Getting Less With More

Last summer, the Capitals opened up their wallet and shelled out over $30 million to issue multi-year contracts to three unrestricted free agents: forwards Michael Nylander and Viktor Kozlov and defenseman Tom Poti. Nylander and Kozlov were signed to be top six forwards and Poti was inked to play on the team’s top defensive pairing and first power play group.

A third of the way through the 2007-08 season, all three are performing close to their previously established offensive performance levels. But as a team, Washington’s offense has been anemic. The Capitals are currently on pace to score just 191 goals, a figure that would rank as the third lowest of their 33 seasons in the NHL.

The Capitals have better offensive players this season than they’ve had in the previous two seasons. They’ve taken more shots and they’ve had more shots on goal. So far, the results just haven’t been there, and the lack of scoring has really hurt the Caps in the standings.

In 2005-06, the Caps were 9-16-2 after 27 games, the exact same record they have this season. Two years ago at this stage, the Caps had been outshot 951-739 and had been outscored 107-74. Leading scorer Alex Ovechkin had 17 goals, 30 points and 135 shots on goal.

In 2006-07, the Caps were 12-9-6 through 27 games. They had been outshot 974-740 and had been outscored 87-85. Ovechkin had 17 goals, 31 points and 143 shots on goal.

This season, the Capitals are again 9-16-2 after 27 games. They’ve outshot the opposition 822-772 (a remarkable swing of plus-284 from last season!), but they’ve been outscored 78-63. Ovechkin has 20 goals, 32 points and 154 shots on goal.

Coming into this season, the main concern of most Caps fans was the defense. How good would the team’s young defense be? How would 37-year-old goaltender Olie Kolzig hold up after missing a few weeks with a knee injury last season? So far, so good in those areas.

Washington has cut its goals against significantly over each of the last two seasons. The Caps have allowed 2.89 goals per game thus far in 2007-08. Every NHL team that allowed an average of 2.94 or fewer goals per game last season made the playoffs. The Caps’ defense and goaltending has given the team a chance to win on most nights this season.

Holding a team to three or fewer goals on a regular basis should mean winning on a regular basis. in 2005-06, the Capitals were 25-9-3 in games when they held the opposition to three or fewer goals. Washington was 4-30-9 in games in which it surrendered four or more goals.

Last season, the Caps were 27-8-8 when allowing three or fewer goals and were 1-32-6 when giving up four or more.

You’ll note that in each of the last two seasons, the Caps allowed four or more goals in nearly half the games on the schedule, an unacceptable amount. So it is heartening that the Caps have allowed four or more goals in just nine of the first 27 games this season. They’ve lost all nine of those games in regulation, but what’s worse, they’ve only managed a 9-7-2 mark in games in which they’ve allowed three or fewer tallies.

Washington is 3-7-2 in one-goal games, the second worst record in the league. Over the previous two seasons, the Caps were a combined 25-24-26 in one-goal games.

Ovechkin has accounted for 31.7% of Washington’s goals in 2007-08. Only Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk (32.3%) has accounted for a greater portion of his team’s offense among all NHL players.

Washington’s defense has cut the opposition’s scoring chances and shots on goal by a significant margin. Capitals goaltenders have shaved the team’s goals against. But the Caps’ marksmen — aside from Ovechkin — have not held up their end of the bargain. The Caps scored on 11.5% of their shots on goal in the first 27 games of last season. If they were clicking at the same rate in 2007-08, the Caps would have a league-leading total of 94 goals right now. Instead, the Caps are connecting on just 7.7% of their shots on goal, and they have just 63 goals.

That staggering difference between last year’s marksmanship and this year’s is all that prevents the Caps from prosperity in the NHL and Southeast Division standings. Among divisional foes, only Florida (2.82 goals against per game) has allowed fewer than Washington’s 2.89. Instead of being last in the entire NHL, a few more goals in the right spots would likely have the Caps in the thick of a hunt for a playoff berth.

