Tuesday, May 22, 2018

A Recent History of Referees Screwing the Caps

Hello Caps fans! What a wild ride this season has been, with Game 7 coming up mere hours after this post goes live. This is an exciting time to be a Caps fan, but as we all know, there are many things that could potentially go wrong for this team. However, while a mediocre effort or poor goaltending would be disappointing, nothing would be more vexing to me than to see this incredible team's heartfelt performance this spring be undone by bad officiating. That would truly be a heart-wrenching ending to an otherwise glorious season.

With that in mind, a family friend, Capitals Season Ticket Holder and longtime fan (who would prefer to remain anonymous), has compiled a detailed look at the poor officiating the Caps have faced over the past couple of seasons. While the referees have not yet been decided for Game 7, when scoutingtherefs.com has the details, be sure to check back here to see how they have screwed the Caps in the past.

Enjoy Game 7, guys, and as always, LET'S GO CAPS!!!!

Tom Chmielewski (43)πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Referee Chmielewski (shim-a-leski) called Nicky for unsportsmanlike for continuing to goal aft offsides vs CBJ (3/28/16)

Shane Heyer (55)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ & Tom Kowal (32)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Lineman Heyer & Referee Kowal make tripping call on Ovi that was incidental contact, completely bogus & stopped breakaway vs Canes (12/16/16)

Kelly Sutherland (11)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Referee Sutherland made a really bogus interference call on Beagle during a game vs Lightning (12/23/16)

Trevor Hanson (31)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Referee Hanson made bogus call of delay of game against Karl Alzner for intentionally knocking net off moorings vs Devils, (12/29/16)

Tim Peel (20)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Referee Peel calls high stick on Matt Niskanen with 7 min left in game. Seemed like an effort to prevent a shutout. Didn't work. vs CBJ (1/5/17)

Jean Hebert (15)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 
Pens vs Caps, (1/11/17):
Letang & Kuzy get into it after the former pokes Holtby. When Orlov & others join scrum (mostly hugging the group), Referee Hebert calls roughing on Orlov ... that's it! Pens score 1 of only 2 goals on PP in 5 - 2 loss.

Frederick L'Ecuyer (17)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦& Dan O'Halloran (13)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 
Caps vs Pens (1/16/17):
Middle 2nd Period, Hornqvist frustrated down 3 - 0, stiff arms Oshie in the head hard enough to snap his head back. No call from Referee L'Ecuyer who's looking straight at them. 
Start of OT, during first Caps rush, non- call by Referee O'Halloran on obvious trip of Ovechkin by Crosby. Would have been 4 on 3 PP. Instead, Pens win with OT goal on next possession.
Note: Non-calls in this game (e.g. high stick to Oshie face at the horn) were many & obvious, but these were the worst. 

Ian Walsh (29)πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Cap vs Islanders (1/31/17)
Tavares takes down Ovi and Referee Walsh does not make the call. Isles score on empty net making it 3 - 1, with time running out. Caps score next possession, but comeback is denied. Final 3 - 2.

Tom Kowal (32)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ 
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 12/16/16)
Canes vs Caps (2/7/17)
On the power play in the second period, Kuznetsov is slashed on right hand right in front of Referee Kowal with no call. Woulda been 5 on 3, but no call. 

Brad Meier (34)πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Caps vs Rangers (2/28/17)
Middle of third period: Referee Meier calls interference on Backie for downing Nash who's on the rush WITH THE PUCK & loses his edge. Trotz caught laughing ... couldn't believe the call. 

Dan O'Halloran (13)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 1/16/17)
Caps vs Rangers (2/28/17)
Ranger Mats Zuccarello comes through paint & twists Holtby's head hard enough to knock his mask off right in front of Referee O'Halloran. No call...

Dean Morton (36)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Flyers vs Caps (3/4/17)
Referee Morton gives 4 minutes to Wilson (43) & only 2 minutes to Cousins (25) in same roughing incident. 

