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Wise: Postseason Hinges on Theodore

Mike Wise's column for tomorrow's paper is on Caps goaltender Jose Theodore, who had his moments of brilliance in the regular season but lacked consistency. Here's an early look:

The Capitals have the talent to overcome bad goaltending in one seven-game series. They don't need Jose Theodore to be Roberto Luongo in Vancouver, where the Canucks go only as far as their captain in the net takes them. They don't even need Theodore to be Dominik Hasek in Buffalo a decade ago, when Hasek played contortionist for almost two solid months.
But let's be clear: A Stanley Cup run in Washington happens only if Theodore becomes the consistent, focused goalie we haven't seen yet at Verizon Center. The guy who pulls off five 10-bell saves (that's what they call standing on your head in Canada, right?) yet somehow lets a dribbler slip through his legs; that guy? He's officially on the spot.

Click here to read the rest of the column, and then tell us what you think:

By Lindsay Applebaum  |  April 14, 2009; 2:38 PM ET
 
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Comments

NO COMMENTS?!?!?!?!

Posted by: superpaqman | April 14, 2009 2:48 PM | Report abuse

Theo and goaltending will be crucial to this series but it's becoming a bit overblown by the media.

Posted by: CapsChick | April 14, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

@Moose

We don't have any money, besides their would be 8 teams in line before Caps to get Thornton. If he is such a playoff bust why would the Caps want him? They had Gart's for years, did the same thing. Checked his stick at the door come playoffs.

Posted by: bhound69 | April 14, 2009 2:51 PM | Report abuse

I agree he's been a playoff bust but I think that has to do with him being the point of focus on the team to produce. With Ovie, Semin, Backs and Green, he would not be the focus and won't have as much pressure on him. The money situation is understood, just dreaming.

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 2:56 PM | Report abuse

"Fair".

Theo is bad, but he really isn't that bad of a goalie. And although one could probably make a case that Theo is the worst starter out of the 16, I don't buy that. Osgood still plays, you guys know that right? If he is somewhat on and our defense stay tight, then our goaltending will be fine.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

isn't this exactly what you wrote this morning, Tarik?

Posted by: fronesis1016 | April 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

I really hope Theo never reads that column...

He does a good enough job getting into his own head as is. I want him calm, balanced, and confident tomorrow, not worrying about drawing fire from the media over one weak goal.

Posted by: ModestProposal | April 14, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

And honestly the claim "they can outscore anyone anyway" probably holds true for the Rangers.

We will see.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 2:59 PM | Report abuse

Harsh, but true. If Theo does read this, he needs to take it and run with it...prove them wrong Theo and let them eat their word. PLEASE!

Posted by: NatyBG | April 14, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

On JT60. The number each game is 3. If the Rangers score more then 3, not counting junk time, they'll win the game; less than 3 and they'll lose the game. Pretty simple. Will the Caps give up some soft goals, yep. Will it be two or three a game? Could be. The problem the Rangers offense seems to have it that they can't actually score - soft goals will be the only thing they get. For Caps fans that think JT sucks, that's too bad. Do I think he's Brodeur or Nabakov, nope. But the Caps systems is going to leave him hanging out to dry 2-4 times a game and all I'm asking him to do is save most of those - and he usually does. His numbers are as much a product of the defensive style than his actual play. I've made my peace with that and I really don't have many worries about the Rangers.

If we were really honest about the goaltending in D.C. then we know that anyone put back there would have similar numbers. There are certainly differences in goalies but it's not such a gap as we make it out to be. This system is very hard on goalies - other aren't, and I'm fine with JT's play this season.

If I were to really believe that the season hangs by JT's skate lace then I'd think myself crazy. The overall defensive play is what will make the difference and JT is just the most visible aspect of it.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:04 PM | Report abuse

No pressure, Theo. No pressure at all. :-P

Posted by: capsfan26 | April 14, 2009 3:07 PM | Report abuse

Mike Wise is a zilch, he doesn't know hockey and the only reason why he is writing about hockey is because the Caps are "hot" right now. That being said all we need is a decent defensive showing, especially clearing the puck when the Rangers fore-check in our zone, Caps in 5.

Posted by: DellaRovere | April 14, 2009 3:10 PM | Report abuse

The postseason is not on any one player. Especially with our defense. Sorry Mike, you hit the crossbar on this one. Go Caps!

Posted by: Hooch5 | April 14, 2009 3:13 PM | Report abuse

All this junk about Theo being the weak link is just that: junk. This team will get by the Rangers but how far we go beyond that depends on the defense. If its leaky we're dead, if its tight we make a serious run at the Cup.

Posted by: TrabZ | April 14, 2009 3:17 PM | Report abuse

Theo is not the worst goalie out of the 16 teams. Maybe the second worst. It just kinda scares me when all the other playoff goalies are so good. Thomas, Brodeur, Andre-Fleury, Lundqvist, Nabokov, Luongo, Chris Mason, Steve Mason... I don't watch too many games of these other teams but do those goalies face as many odd man rushes, breakaways that Theo faces? Or are they just stopping them, and Theo cannot?

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

the way the entire media is talking (writing?) you'd think we have Marty Freaking Turco, 2008-2009 version, in net.

1. Was Theo downright awful the first couple of months? Absolutely. That also means his number reflect those really poor games.

2. This team leaves its goalies out to dry more than any other elite team. I shudder think what would happen if the aforementioned Turco (or Chris Osgood of this season) were in net instead. "Yikes" springs to mind.

3.Theo wants to be in Washington, and he wants to win. He didn't come here to gaze at cherry blossoms and sample the underrated but exceptional dining scene. And he knows he's only got another year to impress the club before he potentially gets chased out by the young'uns.

What Washington needs is Theo to find his inner....well, whatever. That side of him he showed against Motreal this year, when he stonewalled them once, and then shut them down entirely in the shootout and did his little victory fist pump. That's the Theo the Caps need to win.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 3:24 PM | Report abuse

On any given night, Theo can outplay MAF, Thomas, Biron, etc. No he has not/will not have the careers they are or will have, but this is one playoff run we're looking at and there's a reason they play the games...

Posted by: honed | April 14, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

Theo all time NHL Playoffs stats; 917 sv %, 2.68 GAA. 19W, 24L.

lundquist 907 and 2.57, 11W, 12L.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 14, 2009 3:27 PM | Report abuse

@rachel

Thomas, Brodeur, Andre-Fleury, Lundqvist, Nabokov, Luongo, Chris Mason, Steve Mason...

No. Every single one of these goalies has struggled this season. Mason and Mason face nearly 20% fewer shots on goal than JT (at least, Steve Mason does.) Brodeur lost six in-a-row, Lundqvist was horrbile for about a month of the season (I know, he was on my fantasy team), Fleury has been ripped by just about everyone in and out of Pittsburgh for his soft play over long stretches this season. I'd say that only Nabokov and Luongo have been very good all season.

Since Christmas I'll line up JT with just about any goalie in the league and take my shots. What we need from the defense as a whole, in the NY series, it to simply hold them at 3 or fewer goals and it's all over. Not a monstrous task.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:29 PM | Report abuse

3.Theo wants to be in Washington, and he wants to win. He didn't come here to gaze at cherry blossoms and sample the underrated but exceptional dining scene.