Fifty-five games and 110 possible points remain on the schedule. If the Caps still hold out hope of earning a playoff berth, they’d likely need to claim 73-75 of those remaining points. They won’t do it by scoring 2.3 goals per game.

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32 Comments on “Getting Less With More”

  1. DMP Says:

    Way to come to the aid of everyone blaming the defence and goaltending although I still stand by saying they could use another Vet Dman and have Kolzig play a lesser role because think of how much lower the goals against could be and if they were doing what they did last year we would have an ultimate team.

    I didn’t notice the goals for totals between the years I was actually really surprised at the differences. My only argument for our offence is Semin hasn’t been in the line up do to injury there should be another 10 to 15 goals right there. Nylander is doing exactly what he was hired for. Kozlov isn’t really pulling weight, and Poti probably felt that he had to be tighter in his own end due to the young D. Those were supposed to be the real game breakers right, but for lack of goals we do have a team full of mostly grinders, what can you really expect.

  2. Anthony Says:

    I’m still holding out hope that things will change and get better as they get used to the new system.

  3. D'ohboy Says:

    Nice bit of analysis. However, using GAA stats from year-to-year is a bit misleading, since scoring is down overall in the NHL. If league-wide scoring stays at its current pace, there likely will be some teams giving up less than 2.94 goals per game that don’t make the playoffs. It would be better to use a relative stat like where they rank among the 30 teams in terms of GAA.

    Statistical quibbles aside, the Caps clearly need more offense. The absences of Semin and Clark have hurt, but the below-expected production from most of the roster (excepting Ovie, Nylander, Laich and Green) has killed the team’s playoff chances. The real question is: is this the best that we can expect from this group of players? If the answer is no, then we simply have to sit tight and wait for the Caps scorers to regress (progress?) to the mean. Unfortunately, by the time that happens, the Caps will most likely be planning summer tee times.

    If the answer is yes, then the Caps need to start looking for more scoring via the trade market. The Caps have a bevy of young defensemen and draft picks, along with a surfeit of cap space. Surely they could put together a package to bring in another scorer, preferably a right wing. Some names that stick out in my mind are: Marek Svatos, a former 30 goal scorer stuck on the third line in Colorado; Robbie Schremp, a very talented guy whose lack of defense has earned him a spot in the Oilers’ doghouse; or maybe a bigger trade for Michael Ryder, rumored to be on his way out of Montreal.

    If the Caps really want to shake things up, why not put in an offer for Sergei Samsonov? I know that he’s be unimpressive since leaving Edmonton, but he’s only 29, he’s a free agent after the season, and he’s available for less than the proverbial bag of pucks. Maybe playing with fellow Russians Ovie, Sascha and Kozlov will remind him that he used to be an elite talent.

    Staying in the Russian vein, how about Oleg Saprykin? While he’s not an elite talent, he’s fast, has decent hands, he’s sound defensively and he plays a sandpaper-in-the-underpants type of game that the Caps sorely lack (although Bradley’s been trying lately). What’s more, he’s playing in Russia, so the Caps wouldn’t have to give up any players or picks.

    None of these players will suddenly turn the Caps into Stanley Cup contenders, but at the very least one of them might relieve some of the goal-scoring burden from Ovie. A move might also send a message to the rest of the roster. If the Caps don’t make a move, our only recourse as fans is to sit through what seems like an eternity of 2-1 and 3-2 losses, hoping that eventually Boudreau’s system turns things around. After watching these last few games, it looks like we might be waiting a while.

  4. D'ohboy Says:

    With all due respect D’ohboy, I think the LAST thing this team needs is another goal scoring forward that is as soft as butter. This team needs people that can put the puck in the net. That is definately true. However, if this team gets any softer, they will be absolutely manhandled.

