It’s Moving Day!

Hey everyone,

My blog has been inactive for the past week because I’ve been working on moving over to Bloguin where I will be writing about the Carolina Hurricanes for the foreseeable future. I will try to make a few posts here regarding the Caps and the NHL but for the most part, everything will be posted on my new blog, Shutdown Line which can be found by clicking the link above or by going to www.shutdownline.com

Hope you all enjoy the new site.

 

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Capitals Player Report Card: Marco Sturm

Marco Sturm

Stats: 18 GP, 1 goal, 6 assists, 7 points, EVEN, 6 PIM
Contract Info: $3.5 cap hit, pending UFA
Player Card

Scoring Chance Percentage Ranking: 6/29
Forwards: 5/19
Balanced Corsi Ranking: 12/29
Forwards: 8/19

When the Washington Capitals claimed Marco Sturm off waivers back in late February, it looked like a pretty solid (if not a little confusing) move at the time. The team was having trouble scoring and was missing Eric Fehr at the time. Sturm is a former 20-goal scorer and has playoff experience so anytime you can get a player like that for no cost at all is a good move in my book,. However, Sturm was less than a year removed from knee surgery and the fact that he couldn’t make the Kings roster wasn’t promising. 18 games and only one goal and seven assists later, Caps fans saw why the Kings put him on waivers. Sturm wasn’t exactly the guy we needed to round off our top-six but he wasn’t completely useless like some fans are saying.

Sturm spent most of his time in Washington bouncing back and forth between the second and third lines and could never really solidify his place on the team. Despite that, he kept receiving playing time and if anything, he was good at creating momentum and getting the puck deep into the opponent’s zone. Sturm’s getting up there in age but Caps fans definitely saw that he has a lot of speed still left in him. He had very solid corsi numbers this year and was good defensively as he was only on ice for 1.55 goals per 60 minutes. Sturm also had a very high scoring chance percentage of 56.44% which is very good even with a somewhat small sample size. The problem is that he could never finish any of those chances.

One of his first shifts in a Washington Capitals uniform was against the Islanders where he had a breakaway chance but he couldn’t put it home. That shift/chance sums up Sturm’s time in Washington very well. He didn’t look bad by the eyes and seemed to be generating chances but he could never make that big of an impact and he could never seem to turn those chances into goals. His only regular season goal was a slam-dunk rebound that I think almost anyone on this team could score and his goal in the playoffs came too late. Was he a better option for the second line than someone like Eric Fehr? Maybe. Fehr didn’t have a good season but he seemed to be able to finish his chances more than Sturm did.

I had little to none expectations for Sturm when Washington claimed him because well, you can only expect so much from someone who you picked up for basically nothing. I was expecting a little more than just one goal from him considering that he kept receiving top-6 minutes on a lot of nights. He gets a C on the year from me. Probably a little too nice but like I mentioned earlier, we didn’t give up anything to get him so my expectations weren’t high. I’m not sure if I would want him on the team next year because I’m not sure where he’d fit in the lineup but bringing him back is an interesting proposition. It will be at a much lower cap hit than $3.5 mil if it does happen, though.

Bruins-Canucks Game 3 Scoring Chances

Hello all, first I would like to apologize for the inactivity on this blog for the past week or so. I have been experiencing some major computer issues recently and haven’t been able to post here as frequently. I have been following the Stanley Cup Final extensively, though and game 3 was probably the wildest game we’ve seen so far. Of the 41 chances in the game, only 20 came at even strength and we saw numerous line shake-ups due to players beign ejected or leaving due to injury. Much has already been said about the punishment Aaron Rome faced for his brutal hit on Nathan Horton, which knocked him out of the game so I will save my thoughts on that for now. Horton being knocked out seemed to jolt Boston in this game, though as they responded by scoring 4 goals int he second period and went onto win 8-1. Was this because they were rallying around their fallen comrade? Possibly. However, I think one big factor is that the Canucks were forced to play with five defenseman after Rome was ejected and when one of those players is Andrew Alberts, then there’s bound to be a lot of problems.

Note: Vancouver’s chances are blue and Boston’s are gold.

Boston did not score on their first powerplay (the five minute major they got for Rome’s hit) but they sure did generate a lot of chances on it, and that was really important. Also good that they capitalized on a lot of their chances int he second period and didn’t allow the Canucks to do much of anything for the first two periods. Vancouver had a lot of powerplay opportunities too and they did next to nothing with them and even allowed two short-handed goals. It is a little funny because many talked about how everything was going in the Canucks favor this series when everything went wrong for them in this game.

