Hockey

vs.

RECORDS: Capitals 5-2-2  Hawks 2-2-1

PUCK DROP: 6pm

TV: NBCSN Chicago/NHLN Outside the 606

WHAT A BUNCH OF CLOWNS: Japers Rink

The Hawks come in to their first game of the year on a positive base, though perhaps a touch lucky to have their second win of two. So the Hawks have a chance for their first “winning streak” of the season. The challenge is that to get to there, they’ll have to go through one of the hotter teams in the league.

The Washington Capitals come in with the second-highest point-total in the East, tied with the Penguins atop the Metro which has been their apartment for the past few seasons. Their two regulation losses have come against the Predators and Avalanche, who have been a problem for America so far on the nascent season. And they’re doing it a little differently so far than they have.

In the past, at least the last couple seasons, the Caps were not a great team when measured metrically. But they’re finishing talent would always outshoot what the chances and attempts said they should have, because when you have Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, TJ Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov, and some nifty bottom-sixers that’s a thing you can do. They didn’t give up too much while not being exactly defensively iron curtain, but just enough to let their array of snipers to outdo whatever they did surrender.

This year, they’re controlling play much more so far, ranking fourth in team Corsi-percentage and expected goal-percentage. Which has left them sixth in goal for, because again, they have finishers everywhere. But Barry Trotz’s ways haven’t completely disappeared, as the Caps remain one of the better defensive teams around in terms of attempts and chances against. It’s been a promising start for a team that becomes an afterthought simply because they’ve been around so long you get a little sick of them or take them as a given so consistently they just fade into the background. But it’s been a decade now where anyone trying to get out of the Metro or NASCAR Division before that had to go through DC. Still looks that way now.

The concern for the Caps so far is that Braden Holtby has been awful, and once again the Capitals are thinking about turning their eyes to a younger model. Where it was once Phillip Grubauer, it’s now Ilya Samsonov. He’s been very good in his first month in the NHL, and with Holtby a free agent after this season, you can bet there are more than a few hopes in the Caps front office that Samsonov proves he can be a cheaper, younger starter going forward. Of course, we won’t know that until April, where Grubauer faltered for the Caps a couple years ago and kept Holtby around.

The big story tonight for the Hawks is whether or not Kirby Dach is going to make his debut. It would seem silly to call him up and then just have him sit in the pressbox, but we’ve seen that before. Dach was skating as a top line winger with Jonathan Toews yesterday, as a totally charming, bright, and handsome (and available!) writer suggested just a couple days ago. Given the success David Kampf has had between Brandon Saad and Dominik Kubalik, and that Dylan Strome belongs far less on a wing, it seems the best answer. It would be the softest landing as well, and Toews and DeBrincat could use a little more dash than Drake Caggiula can provide. Then again, Caligula is the only puck winner there, and Toews might not be able to that any more. Could we see Dach with Caggiula and Toews with Top Cat sliding down to the second line with Kane and Strome? Even talking about it is kind of exciting. It could be new toy night, and what we really want is Dach just to flash what he can be this season. It won’t all be pretty, but let’s see if there’s a diamond here.

As for the rest, Corey Crawford will take the net as he and Lehner are going to split the starts over this busy stretch you’d have to think, at least until one gets hot or one turns into stone. It’s how they drew it up.

The Hawks were scorched at least in the first period by the Jackets, who are a team that’s consistently been able to use their speed against the Hawks’ lack of it. The Caps certainly can play in the straight lines through the neutral zone that the Hawks can’t handle when their defense gets squared up. Kampf can take the Backstrom assignment, but the thing with the Caps is they still feature Kuznetsov behind that. If we’re going to get excited about what the Hawks can do this season, they have to prove not only that they can survive against teams that can do that thanks to goaltending, but can actively handle it and give as good as they get. It’s been a while since that happened. Tonight’s another test.

Everything Else

Tom Wilson – The head halfwit/nitwit/dimwit not just of the Capitals, but perhaps in the entire league. Simply a workplace hazard for everyone around. Wilson hasn’t popped off this season yet, and has been pretty useful on the second line. We know that won’t last, and he did brain someone in the preseason. The next time it happens, he should be suspended 40 games if not more, but the NHL doesn’t have the stones to do it. One day, he and the league will get sued by someone for someone’s rough retirement.

Radko Gudas – The Caps either wanted to save money by swapping out Niskanen for Gudas, or they felt they didn’t quite have the asshole level on defense to match the one at forward. What’s infuriating about Gudas is he is actually a good player when he’s not trying to be Freddy Krueger out there. He’s always on the plus side of the metrics and can be a steady centerfielder for a more adventurous partner. But he just can’t help himself.

