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Posted at 9:39 AM ET, 01/ 6/2011

Statistical analysis: Midseason Capitals awards

By Neil Greenberg
Statistical analysis

Half the of the 2010-11 campaign is in the books, and now it's time to give out some midseason awards:

*The Langway "Undersecretary of Defense" Trophy
*The Kolzig Award
*The Hunter Trophy
*The Bonzai

The Langway "Undersecretary of Defense" Trophy

This trophy is awarded to the Capitals' best overall defenseman. This award is not just about preventing goals -- it's about carrying the heaviest burden, including minutes played, quality of competition faced and how often the blueliner was deployed in the defensive zone.

Probably the easiest of the awards to handicap, the winner is John Carlson. Back in September I had a hunch this would be a big year for the rookie blueliner, and he has not disappointed. Not only has he shut down top line competition while logging big minutes, but when paired with Karl Alzner, they have been virtually impossible to score on at even strength, giving up only .60 goals per 20 minutes of ice time.

The Kolzig Award

After long deliberation I have narrowed The Kolzig Award, given to the Caps' best netminder, down to two finalists: Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth.

An early injury to Varlamov put the burden solely on Neuvirth, and I felt then he was up to the task. Neuvirth went 7-3-0 with a shutout, a goals against average of 2.15 and a save percentage of .926 in October, winning NHL Rookie of the Month honors. Then Varlamov got healthy, causing some to whisper "goalie controversy," while others felt that the team still needed to go outside of the organization if it was to contend in the playoffs. In the end, Semyon Varlamov did all he could to silence his critics (myself included) and win the Kolzig, posting a .946 5-on-5 scoring chance save percentage and .952 penalty kill scoring chance save percentage over the last five games, including a win over Pittsburgh in the Winter Classic.

The Hunter Trophy

The Hunter Trophy, awarded to the "perfect player," embodies qualities on the ice that contribute to winning. Whether it is drawing penalties, standing up for your teammates or lighting the lamp at critical times, this skater does it all.

In the offseason, General Manager George McPhee felt the Caps needed to toughen up, so the club traded for pugilist DJ King. Despite the signing of a heavyweight enforcer, it has been Matt Hendricks, the midseason winner of the Hunter Trophy, that has stood up for his teammates most nights. His 10 major penalties are good for sixth in the NHL, but it's his discipline to draw more penalties than he takes and skill to earn time on the power-play unit, where the Caps see 30 percent of their scoring chances convert to goals, that ultimately nabbed him the award. It's not always pretty, but Hendricks has made his presence felt on the ice in a big way so far.

The Bonzai

The Bonzai, awarded to Washington's best forward, has seen the frontrunner change more often than Boudreau's line combos. Out of the gate it looked like Alex Ovechkin was on a mission, looking to avenge the first-round loss suffered only months before. Then Alexander Semin became the favorite, providing pyrotechnics almost nightly. But at the half, the winner is Brooks Laich.

Laich has been a puck-possession machine in terms of Corsi, which measures shots directed at net, including goals, shots saved, missed and blocked. The higher the Corsi rating, the more time is spent in the offensive zone. His 17.28 Corsi per 60 minutes of 5-on-5 ice time is best among Washington's skaters, with more than 20 games played this season. He has also been the driving force in scoring chances at even strength. With Laich on the ice, the Caps see 62 percent of scoring chances go in their favor and only 53 percent when off. His presence is also felt on the penalty kill, where the Caps see almost a goal less against when No. 21 is on the ice than when he isn't. Just in time for his contract year.

So there you have it. Who are your midseason winners?

Neil Greenberg also writes for Russian Machine Never Breaks. You can follow him on Twitter.

By Neil Greenberg  | January 6, 2011; 9:39 AM ET
Categories:  John Carlson, Semyon Varlamov, Statistical analysis  
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HOW COULD ERSKINE NOT GET THE BEST DEFENDER!!!! the world is out to get him man!

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 10:04 AM | Report abuse

My picks:

the Alzner/Carlson duo!

Nuvey(Varly hasn't played enough yet to earn it)

Agree with Hendricks

Best forward...can't really say we have a best forward right now...they are all running hot and cold (or just cold) no one has been consistent yet.

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Some folks were saying recently that Laich was missing in action. Guess not!

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | January 6, 2011 10:14 AM | Report abuse

the Alzner/Carlson duo!
AKA Carlzner as per sgm3.

