This was awesome. (Photo: Toni L. Sandys)
Welcome to The Awesome Index. This column collects the very best people, or things, or abstract concepts in the Caps universe each week. It won’t be as stat-driven as the Sunday Snapshot or as comprehensive as Japers Rink’s Ups and Downs. It’s just a hastily assembled, somewhat defensible ranking of what looks great in red this week.
Now come and tell me where I’m wrong.
The shootout is fun. Biscuit, basket, all that fun stuff.
But one out of every four Caps games last season went to the shootout, revealing a team that wasn’t able to win– or even lose–games decisively. Through three games this season, the Caps are technically undefeated, but with a great big asterisk since two of those three games went to the gimmick.
As far as we can tell, the shootout is basically a coin toss. It doesn’t tell you who’s the better team; it just tells you who is getting that second standings point. It’s still fun, it’s just a bummer when it decides who does and does not make the postseason.
So I’m not advocating getting rid of the shootout. The idea of fans paying 150 bucks to see a tie is odious. And I don’t know if extending overtime or doing 3v3 is a viable solution either; I just know I want to see hella less of it for the Caps this year.
“My Songs Know What You Did in the Dark (Light a Mup)” dominated sports arenas over the past year, but this new one… no, thank you. The CSN-DC broadcast played it a handful of times, which was grating enough. But after turning off the Caps game (in defeat), I flipped on the Orioles game, which also ended in defeat (hurray). FOB’s “Centuries” played between every inning in these little 15- or 30-second video packages designed, I think, to make me punch myself in the face
“Centuries” lacks the singalong bluster of Mups, which I guess was its main appeal. In its place is Patrick Stump’s warble (“remember meeeeeeee for centurieeeeees”), hitting the exact same, autotuned-to-laser-surgical-precision note in an attempt to loosen your dental fillings and make your cat go nutzoid.
I dug “Mups,” but I’m starting to miss the jock rock of yore, the tunes we got from whatever anonymous band who made music only so they’d have something to listen to while lifting weights. Bring back that stuff, so FOB can do another collabo with Babyface.
The Capitals defense stunk last year, so this is a good moment to just appreciate how Febreze-fresh they are right now.
We’ve got Orpik/Carlson taking all the tough stuff, which worked well until Tuesday night (Carlson not marking Wingel was worse, imho, than their blown coverage on that scoring dynamo, John Scott). I don’t know if I want these two together forever, but I like the way they’re being used.
We’ve got Alzner/Niskanen, the two sturdiest blueliners, shredding the competition in possession (60%+) and not making mistakes. Niskanen looks at home in Caps red.
And we’ve got Green/Schmidt, one half resurgent and one half up-and-coming. Did you even read Vingan’s post on Schmidt this morning? You want him as your best friend, right?
I don’t know what will happen when Dmitry Orlov gets healthy, but what a great problem to have for once.
Name something you don’t like about Trotz. Okay, that was easy. But now name two more. Less easy.
By this point in Oates’ tenure, I could have spit for you 32 measures of diss rap about the former coach. Joey Crabb, Ovi on the penalty kill, playing Erskine hurt, giving Orlov the cold shoulder, the Brouwer-Laich combo, etc.
With Trotz, I’d struggle to come up with enough material for a Puff Daddy cameo (“Tell your friends to get with my friends and we can be friends.”)
Trotz has a compelling top six clicking. His defense has some pock marks but looks better than ever. And he’s giving a fan-favorite underdog a shot at the bigs in Liam O’Brien. Plus, he’s delivering soundbytes like a hype man– more on that below.
The fear of a meek, defense-first Caps system was unfounded. Ovi is still getting his power-play time. They’re outshooting their opponents.
Good start. The standings will reflect it soon enough.
Burra/Burkie/Barracuda is straight killing it.
I would be shocked if the Caps send him to Hershey after game nine.
“All of the things that were said about him have been the exact opposite.” That’s your coach, Barry Trotz, singing the praises of Alex Ovechkin and belying the buzz around the Capitals captain.
Ovi has 4 goals and one assist through three games. He’s still getting oodles of power-play time. The Ovi spot is still working, but now so too is 5v5 play– something we didn’t get to see last season. Ovechkin leads his team in shot-attempt differential, goals, gray hair, and music video appearances.
And after blocking that shot on Tuesday night, even the foolish folks who think the league’s best scorer should be risking injury to stop low percentage shots are happy. If you ask me, I’d rather see a player making literally one-tenth Ovechkin’s salary sacrificing the body. That guy would be somewhat less likely to score 50 goals this season.
But whatever. The haters are silent because Ovi is awesome. He’s the top of the Awesome Index. Let’s see how long he can stay there.
If you disagree with this week’s Index, tell me why below, using very nice language because I’m a delicate flower.
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