TJ Oshie – He still makes engine noises while skating around the ice.

Hockey

The old standby. The last four seasons, no matter what happens, there the Caps are, finishing first in the Metro. There’s always a portion of the season where it feels like it’s gone on them, that this is finally where they’ve gotten too old and too predictable and too comfortable, and yet the season ends and here we are. Coaching change doesn’t seem to matter much. Whatever player turnover doesn’t seem to matter much. There seems to be things you can always count on. Alex Ovechkin will lead the league in goals, he’ll score from his post-up spot, and the Caps will finish first.

Will it be true again? There are a couple challengers, but maybe we’ve gotten to the point where we just take the Caps as a given until they say they’re not.

2018-2019

48-26-8  102 points (1st in Metro, lost in 1st round)

3.34 GF/G (5th)  3.02 GA/G (17th)

49.1 CF% (18th)  47.1 xGF% (25th)

20.8 PP% (12th)  79.9 PK% (24th)

Goalies: You think of Braden Holtby as another given for the Caps, along with Ovie and Backstrom. Still, the past two seasons he’s only been ok, and you’ll recall the Caps’ Cup run started with Philip Grubauer in net in the playoffs before he gave way to Holtby. Holts put up a .911 last year, which was only a touch above league average. He hasn’t been near his Vezina form for two seasons now, but this is his final one before hitting free agency. Tends to motivate some players. He’ll be 30 when the season starts, which means whatever comes after this is probably the last big contract he’ll sign, wherever that might be. There’s no reason to think the .908s and .911s of the past two seasons are now the norm. If the Caps get another .920+ out of Holtby, then they’ll almost certainly be near the top of the standings again.

He’ll be backed up by Pheonix Copley and his misspelled first name, who was your run of the mill backup last year. The Caps can’t afford an injury to Holtby, that’s for sure. Then again, do the Caps want Holtby to prove he’s worth $8M or $9M for the next few years?

Defense: The Caps mostly return the same outfit on the blue line, except they’ve swapped out Matt Niskanen for Radko Gudas. At first that sounds like a major downgrade. It’s still something of one, but Gudas is actually effective when none of the bullshit is on display. Sadly, there’s always some bullshit on display, so the Caps will be killing off some dumbass penalties. John Carlson, Dmitry Orlov, and Michal Kempny (sigh) will be doing the heavy lifting here, They’ll hope for development from both Christian Djoos and Jonas Siegenthaler, and both were good in sheltered roles last year. If they get that, they can reduce what they need out of Gudas, which should always be the idea. They may get minutes from prospect Lucas Johansen as well, but they shouldn’t need it.

Forwards: Along with Holtby, Nicklas Backstrom is going into his free agent year at 31. Just like the goalie, this is probably his last big contract, and it’s a question if he’ll get it from the Caps with Evgeny Kuznetsov pretty much taking the #1 center role, or poised to. Backstrom is a lock for 70 or more points every year, and that should get him a deal nearing eight figures next summer, even at 32. Kuznetsov and him down the middle is just about as good as it gets. Lars Eller does the dirty work, and you know what Ovechkin is going to do no matter how old he is. He’ll be scoring 45 when he is 45. Beyond that there’s TJ Oshie, who if healthy he’s probably good f0r 30 goals again. Big if, though.

Beyond that, the Caps might be a touch short on scoring forwards. If they get a step forward from Jakub Vrana and his 24 goals last year, they’ll be ok. Carl Hagelin is around for a full season this time, and though he’s getting up there he still that brain and those feet. If the top six do top six things, the Caps are fine as they have plenty of foot soldiers in the bottom six to carry through. They always do, don’t they?

Prediction: You know what the floor is with the Caps. It’s incredibly hard to envision them slipping out of the playoffs unless Holtby goes full poltergeist in net or getting hurt. Ovie will score. So will Kuznetsov and Backstrom and Oshie. They’ll get contributions from elsewhere. The defense is solid if not spectacular, though it could start to approach that if the two kids become things. They have the Penguins and Hurricanes to outlast, but they always seem to. Maybe they’ll fall all the way to second. It’s hard to see anything worse.

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New York Islanders

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Pittsburgh

Everything Else

I would say that the Washington Capitals learned all the wrong lessons from winning their first Cup last spring, but then what can you learn when you spend the next eight months riding the creature? You’ve probably learned some lessons while bass-ackwards, but they were learned the wrong way and could have been absorbed in much more efficient and cleanly ways.

