Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Peerless Playback: The All-Alphabet Team, "The C Team"

We are up to our third installment looking back at the "All-Alphabet Team" for the Washington Capitals.  And, being the third installment, that means we are up to the letter "C."

For the record, our "All-C Team" was:
  • LW: Geoff Courtnall (1988-1990)
  • C: Bobby Carpenter (1981-1987, 1992-1993)
  • RW: Dave Christian (1983-1989)
  • D: Sylvain Cote (1991-1998, 2000-2002)
  • D: John Carlson (2009-present)
  • G: Jim Carey (1995-1997)

This team, Jim Carey’s playoff woes and too-soon career implosion notwithstanding, is among the stronger teams in the “All Alphabet” series, especially on offense.  Courtnall had 77 goals in two seasons with the Caps.  Bobby “The Can’t Miss Kid” Carpenter had 145 goals in four seasons with the Caps before his 22nd birthday before he tailed off and was eventually shipped off to the New York Rangers.  Dave Christian averaged more than 30 goals per season in his six full seasons with the Caps.  Sylvain Cote is seventh in team history among defensemen in games played and eighth in points.  John Carlson is already the all-time points leader among defensemen in Caps history and whose career plus-92 trails only Rod Langway (plus-116) at the position.  In goal, Jim Carey finished second for in Calder Trophy voting as a rookie and was a Vezina Trophy finalist in both of his two full seasons in Washington, winning it in 1996.

Among skaters, Courtnall would seem in be in a position to fend off any challenges among left wingers who played for the Caps since the original “All-C Team” was published in 2014.  Only Jason Chimera (82-115-197, minus-2 in 490 games) would appear to pose even the faintest of challenges.  Neither Paul Carey nor Sean Collins pose much threat to unseating Bobby Carpenter from his place at center.  Meanwhile, Brett Connolly (52-44-96, plus-27, in 217 games with the Caps) would be most likely among right wingers to pose a challenge to Dave Christian, but he would fall short.

On defense, the pair of Taylor Chorney and Connor Carrick would pose no reasonable challenge to Sylvain Cote and John Carlson.  In goal, Pheonix Copley has far too few games and too thin a resume to challenge Carey.   

The "All-C Team" would seem to remain intact from when the series was first published in 2014 and would be a formidable group, were it ever to have played on the ice.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Peerless Playback: The All-Alphabet Team, "The B Team"

Next up in our look back at series we posted on the history of the Washington Capitals, we take a look at the next installment of the "All-Alphabet Team," that being the one starting with the letter "B."

For the record, our "All-B Team" was:
  • LW: Craig Berube (1993-1999, 2000-2001)
  • C: Nicklas Backstrom (2007-present)
  • RW: Peter Bondra (1990-2004)
  • D: Timo Blomqvist (1981-1985)
  • D: Pierre Bouchard (1978-1982)
  • G: Don Beaupre (1988-1995)

Would any of these players be replaced since this post appeared in July 2014? It would be hard to think Nicklas Backstrom would be replaced, and even Peter Bondra for that matter.  And on defense, only Madison Bowey in the post-2014 period would qualify as a replacement.  Not that Timo Blomqvist (223 games, 4-51-55, plus-27, 264 penalty minutes as a Capital) or Pierre Bouchard (106 games, 8-16-24, minus-28, 54 penalty minutes) had especially noteworthy careers in Washington.  But Bowey played only 84 games with the Caps, going 1-17-18, even, with 62 penalty minutes.  Call it a matter of debate.

However, would Andre Burakovsky (2014-2019) replace Craig Berube on the left side?  Berube was 26-38-64, minus-32, with 1220 penalty minutes in 419 regular season games and 1-0-1, minus-5, with 90 penalty minutes in 38 postseason games in two tours with the Caps, while Burakovsky was 62-83-145, plus-34, with 77 penalty minutes in 328 regular season games and 9-9-18, plus-5, with 12 penalty minutes in 56 playoff games for Washington.

