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Statistical analysis: Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom and reasonable expectations

Statistical analysis

With only two games in the books for Washington Capital's rookie Marcus Johansson fans are anxious to see both the "defensive upside" Boudreau cited as the reason for keeping him over fan favorite Mathieu Perreault, as well as the on-ice production that comes with General Manager George McPhee's assertion that he's ahead of where Nicklas Backstrom was at this same time in their careers.

It's a tough spot for Johansson to be in, because not all Vikings are created equal. Backstrom has played every regular-season game in his first three NHL seasons while averaging more than 1 point per game. Backstrom averaged 0.60 points per game when he played for Brynas IF Gavle in Sweden. Johansson averaged 0.34 points per game in the same league at the same age. The upside of Johansson may be great, but chances are it is more limited than Backstrom's was at the same time in their careers.

A more reasonable expectation can be found looking at centers who played more than 20 games at the age of 20 as a rookie. This group projects a first year of approximately 58 games played with boxcar stats of 11 goals, 20 assists and 30 points. If we look at how these comparables progressed over the next two seasons, we start to see the type of player Johansson may become:

Age GP G A PT Pts/Gm Shots TOI GVT
20 58 11 20 31 0.53 103 844.8 4.8
21 63 15 22 37 0.59 130 1010.8 6.3
22 68 18 35 53 0.77 159 1243.9 10.4

GVT Examples from 2009-2010
Martin Hanzal
Dustin Boyd
Peter Regin
Jay McClement
Vincent Lecavalier
Saku Koivu


The GVT column is Tom Awad's Goals Versus Threshold metric, which measures the offensive and defensive value of a player, in goals, above what a replacement player would have contributed. A GVT greater than 4.0 indicates a third-line forward. The examples in the chart show players who had that level of GVT for the 2009-10 season.

The progression here is obvious: We see these centers, as a group, turn into very solid NHLers in just a few years, some even in year one. It is players like this who are keys to winning a Stanley Cup; above-average production on an entry-level contract gives a team the cap flexibility necessary to fill other needs, either via free agency or trade.

As is the case with all rookies, there are bound to be some growing pains, like Johansson's 12.5 faceoff win percentage in the season opener vs. Atlanta, or the two defensive guffaws that each led to goals against (one short-handed) during the Caps' first home game against the Devils. As one would expect, the organization is sure to give him all the time he needs to develop chemistry with linemates Jason Chimera and Eric Fehr and become the scoring threat and potential second-line center the Caps are confident he can become.

If not, there is always Mathieu Perreault waiting by the phone in Hershey.

By Neil Greenberg  | October 11, 2010; 3:54 PM ET
Categories:  Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, Statistical analysis  
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Next: Tonight's lineup: Senators at Caps

Comments

Anyone else see Parros flicking a St. Louis player in a scrum? Not flicking them off but actually flicking them in the chin.

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 11, 2010 4:04 PM | Report abuse

Yawn.

Posted by: strungout | October 11, 2010 4:14 PM | Report abuse

-stevo - Bruce wasn't stupid for not putting in Erskine. It is not his job to "stop the fighting". Leave that up to the refs to control the game. By NOT putting in Erskine and playing into the Devil's coaching crap, Bruce avoided potential fines and suspensions for his players. I think he did well to let the boys handle it themselves.

Posted by: gonchpup

what would be your response if Leblond had actually managed to land a solid punch and knocked the kid out? Its small consolation that he'd get suspended for it by letting the "refs handle it".

You don't leave everything up to the refs. Certain things you take care of yourself. That's how you minimize injury to your players. It was the wrong move leaving Erskine on the bench in that situation. Even worse than leaving King on the scratch list. Hopefully it doesn't happen again.

The Caps once had a prospect who had his career ended by having to take on a bigger load than he should have in an exhibition game v the Hawks. That was despite having plenty of advance warning that the Hawks were going to play a very aggressive game. And this kid ended up taking on 3 guys in one game and got wickedly knocked out in the last bout. And he wasn't even a real fighter, just a hardnosed grinder.

you just don't throw your players to the wolves, that's my opinion. I get that Boudreau was trying to keep the peace. But it was clear the Devils weren't interested in the same thing. If the game had occurred in NJ, and we had the last change, Boudreau should've sent Erskine over the bench right after the puck dropped in lieu of another player. I've seen that happen in with some teams in the past who want to make sure they don't get outgunned on the ice.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 4:25 PM | Report abuse

Re: L2 suspension/possible waiver from Devils/not enough skaters for NJD: Wow.


