Sunday, May 6, 2018

Jake Guentzel will not have hearing for his cheap shot on John Carlson

As expected, Jake Guentzel will not have a hearing for his cheap shot on an unsuspecting John Carlson

Had the roles been reversed, this probably would have been called a little differently.

No matter though.  A 5'11" rookie who has to hide behind the referees will get his sooner rather than later.  Further, the Capitals should pay it forward and spend all of game 6 pummeling Sidney Crosby - how effective can Guentzel be without Crosby feeding him layups? 

Win it for Willy continues tomorrow night, in what should be the last game of the series.

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Tom Wilson suspended for 3 games

Tom Wilson received a three game suspension for hitting a Penguin.  Against anyone else, this might be one game if anything at all.

When was the last time a coach revealed the extent of an injury during the playoffs?  When Brooks Orpik injured Roman Polak last season, Mike Babcock didn't whine to the media about the injury.

But, in typical Pittsburgh fashion, that is exactly what Mike Sullivan did.  He was a whiner on the ice, and now as a coach, he has amplified his whining to new Pittsburghian heights.

Stay classy Shitsburgh.

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Why the NHL messed up the Tom Wilson hit

According to rule 53.2:

A minor penalty shall be imposed on any player on the ice who throws his stick or any part thereof or any other object in the direction of the puck or an opponent in any zone, except when such act has been penalized by the assessment of a penalty shot or the awarding of a goal.

In throwing his glove at the Capitals bench, Zach Aston-Reese should have received a minor penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

It is yet another clear indicator of the NHL's pro-Pittsburgh bias that the penalty was not assessed.

Why Tom Wilson should not be suspended

It is profoundly silly that we even have to have this discussion, but the collective whining of worst fanbase west of Philadelphia demands it.

Here are the facts:

  • Tom Wilson, a large person, and one of the best open ice hitters of the generation, obliterated Zach Aston-Reese with an open ice hit at the Capitals bench.
  • The two players made eye contact, and both braced for the impending hit.
  • Wilson made contact with Aston-Reese's jaw, injuring the latter on the play, while ending up in the Capitals bench.
Here is Rule 48 of the NHL rule book:  

Illegal Check to the Head 48.1 Illegal Check to the Head – A hit resulting in contact with an opponent’s head where the head was the main point of contact and such contact to the head was avoidable is not permitted. In determining whether contact with an opponent's head was avoidable, the circumstances of the hit including the following shall be considered: (i) Whether the player attempted to hit squarely through the opponent’s body and the head was not "picked" as a result of poor timing, poor angle of approach, or unnecessary extension of the body upward or outward. SECTION 6 – PHYSICAL FOULS NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE OFFICIAL RULES 2017-2018 76 (ii) Whether the opponent put himself in a vulnerable position by assuming a posture that made head contact on an otherwise full body check unavoidable. (iii) Whether the opponent materially changed the position of his body or head immediately prior to or simultaneously with the hit in a way that significantly contributed to the head contact. 

Here is why Wilson should not be suspended:

Per (i), Wilson clearly attempted to hit squarely through the opponent's body.  Aston-Reese was slow to get his shoulder up, so he was unsuccessful at protecting himself.  The timing on Wilson's behalf was great, the angle of approach was nearly head-on, and the extension of the body upward was not unnecessary - it was a normal hitting action.  Wilson dropped his shoulder moments before making contact and followed through.  The head was not targeted or "picked".

Per (ii), the opponent did not exactly put himself in a vulnerable position, but he was skating low as he tried to beat Beagle to the angle to get up ice.  While this does not excuse head contact, it does mitigate the unavoidability aspect of an otherwise full body check, which this was.

Per (iii), the opponent did not change his head or body position in a way that contributed at all to head contact.  

Our interpretation of the hit is that Wilson targeted a skater who was trying to get up ice, with a heads up shoulder to shoulder hit that resulted in an ostensibly serious injury (we wonder about the validity of the alleged seriousness of the injury) to his opponent.  Aston-Reese saw the hit coming and attempted to brace himself.  Wilson, having dropped his shoulder, followed through by extending upwards, driving his momentum into his opponent in an honest attempt to separate the player from the puck.  Wilson did not stride into his opponent, as he had been gliding for approximately 15 feet at the point of contact, and was otherwise not moving quickly.  

The hit should not cause suspension or even a hearing with the NHL.  It was a clean hit with an unfortunate result.

Update: Wilson to have hearing for jaw breaking hit on Aston-Reese

Monday, April 16, 2018

A Glutton for Punishment

For the second time in two games, the Capitals blew an early 2 goal lead and lost in overtime.

Also for the second time in two games, the Blue Jackets were the big kids on the block.

Coincidence?  Probably not.

Through two games, the BJs have amassed four goaltender interference penalties, have injured two Capitals, and have dominated Grubauer's goal crease.  Last night, four of Columbus' five goals, including the overtime game winner, were scored from 20 feet or less.  Through two games and nine goals, the average distance from the net for Columbus goals is 18 feet- 13.5 feet when discounting Zach Werenski's blue line wrister through Route 66 evening rush hour traffic.

The Capitals, meanwhile, have just two goals from within 20 feet, averaging 27 feet per goal thus far.

In game 1, the Capitals mustered 30 shots on goal, scoring thrice, at an average distance of 40.733 feet.  Of those thirty shots, five were from within 20 feet.  In game 2, the team through everything at Sergei Bobrovsky, somehow managing 58 shots on goal- this time at an average of 40.759 feet.  Of those 58 shots, 20 were from within 20 feet.  Massive progress, for sure, but not enough, as Bobrovsky showed why he is a two-time Vezina winner.

Interestingly enough, the Blue Jackets averaged 45.889 and 45.1 feet per shot in games 1 and 2, respectively.  In game 1, four shots were from within 20 feet, netting three goals.  In game 2, six shots were from within 20 feet, netting four goals.  They banged home their close chances by controlling rebounds and dominating at home plate.

I cannot stress this enough.

The Capitals are getting bullied and are, in typical Ted Leonsis-led fashion, overly reliant on a dominant power play generating distance shots with incredible accuracy.  Washington has scored two even strength goals on home ice in two games.

Columbus has otherworldly goaltending, allowing the ninth fewest even strength goals (2.05/game) while playing in a division that scored the most.  The Capitals tied for sixth in even strength goals scored, or 2.4/game.

If there is any hope of turning the series around, it will come from even strength play.  If there is any hope of even strength play generating offense, then the Capitals need to generate more chances close to the net, and to convert them, while limiting those allowed by the defense.

For that to happen, the team needs to win in the paint.

Edit: Andre Burakovsky is out for games 3 and 4 and will not travel with the team, due to the hit detailed here.