CapitalSpirit Says:

    Interesting dichotomy.

    Up in my neck of the woods in 417, one of the regulars has a habit of catcalling the Caps whenever they take too long setting up on the power play. You know, “Pass it around!” “Don’t shoot!” That sort of thing. And yet, when the shots do get taken, they’re ending up in the wrong ZIP code, and we end up with discussions like this one.

    It seems that at some times, the perfect shot is the enemy of the good shot; at others, no shot is a bad shot. (Read that again, you’ll get it.) Both are mind-sets which can only lead to lessened offense. Put another way, some of the shooters seem to be too patient waiting for the perfect shot, and failing to take a good shot when one is available. Others seem to be a bit trigger-happy, even when a hockey noob like me can tell from four stories up that the shot’s doomed to failure.

    More motion on offense seems to be what’s needed. A thought to consider: it is impossible to move forward when one just stands around.

  32. BernieWolfeFan Says:


    You want dichotomy references? What about the Jagr player/personnel roster with Cassidy? Of course Leonsis gave the green light on all that but McPhee orchestrated it. Ted needs to decide if he REALLY wants to win and let McPhee and Hanlon go asap.

  33. CapitalSpirit Says:

    Right now, we’re on the skids because of injuries. We’re without our captain, our number 2 scorer from last year, and our top minute-chewing defenseman. For the Pens, that would be like having Crosby, Malkin, and Gonchar out with injuries all at once. Do you honestly think that if that were indeed the case–no Crosby, no Malkin, no Gonchar–that Penguins fans would be screaming for the coach’s ouster when the Penguins went on a skid?

    We are not where we are because of talent. I daresay we’re not where we are because of bad coaching or bad management. It is undeniable that we are currently missing some very crucial players. If we’re still skidding when Semin, Clark, and Poti all get back in the roster and playing their usual shifts, I might get impatient, as well. But since we are currently a scant 4 points out of 8th place, and since it is only November, and since we’re missing three key players, I think we should refrain from overreacting to where we are.

    Yes, we are currently in last place. with 11 points. The Islanders only have five more points than we do, and yet they’re currently standing fifth.

    All the Caps can do right now is take it one game, one period, one shift, at a time. And before you dismiss that out of hand, consider the Great Wall of China. You can see the thing from space with the naked eye; yet it was built one brick at a time.

  34. BernieWolfeFan Says:

    But do you think we should be playing this poorly? How has Hanlon really used Nylander and Kozlov? They’re not injured. Do you think we can finish with more than 70 pts like last season even with Semin and Clarkie back? What about Backstrom. How has Hanlon really used him? He is a natural Center remember and Hanlon has him all over the place. Just wondering how long into the season Leonsis will let McPhee and Hanlon run training camp. 2 hrs til game time, geez…

  35. […] made a comment over on Mike Vogel’s blog regarding the Great Wall of China, and I thought some further elaboration might be in […]

  36. CapitalSpirit Says:


    Well, Backstrom got moved over to center on Thursday, and potted his first NHL goal–the game-winner, no less. We killed a 5-on-3 that turned into almost a 5-on-2 when one of our players broke his twig. Olie stopped the first shot of the game 8 seconds in, which is progress. Ovechkin’s now in double digits in goals. picked Caps-Sens as Game of the Night after all the dust settled. Raise your hand if you saw THAT one coming.

    We’re moving in the right direction. We might not be there just yet–and the Bolts game at Verizon on Saturday could go either way–but hanging crooked numbers on the scoreboard against the best team in the conference, ON THE ROAD, tells me that all is not lost.

    The defense is still there; the PK was perfect in Ottawa; and now it looks like our offense may be showing signs of life.

    And to be honest, I don’t think that the Capitals were even playing “that poorly.” The results admittedly look a bit depressing. But consider: in 75% of the games we’ve played so far, we’ve allowed 3 goals or less. Buffalo got 7, the Islanders and Canes got 5, and the Blues got 4. Take those out, and you’re left with 22 goals against in the remaining 12 games–less than two a game, on average. Yes, the O hasn’t been there, but it seemed to show some spark in Ottawa.

    We’ll see what that O does against the Bolts Saturday night. We already beat those guys in our barn a little more than two weeks ago–right in the middle of that odgawful skid. If we could beat Tampa Bay after losing to the Pens, by all accounts, we should be able to defuse the Lightning coming off a win in Ottawa.

    As ever, I take my crow medium well.

  37. BernieWolfeFan Says:

    My whole point is McPhee has had a decade to build this Great Wall. That is all I keep hearing in DC. Rome wasn’t built in a day, etc etc. Come on, even teams that make post season make major changes. Are we so tepid here in DC about winning hockey that any sniff of success is satisfactory? We need to demand not just winning but winning The Cup. Leonsis gave George a 5-yr plan 10 yrs ago. Crunching stats and semantics discussions. Did you run for office on Tues? I did not see your name on the ballot. :o)

  38. dumpnchase Says:

    Thanks for the update, Strung. At least the “I hope they lose until someone gets whacked” crowd will be happy.

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