Here's a predicition: Kovy and Volchenkov could be the two nicest, most selfless and humble guys you'd ever want to play hockey with...but they (or more specifically, their contracts and the Salary Cap Hell resulting therefrom) will turn out to be an unimaginable cancer in the Devils' locker room this season.

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I was on a team that was not able to ice enough (competitive) lines to win because of a couple of guys' salaries, I'd probably resent those guys...a lot.

Given how much stronger most of the Eastern Conference looks thus far, the Devils may very well miss the playoffs, or at best get eliminated in 1st round--unless, that is, they find a way to dump some serious salary quickly.


In short, those monster contracts may do more to damage the Devils' Stanley Cup hopes than any injury or defeat at the hands of an opponent possibly could.

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 11, 2010 4:30 PM | Report abuse

"If the game had occurred in NJ, and we had the last change"

i meant, if THEY had the last change, you can still try to get one of your guys off the bench onto the ice before all heck breaks loose. The only time you'll get suspended is if a guy comes off the bench to START a fight. But if Erskine had come on to simply defend a teammate that's not suspendable in and of itself. Regardless, in this case we had the last change and we got caught with our pants down. If Leblond had gotten free and had fought Carlson, that's another unnecessary risk you don't want to take.

Lookin fwd to the game v the Sens. After being physically manhandles by the Leafs, I expect the Sens to return that favor v the Caps so this will be a good test for this team to see how they respond v a good opponent who will likely come at them very aggressively. And they have advance warning of this so it should't come as any surprise. This isn't a road game so the adversity shouldn't be as much.

I don't want to see another flat opening period by the Caps. Usually when they start off strong, they keep that momentum going for most of the game. If they start out slow, they either keep going slow or they'll able to turn it up like gangbusters like they did v the Devils. Who btw, don't look like a playoff team at all this year. This is probably the yr that the Leafs and another team sneak in and kick out the Devils and the Habs.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 4:34 PM | Report abuse

Given how much stronger most of the Eastern Conference looks thus far, the Devils may very well miss the playoffs, or at best get eliminated in 1st round--unless, that is, they find a way to dump some serious salary quickly.

-------

I tentatively picked the Habs and Devils not to make the playoffs this yr. Then I changed my mind on the Devils after they got Volchenkov and thought they'd be a bottom seed. Now after watching them play, they just look bad. And slow. I can't see them making the playoffs and I can't see them making enough good moves between now and the playoffs either because they're not exactly stocked with quality prospects the way some other teams are.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 4:39 PM | Report abuse

On the Devils cap situation. The easiest fix for them is for Lou to realize his only viable option is to move Zajac. Otherwise they go through hell this year with the cap and face uncertainty inking Parise to an extension. Trade Zajac, get two or three vets that are out there still to sign for under $1M and their team is better off.

Posted by: ThePat | October 11, 2010 4:43 PM | Report abuse

With regards to above stats, I tend to believe the analysis. This is why many of us felt neither MP nor Johansson was ready for he NHL this year. 31 pts isn't even what Belanger or BMo had last year. But, 31 pts is about avg for a 3rd line center (you can look it up) so he is in the right spot. I would say by third year he's adequate as 2nd line center. I don't expect he will ever nearly approach backstrom as few NHL players do. He could though be the long-term #2 center although the club will need someone to fill that role next year, assuming Flash is gone, and until MaJo is ready.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 11, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Actually the projection for MaJo 3rd year stats is almost exactly what Lombardi did last year, and he is considered good as a #2 center (has the defense too). If Semin stays long-term and you have say one of the young Russians on the second line, would be productive (I am having Ovi and Fehr on 1st line). Eakin at this time would be #3 center so we are seeing a good team on offense.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 11, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

It is still very early and NJ will eventually fix their cap issues. The big question for them is has Marty finally become just another goalie or worse? If he isn't one of the top 5-10 goalies in the league they are not making the playoffs.