Don Beaupre probably keeps his spot as the goalie on “Team B,” since there were no goalies with a last name starting with “B” playing for the Caps since 2014.  But perhaps there was a Capital goalie from yesteryear you think might be better suited to tend goal.  Something to think about as we “pause.”

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Peerless Playback: The All-Alphabet Team, "The A Team"

While we are "pausing" in the hopes of seeing a resumption of the 20219-2020 NHL season, we're going to look back from time to time and revisit some series we did cover the history of the Washington Capitals.  We start that with a look back at the "All-Alphabet Team," starting with the letter "A" and ask if, in the almost six years since this first went online, there would be any changes.

For the record, the "All-A Team" was:

  • LW: Greg Adams (1983-1988)
  • C: Jason Arnott (2011)
  • RW: Steve Atkinson (1974-1975)
  • D: Peter Andersson (1983-1985)
  • D: Karl Alzner (2008-2017)
  • G: John Adams (1974-1975)
Keep in mind that if you are thinking about players who joined the Caps since this was published (covering players through the 2013-2014 season), no new skaters with the last name beginning with "A" skated for the Caps (Karl Alzner was the only one who dressed), and no new goalies whose last name starts with "A" dressed for the team.  But if you think any of these players should be replaced on the "All-A Team," well, it's a way to pass the time during the pause.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Scribbles During the Hiatus: Ten-Goal Games

Ten.  The basis of the numerical system in which most of the world operates.  A “top” number for purposes of ranking.  A “perfect” number as a means of evaluating things, experiences, and even persons. 

“The number of weeners in a package.”

Yes, Cheerless, commonly the number of hot dogs to a pack.

“So what’s with the eight hot dog buns in a bag?”

Cheerless, can we…

“I mean, what do you do with the extra hot dogs?"


“Feed ‘em to the dog? Make franks ‘n’ beans?”


“And what with the ‘n’ in ‘franks ‘N” beans,’ anyways?”


“…sorry, go ‘head.”

In hockey, “ten” has become an uncommon number.  Over the last ten seasons, including this one, a team scored ten goals in a regular season game only five times.  Only once in almost 30 years has a team scored ten goals in a playoff game (Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia, 10-3, in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinal in 2012).

Which brings us to the Washington Capitals.  We can get one thing out of the way at the beginning.  The Caps have never scored ten goals in a postseason game (they have been victimized for one, a topic we might get to at a later time).  They have, however, scored ten or more goals on 12 occasions in the regular season.  And did you know that…

1.  The 12 instances of ten or more goals scored in team history ranks tied for sixth among all NHL teams since 1974-1975, when the Caps entered the league.

2.   The Caps tended to do this sort of thing in bunches, calendar-year wise.  They did it twice in 1981, twice in 1987, three times in 1993, accounting for seven of the 12 instances.

3.  Twice in games that the Caps scored ten goals, they won by a double-digit margin:
  • February 6, 1990, Capitals 12 – Quebec Nordiques 2.  Seven different Capitals recorded goals with two-goal games from Randy Burridge, Dino Ciccarelli, and Mike Ridley.  It was Alan May’s goal at 8:03 of the second period to give the Caps a 5-1 lead that chased starting goaltender Stephane Fiset.  Jacques Cloutier also allowed five goals in relief.  Mike Liut stopped 30 of 33 shots for the win.
  • January 11, 2003, Capitals 12 – Florida Panthers 2.  This game was probably the high-water mark of the Jaromir Jagr era for the Caps.  Jagr had a seven-point game, including a hat trick, one of two times in Caps history that a player recorded seven points in a game (Dino Ciccarelli: 4-3-7 vs. Hartford Whalers, March 18, 1989, in an 8-2 win).

4.  Power plays were featured prominently in these 12 games.  The Caps scored no fewer than two power play goals in each of them.

