Tag:Washington Capitals
Posted on: February 4, 2012 9:57 am
Edited on: February 4, 2012 9:25 pm
 

The Scott Gomez goal slump: by the numbers

By: Adam Gretz

At no point in his career has Scott Gomez ever been considered to be a great goal-scorer. Even when he was at his peak, playing his best hockey, he was always more of a playmaking center and a set-up man, having reached the 20-goal mark just once in his 11-year career, scoring 33 during the 2005-06 season as a member of the New Jersey Devils.

Still, he's never gone through a goal slump like the one he's been on dating back to last season, having not found the back of the net since Feb. 5, 2011, against the New York Rangers when he beat backup goaltender Martin Biron. He enters Sunday's game against Winnipeg having gone a full calender year without a goal (some fans already have a celebration planned), which almost seems impossible for any player in the NHL, especially one that has a pretty solid amount of talent like Gomez does. And one that is the 18th highest paid player in the NHL this season in terms of salary ($7.5 million) ... and carries the 11th largest salary cap hit ($7.3 million). But here we are, at the point where high expectations, an angry fan base, a struggling player and even a little bit of bad luck all meet at the same place.

That place is called Scott Gomez.

What has to make it even more frustrating for Canadiens fans is that along with the lack of production and huge salary is the fact the team also gave up defenseman Ryan McDonagh in the trade that brought Gomez to Montreal in the June, 2009 trade. McDonagh, of course, has since gone on to become one of the NHL's top shutdown defensive defenseman at the age of 22 and is playing a huge role for the first-place Rangers.

Canadiens fans have, naturally, grown frustrated, and even started to write parody songs, including this one titled, "Scott Gomez Can't Put Anything In."



Just how long has it been, including the playoffs, since Gomez last scored a goal? Some numbers.

58: The number of games Gomez has appeared in for the Canadiens, including 22 this season.

1,277: The number of shifts Gomez has skated since his last goal.

122: The number of shots on goal Gomez has recorded during his slump. This really makes it amazing. You would have to think that in 122 shots an NHL player, any NHL player, pick one at random, would score at least one goal, even by accident. Look at it another way: there are 93 players in the NHL this season with at least 120 shots on goal. Those 93 players have scored an average of 15 goals. Only 17 of them have scored fewer than 10, and 12 of them are defensemen. If he had maintained his career average shooting percentage of 7.8 percent during that stretch he would have scored eight goals. A player that shot at the league average mark of nine percent would have scored 10 goals.

22: The number of assists Gomez has been credited with during his goal drought, which would put him on a pace for 31 over the course of an 82-game season. It's also the exact number he recorded last season in 80 games.

Again, there is no doubt that Gomez is no longer the player he was seven or eight years ago, and there have been some injuries during this run, but there also has to be some bad luck, too, to keep him from scoring even a single goal over this rough stretch.

He's going to score again. He almost has to.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: February 3, 2012 3:14 pm
Edited on: February 3, 2012 3:51 pm
 

Weekend Preview: Winter Classic redux at MSG

Before Thursday, Giroux's last goal was against the Blueshirts in the Classic. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

Weekend Schedules: Friday | Saturday | Sunday

Let's go back just over a month on the NHL schedule, shall we? The Philadelphia Flyers had just finished losing to the New York Rangers in one hell of a finish in the Winter Classic hosted by the City of Brotherly Love.

The first half of the game was pretty dull, no scoring. But the game made up for it with a great second half, including a penalty shot in the final minute.

Among the two goals that the Flyers potted that cold January day was a beauty from Claude Giroux. It was his 18th of the season. It was a great start to the season that led me to pick him as my midseason Hart Trophy winner.

Would you believe that Giroux went the entire rest of the month without a goal? In the remaining 12 games in January, Giroux had nine assists.

You could look at it as a classic case of regressing to the mean. Giroux can score, but in his previous four seasons with the Flyers he never scored more than 25 (the mark he hit last season). Interestingly, he has exactly twice as many assists in his career as goals at this point. So his 18 goals and 29 assists were a bit out of whack. He's still a play-making center.