Posted by: icehammer97 | October 11, 2010 4:49 PM | Report abuse

Anyone else see Parros flicking a St. Louis player in a scrum? Not flicking them off but actually flicking them in the chin.
-----------

He stuck his finger in Barret Jackman's face in that scrum.

This Blues-Ducks game is a great example of how you deal with a team who is trying to goon it up on you. The Ducks are obviously sore losers in this game and they've been trying to run every Blues player anyway they can. So instead of just taking the abuse, the Blues are sending their own msg. Brad Winchester laid a big hit on a Ducks player despite being up by 3 goals in the 3rd pd. Why'd he do that? Because the Blues aren't going to allow their players to get run over and over again with no response simply to let the Ducks feel better about getting blown out. Prior to the hit by Winchester, the Ducks pushed the issue again when Aaron Voros went looking for a fight on the shift he ended up tangling with Eric Brewer.

Brewer's a better player, and if Voros wants to go with him then he should expect a response from the Blues. Which was delivered courtesy of Winchester.

I've never bought into that idea that you turn the other cheek over and over again just because another team is acting like a sore loser at the end of a game and wants to deliver a msg. It IS possible to win a game AND send a msg right back.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 4:50 PM | Report abuse

Watching the Pens/Devils game now. It's looks like one of the games where players have been tossed for fighting (kind of like the Caps last game) late in the game. There's a big hole on the Devil's bench but then the camera pans down the ice and the Pens have a full bench.

The Devils should be embarrassed.

Posted by: Fletch22 | October 11, 2010 4:59 PM | Report abuse

I wonder if the nhl will suspend Wisniewski for his "gesture" at Avery. Not a throat-slashing sign as much as he was implying that Avery apparently would give Paris Hilton a run for her money on a night-cam.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

oh you mean he did a Crosby

Posted by: capsfan387 | October 11, 2010 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Bettman was in attendance, he might get 2 games.

Posted by: Fletch22 | October 11, 2010 5:17 PM | Report abuse

I'm sorry, but this statistical analysis section has been pretty disappointing so far. The methods of comparison and prediction seem extremely over-simplistic. You're going to predict one guy's production simply based a very small subset of players who may or may not share any characteristics with said player, who began their careers 15 or more years ago, came from different countries with different systems, had very different linemates, etc. You just can't predict these things with any degree of accuracy. Let's stick to descriptive statistics, unless can use some really inferential techniques like regression.

Posted by: robbie1299 | October 11, 2010 5:19 PM | Report abuse

http://www.nypost.com/p/sports/devils/devils_waive_leblond_could_sign_YCgyciEdlQT0kP3A347hlL

"But I didn't like what transpired at the end of the game. Five minutes left in the game, an instigator penalty. You know it's a suspension. Youo have to be more intelligent than that."

You gotta put some of that blame onto John MacLean. Leblond gets put out there at the end, he has to know what MacLean expects of him which was probably to cause a bit of a ruckus. What LeBlond should've done was to hit everything that moved on that shift and then if an altercation transpired because of it then he could get involved in some way. To go chase down a little Euro and try to smack him around without really having a reason to (i.e. the Caps didn't do anything to a Devils skill player that warranted that type of response) was really dumb. Makes you question how smart LeBlond is. And how smart John MacLean is to put that kind of loose cannon on the ice in that situation. At the least PL3 could've run Carlson and maybe gotten in a scrum in the crease or something. Instead of a completely unprovoked attack on a guy who no one associates with any kind of physical play. And the fact he asked him if he "wanted to go" ? wow. who does that to a player like MaJo?
I think LeBlond took some bad acid. Its the only explanation.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 5:20 PM | Report abuse

I guess he was just a dumb LeBlond.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 11, 2010 5:29 PM | Report abuse

i disagree with sending erskine out against leblond. in the span of 7 seconds you had kovi/green, pelley/hendricks and clarkson/bradley go at it - and there was still 3:11 to go in the game. the caps had the last line change and attempted to say enough is enough by not answering with all they had left - erskine.
if erskine is your #6 dman i don't think you risk him getting another concussion in what would amount to another meaningless fight as you just had 3 in 7 seconds. i think BB let nj know your not gonna bully us just because we're handing you your *ss.
that said - nj will not get the benefit of the doubt the next time they play. i'd like to see the toughest guy in hershey get a call up for the next devils game. i think BB did the right thing and nj was a touch classless by trying to continue with the hooliganism.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 11, 2010 5:34 PM | Report abuse