  5. KEYS Says:

    Like I wrote last year, whomever is out on the ice with Brashear should post up on the top of the crease because he 100 percent of the time passes through the crease in a corner scrum. He centers his passes to the passing lanes and there is never anyone there. He plays basic skills hockey, digs it out, centers it, gets the rebound. Also, Semin needs to focus more on the puck, he turns it over approximately two thirds of the time. As for Nylander, your figure eight is cool to watch, but try pay closer attention to the center of the ice. Don’t hold onto the puck so much, your shooters are waiting and get frozen in one spot because they don’t know which way you are going. Peace. Lets go Caps.

  6. Johnny Says:

    Unitil a week or so ago i was pretty tempted to throw my whole stack of season tickets out on the ice. At this poit i am still a die-hard fan but i’m not too sure i want anyone else to know. So if you see a fan show up at the games wearing a paperbag on my head (not unlike “the unknown comic”) it will be me. “Typical Capitals Hockey” is pass the puck around until they take it and get a breakaway goal. Remmember “100% of the pucks you dont shoot are guaranteed not to go in the net!” It is great as a fan to see your team out muscle and finness the other team and control the puck 70% of the game, however, if you dont shoot you dont score! If you dont score you dont win! Being a Capitals fan is like being love with a crackhead, You want to love and trust them but they will always cheat on you and let you down and in the end you will have your heart broken. We are like sadists, we always come back for more. Perhaps we are the sick ones and we are to blame……
    Signed,
    another brokenhearted fan

  7. biLL Says:

    this year i see a lot of the same thing. We will be on offense for a good 5 min in their zone, but with a lot more passing and very little shooting. we will then turn it over, and the other team races the puck down the ice on a 2v1 and scores.

  8. Janet Says:

    Whats up with Pettinger? His stats are WAY down. Last year he played second line with Semin and now he is third line. Kozlov is a huge dissapointment. Maybe Kozlov needs to play third line and maybe Petty can put it in the net if he plays with Semin again or even Ovie. Kozlov just seems big and slow to me….unquick! Backstrom has a good number of assists but I think I keep seeing him mishandling golden scoring opportunities. Is he just having bad luck or is the hand-eye speed not at NHL pace yet or am I not seeing things right?

    One thing for sure is someone else in addition to Ovie needs to step up! Ovie really is the complete package. I was listening to the Florida game on XM the other night and the Florida based commentary team were raving about his two way play!

  9. dmg Says:

    For his career Kozlov has scored 0.58 points per game; this season he’s at 0.56. It would be nice to see him put away more of his chances but I don’t think it’s fair to call him a huge disappointment.

  10. Paul Says:

    So, when are the Caps brass going to sign Ovie to an extension? Or is the lure of playing for a wining team in a large city where he’ll make much more money going to make him take his skill elsewhere?

  11. Troy Says:

    I think we are going to turn this season around and make the playoffs. As long as Hanlen is not around to screw up the lines. I think we should change lines a little bit thoe:

    Ovie/Nylander/Clark
    Semin/Backstrom/Kozlov

    I think those lines will produce, and once Semin gets back to 100% healthy, and starts producing, goals should no longer be a problem.

  12. Tom in FL Says:

    The Caps played really well I thought Saturday night, maybe overall their best game as far as controlling the flow. This guy Laing, you have to love him. He just dives in front of the puck all night. The Panthers called timeout with 4 seconds left and an offensive zone faceoff and my wife says, “Why are they doing that? There’s no time for them to score.” I said, “In four seconds, you can win the draw, take a shot and maybe get a rebound.” Sure enough, Florida gets two shots in under 4 secs, but Laing blocks them both. Now the other “grinders” are stepping it up. Backchecking is up and pokechecks have increased. I am very anxious to see further improvements this weekend, after the long practice. Brashear is playing more and playing better. The defensemen seem more coordinated. Kozlov is less than I expected and Semin is still way off key. Some of the other guys just aren’t producing. I think once Boudreau gets more entrenched, he might encourage McPhee to swap out a few players. This team really needs a big, tough #1 d-man. Backstrom seems to get better with each game. My gut feel says the next 27 games are much improved. If they can go like 15-10-2, the playoffs will at least be in sight and maybe you trade some prospects and bring in one or two vets. 8th place is possible and then Olie can get hot and anyting can happen. You might get Alzner up from Juniors then also. I’ve been following since they traded for Langway so I won’t quit now.

