Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
A key stat of yours that jumped out to me was ice time. You exceeded 20 minutes of ice time in 10 of your first 19 games, but only in 11 of the past 46. Now some of these games you're in the 19:50s range so take that for what it's worth, but it's not around 22, 23, 24 or 25 as it had been for you in the past. Has playing fewer minutes been better for your overall game?
"Well, I definitely enjoy playing a lot of minutes and sort of a more prominent role, but in this case this is my role now for this team and I think it's helped me in the sense of being able to stay healthy throughout the season. When you log a lot of minutes and you are an offensive defenseman you can get targeted at times, and in that case you can sustain injuries. It's been a good balance. I'm comfortable with my role right now. Sometimes you've gotta put your ego aside for the betterment of the team."
Do you think this team is better suited to win a championship this season than even the team that won the Presidents' Trophy in 2009-10?
"Oh absolutely. It's feelings. I think we're definitely more structured than we've ever been. The whole team has bought into that structure. The relationship and camaraderie outside the rink is the best it's ever been. I think we're getting older and a little more mature in the sense that we're all focusing on the same thing now."
“I’ve been rooting for a Nashville-Washington [Stanley Cup] Final since the first day of the season,” “Things worked out really good for all of us. We’re happy with where we are in Nashville and Barry has done a great job with the Capitals. We both have teams that are capable of doing some damage in the playoffs.”
-David Poile, GM of the Nashville Predators, via Chuck Gormley of CSNWashington.
NEW YORK (March 27, 2015) – Washington Capitals forward Tom Wilson has been fined $2,000 as supplementary discipline under NHL Rule 64 (Diving/Embellishment), the National Hockey League announced today.
Wilson was issued a Warning following an incident flagged by NHL Hockey Operations during NHL Game No. 936 against Toronto on March 1. His second Citation, which triggered the $2,000 fine, was issued for an incident during NHL Game No. 1057 at Minnesota on March 19. Wilson received a minor penalty for embellishment on the play, at 14:45 of the second period.
You can see the play below...
from lJay Palansky of the Toronto Star,
To be fair, Ovechkin has had a good season and there really aren’t any forwards that have stepped up and separated themselves from the pack. Still, giving Ovechkin the MVP would be a travesty.
Mainstream analysts see that Ovechkin’s 47 goals leads the league by 7, he has a +/- of +11 — which looks positively stellar compared to the disastrous -35 he put up last year — and that the Capitals are going to make the playoffs. That’s all they need to know.
To them I say it’s time to look beyond goals. Ovechkin’s offensive numbers actually aren’t particularly impressive. In 5-on-5 play, he’s 90th in the league in points per 60 minutes. Plus, Ovechkin has only 26 assists, a microscopic 14 of which are 5-on-5. Since 1970, the fewest assists by a forward to win MVP in a full season was 45 — and that was by Brett Hull in 1990-91, when he potted 86 goals. Even adjusting for the overall decrease in scoring in the league since 1991, Ovechkin’s season isn’t in the same universe,
The love from some in the analytics community is more unexpected. Their argument focuses primarily on Ovechkin’s solid shot attempt differential of 54.5 per cent. They then apply some magic analytics pixie dust by disregarding Ovechkin’s actual goal differential to calculate what the Capitals’ “expected” goals for and against when Ovechkin is on the ice would be if Ovechkin’s linemates and goalies had a “league-average shooting and goaltending,” rather than the considerably below-average shooting and save percentages they actually have.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
As the first postgame question came Sunday night, Coach Barry Trotz reviewed the events of the Washington Capitals’ 2-0 victory over the Boston Bruins in his mind and considered the juxtaposition. Forty-eight hours earlier, he had derided a listless defeat against the Dallas Stars and commanded his players to patch their problems, to which they responded by calling a closed-door meeting. He called a surprise practice the next day and put the Capitals on blast, threatening lineup demotions. He proclaimed that hosting Boston would truly reveal the character of a group reeling from two straight home defeats.
And now, after goaltender Braden Holtby made 32 saves, center Nicklas Backstrom claimed the franchise’s assists lead, defenseman Nate Schmidt scored his first goal of the season and the team staved off the foe in closest pursuit of its top Eastern Conference wild card spot, Trotz needed little time to answer what was posed: Could he have asked for a better response?
“Not really,” Trotz said. “I think that just shows there is good leadership in the room. They had to make it happen. There’s a great response. They had the closed door [meeting]. We had to get urgent, let’s get playing well. I thought we came out, good start, I thought we had a lot of urgency, we had a lot of detail, we had a lot of commitment, got big penalty kills when we needed, got great goaltending from Holtby. A lot of good things. All over I thought we had pretty good structure against a pretty good team.”
added 3:49pm, Washington release is below...
added 12:01pm, Washington release is below... added 12:06pm, Carolina release added below too...
Resulted in four roughing penalties, two to each side.
from Alex Prewitt of Capitals Insider,
Watch the little plays, defenseman Karl Alzner explained, the kind that get swallowed by the larger context of games, but still stick out to those awestruck Washington Capitals watching from the bench. Watch how center Nicklas Backstorm breaks out on the power play. Or squeezes through traffic along the wall and continues forward, in full stride. Remember the one from Pittsburgh? No, not the game-winning assist to Joel Ward. Something far less memorable.
“See, that’s the thing,” Alzner said. “No one realizes it. He picked up the puck, quick dangled through someone, held the puck off, then just sauced right through the middle of the ice. It’s just plays like that, that, as players, you understand how hard they are. I can’t do it in practice, and he does it in games.”
The admiration inside the Capitals’ locker room for their alternate captain holds no limits, and Thursday night offered another chance for the respect to flow. On one end stood Backstrom, now tied for the NHL’s lead with 63 points, apologizing to reporters for taking too long to remove his shin guards and claiming such scoring was merely essential to the gig. After all, Backstrom said, he receives “a lot of ice time too, so I should produce for the team. Just doing my job.”
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