The reason the Jersey bench is so empty is that they are only playing with 15 skaters, they are in Salary Cap Jail...they can not even bring players up for injuries

Posted by: RichC3 | October 11, 2010 5:39 PM | Report abuse

haha! dumb leblond..classico!


that said - nj will not get the benefit of the doubt the next time they play. i'd like to see the toughest guy in hershey get a call up for the next devils game. i think BB did the right thing and nj was a touch classless by trying to continue with the hooliganism.

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ

don't think that will happen. For one, the Devils don't have a prototypical tough team and I doubt if LeBlond will be dressed for the next encounter. That kind of tactic isn't something the Devils usually employ. Even last yr when they had 2 true goons on their roster they barely gooned it up and they only used them against teams like Philly.

I think Lou L was genuinely embarassed by the display and I think the fact it happened against a team like the Caps (v the Flyers or Rangers) made it more embarassing. I don't think the Devils will want to continue to fan the flames. And if they dress LeBlond it will only draw more attention. The Devils have to worry about winning games more than trying to create an unnecessary bad-blood rivalry with the Caps.


I can understand not wanting to risk a concussion for Erskine..but would you rather risk Carlson/Alzner/Gordo/Fehr/MaJo in that situation or would you rather risk Erskine? I'll take my chances with #4. He knows how to lock out a fighter like LeBlond and not take a direct punch. He wouldn't need to open things up and just whale away. In that situation he could just neutralize him with his strength.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 5:44 PM | Report abuse

like to see the toughest guy in hershey get a call up for the next devils game.

--------------------

we already have him, his name is DK King. And he's tougher than any hershey fighter including Rechlicz or McNeill. The only reason to bring up any of those guys is when you face teams who carry multiple fighters (Gillies/Konopka, Boogaard/Prust, Philly, etc).

But that's not the Caps style to matchup fighter for fighter with other teams. Only a few teams do that these days.

To even see one true fighter in the Caps' lineup is like seeing Halley's Comet. Its pretty unusual.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 5:47 PM | Report abuse

Mr. Greenberg,

If you read this post, would you consider digging up some stats on McPhee's drafting performance during his tenure, with a focus on the post lockout period as well as how he's done outside of the 1st rounds?

I know that some sites have used Games Played for draftees, regardless of organization and accumulated it over whatever given period of time.

There may already be stuff out there on this but maybe you can think of something to add to it. I haven't been able to find some of the articles I stumbled across in the past.

Basically, I'm interested in seeing an evaluation of McPhee and his scouting department's draft performances from an objective standpoint.

Thanks in advance for reading this if you see it.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 11, 2010 5:48 PM | Report abuse

(cont.)

Also, maybe you can do something similar with his trades and free agency moves.

Perhaps evaluate the statistical performance of his acquired players per dollar and compared to what was given up in the case of trades or what else was available for similar cost in the case of both trades and free agency.

Thanks again.

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 11, 2010 5:51 PM | Report abuse

(cont.)

One more thing... heh.

Then perhaps you could compare those objective numbers on draft performance, trade and free agency to that of 1 or 2 other reputable GMs that have guided their teams to Stanley Cups in the post-lockout period (where the cap constraints magnify the role of GMs).

Posted by: tmac2yao | October 11, 2010 5:53 PM | Report abuse

anyone catch the Leafs game? Man, does that team look a million times better than it did 2 yrs ago. Ottawa's not an easy team to play against and Toronto was all over them. Even at 5 zip the Leafs were playing like they were down by 5 goals. That's what caused some altercations in the 3rd. Ottawa got ticked off that everytime they touched the puck they were getting blasted. The Leafs' energy is pretty infectious. And Versteeg was a dynamite pickup by Burke. I thought the true prize of the selloff was Andrew Ladd but Versteeg may be even better.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 5:57 PM | Report abuse

Then perhaps you could compare those objective numbers on draft performance, trade and free agency to that of 1 or 2 other reputable GMs that have guided their teams to Stanley Cups in the post-lockout period (where the cap constraints magnify the role of GMs).