5.  Speaking of power plays in ten-goal games, in the Caps’ 10-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 13, 1987 – Friday the 13th – the Caps recorded seven power play goals, one of only three teams in NHL history to record seven power play goals in a game.  Boston did it in an 8-0 win over the Minnesota North Stars on January 4, 1975, and the Maple Leafs scored seven of their own in a 9-1 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on October 14, 2005.  The last six goals the Caps scored in that game, all in a span of 8:36 of the third period, came on power plays.  For the record, those last six goals were scored by: Craig Laughlin, Mike Gartner, Garry Galley, David Jensen (2), and Ed Kastelic.  The Caps took advantage of the Maple Leafs taking two major penalties for fighting in the last five minutes of that contest (no Capital served a coincidental major), over which the Caps scored five of their power play goals.

6.  That 10-2 win over the Maple Leafs in March 1987 was the second time that the Caps lit up Toronto for ten or more goals.  They beat the Maple Leafs, 11-2, on December 11, 1981.  Toronto is one of three teams against which the Caps scored ten or more goals twice.  They also turned the trick twice against the Los Angeles Kings (a 10-3 win against the Los Angeles Kings in Washington on December 6, 1987, and a 10-3 win over the Kings in Los Angeles on February 13, 1993) and the Quebec Nordiques (a 12-2 win in Washington on February 6, 1990, and a 10-3 win in Quebec on November 10, 1991).

7.  Nine of the 12 ten-goal games by the Caps came on home ice, six of them at the old Capital Centre/USAirways Arena and three of them at MCI Center/Verizon Center (now Capital One Arena).

8. The games on the road in which the Caps scored ten or more goals are the more interesting.  I addition to the 10-3 win over Quebec in November 1991, the Caps beat the St. Louis Blues in a wild 10-6 contest and the Los Angeles Kings by a 10-3 margin.  What is interesting about those latter two games?  They came in consecutive games for the Caps, the win in St. Louis on February 11, 1993, and again against the Kings in Los Angeles two nights later, on February 13, 1993.

9.  As best as we can determine, those two consecutive ten-goal games by the Caps in 1993 were the fourth instance in NHL history of a team recording ten or more goals in consecutive games.  The others:
  • Montreal Canadiens: January 11, 1919 (13-4 over the Toronto Arenas) and January 16, 1919 (10-6 over the Ottawa Senators)
  • Edmonton Oilers: January 12, 1983 (10-4 over the Chicago Black Hawks) and January 15, 1983 (10-4 over the Minnesota North Stars)
  • Detroit Red Wings: November 23, 1992 (10-5 over the Tampa Bay Lightning) and November 25, 1992 (11-6 over the St. Louis Blues)

The Caps and Edmonton were the only teams to win both of their respective games on the road.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Scribbles During the Hiatus: One-Game Capitals II -- The Goalies

One-game Capitals are not just limited to skaters.  The Caps have a history – not a long one mind you, but a history – of goalies who appeared in a single game for the club. Let’s take a look.  For instance, did you know…

1.  Four goalies played a single game for the Caps:
  • Robbie Moore (October 10, 1982 vs. Philadelphia Flyers)
  • Alain Raymond (December 9, 1987 vs. Hartford Whalers)
  • Mike Rosati (November 7, 1998 vs. Ottawa Senators)
  • Corey Hirsch (March 11, 2001 vs. Ottawa Senators)

2.  None of the four started the game in which he played. 

3.  All four did earn a decision, despite not starting their lone game.

4.  Two of the four did not allow a goal in their lone game.  Each of them earned a win:
  • Mike Rosati stopped all 12 shots he faced in 28:07 of relief work in an 8-5 come-from-behind win over the Ottawa Senators.  The Caps trailed, 5-3, in the second period before mounting their comeback.
  • Corey Hirsch stopped all eight shots he faced in the final 20 minutes of a 6-5 win over the Senators.  The Caps trailed, 5-2, when Hirsch entered the game to start the third period but rallied to win.