Posted by: RedBirdie

That little aside was excellent. Made me laugh.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

Theo is not the worst goalie out of the 16 teams. Maybe the second worst. It just kinda scares me when all the other playoff goalies are so good. Thomas, Brodeur, Andre-Fleury, Lundqvist, Nabokov, Luongo, Chris Mason, Steve Mason... I don't watch too many games of these other teams but do those goalies face as many odd man rushes, breakaways that Theo faces? Or are they just stopping them, and Theo cannot?

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I don't have stats with me, but based on what I've seen, no and no.

Like I said above (but after you posted), The Caps, by their style of play, tend to leave goalies to fend for themselves frequently. That, and the Caps have this shocking ability to screen their own goalie like no other team. And deflect goals into their own net...You get my point.

Actually, 99% of the time on a breakaway, I'm confident that Theo can stop it. And he usually does. It just that occassionally, he lets some real lame goals in.

Although its debatable if any of Theo's softies goals were as bad as Tim Thomas leeting Semin's OT goals dribble past him :)

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 3:31 PM | Report abuse

That game against Florida is the reason why Theo is being scrutinized even before he gets a chance to play in the playoffs... the Panthers game really opened our eyes.. I don't think there would be as much talk about Theo if that game didn't turn out that way. Maybe BB shouldn't of played Theo.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

"The number each game is 3. If the Rangers score more then 3, not counting junk time, they'll win the game; less than 3 and they'll lose the game. Pretty simple."

But what if they score *exactly* 3?

Posted by: VTDuffman | April 14, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

by the way, we did win 50 games this year, right? I could totally understand a story about the dire straits we were in this playoff season if we came in as the 7th or 8th seed and were really up against it. The Rangers? I don't know this Wise character from an Ohio tourist, but he can't be serious...

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:33 PM | Report abuse

This is the best way to handle Avery. Everytime he tries to annoy OV, he should just wave his glove at him and dismiss him and laugh in his face. Nothing gets to someone like that more than being ignored, and he will wind up in the box against the 2nd best PP in the league. Just IGNORE him.

Posted by: RichC3 | April 14, 2009 3:36 PM | Report abuse

Ah, good point. They need more than 3 to win. Set the line where you will.

@rachel, the Florida game was absolutely irrelevant. No doubt BB wasn't happy but he didn't pull JT and the game was a joke. (I would like JT to stay on the pipe on that backhand by Eminger, however) but if your "eyes were opened" by the Panthers game, I'm pretty happy that we got this far and people didn't notice. This defensive team has been exactly the same all year long - through peaks and valleys. The system hasn't changed.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:37 PM | Report abuse

@saintex, I try! I figured the thread as a whole (and my post) needed to be lightened up. Although whenever I find myself getting down on Theo, I just keep reminding myself of that little fact. Theo WANTS to be here. He ditched Colorado--given this past season, probably smart--which happens to be a team with a heck of a lot of success over the past decade, to come play in Washington. And he has to know that the Caps have people waiting in the wings to take over if he falters. I think we'll get adequate goaltending out of him. He's not going to be Conn Smythe caliber, but that is so not what the Caps need to win.

Strangely, I am comforted by this: "Theo's a head case, so he's going to be so psyched out that he's in the playoffs to begin with that nothing Avery can do is going to affect him one way or another."

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

I was also wondering about the crazy NYR fan and his "after the top 5 in Washington, they fall off..." ideal. Okay, I'll play along:

Rangers player 6-10 scoring, season: 159
Caps player 6-10 scoring, season: 172

Well, look at that. They teams ARE pretty close.

Rangers player 1-5 scoring, season: 277
Caps player 1-5 scoring, season: 403

Oops.

I mean really, our 6-10 guys are actually only a little more than a point per game behind their 1-5 players.

Maybe we need to get deep down in the 20-25 man numbers.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:50 PM | Report abuse

"Theo's a head case, so he's going to be so psyched out that he's in the playoffs to begin with that nothing Avery can do is going to affect him one way or another."

I have to agree! All the hype about Avery and "Oh my, what will he/rangers/nyc fans do to Washington/Ovi/Jose" can only help our team keep it cool. The one really good thing about Jose is that he loves proving himself so whatever they dish out can only motivate him, right? Huet was great and all, but honestly it drove me crazy how easily the Flyers flustered him...

Oh and who really cares about Ovi's comments? People tell me all the time that our great 8 is using an illegal curve in his stick. I just keep tellin them, its not the size or shape of your stick, its how you use it... keep talking smack Ovi, you can take Avery anyway

Posted by: mrszilla | April 14, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

saintex: Yeah, I get you. I know that this defense has been this way the whole season, (but more in the months of March and April.) I'm just saying that that game "magnified" the problem and made it the talk before the playoffs.

Oh well. I'm really not that worried. I think Theo and the defense will be fine.

I feel sorry for that Rangers dude who thinks this will be a cakewalk. He's gonna be in a big shock! With all the points he stated, you would've thought the Rangers were the #1 team in the NHL! None of his points made sense, especially the one that after the Caps' top 5, they don't have much. This coming from a fan whose team's top leading scorer has 59 points! Haha, I can't wait for tomorrow night, it's gonna be good! :D

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 3:51 PM | Report abuse

the Rangers are 10-6-4 vs. the 'horrible' SE division. the Caps have struggled to a mediocre 14-2-4 vs. the Atlantic.

I'm nervous because it is the playoffs but it really becomes more and more comical the more I think about it...

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

I don't know if you can learn anything from game 82 other than Ovi needs stronger sticks.

Posted by: koalatek | April 14, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out...

Posted by: capsfan26 | April 14, 2009 3:54 PM | Report abuse

Oh and who really cares about Ovi's comments? People tell me all the time that our great 8 is using an illegal curve in his stick. I just keep tellin them, its not the size or shape of your stick, its how you use it... keep talking smack Ovi, you can take Avery anyway

Posted by: mrszilla | April 14, 2009 3:51 PM |

The only reason I care is because Lundy has the capacity to make him eat those words.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I'll try and dig it up, but someone (I found it either through PD or Japer's this morning) had a great breakdown of all the eastern conference playoff teams and how they matched up against the other playoff teams during the regular season. New York didn't really stand out one way or another. Philly was actually below average against playoff teams--they made it laregly by feasting on the non-playoff bound. The Cpas (and Boston), on the other hand, made their living by beating up on the other playoff teams. Very interesting.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

At last year's worlds the Russians only scored 3 goals on Henrik (Ovie with gwg 3 secs to go in the game), The Russians were great offensively (better that these Caps) and the Swedes were poor (half of the team playing for the SC at the time), also Nabokov was protecting the net - in summary - I am worried...

Posted by: DnicefromHtown | April 14, 2009 3:55 PM | Report abuse

I think the ref in the Florida game check Ovi's stick. My feed on hockeystreams from the Florida station caught a bit of it and it sure looked like Ovi was letting him a look...

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:56 PM | Report abuse

also, Steinz has all sorts of Caps posts today over at The Bog, including Nicky cursing in Swedish (not that I speak Swedish and thus cannot verify this claim)

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

I think the ref in the Florida game checked Ovi's stick or curve. The feed on hockeystreams from the Florida station caught a bit of it and it sure looked like Ovi was letting him take a look at the curve.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 3:57 PM | Report abuse

Capsfan26, bahahahaha! Love it. Good stuff!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

saintex: Yes, that Rangers fan needs to look at his own offense before he starts saying that WE don't have anything after our top 5 scorers. That's usually something a Pens fan would come on here and say. I mean, I guess I get what he's saying. Because our top 5 have SO many points, of course there is going to be a dropoff. With the Rangers, there is no dropoff because their top leading scorer only has 59 points! So there can't be that much of a dropoff. I guess he doesn't know that the Rangers are the lowest scoring team out of the 16 teams? "We have more depth on offense than the Caps," Rightttt.... haha!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

@saintex - Heh. Good points, all! :)

Posted by: irockthered | April 14, 2009 3:58 PM | Report abuse

Thanks jmu_capsgirl - I was reading those posts about how 3 goals was the magic number, and that was what immediately came to mind! And like RedBirdie said, we could use a little levity around here. :)

Posted by: capsfan26 | April 14, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Caps were the only team without a losing record v. East playoff teams - using only what would be wins:

3-1 v. Bs
2-2 v. NJD
3-1 v. Pens
2-2 v. Flyers
3-3 v. Canes
3-1 v. NYR
3-1 v. Habs

it can be indicative, if you choose.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 4:00 PM | Report abuse

@capsgirl...that's great!

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

Oh Lundy is a wall, I'm not denying that at all. But the difference is that Lundy will actually have to stand on his head with our offense. The Rangers offense on the other hand can be spotty. Who knows, this could be the closest match up, but this whole season I have felt like we kind of had the Ranger's number, whereas they just didn't really know how to shut us down. That's why I wanted to see NYC over the Canes, the Canes know us too well.

We'll see!! Cant wait!

Posted by: mrszilla | April 14, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

interestingly enough, in the Russia Sweden game I am referencing the 3 goals were scored by semin, feds, and ovechkin the game winner, hmm, i feel a bit better...

Posted by: DnicefromHtown | April 14, 2009 4:02 PM | Report abuse

@saitex, and I know several of those losses were either OT or, worse, SO. So, its possible that in the playoffs, some of those losses could be converted to wins. (although, to be fair, there's a number of wins thatw ere won in OT and SO, too)

Who is going to the Eliot/101 pre-game part at Hooters (ugh) tomorrow?

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 4:04 PM | Report abuse

@ capsfan26 - Nice Monty Python quote, love it.

Posted by: OldCapsFan | April 14, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

So who is writing tomorrow's Theodore column for the Post? Boswell, Wilbon??

Posted by: YBCaps | April 14, 2009 4:06 PM | Report abuse

i think brash should wisper in avery's ear that any shenanigans he perpetrates will be met with an eye for an eye. ie. if avery runs our goalie, we run his. slashes ovie, we slash drury. dont go after avery, thats what he wants. exact revenge upon other guys. that will get his teammates p-o'd at him. if he tries to hit theo like he did thomas, then king henrik gets a hernia check.

Posted by: dcsportsfan1 | April 14, 2009 4:12 PM | Report abuse

I like the way you think.

Fight fire with fire. But don't take dumb penalties.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 4:17 PM | Report abuse

How about we save the article for after the playoffs. I just hope Theo doesn't read the post... nothing like a whole city "backing" him up...

"But let's be clear: A Stanley Cup run in Washington happens only if Theodore becomes the consistent, focused goalie we haven't seen yet at Verizon Center."

Only is a strong word... kinda like never...

But, the last line suits the article - no pressure (in a sarcastic tone).

Here is another line from cbs power rankings: "Ovechkin and company will have to provide enough fireworks to overcome a defense that is vulnerable. Can a team run and gun its way to a Stanley Cup in this day and age?"

It's tough reading all of this stuff - just want it to happen. I personally don't think any of the playoff questions is about Theo or how many goals Ovechkin has - it's about heart and determination... If they want it, they can get it... if not, it's golf early.

Satisfaction is the death of desire

Posted by: _828 | April 14, 2009 4:24 PM | Report abuse

god, the way these article are, you'd think the Caps snuck into the very last playoff spot.....

I'm going with "Defense?! We don't need no stinkin' defense!" Worked so far!

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 4:28 PM | Report abuse

Is that an early Hatebreed reference? That's weird.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 4:29 PM | Report abuse

If our D was so bad, how come we were 11th in the league in 5-5 goals against? The Rangers were 16th.

Our penalty kill numbers really dip because we were 3rd in the league as far as giving up 5-3 goals.

Posted by: SA-Town | April 14, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

phil - figured you were talking to me... have no idea who Hatebreed is... but loved the quote... just found out its a song from 1997... something like that.

Posted by: _828 | April 14, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

didn't tarik already write about Theo this morning...where's the sports editor? Out covering the hiring of Flip Saunders?

Is there an echo in here?

Is there an echo in here?

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 14, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

here's what I mentioned earlier, about examining how the playoff teams fared durng the regular season vs. playoff and non-playoff teams:
http://www.birdwatchersanonymous.com/2009/4/13/832453/nhl-playoff-teams-versus-other

The gist? "If we look at games in which playoff teams faced each other the Captials and Bruins clearly stand above the other Eastern Conference teams in these games. At the other end of the scale, the Flyers really struggled during the regular season when playing against teams that would go on to make the post-season."

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

I don't listen to them or anything, but I worked at a music store for a long time. I just found it really, really weird and obscure if it were in fact that reference. That's where I first heard the quote.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 4:35 PM | Report abuse

Goalies, much like quarterbacks, take too much credit for their team's success and way too much blame for their losses. I doubt the NHL keeps statistics on odd-man scoring chances, but I'm willing to bet that the Caps give up more than just about any other team that made the playoffs this year. The Caps' defense has regressed significantly in the last 6-8 weeks of the season, but for some reason Theodore takes all of the heat for it. How can you blame him for being concerned about the second and third chances that the skaters in front of him are almost certain to give up? It doesn't matter where you put the rebound if your own team can't be bothered to clear the puck.

This team's chances of doing anything in the playoffs rest squarely on the defensive corps and the forwards being committed to playing the system and being responsible. If they do that, Theodore is more than good enough to take this team to the finals.

Posted by: spacecadetkid | April 14, 2009 4:37 PM | Report abuse

yeah, just read up about them - pretty exotic band... probably not my style. I just liked the quote... if you are satisfied, then you have no desire to get better - you are content with where you are. Here's hoping the Caps arent satisfied.

Posted by: _828 | April 14, 2009 4:38 PM | Report abuse

Per Daily News- Rangers

Here's a comment I find amusing, yet interesting.


"Yes and no," he said. "Sometimes it's like waking the lion. If you make him mad, he can really hurt you."