  13. fanohock1 Says:

    True, the GAA is down. However, so is the save percentage. I am a huge Olie fan, and always have been, but as recently as last week his save percentage dipped below 90%. A team’s ace has to have a save percentage of 92% or higher. Olie has played better as of late, and Johnson is a solid back-up, but the Caps need to look to see who will be relieving Olie in the next couple of years. Luckily the Conference isn’t burning it up as a whole. The Caps are probably about 10 points out of a playoff spot. In the baseball world that would be 5 games. It’s kind of rediculous to think that 1/4 of the way through the season in MLB or the NBA that a team 5 games out would start to panic. I agree with the coaching change, Glen Hanlon gave it his best shot but just couldn’t get the guys to perform, but this team still has plenty of time to bring it together and have a good season.

  14. Shaggy Says:

    Vogel’s point is that the Jurcina and Mo are not the second coming of Larry Robinson and Bob Gainey, but then again, they arent the reason why the Caps are foundering. I agree with that premise, and Olie and Johnny are obviously keeping them in games.
    The difference on O might come in little things: I think it would also help if Boudreau’s forechecking scheme included a little more of Green and Poti pinching in and get the D more involved in the rush – I may be deluded, but I saw Poti skating into the zone with speed a couple times against Carolina and Florida . Could Jerky and Schultz be far behind? Also, endlessly cycling and hiding behind the goal don’t fool a lot of defenses anymore. I like Brash’s new ‘tude and wish more of the grinders threw it in front of the net. And once Semin returns to form, that might be a tipping point.

  15. Soady Says:

    Let me preface what I’m about to say with a brief statement about myself, I have been playing Hockey since I was 4 years old (now 28). More so, I’ve been a defenseman that whole time, so I am usually the last to put blame on the goaltender, usually sighting some defensive lapse as the reason for being behind on the scoreboard.

    At what point are we, as fans, going to stop swallowing politics with the “#1
    goaltender”? Olaf has been sad to watch (at best) for the last two seasons, but this year there’s nothing left in his tank. He has but one move; crumple down to the ice like a building imploding on itself. And after displaying this dynamo goaltending demonstration, he appears to need help getting up. As far as lateral movement is concerned, there is none. Olie’s inability to move from pipe to pipe is baffling to those of us who really know why were losing. Quickness from right-to-left & vise versa is crucial in today’s NHL. With players like Kovalchuck who swoop in from nowhere and one-time the puck on the net, speed to curb such a blitzkrieg is essential. Don’t get me wrong, I like the guy very much and am ok with him being in the organization for a long time, but for god sakes we don’t have a starting goaltender. We have two guys who, on any other team, would be the backup & third string guys. Please folks, for the sake of my sanity & our beloved Capitals, make a push for the COMPETENCY IN THE CREASE CAMPAIGN 2008. Your voice can make a difference… Just ask Glenn.

  16. johnnydrum Says:

    Great piece Mike
    I was actually trying to do the figures since the lock out in my head today at work.???
    Thankfully your sums are better than mine..lol
    Interesting numbers.
    I think that the problem with the Caps this year,is similar to what happened a few years ago,following the Jagr trade.
    The Caps,had always been tireless workers,almost out hustling and banging thier way to wins,with timely goals by Bondra and game saving stops by the golatenders, in between.
    We had become most irritable to play against,and that ethic served us well.
    Then we got Jagr,which we ALL thought was the missing piece, became more creative (Lang,Nylander,Gonchar,Bondra),but then the gritty style that had made the team competitive,simply disapeared.