So there the Caps were, kind of like a Diet ’07 Ducks, convinced their constant penis-measuring and bicep-flexing was the reason they had a parade last June. Running around trying to hit everything, as if trying to impersonate a super collider. And there they were trying to hold up T.J. Oshie as some sort of martyr. He broke his collarbone, he wasn’t the dude from the “One” video. And it’s hard to take a team’s claims of a dirty or iffy hit seriously when they employ Tom Wilson. It’s like that one friend you have who made out with someone truly objectionable at closing time at the bar once. It’s a response you always have in the back pocket.

You didn’t like that crosscheck to Oshie? You employ Tom Wilson. Thought you should have had more penalties? You employ Tom Wilson. Afraid the opponent isn’t looking you in the eye? You employ Tom Wilson.

Of course it goes beyond that with the Caps. They nearly won this series on the back of their premier and special amount of scoring. That’s how they won the Cup last year, behind Ovie and Backstrom and Kuznetsov and Carlson. But after a summer and more of listening to professional belchers like Mike Milbury and Keith Jones claim that their path past the Lightning had to do with scaring and beating them up, they clearly bought into the bullshit and started growling like a five-year-old trying to be scary. It was almost an adorable sort of growling.

So yeah, Ovie got to punch a child unconscious while his teammates applauded, a super great look for the league. And hey, if he hadn’t his team might have only gotten one shot in the final 40 minutes of that game instead of the glorious two he lifted them to through his “leadership.” He might have gotten into Dougie Hamilton’s head, but Justin Faulk and Jaccob Slavin were more than happen to just glide into the space the Caps had vacated while trying to be the meteor from “Armageddon.”

It’s not really Ovechkin’s fault, of course. He’s an intense guy. He’s also the greatest scorer of all-time, and should focus on that. And yet what gets more replays? His goal in Game 6 which was a thing of beauty, his assist in Game 7 which was the same, or him trash talking the Canes bench after he missed a hit by five feet? It’s the way we live, apparently. Also his chicken impression isn’t much more than a tick above the Bluths.

Still, the Caps carried on a noble tradition of the previous Cup champs losing in seven games. The Wings did it, the Penguins did it the first time, the Hawks did it the first, second, and third time, so did the Bruins. The Penguins of last year lost in a Game 6 overtime, which is pretty close. Seems that’s how you go out on your shields these days. Maybe they can raise a banner for that next to their Winter Classic ’15 one.

The Caps have such a strange legacy. They’ve won their division four straight years and five of the last seven, which is a rare accomplishment. It should be celebrated. And yet it feels like they just kept winning a division the Penguins can’t locate enough fucks to give to win it and everyone else is too helpless to take. It’s the division crown the Caps keep finding in the alley.

In the end, last year’s run will be the outlier to the true nature of the Caps. They don’t go past the second round. It’s just not something that happens. They find a way to spit it before eight wins. There won’t come another season where the true power is simply too tired, and the rest of the rabble incapable to keep them in their natural habitat. The Caps win last year felt like the first time a child claims he’ll walk way from his/her parents. With every step they turn around to see if anyone will stop them, and you let them go knowing they’ll end up back where they should with a new sense of bravery. They don’t have it in them to stay out there though.

Water seeks its own level. The Caps win the division and then go away soon after. It’s how things are. It’s how they will be. We may spin off our axis every so often, but always return. Doesn’t it feel better this way? Comfortable, right?

Too bad T.J. Oshie died for nothing.

Everything Else

We can only hope.

It was five years ago, so you would think the memory should be pretty yellowed by now. Yes, we’re biased when it comes to T.J. Oshie. He was the dude in St. Louis who made engine noises when he was on the ice. He was the asshole who Blues fans couldn’t wait to point out had scored more at North Dakota than Jonathan Toews, for reasons we can’t understand. Maybe it made St. Louis residents feel good in a way that only booing Cardinals who happen to be black does. Oshie also has that big dumb face.

But by far what came to annoy us most about Oshie was the glow and esteem he got out of a shootout performance in the Olympics in 2014. While the actual performance may have been fun at the time, let’s review: It didn’t come in a game, but a gimmick. Second, it came in a gimmick after a game that didn’t matter. It was the preliminary round. It basically got the US nowhere. Third, it was a shootout win over a Russian team that flat out sucked. The US should have ripped that team apart.

