Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sittin' at the end of the bar...

There isn’t anything magical about 46 games, but this being a Sunday, we thought we’d take a look at the Caps and where some of the young folk are compared to a similar point last year…

Remarkable, isn’t it? All five players are at or ahead of their scoring pace of last year. Only Mike Green is behind his goal-scoring mark (and that is undoubtedly a product of having missed 13 games this year), and only Tomas Fleischmann is behind his assist mark. What is even more impressive is the turnaround in plus-minus, a reversal of +53 for this quintet.

In the little things make a difference department – turnover ratio. Defensemen, by and large, aren’t going to win the turnover battle in the NHL (the ratio of takeaways to giveaways). The nature of their position argues against it. In fact, of the top 30 defensemen in takeaways, only 11 have a positive takeaway-to-giveaway ratio. However, of the 11 defensemen to have played for the Caps this year, only one – Bryan Helmer – has a positive number here. The Caps have three defensemen – Mike Green (2nd), Karl Alzner (T-23rd), and Milan Jurcina (T-23rd) in the top 30 in giveaways. Time on ice plays a role – Green and Alzner average more than 20 minutes a game – but these three players have a total of 46 takeaways and 117 giveaways.

In these hard economic times, it bears noting the economy with which certain Caps score. Alexander Semin and Tomas Fleischmann are among the top dozen players in the league in shooting percentage. Semin is 10th (18 goals on 88 shots – 20.5 percent), while Fleischmann sits 12th (15 goals on 77 shots – 19.5 percent). Coach Bruce Boudreau remarked after last night’s game that he’d like to see Semin shoot more. Sounds like a good idea.

We made a point in the postgame last night that Nicklas Backstrom has gone 17 consecutive games without winning a majority of his faceoffs. He’s 95-for-244 over that span (38.9 percent). But still, for the season he’s still at 45.3 percent (not bad considering this recent stretch) and ahead of the Hart Trophy favorite in Pittsburgh (Evgeni Malkin, still nominally a center, is at 42.2 percent).

Much is made about Alex Ovechkin and shots on goal. His 291 is almost 100 more than the second place player in the league (Jeff Carter—198). But Ovechkin has also missed 118 shots. That would be more than the total number of shots of the player second on the team (Mike Green – 110).

Speaking of Ovechkin, his 54 PIMs this year is a career high. And speaking of career highs, he’s on a pace to shatter his career high in hits (220, set last year). He’s on a pace for 264.

The Capitals are the only team in the NHL with three players in the top-20 in power play goals scored – Mike Green (10 – T-6th), Alex Ovechkin (8 – T-11th), Nicklas Backstrom (8 – T-11th).

Against the seven other teams in this morning’s top eight in the Eastern Conference, the Caps are 11-4-2 and have not lost more than one game in regulation to any of them. They have outscored that group 47-45 (not including Gimmicks). They are 6-1-2 in one-goal games against that group. Overall, the Caps are 23-6-3 against Eastern Conference teams.

No comments: