Sunday, October 30, 2011

Zone Entries: Canucks 7, Caps 4

Link. Ugh. Amidst the diving, dirty play, and at times poor reffing (which goes hand in hand with embellishing), the Caps got their asses whipped. They were only 77 of 170, 45%, despite trailing by multiple goals for a significant portion of the game. I don't even want to restrict myself to ES data only--something tells me that would be even worse.

Defensive breakdown after defensive breakdown...and that wasn't even the biggest problem. The Canucks waltzed through the neutral zone all the time. They always have puck support from their defenseman, so if one guy is blocked, he can make a short pass to another player, who the Caps often left open. I'd love to see the Caps pick up on that.

Oh, and I hope Mike Green will be good to go soon.

On a side note, I haven't recorded ZEs for all the games so far in October, yet, but here's a link to the spreadsheet of the ones I have done. In this game I missed about 45 seconds of game time, 6-5:15 left in the second, so I'll get back to that in a bit.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Zone Entries: Oilers 2, Caps 1

Well, it was bound to happen at some point. Regression to the mean after a hot start and shelling Detroit. Oh well. Not outplayed since the first couple of game of the season in my mind.

Link. Caps got 73 of 144 entries, which is 50.7%, but restrict yourself to full and even strength and we've got 51/99, 51.6%...ehh, still not all that great. Even strength was 57/109, 52.3%. The Capitals could have been better--they had some short lulls here and there and didn't really dominate for an extended stretch or several stretches--but I'll take the effort nonetheless. Mike Green is also kind of a big loss in all situations.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Zone Entries: Caps 7, Red Wings 1

Link. I have no idea how this happened, but I'm happy. The Capitals I thought had a couple of lulls in their play, when the Red Wings essentially controlled: late in the second and early in the third. I think that may be chalked down to score effects (close enough that the teams would remain interested, far enough to tilt the ice quite significantly). Once the Capitals got that 5th goal, though, the Red Wgins' interest seemed to wane.

Capitals overall were 77/151, 51%, including 9/17 on special teams, leaving 68/134 at 5v5 (51%). Yes, the Red Wings were coming off a game last night, but we'd expect heavy score effects, at for the most part we didn't see that. I'm satisfied with this performance. There's still some work to be done, but I think that's more the top line getting back in shape than anything else.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Zone Entries: Caps 5 @ Flyers 2

Direct link. Some observations:

Mike Green and Joel Ward I think have been noticeably good each and every game thus far.

Matt Hendricks: +13 Corsi. Mathieu Perreault: +13. Jeff Halpern: +11. Yeah, they had a good night.

Jason Chimera: -8. Brooks Laich: -13. Joel Ward: -4. Could be better, but that's only because my expectations are so high to begin with. Jeff Schultz was a team-worst -14 and Dennis Wideman was a -9. I'm a little confused on Schultz. My rule of thumb is the less you notice him, the better, and I wasn't aware he was playing until he handled the puck in the second. I think those five got caught a few times getting shelled, but as far as I could tell they kept the shots to the outside, so all is good.

Philadelphia is probably one of the best possession teams in the league (they have been since 08-09 and I don't think that will have changed, even with losing Carter and Richards). The Capitals led for over 40 minutes of the game, including by two or more for most of the third, and were only -2 in Corsi. Nice.

Ovechkin was only involved in five entries all game: twice making a pass and thrice carrying the puck into the zone. You could say Timonen, Meszaros, and company did a good job not even letting the rush get started.

Say what you want about Sean Couturier, but a guy who, after being drafted, can immediately step into the lineup of one of the NHL's top-ten teams and be one of the most trusted defensive forwards despite playing behind several more proven players (and one who I think will win the Selke in short order in Claude Giroux) is pretty rare. He deserved to go top-3. I can see Nugent-Hopkins and Larsson above him, but not the others.

I counted 172 entries, with the Caps getting 84, 49%. There was a noticeable lull for the second half of the second and the Caps more or less going into a shell for the final half of the third, 24 of 78 from 12 minutes left in the second to the end of the game at full and even strength. At 5v5, the Caps got, per my quick count, a pretty unimpressive 57 of 136, however (all those power plays boosted the totals). That's only 42%. Even with a lead, I'd like to see closer to 46 or 47 (then again, the difference is only a handful of entries going the other way).

I hope Troy Brouwer isn't turning into Eric Fehr (promising career but a shoulder injury or two sets back his development quite a bit).

Marcus Johansson outmuscled someone along the boards in the third (I want to say it was Jakub Voracek). That would not have happened last season. He still got beat a few times along the boards, but he's noticeably stronger on the puck and along the boards.

Tomas Vokoun, eh? When was the last time he had a four goal lead to defend? When was the last time his team was 6-0?

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Zone Entries: Caps 3, Panthers 0

Direct link. Some observations:

60 minute effort, more or less.