Really, check out this defense: Nikita Nikitin, Slava Voynov, Fedor Tyutin, Alex Emelin, Andrei Markov, and a couple of KHL wanderers. That’s a defense that’s asking for its doors to be blown off. The US could only manage a couple of power play goals. We should have known it was going to be a balls-up then.

And it didn’t help the US win a medal. They were utterly smothered by Canada in the semis, perhaps the biggest gap between teams in a game that ended up 1-0 in history. It could have been 120 minutes long, and the dunderheaded roster USA Hockey put together led by the simply bewildered Dan Bylsma–who attempted to play a dump and chase game against one of the best defenses ever assembled–would have never scored. The US didn’t bother to care in the Bronze Medal game.

And Oshie has been coasting off that ever since. It seems to always come up, and don’t be shocked if it gets mentioned on NBC again today whenever he is on screen. It was a quirk. An anomaly. A fissure in time. Nothing more. So leave us alone.

 

Game #50 Preview Suite

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

Call me a sucker for these moments.

I’ve certainly had my issues with the Washington Capitals. I’ve definitely reveled in their failures along with everyone else, spiced with a tinge of frustration with them for not making good on the promise of so many teams in the past (don’t tell me Caps-Hawks in ’10 wouldn’t have been a much better series than the Flyers, not that I care now). Tom Wilson’s presence. Timothy Leif, though if Oshie had become a Hawk once upon a time he’d be one of our favorites I’m sure. Bruce Boudreau. Barry Trotz at times. They’ve been far from the most annoying team in the world, and if you’re a hockey fan for just two to three years or so you’ll be annoyed by every team that isn’t yours.

But I don’t know how you didn’t smile watching Alex Ovechkin last night. Sure, it’s not like any professional athlete will “suffer” when they don’t win a championship, given the perks that come along with it. And yet this is what they’ve been trained and drafted and deployed to do their whole lives. It’s been their raison d’etre, and if it’s not they can expect a torrent of horseshit thrown their way (for evidence, check out Pat Boyle calling out Jonathan Toews on his podcast/propaganda).

And especially when it’s Ovie, who’s basically had to eat all the shit for the Caps for 13 years without ever balking. Writers looking for an easy scapegoat, who wouldn’t dare call him a choker or accuse him of not caring if he came from Swift Current. Coaches trying to cover their own incompetence by laying it as his feet. Caps fans will deny it now but there were a fair few calling for him to be traded after whatever playoff failure you want to choose. The constant comparisons to Sidney Crosby.

And Ovie had to swallow all of that Caps-Pens bullshit, even though most of it came well before he was even thought of as a prospect. Ovie’s Caps and Sid’s Pens have only met in the playoffs four times. And one of those was 10 years ago. Does it even count? The Caps-Pens “thing” is basically only slightly more of a “thing” than Hawks-Canucks or Hawks-Wild. Fuck, the Hawks and Predators almost have the same recent playoff history. And yet Ovie and the Caps had to choke it all down because the Pens went on to win a Cup each time after beating them, which doesn’t really have much to do with them, does it?

You see Ovechkin last night, quite simply the greatest scorer the game has ever seen, and what it meant to him. Or those fans who flooded Chinatown and elsewhere last night in DC (wishing Chicago might have found a gathering space for the Hawks once, but oh well. I wouldn’t have been there anyway, because I needed to be punching Killion at the bar). You can’t help but smile. It’s been a good hockey town, whatever you think of it. And you see them do it for the first time, and just maybe you remember what it was like the first time for you. It’s always good to be reminded why you bother with this in the first place.

I saw a lot about how this clearly isn’t the best team and how this is how the NHL works. And maybe it is. At this point, we know the regular season standings don’t tell a complete story. I think you take the teams that have 105 points or more and you basically throw them in a “top group” and they’re all the same. The Caps won a division that produced five playoff teams. They clearly don’t suck.

Matt had it right yesterday, that when you get to this stage, it’s usually the chalk. You may say this team or that team wasn’t the best one, but there hasn’t been a Cup winner in a very long time that came from nowhere. They’re almost always among that “top group.” You can get some weirdos in the Final, and then the team with more future Hall of Famers wins. The Caps have at least two in Ovechkin and Backstrom, and Kuznetsov could be one day if he maintains this level. It’s not that hard.

I wonder where Ovie goes from here. After Sid won his first he had his first 50-goal season the next out, seemingly freed of what had been expected and placed on him since he was a teenager. Does Ovechkin have anther 50 or 60-goal season in him? I wouldn’t ever doubt him.

