Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind, don't matter, and those who matter, don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss
Girls just wanna have fun ~ Cyndi Lauper
Make some fun, happy time ~ Alex Ovechkin

Sunday, November 28, 2010

1st Semin-ester Report Card

Oh Sasha, you constantly surprise me. It’s as if you are making sure you will get the best contract offer possible. On second thought, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised after all.

We all know that the Capitals have to wait until January to begin negotiations with Alex Semin. At the beginning of the season, Semin signed a one year $6M contract, so he will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2010-2011 season. On a side note, other players that will also be unrestricted free agents at the end of the 2010-2011 season are Mike Knuble, Tomas Fleischmann, Brooks Laich, Matt Bradley, Boyd Gordon, Matt Hendricks, and John Erskine. If you’ve been counting, that’s 8 players on our current roster that could potentially not be Washington Capitals next season. Please note, I said COULD. Oh, and one last player who we will not have to worry about anymore- Michael Nylander will finally, finally, finally be an unrestricted free agent in July of 2011. Sorry Circles, your time is up.

Obviously, Alexander Semin is HOT, HOT, HOT right now. This bodes extremely well for a chance at being offered a lucrative contract from the Caps in January. That is if Semin wants to stay on the team and the Caps have the cap space. The formerly fairly inconsistent Semin has tallied 3 hat tricks, with 17 goals and 12 assists in 24 games. Pretty awesome stats. However, for penalty minutes for offensive players, Sasha is second only to Matt Hendricks, with 22 minutes in the sin bin. But, with 85 shots on goal and a +8 rating, it looks like (so far), Alex could write his own ticket if he keeps this up. It’s all up to him. In a little over 30 days, our tweet stream and the blogosphere will be filled with contract negotiation rumors and reports. What do you think will happen?

Regarding the 7 other players who will be UFA at the end of this season; I think we won’t have any clear indications until maybe even July when it comes to re-signing any of them except Brooks* and Brads*. I’d wager they get decent offers that they will accept. I know there are going to be readers who will vehemently disagree with me on a few of these, but I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Knoobs*, Flash*, and Gordo* don’t get the nod. I may be alone in this, but with Boudreau constantly changing which line Knoobs plays on this season, I think his time may be coming to an end. As for Gordo, as much as I like him, I’m going to say his health issues will be a stumbling block when contract time comes up, I hope I’m wrong. And Flash…well, I think it’s just time*. The only other players I have any re-signing expectations for are Matt Hendricks* and John Erskine*.

Having played for Gabby before, and seemingly fitting very well into the Caps system, I could see another Washington Capitals contract for Hendy by July 1. I really appreciate how he stands up for his teammates and shows team spirit. I’ll admit it; I like him and hope he gets to stay a little longer, no matter how many penalty minutes he racks up.

As for Erskine, frankly I don’t know why I think he might get another contract*. Something about how he plays a type of enforcer role for us, and you gotta admit, he throws a pretty good punch when needed. Call it gut instinct, if you will, but I get the feeling that Bruce just likes the guy, no matter how frustrating he can be at times to us fans.

There are a couple players who will be restricted free agents at the end of the season: Karl Alzner and Semyon Varlamov*. Don’t think we’ll have any worries about those two.

Finally, with the December 1 deadline fast approaching, of all the players we let go from last year; it looks like only Scott Walker may be the only former Caps player without a contract for the 2010-2011 season. Other than stating that fact, I got nothing else to say on that except I’m glad everyone else found a place to play.

I know I’m really jumping the gun on all of these predictions, but for now, let’s just call them my woman’s intuition. At the risk of looking totally stupid, I just wanted to get these out there now. Come July, I’ll revisit this post and see how right or wrong I was. And you can totally rib me if I am way off base, but if I’m right, I’m reserving gloating privileges.

