Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Squeezing 'til it hurts -- "Laich's Maxim"

First, thanks to the Washington Post for providing their handy little interactive shot graph.  It can be a rather illuminating tool.  And a few clicks with it highlights once more "Laich's Maxim of Goal Scoring:"

"If you want money, go to the bank. If you want bread, go to the bakery. If you want goals, go to the net."

For instance, let's start with the shots taken thus far in the series...

Quite the chaos of activity, isn't it?  Although just by visual inspection you can see that the Caps are getting more chances from in close than are the Canadiens.  And, the Caps are outshooting the Canadiens by more than 10 shots a game (in that respect looking a bit like last year's "Penguins" to the Canadiens looking like last year's "Capitals").

But if you take a look a the power play shots so far, you can get a hint of a problem the Caps are having in that aspect of the game...

Look over there on the left wing... nothing.  Those lethal one timers off the stick of Alex Ovechkin have not yet made an appearance.  There is a distinctly right-handed aspect to the Caps' power play through three games, and note how many shots are coming from above the circles (nine of 19).  Two others came from the far edge of the right wing circle, meaning that eight power play shots in three games have come from prime scoring territory.

It probably appears a bit odd that the power play should not only be unsuccessful, but find itself pushed outside to create offense.  Because, if you look at where the goals are coming from in this series, you can see "Laich's Maxim" in action...

Six of the 13 goals the Caps have scored came from inside of ten feet, three others from below the faceoff dots.  This is the cumulative effect of how the Caps have squeezed the Canadiens into a box over the course of the three games, as the shot graphs from each of the first three games indicates...

Fewer shots are coming from above the circles, more of them (as a share of the total taken) are coming from below and inside the faceoff dots.  The result is what happened last night...

Three goals from inside of ten feet from the net, another a rocket off Ovechkin's stick inside the right wing faceoff dot.  If the Caps can press this advantage in Games 4 and 5, you can consider it likely that there will not be a Game 6.

In the heat of battle... respect

Last night at Bell Centre, some boos were heard during the playing of the American national anthem.  It isn't something you ever appreciate hearing, even in a playoff series. 

There were probably a few Caps fans thinking that when the series returns to Verizon Center on Friday, they will return the favor.


"O, Canada" is one of the great anthems, deserving of respect in any arena -- in any setting -- in which it is performed.  When the players take the ice on Friday, stand for the anthems and sing them, as Wes Johnson would say, "loudly, proudly, and respectfully."  Honor the sport, honor the Canadians who skate for the Capitals, honor your guests, and honor yourselves by paying due respect to our neighbors, "the true north, strong and free."