Posted by: tmac2yao

chicago and the pens started their rebuilds around the same time. Chicago actually started theirs later than did the Caps. Both those teams have Cups so far but more importantly, they've had strong playoff success outside their Cup win.

(Philly also started their pseudo-rebuild much later than did the Caps.)

If the Leafs now advance further than the Caps do this current yr, you can take any stats and throw em out the window because their rebuild started a mere year and a half ago. Either way, to take a team that was so incredibly old and sluggish just 2 yrs ago and field the type of roster they currently do is nothing short of amazing. Even though its only 2 games in, they already look better than teams like the Devils.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

Based on this morning's skate it looks like David Steckel and D.J. King will be the healthy scratches, but it's unclear who the odd man out on defense will be. Mike Green took part in only 10 minutes of practice but Boudreau said that was because of a problem with his skates.

King is the only forward who hasn't appeared in a game yet, but Boudreau said his decision to stick with the lineup that played Saturday against New Jersey against the Senators was easy -- that group won.

"I think the team that wins 7-2 and sticks together like they did deserves to get a chance to play together the next night," Boudreau said. "You get rewarded for winning and you don't get rewarded for losing. It's a pretty simple decision."

----------

does anyone see anything wrong with this? I'd rather he just say, I evaluated all 18 skaters and they all played very well and none of them deserve to be replaced. That would mean more than just saying I'm not making any changes based on the fact that we won the last game handily. You don't just automatically reward every player on the team unless they actually did their part. Because theoretically, that would mean he'd never make another change until the team lost a game. And that would mean not replacing players who are actually underperforming in games that the team is able to pull out.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

I'll bet Phaneuf has his mojo back. I know people here were all over me when I suggested Semin for Phaneuf. I'll bet for Caps would have been just what the doctor ordered.

Posted by: tominsocal1 | October 11, 2010 6:12 PM | Report abuse

Wow! MaJo is now a marked kid. To be a good defensive forward you have to have to have a little edge in your game and some willingness to mix it up. After the tape of the Devils game gets around showing him turning his back on LaBlond he will need King on his line just for protection or he will not last long in the NHL. He does not want to get the reputation as playing soft who can be taken advantage of.

Posted by: dull | October 11, 2010 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Phaneuf went from demi-god status to sudden outcast last yr.

Anytime an ultraphysical dman gets discussed, he's either overrated or underrated. Overrated because of his physicality, and underrated by fans who think his physicality overshadows his defensive play.

I would've loved to see Phaneuf here. And it would've taken less than Semin to get him based on what the Leafs gave up. Don't forget, the Leafs also got another big dman in the trade who played very well in the AHL until he broke his leg. Keith Aulie is definitely a decent NHL prospect. He's a 21yr old 6ft5 dman with good potential, certainly not a throwaway in the deal. And he's healthy again this year so once the Leafs keep revamping their D and cutting guys like Jeff Finger, I expect he'll get a decent look in the next 2 seasons.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:28 PM | Report abuse

Anyone want to buy a ticket?

Posted by: theBIGC_1982 | October 11, 2010 6:32 PM | Report abuse

does anyone see anything wrong with this? I'd rather he just say, I evaluated all 18 skaters and they all played very well and none of them deserve to be replaced. That would mean more than just saying I'm not making any changes based on the fact that we won the last game handily. You don't just automatically reward every player on the team unless they actually did their part. Because theoretically, that would mean he'd never make another change until the team lost a game. And that would mean not replacing players who are actually underperforming in games that the team is able to pull out.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:12 PM

this one i agree with - BB does have a flaw (imo) when he does stuff like this. he should be choosing the best 18 skaters on a game by game basis. just 'winning' does not justify given those same players a jersery for the next game. the other side of this is making changes to the lineup when you're losing - he didn't do enough of that against mtl in the playoffs

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 11, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

After the tape of the Devils game gets around showing him turning his back on LaBlond he will need King on his line just for protection or he will not last long in the NHL
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Backstrom or BGordo would've done the same thing.