*Editors Note: 11/30/2010 Caps trade Tomas Fleischmann for Colorado Avalanche defenseman Scott Hannan.  I'm gonna call this is a win in my prediction column.
12/17/2010 Boom! Caps sign Erksine to a 2 year extension. That's 2 correct so far!
1/27/2011 Caps sign Semin to a 1 year (reported 6.7 million ) extension. That counts for 3 right, doesn't it?
2/23/2011 Caps sign Matt Hendricks to a 2 year extension. That's 4 correct, damn, I did pretty good so far, eh?
4/11/2011 Caps sign Mike Knuble to a 1 year extension. Happy to be wrong about this prediction!
6/28/2011 Caps sign Brooks Laich to a 6 year contract. Cougar Bait re-signing makes 5 correct in the prediction column.
7/1/2011 Gordon signs with Phoenix, Varly traded to Colorado for a 1st & 2nd round draft pic. 1 right and 1 wrong
7/2/2011 Bradley signs with the Florida Panthers. Another one wrong. But only 3 wrong ain't that bad, right? Only player left from this post is Alzner. Fingers crossed!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Movember - The Magic of the Mustache

Not only is the 11th month magical for the beautiful fall colors, there is another thing of beauty for hockey fans, the Movember Mustache. There are a couple of Caps players who are giving the growing of the ‘stache a go this month, but the winner of them all is John Erskine.

Never thought I’d see the day when I’d write a post on mustaches and focusing on John Erskine, of all players, but I’m beginning to think there are magical powers to Erskine’s 'stache. Not only is it the most impressive among all Caps players, but is it the power behind Erskine’s magic on the ice against the Thrashers tonight? Let’s face it, how often does John not only get the game winning goal, but also is awarded the 1st star of the game? And that fight tonight? More ‘stache power in action? Even John might be beginning to believe. John's quote from Corey Masisak's article, “Yeah, the 'stache has been good luck,” Erskine said. “I talked to the wife and I might be keeping it for a while.”

And before I go on about the beauty of the Movember Mustache, I'd just like to share this superb right cross delivered by John Erskin tonight:

Ok, so back to the topic on everyone's lips, Movember and the Magical Mustache. As stated earlier, a couple of other Caps players are also participating in Movember: Karl Alzner and Mike Green. I thought John Carlson was involved as well, but from all appearances, I must be wrong. If there is a mustache growing on that young man's upper lip, then at it's current stage of growth, I'd be hard pressed to varify it's existance.

So, ladies and gentleman, I give you Karl Alzner and Mike Green.

And, if MoJo is participating, he's off to an ok start, but I don't think it'll be finished by the end of the month:

Now, you gotta give these guys props, but will any of them ever reach the epicness of the 70's porn 'stache like these guys here?

Hmm, you know, after looking at Erskine again, I think he might just do it. Way to go, John!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Hockey in BlondeSpeak - Stats

Do you understand exactly what you are reading when you look at a player’s or team’s stats? Rather than ignore those acronyms and numbers, let’s break it down so you can get a better appreciation for them.
There is a lot of information involved here, so grab a cuppa joe or a cold beer and settle in.

First off – Player stats: I’m going to use the stats for Alex Ovechkin from the Caps website as posted on 11/1/10.

You should know some of the basics by now; GP = Games Played, G = Goals, A = Assists, so lets look at the others.

P = Points. Easy- goals plus assists equals points. It ain’t calculus, just simple addition.

+/- = Plus/Minus. As covered in a previous BlondeSpeak post, think of it like a grading system for players. Basically, it indicates whether they were on the ice when the opposing team scored (a minus) or on the ice when their own team scored (a plus). For example, a defenseman could be on the ice when the opposing team scored 4 goals (-4), but if that same defenseman also scored a goal (+1), his total +/- for the game would be -3.
PIM = Penalty Minutes. So far, Alex had incurred 10 penalty minutes

PP = Power Play Goals. That’s the number of goals the player has scored on the Power Play, Alex has 2.

SH = Shorthanded Goals. The number of goals the player has scored while the team was on the penalty kill/shorthanded. Looks like Alex needs a shorty in his stats.

GW = Game Winning Goals. Speaks for itself, Alex has had 3 in the last 11 games. Good Job Alex!

S = Shots on Goal. As could be expected, Alex has attempted 57 shots on goal so far this season. But, it would be nice if more resulted in actual goals if you factor in this - S%. 

