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, February 26, 2012

Was It Worth It?

With the trade deadline looming, lots of fans and pundits are quick to speculate on the Capital’s needs for players to support them as they try to get into and through the playoffs for yet another year. This got me to thinking about two trades in previous years that still kinda bug me and make me ask, were they worth it?

First up, Tomas Fleischmann, who was traded to Colorado for veteran defenseman Scott Hannan on November 30th of 2010. At the time, Flash wasn’t having a great start to the season; he had only scored 4 goals and 6 assists in 23 games and his ice time was down to 14:17 during that same period. But, the previous season, Flash scored a career-high 23 goals, so the skilled forward was certainly trade bait for GMGM. Hannan was to bring grit and experience to the team, especially to help the progress of John Carlson and Karl Alzner. So how did they each finish out their seasons? Flash played 22 games for Colorado, with 8 goals and 13 assists. Hannan played 55 games for Washington, with 1 goal and 4 assists. But, here is where it gets interesting, Fleischmann, now on the Florida Panthers currently has 20 goals and 25 assists, and may be having his best season ever if he continues with this success. Was it worth it?

The next trade that still sticks in my craw; David Steckel. While I wasn’t Flash’s biggest fan, I really was a fan of Stecks, (aka Ohio State). On February 28th of 2011, the Capitals traded Stecks to New Jersey for veteran center Jason Arnott, just moments before the deadline ended (oh, and a 2nd round draft pick was involved in there as well). Steckel is a skilled center with a great faceoff percentage and is willing and able to crush opponents against the boards whenever necessary. (Not to mention, accidently hitting the Caps fans most hated player; Sidney Crosby.) And, Arnott (aka The Sasha Whisperer); while a good acquisition; really didn’t have as much impact in the stats. With only 11 games for the Caps, Arnott tallied 4 goals and 3 assists, but his leadership in the locker room was well documented. Maybe that in itself was worth it? Anyway, neither Steckel nor Arnott had the best finish to their season in 2011; maybe those trades shook them up a bit. And while Arnott seems to be thriving a bit better on the St Louis Blues with 13 goals & 14 assists so far, Steckel doesn’t seem to be doing as well. Poor Dave has only 7 goals and 1 assist so far with the Toronto Maple Leafs, and that assist stat is really one of his worst in his career. Maybe he misses good old DC? (hmm, I wonder if he would come back?) Overall, yes, we did trade a center for a center, but, since we seem to be in need of a center now, was it really worth it?

The most interesting thing that both Hannan and Arnott said after their trades to Washington? They both were willing to come to a team with the chance to win a Stanley Cup. That worked out well, didn’t it? Another interesting thing? All of these players only lasted on their respective new teams one season. All four of these players were really just rentals. Kinda think that wasn’t what any of them wanted either.

So, IF GMGM does do any trades before the deadline ends tomorrow, I really hope they are worth it, because no matter who gets traded, I’m sure there are going to be more than a few Caps fans who will be disappointed, one way or another. And, if it does happen, I really really really hope none of the new guys say they look forward to playing for a team that stands a chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m kinda tired at laughing at that joke-turned-jinx.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Penalties by the Replay and the Rule Book

If you watched the Caps game against San Jose on Monday, you may have noticed two occurrences that were a little out of the norm for a regulation NHL game. One that seemed to take forever and one that happened in the blink of an eye.

The first was the goalie interference penalty against Joel Ward that was delayed for almost one minute of play. Here’s how it began: Two minutes into the first period, Joel Ward crashed into the Sharks goalie Thomas Greiss. (Speculation from Caps fans was that Ward was actually pushed into Greiss by Sharks center Logan Couture; at least it looked like that to the Caps faithful watching the replay.) So, at the 18:00 minute mark on the clock, the ref raises his arm to signal a penalty will be called. So, why didn’t he just blow the whistle then instead of waiting until the 17:03 mark? Here’s why.

Per the NHL rulebook:  Should an infraction of the rules which would call for a minor, major, misconduct, game misconduct or match penalty be committed by a player of the team not in possession of the puck, the Referee shall raise his arm to signal the delayed calling of a penalty. When the team to be penalized gains control of the puck, the Referee will blow his whistle to stop play and impose the penalty on the offending player or goalkeeper.