This was the type of game you'd expect from a good team against a bad team. The Capitals were never on their heels for more than a minute or two and dominated significant stretches of the game. The only effective line for Florida was the Weiss line, but Weiss is one of two or three solid top-six forwards Florida has (Versteeg and Booth), so it's not like losing to him is embarrassing in any form.

Ovechkin is getting better each game. I think Brouwer has been getting better as well. As for the "Ovechkin needs to let Backstrom carry the puck more" crowd, Ovechkin only carried the puck into the offensive zone three times. What I find very worrisome is that he really wasn't all that involved in entries, period. It's as if "he just doesn't care" in the neutral zone. I have him as carrying the puck in thrice, receiving a pass five times, and dumping the puck in once. Compare to fifteen total for Backstrom. It's only a one game sample, but it's the impression I've gotten from the other games as well. I don't want Ovechkin turning into Kovalchuk, Kessel or Gaborik, being a finisher and not much more. Anyway...

I think Laich brings the meat, so Ward and Chimera bring potatoes.

I can't believe people thought Vokoun was being sheltered in Nashville and Florida and would collapse in Washington. Seriously. At this rate he won't need 60 starts to win the Vezina.

Knuble, Semin, Carlson, and Schultz were the only Caps with a negative Corsi. Green and Hamrlik were each +12 (Green was particularly good), Ovechkin-Backstrom-Brouwer +9. The goals will start coming in torrents soon enough with more performances like this.

I don't think Hamrlik has been playing all that poorly, but maybe that's just me. He's been asked to handle the puck an awful lot and maybe more than he's comfortable with in the offensive zone. It's certainly easier to make the short breakout pass to the deep backchecking forward than to your winger fleeing the zone at full speed. Regardless, he's been able to make those small short plays that are crucial to keep possession in the offensive zone. At least my lying eyes tell me so. It's not like the alternative--Mike Green making his partner look good--is plausible at all.

Weiss, Fleischmann (?! even with 7 more defensive zone draws than offensive zone draws?!), Versteeg, and Campbell were the only Florida players in the black in Corsi. Weiss: want.

155 entries total, 135 at 5-on-5. Caps had 71 at ES (53%, not bad considering they had the lead almost the entire game and a two-goal lead for nearly 20 minutes), 78 overall (50%). Not bad at all. CSN had a giant scoring chances disparity (something like a 3:1 ratio).

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Zone Entries: Caps @ Pens

Direct link.

Some observations:

The most striking thing about the Penguins' entries in this game was how often they'd switch the flank of attack. If the player did not have a clear lane to get into the offensive zone with control, he'd throw it across the ice either right before or right after crossing the blueline, and there was always another Penguin there ready to pick up the puck. Malkin carried the puck into the zone an awful lot.

The Pens don't dump and chase as much as I'd thought, at least not in this game.

I thought the Penguins played a lot like Detroit, just going back to the points for lots and lots of shots with traffic in front.

Of 177 entries I tallied, the Pens had 107 of them, 60.5%. They dominated the first and the middle of the third.

The most exciting thing as a Caps fan? That's the sort of performance I can expect form Tomas Vokoun every start.

I missed the 2nd and first half of the third period in the Tampa game, so that's why I didn't post ZE for that game. I'll get around to that game eventually.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Zone Entries: Caps 4, Canes 3 (OT)

A few notes on what I've done here, inspired by Flyers' SBN site Broad Street Hockey:

I recorded the time of the zone entry--the puck crossing the blueline from the neutral zone into the offensive or defensive zone--as well as the method of entry (Carry, Dump-in but not counting dump-and-changes, Pass, Tap-in, and other, noted as X). I noted the players involved for the Capitals, but not for Carolina. I was doing these real-time, so I may have made a mistake here or there, especially with dump-ins, but I think I got almost all of the players correct. Timings may vary by a second or two from actual time (though it's not like official scorekeepers get those exactly right, either). I also noted whether the rush was an odd-man rush; I included only clear-cut breaks here, where there was no equalizing backchecker within two strides of the final attacking player. In this game, there were a couple of 3-on-2s and 2-on-1s with one breakaway.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Awards Watch: Pre-Season

With most rosters final or close to final, here's how I see the races. This is basically anybody I feel might deserve the award or would ride to contention based on reputation (or both). Sorry if I missed your favorite player.

Hart Trophy

Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos

"Needs some help"
Sidney Crosby: he needs to get healthy
Evgeni Malkin: the longer Crosby out, the more opportunity he has
Marc-Andre Fleury: since the media thinks the Penguins are talent-less aside from Sid and Geno
Carey Price: few in the MSM appreciates the talent Price plays behind, so Price can take credit
Ryan Miller: the American media has a collective boner when he steps on the ice
Jonathan Toews: got some favorable bounces last season; can that continue?

"Should be in there, but won't get enough credit"
Eric Staal: a great power versus power outscoring center without much two-way help on his wings
Jonas Hiller: the Ducks have a top line, a second line, a top four, and a bunch of AHLers players.
Ryan Getzlaf: great per-game stats, but of course will be in Corey Perry's shadow
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg: there are no better options to throw out there against the other team's top line. And putting up above average first-line counting stats? These guys are amazing.