    Following the lockout,and the dawning of the “Ovey” age,we returned back to the old banging and crashing format, with the teams fabulous industry,and Ovy scoring the timley goals.
    I beamed with pride,following a loss to Detroit,the Wings coach,remarked how pleased he was at simply getting the Caps game out of the way–with his players “almost” intact.
    Teams were very aware that when they played our boys,the bruises would be there the next day.

    History seems to have repeated itself,when,finally,with the addition of more skill–the work ethic,which had won us games,bizarrley “disapeared”

    Hopefully,the new coach can get things back on track.
    This team needs to Understand that they must work,work and work to still grind out the wins.
    Behind the back drop passes are nice..but so are goals that bounce of butts!…Lets start crashing the net (which EVERYONE seems to be able to do to us..),and lets make every team wary about facing us.

  17. D'ohboy Says:

    While it’s true that Samsonov is ‘soft,’ none of the other guys I listed as possible offensive improvements has that reputation. None of them is without warts (mostly that they can’t play defense), to be sure, but that’s why they’re available at a reasonable price. Heck, Chicago would pay the Caps to take Sergei off their hands, if only that were allowed under the current CBA.

    As for Svatos, in 05-06, while averaging 13:45 in ice time, Svatos scored 32 goals, 20 of which at even strength playing with the third line. The guy creates his own offense. The knock on his is that he’s small and prone to defensive lapses. Stick him out there with Gordon and Laich to cover for him and he’ll still pot 20-25 goals.

    This team’s problem isn’t softness, it’s a lack of hands. The forward ranks are packed with grinders who can block shots and kill penalties but who couldn’t put a puck in the ocean if they were standing on the beach. The point I was trying to make is that the Caps need offensive help badly and, if they’re willing to overlook some warts, there is scoring talent out there to be had and not at an exorbitant cost in talent.

    While I love Brashear’s effort, that play where he blindly backhands the puck to nobody standing in the slot isn’t a smart hockey play, it’s a giveaway and a free breakout for the defense. Given that he’s doing it on the cycle, usually means that he and one of his linemates are caught deep behind the play. It’s the kind of play that drives coaches nuts because it almost always leads to an odd-man rush the other way.

  18. Troy Says:

    Responce to Tom In FL:

    I also live in Florida, and the announcers here said it was Laing that blocked those 2 shots, but they were wrong…it was actually our young defenceman Mike Green.

  19. D'ohboy Says:

    Mike,

    While you’ve shown that the Caps’ scoring average is down despite their preponderance of shots, is there anything statistically to suggest that Caps are due for a rebound? I guess what I’m looking for is a comparison of individual players’ career shooting percentages to their percentage this year. Although shooting percentage is highly variable from year to year, it might show us which players could be on the verge of a breakout. Another post perhaps?

  20. feesh Says:

    Troy,
    It was Laing who blocked the shots. I watched it with my own eyes.

  21. Joshua Says:

    We need a Peter Forsberg type forward on the right, and we need a Joe Thornton/Adam Oates type at center, and we need a Scott Stevens type leading the blue line, and we need better back up talent for Olie when we are giving him a break. We are not goint to get that 73/75 by sacrificing a win just to rest ‘Zilla up. We need to take more shots from the right side of the opposing net minder. And most importantly, we need a goon like we used to have in Craig Berube/Dale Hunter. What would be great is if he could fight AND score like Dale Hunter could. We want other teams to be afraid of the Washington Capitals instead of taking lightly. Hey Ovie can score goals and Nylander and Kozlov can help, but only Ovie is the one fighting for all of his points, and it’s showing as he is on both the top goal scorers and points leaders lists. Put that in your playoff pipe and smoke it.

  22. Joshua Says:

    Another thing they’ve got to do is fix the bad ice problem, it’s affecting their ability really learn how to handle the puck well. Even teams who come in and play on the same bad ice are better at handling the puck because they are better passers and handlers of the puck. Get the caps to do that and you can save a whole lot of money players because your scoring opportunities increase by about 200%.

