Saturday, November 03, 2007

It ain't working...

The Peerless isn't much on the concept of "lines," as they are commonly known. But he does pay attention to pairs, and there is something troubling afoot with the Caps. We are led to believe -- and we agree -- that "chemistry" is an important ingredient in the recipe for success. Further, the notion since training camp has been that "chemistry" between Alex Ovechkin and Viktor Kozlov, and between Michael Nylander and Nicklas Backstrom would permit the Caps to get off quickly.

Well, that was the hope...

Alex Ovechkin has nine goals on the season. And of these, how many primary assists have gone to Kozlov?...two. You know who also has two?...Michael Nylander, and he does not play on Ovechkin's line at even strength, for the most part. Both Kozlov and Nylander have had a total of three assists on Ovechkin goals. In the last ten games, only one of these two have had the primary assist on the other's goal -- Kozlov, on Ovechkin's first goal in the 7-1 win against Toronto.

Now, as to the matter of Nylander and Backstrom...Nylander has four goals this year. On how many has Backstrom provided the primary assist?...two, but none since game 5 (we completed game 13 last night, and the Caps are 2-6 in that stretch since the last Nylander/Backstrom success). Backstrom is yet without a goal.

Loathe as we are to don a coaching cap -- it just doesn't fit -- something isn't working here. We're wondering...when Alexander Semin comes back (assuming it isn't delayed until after Thanksgiving), the grand experiment of Ovechkin-Kozlov and Nylander-Backstrom might be better set aside in favor of moving Nylander to the top line to center Ovechkin and Clark, and moving Kozlov back to the second line to center (or play on the wing) with Backstrom and Semin.

The Caps are tied for 20th in the league in scoring at 2.54 goals-per-game. If the Toronto game really was the aberration folks are coming around to think, they're averaging 2.17 goals a game. The Caps' defense is improved (they've given up more than three goals only three times in 13 games), but not so much as to make anyone think that scoring two-goals a game is going to make for a winning season.

There is a fine line between patience and stubbornness...we might be there with respect to who plays with whom.

7 comments:

Caps Nut said...

A.O. seems to be the most dangerous coming off the wing with speed right off a clean faceoff win.

Nylander however is a slowdown type of center. I don't think his game really meshes well with either A.O. or Semin. Nylander can win the big offensive zone draws cleanly but we're in dire need of a center who can play at A.O. and Semin's speed.

DMG said...

I think that's a good call caps nut - Ovechkin is an energy player and Nylander is slow down the play and wait type of guy. If everyone were healthy I think the OV/Kozlov/Clark line is fine given that OV likes playing with Kozlov and has great chemistry with Clark. But with the injuries the team has at this point I think it makes sense to pair Ovechkin with Nylander.

Steven said...

The Caps are missing their "glue" from the top line in Clark, and their world-class skill from the second line in Semin. Add to that missing the PP quarterback. That said, other guys need to learn to score. Pettinger has one goal, as does Gordon, and Steckel, while Laich has two. Here are four forwards getting regular minutes (in the range of 14-18 per game, I'd guess, without looking at the sheets), and have five goals among them. Backstrom has 0 goals, but at least he's setting guys up (6 assists)

I'm encouraged by the defense, very encouraged, but there has to be a way to win some of these games.

The Peerless said...

In what sense has Ovechkin demonstrated any chemistry with Kozlov?

DMG said...

Peerless I assume that was a question to me? I didn't say Ovechkin and Kozlov had great chemistry together, I said Ovechkin prefers playing with Kozlov.

Anonymous said...

Caps need a goalie...look at Columbus, the Flyers, the Rangers and there are more teams that all have goalies who can win them games not let in 2 softies a night. Make a deal with Montreal for one of their goalies in Hamilton !!

Anonymous said...

"... OV likes playing with Kozlov ..." On the contrary! It appears to me that, having astutely observed that Kozlov is "mailing it in" on almost every shift, Ovie has reverted to his 'One-Man Team' style of last year. Where he doggedly, stubbornly attempts to do absolutely all the work all by himself on every shift. He enters the attack zone with three opposing players draped all over him. One of them invariably succeeds in tipping the puck off his stick. It's depressing to watch, over and over again. I agree that Nylander would be a material improvement. He’s not invariably a slow down and circle around kind of guy. He can kick it up when he wants to. It’s certainly worth a try.