Caps Down Thrashers 6-4, Finish With 29 - 9 - 3 Home Record; Retain Second Place In Eastern Conference
Maybe Secondary Scoring Isn't That Much Of An Issue?
Others always do a much better job at recapping the play by play so I trust you'll wander over to Japers Rink, read the WaPo, or Corey's recap in the Times so rather then going through a recap of play by play I'll just be giving my musings about today's 2 Point Afternoon at Verizon Center.
First off I didn't attend, Tom the classmate I split my tickets with has an early teenager so I gave him this game as the Caps always do such a truly great job with the home season finale. I watched the Jersey Giveaway on CSN and once again just had to mention it. The great brand of on-ice hockey the Caps are playing finally matches the super job the Caps organization does in treating us the fans. Seriously I've said it before, there is no better professional sports/entertainment value to be had in the region then a Caps game. I've had season tickets for four full seasons now and I've already renewed. I've never regretted the decision and I can't wait for this years playoffs.
That musing out of the way here's a few more...
Today's game was fast and loose, the Caps won because they played a less together and less talented team. They were able to dominate when they played Caps hockey. That said it's also clear why Atlanta was 7-3-0 in their last 10 games coming into the game. They were anything but pushovers. Next season, don't expect Atlanta to not be in the mix for the Division. John Anderson has them playing good hockey. I'm glad that when Hossa was on the team, Anderson was in Chicago.
I have been and continue to be a big fan and supporter of both Tom Poti and Jose Theodore but Poti made some bad decisions in the first period and Theodore made a totally bonehead one with 44 seconds left to play. Of course, we'll all forgive and forget both of them because a) the Caps won and b) just 31 seconds after Theodore's bad decision Brooks Laich got his 20th goal of the season into an empty netter to retain a 2 goal differential on this win. That said as you'll see from my sentiments below, the defense needs to tighten up before the playoffs. My fear is that during the next two games since neither Atlanta nor Tampa Bay are playing for the playoffs, loose hockey will continue and the Caps won't work on tightening up their defensive spacing, etc. I truly hope that no matter what or how the Thrashers and the Lightening play, the Caps won't degenerate to pond hockey, ever during the next three games.
How many sticks got broken during today's game? Man at $200.00+ per shaft, I could live well on what's being left on the ice these days. What gives?
Tomas "Flash" Fleischmann - while I definately don't want pond hockey, I was more than happy to see your drought get broken. I'm rooting for you to get 2 more and break 20 before the the end of the season, especially if you keep doing it by pounding the net.
If there is anybody in the AHL who wants to make the permanent leap to the NHL more than Kieth Aucoin, I defy you to find them. Also picking Ilya Kovalchuck's pocket isn't something many people can and have done.
Okay, it's been said before but I'll say it again - I love when Alexander Semin takes over and decides to dictate play during the penalty kill. Also lately the pairing of Semin and Backstrom as forwards for the penalty kill is and has been awesome.
Did we really have to give up a shortie and go 1-7 on the power play just to get the 5 on 5 scoring going again?
The Caps as a team were 64% in the faceoff circle. Nicklas Backstrom was 12 of 16 and once again over 70% (he was 75%(; something has just "clicked" I can't see what it is but I'm glad it's there. As he winds down his "sophomore regular season" and seems to have fixed the one week spot in his game, the 20 year old has truly become a solid number 1 center.
Final musing about today's game: 29-9-3, 0.744 - SWEET!
Now for a more global hockey musing...
As we wind down the last three games of the season on the road, I figured now was as good a time as any to revisit a favorite topic of hockey pundits and enthusiasts both here in the blogsphere and in the MSM (main stream media) - secondary scoring. Many folks talk loud and often about their view that the Capitals often lack secondary scoring. However, so far this regular season, 26 different players have scored goals for the Capitals this season. Additionally, the Caps have 9 players with 30 or more points and 9 players with 10 or more goals. They also have another 7 players with 3 or more goals this season. Comparatively, only 11 teams have, including the Capitals have 9 or more players with 30 or more points; however 17 teams including the Capitals have nine or more players with 10 or more goals. That said while 16 teams have more players with 10 or more goals then the Capitals, only 2 teams have more 30+ goals scorers then the Capitals. The Capitals have three (3) players with 30 or more goals, only Detroit and Philadelphia have more (4) and the Flyers only have 6 players with 10 or more goals so they actually have less "secondary scoring" then the Capitals.
Interestingly the New Jersey Devils who the Caps are currently fight for second place in the Eastern Conference have fewer 30+ point scorers (8, though they have 20 others with 29); fewer 10+ goal scorers (8), and fewer 30+ (2) goal scorers than the Capitals. However, the Devils have yielded 33 fewer goals to their opponents and scored 23 less than the Capitals; the result being that the Devils goals differential per game (0.456) is 28% better than Washington's comparable performance (0.329). In tight playoff games, that could make a difference. So perhaps rather than focusing on secondary scoring or the lack there of, the thing that will matter most could easily be tightening up the defense overall after next week's three road games, all of which could very possibly be against teams that can't make the playoffs since the only one that might be against a playoff team is the finale in Sunrise against the Panthers. Personally, I'm betting, and hoping that the Caps themselves feel as I do, who care how many more goals any individual player scores in the next three games, I want the Caps to be well positioned and mentally fully immersed in playoff hockey come Sunday April 12th. After taking a look at the comparative statistics and performance relative to "secondary scoring" it doesn't seem to me the Capitals have too many fewer scoring threats than any other playoff team. What they do have that seems to need rectification before the first game of the first round is occasional breakdowns in defense and a propensity to turn over the puck looking for "the home run" pass to start a spectacular odd man rush.
Of course in the meantime, they'll be playing three games against divisional opponents who all have a reason to want to "play spoiler" and if they are to keep pace with New Jersey they will likely need at least 4 and could need at least 5 out of a possible 6 points from next weeks road trip.
Next up the Thrashers (again) in Atlanta on Tuesday night.
LETS GOS CAPS!!!!!
Backup Data gathered by the author from NHL.Com website at 20:55 EDT 4/5/2009:
30 or More Points Scorers by Team: Caps -9; Bruins-12; Calgary - 11; Carolina - 10; Chicago - 10; Detroit - 12; Edmonton - 11; Florida - 12; Pittsburgh -1 10 (1 more w/29); San Jose - 10 (2 more w/20+); Toronto - 9 (2 more w/ 20+)10 or More
10 or More Goal Scorers by Team (number in parenthesis = 30+ goal scorers): Caps -9 (3); Bruins - 10 (1); Sabres - 10 (1); Calgary - 12 (2); Carolina - 10 (1); Chicago - 10 (1); Detroit - 11 (4); Edmonton - 10 (0); Florida - 11 (0); Minnesota - 11 (0); Montreal - 11 (0); Phoenix - 9 (1); Pittsburgh - 12, 1 more w/9 (2); San Jose - 10 (2); St Louis - 10 (2); Toronto - 10 (0); Vancouver - 11 (1)
New Jersey Stats - skaters with 30 or more points- 8 (2 with 29) ;skaters with 10 or more goals 8 (2 @ 30+)
Philadelphia Stats - 8 skaters with 30 or more points (4 more w/20 or more); skaters with 10 or more goals 6 (4);
Vancouver - 8 skaters with 30 or more points 8 (7 more w 20+).-