Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Fair or not, the perception around the hockey world is that there is a distinct lack of buzz surrounding the NHL's marquee regular-season game.
On social media, much of the early discussion surrounding the tilt between the host Washington Capitals and the Chicago Blackhawks has been around the seemingly slow build of enthusiasm for an event that has been a major draw for NHL sponsors, hundreds of thousands of fans at the event and a huge television audience.
Anecdotal? For sure.
Meaningful? Hard to tell, although, to be fair, the NHL is just now swinging into major event mode.
What are your thoughts on the Winter Classic? Is it still considered must watch for the NHL fan?
Follow the Chicago Blackhawks and Wasington Capitals through the regular season as they get ready to face off in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.
Watch below and it is scheduled to start at 10:00pm ET.
Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington answered a few questions...
Q: [Because] Ovi has bought in on Trotz system & his [numbers] have gone down, is it more acceptable to NHL media?
That’s actually a great question. I can’t tell you how many times I have gone on Canadian radio and have been baited to criticize Ovechkin for one thing or another....
Alex Ovechkin will never win a Selke Trophy, but through 28 games Ovi has 14 goals and nine assists for 23 points and is EVEN on the plus-minus ledger. That projects to 41 goals and 26 assists for 67 points, the second-lowest total of his career.
Brian MacLellan said this last month and I agree with him. I’d rather see Ovechkin score 40 goals and get the Caps into the playoffs than see him score 51 and see him playing for Team Russia in the World Championships.
The problem with SOME members of the NHL media is that they will ignore Ovechkin’s improvements as a player and highlight any mistakes he makes that lead to goals. There is a reason for that, in my opinion, but I’ll save that for another rant.
more questions and answers on the Capitals...
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
With 57 games left in the 2014-15 regular season, their first under Trotz, the Capitals are tied for third in the Metropolitan Division with 26 points. They are on pace for 85 points, or to finish the season with slightly more than one point each game. Fortunately for them, their top-heavy division is the only one without at least three 30-point squads.
“If you can get in the top three in your division, you’re in [the playoffs], no matter what your record is,” Trotz said. “We’ve got to play at probably about a 100-point pace from now until the end of the season to be in the mix. We need to rattle off the wins, there’s no question. There should be some urgency in your group.”
To play at 100-point pace the rest of the way would give them 95.5 points, and the last Eastern Conference team to miss the playoffs with 90 points was Carolina in 2010-11. That said, their current rate likely won’t cut it, unless the Metropolitan Division continues to struggle; an 80-point Eastern Conference team hasn’t made the playoffs since Philadelphia and Montreal finished with 88 in 2009-10, the same year Washington buried its Southeast Division beneath a league-leading 121 points.
NEW YORK (December 5, 2014) – With just under four weeks until the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic®, the countdown to the much-anticipated outdoor match-up between the Chicago Blackhawks® and Washington Capitals® on New Year’s Day has begun.
Hockey’s biggest stars – including Alex Ovechkin, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane – will take center stage as the Blackhawks and Capitals meet in Washington, D.C. at Nationals Park, home of the Washington Nationals. The event will be broadcast live nationally on NBC in the United States and on CBC and TVA in Canada on 1 p.m. ET on Jan. 1.
Events and activities leading up to the annual outdoor hockey celebration will include:
from chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
So how many losses need to pile up before they realize this doesn’t work?
To me, that is the underlying question of this season and only general manager Brian MacLellan can answer that. So far this season the first-year GM has been patient, waiting to see how his team responds to Barry Trotz and his “culture change.” But it’s clear that after 25 games, the Caps are not as far along in the process as Trotz would like and a week doesn’t go by without Trotz bringing up his players’ need to break old habits.
I asked Trotz to elaborate on what he means by old habits and he ran off a list as long as Eric Fehr’s stick without even pausing, from how they practice to how they deal with adversity. But the most damning quote from Trotz was this: “ I think we’re better than we’ve shown, but we’re not as good as we think we are.” I have wondered from the very start of this season whether the Capitals can change their culture without changing their players.
Personally, I think MacLellan will spend these next several weeks pondering that same question.
more Q & A...
from the CP at TSN,
Leo Komarov took an elbow to the head from Alex Ovechkin early in the first minute of the third period and did not return.
Carlyle was asked if Komarov went through concussion protocol following the hit.
"Well he didn't feel good so that's what we did," said Carlyle. "We held him out and he's going to be having further evaluation. He seems fine now, but they all seem to be fine."
As for the hit, Carlyle said, "I thought it was kind of 'oops I hit you on purpose'."
In the same game, this happened too...
Sportsnet introduced a 'film room' segment during their pre-game show tonight.
Adam Oates, Nick Kypreos and Kelly Hrudey bread down a few plays from Joel Ward.
from Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington,
“We were outshot and outchanced last year and that hasn’t been the case at all this year,” Trotz said. “But we’re not producing more goals at this point. We can have a little more of an interior presence.”
The real positive difference this season has been where many believe it matters most -- shots allowed and goals against.
Last season the Caps allowed an average of 33.5 shots per game, which ranked 27th in the NHL, and 2.79 goals against, which ranked 21st. This season they’re allowing 27.2 shots, which ranks fourth in the league, and 2.62 goals, which ranks 15th.
“If you look analytically, we’re much better,” Trotz said. “But we need more goals 5-on-5. That’s the process. You fix one thing and something else goes. You fix another thing and something else goes. You’re always chasing that, no matter what team you have.”
Perhaps the best judges of the progress made under Trotz are the players themselves. Jay Beagle, who has been with the Capitals through four coaching changes the past four years, says the change has been more significant than the standings may reflect.
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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