O From The D

Led by Mike Green, the Capitals’ defensemen put up 34 goals and 148 points this season. The goal total is the most since the 2001-02 bunch of blueliners netted 48 goals, and the point total is the most since the 1999-00 outfit also mustered 148 points. In the last 10 years, the only Washington team with more offense from the back was the 1997-98 Stanley Cup finals squad, which totaled 151 points. 

After a few tough seasons, the Caps defense is now a pretty well-rounded bunch, capable of keeping the puck out of its own net and helping to put it in the opposition’s net. The only new addition to the 2007-08 Washington blueline is Tom Poti, and he certainly deserves some credit for the turnaround.

On a somewhat related note, much has been written and said about what a physical team the Philadelphia Flyers are. While that is certainly true, one of our faithful podcast listeners (Danny Ingram) did some research on his own and sent me an email earlier today. (He mentions “upping the broadcast schedule;” we’re doing an additional podcast at caps.com today at 3, and will be giving away a pair of tix to Game 1 to one fortunate listener).

Thanks for upping the broadcast schedule.  I don’t always get to listen live…but I always listen and always enjoy it.

There is a lot of talk – on your show yesterday and around the NHL world – about the physicality of the Flyers team…and the intimidation factor.  So I decided to trudge over to NHL.com’s stat engine and see just how big a hit machine the orange and black are.  Though stats on hits are not always entirely accurate, the truth is really revealing.  The top six Caps hitters dominate the Flyers top 6. And as a team, we out-hit them 930 to 633…nearly 300 more hits.

Ovechkin leads the way with 220…more than 70 more hits than Jason Smith, Philly’s top gun. In fact, we have three players that have more hits than their top guy.  I think the issue with Philly being perceived as physical has more to do with the rash of cheap shots and isuspensions from early in the season.  Based on the NHL’s stats – it’s Philly who should be watching out for us…not the other way around.




Alexander Ovechkin




Matt Cooke




Milan Jurcina




Donald Brashear




Matt Bradley




John Erskine





Jason Smith




Scott Hartnell




Mike Richards




Derian Hatcher




Scottie Upshall




Braydon Coburn



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10 Comments on “O From The D”

  1. Tom in FL Says:

    Hatcher has been a goon since day 1. One of the first things he did when he came into the league (with North Stars then) was try to gouge out Dino Ciccarelli’s eye. I’ll bet Hatcher will be gunning for Ovie. Not that Ovie can’t take of himself (see hit count), but you can bet Brash will have his back. The Caps, from their side, would do well to make sure Briere takes a few hard hits – which should get him as usual to start chirping like a nest full of baby robins. It’s good here to have Bradley and Cooke as intigators and also could to have a guy like Federov to keep the boys on an even keel. The Caps just need to play their game and not worry about what the Flyers do.

  2. Joshua Says:

    Not only that, but even top hitter number five Matt Bradley still has 16 more hits than the number 2 philly hitter Scot Hartnell. Yet there is a difference between out hitting a team and out gooning them, and that remains a factor. While Ovie leads the team, he certainly has much fewer penalty minutes and of my knowledge none of them are for fighting. We still need to protect our star despite the fact that he might go after a few of their guys. So Brash, Bradley, Erskine, let ’em know you can drop your gloves and them just as easily. Maybe next year we can pick Brendan Witt up again at the trade dealine as we will begin to defend our Stanley Cup Title!

  3. […] the (Inter)net Mike Vogel explains why the physical matchup might not be what you think it is…Apparently ESPN is getting in on the Caps love…The […]

  4. Ben Says:


    Any truth to the “theory” being spouted by Flyers fans that the Wachovia Center scorers have a higher standard for what constitutes a hit?

    I’d be interested to see the Flyers’ home vs. away hitting splits, and the Wachovia versus Verizon Center (or anywhere else) hitting splits.

    I’d trudge over to the stat machine myself but I would rather gleefully watch as the Caps steamroll the Flyers in physically dominating fashion.


  5. Funkyglovefacewash Says:

    On the subject of big hitters, it’s now less than 12:00 min. left and it looks like North Dakota’s season is going to be over. Will Finley make the jump to pro this year?

  6. Dan, Jr. Says:

    “Bring it on” Fly boys! The Cap’s are “Tough Enough”.

  7. dave Says:

    If the Caps are smart, they should start Brashear, Bradley, Gordon, and Erskine. Send a message that if the Flyers want to get rough, the Caps are more than happy to oblige.

  8. Mike L Says:

    The remarkable number to me in that table is that Brashear has only nine fewer hits than Jason Smith, but Smith probably plays at least 3 times as many minutes as Brashear does.

    Of course, hits are a very subjective statistic in that the home scorer has to make the determination of what is or isn’t a hit. The NHL’s definition is legal body contact that causes a puck carrier to lose posession of the puck. It has nothing to do with crushing someone in the boards, or knocking them senseless, it only has to do with puck posession, which is really what the game is about.

    It doesn’t surprise me that the Caps have a lot of guys with high hit totals. The Caps are a quick team, and someone who is fast will get more hits by the definition above than a slow lumbering defenseman like Hatcher.

    And remember, Derian Hatcher came within a quick decision by David Poile of being a Cap. Bob Clarke (now Philly’s GM, then with Minnesota) had the pick right before the Caps pick and offered the pick to the Caps for the pick one below along with a player from the Caps. The idea was that the Stars were going to take Derian, while the Caps had Kevin Hatcher on the roster. Poile thought about it…but turned Clarke down.

  9. Chris Says:

    I don’t think Smith plays 3 times as more minutes as Brashear; Smith’s a 3rd pairing defenseman who’s been very injured this season. He doesn’t hit often, but he’s an effective hitter, and I think that’s what the numbers don’t reveal.

    I hold the view that these are two very evenly matched and similarly built teams and this should be a very interesting series. Philly’s a tough team that gets a reputation because of the suspensions taken earlier in the season (note that no suspensions have been incurred since December, though). Both teams had to battle their way into the playoffs from low positions and both were on fire at the end of the season (Huet rolled on teams with his 9-0 record at the end; Philly went 7-1-1 in the final 9 games ending the season with two shutouts). These are two teams that have considerable depth through the lineup and can roll three lines equally with an effective energy line. This is a series that won’t come down to offense, but to defense. The team that can out-defend the other team and out-play the other team on powerplays and penalty kills will be the team that takes the series. I don’t think this will be an undisciplined series either; this will just be an all out rough and tumble series of old time hockey. I can’t wait.

  10. Tom in FL Says:

    My stats aren’t official, but I gave the Caps 212 hits in the game. I think Bradley hit the same Flyer three times within about ten seconds. Even Semin had a few. Great game, but the Caps got lucky with the injured player. Kinda makes up for all the times this year the caps were two men down then had a broken stick. Huet I thought had his worst game as a Cap. The first goal he didn’t see and the PP goal was unavoidable. The two goals within 33 seconds were both questionable on his part, although they were the product of odd man rushes. Let’s just say he’s looked better. Great comeback though and Hollywood couldn’t have written it better with Ovie getting the game winner. Sunday should be a barn burner.

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