The only thing I wasn't sure about if it was a regression to the mean or not is if we were going to see a new way of playing for Giroux. There was obviously a lot more pressure put on him to carry the load after the offseason the Flyers had, jettisoning Mike Richards and Jeff Carter.

Well, a Flyer can't change his wings. Or something like that.

Now of course Giroux scored on Thursday night in the Flyers' win over the Nashville Predators and ruined the nice little tie in I was going for here. That being the Flyers visiting Madison Square Garden on Sunday and the Rangers for their first encounter since that day outside in South Philly.

It should be a nice appetizer for the Rangers/New York Giants fans before the Super Bowl.

Little will be all that different from that Jan. 2 meeting either. The teams are still two of the best in the NHL, fighting each other in the Atlantic Division and the Rangers are even expected to be wearing their Winter Classic jerseys. Old-schoolers can rejoice, that would mean the Rangers are wearing white (or at least off-white) at home again. For one day.

Yes, it will be a pretty familiar feel, except for, you know, the game being played indoors on a quality sheet of ice (no disrespect to Dan Craig, the NHL's ice guru). And perhaps a different Giroux from that earlier meeting, but the same Giroux the Flyers have fallen in love with and have come to count on, goals or not.

Central casting

It seems like every weekend there is a massive matchup from the Central Division. I guess that happens when you have four of the eight teams in the league that have reached the 65-point mark.

Between the Chicago Blackhawks, Detroit Red Wings, St. Louis Blues and Nashville Predators, that's 36 games against one another throughout the season. So if the schedule were completely balanced, it would actually be more than once a week.

So it's not a rare occurrence to see one of the games. But that doesn't mean they shouldn't be missed or not enjoyed to the fullest.

That's why we suggest you don't miss out on the Blues' visit to the Predators on Saturday night. It might help if you like defensively sound hockey, though.

This is their fourth meeting this season and if we throw out the Predators' 4-2 win in the second game of the season seeing that it's pre-Hitchcock, each game has played out the same way, a 2-1 shootout win for the Preds. That's not a lot of scoring but it doesn't mean it's not a lot of good hockey.

Don't underestimate the importance of all these games in the Central. They are what people like to call four-point games because of the potential swings they can cause in the standings. Considering the second and third seeds will go to the Pacific and Northwest, the second spot in the Central by season's end will be crucial, it will give that team home-ice advantage against what will surely be another Central foe.

Battle of Ontario resumes

Here Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul thought they got their month's worth of booing last weekend in Ottawa. Nope.

Those two plus the Leafs' third All-Star, Dion Phaneuf and the rest of the guys from Toronto will head for the Quebec border and meet the Senators in the Canadian capital on Saturday night.

This season the stakes have been ramped up in the Battle of Ontario already with the success the teams have enjoyed thus far and their battling at the bottom half of the East's playoff picture. But this one is crucial for the Sens.

This will be their second game back on home ice since Jan. 16 (Friday night they host the Islanders) and for the first time this season, the Sens have lost four straight in regulation. For a team that has played more games than anybody in the NHL, that has made their somewhat comfortable position in the playoff picture much more perilous. Considering the Leafs are one of their competitors for one of the East's eight spots, you can see why this is a massive game for Ottawa.

The captain is back

That would be the Capitals captain, Alex Ovechkin.

On the other side of that provincial border down in Montreal, Ovechkin will play his first game since his three-game suspension before the All-Star break. Because of the time off it feels like Ovi has been out much longer than three games, his last game coming way back on Jan. 22.

"I'm not used to watching the games from upstairs and staying [on the ice] after the morning skates," Ovechkin told Chuck Gormley of CSN Washington. "I'm pretty excited. I miss hockey a lot. It's a situation where you miss the game and you're tired of watching."

The Caps weren't bad in his absence, playing honestly about the same level they were with him, going 1-1-1 in the three games. But there's no doubt he's welcome back in the lineup for his offensive ability on a team that just isn't doing a whole lot when they have the puck these days.

Star showdown

The old North Stars and replacement Stars (see: the Wild) get together for another one of their reunions that's always slightly uncomfortable for the fans back in Minnesota.