Henrik Lundqvist's response when asked if he wants to see the Blueshirts in front of him get physical with the Caps' best player.

Posted by: bajgirl | April 14, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Theo hasn't won a Cup either. He is just as thirsty as the rest of the team.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 4:39 PM | Report abuse

Lundy has felt the pain of Ovechkin moreso than other Rangers, as has already been discussed above. He knows full well that if you mess with the bull, you get the horns.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 4:42 PM | Report abuse

you know what would be beautiful? Montreal bouncing the Bruins, and then the Caps bouncing Montreal :)

Actually, that's mostly because my family is Bruins fans and god to they think they're the second coming or something (although I find that's true of all Boston fans, regardless of the sport). But I get my revenge by saying "Alex Semin." Maeks 'em twicth something nasty. "Alex Semin." TWITCH!

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 4:43 PM | Report abuse

I'm giddy as a jailbird about ready to be released! Capitals and the fans gear up for the playoffs and it would seem their every move is as vital as oxygen to us all. Capitals, take care of the team on the ice. Capitals' fans, take care of home turf! Remind the Rangers' fans that this is OUR HOUSE! Unlease the Fury!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 14, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

My classes tomorrow are going to go buy so slow. I get out at 6:40. Gotta rush home.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 4:45 PM | Report abuse

does anyone have the final numbers on how many man-games each team lost this year? Last I saw the Caps were right around 350. And with about 5 games left + at least 5 guys injured, I figure the Caps finished with at least 375. I'm curious to see how that stacks up against everyone else, particularly the other playoff teams.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

LeftCoastCapsFan: It's home ice, not home turf. :)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 5:04 PM | Report abuse

RedBirdie, Could be worse. My new cousin will be "Bruin" if he's a boy. Thankfully, its not for Boston, but I still grimace every time I hear it.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 5:06 PM | Report abuse

@rachel216: as you can see, rachel, i'm really "focused" here at work. =P someone turn the clocks forward to tomorrow so i can board my plane to dulles already!!!

Posted by: LeftCoastCapsFan | April 14, 2009 5:07 PM | Report abuse

@jmu_capsgirl: my condolences. Whatever the reason, no child should have to be stuck with such an awful name!

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

@jmu - seriously? They're going to name a child "Bruin"?!? That poor kid...

Posted by: capsfan26 | April 14, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

Can't wait for tomorrow as well, the Rangers as opponents is good given their anemic goal scoring.
The other part of the playoffs I'm giddy about is Philly geting duh Pens in the first round - I hope it's a rough series. hehehehe

Posted by: Max231 | April 14, 2009 5:14 PM | Report abuse

Wise takes some liberties in that article and injects his own perceptions without talking to anyone? Bad journalism...hell, there are a million blogs out there - facts and quotes are the cornerstone to any GOOD jounalist.

Posted by: lylewimbledon | April 14, 2009 5:17 PM | Report abuse

Hey! My daughter's middle name is Bruin. Hold steady out there...

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 5:23 PM | Report abuse

Tarik,

I like the way that WaPo revamped the Caps page for the playoffs, albeit with one minor gripe - I don't see any of Dan Steinberg's content being worked into it at all. He's turning out gold today.

Posted by: ModestProposal | April 14, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

LeftCoastCapsFan: Hopefully you are very "focused" and working hard. ;) Tomorrow it may be even harder to concentrate... I think we are all ready for the game! Bring on the Rangers! =)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 5:27 PM | Report abuse

Okay, time for my serious reaction to this column. I firmly believe that Wise is entitled to his opinions, and it's tricky to say he's "wrong" when he's just offering up his personal perspective, but I do think he's going too far. The goalie isn't the be all and end all for a team's playoff chances. If that were the case, then Detroit wouldn't have been able to win the Cup with Chris Osgood in net, as someone pointed out in a post earlier today.

The one part of Wise's column that I find interesting, however, is the part where he discusses the impact that Theo's soft goals have on the rest of the team. Confidence and morale are really important, and if Wise is right about the team getting deflated and feeling like all their hard work in the offensive zone is in vain, then that's a problem.

Posted by: capsfan26 | April 14, 2009 5:28 PM | Report abuse

lol! ESPN 980 will broadcast live at Verizon Center for "Caps pregame party," like they ever cared about the Caps or Hockey?! Losers! (Except Al Koken.)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 5:34 PM | Report abuse

nah, Doc Walker has turned into a HUGE Caps fan (bandwagon or not, he's been on since last playoffs and has been a Caps supporter all year). Doc's possively tweaking out about the playoffs, in a good way.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

RedBirdie: Yes, you are absolutely right. Walker has turned into a huge Caps fan. I just wish the station would talk more about the Caps. I mean, they are playing in the PLAYOFFS tomorrow, and guess what they're talking about? The Nats and their 0-7 start, only team in the MLB that is winless. Are you kidding me?! They choose to talk about the Nats instead of the Caps.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 5:41 PM | Report abuse

@Moose33:
from previous post
i tried to compile this before a new post - but my d*mn work interrupted me :(

some head to head stats (pp/pk and goaltending) with the NYR
Nov 8 @ Was (3-1 Win)

NYR PP 1 for 3
King - 25 of 27 shots
WAS PP 1/4
BJ - 28/29

Dec 23 @ NYR (5-4 OT Win)
WAS PP 2/5
Theo 21/25
BJ 3/3
NYR PP 0/3
King 31/36

Jan 3 @ Was (2-1 Win)
NYR PP 0/3
Valiquette 29/31
WAS PP 1/4
Theo 21/22

Feb 11 @ NYR (5-4 SO Loss)
WAS PP 0/2
Theo 28/32
NYR PP 0/6
King 26/30

overall PP
WAS 4/15 (26.6)
NYR 1/15 (06.6)

PK
WAS %93.4
NYR %73.4

Sv %
King .881 (82/93)
Valiquette .935 (29/31)
Theo .886 (70/79)
BJ .968 (31/32)

GAA
King 3.58
Valiquette 2.03
Theo 3.05
BJ 0.88

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 14, 2009 5:48 PM | Report abuse

I'm paraphrasing here, but Rangers fan on NHL Live: Wanted the Bruins. Rangers have to split the first two. Not just Ovi. Backstrom! Flash is the new Druce! Capitals in 5. Pens - Devils ECF. Canucks-Devils SCF. Devils won't need a game 7 for any series.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 5:51 PM | Report abuse

@jmu: man, I could seriously use whatever it is that rangers fans are smoking! WTF?

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 5:55 PM | Report abuse

I pray Theo doesn't read that article. "If Theo doesn't play well, he could be the backup next season." "When Theo gives up a bad goal, it kills his teammates." How about the teammates not put him in a terrible position, giving up breakaways and with lazy passing. This article is putting too much on Theo. Like spacecadetkid said, the goalie gets too much credit or too much blame. Wise cannot say "A bad goal scored against Theodore crushes the spirit of his teammates, who know how hard they busted their behinds on the prior shift to score and get back in the game and now realize they have to do it all over again." That's just unfair. That's both the defense and Theo. Trust me, Theo HAS given up bad goals once in a while (every goalie does, even the best ones) but to say that it's his fault for crushing the spirit of his teammates... is ridiculous. Come on Wise, let's support Theo, not bash him right before game 1. :(

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 5:56 PM | Report abuse

rachel216, that pretty much as bad as ESPN showing College Football Live last night instead a show on the NHL playoffs (So far I haven't seen anything on ESPN, I must have missed the 5 minutes when Melrose broke everything down). I thought college football ended a while ago.