    Over and Out

  23. Tom in FL Says:

    Joshua: You are right. Tha Caps need Forsberg, Thornton, Stevens and Hunter. And the Orioles need Gehrig, Ruth, Ted Williams and Cy Young and the Ravens need Unitas, Raymond Berry and the Ray Lewis of five years ago. Actually, I would settle for any semblance of Scott Stevens on defense or Langway for that matter. All the guys are good but none are #1 guys. Green is very good and will be a #1 offensive d-man. Poti is a fine overall #2 d-man. Pothier is an overall #4 or 5 on a top team as is Morrisonn. Jurcina and Schultz are #6-7 at best on a Cup contender, although they are young enough to improve. Alzner might be the #1 guy in the future (he should) but that is three years away. I myself would seriously consider trading Semin and Schultz to bring back a #1 d-man. Can’t explain it, but the impression I get of Semin is he will always be ahead case. Maybe I’m wrong.

    Someone above took a hit on Olie. I disagree. Sure, he lets in a soft goal every two or three games. But I get the Center Ice package so I listen to “enemy” announcers a lot and I can’t tell you how many times the word was the Caps were awful over the first 20 mins and only Olie “kept them in the game.” Sure, he is like Mt Everest back there and moves with glacier-like speed but his glove is still quick and most games he has flagged down several that ought to have been at the back of the net. Johnny was also really good Saturday night. At least Boudreau has me excited again. I might go in person to the game in Tampa Dec 15th. Only 200 miles round-trip. There’s no fun in the world like going into the enemy stadium and have your team win. Once in the Meadowlands back in like 94 Iafrate scores on the power play and I stand and yell and there’s like three other people standing in the stadium. Caps won, 4-1 that night and I told those Devils fans, “You have the better team but we got you tonight.” Man, could Iafrate shoot the puck.

  24. Tom in FL Says:

    One more thing: Joshua is 100% right on the ice. Other teams with good ice come in and deal with it one game at a time, but you have the bad ice every game or half and you develop bad habits because the “right play” doesn’t work. D-man must become overly cautious to stop the bouncing puck rather than to line up a one-timer shot or pass. It’s like if you made a baseball team go out and play on an all-dirt infield. This is an embarrassment and the organization needs to get off its behind and fix it.

  25. KV Says:

    There’s so much wishing the Caps had different players why not just change the team you root for? This is the team we’ve got and we’re making it out to sound like they are terrible. When they have their stuff together they look just as good as anyone else. It’s how often they have their stuff together that is the problem. If the D is good the Offense lags. If the offense gets a 2 or 3 goal lead the D and Olie let 5 go in. Hanlon could not find the proper formula and that’s why we have a new guy behind the bench to try and make these ingredients work. With nearly a full week of practice lets see what the new caps look like fresh and inspired on Friday.

  26. Luc Bertrand Says:

    This is an excellent analysis of figures over three comparable seasons. However, individual hockey players make a big difference. Actually, what hurts Caps the most is the absence of Alex Semin due to a foot injury. Alex accounted for most of the improvement in the offensive figures last year.

    I just hope Caps fans will be patient. If Semin had been present and healthy, the team would have had two, if not three balanced attack lines. Not only Semin’s figures are missing, those of his fellow linemates are dramatically affected by the loss of such a swift and crafty left winger. Matt Pettinger and Chris Clark (who was sidelined too due to an ear injury) seem to be two of those forwards with disappointing production output, along with Brian Sutherby who has been drafted prior to Glen Hanlon dismissal. Unfortunately, the Caps obviously still lack depth. I believe both Caps fans and management fall into the trap of maintaining expectations too high this season. This looks like the 1977-78 season when injuries and bad moves caused the Capitals to deceive their fans following a 1976-77 season that showed encouraging improvement. I also remember such was the case for 1979-80 and 1981-82 seasons, but the team was much stronger and balanced at that time. The Caps were so eager to make the playoffs for the first time they drafted free agents or made trades to get experienced or proven leaders from other teams.