Eric Furlatt (27)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Flyers vs Caps (3/4/17)
Referee Furlatt makes bogus roughing call on Wilson in middle of 3rd period (all about Wilson's rep)

Jon McIsaac (2)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ & TJ Luxmore (21)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Wild vs Caps (3/14/17)
Really inconsistent calls all game long from Referees McIsaac & Luxmore. 

Chris Lee (28) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Caps vs Leafs (4/19/17)
Game 4 of the Caps-Leafs series; after non-call on Hyman's cross-check (interference) on Williams in 2nd period, Referee Lee then washes out goal by Eller that would have made the score 6 - 2 Caps. Claimed goalie interference on Backstrom, when Leafs goalie Andersen actually had a hold of Backstrom. 

Wes McCauley (4) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ & Brian Pochmara (16) πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Caps vs Leafs (4/21/2017)
Game 5 of the series & Referees McCauley & Pochmara make piss-poor calls the whole game starting with clip of Ovi by Kadri called "tripping" (Caps make 'em pay with PPG). Worst is "mystery whistle" in 3rd period, stopping play when Caps have a 4 on 2 break-a-way during PP. No explanation given and face-off done in neutral zone. Fortunately, Caps win in OT, 2 - 1

Wes McCauley (4) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 4/21/17)
Caps vs Pens (5/6/17)
Game 5 of the 2nd Round series. Halfway through 1st period, no score and Patric Hornqvist takes out Holtby with obvious trip in the crease, vicious enough to put Holtby on his back. No call from Referee McCauley who's looking right at the crease from the corner. 

Chris Rooney (5) πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ & Darren Gibbs (66) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Caps vs Lightning (10/9/17)
Referee Rooney makes bogus too many men on the ice call (probably to make up for earlier faceoff violation against Tampa). Gasses Caps & they give up a tying goal. Then, in OT, Linesman Gibbs makes same poor call & Caps give up PP goal to lose in OT. 

Trevor Hanson (14) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Pens vs Caps (11/10/17)
Horrible calls all night on both sides culminating in obvious early whistle that cost Caps a goal in 3rd period. 

Anthony Sericolo (84) πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
Hawks v Caps (12/6/17)
Linesman Sericolo makes dumb call on Wilson’s hit on Forsling. Forsling turned his back to Wilson at last second which should have negated call. Of course, dumbass Pierre McQuire calls it a “nasty hit” until Doc & Milbury both say otherwise in the booth. Then he changed his tune ... typical.

Jon McIsaac (2) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 3/14/17)
Hawks v Caps (12/6/17)
Jon McIsaac: just as inept as last year vs Wild in March. Absolutely bogus call on Orpik in 13th min of 3rd period with Caps up 5 - 1. Referee McIsaac called a hook and replay didn’t show anything the NBC broadcasters could even remotely call a penalty. 

Dean Morton (36)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 3/4/17)
Bruins vs Caps (12/28/17)
Second period, Referee Morton, at the blue line, calls tripping by Connolly. Referee TJ Luxmore, on top of the play, does not because there was NO trip & Grzelcyk embellished. 

Evgeny Romasko (39)πŸ‡·πŸ‡Ί
VGK vs Caps (2/4/18)
At end of 2nd period, Referee Romasko gives Orpik a bogus hooking call & VGK scores on PP to tie game 2 - 2. Huge impact on momentum going into 3rd period & Caps lose 4 - 3 in regulation. 

Brian Pochmara (16) πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 4/21/17)
Caps vs Pens (4/1/18)
Middle of 2nd period, Malkin does a little spin with Wilson & Niskanen in the slot and his leg touches Wilson stick and he embellishes in an obvious dive. Obvious to everybody except Referee Pochmara. 2 min for tripping. 