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 6:01 PM | Report abuse

@ Capt_Kirk

Thanks for doing that. Rangers PK at 73% and Caps PP at 27%. If that holds true, goodnight Rangers (especialy with a 93% PK on our end). And Henrik's stats are worse than Theo.

I know these stats are from the Renney regime but like I said before, it's not a completely new team or system as Rangers fans will have you believe.

Personally, I think I'm all statted out, just waiting to kick their a@@ tomorrow night.

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Moose33: ESPN will NEVER have an NHL playoff preview show. That's why I never watch ESPN anymore, everything they do on Hockey, it's for about 3 minutes. You'll be lucky to get 5 minutes. The harder part to understand is that ESPN 980 (yes, it is Redskins radio) but it is the only local sports radio station here and they decide to talk about everything BUT the Caps. Who would rather hear about the winless Nats than the Caps? I don't get it.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 6:16 PM | Report abuse

They used to have NHL Live with Bucci and Chicken Parm, that was great. I miss those days. Now I have to watch the MSG crew break it down. Granted they are homers but at least 2 out of 4 picked the Caps to win.

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I agree. I really hope Theo doesn't read the papers. This would be a good time to have a Russian or Swedish goalie where they can't read these types of asinine articles. ....Oh yeah, we HAVE a Russian goalie... :)

I agree that the heat Theo faces is a direct results of our attacking offensive style. When you have a defenseman like Mike Green attacking the net the way he does, you're going to give up odd man rushes. But I'd guess that we get more points from the attacking offense than we give up from breakaways....because like someone said - Theo stops many of them.

Posted by: joe47 | April 14, 2009 6:38 PM | Report abuse

more stats

@Moose33 - this is not for you then :)

breakdown of even strenght/pp/sh goals for/against
was -- even -- pp -- sh -- totg
off --- 177 -- 85 --- 6 --- 268
def --- 154 -- 75 -- 11 --- 240
nyr -- even -- ppg -- shg -- totga
off --- 143 --- 48 ---- 9 ---- 200
def --- 158 --- 40 --- 14 ---- 212

wash is scoring %66 of their goals at even strength and %31 on the pp
wash is giving up %64 at even and %31 from the pp

nyr off %71 at even and %24 on pp
nyr def %74 at even and %19 from pp

in the caps 82 games there have been 160 pp goals scored (for and against), in nyr's 82 games just 88 pp goals

clearly this series will be about the PP and PK. the caps have been short handed 50 more times than they have been up a man. the nyr are +17.

it would appear that the caps are much better at even strength than the rags are at +23 goals to -15 goals

if the caps can keep it down to 3 minors or less per game, i think this is a short series of 5 games. if they are going to take 4 to 6 penalties per game then it could go 7 games. 7+ per game and i don't see them in the second round at all.

the good news is that there usually aren't as many penalties called in the playoffs - i see that as a plus for the caps

Posted by: Capt_Kirk_in_AZ | April 14, 2009 6:49 PM | Report abuse

Well, I guess it's official. Every anaylst on ESPN.com picked the Caps to win the series. we can all breath a little easier now.

And here is Bucci's take on the Caps vs. Rangers. I love Bucci.

No. 2 Washington vs. No. 7 New York Rangers
This was the worst matchup the Rangers could have received in the first round. The Capitals are a freight train and will make the Rangers pay. The Rangers can't win a shootout series. Henrik Lundqvist will need to put an Olsen twin on each shoulder to have a chance to stop the Capitals' onslaught. The Rangers need to channel the 1960 Pittsburgh Pirates. The Yankees outscored the Pirates 55-27, but lost the 1960 World Series in seven games. That's how the Rangers win this series -- lose three games 14-2 and win four games 3-2. I'll take my chances that won't happen, but I do think the Rangers can make this close because they have some real gamers and winners. Capitals in six.

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 6:52 PM | Report abuse

Ah-ha! My magic three returns. I agree with Cap'n that 3 minors or less and 3 goals or less against will be the end of it all.

You guys and gals are some sabrmatricians. Bang.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 6:53 PM | Report abuse

Moose33: Please show that to the crazy Rangers fan who stated all his "clear advantages to the Rangers." =)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 6:55 PM | Report abuse

rachel, I'll let him find out one game at a time starting at 7pm tomorrow, why ruin the surprise?

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 6:58 PM | Report abuse

Moose33, You're so considerate.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

I don't mean to keep posting links but this is a good breakdown from LeBrun. I especially liked the comparison of Theo to Grant Fuhr in terms of playing infront of a run and gun type offense.

http://sports.espn.go.com/nhl/playoffs/2009/news?columnist=lebrun_pierre&id=4068878

Posted by: Moose33 | April 14, 2009 7:07 PM | Report abuse

Should really listen to ANY THING that Wise has to say about hockey???

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/14/AR2006021402286.html

Wise wrote the article like he was watching practice and thus named several players as practicing alongside Ovechkin when in reality they were not on the team due to injury. So rather than fulfill his journalistic obligations and attend practice he merely read an outdated depth chart from his hotel room.

Posted by: skins1110 | April 14, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse

After reading LeBrun noticed a funny stat...Theo is 4-0 in his career in 1st round series. I'll take it.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 14, 2009 7:14 PM | Report abuse

lots of stars being thrown around about the reg season... of means nothing people. Nada. Zip. Zero. 06 Oilers were 8th and went all the way. Drury is a playoff deamon. He's clutch, he's a game breaker in the playoffs and not in the reg. You can't carry stars from the season into the playoffs. Just sit back and enjoy. There is only one thing for certain: there is always an upset. Everything else is up in the air.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

*stats, not stars... argh.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Was out getting my hair cut and ran into OV getting some red color added to his hair. Check it out tomorrow night :)

Posted by: digital_will | April 14, 2009 8:11 PM | Report abuse

@digital, you better have been at the Hair Cuttery! and if you were at the Hair Cuttery, I feel so sorry for your 'do.

Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

I need a hockey fix so bad that I am watching the Bruin/Canadiens game from the 9th of April being shown on NESN. Why the heck didn't COMCAST replay the 5-4 comeback by the wins against the Rangers to get us pumped up for tomorrow?

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 14, 2009 8:18 PM | Report abuse

Tarik and Wise:

It is a team's sport. Not one single person will lose or win the series.

Posted by: opita1 | April 14, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

Ovie getting red dye? I believe it 100%. That should be fun tomorrow if true...

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 14, 2009 8:23 PM | Report abuse

For those of you with NHL Network they are showing a documentary on the impact the 1980 US hockey team had on hockey in the US as a whole.