S% = Shooting Percentage. That’s the total of goals divided by shots on goal. If Alex had only made 1 goal in 4 attempts, his S% would be 25%, since he’s made 7 goals in 57 attempts, it’s 12.3%

Additional Player stats from the NHL website, not including Goalies:

OT = Overtime Goals. Do I really need to explain this? Ok, Alex had 1 overtime goal so far.

TOI/G = Time on Ice per Game. Usually your defensemen have the most time on ice per game.

Sft/G = Average shifts per game. So far, Alex has averaged 20.3 shifts in 11 games. Once again, usually your defensemen have the highest number when it comes to average shifts per game. C'mon, do I need to explain that there are 4 offensive lines but only 3 defensive lines, therefore, more ice time for defense? Oh wait, I just did.

FO% = Faceoff Win Percentage. Well, since Ovi doesn’t do faceoffs, (or hasn’t yet), he hasn’t won any, has he? That is the job for the Center (like Backstrom or Stecks).

Next up – Goalie stats:

GPI = Games Played in Net. You might also see this as GP for Games Played. No brainer.
GS = Games Started. Also a no brainer, but if you are really blonde, what is shown above tells us that Varly only started in 1 game, but, since the GPIshown above is 2, it means he relieved Neuvy once.

MIN = Minutes played. This stat includes overtime minutes and deducts time when the team has played with an empty net.

GAA = Goals Against Average. Big clue here, the lower the number, the better.

W = Wins, L = Losses, OT = Overtime losses

SO = Shutouts. (I’m hoping I don’t have to explain what a shut out is, right? Please say yes, or just nod your head)

SA = Shots Against. How many times the opponents fired the puck at your goalie. Duh!

GA = Goals Against and SV = Saves. You know these, right?

SV% = Save Percentage. Real important number here for the goalie. Divide the number of saves by the number of shots against. Hint: Neuvy’s .926 save percentage puts him at #2 in the league as of 11/1/10. This is a good thing

G = Goals, A = Assists, and PIM = Penalty Minutes. Doesn’t happen often, but goalies can get goals, be credited with assists, and be assessed penalty minutes. If a goalie IS assessed a penalty, another member of the team sits it for him, just so you know. (BTW, former Caps goalie Jose Theodore has a goal on his lifetime stats)

TOI = Total Time on Ice. (another no brainer)

Finally – Team Stats:

Individual Team Stats by Game:

H/R = Home or Road

DEC = Decision (Win or Loss)

O/S = Overtime/Shootout

OPP = Opponent

RECORD = The teams’ current record. Caps are 7-4-0 at this time. (That would be 7 wins-4 losses-0 overtime losses)

GF = Goals For and GA = Goals Against. (The Calgary game, we scored 7 and Calgary scored 2.)

PPG = Power Play Goals (by us)

PP OPP = Power Play Opportunities (times we were on the power play)

PPGA = Power Play Goals Against (PP goals by "them")

TS = Times Shorthanded (we were on the penalty kill)

SHGF = Shorthanded Goals For (while we were on the power play)

SHGA = Shorthanded Goals Against (while we were on the penalty kill)

SF = Shots For

SA = Shots Against

ATT = Attendence

W GOALIE = Winning Goalie

W Goal = Winning Goal scored by…

Teams Stats within their Division:

GP, W, L, and OT were explained above. (or have you forgotten already?)

PTS = Points. Teams get 2 points for every win, and 1 point if the team loses in overtime.

GF = Goals For, GA = Goals Against, DIFF = Difference, HOME = Home record, AWAY = Away Record, SHOOTOUT = Shootout record, L10 = Last 10 games, STREAK = Winning or Losing streak. These are all pretty self-explanatory here, by this point, you should have been able to figure them out.

So, now you know all there is to know about what ALL those stats stand for. Does your brain hurt yet?

Just keep in mind, you don’t HAVE to know all these stats, but it helps to know a few of them. Wouldn’t it be cool to spout off a few of them to the guys around the water cooler and actually know what you are talking about? Bet you might even teach them a thing or two. Well, probably not, but you’ll still look cool, which is a good thing.