It’s funny, because most of this playoff run, this Caps team has been somewhat derided as “not a vintage Caps team.” And yet if one of the previous two that were better than this, had just gotten a bounce or two here or there against the Penguins, and won a Cup before this, we’d say this version did it on know-how and confidence, much like the ’15 Hawks. It’s still the same core, they just got a little more luck, a little more goaltending, and there it is. Looking back at our local outfit, Game 7 OT in ’13 could have gone any direction. The Bruins were a post away from going up 3-0. Two multi-OT games against Nashville in ’15 would have swung that series, or Pekka Rinne not drinking a bathtub of cough syrup before every game would have. And then what would the narrative be?

It’s why talk of “windows” is hardly the whole discussion. There isn’t really more the Caps could have done to now be a multi-Cup winner, a save here or there or a deflection here or there. I guess that’s the magic of it all. Teams can only put themselves in position, but after that so much of it is out of their hands. It’s fascinating theater and torturous following.

Good for Ovie. Good for Trotz, who coached his ass off this spring. Holtby too. It’s a good ending. Maybe not the best. But good.

Anyway, Vegas Eulogy Monday.

Everything Else

And now we’re on the brink, though everyone already writing the tributes to the Capitals might want to check their history when leading a series 3-1. Even this grouping, for the most part, was around when they blew one of these to the Rangers three years ago in one off those Caps-Rags series we’ve all tried to burn from our collective memories. So yeah, if you love history and gremlins and such, you know this one isn’t over.

As the Caps were laying the wood to the Knights last night, there were far too many top-of-the-profession writers remarking on how the “magic” had run out for the Knights. They’re either willfully trying to push an angle that doesn’t exist, or they’re collectively stupid. Or both, I suppose.

If you watched the last round for the Knights Who Say Nee, even though it ended in five games it was hardly a dominating effort. The Jets ran the show for long stretch of that series, and yet kept running up against a very toothy wall in Marc-Andre Fleury. .950. There’s nothing else to say. There’s no planning or method to defeat a goalie who is throwing a .950 at you. If you can’t really conceive of that, just know with a goalie playing that well it takes 40 shots to find two goals, and even if your goalie is paying really well the other team can probably find two bounces off something for two of their own. At the very worst, Vegas was always gaining a shot at a coin-flip. This is the sport, really.

.845

That’s Fleury’s SV% in this series. And sure, it’s not like the Capitals are just a bunch of escaped wildebeests that got loose or something. Kuznetsov, Ovechkin, Backstrom, Oshie, Carlson, with help from Eller and his ilk, there’s a lot of talent here even if they lost some from previous seasons. But .845 is .845, and you’re going to lose when that happens. The Knights are losing, plain and simple.

Mostly, if you go by the underlying info, the Knights and Caps have been pretty much even, with the Knights just shading it. Some of that is they’ve been chasing the game more than any other series, but the fact that they’re chasing the game is down to Fleury suddenly turning into Tigger as much as anything else. This is still a team that’s basically one line, whatever inflated narrative Eddie and Pierre want to make about Reaves and Nosek on the 4th line, and it’s not really built to come from behind.

Sure, the Caps are fast enough to try and attack the defense of the Knights, which is not gifted with the puck other than Schmidt (and Engelland is AWFUL and the Caps have finally showed that). But the Jets did too, they just didn’t have an answer for the final boss in the crease. He’s basically provided the Caps a cheat code.

-While it’s been easy to discuss how the Knights are made up of players nobody else wanted (which isn’t totally true, I’m sure the Pens would have loved to keep Fleury as a backup, except you don’t pay backups $6 million and Fleury wouldn’t want to be that anyway. James Neal, Schmidt, Theodore, one or two others are players that those teams would have loved to keep but thanks to the expansion and cap rules, they simply couldn’t), the Caps have their fair share of weird pickups.

Oshie was acquired for Troy Brouwer (a deal I actually liked for the Blues at the time, and now Troy Brouwer has turned into a Jalopy). Michal Kempny…well, let’s not do this again. Lars Eller was discarded by two teams who didn’t appreciate him for Jaro Halak and and two 2nd round picks. As strange as it sounds for a 1st round pick, Kuznetsov actually slipped farther than he should have because teams knew he wouldn’t come over from the KHL for a few seasons. Matt Niskanen was allowed to walk from Pittsburgh.

It’s not just the Knights who can profit off the idiocy of others.

-What the Knights also can do like every other team is act like a bunch of asshats when they’re getting their dicks handed to them on the scoreboard. There’s Ryan Reaves doing Reaves things because his team is fucked for the night, which proves exactly nothing.