Posted by: fanohock1 | April 14, 2009 8:28 PM | Report abuse

random observation, but has anyone noticed that the NBA playoffs commercial bears a striking resemblance to the NHL All-Star Game commercial? (I'll find them on youtube if need be)

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 8:29 PM | Report abuse

opita1: Totally. That's why I didn't like Wise's article. He cannot say that it's Theo's fault that he lets in bad goals at bad times and therefore it kills the spirit of his teammates. If the teammates feel that way, then THAT is the real problem. They should not feel that way at all because it is not just Jose, it's the entire team. It's never one person's fault. It's so cliche but it's true: you win as a team and lose as a team.

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 8:33 PM | Report abuse

a quick question:there are 30 nhl teams, but for some reason im only counting 29 in the ahl?

Posted by: bleedred | April 14, 2009 8:35 PM | Report abuse

Anyone think that Varlamov should start?

Posted by: mjmq | April 14, 2009 8:36 PM | Report abuse

@saintex

I'm not sayin' where I was to protect all involved including me and my 'do. :0

Posted by: digital_will | April 14, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

bleedred, that's because ahl-nhl association isn't as fully developed as the MLB-minors system is in baseball. teams come and go and some are affiliated with more than one team.

Dallas, iirc, did not have an affiliate this year. Teams change constantly, too. Hershey only recent came into the caps family.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 8:43 PM | Report abuse

thanks. so is dallas' best affiliate just in another league?

Posted by: bleedred | April 14, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

bleedred, They have prospects all over the AHL. But there will be a 30th AHL franchise next season in Cedar Park, the Texas Stars.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 8:52 PM | Report abuse

mjmq,

No.

Posted by: ModestProposal | April 14, 2009 8:53 PM | Report abuse

Let me rephrase that, they have two affiliations, one with the Hartford Wolf Pack (shared with the Rags) and the other with the Manitoba Moose (shared with the 'Nucks). They have prospects on both teams.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Not every team has an AHL affiliate. And some AHL teams are shared between NHL teams.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

Why the heck didn't COMCAST replay the 5-4 comeback by the wins against the Rangers to get us pumped up for tomorrow?

Posted by: fanohock1

fanohock1: Absolutely great idea. I think all Caps fans would've LOVED to watch that game again. Perfect occasion. Too bad they didn't think about it. Lacrosse is on CSN right now. :(

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 8:54 PM | Report abuse

yeah, the Caps relationship with the Bears is fairly unusual in the NHL, I think. The Red Wings seem to use their Grand Rapids affiliate the same way, shuttling players back and forth as needed and easily plugging them into the system. Most teams, though, don't seem to have that sort of relationship.

Its worked wonders for the Caps though!

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 8:57 PM | Report abuse

22 hours and counting.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 9:00 PM | Report abuse

RedBirdie,
The Isles & the Bridgeport Sound Tigers work very similarly as the Caps & Bears. They've had to with all the injury problems they've had. They sent Okposo down today to help out the Tigers' Calder run.

I think that the relationship between the Caps & the Bears is starting to be emulated just as much as the rebuilding is. Actually, if you think about it, the Caps can certainly be called "trendsetters" in the organizational function of the NHL. The rebuild, the coaching change, the "capologist" in the war room, the relationship with the minor affiliates, etc.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:02 PM | Report abuse

Draft Lottery Special is on now on NHL Network & TSN.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:03 PM | Report abuse

So the guys are getting their playoff hairdos.

1) Green got his mohawk cut on the Elliott in the Morning show on DC 101.

2) According to @digital_will, Ovi has gotten red hair dye added to his hair.

So what will Backstrom do? This is the guy who doesn't trust North Americans to cut his hair; consequently, his hair is long. How long will his hair get if the Caps make a long playoff run?

Fleischmann and Semin won't need to dye their hair red -- they already got red hair. Semin comes from Krasnoyarsk, Siberia in Russia which literally means "red ore".

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 14, 2009 9:08 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75, I thought I remember hearing them say a bunch of them had something special planned. Maybe they're all "Caps Red"?

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:11 PM | Report abuse

@jmu_capsgirl

I remember hearing that a couple of months ago. However, now we hear of Green doing the real mohawk. Will Green now have what's left of his hair died red now that Ovi has apparently gone "red".

Somehow, I can't imaging Backstrom doing a mohawk.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 14, 2009 9:15 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75, 'red ore', nice! thanks for the knowledge.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 9:16 PM | Report abuse

CapsFan75, I don't see Green going red. His hair is pretty dark, and its not easy (although doable) to dye dark hair. Maybe they're all doing something different? Nick with the mullet? I kid! I don't know. I'm just so excited about playoff hockey!

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

5th pick goes to LA Kings.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:18 PM | Report abuse

4th goes to the Thrashers.
3rd goes to the Avalanche.
2nd goes to the Lightning.

aaaaand
1st pick goes to the Islanders.

No surprises, darn.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:20 PM | Report abuse

SO the Isles get some love! It would have been cruel to lose 1st pick overall.

I think the Tampa fans should bludgeon the owners to within an inch of their lives. Win the division my ass. Hows that for karma? They're golfing and Torts is in the playoffs.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Green is all about the Hawk. dying it red would be a bit much. The hawk works, don't mess with it.

What will Feds do? He seems to have jumped on the "Let's all go wild and crazy like the kids!" bandwagon.

Posted by: RedBirdie | April 14, 2009 9:25 PM | Report abuse

oo7, Nah, it would have been hilarious! I wanted him sent west. I'd be taking Hedman anyways. I'm not drinking the Tavarade.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 9:41 PM | Report abuse

I was listening to the NHL Home Ice (I think) XM radio station today at about 5 pm, and both Green and OV were on to accept the Espo's they won yesterday (named after Phil Espisito)...Green won the Bobby Orr award for best defensemen, and OV won (I think the Gordie Howe) for MVP as well as a fan voted/selected MVP award (42 percent of the voting there!!!). Anyhow, they were talking about Green's mohawk, and also OV was joking about how he, Feds, Backstrom and perhaps one other player (I feel like I am missing someone...) were going for the red hair look. I am not sure if this was really true (for the others mentioned) or just OV joking around, he was being his funny usual self, but I cannot wait to see if anything really is planned :)

Sooooo excited for tomorrow!

Go Caps!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 14, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

Mike Wise is, once again, spot-on. His columns about the Caps give the sharpest, deepest and most penetrating insights into this team than anything I have ever read anywhere.

I have been saying for months now that Theo is the single most serious obstactle to this team reaching the Cup.

It is not because he is the worst goal-tender there is, or because others don't contribute to goals scored against us. It is because his inconsistency does not give this young team the confidence and sense of security they need to find their rhythm and bring out their considerable offensive skills.

His brilliant saves can give way to an unexpected soft goal at any time. This means they cannot depend on him and, hence, cannot feel the sense of freedom that will allow them to take risks and play with passion and abandon. I agree with Wise that:

"A bad goal scored against Theodore crushes the spirit of his teammates, who know how hard they busted their behinds on the prior shift to score and get back in the game and now realize they have to do it all over again."

This is what happened in their last game when, after Ovie tied it, Theo let in two consecutive goals with just five minutes to go.