Francis Charron (6)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Caps vs CBJ (4/19/18)
In Game 4 of the first round, Referee Charron sees Wilson’s reputation rather than the actual play. Late in the 1st period, Willie makes a great open ice hit on Cole (23 - CBJ) in the neutral zone and this idiot calls it a trip. Not even close! Then in 1st seconds of CBJ PP, makes a bogus call on CBJ for hooking to even things up and send it to 4 on 4. 

Dan O’Rourke (9)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Caps vs CBJ (4/23/18)
In Game 6 of the first round, at 2:20 of 3rd period with Caps up 3 - 1, Calvert (11) trips Djoos (29) behind Caps goal & Referee O’Rourke makes no call, even though he’s looking right them from the corner. Calvert then makes pass to Dubois (11) in front for an easy goal. CBJ now within 1 goal and coulda been a game changer. 

Marc Joanette (25)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦ & Wes McCauley (4) πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
Pens vs Caps (5/5/18)
In game 5 of the 2nd round, poor officiating by Referee Joanette gives Pens lopsided number of PP & 2 goals. At one point Hornqvist (Pens 72) actually talks he & Referee McCauley out of a “too many men on the ice” penalty. 

Dan O'Halloran (13)πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦
2X REPEAT OFFENDER (see 1/16/17 & 2/28/17)
Brad Meier (34)πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
REPEAT OFFENDER (see 28 Feb 17)
Caps vs TBL (5/13/18)
In game 2 of the series, Kunitz hooks Wilson going the net. Referee O’Halloran doesn’t make call AND calls Wilson for GT interference, even though contact was incidental & caused by Kunitz. TBL score to tie game on PP. 
2 min later Hedman (TB 77) gets hit in the face by a puck. Referees O'Halloran & Meier call it high sticking on Oshie, even though his stick never touched him. TB scores on the PP to take the lead 2 - 1. 

Special mention to NBC commentator Brian Bouche who says all this is just “getting bounces” & the Caps got them in game 1. He must still be pissed the only thing anybody remembers about his career was giving up “The Goal” to Ovi. 

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Pre-Pre-Season Look at Washington's Forwards

It's the dog days of the hockey calendar, the donut hole if you will, the emptiness between the end of free agency frenzy and the start of training camp and, this year, the World Cup of Hockey.

The Caps stayed calm during the draft and free agency, making only one trade and a few signings, even while the rest of the hockey world was busy doing cartwheels and backflips to the point where I'm fairly certain Wayne Gretzky is going to be Pittsburgh's 4C next year (hey, he can't be higher than Crosby, Malkin, or Bonino, that's just crazy talk).

Due to the uneventfulness of the Caps' summer thus far, examining Washington's roster is a lot more straightforward than doing so with, say, Florida's roster, or Edmonton's. However, due to the depth in the roster, it is still worthwhile to discuss how to optimize the lineup to be a true cup-contending one.

In recent years, it seems as though the Caps have been one step behind in building the perfect team.

  • Under Bruce Boudreau, the Caps were possession monsters with terrible defense and goaltending that sunk them every year. The cup winners those years, such as Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Chicago, had great defensive systems and above-average goaltending. 
  • Under Dale Hunter and Adam Oates, the Caps became extremely defense-conscious and relied exclusively on special teams to provide offense. The cup winners those years, Chicago and LA, used the "West-Coast" style of physical two-way hockey with a skilled Top 6, checking 3rd line and grinding 4th line.
  • Under Barry Trotz, the Caps have become more of that West-Coast-type team, using their physicality and good defensive play to spur the offense. This year's champion, Pittsburgh, utilized a skilled, speedy Top 9 and good goaltending to dominate possession and mask a porous, top-heavy defense.
If the Caps want to win the cup this year, they cannot afford to fall behind where the game is evolving. Last year the Caps were good but not great possession-wise, and that hurt them when the speed of the Penguins overmatched Washington's physicality.

Thankfully, the Caps have a roster more than capable of matching the skill of Pittsburgh's without having to surrender too much of the physicality. Here is how I would go about setting up Washington's forward lines if I were Coach Trotz.