Vancouver Scoring Chances by Player:

 

 Best ES Forward: Mason Raymond +4

Worst ES Forward: Raffi Torres, Victor Oreskovich -1

Best ES Defenseman: Sami Salo +5

Worst ES Defenseman: Alex Edler: -4

Vingeault had to roll five defenseman for most of this game and you can tell that it showed here. Kevin Bieksa has been a horse all playoffs but this was not one of his finer games. Edler was brutal and Alberts was torched on the penalty kill despite playing less than three minutes there. Sami Salo and Christian Ehrhoff had pretty good games, though despite the canucks getting blown out, but I think Ehrhoff may have benefitted from a good chunk of offensive zone starts. Also, Daniel Sedin and Alex Burrows failed to record a chance at even strength. Yikes. As much as I like Mason Raymond, he shouldn’t be the Canucks best forward in a game this big. I’m sure Burrows will rebound but he was a complete non-factor in game 3. Vancouver’s third line was a key to their success in game 1 but it appears that the Bruins are finding ways to stop it now.

Bruins Scoring Chances by Player:

 

Best ES Forward: Milan Lucic, Daniel Paille +2

Worst ES Forward: Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell -2

Best ES Defenseman: Johnny Boychuk, Andrew Ference +1

Worst ES Defenseman: Dennis Seidenberg -4

Horton’s injury gives Julien some options on what he can do with his forward corps. He elected to move Rich Peverley up to the first line for some of the game and he played pretty decently. Shawn Thornton did not play as much of a factor as the Bruins would have hoped for but he was not awful. It would be nice to get soem more chances from this forward corps at even strength but there’s quite a few guys here doing well in other facets. Paille was excellent on the penalty kill and so was Peverley. Lucic, Krejci and Ryder also had great games on the powerplay and that’s great news for Bruins fans. Boychuk and Ference were given easier matchups and played better as a result. Same thing occured in game 2 after Julien decided to return to pairing Chara with Seidenberg instead of Boychuk. Seidenberg struggled a lot at even strength, though.

Head-to-Head

 

 Salo was the only Canuck player to win all of his battles with Raymond in a close second. Kesler’s line did well against most of their competition and they definitely got their chances, so I wouldnt’ be surprised to see that line get on the score sheet next game. Chris Kelly was the only Bruins player to win all of his matchups but Chara and Paille came pretty close.

Not exactly sure what this will say about game 4 because only a little over half of this game was played at even strength and there were a lot of other strange occurrences as well. I can safely say that there probably wont be another game like this in the final, although that’s not saying much.

The Season Series

This is a basic overview of our season series against the Rangers. For the record, I used only even strength data for the shots and save percentage and used shots for the percentages on the powerplay and penalty kill. The strange thing is that while the Caps were thoroughly dominated in two of these games, they played better territorially than the Rangers. Of course, a lot of that has to do with the team playing from behind and forcing a lot of bad shots in on Lundqvist but it’s still kind of interesting. Also, notice how brutal Washington’s save percentages are in all but game 3. That has to change if we want to win this series. I know Varlamov was playing behind a beaten up roster on game 2, but letting in 5 goals on 15 shots at ES and 7 overall is inexcusable. Neuvirth was pretty bad in game 4, as well. The Caps powerplay has also only scored once against the Rangers while our penalty kill has been torched. Those are definitely going to come into play during the playoffs if we want to go anywhere. I know the team has a different make-up now compared to the last time we played NYR but this is still kind of scary to look at.

How To Be A Sports Fan

How To Become A Sports Fan

So you’ve decided to start following sports? Good decision. Watching sports can be a fun stress reliever and a fun activity to do with friends during your spare time. To make things easier for you, I’ve prepared this guide so you can fit in with the rest of the fanatics that you’re bound to encounter. Let’s go through some basic steps first:

Part 1: Choosing a team

Here’s one of the more difficult tasks because following a team is part of the fun with following sports. It makes watching games unnecessarily stressful and sometimes exhilarating if they are victorious. Now, no one likes someone who is flaky about choosing teams and changes allegiances so take your time with this decision. How you find your team, you ask? Well, there are many ways you can go about it; you can choose to follow the club that hails from the city nearest to you because there’s a chance you have an attachment to that city. Another method is following whichever club your family or friends root for because that would make getting familiar with this team a lot easier. Another option is finding a team on your own by watching some games and deciding which team fits your style best. Or you could do what a lot of people do and choose whichever squad has the most appealing colors, nickname or even uniforms. The point is, it’s all up to you!