I don't understand people minimizing this factor and making excuses. It is not that I am against Theo. I would love for things to click with him and see him catch on fire. But it is a fact that he is inconsistent, and it is logical to assume that -- especially an inexperienced team--will be thrown off if their main anchoring piece is not dependable.

The one thing I disagree with BB and GM is their not moving heaven and earth to get an elite level goaltender during trade time. They would only be justified if their main goal was long-term development and not getting the Cup in the short-term. I can buy this.

Watch Theo transform himself and singe-handedly deliver us the Cup! Well, I would happily eat humble pie if this were the case.

Posted by: caraveli | April 14, 2009 9:48 PM | Report abuse

yawn....

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 9:52 PM | Report abuse

This is what happened in their last game when, after Ovie tied it, Theo let in two consecutive goals with just five minutes to go.

You mean right after Ovie scored, we had two defensive breakdowns. One was a 3on 2 the other a 2on 1. Great point.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 9:53 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: caps28fan | April 14, 2009 9:59 PM | Report abuse

oh, Caraveli...
mike wise is more of a master of the obvious than savant. Everyone knows defensive play is key. Everyone knows that the goalie is the key to victory. but that doesn't mean it's all you need. Otherwise Hasek and Marty B and Roy would have won every year or been in the finals every year. Osgood was never an elite goalie but he has how many rings? If the team plays as well as they did during the season, they'll be fine. Am I saying they're going to win the cup? that's an unknown. but they have as good a chance as anyone, I think. they just have to play hard, stay out of the box and outscore their opponents. To hinge it all on Theo is silly, unfair and, frankly, stupid.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 10:02 PM | Report abuse

by the way, wise does NOT write the most penatrating articles. He's a little too melodramatic, to make up for the lack of substance.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 10:06 PM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that "he is the worst goal-tender there is" probably overrides the "it is not that I am against Theo" testimony.

What gets so lost in all the goalie talk is that those that hate JT think that those who don't are somehow putting forth evidence, or claim, that Theo is one of the best five or ten goalies in the NHL. Very few think that, at least from what I read, but I think most observers understand that the defensive end of the rink in this system will always be difficult. What caraveli seems to be unable to see is that goals against - a goalie - isn't a sole source statistic. If you believe it is then the only way to determine who the best goalies are would be to take the shootout numbers and say "here are the best, pure and simple, because all other details are stripped away." And so, I give you this for 2008-09:

Jonas Hiller ANA 26/31 = 0.839
Dwayne Roloson EDM 19/24 = 0.792
Pekka Rinne NSH 19/24 = 0.792
Marc-Andre Fleury PIT 22/28 = 0.786
Ryan Miller BUF 31/40 = 0.775
Kari Lehtonen ATL 17/22 = 0.773
Niklas Backstrom MIN 16/21 = 0.762
Henrik Lundqvist NYR 30/40 = 0.750
Dany Sabourin PIT 14/19 = 0.737
Jose Theodore WSH 16/22 = 0.727

That's your top ten (based on at least 15 shots) this season. So, my math tells me there are 16 playoff teams and this list has 10 - and I can eliminate four who aren't in the playoffs and one more since Pittsburgh has two on the list. Hence, JT is the fifth best goalie in the playoffs. If you want to know some others: Luongo is 11th, Osgood 12th, S. Mason 13th, Biron 14th, Nobokov 18th, Ward 20th, C. Mason 28th, and the Bulin Wall 28th.

The problem with writers like this Wise - and caraveli - is that they are obsessed with numbers that mean nothing. I can simply trot out these numbers and claim JT is the fifth best. Is he? Well, by caraveli and Wise's ideas - nothing on the team they play for counts for anything - then, yes, I can.

Time is running. Game is closer. If Mr. Wise had any real ability to breakdown anything other than "the fans and team hate Theo" then it would be interesting to read.


Posted by: saintex | April 14, 2009 10:13 PM | Report abuse

This just in...goaltending is key in the playoffs. Pitching is key in the baseball playoffs. Defense is key in the NFL playoffs. Winning Florida is a big step towards the presidency.

Yeah anyways...I think everyone and their brother who follows the Caps said as soon as we signed Theodore that how consistent he plays for this team would be one of the biggest factors towards how far this team goes.

The discussion has gone on all year. It will continue to go on. I still am far happier (both then and now) that we only tied up 9 mil over 2 years than 22 mil or whatever over 4 that Huet got from Chicago. The kids look like one of them has a decent shot of taking over the reigns by the end of next year, right on schedule.

I worry about Theo over the course of the whole playoffs...not in the first round against a team that has trouble scoring.

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 14, 2009 10:16 PM | Report abuse

all I'm worried about are injuries. if they stay healthy, alls good. key injuries to top talent like Ovie, backstrom, semin and green will undo this team. If Theo faulters, the team can support him. But they can't leave him out to dry like they've done numerous times. you can't expect any goalie to fare well vs constant odd man rushes and screens.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Why did Wise right this (dumb) article? Ugh. The inconsistency is linked directly to our defense. To say that the postseason HINGES on one player is asinine. This is a team sport, win together, lose together. Even a goalie who steals a game had to have had help. We just need Theo to be decent enough to win us the series. It's not one person, it's the whole team.

"Watch Theo transform himself and singe-handedly deliver us the Cup!"

He doesn't have to single-handily deliver us the Cup. He is a part of this team that will deliver us the Cup.

Plus, all this bashing of Theo right now is not going to change anything. If you don't like it, too bad, cause he's starting tomorrow and I'm sure he's going to have a rock solid game. Let's Go Caps!

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 10:26 PM | Report abuse

@Rachel

Of course he has to do it all by himself, it's not like he has the 3rd highest scoring team in the league in front of him. If we don't win games 1-0 or 2-1 we're screwed. Mike Wise implied so...

Posted by: Davethecapsfan | April 14, 2009 10:30 PM | Report abuse

I still think the best and only deadline trade that should have been done was for Pascal Leclaire. He went dirt, dirt cheap and he is real , real good. He also only costs about 1.3/yr. That way we don't even have to worry about a rookie goaltender or a haven't played a game in months Johnson.

But, we have Theo and Varlamov. That is how it is. Theo will be fine as long as we give him enough up front.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

That right is supposed to be write.

Exactly, Dave. Theo does not have to be 30/30, 100% save percentage in every game. I hope Theo has an awesome series so Wise will never write again! (jk)

Posted by: rachel216 | April 14, 2009 10:35 PM | Report abuse

rachel216, Tim Leone is going to have a feature on your boy Mikey starting for the Bears during the playoffs tomorrow in the Patriot-News. If I find a link, I'll send it to you, but keep an eye out for it. Its generally somewhere around here: http://www.pennlive.com/hersheybears/

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 14, 2009 10:36 PM | Report abuse

win at home, split on the road and there's your series.

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

master of the obvious

Posted by: oo7 | April 14, 2009 11:05 PM | Report abuse

Biron, Briere, and bad penalties are the reasons the Flyers beat us. If Theo is to us at least what Biron was to them, we'll be fine. Repost from last night:

Man this waiting thing is horrible!