But they are clearly much more meaningful this season, more than just some interesting nostalgia coming back up to the fore. This is about the playoffs.

The West has six spots pretty much spoken for already and the Kings are making a good case for the seventh. That means there are a lot of teams fighting for one final spot in the playoff picture, currently held by Minnesota. The Stars are right behind them, three points back with a game in hand. So yea, the games are pretty big.

Of course that includes Saturday night's tilt in Dallas. Both teams could stand to get some wins going again as the Wild are just 4-5-1 in their last 10 while the Stars are 3-6-1 in that same span.

Fight for Florida

Are you noticing a little bit of a rivalry sense this weekend?

While I hesitate to call the Panthers and Lightning rivals, they get the nod based on nothing more than being division and intrastate rivals.

It's hard to quite believe, but this Saturday's game in Tampa Bay will mark the sixth and final meeting between them this season and there are still 30 or so games to go in the season.

Don't let the importance of the game for the Lightning be lost. Their playoff hopes are slim but not non-existent. A chance to take two points from the Southeast-leading Panthers would help them stay within striking distance. It's pretty close to the clichéd must-win game for the Bolts.

We're going streaking!

Here is a look at the streaks, both good and bad, headed into the weekend across the NHL.

San Jose Sharks: Believe it or not, this is the only team in the league right now that has a winning streak (three games in a row or more). And the Sharks barely qualify with three straight. They visit the Coyotes on Saturday night looking for four straight.

Senators: Already covered above, they have lost four in a row in regulation for the first time this season. They have two home games, against the Isles and Leafs.

Blackhawks: Punctuated by that beatdown by Sam Gagner -- I mean the Edmonton Oilers -- the 'Hawks have actually lost four in a row. Their only game of the weekend comes Friday night in Calgary.

Columbus Blue Jackets: Still smarting from that loss that shouldn't have been a regulation loss against the Kings, the Jackets ride their six-game skid into Anaheim to face the Ducks on Friday.

Colorado Avalanche: The up-and-down boys from the Rocky Mountain State are going downhill again. Four consecutive losses follow them into a Saturday matinee with the Canucks.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: February 2, 2012 10:45 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 10:48 pm
 

Winnipeg is still in the playoff race

ByfuglienBy: Adam Gretz

Believe it or not, but the possibility of the Winnipeg whiteout making a return to the NHL playoffs this spring is still alive. For now.

Including their 2-1 overtime win in Tampa Bay on Thursday night, the Jets have won just five games since Jan. 1 and for the season have earned just 54 points in the standings, a total that only 10 teams in the league have yet to reach. The amazing thing about that is following their win on Thursday they are just three points out of the top spot in the Southeast Division and what would be a top-three seed in the Eastern Conference due to the current NHL playoff format.

The Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers have been involved in a back-and-forth race since the start of the season, and on any given night either one of them is in a position to drop from third place to ninth place, as was the case following Wednesday's game in Florida, a game the Panthers won by a 4-2 margin and went from being on the outside of the playoff picture to one of the top spots in the conference.

All of the attention has focussed on them, but quietly -- very quietly, as it turns out -- the Jets have found a way to, shockingly, hang around in the race.

Of course, while the Jets trail the Capitals by just two points and the currently first-place Panthers by three, it needs to be pointed out that those two teams both have games in hand on the Jets. Florida has played three fewer games than Winnipeg, while Washington has played two fewer, so there is an opportunity for them to increase their leads as the schedule balances out. But the Jets are also going to have their own opportunity to continue to close in on them with six games remaining against their divisional rivals, including Friday night in Florida, a game that suddenly has some significance when it comes to the playoff race.

The Jets aren't playing great hockey, but the Panthers and Capitals haven't done anything to run away with the division. Florida has lost 14 of its past 21 games and Washington's offense has all but disappeared since replacing Bruce Boudreau with Dale Hunter.

There is a good chance the division will provide just one playoff team this year, and right now it's a pretty wide open race. The geography and travel may be an issue for the Jets having to play in the Southeast, but the overall mediocrity of it has also given them an increased opportunity to actually make the postseason, something that probably wouldn't exist in any other division.

