April 19, 2010
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend's events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
The Washington Capitals are an excellent hockey team.
Oh yeah, believe it. Alex Ovechkin(notes) and Alex Semin and Nick Backstrom and Mike Green(notes) and a whole bunch of other guys are really good at hockey and they pile up goals in often-hysterical fashion. Hell, they did it all year and pretty well walked away with the President's Trophy.
So how in the world are they 1-1 against the Montreal Canadiens, who spent the 2009-10 campaign playing hockey that, objectively, could only be called "not especially good?"
The answer is what, way back in October, you would have guessed it would be. The terrifying two-headed hydra of goaltending expertise that is Jose Theodore(notes) and Semyon Varlamov(notes) is not reacting well to having the bright lights of the postseason shine on it.
Two games. Eight goals against. Some might try to defend the guys and say both of those games went to overtimes. They wouldn't really be helping their own argument. Great, eight goals allowed in just over six and a half periods as opposed to six periods. That makes it a lot better.
(Coming Up: Stat keepers gone wild in Buffalo; Adrian Dater's Colorado pom-poms; the Thrashers' Plan B; the Kovalchuk conundrum; the Blue Jackets may go Whale; Osgoofus and Gallant; Spezza gets no respect; Pekka Rinne's(notes) big save; getting Iginla to the Leafs; the futures of Paul Kariya(notes) and Marty St. Louis; and Dan Carcillo's hero moment.)
Wanna know how I know the Caps don't have a goaltender they can actually believe in? Well Japers Rink had a poll about who should start for the Caps in Game 3 in Montreal. And the leader, at press time, was Varlamov. By 10 percent.
Now, 10 percent is not an incredibly small number, but that means that a full 45 percent of people still think Theodore should be the Capitals starter for Game 3. That's Jose "3.70 GAA and a .875 save percentage in 81 minutes of work" Theodore, not Jose "Hart Trophy Winner" Theodore. Or maybe that's who these Internetters think they're voting for.
And because 45 percent of people think he's a more legitimate starter for this team, the Washington Capitals are done. Oh sure, they might sneak past the Canadiens in six or something like that. But really: Imagine what a team like the Devils or Penguins would do to this team. Have you seen these Crosby goals? It would be obscene.
These guys aren't exactly running at Ovechkin levels of talent. Ovie had one bad game and everyone in the media got on him about it, prompting him to bear down and pick up a goal and three assists and help lug this horrendous goaltending and defense — lest we forget that those six guys are at least partly complicit in the Caps' giving up an average of four a game to the Canadiens — to an overtime win.
What happens when Theodore and Varlamov bear down? They get the save percentage up to .890?
Washington probably has the juice to win a few more games this postseason. Slug out a couple 5-4, 4-3 wins. No problem. But a team with cogent defending and competent goaltending is going to make them look very bad on the way to an ugly crashout that, frankly, the rest of the team just doesn't deserve.
What We Learned
Anaheim Ducks: Corey Perry(notes) has been announced as a member of the Canadian team at the upcoming World Championships. The team also features Steven Stamkos(notes), Rene Bourque(notes), John Tavares(notes) and big-time enforcer Evander Kane(notes). In other words, they are all set up front.
Atlanta Thrashers: In a Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Thrashers owner Bruce Levenson reveals that they brought newly-named GM Rick Dudley in a year ago with the idea that he would take over the team if Don Waddell and Co. flamed out. Yeah, no one saw that coming right?
Boston Bruins: I'm pretty sure the statkeepers at Game 2 in Buffalo on Saturday went a little overboard. They recorded 99 hits between the two teams. Ninety-nine. Keep in mind this was a 60-minute hockey game. The only players that weren't credited with a hit were Andrej Sekera(notes), Miroslav Satan(notes), Blake Wheeler(notes) and ... Shawn Thornton(notes)? OK, whatever.
Carolina Hurricanes: The Hurricanes signed NBA legend Michael Jordan and assigned him to Albany. Oh, that says "Michal" Jordan. They're probably different people then. (PS, This is a joke that has never been made before I'm sure.)
Colorado Avalanche: Adrian Dater, who for so long was quite down on the Avs as they did everything in their power to give away that eighth and final playoff spot, has now hopped back on the bandwagon and is waving his pom-poms vociferously. He's upset because he believes the following hit was illegal. As usual, he's wrong.
Dallas Stars: Marty Turco(notes) has come to grips with the fact that his career in Dallas is over, and he just wants to be happy again. "Turco said the best way to accomplish that is to find a team where he can play winning hockey." Uhhh, Marty?
Detroit Red Wings: Headline — "Chris Osgood helps fellow goalie through playoffs." I can only imagine it is with a series of Goofus and Gallant-like skits in which Osgood highlights are used to illustrate what not to do.
Montreal Canadiens: Jacques Martin says his team's goaltending, from Client Jaroslav Halak(notes), was solid despite giving up six on 37 shots. I assume this was done in an attempt to dissuade anyone from potting up a goalie controversy, since he wants Carey Price(notes) stapled to the bench for the remainder of the postseason.
New Jersey Devils: After Jacques Lemaire criticized Ilya Kovalchuk(notes) for questionable penalties in Game 2, Kovalchuk took no penalties in Game 3, but also registered no shots. Said Kovy, "I don't know. We lost. So maybe I should take a couple of penalties to win." Burn, Lemaire. In your face.
Ottawa Senators: Jason Spezza(notes) on getting booed at home: "Always a tough crowd, but there's not much I can do about it. Just keep playing." To be specific, playing well, at least. That's an important distinction.
Philadelphia Flyers: Given the amount of questionable calls that went against New Jersey, I find the fact that Dan Carcillo of all people scored the game-winner Sunday night to be oddly hilarious and great.
Phoenix Coyotes: Perhaps the most encouraging thing about the Coyotes' 4-2 win at Detroit on Sunday night was the fact that, even after Shane Doan(notes) left the game with what I'd assume is a shoulder injury, the team played cohesive, opportunistic hockey and didn't seem to miss a beat.
San Jose Sharks: This is what sports are all about.
Toronto Maple Leafs: The Maple Leafs will definitely not be in the running for Finnish goalie Jussi Rynnäs, who is supposed to be this year's Jonas Gustavsson(notes). I guess because they got last year's Jonas Gustavsson. It's Jonas Gustavasson. They got him. Last year.
Washington Capitals: Stayclassy.net gives us an inside peek at Jose Theodore's Foursquare achievements.
Play of the Weekend
Gold Star Award
Both Nicklas Backstrom(notes) and Andrei Kostitsyn(notes) were outstanding in the Caps' overtime win against Montreal. They both finished with a hat trick and an assist, but Kostitsyn finished with an even plus-minus rating.
Minus of the Weekend
Perfect HFBoards trade proposal of the week
User "SchennForCaptain" has this proposal to give the Leafs a bit more pop.
To Calgary- Kaberle, Grabovski, ?????
To Toronto- Iginla
Because the one thing the Flames have been lacking lately are former Maple Leafs.
That's like comparing apples and some fruit nobody's ever heard of.