Friday, September 18, 2009

Sittin' at the end of the bar...

OK, what was your over-under on this happening?...
"After Marian Gaborik (sore groin) scrimmaged yesterday for the first time, coach John Tortorella said that though the club's most important forward will not play tonight in Detroit, he might play tomorrow in Boston.

"'Gabby is sore, but a lot of it with him is getting through this mentally and feeling comfortable,' Tortorella said."

We are of the growing impression that Mike Green has a real knack for channeling his inner Yogi Berra, and we mean that in the most endearing, zen-zombie way. Here he is on whether Alex Ovechkin is more mature now than when he arrived in Washington...
"I don't know, I don't think so. He's the same guy. None of us are mature."

Adam Proteau of The Hockey News has the Caps finishing first in the East and says...

"I don’t care how tentative their goalie situation is – this group very well could be this season’s Penguins (only without the coaching change)."

...I'd pay attention. Here's what he said about the 2007-2008 Caps (the year that did have a coaching change)...

"3. Washington: Few think the Caps can be this good this quick. But that's what they said about Pittsburgh last season."

Was this an acceptance speech at the Academy Awards?...

"My children were here, my lovely wife was here, my two brothers, my nieces, my nephews, and those are the people who, today, are the most important people to me. They have supported me through thick and thin, they've gone through the pain and suffering I've gone through as well. I'm just thrilled to have this opportunity."

...nope. Theo Fleury after scoring the winner (in a Gimmick) in a 5-4 Calgary win over the Islanders.

And how's this for an olde-school jersey?...

...for the record, we like it.


The Caps won last night over Buffalo, 4-3 in overtime. But from the "game within the game" file, Mike Knuble scored what is the early season favorite for "ugliest goal of the season off a body part" (about 45 seconds into this clip)...

Kanoobie, the Ugly Goal Rally Mutt, approves...

2009-2010 Previews -- Forwards: Tomas Fleischmann

Tomas Fleischmann

Theme: “I have found that sitting in a place where you have never sat before can be inspiring.”

Dodie Smith, who wrote “The Hundred and One Dalmatians” (which was the basis for an animated movie) also had thoughts on sitting. And Tomas Fleischmann, who might have done too much sitting on a nine hour flight back to Europe after the season, will have a little bit of time to sit and contemplate the next step in his career development arc.

Fleischmann took a big step up last year, finishing the regular season 19-18-37, minus-3, in 73 games. But he did not finish well. After scoring a goal to end the month of February he went 14 consecutive games without a point, and finished the last 19 games of the regular season 2-2-5, minus-4. He followed that up by going 3-1-4, even, in 14 playoff games, although one of his goals was the game-winner in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series against Pittsburgh. That weak finish might have been the result of his having endured pneumonia in January and having it catch up with him.

As he sits for the next few weeks while taking blood thinners for a case of deep-vein thrombosis, he might ponder the fact that he was on a 26-goal pace over the first 54 games of his 2008-2009 season and was on a pace to finish the season on the plus side of the ledger for the first time in his four-year career.

Fleischmann’s brief career (191 games) has been one of consistent improvement. In four seasons, he’s played in 14, 29, 75, and 73 games. His goal totals have increased from zero to four to ten to 19. Points… 2, 8, 30, 37. Last year, four of his 19 goals were game-winners, good for third on the team among forwards. He finished with 11 power play points, the highest total in four seasons.

What Fleischmann suffers is a sense, perhaps, among Caps fans that he isn’t sturdy enough. He’s not a big player and is not especially physical (22 hits and 20 PIMs in 73 games last year). Actually, what he might suffer most on this team is being a left winger playing right wing because he can count among his teammates two of the most prolific and dynamic left wings on the planet in Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin.

Fearless: Here is an odd comparison we found. Flesichmann finished last year 19-18-37, minus-3 in 73 games as a 24 year old. We found a 25 year old from some years back who finished a year 18-22-40, minus-4 in 78 games. That would be Martin St. Louis in 2000-2001. That’s not to say that Fleischmann has a Hart Trophy in his future, only that players at such an age might have considerable room for improvement.

Cheerless: Uh, cuz? Here’s another one… a 25-year old who finished 20-18-38, minus-2 in 71 games. That would be Matt Pettinger in 2005-2006. Two years later, he was in Vancouver, and now he’s in Tampa. He doesn’t have 20 goals combined (14) or 38 points combined (28) over the last two seasons. Sometimes a guy is like a rocket… ooh… ahh… and sometimes he’s a dud.

Well, that’s encouraging. But getting back to the issue at hand – the upcoming season – Fleischmann’s health problems come at an inopportune time. Last year, he potted eight goals in 22 games (a 30-goal pace) before Thanksgiving. The year before, he scored four of the ten goals he would score that season before Thanksgiving. He won’t be getting that opportunity for a fast start this season. Fortunately, the club appears to have sufficient offensive weapons to deploy that the loss won’t be so keenly felt. But for a player making the transition from prospect to contributor, it’s not so good a situation in which one finds oneself.

The silver lining is that the time he misses to start the season, however long that might be, will leave him fresher at the end – keep in mind that relatively weak finish he had last year (although that bout of pneumonia might have played a role in that, too).

Fleischmann is another one of those players in the dreaded “contract year” (he is an arbitration-eligible restricted free agent next summer). At a $725,000 in cap hit, a 19-goal scorer might be considered as something of a bargain, especially when but for the fact he was ill in mid-season last year and will start this year on the shelf with health problems, he has given indications of being a 25-30 goal scorer.

Perhaps sitting to start the will offer him the opportunity to find that inspiration to score at that pace and cash in next summer.


56 games, 13-20-33, -2