Line 1: Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - TJ Oshie

This was the line the Caps started last year with due to Nick Backstrom recovering from surgery. Albeit in a small sample size, this line was a very, very strong possession team, and at this point in their respective careers, I truly believe that Kuznetsov is a better complement to OV than Backstrom is. While Backstrom is the superior passer straight up, Kuznetsov's skill and speed are unmatched anywhere else on the roster. Add Oshie's willingness to go to the net and above-average two-way play, and this makes for the kind of line that every team has to match their best defensemen up against. That makes it even tougher when they face...

Line 2: Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Williams is one of those players who dominates possession no matter where he is. The Backstrom-Williams combo was an absolute possession juggernaut in their limited time together last year, and Burakovsky also played better with Williams than without. Putting aside the advanced stats, the fit is also there style-wise. The best way for Burakovsky to develop would be to give him more time with the kinds of players that will let him hone his offensive skills. With Backstrom passing to him and Williams crowding the front of the net, Burakovsky will be able to get a lot more shot opportunities and garbage points, thus allowing him to mature and become the kind of scorer we will need as Ovechkin gets older. Additionally, Backstrom and Williams are more than good enough defensively that they can mask any deficiencies the youngster might have. This could be another dangerous skill line that gives defenses fits, thus leaving just the bottom of their defensive barrel when they face...

Line 3: Marcus Johansson - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly

I think this line is very similar to Pittsburgh's HBK line, the line that really led the Pens to the Cup this past year. Johansson is probably the fastest guy on this team with Chimera gone, so he's the speed element that Carl Hagelin was for Pitt. He's not quite as fast as Hagelin, but his better skill makes up for it. Eller played with absolutely terrible linemates in Montreal but was still able to escape with good possession numbers. He has a solid, Nick Bonino-esque two way presence that will make him the perfect 3C, and with better linemates than the garbage bin he had in Montreal, he should be able to improve upon his offensive numbers. That leaves the biggest question mark and discrepancy, Connolly vs. Phil Kessel. As of now, Connolly is nowhere close to Phil the Thrill, but given that he is a former 6th overall pick, I find it hard to believe that his offensive gifts have vanished. He put up 25 points last year in his first full NHL season while getting less than 13 minutes of average ice time. If he can get a little better this year, I think he will be a good scoring and speed presence on the third line. Besides, Eller can cover for any defensive deficiencies he has. I truly believe the success of this season depends on the third line, and this is as skilled a third line as one can get.

Line 4: Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

No surprise here, this is the energy checking line every team needs. While it's a disappointment to see Wilson here, I think this is the best 4th line in the league. It still has potential offensively, with players like Winnik, Beagle and Wilson who could still be Top 9 guys.
Now, this being said, it is extremely likely that Wilson plays on the third line, especially given the bridge contract he just signed. Although I think that this would not optimize the lines correctly, if Wilson can become a better offensive player and someone can step up and be a good checking-type forward, it would still work just as well.

In conclusion, the Caps have the personnel to use the style of play that will lead them to success. It just remains to be seen if they will do it.

Stay tuned for my next post, where I will dive into the depths of Washington's defensemen.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Who is Washington's Biggest Rival?

With the Caps on top of the league and getting set for another attempt at a long playoff run, one team that must be on their minds is the New York Rangers. Fresh off a 7-3 dismantling of the Rags at Madison Square Garden, the Caps seem to be determined to vanquish their playoff demons once and for all. Playoff loss after playoff loss have helped to rekindle (and even enhance) a once-dormant rivalry between these two teams.

With that thought, who is Washington's biggest rival right now? The Rangers, who've knocked us out a few too many times recently? Is it the Penguins, the bane of the 90's Caps? Or is it someone else?

With the Caps playing more and more meaningful games later and later in the season, these and more rivalries are only going to continue to grow. Here is one Caps fan's ranking of their top 5 rivalries.