5.  Both wins by one-game goalies came against the Ottawa Senators.  Both losses came against teams that are now Metropolitan Division rivals (Flyers, Whalers/Hurricanes).

6.  Olaf Kolzig was relieved twice by one-game goalies, both of whom earned wins (Rosati and Hirsch).

7.  For two of the four goalies, their lone Caps game would be their only NHL game (Rosati, Raymond).

8.  For one of the goalies, his lone Caps game would be his last NHL game (Moore).

9.  For one of the goalies, his lone Caps game was the only one he played in the NHL over a three season span.  Corey Hirsch appeared in the 2000-2001 season with the Caps after not playing in the NHL in 1999-2000 and before he would not play in the NHL in 2001-2002.  He finished his career with Dallas in 2002-2003.

10.  As a group, the four goalies combined for a 2-2-0 record, 1.68 goals against average, and a .936 save percentage in 107 minutes of work.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Scribbles During the Hiatus: One-Game Capitals

With the NHL having hit the “pause” button on their regular season due to the Coronavirus situation, one that would appear destined to last for a while, we don’t want you to think all of hockey is going dark.  The cousins and I will try to do our part to keep you entertained during the hiatus, and that means looking from time to time (meaning, "when we think of things to write") at the strange, the bizarre, and the fascinating fun facts from the Washington Capitals history book to impress your friends and confound your enemies.  Today’s topic…”One and Done.”

1.  Fourteen skaters in Caps history dressed for one game with the club.  Only one of them recorded a point in his only game.  Chris Ferraro had an assist on an Ulf Dahlen power play goal in a 3-2 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings at Staples Center on October 16, 2001.

2.  For nine off the 14 skaters playing one game with the Caps, it was their only NHL game.  That list includes:
  • Brian Stapleton (March 23, 1976 vs. Kansas City Scouts)
  • Alex Forsyth (November 12, 1977 vs. Chicago Blackhawks)
  • Tyler Larter (February 2, 1990 vs. New York Islanders)
  • Ken Lovsin (December 26, 1990 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins)
  • Joey Tenute (February 7, 2006 vs. Florida Panthers)
  • Jonas Johansson (April 18, 2006 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • Jamie Hunt (December 29, 2006 vs. New Jersey Devils)
  • Peter LeBlanc (April 13, 2014 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning)
  • Garrett Mitchell (April 9, 2017 vs. Florida Panthers)

3.  For three of the 14 skaters it would be their last NHL game, a list that includes:
  • Chris Ferraro (October 16, 2001 vs. Los Angeles Kings).  Ferraro played 74 games over six seasons for five NHL teams (others: New York Rangers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Edmonton Oilers, New York Islanders)
  • Barrie Moore (January 17, 2000 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning).  Moore played 39 games over three seasons with three teams (others: Buffalo Sabres, Edmonton Oilers)
  • Ryan Stanton (January 19, 2016 vs. Columbus Blue Jackets).  Stanton played 120 games over four seasons with three teams (others: Vancouver Canucks, Chicago Blackhawks)

4.  For one skater – Shawn Cronin – his one and only game with the Caps would be his first NHL game, October 21, 1988 against the New York Rangers.  He went on to appear in 292 NHL games over seven seasons with four clubs (others: Winnipeg Jets, San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers)

5.  For the 14th skater – Rod Seiling – his only game with the Caps was not his first, last, or only NHL game, but it might be the most unique of experiences among the 14 skaters.  By the time he arrived in Washington, he was in his 13th season, having played as a rookie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and the next 11 seasons with the New York Rangers.  In that 13th season he was placed on waivers by the Rangers and claimed by the Caps on October 29, 1974.  He appeared in his one game – on October 31, 1974 against the Montreal Canadiens – and was then traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs on November 2nd, for Tim Ecclesone and Willie Brossart, his Caps career having lasted four days.