Ended up watching the highlights of all 7 games of our series with the Flyers. Things I had forgotten:

*Brashear scored the first goal for us, and had a big assist later in the game.
*Biron completely stole game 2. I remembered losing in a shutout and thinking we just got outplayed, but at least from the replays it looked like Biron stood on his head that game. If we won that, we probably would've won the series.
*Green with some amazing defensive plays. On one he breaks his stick on a slap shot, then gets back on D and hip checks a Flyer to get the Caps the puck back.
*Semin, Backstrom, and OV had a TON of points, almost more than I expected.
*Morrisonn getting checked into Huet in game 7 resulting in a wide open net goal (puck wasn't there)

Things I remembered:
*How much I hate Briere
*Green's humongous jump after his first playoff goal, and the dogpile after his second
*OV stealing the puck, then scoring the game winner in game 1
*Huet's 2 amazing diving glove saves
*Bradley's bloodied face yelling at the refs after a missed high stick (was not in any replays) - we were called for a high stick later in the shift and the Flyers scored on an ensuing 5 on 3
*The Ovie fake shot that faked even Fedorov out (couldn't find a replay)
*The number of times our defense passed the puck straight to the Flyers resulting in goals or good chances (most were goals).

Posted by: Raber | April 14, 2009 11:23 PM | Report abuse

Anyone know what channel the game will be on tomorrow night? DirectTV hasn't published a CenterIce playoff schedule for some reason. Really hope I get to see this game!

Posted by: patrone | April 14, 2009 11:47 PM | Report abuse

It is on CSN tomorrow.

Posted by: richmondphil | April 14, 2009 11:58 PM | Report abuse

Also, a KEY TO THE GAME I haven't heard mentioned yet-

SHORT AS HELL LINE CHANGES!! I'm talking 20 - 25 seconds!!! Our d-men can't afford to be tired while trying to exit the zone. They simply don't have the skill to use their talent alone. They have to hustle and have fresh legs to beat forecheckers to the puck and muscle it out.

I love our chances in this series.

My prediction is Caps in 6, with Backy being Series MVP. OV will get the goals, but Backy will emerge as our team leader via productive play on both sides of the puck, and on the PK.

Semin, also, the PICES that he is, needs to stay focused. A FOCUSED and MOTIVATED Semin is the best talent on our team. I think many will agree with me there.

I just hope (kncok on wood) he doesn't turn into a Alex Kovalev type; a great talent that no one can seam to figure out how to get him to play consistently (ironically also a Pices).

Posted by: floms | April 15, 2009 12:06 AM | Report abuse

Also, a KEY TO THE GAME I haven't heard mentioned yet-

SHORT AS HELL LINE CHANGES!! I'm talking 20 - 25 seconds!!! Our d-men can't afford to be tired while trying to exit the zone. They simply don't have the skill to use their talent alone. They have to hustle and have fresh legs to beat forecheckers to the puck and muscle it out.

I love our chances in this series.

My prediction is Caps in 6, with Backy being Series MVP. OV will get the goals, but Backy will emerge as our team leader via productive play on both sides of the puck, and on the PK.

Semin, also, the PICES that he is, needs to stay focused. A FOCUSED and MOTIVATED Semin is the best talent on our team. I think many will agree with me there.

I just hope (kncok on wood) he doesn't turn into a Alex Kovalev type; a great talent that no one can seam to figure out how to get him to play consistently (ironically also a Pices).

Posted by: floms | April 15, 2009 12:07 AM | Report abuse

Thanks for the recount!

I think Theo is fine.

We get scored on because of three problems mainly-

1. Failure to exit the zone, resulting in a turn over and tired backcheckers and d-men, results in opposing team setting up and getting chances.

2. Our D-men over pinching and getting caught. Results in odd-man rush against us.

3. Random, incicent, bad angle shots that deflect their way in (pucks with eyes) past our short goal tender.

The most goals we allow is due to #1 IMO. So we can make up for #2 and #3 by scoring 3+ goals again. But we MUST clean up or mitigate our #1 vulnerability.

The FLYERS KILLED US because of our inability to exit the zone (via dump out or controlled break out). And our systems leaves our wingers looking to break out, leaving only the 2-dmen and our center trying to get the puck out.

I think BB will just tell our guys "look, behind our net, if you have pressure just clear as hard as you can, DON'T worry about the spring-out pass. Better to take an icing!

Posted by: floms | April 15, 2009 12:08 AM | Report abuse

On the hair front, here's the latest rumor. Backstrom and Fedorov and some other guys will join Ovi in getting red streaks. Then Ovi's got dark hair, but not as dark as Green's.

Well the Caps already have two natural red heads in Flash and Semin.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 15, 2009 12:11 AM | Report abuse

@floms,

It's Pisces, not PICES. The Caps actually have several Pisces, besides Semin. Clark, Steckel, and Schultz also.

I know all about Pisces. My first born child is one also (and a year younger than Semin). She's been accused of lack of focus on occasion.

Posted by: CapsFan75 | April 15, 2009 12:15 AM | Report abuse

Well shoot:

http://www.tsn.ca/nhl/feature/?fid=11809

We're doomed.

Posted by: Raber | April 15, 2009 12:57 AM | Report abuse

Yeah, well CapsKremlin's dog picked us.

Posted by: jmu_capsgirl | April 15, 2009 1:09 AM | Report abuse

Huh. A monkey picking the Rangers. Go figure!

Posted by: The_Stanley_Caps | April 15, 2009 1:10 AM | Report abuse

Everyone already knows what I think about this subject. Theo is without a doubt our weakest link and is my #1 concern for the playoffs. Especially since our opponent has one of the best goalies in hockey.

Posted by: ranndino | April 15, 2009 3:37 AM | Report abuse

I've said this many times, but the people who excuse Theo's crappy numbers and inconsistent goaltending with our style of play must not watch other teams play. I do. It's simply not true. Mason, Thomas, Kiprusoff, Luongo, Nabokov, Rinne and so on often face many more shots and tougher shots. They're simply much better goalies than the current version of Theo. Varlamov's sample of games is small, but it shows a glimpse of what a good goalie is capable of playing behind the same defense.

Posted by: ranndino | April 15, 2009 3:47 AM | Report abuse

@ranndino,

No one here watches Caps games like you.

Mason is a good goalie but when he shutout the Caps at Verizon he saw every single shot. He generally faced nearly 20% fewer shot than the JT this season and that translate to some numbers. Every goalie you named - bar Thomas - plays in a very defensive oriented system and don't end up with nearly the number of odd-man rushes and breakaways as the Caps give away. I'll refer you to the above shootout stats since you, like caraveli, seem to believe that the only assessment of a goalie's ability is without taking into account any other player on the ice. If you think Semyon is ready to be a starter in a seven-game series, or throughout the playoffs, then that eliminates your expertise.

No one here is excusing JTs numbers - what they are saying is that the defensive play across the board is always subject to problems. That's the way the Caps play. What if the Caps win the 4-1 and every game is 6-5 or 7-5? What then?

Posted by: saintex | April 15, 2009 8:05 AM | Report abuse

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