What this breaks down to is this; when the penalty against the Caps occurred, San Jose was in possession of the puck, and upon review of the game footage, kept possession of the puck for another 57 seconds. It wasn’t until San Jose made an attempt on goal that was deflected by Braden Holtby and Roman Hamrlik, that the puck was finally no longer in San Jose’s possession. Yes, it seemed like the delay lasted forever. I actually rewound the DVR several times just to make sure my eyes weren’t playing tricks on me. So, while we all may disagree with the penalty itself, the delay of the penalty for 57 seconds was by the book. The NHL rulebook, that is.

The second out of the norm occurrence was the 10 minute misconduct penalty called on Joel Rechlicz. How can a guy who only played on the actual ice for 1:30 do something worthy of a 10-minute penalty? To explain that, you need the replay and a little history. Joel “The Wrecker” Rechlicz is a right wing on the Hershey Bears and is known for the enforcer role he plays. (He even dropped the gloves with Donald Brashear back in 2010 when Wrecker was playing for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers). Apparently, Coach Hunter brought Rechlicz up from Hershey for this Sharks game to keep Brad Winchester from being a factor in the game, as he had previously when he was penalized for charging on Alex Semin in January. Per Dale Hunter after practice on 2/14, “The Wrecker eliminated any effect from Winchester”; so, job well done.

But, as to the misconduct penalty, we really have to go back to the replay, because if you blinked – you missed it. At the 16:23 mark in the second period, Ovechkin is skating along the boards when he comes in contact with Ryan Clowe. “Contact” meaning the usual forceful body hit from Ovi that sends Clowe flying. A few seconds later, Clowe tries to return the favor by slamming Ovi into the wall along the Caps bench. Now, you have to watch really closely to what see happens next. While these two hits occur, you can see Rechlicz standing up from his seat on the bench. Just after the hit from Clowe, Rechlicz appears to take offense to Clowe’s hit and seems to be having words with him. Before you know it, the commentators announce Rechlicz and been removed from the bench for a 10-minute misconduct penalty, and nobody seems to know why.

So, what constitutes a misconduct penalty?

Per the NHL rulebook:
75.4 Misconduct Penalty - Misconduct penalties shall be assessed under this rule for the following infractions:
(i) Any player who persists in using obscene, profane or abusive language directed towards any person after being assessed a minor or bench minor penalty under this Rule.
(ii) Any player who deliberately throws any equipment out of the playing area. At the discretion of the Referee, a game misconduct may be imposed.
(iii) Any player who, after warning by the Referee, persists in any course of conduct (including threatening or abusive language or gestures or similar actions) designed to incite an opponent into incurring a penalty.
(iv) When a penalized player challenges or disputes the ruling of an official after he has already entered the penalty bench and play has resumed. 

(v)  In general, participants displaying this type of behavior are assessed a minor penalty, then a misconduct penalty and then a game misconduct penalty if they persist.

While fans may never learn the full story of what exactly transpired, we could probably assume (iii) was the reason why.  But what may be more important here is the affect The Wrecker had on the game. Looking back, ten minutes in the locker room isn’t too big a price to pay to ensure the opposition knows who and what they are dealing with.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ladies, What Do You Want?

As some of you may know, I occasionally write posts for Scarlet Caps. Once again, they have asked me for a post submission. Knowing how a majority of my followers feel about the website and its posts, I thought I'd give y'all a chance to let me know what you would actually like to read on the Scarlet Caps blog. And, if you've never read any of the blog posts there, what would send you there for the first time?

So, serious question: Is there a topic you really want to know about? I'd love to hear any and all suggestions. I'd like to write a post for them that you all would actually read and maybe even comment on! If you really couldn't care less about the blog posts on Scarlet Caps, I totally understand, no problem, carry on. Just one thing though, as a writer for Scarlet Caps, I do not get any insider information, personal access to players or private interviews. It has to be about something I can research for you or something you always wondered about in regards to hockey, stuff like that.

And if you're thinking I'm being lazy about coming up with a topic myself, all I can say is...maybe.

So, since my usual signoff on posts is a sarcastic "Any questions?” this time I would really love some actual questions from you. Hit me with your ideas/suggestions/questions/comments in the comments, or on Twitter at @Caps_Girl or on Facebook (if you came here through there), or by email if you have my address, whatever. If Scarlet Caps is really about hockey from a woman's perspective, let's make it happen.