6.  Of the 14 skaters, only three skated for the Caps in wins.  There was the 3-2 overtime win over the Los Angeles Kings on October 16, 2001, in which Chris Ferraro skated.  Jonas Johansson dressed for a 4-1 over the Tampa Bay Lightning on April 18, 2006.  Ryan Stanton skated in the Caps’ 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 19, 2016. 

7.  Brian Stapleton skated his only game in the only contest to end in a tie, a 5-5 tie against the Kansas City Scouts on March 23, 1976.

8.  One-game Caps were not spared frustration.  Four of the skaters dressed for games in which the Caps were shut out: Rod Seiling (a 3-0 loss to the Montreal Canadiens on October 31, 1974), Joey Tenute (a 5-0 loss to the Florida Panthers on February 7, 2006), Peter Le Blanc (a 1-0 Gimmick loss to Tampa Bay on April 13, 2014), Garrett Mitchell (a 2-0 loss to the Panthers on April 9, 2017).

9.  Tampa Bay was the most frequent opponent for one-game Caps (Moore, LeBlanc, and Johansson).  Add two players who played their only game with the Caps against the Florida Panthers (Mitchell, Tenute), and more than a third of the players faced a Florida opponent in their lone Caps game.

Thanks to hockey-reference.com and NHL.com for the information.

Sunday, March 15, 2020

Washington Capitals: That Was The Week That Was - Week 23

We noted last week that Week 22 was an odd week for the Washington Capitals, and that was on the ice.   Week 23 was odd plus bizarre, and that was not limited to the ice.  The Caps lost their only game of the week in a Gimmick to what had been the 14th-ranked team in the Eastern Conference, and then they packed their things away, as did every other team in the NHL, going on a “pause” to await how the Coronavirus situation plays out. 

Record: 0-0-1

Yes, it was only one game, and yes, the Capitals did squeak out a point that technically qualifies as a “.500” week in terms of standings points earned as a share of standings points available.  But it did not feel that way, playing a struggling team and falling behind, 2-0, before mounting a third period comeback.

The Caps went into their hiatus with only four winning weeks in their last 11 weeks of play, posting a record of 15-14-3.  The 33 standings points earned in that span (from December 22nd through this week) are tied for 22nd in the league, and their .516 points percentage ranks 21st.  Over that span, the Caps rank seventh of eight teams in the Metropolitan Division, only the New York Islanders (12-15-7/31 points/.456 points percentage) ranked worse.

Offense: 2.00/game (season: 3.42/2nd)

One game, two goals.  It happens.  But the Caps did it against a club that was on a six-game streak of allowing three or more goals (all of them losses) and had allowed three or more in five of their previous eight home games. Until Alex Ovechkin scored in the third period, the Sabres were on their way to their second shutout on home ice this season and first since October 14th, back when the Sabres might have been entertaining playoff dreams (that shutout brought their record to open the season at 5-0-1). 

The two goals extended a run of feast-or-famine for the Caps who, over a nine game span up to the season pause, scored five or more goals three times and scored two or fewer four times.  In that 15-14-3 run leading up to the pause, the Caps averaged 3.28 goals per game, eighth in the league over that span.

Defense: 2.00/game (season: 3.07/18th)

The Sabres are not an especially prolific offensive club, averaging 2.80 goals per game overall at week’s end (21st in the league), 3.09 goals per game on home ice (19th in the league).  But the two goals allowed by the Caps was an improvement over recent performance in which they allowed five or more goals in two of their previous three games overall.  It was the first time that the Caps allowed two or fewer goals in consecutive games (they beat Pittsburgh, 5-2, in the game preceding that against Buffalo) since Game 47 and 48 (a 2-0 win over Carolina and a 5-2 win over the New York Islanders) in January.

