Saturday, October 9, 2010

Recap: Devils @ Capitals

All in all, a solid outing for the Capitals. They were efficient in converting their chances once they found their legs about midway through the second period, and never looked back thereafter. They attacked with speed, got plenty of rushes, and were aggressive defensively, not giving the Devils too much time and space with which to work.

The Devils are never going to beat the Capitals playing like that. Run-and-gun with Washington and you're going to lose.

Man of the match: John Carlson, who went 1-2-3 with some nice defensive plays and pinches to keep offensive plays alive as well. He contributed the most before the game turned into a blowout.

1st period:

The "Red" and "O" shouts the fans do during the national anthem are obnoxious.

The Capitals came out a lot better during the first half of the first period or so. The teams went power-versus-power on the first shift and a few other times. The Capitals really played physically, hitting the defensemen hard on the forecheck (Anton Volchenkov got it bad...and worse when he took a Backstrom slapshot in the mouth and left the game).

The Capitals were caught standing around a few times--they need to be aggressive when playing defense. On Tallinder's shorthanded goal, though, they were too aggressive, attacking the puck carrier Zajac with all five skaters and leaving Zubrus and Tallinder open in the slot. The Devils are working rotations and getting chances out of it...when they can get the puck, that is. The Capitals did a good job of controlling the play, and for the most part it seemed the Devils would gain the puck, then dump it in for a line change. At this rate the Capitals should take this game.

2nd period:

Fleischmann's goal is exactly what I love to see. It wasn't off the rush, but rather good cycling, a couple of good pinches by the D, and winning 1-on-1 battles along the boards. Perfect. That's playoff-style hockey (at a regular-season tempo).

Bruce Boudreau keeps moving around the D pairings. Poti and Carlson looks terrific, Carlson and Alzner looks a bit risky. I don't understand why he can't just use 3-74.

I think I'm starting to understand this PK. The trick is to get everyone on the same page. In the sequence leading to the Chimera goal, Fleischmann should have attacked the puck carrier, but didn't, and I was half-expecting the Devils to score thereafter. Luckily, they didn't, but the other Caps--four rookies--played it well and the vet almost screwed it up.

Green and Ovechkin begin to pick it up. Green has had a few pinches in which he's actually come up with the puck and continued the attack, and Ovechkin is controlling the puck and getting shots off better this period. He looks like he's back. How did he get his first goal's shot off from between four Devils? World's best goal scorer, that.

Marcus Johansson still looks a bit on the passive side with regards to forechecking. He's really fast, though, even keeping up with Jason Chimera. That 25-90-16 line needs to use its speed much more. A few shifts they played really well, gaining the offensive zone with speed and Fehr adding solid board work into the cycle.

3rd period:

Craig Laughlin said the Caps are "machine-like," after seeing Brooks Laich's minimal celebrating after an easy goal off a misplay by Johan Hedberg. Personally, I think the Caps' identity is with emotion. Here, Laich's celebration was appropriate, but "machine-like" would be like Ovechkin after his second suspension.

So many people hit in the face: Volchenkov, Kovalchuk, Chimera, Neuvirth, the linesman, and so on.

Semin on a 3-on-2, with the puck, in the slot, trips, to end the rush. Joe Beninati: "and that will not make the highlight reel." Hilarious how he said that so fluidly from excitedly calling a rush.

The Caps' puck movement on the powerplay of the Fehr goal was spectacular. It was fast, tape-to-tape, and they just kept attacking and passing.

Mike Green versus Ilya Kovalchuk was pretty funny. Kovalchuk was clawing at Green like a cat, and Green was avoiding for the first ten seconds or so. But please, Greener, no more fights at meaningless times.

I don't like to curse, but...Pierre-Luc Letorneau-Leblond is a douchebag for fighting mugging Marcus Johansson. F off, you bastard. I hope DJ King kicks your ass at Prudential Center on November 22. Enjoy your (probable) suspension, asshole.

I've put this page listed on the right sidebar, under "Scoring Chances," for scoring chance data.

Scoring Chances for NHL Game Number 20017

NJD118:11Arnott 162527307490215252628305v5
WSH117:36Carlson 101526273074210152228305v5
NJD16:16Tallinder SH252728307490781928305v4
WSH20:48Ovechkin PS81519305255517192026305v5
WSH316:53Laich SH3421283018152325264v5
WSH39:33Fehr PP381621283015610155v4

Note: "Ovechkin PS" is the scoring chance that drew the penalty shot, not the actual penalty shot itself.

3T. POTI13:00733:16403:1510
4J. ERSKINE12:48540:58203:3910
8A. OVECHKIN13:42945:35710:0000
10M. BRADLEY9:42550:00000:0000
14T. FLEISCHMANN10:26514:36510:4900
15B. GORDON9:41661:09203:2200
16E. FEHR9:11153:33300:0000
19N. BACKSTROM12:48945:48612:0300
21B. LAICH10:07412:46402:2411
22M. KNUBLE12:06833:34510:2000
25J. CHIMERA9:48441:07011:1301
26M. HENDRICKS8:27540:00002:0301
27K. ALZNER10:37532:24011:0100
28A. SEMIN11:44604:05510:5910
30M. NEUVIRTH42:4422149:371027:3712
52M. GREEN18:251084:08612:5702
55J. SCHULTZ17:211071:58003:2102
74J. CARLSON12:55730:55111:0100
90M. JOHANSSON10:41452:13012:0101

PeriodTotalsEVPP5v3 PPSH5v3 SH

As you can see, Washington pretty much dominated this game. New Jersey outchanced Washington only with a 2-1 lead late in the first. It's the exact opposite of what we'd expect from "score effects" (the trailing team outchancing). For most of the second, the scoring chances looked tied--considering the teams were about the same efficiency in terms of Fenwick% last season, that's not too surprising. What is surprising is how the Devils kind of gave up.

Here are shift charts and head-to-head charts, from Vic Ferrari's Timeonice. The numbers are ES TOI. Notice how Ovechkin, Backstrom, Knuble, Gordon, Bradley, and Hendricks most often faced Zajac, Parise, and Kovalchuk. Power versus power, that's what I'm talking about. If the returns are this good with Schultz and Green facing that top line more often, then I'm perfectly willing to stand corrected (regarding an earlier suggestion that Poti-Carlson go out with Ovechkin's line). All the more impressive is that according to the zonestart report, Zajac's line was a -4 (4 more O zone starts than D zone starts) and Backstrom's line was a +4 (4 more D zone starts than O zone starts). The Capitals' top line was used in a defensive role to perfection.

For what it's worth, I wrote a quick how-to for Time on Ice. It's also on the right, in the "Statistics" section. If you're like me and new when it comes to hockey stats, I hope that helps outline just what a great tool Vic Ferrari made for us.

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