Saturday, November 03, 2007

Where's the Sacrifice?

After watching the Caps play two straight games where every shot they took seemed to be blocked, I realized that I couldn't remember the last time I saw our guys do that consistently. Playing a hunch I went back and did a little research, and sure enough this is another area where the Caps may need some work. Sure, defense is better overall and the shots against have been reduced, but I uncovered some interesting numbers that reveal it may not be as pretty as we thought...

  • In the last two games alone opponents have turned aside 55 shots...which further explains why the Caps have only 2 goals in the last two games.
  • The Caps have never blocked more than 16 shots in a single game this season, and they hit that mark only once - in the home opener against Carolina, which I think we can safely say was one of their best if not the best game of the season.
  • Through 13 games the Caps' opponents have "outblocked" them to the tune of 218 blocked shots for the other guys versus 142 Caps bruises.
  • The Caps have more blocked shots than their opponent in only three games, but they were heavily outshot in two of those three. Versus the Rangers last month the Caps blocked 12 to New York's 11, but the Rags got 41 shots through compared to the Caps. Then there was the Sabres game, where the Caps turned away 12 shots but let 53 more get by them...and seven of those went in. Oops.

This is a team that seems to have lost that hard-working mentality that so defined them in the first two years after the lockout. Holding onto a lead is part of that. Coming from behind to win is another. And shot-blocking is yet another part.

I'm not sure what it is. Maybe they just think they're too talented now to do the little things that count through all 60 minutes (wrong, boys...sorry). Or maybe the consistent benching of guys like Bradley and Sutherby and the demotion of Clymer to the AHL has removed the guys from the lineup who, while maybe not offensively talented would give 110% every night in past years.

Maybe we should try and steal Brendan Witt back from the Islanders.

Whatever it is, you have to think that this is just one more area that speaks to the heart of a team...or lack thereof. Guys who are sacrificing their bodies are, to use a cliche from Miracle, worrying more about the logo on the front of the jersey than the name on the back. And maybe that's what's missing most of all.


DMG said...

I am curious if anyone knows how many shots the Caps had blocked through the same number of games last year? Because they're blocking fewer than their opponents but I think a lot of that has to do with the Caps decisions about when to shoot versus when to dump/pass (I'm looking at you Erskine).

Biff said...

Rather than comparing shots blocked versus opponents' shots blocked, it would probably be better to compare percentage of attempted shots blocked. If, like their game against the Rangers, they're attempting upwards of 70 shots to something like 40 for their opponent, of course the opponent is going to have more blocked shots.

CapsChick said...

DMG: I can do a little research and try and find out, because it would be interesting to see (and YES, Erskine, many of his shots were directly into a Flyers' feet last night??)

Biff: You are so picky today!! I deleted the sheet where I wrote down all the numbers so I don't have the exact ones anymore but I can tell you that the Caps, while outshooting their opponents most of the time, haven't done so by too big a margin most of the time. You can go back and do the math if you're so inclined...I am not. ;)

But your point is illustrated the other way in that last point, where the Caps blocked a few more shots (literally just a few) than their opponents who were throwing 50-70 shots on net.

gawferstud said...

I'm a four seat season ticket holder. I only mention this because I'm frustrated. I hesitated to renew my accoun this summer because it's the same old thing every game to me. I've been a season ticket holder for many years. I've been a hockey fan since 1966 in Chicago. I think we need a change in coaching. I apprecaite all that our ower did this summer. Brought in some good players. I'm tired of the same old results. He doesn't know how to coach specialty teams (power play) and every night we watch the same fruitless effort. Does anyone else agree or is it just me.


CapsChick said...

Gawferstud: I admit that the level of frustration is pretty high for most Caps fans right now - our expectations going into this season were very, very high and its hard not to be annoyed with the product so far.

I don't have season tickets myself yet, but I can understand the frustration. My dad has had them since the first season and there have been many years where he's questioned whether its worth it. But he always comes back, and I think what is really important is to have patience. I know right now it seems like another year of the same old mediocrity but I've seen flashes of things that I haven't seen in years...and that's enough to keep me excited.

If Hanlon gets a healthy roster and still can't get the PP to produce or the wins to pick up, he's gone, no question, and then we go from there. But for now the team that's been on the ice has been very different than the one we're supposed to have and its hard to judge either way.

I guess I'm basically trying to talk you down from the ledge as much as I'm trying to talk myself down. There could be something really special here in the next few years and its important to stick by the team.

The Caps aren't out of anything yet and we've got a lot of hockey yet to play. As all of us know, being a fan is nothing if not one of the greatest exercises in futility - but its sure fun, isn't it? Have faith, the Caps will get to where they rightfully belong someday!

NotaPensFan said...

CapsChick: Not wanting to upset you---but your comment about the logo on the front of the jersey instead of the name on the back? There's an NHL promo showing on the NHL channel these days, and some young guy wearing number 87 is saying that very thing. . .

CapsChick said...

*sigh* Yeah, I realized that the other day when I saw the ad. Stupid NHL marketing... ;)

That being said - I'll figure out a way to prove that Sid copied me and not the other way around. He must have used his super robot psychic powers to guess what I was going to write it. Sounds feasible, right?