if anyone was at the game, can you ID the capital who first slings his leg over the boards? Its not Erskine either. Some Caps player slung his leg over the instant MaJo got attacked, then he pointed his stick at the Devils bench and started yelling. Personality-wise and based on who was at the bench, i figured it was Laich or Ovechkin.

what i liked about that incident was seeing an immediate reaction from Carlson. And the way he was yelling at LeBlond along the boards when they got separated. We now have two young dmen in Green and Carlson who are showing very good character to go along with their skillset. Can't enough players who combine grit and character with topnotch skills. That's how you win.

also, is Alzner really 6ft2 ? He looks like he's 5ft11.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

this one i agree with - BB does have a flaw (imo) when he does stuff like this. he should be choosing the best 18 skaters on a game by game basis. just 'winning' does not justify given those same players a jersery for the next game. the other side of this is making changes to the lineup when you're losing - he didn't do enough of that against mtl in the playoffs

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ

granted, the guys that Steckel or King would replace were guys who played well (Hendricks, Gordo, Chimera, Brads). So in reality I have no problem with him going with the same lineup.

I just think that had a couple of those guys not played well, BB would be saying the same thing. You can't coach from superstition. It has to be rooted in something tangible. OTherwise you'll end up giving games away by not making lineup changes in ADVANCE of an actual loss.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:37 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1:
i get the feeling you're slightly encouraged with the increase in grit/hitting so far. i know it's early and they can revert back to their soft ways...

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 11, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

the other side of this is making changes to the lineup when you're losing - he didn't do enough of that against mtl in the playoffs

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ |


the other side is sometimes he (and other coaches also) will only make changes to their fringe players - the guys at the bottom of the lineup. Too often I've seen guys getting replaced in the lineup who don't really matter that much. When our top lines aren't playing well, replacing Steckel with Gordo or vice-versa isn't going to accomplish a whole lot.

Coaches are always quick to replace 3rd and 4th liners and the 6th defenseman. Ironically, those guys are considered the least important defining quality in a win or loss.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:42 PM | Report abuse

the other side is sometimes he (and other coaches also) will only make changes to their fringe players - the guys at the bottom of the lineup. Too often I've seen guys getting replaced in the lineup who don't really matter that much. When our top lines aren't playing well, replacing Steckel with Gordo or vice-versa isn't going to accomplish a whole lot.

Coaches are always quick to replace 3rd and 4th liners and the 6th defenseman. Ironically, those guys are considered the least important defining quality in a win or loss.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 6:42 PM

thats because i believe BB thinks anyone on the top lines will 'snap out of it' and start playing better (as in get him the win). i think he second guesses himself out making those changes before he even make them - as these guys 'have done it before' - even though they aren't doing it now

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | October 11, 2010 6:52 PM | Report abuse

"would you consider digging up some stats on McPhee's drafting performance during his tenure, with a focus on the post lockout period as well as how he's done outside of the 1st rounds?"
tmac2yao

Tmac, I have been working on that the past two weeks. Stay tuned and thanks for reading.

The challenge with using just post-lockout is that it takes a few years for a player to develop, especially those form the later rounds.

I plan on doing something from 1998 (his first draft) to 2008 - 10 years worth.

Posted by: NeilRMNB | October 11, 2010 6:57 PM | Report abuse

cstanton1:
i get the feeling you're slightly encouraged with the increase in grit/hitting so far. i know it's early and they can revert back to their soft ways...

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ |

yep, one game doesn't mean much. But its still one game more than I've seen in the past. The fact they didn't come out hard v Atlanta was discouraging to me. That was a road game, first game of the yr, they had a chance to at least start the season on the right note and back up their lip svc from the offseason about how upset they were to lose to Montreal and how determined they were to change their approach and be more focused. I didn't see anything but the old Caps in that 1st game.

I wasn't surprised they gave a good effort v the Devils considering they got heat for losing to the Thrashers and they were playing at home instead of on the road. But I expected a better 1st pd instead of their predictable "turn it on when we're losing" approach. What I was happy to see was their response in the 3rd pd. And besides some improved play from Flash, I thought Chimera's shift where he finished a couple of checks and then fought Clarkson was a real positive. It doesn't matter that he lost the fight easily either. He was protecting his eye and he was still willing to not back down. I just have very little faith that he'll continue to play this way. Esp in road games. But so far i'll be cautiously optimistic about him. He just played a great overall game and used his speed very effectively and if he continues to play that way I'll be the first one to give him credit.

on the glass-is-half-full side of things, the Caps have played gritty for 50% of the games so far!