Part 2: Dedication

Now that you’ve chosen your squad, it’s time for you to dedicate your sports life to them. You do have options of how much dedication you are willing to give to your team but let’s get into that later. Right now, let’s talk about how much blood, sweat and tears you are willing to put into your new team. You are to watch as many games as you can. There are some cases where your “real life” will get in the way of following your team (this applies greatly for every sports that have 3-4 games a week) but those instances should be far and in between. You are to buy as much overpriced merchandise as you can to showcase the love for your team as bold and shamelessly as possible. You are also to stay loyal to your team no matter what. Not doing as such will have you labeled as a “bandwagoner,” the greatest sin of mankind. It is also important to stand up for your team when someone criticized him. Even if that person’s argument is valid and coherent, you can not accept someone bad-mouthing the club that you support. Your team comes first, the sport comes second. Always.

Part 3: Learning the game

Most people want to jump into fandom quickly before learning the exact rules of the game and that’s just fine! You can still learn the game and be a fan at the same time. Just watching the game is the best way to pick it up and learning as you go along but there are plenty of places on the Internet where you can learn things and get flamed along with it. The best part comes later when you learn enough to act condescending towards other newcomers! What if you don’t feel like learning the game and just want to see the results so you can brag to everyone? That’s fine too. In fact, it’s encouraged! Which brings us to the next subject…

Part 4: Rivalries

This may be the most fun part of following sports, hating on rival teams. The games against them are likely more tense than any other game of the year outside of the playoffs. One important thing about rivals is that them and their fans are scum. It doesn’t matter how nice of people they are, you do not associate with them, talk to them or compliment them. They are the enemy and every time you play them it is a war. You are to insult the team, their fans and being irrational is completely fine. After all, these rival fans are nothing but a bunch of filthy bandwagoners who don’t deserve respect no matter who they are. Am I correct? Also constantly reminding these scumbags how much better fans you are than others is encouraged because it is bound to get under their skin. You are always on a quest to prove why you and your team are better than the dreaded rivals.

Part 5: Game Time

Nothing is more exciting than game day. You count down the hours, minutes and seconds until you can see your team again and spend 2-4 hours with your eyes fixated on the screen watching them in action. Multi-tasking isn’t encouraged because we know that the real world can be put aside when your team is on. They come first, remember? It doesn’t matter if you have a big report due the next day or have to be up at 5 AM when your team is playing a late game. If you can manage to get tickets to see a game in person, you treasure that moment forever. If they win it’s even more special. Watching on the television gives you more options, though especially in the digital age. You can go on twitter and post updates despite your team’s account likely posting the same thing. It is also great for venting if people do not like to unleash their frustration in person. Needless to say, this is one of the most exciting parts of following sports.

Part 6: Winning and Losing

When your team wins, your day is made and you are in a good mood for the rest of the night. You are free to brag, gloat about how inferior another team is with no restrictions on what you can and can’t say. When your team loses, your day is ruined. You are devastated that your faithful warriors lost the competition and will go on with your head down the rest of the day. When it’s a playoff loss, you may find yourself in a funk for days because of how your team has failed you.

Part 7: Time Investment

The more deep you go into the world of sports you find yourself to be obsessed no matter which part of the game you’re interested in. And that’s completely fine! You’re not obsessed, you’re passionate about your team or you might be passionate about sports in general depending on what kind of fan you are. Sometimes you could find yourself up at ungodly hours doing research or watching highlights to get the complete lowdown so you may become an expert someday. There is no limit of how much you can budget your time with sports.

Part 8: Types of Fans; Which One Are You?

In the sports world, there are a lot of different kinds of fans out there depending on how dedicated they are, how well they handle losses or how much time they invest in their team. Let’s go through them:

Hardcore Super Fan: The most dedicated of them all. This character is pretty much a 10 on every subject mentioned in the above section. He sticks by his team through the tough years and still believes that “this will be the year that his team wins it.” Blind optimism carries him even if his team isn’t that good and he knows it. Losses still devastate him and wins still thrill him.

Obsessed fan: Whether he/she is obsessed with the team’s history, players, merchandise, pictures, jerseys, etc. They only focus on the team they follow and nothing else. Every game is a big event even if they are only watching it on TV. Devastating losses and exciting wins also apply to this fan.