While Gerard Gallant is going to walk with the Coach Of The Year award, and he should, keep in mind he couldn’t keep his team wrangled in last night when the contest was over and they ended up losing without any class (and don’t fool yourself, there is not such thing as “message sending.” It’s just childish, bad losing). He’s also the coach who in two straight games when his team needed a goal and his net empty put Reaves out as his extra skater because he somehow doofus’d his way into two goals in two games (one a penalty). Even the best at the moment are prone to moments of completely, blithering stupidity.

Everything Else

There’s always one guy. One guy that Blues fans always assure us is finally going to make the difference. The one player that Hawks fans will come to hate as he finally makes the Blues the superior team for years and years. Never quite seems to work out, does it?

Remember Vladdy Sobotka? He turned out to be a real nuisance in that first round series in 2014. Had three assists in the six games, but the Hawks couldn’t deal with his line most shifts. And Blues fans assured us that more and better was coming.

And then he fucked off to Russia for more money for three seasons. He came back just in time for the playoffs last year, which coincidentally was right about the time his contract would run out and he’d need a new one. Funny, that. Anyway, his return was hailed as the final piece for the Blues, again, and he would complete their lineup. Then they got stomped by the Predators, Sobotka has basically cashed his check all season, and now the Blues look like they could easily miss the playoffs.

It’s just another in a long tradition. Remember when they couldn’t wait to tell us that TJ Oshie had scored more goals at North Dakota than Toews? That worked out great for them. Remember when Pietrangelo was going to rack up more Norrises than Keith? Memories. Remember when Paul Kariya was the big time free agent they could never get? Did he ever actually score for the Blues or just tie the strings on his jersey into a pretty little knot? Jaro Halak would be the goalie that would finally right all the wrongs. He righted a lot, as in turning to his right to see what was behind him. This list could go all the way back through Pronger and Shanahan and who knows what else.

It’s never the guy. It’s never the piece. It’s never the time. But it’s gotten to the point where it’s so cute to let them think so.

 

Game #80 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Q&A

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

In a sense, you have to hand it to Timothy Leif. The guy knows when to shoot his shot. It takes unique timing to double your career shooting-percentage in your free agent season. It got Timothy Jimothy an eight-year deal that will pay $5.7 million (cap hit). That’s cashing in at the right time.

Of course, Timothy Leif as returned to Earth this year. He has 12 goals this season, as his 13.4% shooting-percentage is right on the nose of his career mark. This is what he is. Oshie is a 20-25 goal-scorer. And even that’s giving him the best of it. This is his 10th season, and he’s only surpassed 20 goals three times. He’s a second-liner who got the rub of playing with Backstrom and Ovechkin for a while. And that’s ok.

Timothy Jimothy’s reputation is still outsized from an Olympic performance that A) didn’t matter at the time and B) doesn’t matter at all now. A shootout-win in the preliminary round over a Russian team that didn’t have a blue line was hardly worth celebrating. Getting exposed by Canada and then Finland proved that. It doesn’t hurt that Oshie’s photogenic and affable, but again, as a player he’s kind of just there.

As we like to say when he was a Blue, we’re sure he makes engine noises as he skates around the ice. His hair-on-fire style has subsided a bit, he’s become more of a standstill shooter. His metrics are still only ok, though hasn’t fallen as far the team’s. Much like every Cap, he’s turned invisible when the opponent wears black and yellow in the spring. Oshie scored once and in last year’s series, though he had a hat trick and five goals in the ’16 matchup.

But we’re probably not too far away from Caps fans glaring at his contract in spite when they can’t afford to hang onto their window anymore. It’s a story we know well.

 

Game #59 Preview

Preview

Spotlight

Douchebag Du Jour

I Make A Lot Of Graphs

Lineups & How Teams Were Built

Everything Else

As we await more news, it’s probably a good idea to get back to normal service. Here is Robert Ho’s contribution to our series. 

Yeah, probably low hanging fruit to sling arrows at ol’ Timothy Leif, but whatever

First, a disclaimer: I’m what one would call a New Age Blackhawks fan. Hopped aboard when the team became good and got the pleasure of watching the Toews/Kane/Keith triumvirate collectively stick a large oversized boot up the league’s ass. Though my time has been relatively short, I have quickly learned to utterly loathe one team above all else.

That team, of course, is the St. Louis Blues. 

And no individual crystallized my disdain more than TJ Oshie.