Team toughness is the key though. And this yr, depending on the lineup Bruce puts out there, and depending on how often Chimera shows up, we now have approx 2 to 3 defensemen (green, carlson, erskine), and 6 forwards (Brads, Hendricks/King, Ovechkin, Fehr, Chimera, Knuble) who should give a fairly gritty effort game in and game out. Not forgetting Backstrom but he's solid in all aspects without necessarily being gritty.

Still not close to my preferred minimum #s for grit (4 dmen, 8-9 forwards) but its a start :)

And in games where Erskine doesn't dress, and Chimmy or Fehr or Knuble don't show up, or King/Hendricks are scratches, that'll affect the balance even more.

Not much they can do to tweak the lineup at this point. Except hope that Flash, MaJo, and Semin exhibit some consistent resilience in some tough areas and maybe find a way to get both Hendricks AND King into the lineup at the same time.

I have no more expectations of Sarge. I think he's about as physical as he'll ever be at this point. Unless his +/- numbers suffer and he is forced to use his size more effectively to keep his status in the lineup. Alzner looks like a little kid out there to me. He got cleared out of his own crease like a daffidol the other day. His poise will only take him so far.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 7:02 PM | Report abuse

Team toughness is the key though. And this yr, depending on the lineup Bruce puts out there, and depending on how often Chimera shows up, we now have approx 2 to 3 defensemen (green, carlson, erskine), and 6 forwards (Brads, Hendricks/King, Ovechkin, Fehr, Chimera, Knuble) who should give a fairly gritty effort game in and game out. Not forgetting Backstrom but he's solid in all aspects without necessarily being gritty
-------------------------

and laich. Forgot about him. That's 6 to 7 forwards who should consistently finish checks and be accountable in ways that don't show up on the pointsheet.

I would like to a better balance on D. Not 3 finesse players and 3 gritty guys either. That's not the balance you seek out in hockey on D. You really want to see 4 or 5 defensemen who can play with a real edge. Which means, a good number of your "offensive" dmen need to play that way also. On our team its the opposite now. Its our "defensive dmen" like Alzner and Sarge who need to contribute physically. The skill guys are actually the grittier players.

bizarro

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 7:31 PM | Report abuse

thats because i believe BB thinks anyone on the top lines will 'snap out of it' and start playing better (as in get him the win). i think he second guesses himself out making those changes before he even make them - as these guys 'have done it before' - even though they aren't doing it now

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ |


you can afford that approach in the reg season. In the playoffs if you see even one inkling of underperformance or lax play it needs to be addressed emphatically. Sometimes you need to make an example out of a high profile player (at a notch below Ovechkin) and send a msg to your top liners that no dropoff in effort is acceptable. You can't wait 2 or 3 games for your top liners to snap out of doldrums.

Posted by: cstanton1 | October 11, 2010 7:37 PM | Report abuse

Re: L2 suspension/possible waiver from Devils/not enough skaters for NJD: Wow.


Here's a predicition: Kovy and Volchenkov could be the two nicest, most selfless and humble guys you'd ever want to play hockey with...but they (or more specifically, their contracts and the Salary Cap Hell resulting therefrom) will turn out to be an unimaginable cancer in the Devils' locker room this season.

I don't know about the rest of you, but if I was on a team that was not able to ice enough (competitive) lines to win because of a couple of guys' salaries, I'd probably resent those guys...a lot.

Given how much stronger most of the Eastern Conference looks thus far, the Devils may very well miss the playoffs, or at best get eliminated in 1st round--unless, that is, they find a way to dump some serious salary quickly.


In short, those monster contracts may do more to damage the Devils' Stanley Cup hopes than any injury or defeat at the hands of an opponent possibly could.

Posted by: Rhino40 | October 12, 2010 9:57 AM | Report abuse

The year before Ovechkin was drafted, he had 13 goals and 24 points in 53 games on a championship Dynamo team. Compare Johansson to that, and he looks a lot better.

Posted by: robbie1299 | October 12, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

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