Notorious Loudmouth: This fan will never pass up the chance to talk up his/her team no matter what and it increases whenever they face a rival or a team in the playoffs. He/she lives by being a nuisance to rival fans by insulting their players and fans (with no regards to homophobic and sexist remarks) while building up how great their team is in the process. It’s fun being this fan but expect for the tables to be turned when they lose.

Jaded Pessimist: This guy has seen every heartbreaking loss in the book, has endured numerous losing seasons or just expects too much out of his/her team. Every game is stressful and tense because there’s always a feeling that their team will blow a lead or lose the game in some heartbreaking fashion. However, these losses don’t bother this fan because they’ve seen just about all of them. They take wins with a grain of salt, too because they know it’s only small in the grand scheme of things.

Internet Dwellers: These types of fans always love to get their two cents in on what’s going on with their team and want to share their thoughts about it on-line. Some are very intelligent and some aren’t. That’s the beauty of the Internet. Many even have their own blogs to share their own thoughts. It’s always the best when a team is going through a rough patch and one of these guys seems to know “what exactly is wrong with x team” and the solution to the problem.

Casual Fan: They like sports and watch them for fun but don’t follow them seriously. Sometimes that changes when they find out their team’s in the playoffs but they tend to stay level-headed through the bad and good times.

Longtime Fan: Here we see people who have been followers of a sport for awhile but tend to not like it when people suddenly become interested in their beloved sport. They despise bandwagoners and focus on why these ignorant people will never understand their game instead of helping them learn about it. It’s okay though because they only have to deal with them a few times a year.

Rational Fan Who Is Knowledgeable and Provides Objective View: Where’s the fun in that?

So there you have it, a comprehensive guide to following sports. Whether this sport be baseball, hockey, football, soccer, basketball or whatever you want, this guide should be a helpful tool to get you started.

Capitals without Ovechkin/Game Preview

It was announced yesterday that Alexander Ovechkin will be sidelined for the next 7-10 days to rest a “nagging injury.”  Anyone remember the last time that everyone on the Capitals was healthy? This is coming one game after Nicklas Backstrom’s return from a hand injury and we already have Jason Arnott, Mike Green and Tom Poti on the shelf. However, there isn’t that much need to panic in DC. Yes, having the team’s best player out is a significant blow but the Caps have a playoff spot locked up (barring a complete collapse) so it might be wise to let Ovie rest a few games if he’s got a lingering injury. Plus, this isn’t a new situation for the Caps since Ovechkin has had to sit out numerous games in his career due to injuries and suspensions. How did they fare in those games? 8-5-1 and they scored an average of 4 goals a game. Not bad, eh? Though, it probably helped that a few of those games were against some bad Florida Panther and New York Islander teams. Tonight’s going to be a much more difficult task as they face the top seeded team in the East, the Philadelphia Flyers. Still, there isn’t really any need for the team to rush him back now if he’s hurt. If we were battling for a playoff spot then it would be a different story. I think it’s the same reason they are giving Arnott some time off and not rushing Green back either. Yes, you would like to go into the playoffs full speed ahead but you don’t want key players hurt then.

Opponent Scouting Report:

Anyone remember what happened last time we played the Flyers without Ovechkin? Yep, the 8-2 game (although, we had a lot of help from Stefan Auger and Dan Carcillo) so don’t expect a repeat of that. The Flyers are a team with arguably the strongest defensive corps in the league and tons of scoring depth so it’s no wonder they are sitting at the top of the conference. The month of March has never been kind to Philly and it shows this year as they are only 4-3-2 and the Caps, Bruins and Penguins are challenging them for that top spot. However, this is still a dangerous team, especially when you play them on the road so don’t expect this to be an easy win for Washington.

Game Notes:

– The Flyers and Caps share a similar luxury with defensive depth. Kimmo Timonen and Braydon Coburn have done very well this year and Matt Carle’s had a decent season while Chris Pronger was out. Even the bottom pairing of Andrej Meszaros and Sean O’Donnell isn’t bad either.

– Michal Neuvirth is getting the start tonight and his numbers against Philly aren’t impressive (.884 save pct in 2 starts) but that’s probably effected by him leaving the second game with an injury. The starting job heading into the playoffs could be his to lose so it’s a big test for him tonight.

