CBA clarifications, Ovechkin's milestone, strength at both ends of the ice and more in this week's edition of Capital Ideas - debate, discuss, enjoy!
- In the wake of Calgary's apparent misinterpretation of the Collective Bargaining Agreement with regards to Ryan O'Reilly, we wondered, generally, whether teams can reach out to the League for an "advisory opinion" of sorts when they feel there's some ambiguity in a CBA provision that might potentially apply to them, to make sure their understanding is correct or, perhaps more importantly, consistent with the League's. So we asked Caps' Assistant GM Don Fishman, who told us that teams do contact the League to ask for interpretations (usually done orally, not in writing) of CBA rules, salary cap treatment of contracts and roster moves, contract language, permissible types of no trade clauses or European assignments they may be drafting and including in a player's contract prior to filing, etc.
He also cited a specific example: "In 2009, we talked with the League regarding loan of Brian Pothier to Hershey as a long-term conditioning loan. We needed to make this move before the trade deadline or we could not do it at all due to CBA rules. (This rule has since changed.) We called the league to confirm this interpretation." So help - a bit of CBA CYA - is always just a phone call away.
- Speaking of Fishman, he was one of a handful of NHL reps at this year's Sloan Sports Analytics Conference in Boston and had some interesting thoughts on the role of advanced statistics in hockey: "Everyone wants a black-and-white answer: Will a trade work or not? Nate Silver said analytics won't provide that... You can't do that in sports. But they might let you know if there's a 60 per cent probability whether something will work. So, you can determine if there is a better chance the trade will succeed for you."
- After going the first ten games of the season without a multi-point game, Alex Ovechkin now has four in his last twelve (including two games with at least three points) and has put up ten points in his last six games. The result? He sits perched on the edge of a very big milestone, just one shy of the 700 point mark. One more, Ribs.
- If and when he hits 700 points, Ovechkin would move into a tie for 212th all-time with Geoff Sanderson - he's already leapfrogged over Clark Gillies and Chris Pronger. Bit of a climb to match his coach's totals, though, and at 27 he probably won't get there... but one never knows, just another 720 points to go!
- Ovechkin's not the only one picking up his game. The Caps in general seem to have found their offense, and not just against the Panthers (although...yeah). Through the first eleven games, the Caps couldn't manage more than three goals even once; in the eleven games since, they've done it six times. The first eleven games they were outscored 41-25. Since? Outscoring opponents 41-22. Here's hoping that's a trend and not a pattern of 11 down, 11 up, 11 down...
- Random stat of the day (courtesy of Adam Vingan): the Caps have now scored at least seven goals in a game in at least one game in each of the last seven years.
- Random stat of the day #2: With Ovechkin and Mike Ribeiro each tallying against Florida last night, the Caps now have three players with at least nine goals - putting them in some very weird company. A number of teams are close but only Buffalo, Chicago, the Islanders and Pittsburgh have three players at or above the nine-goal mark. Which tells us absolutely nothing, so there you go.
- Tomas Kundratek's play so far this year has been a pleasant surprise on an injury-depleted blue line - particularly considering the organization's general lack of defensive depth at the moment. So it's been great to see Steven Oleksy come in as a newly signed, first-time NHLer and immediately make an impact. After picking up an assist in his first NHL game, he added two more in last night's drubbing and threw in some excellent physical play that really set the tone early. The best part? At the AHL level, he's known as a fighter and has racked up the PIMs, but he seems to be taking Adam Oates' words to heart - he knows he's here to play, not fight, and has done exactly that.
- Have to think that his surprisingly solid performances provide even more validation for tossing Roman Hamrlik onto the waiver wire earlier this week. Tough to lose a guy for nothing but after being benched for 16 of the first 20 games and at 39-years-old, there was probably little to no trade market out there and that's just the reality. Good for Hamr for landing on a team that can use him and we certainly wish him luck (although obviously not too much, especially this Sunday).
- They may not be moving up the standings as much as we'd like, but one of the better signs of how things seem to be turning around is in the team's resiliency of late. After a rough start to the season - for team and goaltender alike - it would have been easy for them to get sidetracked by a very flat loss in Philadelphia. Instead they went on to win three straight, starting with a dominant 3-0 win over a division rival. They then refused to cave when down by three against the Bruins and chipped away before finally winning in overtime. Even in routs they've shown resiliency, jumping out to a very early 4-0 lead against Florida and then continuing to pile on over the remaining 52 minutes.
- Braden Holtby's save percentage is now up to .911, which is much better than it used to be... but boy does it ever show how ugly those numbers were early on. Consider the fact that his numbers look like that after posting three shutouts on the season and after giving up just nine goals in his last six games.
- Along with pacing the team in the goal-scoring department, Troy Brouwer's had a bit of success in other areas - including the faceoff circle. Brouwer is currently kicking some caboose on offensive-zone draws, having won 30 of the 47 he's taken (including 4-for-4 last night, setting up John Carlson's goal early in the first). Of course, one might ask why Brouwer, very much not a center, has taken 47 faceoffs period; one theory we've kicked around is that Adam Oates, ever the devoted right-hand/left-hand afficionado, has instructed Brouwer, a righty, to take draws when the matchup is favorable (or rather unfavorable for Nicklas Backstrom, a lefty). Seems to be working.
- Nice to see Wojtek Wolski finally break out of his goal-scoring drought Tuesday night against the Bruins, after so many chances that seemed to be so close and yet so far. Even nicer to see because it was the game-tying tally
- Eric Fehr's overtime winner in that game was a beauty. So was Mathieu Perreault's extra-point goal last night against Florida. Two great individual efforts from a couple of guys who have had a very different but equally difficult uphill climb to get to where they are now. So here's the question... take away context, which goal was prettier? Tough call. I can't choose. Here, you decide:
- "Overheard" on Twitter - like the rest of us, the future Mrs. Ovechkin got a bit spoiled by the opening of last night's game:
(via Sick Unbelievable / HockeyShopped.com)