Photo credit: Greg Fiume
No jokes. Nothing cute. The Washington Capitals, deep into a slump, host the Anaheim adjective-less Ducks in a regular season game with a lot of additional gravity. Our hopes are high, our loins girded, our hearts full.
Brooks Laich first marked up the board with a chip-in off of John Carlson during a first period powerplay. In the second, the oddly vowelled Joffrey Lupul put a bounce in the net– also while on powerplay. And it stayed that way until overtime, when Ryan Getzlaf escaped John Carlson’s coverage to wrist the game winner past Semyon Varlamov. Ducks beat Caps 2-1 (OT).
It’s a red letter day.
The three days since the Capitals 7-0 loss to the Rangers have been the most tumultuous the franchise has seen since the playoffs. In the interim we’ve talked about getting a new goalie, not getting a new goalie, dumping Bruce Boudreau, not dumping Bruce Boudreau, the curse of HBO, statistics so grim they seem actuarial, the colloquial and literal meanings of “going dark”, and the faintest glimmer of hope.
Tonight is the most important night of the Capitals’ season so far. Facing off against the Ducks at 7 PM, the Caps finally have a chance to end their six-game losing streak. At 10 PM, HBO will air the first episode of 24/7, reportedly including the team’s nadir in the form of Bruce Boudreau’s profanity-laden timeout speech at MSG. By this time tomorrow, we should have answers to all our questions:
Photo credit: Mitchell Layton
Quite the depressing week. We don’t score. We got blown out. People are revolting. He-who-can’t-be-named is now front and center on our site. Despite it all, I still maintain we shouldn’t panic.
This week I am going to take a break from individual scoring chances and look at the team as a whole. I wrote over at WaPo that this is just a string of bad luck and wanted to go a little more in depth. As you probably know by now, I use a specific definition of what I consider a scoring chance based on shot quality data and log everyone who is on the ice at the time using the script from Vic Ferrari. You can find the spreadsheet online that summarizes each week, and I promise I will get it up to date in the next few days.
First, I want everyone to see how the Caps have been converting their scoring chances to goals. Or rather how they haven’t. Convert percentage is simply goals-for divided by scoring chances-for. I’ll use a 10-game moving average to help smooth out the highs and lows. Period one on the chart is the average conversion percentage of games 1 through 10, while period two is the average of games 2 through 11, and so on. Stats from the Nov 27 game vs CAR are not included due to NHL.com errors.
On Sunday morning, the Washington Capitals and the Reston Town Center skating pavilion hosted the Mites on Ice Outdoor Classic. Some of Northern Virginia’s cutest youth hockey players from ages 4 to 7 donned Caps jerseys and played puck with some pros. There was a tournament of half-ice games, a full-ice championship game, and– from what we hear– some adorable goal celebrations.
As a bonus, the Caps also sent out alumni Alan May and Peter Bondra to give a skills demonstration, skate with fans, and sign autographs after the tournament.
I was sick with the flu and unwilling to spend the morning in the cold rain, so RMNB buds Nour H. and Lindsey N. pinched in to capture the event for me via photos. Thanks, ladies.
Photo credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Losing seven to nothing is bad, but when it extends your losing streak to six games you have to ask: is it time to panic yet?
Sure, there are plays where the blueliners make you want to rip your hair out, but the scoring chances are there — the lighting of the lamp isn’t. So how often should a team as good average as the Washington Capitals lose six games in a row?
I’ll meet you at the bottom if there really is one / They always told me, “when you hit it, you’ll know it” / But I’ve been falling so long, it’s like gravity is gone, and I’m just floating
– Drive-by Truckers
RECAP: Six losses in a row. The season’s fourth shutout. Bad defense, worse offense. Seven goals against. Ovechkin fought. Caps and Rangers tied at 19 scoring chances. Hannan minus-7 SC differential. Hendricks minus-5.[END RECAP.]
No goal. (Photo credit: Mitchell Layton)
UPDATE 12/11 11:50PM: Dmitry Chesnokov heard that Alex Semin will not be suspended.
Let’s get the hell out of town. The Washington Capitals have lost five games in a row, four of them at home base. The Colorado Avalanche brought their fast-paced offense to town as Washington tried to re-awake theirs. Despite showing more effort than in recent games, the Caps failed to stop, drop, shut em’ down, open up shop.
Kevin Shattenkirk got lucky with an early goal that Michal Neuvirth should have stopped. Mike Knuble responded with his 250th career goal, a typical Knuble score from inches out. Tom Poi was woefully out of position, allowing Ryan Wilson to waltz in and score the go-ahead goal. Piling on was Paul Stasny, who converted on the powerplay. Matt Hendricks launched a comeback with a no-looker from the crease, but the home team ran out of time. Avs beat Caps 3-2.
Darcy the Fighter (photo via KP.ru)
UPDATE 12/11, 3PM: Suspensions have been doled out. Belokon has been suspended for 13 games, Verot for 12, Gratton for 15, and Larin for 13. Avangard will pay 100k RUR (3.3k USD) to the KHL, and Vityaz will pay 400k RUR (13k USD). Justice is served. Go about your day, citizen.
Editor’s note- Fedor is a total fanboy for Avangard. This is not dispassionate reporting.
We’ve written before about the Avangard-Vityaz rivalry and how it all started back in ’09. After almost two years and two fight-ful games, 12/10/10 begins a new era in the rivalry. For the newbies, here’s a little background:
How is this fight unlike its predecessors? For the first time, one team didn’t fight at all, the Hawks (Avangard’s nickname) were simply pummeled by the Vityazes (Vityaz is a Russian knight). Vityaz started their thugs (Verot, Simon, Sugden, Gratton) and sent them after Avangard immediately following the opening face off.
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