I’m not going to dedicate this week’s Awesome Index to Jay “top-line” Beagle, though his pass to set up Alex Ovechkin’s goal during Tuesday’s game against the Blooj was irrefutably awesome.
But a successful Capitals season depends on Alex Ovechkin spending almost 60 percent of his time on attack. Last night he spent just 30 percent of his time on attack. Top-line Beagle isn’t awesome in the long term, which is one of the principal lessons we should have learned from the last guy to stand behind the Caps bench, whose name I don’t want to mention in the Awesome Index, lest it be sullied.
But there’s plenty of other awesome stuff. The Caps have won three in a row, which is absolutely awesome. And while the ways in which they’ve won those games haven’t been particularly awesome, what with the noted lack of SCOAR MOAR GOALS once they get a lead, maybe I’m just thinking about it wrong.
All teams get more conservative when they get a lead, but the Capitals get downright libertarian. They’re the Rand Paul of hockey. Personally, I love it. It’s now obvious to me that the Caps are resting when they have a lead so they’ll be even more ready to kick some butt once they inevitably lose the lead.
That’s why they stop playing offense, switching to dump-ins and cycles, instead of generating shots or real zone time. That’s why they allow the other team (who, in fairness, is already eager) to go on shooting and scoring sprees like the ones we saw from the Jackets and the Hurricanes. Once the score eventually gets close again or even tied, the Caps are super ready to play the dominant style that works so well for them the rest of the time.
I see no flaws in this strategy. It is awesome.
Just like Robin Thicke– except without the self-destructive behavior, intellectual theft, and reprehensible sexual politics– I also know you want it. But we’re not doing Bailamos. Not yet.
Quick catch-up: “Bailamos,” for god knows what reason, is our celebration anthem. When the Caps are womping their opponents, that is our jam. But we’re not using it yet.
Maybe when the Capitals score five goals. Maybe when they win by more than three goals. Maybe when they score and then keep scoring like a good team does.
Bailamos is coming, but it must wait until this team is ready for the Big Time. They’re not quite there yet, but it’s awesome that you guys want it as badly as we do.
Phaneuf, Downie, Subban, Orpik. That’s the league’s top four in minor penalties committed.
I love it when Brooks Orpik commits a restraining penalty or gets busted for an unnecessary interference. It’s awesome. To me it’s not a sign that he’s playing without the puck too often and lacking the foot speed to get it back. On the contrary: it’s Orpik making a sacrifice to improve the Capitals penalty kill.
Orpik is selfless, you see, in that he boldly removes himself from serving shorthanded, where he gets thoroughly bombarded by shot attempts. Plus, the Caps get more practice at improving their penalty kill. They’ve almost had three goals against of practice so far thanks to Orpik’s penalties!
We are told that Orpik was brought to the Caps for his leadership. If Hollywood action movies have taught me anything, it’s that leadership requires an almost pathological desire to destroy one’s self for the greater good. Dedicating one’s life is not enough; one must die for it– gleefully and maybe unnecessarily. Consider: Optimus sticking the Energon cube into his chest, Tony taking the nuke into space, Hartigan’s old man dying so a young girl can live, Striker Alpha “clearing a path for the lady,” the crew of Serenity doing something right if they can’t do something smart, John H. Miller and the 2nd Ranger Battalion saving Private Ryan, aaaaaaaaaaand Shane.
And now Brooks Orpik. He serves time in the box to save his team. Awesome.
I’ve been traveling for work a lot lately. While I’ve been gone, you’ve been treated to game recaps by Fedor Fedin, stat analysis by Pat Holden, and a superhuman effort by Ian Oland overall. Plus, Ranger Nathan has been helping out with the de-adverbing of RMNB stories and other proofreading duties.
Thank you, Feds, Pat, Ian, and Nathan. You guys are awesome.
I had this notion that Marcus Johansson was replaced by a bizarro, mirror-universe version of himself over the summer. Except for still being a ferocious junkyard dog on the power play, he’s like a different player now. Maybe that’s an EVIL mustache he’s growing.
Since last season, Johansson shooting more by a mile and shooting better by a country mile, which, I’m told, is longer than a city mile. In shooting volume among forwards, Johansson has jumped from the 5th percentile to the the 45th. He has more than doubled his even-strength goal total from last season in less than one fifth the time.
“I think confidence plays a big role in hockey,” Johansson said after Tuesday’s win. He was gunshy and snakebit last season, an awful combination of low shot totals and awful shooting percentage. This time around, he’s firing more often and the bounces are finally going his way.
With every game, I’m happier and happier to have been dead wrong about Marcus Johansson.
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