    In my opinion, the Caps may try to get quality forwards through transactions, but not for the price of promising young players or jeopardizing the team’s philosophy to build a hard working staff around their nucleus of home-developped players. This advice and patience should pay off when Alex Semin and Chris Clark will fully recover from their injuries.

  27. extrapreneur Says:

    not that anyone actually cares…

  28. Patrick Loewen Says:

    I have been a Capitals fan for about 30 years, and have felt the pain of dissappointment for much of it. I still, remain a fan. XM satellite radio has truly made being a Caps fan much easier, due to the huge distance from DC. ( approx 3000 miles) to Brandon, Manitoba. I am now able to listen to every Caps game as opposed to 1 or two games/year on television. ( CBC, or TSN ) The recent edition of Capitals is exciting, intriguing and a smidge frustrating. Barring the detrimental injuries, this team has played some fascinating hockey, with highlight reel goals-for, as well as, rotten-luck bad bounces against.
    One bad bounce/bogus call less on any given night and this season has an all-new look. Momentum is what this game is all about!!
    Ovechkin has proven to be a goal scorer, bone crusher, a morale booster and an upstanding citizen, all-round Godsend.
    The coaching change was inevittable, some player changes are also inevittable sooner or later.
    I believe with minor line tweakage, plenty of practice time (this week is exactly what they needed two weeks ago) to learn new systems and develop some comradery/chemistry and heal the wounded, this team will emerge as a force to reckon with very soon. The rest of the division better be watching over their shoulder because this team has the potential to be a very dark horse, and I can hear the hoofs pounding. The Caps are not to be taken lightly! No team looks at their schedule and calls them a bye.
    All that said, the Christmas wish list:

    1. A solid Canadian-born (will settle for American) forward with grit and a nose for the net, Clarke needs help- (Thornton, Getzlaf, even Tucker)
    2. A slick headsup D’man/playmaker ( Kaberle )
    3. Wicked backup goalie ( insert name here, French-Canadian or Finnish )
    4. Sign Ovechkin for F-sake, open the dusty wallet! GIT’er DONE!

    Prove me right Caps! tatum, tatum, tatum!!!

  29. Luc Bertrand Says:

    One thing I forgot to mention: The Capitals no longer have a respected offensive defenceman, the kind of quarterback capable of scoring from the blueline and, hence, drawing attention from the opposition’s forwards during power plays. Without this extra offense threat, the Capitals forwards have to work against opponents closer to them, more confident and daring while providing less opportunities for passing the puck. When Washington could count on two-way threats such as Robert Picard, Scott Stevens, Kevin Hatcher, Al Iafrate or Phil Housley, the other teams were in deep trouble when Ryan Walter, Mike Gartner, Dino Ciccarelli or Peter Bondra could take advantage of the attention these blueliners draw from their opponents.

    Unfortunately, Steve Eminger seems having failed to meet the expectations George McPhee had when he picked him, but the team has traded all of the veteran defencemen who could have reduced the pressure he had during his development. So I believe the Caps should try to develop that talent within its organization, given the price of the proven leaders like Chris Pronger, Jaroslav Spacek, Sergei Gonchar or Nicklas Lidstrom.

  30. Greg Says:

    but it is hard to get the “O” going when Semin and Clark can stay in the line up. Semin still looks like his ankle is bothering him and seems very rusty and Clark although is playing the usually tough as nails style, those injuries mount. “IF” they can get everyone healty and on the same page this team has a chance to be scary good.

  31. nobody special Says:

    buh, this is probably why they’re trying out Liang – the caps don’t need more fancy shots from the perimeter, they need some fearless a—–e like ryan smyth to lumber towards the net and shovel in some dirty goals. look a the balance of detroit over the last 10 years, some finesse and some bulldozing. anaheim last year?

    like a great man said: less swedish more finish.


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