Corey Perry is so special he gets his own category. I don't think Perry is going to score 50 goals next season, and I'd be surprised if he hits 40.

Ok, maybe Thomas gets in there too. I would've given him my Hart vote five months ago, but I highly doubt either he or Rask can put up that sort of season anytime in the future. It's just that Thomas' season was underrated to begin with. He didn't win the Hart in his historic season, so I don't see him as a real contender.

Norris Trophy
Shea Weber, Zdeno Chara, Nicklas Lidstrom, Duncan Keith, Mike Green, Drew Doughty

"Needs some help"
Mark Streit: health
Andrei Markov: health
Lubomir Visnovsky: did you see last season? He needs that much help again
Kris Letang: needs some oh-fense in front of him

"Should be in there, but won't get enough credit"
Ryan Suter: I think he's better than Weber, but the physical presence overshadows
Matt Carle: he was more effective without Pronger than with him and led NHL D in ESP
Dan Boyle: who in the East realizes who the shutdown pair in San Jose is? Boyle gets little credit.
Victor Hedman: he's grown very quickly so far, so this type of season wouldn't surprise me.

The voters aren't actually that terrible here. I think Pronger is in decline more than people realize, though, but small sample caveats on that. I'm not sure Brent Burns is in for a Norris-worthy season like people seem to think he is, either, considering he's still behind Boyle offensively and won't take toughs like Boyle and Murray, either. Ditto with Ehrhoff.

Vezina Trophy

Roberto Luongo, Martin Brodeur, Henrik Lundqvist, Pekka Rinne

"Needs some help"
Carey Price: some good luck, and his hype will carry him a long way
Antti Niemi: see Price
Tim Thomas: he'd better hope he can hold up and that Tuukka Rask doesn't catch him
Semyon Varlamov: a lot of good luck and he'll put up those stellar numbers in more GP.

"Should be in there, but won't get enough credit"
I'd pick Jonas Hiller over any other guy in this section. And Vokoun, since his success will be attributed to the Capitals' great defense...wait, what?

Miikka Kiprusoff has been declining for awhile.

Selke Trophy

Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Mike Richards, Jordan Staal

"Needs some help"
Henrik Zetterberg--Datsyuk's shadow is big
Marian Hossa--he needs to bounce back in a big way
Jonathan Toews--needs some good luck so his counting stats are elite again

"Should be in there, but won't get enough credit"
Anze Kopitar--not with Richards there, too
Ryan Callahan--seriously, he's really good. Just no elite numbers
Frans Nielsen--see Callahan.
Jay McClement: what does it mean when I began typing in "McClement" instead of "Selke?"
Joel Ward--see Callahan
Eric Staal--no one watches the Hurricanes, so no one realizes that Staal plays top lines
Tomas Plekanec--no Americans watch the Canadiens, so they don't realize how good Pleks is
David Legwand--see E. Staal, but substitute "Predators" for "Hurricanes"
David Backes--see Legwand, but with "Blues"
Manny Malhotra--see Backes. LeBrun was the only guy with Malhotra over Kesler on his Selke ballot.

There are a lot of underrated defensive forwards. It's tough to know who is actually the best, because they all seem to have help--Datsyuk/Zetterberg Lidstrom, Toews/Hossa Keith, Kopitar Doughty, etc.

At least they pick guys who are great defensively. I'd put Kesler here, though, because he likely won't have a really high qualcomp this season.

Calder Trophy

Gabriel Landeskog, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Brayden Schenn, some random goalie

"Needs some help"
David Rundblad--needs some offense in front of him
Ryan Ellis--needs to prove that he doesn't need to develop as slowly as Weber or Suter
Nino Niederreiter--currently doesn't have a spot in the Isles' top-six
Zac Dalpe--he's more of a two-way forward, but needs to put up big numbers to get attention
Andrei Loktionov--see Niederreiter, but for the Kings, not Islanders
Sean Couturier--he needs to get ahead of all the Flyers' talented incumbents for offensive ice time

"Should be in there, but won't get enough credit"
Tim Erixon--defensive maturity...but he should get out of the AHL first
Erik Gudbranson--I have a feeling he'll have a good year, but he's already prowled off the radar.

Can't think of anybody here

Jack Adams Award


"Needs some help"

"Should be in there, but won't get enough credit"

None. It's an open field, as always

Richard Trophy

Alex Ovechkin, Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos

"Needs some help"
Zach Parise, Ilya Kovalchuk, Sidney Crosby

Corey Perry, Vincent Lecavalier, Ryan Kesler

Art Ross Trophy

Alex Ovechkin, Henrik Sedin, Daniel Sedin, Steven Stamkos

"Needs some help"
Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Martin St. Louis, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Jonathan Toews

Corey Perry