– In the Flyers net is Sergei Bobrovsky and he’s had a good rookie season. Not quite Calder-worthy but it’s hard to complain with the numbers he’s put up so far. .923 save percentage, 2.88 GAAA

– Kris Versteeg’s been a disappointment for the Flyers so far (5 points, 14 games) and he’s continuing to do what he did in Toronto; under-achieve.

Caps-Pens recap

After tonight’s 1-0 shutout of the Penguins, the Caps are 10-0-2 in their last 12 regular season games against Pittsburgh. Pretty impressive but that’s not taking the playoff series from 2009 into account. Either way, as a Caps fan it was very nice to see them shutout the Pens in back-to-back games and to do it in on the road was even better. Of course, you have to take into account that the Pens were forced to dress players like Ryan Craig, Brett Sterling, Joe Vitale, Brian Strait and a couple other guys many haven’t heard of before. It was an ugly win and we really have to thank Michal Neuvirth for the win, but I will take it. The victory gives the Caps a solid 3-2-0 on the road trip.

– The happiest guy on the team right now has to be Michal Neuvirth. 39 save shutout tonight and back-to-back shutouts against the Penguins. Last game, he said that “he had to shut these guys out” after hearing Dan Bylsma’s comments about him on 24/7. Well, I can imagine that Disco Dan isn’t happy that his team was shutout twice by a “shaky goaltender who isn’t very good.” Yep, his “poor rebound control” was in full force tonight as he managed to hang onto every shot the Pens threw his way. Probably his 2nd or 3rd best performance of the season. I only say that because I’m sure there was a game from October where he was better. That and he may or may not have gotten lucky on a couple shots that went off the post. Cough.

– The whole Vs. crew definitely let it be known that the Caps are playing a more defensively responsible game and they did tonight for the most part. Here’s what I want to know; why is it that this strategy seems to work only against the Penguins and no one else? Oh I know why, the Penguins didn’t try to crash the net. At least from what I observed they didn’t. Watch what the Sharks and Ducks did compared to what the Pens and Sabres did the last two games and you’ll notice a huge difference. Our forwards and defensemen did a great job of blocking shots and getting into passing lanes but the Pens would have had a lot more scoring chances if they went to the net and crowded the crease like the Ducks and Sharks did.

– The team’s zone entries are still kind of brutal to watch, especially in the 1st and 3rd period. Outshot 18-7 in the first and 14-3 in the third. Granted, the Pens were on the PP for most of the first period, but the third was played all at even strength and it felt like the ice was tilted towards our end the whole time. The team defended most of the Pens attacks well but they couldn’t establish a solid forecheck for 60% of the game.

– Powerplay was 1/3 tonight and I think the Pens had more chances than we did. The goal that was scored was just Ovechkin being himself and the more of that, the better. 1/3 sounds a lot better than 0/3, doesn’t it?

– Ovechkin was responsible for most of the offense tonight from what I watched and he was the best player tonight not named Michal Neuvirth. 8 shots on net, 20:36 of ice time and a goal. I have a feeling we’ll be seeing more of that in the next couple of months.

– The entire NHL is probably saying, “Matt Bradley, you are the man” right now after his huge hit on Matt Cooke. I was disappointed when I saw that Matt Hendricks was scratched tonight due to illness but Bradley did a fine job of sending Cooke a message with that hit. He also had a solid fight with Ryan Craig and was a trending topic on Twitter. Solid night, Brads.

– Zbyneck Michalek and Brooks Orpik give me a headache with their shot blocking. It helps that they are really good at it.

– You know what also gives me a headache? The defensive pairing of Tyler Sloan and John Erskine. I love what Erskine brings to the team but shit always seems to hit the fan when the duo are paired together. They gave up more chances tonight combined than any other defensive pairing and I lost count of how many times Sloan fanned on a shot. Can not wait until Mike Green is back.

– It looked like Mathieu Perreault hurt himself tonight, which is something we really don’t need right now. On the bright side, Marcus Johansson had a solid night and had an assist tally.

– You know the Penguins get under the team’s skin when Nicklas Backstrom almost fights Jordan Staal.

– Boyd Gordon got away with a bad interference call in the third and he knows it.

– These games are so much more enjoyable when Dave Strader calls them instead of Mike Emrick. Don’t you agree?

So we’re done playing the Pens this year and have a few nights off before Friday’s showdown with the New York Rangers. Let’s hope we can keep the wins coming and possibly score a couple more goals while we’re at it.

Three Stars

1. Michal Neuvirth

2. Alex Ovechkin

3. Matt Bradley