Photo: Getty Images

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 31, 2012 8:34 pm
Edited on: January 31, 2012 8:56 pm
 

Matt Hendricks no-look backhand goal (Video)

By: Adam Gretz

Of all the players on the Washington Capitals roster, Matt Hendricks probably isn't the one you would expect to score a highlight reel goal.

But in the first period Tuesday's game in Tampa Bay, after he fanned on his initial shot attempt on a 2-on-1 rush and nearly lost possesion of the puck, he ended up scoring one of the prettiest goals of the season to this point, spinning around and firing what was basically a no-look, spin-o-rama backhand from just inside the faceoff circle.

Have a look:



Just the way the Capitals drew it up on the whiteboard, I'm sure.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 28, 2012 8:25 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2012 8:33 pm
 

Patrick Kane's Superman wins breakaway challenge

By: Adam Gretz

The breakaway challenge, which was introduced during the 2008 All-Star festivities, is supposed to be the NHL's answer to the slam dunk contest where players have an opportunity to show off their skill and creativity. With props. Lots, and lots of props.

At times, as was the case in the first round on Saturday, it can seem to be more of a gong show as sometimes the shooters manage to fake themselves out.

Chicago's Patrick Kane managed to steal the show this year by busting out some Clark Kent glasses and a Superman cape, soaring across the ice on his stomach and beating Blues goaltender Brian Elliott.



Kane ended up winning the contest, getting 47 percent of the fan vote, beating out Anaheim's Corey Perry who made a convincing argument by pulling a mini-stick out from under his jersey (the type of stick you used when you played knee hockey in your basement) and scored with it.



Impressive, but not enough to win over the fans.

Washington's Alex Ovechkin won this contest in each of the first three years it's been featured.

Previously at Eye On Hockey

Players we would like to see in the skills challenge
More 2012 All-Star Game coverage

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 28, 2012 5:00 pm
Edited on: January 28, 2012 5:03 pm
 

Players we would like to see in skills challenge



By: Adam Gretz

The video above features Mike Ribeiro of the Dallas Stars scoring an absolutely insane shootout goal against the Colorado Avalanche a couple of years ago. It's a pretty amazing goal, leaving then-Avs goalie Peter Budaj completely confused. Throughout his career, Ribeiro has made a habit out of scoring highlight reel goals during the regular season skills competition that is otherwise known as the shootout.

He seems like he would be the type of player that would excel in the All-Star skills competition, particularly any of the breakaway challenges. But because he's not an All-Star this year, we don't get an opportunity to see what he's fully capable of when the spotlight is on. The NBA brings in players that aren't on the All-Star rosters to take part in their skills competition, and I wouldn't mind seeing the NHL try something similar.

With that in mind, let's take a quick look at some of the players not in the All-Star game this season that could be favorites to win the various events, or at the very least, put up a solid showing.

Fastest Skater

1. Darren Helm, Detroit Red Wings
2. Andrew Cogliano, Anaheim Ducks
3. Mason Raymond, Vancouver Canucks

Cogliano has actually already won this event, taking it back in 2009 with a time of 14.31 seconds, but I would put Helm up against any other skater in the league in terms of pure speed. He doesn't score much, but everything he does on the ice, including his penalty killing, seems to be a complete blur.

Accuracy Shooting

1. Ilya Kovalchuk, New Jersey Devils
2. Alexander Semin, Washington Capitals
3. Thomas Vanek, Buffalo Sabres

Kind of a tough one to figure out, and it's not as easy as simply looking at a players shooting percentage because that doesn't necessarily mean a player with a high number is an "accurate" shooter, but Kovalchuk and Semin are obvious snipers that can pick their spots and hit the corners from anywhere in the offensive zone.

