Kukla's Korner Hockey
If Alex Ovechkin had as much star support as Sidney Crosby the Big 8 would leave The Kid in the dust.
-Stan Fischler of the Fischler Report where you can read more short topics...
Secretary of State John Kerry honored the Olympians and dropped the puck at the Washington Capials game tonight.
from Neil Greenberg of Capitals Insider,
During even-strength, Washington netminders have stopped 1,369 of the 1,485 shots they have faced (0.922 save percentage). Miller has posted a 0.928 save percentage in those same circumstances. So if Miller gave the same performance for Washington as he did in Buffalo for all their previous games, the Capitals would have seen one fewer even-strength goal against every four games.
On the penalty kill, Washington netminders posted a 0.888 save percentage while Miller provided Buffalo with 0.905. That difference would be one goal against every 17 games.
The net result? If Miller plays the same percentage of games in Washington as he has for Buffalo we can expect him to start 18 of the 26 remaining games. That would mean between four and six fewer goals against – perhaps a win or two more than the current crop of Capitals’ netminders. But at what cost?
Buffalo is not going to give Miller away, so assets would have to be sacrificed. Considering Buffalo is in rebuilding mode, that would likely include a draft pick and/or a prospect. And it would have to include moving a couple of roster players. According to Capgeek, Washington can add a contract with an average annual value of just $199,469. Ryan Miller carries a cap hit of $6,250,000, meaning others would have to go. With the blueline corp thin in terms of talent I would expect one of the goalies and a forward. But which ones?
from Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington,
One day after leaving practice early Green did not participate in Tuesday’s morning skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and will not play tonight against the New York Islanders.
Oates said Green “didn’t feel great” Monday afternoon and it appears he’ll miss the Caps’ remaining three games before the two-week Olympic break begins on Sunday. The Caps host the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday and the New Jersey Devils on Saturday.
“It looks that way,” Oates said. “I can’t guarantee it, but it looks that way.”
Green suffered a concussion when his head was checked into the glass by Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner. Green said he felt better than expected when he practiced Saturday, but sat out Sunday’s game against the Red Wings and left the ice after 10 minutes on Monday.
read on and if you missed the hit, you can watch it below...
from Katie Carrera of Capitals Insider,
Each time the Capitals lose in a particularly unbecoming fashion, it is always interesting to see how Coach Adam Oates handles the next day. In the midst of just his second season at the helm – first true season given last year’s lockout-shortened schedule – how he approaches the potholes in Washington’s game and goes about trying to repair them offers a look at how a new coach is evolving.
He’s remained steadfast in his conviction that yelling isn’t constructive and that the focus should always be finding ways to fix problems with the hope of steadily improving. But after looking at the errors that plagued Washington from the start in Columbus, he emphasized the players’ need to adapt when things, including themselves, aren’t perfect.
“There’s no changes other than decisions by the guys, focus by the guys. Whether they’re mentally tired, physically tired, it can’t happen,” Oates said. “The other team’s in the same exact boat. How you handle that feeling if you don’t have your ‘A’ game, what’s your backup plan? It’s obviously a long night and you’ve got to figure out a way to get the job done.”
This is not about pinning all the blame on Ovechkin or trading the Russian star. But something has to give, either in the week-and-a-half to come, or immediately after the Olympic break, for the Caps to salvage this season. That said, a playoff berth wouldn’t and shouldn’t be an excuse for ownership to avoid serious changes. Head coach Adam Oates should be the last to be blamed and Washington’s current core and GM George McPhee should be among the first.
Maybe Ovechkin can win a gold medal in Sochi and use it as a rocket booster for the second half of the Capitals’ year. But maybe the mental and physical toll of playing for his country make this situation more dire. In either case, there’s no good reason for continued patience with Washington’s roster. The sample size is big enough, long enough, and doggone it, more and more people don’t like it.
-Adam Proteau of The Hockey News where you can read more about the Capitals (Ovechkin was -5 last night in a 5-2 loss to Columbus).
from Lucas Aykroyd of IIHF.com,
The world is waiting to see how Ovechkin will carry himself starting on February 13, when Russia opens its quest for Olympic gold against Slovenia. It’s a prize Russia hasn’t claimed since 1992.
Ovechkin is the greatest NHL goal-scorer of the new millennium, and among modern-era NHLers, only Mike Bossy and Mario Lemieux boast better goals-per-game averages at 76.2 and 75.4 respectively.
Likely bound for his fourth Rocket Richard Trophy as the league’s top marksman, he is also a three-time winner of both MVP trophies, the media-voted Hart and the player-voted Ted Lindsay (formerly Lester Pearson). If Ovechkin retired today, he would still be a surefire inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
But right now, the focus is on the Olympics.
And Ovechkin, despite faithfully and admirably suiting up for Russia in IIHF competition at least once every year since 2002 (with the exception of 2009), has never played quite as well at either the Olympics or World Championships as he has at his NHL best. Neither his laser shot nor his offensive-zone physicality has been quite as effective.
Mike Green left last night's game with an upper-body injury after this hit from Boone Jenner of the Columbus Blue Jackets and did not return.
No update on his health but Green in the past has suffered a concussion and shoulder injury.
from Katie Carrera of Capitals Insider,
... first a look at an unnecessary high hit from Buffalo defenseman Mike Weber on Nicklas Backstrom that came in the final minute of regulation.
Backstrom is in the neutral zone and circles back toward the Capitals’ bench for a line change when Weber sticks his right elbow out and clips the center in the head. It’s a dangerous hit under any circumstances and also eerily familiar to when Rene Bourque elbowed Backstrom back in January 2012 – a play that sidelined Washington’s top center for 40 games with a concussion.
Backstrom took one more shift in the game, in overtime, and spoke with reporters afterward. The 26-year-old pivot is one of the more soft-spoken players on the team, but when he’s upset it comes across rather clearly and that was the case in the visitors’ dressing room at First Niagara Arena.
“I was going for a change, that’s the only thing I know,” Backstrom said. “You saw the hit yourself, make your own judgment if it belongs in this league or not.”
more and watch the hit below...
Bounce, bounce, settle, score.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
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