Posted by: FloridaCapsFan | January 6, 2011 10:25 AM | Report abuse

"After long deliberation I have narrowed The Kolzig Award, given to the Caps' best netminder, down to two finalists: Semyon Varlamov and Michal Neuvirth."

Really it took some long deliberation to come up with these two finalists.

Posted by: chatton | January 6, 2011 10:36 AM | Report abuse

My only nit would be with Carlson. While Carlson has been an excellent two-way defenseman, he has been prone to some pretty massive defensive lapses, and just getting clean beat. I think it was Dubinsky who turned him inside out putting the puck and Carlson's jock into the net.

That said, none of the other defensemen have stepped up. I might give the award to Alzner for being the defensive half of that duo (and pure defense being a self-effacing occupation), but the injuries to the others (Schultz, Poti, Green) leave the field open for Carlson to take the midseason lead, I guess.

Posted by: oldtimehockey | January 6, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse

This team is 8th in team defense and 4th in PK in the NHL currently and I believe two guys are more responsible for the improved D than anyone - Carlson and Hendricks.

So those two are my mid-season co-MVPs of this team.

Posted by: joek443 | January 6, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

So I know this is a bit whiny, but about the Pitt game last night...

If we had scored 8 goals and Ovie only had an assist, I GUARANTEE the headline would have read "Caps blaze past TB without the help of Ovie"!

The NHL is incapable of critisizing the golden boy.

On the other hand, I wonder if he actually does have a concussion from the WC.

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

BTW this is Caps' Insider blog, isn't it?

I swear sometime it feels like it's Crosby Insider on here because some of you people just can't stop talking about him for whatever reason... seems like a secret man crush to me

Posted by: joek443 | January 6, 2011 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Its funny because the Caps traded Bonzai for Brooks Laich

Posted by: GFisher1 | January 6, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse


he is the best player in the league right now...I think it is natural that his name compes up on a hockey site...even if it is for the Caps.

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 10:58 AM | Report abuse

it's the same thing in nascar... everyone says they can't stand Kyle Busch but you can't go on any nascar blog without seeing his name mentioned more than anyone else's, even more so than Dale Jr's... they don't always call him by his name, more likely Cryle Doosh or something worse.

Just like what some of you call Crosby... Cindy or whatever else.

Posted by: joek443 | January 6, 2011 10:59 AM | Report abuse


It is a fun rivalry. Lighten up! I take great enjoyment out of the Caps/Pens hatred. If you are annoyed by it, go somewhere else or cover your eyes.

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

I just received this in e-mail and it is hysterical about the winter classic. be warned there is some foul language, but more than worth the watch! Go CAPS

Posted by: CapsSkins | January 6, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse


Maybe you should head over to Japers, God for bid you should say anything wrong about the Caps on that board. :)

On a different note. I went to order my son a reebok edge winter classic jesery last night but couldn't. So after a little looking around the NHL shop page I find if I wanted one, I could get a Pens edge jesery but not a Caps. WTF and that's not directed at you WTF_efher

Posted by: bqts | January 6, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Hendricks is my new favorite player.

I'd want this guy backing me up in the corner, in the locker room, and at the bar.

Grit, a bit of school and fierce loyalty.


Posted by: Jordan_Kitts | January 6, 2011 11:37 AM | Report abuse


Perhaps because Caps fans are buying them. Go figure Pens fans could care less about the game now that they lost. Had they won, it may have been harder to find the Pens jerseys available.

Also, for those that went to the WC, was it just me or was the area just filthy? I actually felt more comfortable/natural peeing in the parking lot than in the port-a-potty. =)

It's probably the impact he has had on us as Caps fans. Due to the rivalry, we talk about him. I named my kitten Crosby...for obvious reasons. It's also fun for when Im yelling at her. "Dammit Crosby you silly p@$$y, stop clawing the couch" or when she's mewing to get outside "Crosby, why are you always whining"...etc etc. And she has the most adorable red lips. I miss her though, too bad my bulldog Ovie ate her.

True story...except for the me owning a kitten part.

Posted by: SeminAllOverTheIce | January 6, 2011 11:41 AM | Report abuse

What a joke. Carlson's play was inconsistent up until mid-December; when Shultz got hurt, ya'll know I paid CLOSE attention to the backline. Carlson was one of the worst on the ice the first three games. He's played well the last 3 weeks, but Erskine is the only d-man who has played well and exceeded expectations THE ENTIRE YEAR....Erskine, and not Carlson, is the glue that's held the backline together through all the injuries.