Hardest Shot

1. Sami Salo, Vancouver Canucks
2. Jason Garrison, Florida Panthers
3. Sheldon Souray, Dallas Stars

Jason Garrison has more goals than any other defenseman in the NHL this season with 13, and eight of them have come by way of his booming slap shot, more than any other player in the league. I don't know if he has what it takes to challenge Zdeno Chara or Shea Weber, but I imagine he could put up some impressive numbers, and the same could be said for Salo. At the Canucks team skills competition earlier this week he hit 102 MPH, which would have been harder than any other participant in last year's event with the exception of Chara and Weber.

Breakaway Challenge

1. Mike Riberio, Dallas Stars
2. Todd Bertuzzi, Detroit Red Wings
3. Rick Nash, Columbus Blue Jackets

We already addressed what Riberio can bring to the table, but when the Red Wings are involved in a shootout they tend to be quality entertainment, not only because of the presence of Pavel Datsyuk, always a human highlight reel, but also because of Todd Bertuzzi, who has some pretty underrated skill. It's not uncommon to see him bust out the spin-o-rama move, but he has quite a few additional tricks up his sleeve as well. And don't underestimate the skill and hands that Rick Nash has for a big, power forward.

Any other players that didn't participate this season that you would like to see?

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
Posted on: January 25, 2012 4:08 pm
 

Varlamov talks about losing No. 1 role to Giguere

Varlamov has lost his starting role to Giguere. (Getty Images)

By Brian Stubits

The Colorado Avalanche headed into the free agency period on July 1 last summer without anybody ready to take the reins in goal. They were widely considered the favorites to sign Tomas Vokoun until they surprised most people by backing off and instead trading for Semyon Varlamov of the Capitals.

It showed how much the Avs wanted Varlamov, who was on his way out of Washington anyway. They shipped the Capitals a their first-round pick in the 2012 draft and a second-round pick in either 2012 or 2013. They also signed veteran Jean-Sebastien Giguere to be his backup.

The expectation was pretty clear: Varlamov was going to be the Avs' starting goalie, and hopefully do that for a long time. After all, he's only 23.

Problem is, Varlamov hasn't played like a franchise goalie, instead showing the form that led the Capitals to having no problem in trading Varlamov away. His record this season is 14-15-1. His goals against average is 3.00 and save percentage at .899. Conversely, Giguere is having a bit of a career revival with a 2.15 GAA and .921 save percentage.

That has led to coach Joe Sacco taking the title of starting goaltender and bestowing it upon Giguere, not Varlamov.

"J.S. is playing well right now, and it's good for the team," Varlamov told the Denver Post. "I just have to keep working. I know it's going to be tough, but I just have to be ready -- always."

At least he's saying the right things. Let that be a lesson to all the aspiring professional hockey players out there: stick to the clichés and you'll be fine. Watch a little Bull Durham and you're good to go.

Unfortunately for Varly, he hasn't been doing the right things on the ice. He hasn't played since he was abused for six goals by the Coyotes nine days ago.

"That's why I'm not playing right now, I think," Varlamov said. "But it's a long season. We still have 30 games after the break."

He has a lot of work to do if he wants to reclaim the lion's share of the work. The Avs are one of the surprise teams in the NHL at the All-Star break, I don't think many people saw them holding a playoff spot at this point, even if it is the eighth and final spot. Giguere is a large reason why, he has been excellent.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @BrianStubitsNHL on Twitter.

Posted on: January 24, 2012 6:16 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2012 8:08 pm
 

Video: rink in Slovakia collapses



By: Adam Gretz

The video posted above shows former NHL player Richard Zednik innocently skating in Slovakia with a group of youth hockey players on Sunday.

That is, until the roof started to collapse under the weight of heavy snow and ice, and came crashing down to the playing surface just minutes after everybody had safely exited.

The most amazing part of it all? Nobody was injured. Thankfully.

Starting at the 1:10 mark the camera takes a walk around the boards, giving you an idea as to just how serious the damage is and how fortunate everyone is to have been able to safely walk away.

Zednik spent 13 seasons in the NHL with the Washington Capitals, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders and Florida Panthers, scoring 200 goals in 745 career games. He last played in the NHL during the 2008-09 season as a member of the Panthers.

For more hockey news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnHockey and @agretz on Twitter.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com