The 26 shots on goal allowed by the Caps was also the second consecutive game allowing fewer than 30 shots and third time in four games after a streak of four games allowing more than 30 shots.  The Caps allowed the Sabres only 34 shot attempts at 5-on-5, the second consecutive game allowing an opponent fewer than 40 5-on-5 shot attempts (they allowed Pittsburgh 39 attempts).  It was the first time the Caps allowed fewer than 40 5-on-5 shot attempts in consecutive games since games against New Jersey (38 attempts) and Carolina (29 attempts) in January.

Goaltending: 1.85 / .923 (season: 2.92 / .903 / 1 shutout)

Braden Holtby had a good game/week.  The 24 saves on 26 shots would be enough to win most games, and the .923 save percentage was the third game in four, and sixth time in seven road games, in which he was over .920 for a game (he did have that stinker against the Flyers, allowing five goals on 29 shots to drag his save percentage down).  Nevertheless, Holtby went into the hiatus with his first career goals against average over 3.00 for a season (3.11) and first save percentage under .900 (.897).

Power Play: 0-for-1/0.0 percent (season: 19.4 percent/17th)

One power play, two shots, no goals. It was the 12th time this season that the Caps had one or no power play chances and the second time in two games against the Sabres.  Oddly enough, it was only the Caps’ third loss in those 12 games (9-1-2) and first instance on the road (3-0-1).  It is part of a season-long series of disappointments on the power play.  The 19.4 percent conversion rate for the season to date is the first time that the Caps have been under 20 percent since they finished the 2011-2012 season at 16.7 percent.

Penalty Killing: 2-for-3/66.7 percent (season: 82.6 percent/6th)

It was just one game, but the wheels have been coming off the penalty kill for a little while now.  Allowing one goal in three shorthanded situations, the Caps went into the hiatus having allowed power play goals in five straight games, going 16-for-23 (69.6 percent) over that span.  Buffalo was not a particularly efficient power play squad (18.9 percent/20th at week’s end), but one goal on six shots in 4:35 of power play ice time made for a bad night for the Caps’ penalty killers.

Faceoffs: 29-for-63 / 46.0 percent (season: 48.3 percent/28th)

If there was one thing that was noteworthy about the lone game of Week 23 in the faceoff circle, it was that the Caps did little with the chances they had.  They had 25 offensive zone draws (21 in the defensive end) and won only ten of them (40.0 percent).  Seven of the ten wins were accounted for by Nic Dowd (3-for-5) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (4-for-10).

Goals by Period:

Not a lot to say here.  It was the first time in four games that the Caps did not score first and the first time in five games that they failed to post a first period goal.  On the other end, it was the third straight game in which the Caps posted a pair of third period goals, but they still lost their second extra time game in three outings in doing so (1-0-2).  A better sign was that the Caps did not allow a third period goal, breaking a streak of nine games in which they allowed at least one, and they allowed two in five of those games.


At the hiatus, the Caps are almost exactly where they were at the same point last season.  Both teams had 41 wins through 69 games, and the clubs are separated by one standings point.  The goals for and against are barely different, as are the special teams indices (102.0 this season, power play plus penalty kill percentages, 101.5 last season).  The improvements in this team over last are in managing shots, with related improvements in hits and blocked shots, which are indicators of possession success.

In the end…

Last season, the Caps were riding a seven-game winning streak through Game 69 of the season.  Through 69 games this season, the Caps are 7-9-3 in 19 games since the last time they won consecutive games in regulation in late January.  But here might be the strangest part of the Caps’ recent performance.  In their last 25 games have played 16 different teams and have a record of 11-11-3.  They have two wins against only one team in that span… the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Strange season.

Three Stars:
  • First Star: Alex Ovechkin (1-1-2, plus-2, six shots on goal, eight shot attempts)
  • Second Star: Dmitry Orlov (1-0-1, plus-1, 26:40 ice time)
  • Third Star: Tom Wilson (0-1-1, plus-2, 21:22 ice time)

Captain rates the week…

 One pupper