Brooks Laich the best forward on the team this year? He's been invisible for long stretches, so like Shultz I guess that makes him invaluable. Laich gets this award by default.

Posted by: vermontcaps | January 6, 2011 11:45 AM | Report abuse


Sure Carlson has only been playing superb consistently for a few weeks, but he has surpassed expectations more than Erskine! Everyone thought it would take him more time to develop the positional play he has shown lately, he is also playing against the toughest players on other teams (Erskine is not)

I am very pleased with Erskine, but the only reason he has surpased expectations so easily this season is b/c they were really low! He was terrible last season, so any good play by him is very noticeable...believe it or not, he has missed his man a few times this season as well!

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 11:52 AM | Report abuse

w Carlson and Alzner playing well, and the russian dman comin along soon....

c'ya later MGreen! w Mike Green free agency summer of '12. TRADE HIM!!!

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 6, 2011 12:07 PM | Report abuse

Disagree big time on the Kolzig award. Neuvy won the team a bunch of games at the start of the year with his good play and he hasn't had a terrible run at any point this year. I know Varly is hot now and all that, but Neuvy was lights out for the first 15 or so games this year (he was leading the league in wins for a chunk of time).

Regardless, I think that the Caps' goaltenders are stronger right now than they have been since Huet was killing it for a little while, so hopefully these boys can deliver for the rest of the year, into the playoffs, and throughout their careers.

Posted by: Aldred15 | January 6, 2011 12:08 PM | Report abuse

trade Mike Green or don't resign him? That's HILARIOUS!

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

no way you can afford all of these guys under the salary cap

Mike Green has max'd out his potential - You got to trade him

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 6, 2011 12:17 PM | Report abuse


Green in probably the most important player on the team...they can at least sign him OR Semin and if they are forced to choose they will go with Green...he won't get much of a raise anywhere he goes.

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 12:29 PM | Report abuse

Hands down, the Caps eventual MVP will be none other than Dave Steckel. Think about it.

Posted by: redhotCAPSaicin | January 6, 2011 12:35 PM | Report abuse

If Green is the most important player on the Caps? then were in a lot of touble.

Serious note - Carlson is very talented and will be probably be just as, if not better than green.

Semin - Potential 50 goal scorer if he's the featured wing man. who will replace this?

That said, i'd rather spend the $ on someone who is less replaceable.

...And if Green is soo good, then how come he was left off the Olympic squad? With his stats, he shoulda been a shoe in.

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 6, 2011 12:36 PM | Report abuse

...reason why he was left off? because his defense is pathetic!

And what are the caps trying to do? A)become a more defense of oriented team.

Posted by: Nats1924 | January 6, 2011 12:39 PM | Report abuse

Awards huh?? Where was the award for hottest defenseman on a Vespa? ummm Hello its Mike Green....

sorry Neil but I couldn't resist!!

Posted by: green52fan | January 6, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

Agree with you on all of them. Also, love the fact that the Hunter award is for the best all-around forward. He, I believe, was the best all-around player the Caps ever had. Maybe Matt Bradley by season's end.

Posted by: Eler | January 6, 2011 12:48 PM | Report abuse

And if Green is soo good, then how come he was left off the Olympic squad? With his stats, he shoulda been a shoe in.

Posted by: Nats1924 |

b/c canada was going for defensive defenseman. He is also improved from that time. Seriously many games do you watch, b/c the one player who is always noticed when he's gone is Green. The team has the most issue replacing him...even more than Ovie.

He is our ice time leader, plays PP, PK, and every other situation out there.

Carlson may or may not turn into a mike green...still kinda early to tell. He definitely shows potential, but you can never know what a player will develop into. People jump onto a player bandwagon as soon as they have a few good games...he also had some rough games this season!

I think he will be a top D man for a long time, but Green IS a top D man, they are hard to come by, and the Caps won't let him go without a fight.

Semin is a headcase and unless he signs 2-3 years for 6 mil he is not worth it.

Posted by: capscoach | January 6, 2011 12:49 PM | Report abuse

vermontcaps, Erskine has a Corsi of -0.25 so far this year. I'm not sure how much worth you put on this stat but, he has the lowest for the Caps D-men.

It's great having 2 good young goalies. Varly is better (if he stays healthy). He should get the Kolzig Award since Kolzig made a statement during pregame that he thought Varly will be number one if he stays healthy.

Green/Hannan (or 55)
Schultz (or 23)/Erskine or Poti
These d-lines should work for the playoffs.

Posted by: chriscaps | January 6, 2011 2:52 PM | Report abuse

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