5. Boston Bruins
Best Moment in the Rivalry:

The Caps have dominated the Bruins recently, with Braden Holtby shutting them down every chance he gets. He shut them out all of last season and gave up one goal on a weird bounce earlier this year. Due to this, as well as the fact that they play in a different division, the rivalry has really weakened. However, it gets points for the physicality that both teams bring, the motivation the B's have to finally get the best of Holtby, and the fact that these are two of the best teams in the conference, and another playoff meeting may be imminent.

4. Philadelphia Flyers
Best Moment in the Rivalry:

This has been one of the most underrated rivalries since the Caps joined the league 40 years ago. The Caps and Flyers have had four playoff meetings in their history, most famously the one that ended with the above goal by Dale Hunter. That 1988 series was one of the best in franchise history. Recently, these two teams haven't played each other much in the playoffs (just the one meeting in 2008), but there is absolutely no love lost between them. We all remember the two line brawls in 2013-14. We all remember Wilson's hit on Schenn and Niskanen's duel with Scott Laughton. The physicality alone clinches the rivalry the fourth spot in the countdown.

3. New York Islanders
Best Moment in the Rivalry:

Before the Rangers this decade and before the Penguins in the 90's, the Islanders were the bane of Washington's existence, teaching the Caps exactly how to lose 7-game series in heartbreaking fashion. Everybody knows about the Easter Epic and Hunter's hit on Turgeon. More recently, we're all still basking a bit in the memory of Kuznetsov's goal above that won the Caps one of the most hard-fought series I have ever watched. Unfortunately, our first meeting this year won't be until January 7th, but if the preseason was any indication, the game as well as the season series will be physical, heart-pounding, and absolutely exhilarating. And if these two teams meet again in the playoffs, oh boy. This is quickly becoming one of the best and most exciting rivalries in the league.

2. New York Rangers
Best Moment in the Rivalry:

Washington's most-met playoff opponent, both all-time and in the OV era, is now the New York Rangers. After last year's heartbreaking Game 7 loss, the third straight seven-game series loss to the Rags, the Caps have shown that they have a thirst for revenge this year after their 7-3 dismantling of the struggling Manhattan squad. So why do the Rags rank second instead of first? For me, the answer is, quite simply, I don't hate enough of their players. Chris Kreider is an idiot, Derek Brassard is weird, and Marc Staal is washed-up and terrible, but other than them, who is there to hate? Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh, who play their hearts out to stop OV? Rick Nash, the 40-goal scorer who is almost as maligned as OV? And of course, Henrik Lundqvist, the bane of Caps fans, who has singlehandedly carried the Rags over the course of his 10-11 year career? The games are thrilling, suspenseful, and usually heartbreaking, but there simply isn't the level of hatred needed to rank this rivalry first.

1. Pittsburgh Penguins
Best Moment in the Rivalry:

Pittsburgh, however, is a different story. It all started in the 90's with the successive years of playoff heartbreaks. Can anybody forget the Petr Nedved 4OT goal? That is in the pantheon of the Caps' disasters along with the Easter Epic, Tikkanen, Ward's high-stick, and Stepan. The rivalry is still going strong these days, despite the few playoff meetings between these two teams. And let me tell you, we may not meet in the playoffs, but I hate nearly everybody on that team (with the exception of Eric Fehr and Steven Oleksy, of course. Sniff). Sidney Crosby's a whining diva. Evgeni Malkin's an annoying idiot who is always the most dangerous player on Pittsburgh when we play. Kris Letang is a cheap-shotting diver. Chris Kunitz and David Perron are talentless goons who get free points from playing with Crosby. The list goes on and on, and there will probably never be a team I hate more than Pittsburgh.

So this is my ranking for the Caps' biggest rivals right now. What do you think? Do you have a different number one? Other teams in the Top 5? Let me know, and Let's Go Caps!