Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Zone Entries: Blues 2, Caps 1

I know St. Louis is an elite possession team, and Hitchcock is one of the best coaches around, but getting murdered in Corsi (worse than -20), especially when trailing by 1 for about half the game, is absolutely inexcusable.

That being said, there are some positives. The Caps were improved in the neutral zone, at times actually making it difficult for the other team to enter the zone. On the game, the Caps were 87 of 172, which is slightly over 50%. The Blues clearly sat back in the third, but the entries were 28-28 (including power plays). I guess work in all score situations remains to be done.

Now, cleaner break-outs and better coordination and communication between players in all zones--notice how infrequently a Blue made a pass to nobody in particular, and how often the Caps did--and this team should be set to go.

Fingers crossed.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Zone Entries: Devils 3, Capitals 2 (SO)

Much will be made about the Caps' low shot totals. Low shot totals almost always indicate that a team is hardly able to enter the offensive zone. That was most certainly not the case Saturday night, as the Capitals had 86 of 167 (51.5%), including 57 of 104 (54.8%) over the second and third periods, 44 of 76 (57.9%) at 5v5. Sure, you'd like more shots, but at the end of the day, you want to see your team doing what is going to win the most games in the long run, and I think the Capitals were playing a style that will win a lot of games in the long run.

Let's not forget that New Jersey is probably one of the best possession teams in the league (they were last season, and essentially added the league's second-best wing in Zach Parise) and are perfectly capable of dictating the pace of the game. On poor ice (there was a Georgetown game earlier in the day), the Caps dictated the game for long stretches (the second half of the third, for example) against a very good team.

When you have a lead, conventional wisdom says you want to slow the game down, and the Caps did that. When the score is tied, you attack, and the Caps did that. Maybe this is really selective memory on my part--I guess we'll know when we get a glimpse of scoring chance numbers--but if the Caps play like this against Nashville, they'll likely win.

I guess I just want to say that don't take that SOG total for what it's not. Here, it's not an accurate representation of possession here. No need to fret. Flukes happen.

Someone please teach Alex Ovechkin how to shoot past a defenseman again. Dan Girardi, Roman Hamrlik in Montreal, Mike Weaver, Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill, Anton Volchenkov, and Mark Fayne now joins the club. What was actually surprising is how often I was actually able to see Ovechkin get a chance off the rush...thank you Joel Ward.

I'm hoping Alexander Semin has a hand injury, because he's been pretty bad, not even able to make those clean saucer passes he's been able to execute with ease in the past, and the refs aren't giving him any sort of break, either. I don't care all that much about production in short samples as long as there's something the guy is doing right, but since about the third or fourth game of the season, he hasn't been doing much right.

At least Jason Chimera is doing his best to prove to me that he's actually a useful player outside of the fourth line.

Recap: Caps 3, Devils 1

It felt good to see a Caps game in-person again.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Zone Entries: Stars 5, Caps 2

Ugly, ugly, ugly. Caps were 98 of 188 in entries, 52.1%, which when you're trailing for much of the game is worse than they should be (their Corsi should be minimum 55% down 1, 60% down by more than that). Benn's line ate the Caps alive, and with a quiet night from Ovechkin, well, that's the story right there. Kari Lehtonen was solid, but did not need to be spectacular.

Spreadsheet is giving me trouble right now, so here's a direct link.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Awards Watch: November

The absence of #fancystats in this post is because, well, Corsi isn't very useful until we start approaching the midway point.


  1. Nikolai Khabibulin: has allowed 8 goals in 8 games. Edmonton can't score, but they're still one point out of the league lead thanks to hot goaltending.
  2. Phil Kessel: leader in points, goals, plus-minus. He's been on fire.
  3. Jonathon Quick: see Khabibulin. It's just that the Oilers are four points ahead of the Kings, and Quick's stats are slightly worse.
  4. Claude Giroux: I thought Giroux would struggle a bit without Carter, but with Jagr and van Riemsdyk by his side, he seems to have actually gotten better.
  5. Marc-Andre Bergeron: Tampa is not playing good D, but they are scoring, thanks in large part to Bergeron, who leads all D in even-strength points and total points. Yes, he's logging only limited minutes, but he's been very productive in those minutes.
  1. Marc-Andre Bergeron: not going to be inconsistent here. MAB's been fantastic offensively and thankfully, for his sake, hasn't needed to play much D yet.
  2. Kris Letang: been logging over 26 minutes per game and top 5 in D scoring. If Weber doesn't win the Norris this year, it's gonna be Letang.
  3. Dion Phaneuf: seems to have taken a big step forward. Playing big, hard minutes, and successful.
  4. Dennis Wideman: this pick you'll really only understand if you watch the Caps a lot. He brings a different dimension to each facet of the game than what the Caps get from Green and what the Caps have gotten from Carlson this season (he seems "off"). Strong point totals as well.
  5. Nicklas Lidstrom: may as well. Tough to really get a grasp on the Norris race at this point.
  1. Nikolai Khabibulin: 1 GA per game. Edmonton allows plenty of shots, NK stops 'em.
  2. Jonathon Quick: similar to Khabibulin
  3. Kari Lehtonen: I don't think Dallas really deserves to be leading the West
  4. Pekka Rinne: three shutouts already?
  5. Marc-Andre Fleury: no stinkers yet.
Selke: some top penalty killers and great Corsis with high quality of competition ratings. Tough tot tell at this point.
  1. Marian Hossa
  2. Mike Richards
  3. Frans Nielsen
  4. Jonathan Toews
  5. Radim Vrbata
  1. Adam Larsson: already the leader of an underrated Devils defense corps.
  2. Sean Couturier: the only guy that might be trusted more, defensively, than Larsson.
  3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins: lighting it up, even if just at home.
  4. Luke Adam: nearly the scorer Nugent-Hopkins is.
  5. Gabriel Landeskog: a nice two-way forward already. Admittedly more based on observation than stats, here.
Jack Adams:
  1. Glen Gulutzan: the Stars may actually be better this season than last.
  2. Paul Maclean: Ottawa is playing surprisingly good hockey all-around.
  3. Tom Renney: don't look now, but the Oilers are just out of the NHL lead in points. He's paying more attention to line matching and such, and it's paying off.
  4. Ron Wilson: wasn't Toronto supposed to be terrible?
  5. Dan Bylsma: he's made us forget about Sidney Crosby.