I kinda like the reporters that are outside the beat and don't have the hive mind or be loyal to their paper/employers. I Like hooks orpik on pensburgh. Ryan at hockey buzz is good even though sometimes he is very aggressive about only being pro stats. THW are okay. Do you have any places that you frequent?
Ryan needs to fuckin chill. A few weeks ago he tweeted that JR “just wings it” when it comes to trades. Are you kidding me? He fucking masterminded the Kessel and Sutter trades. Hooks is ok. Meesh is the GOAT, Jesse from Pensblog, Mike from Pensburgh. Colin Dunlap from CBS Pittsburgh, he’s funny without trying. Vinnybatts on twitter. I also try to do my own research as much as possible. I really don’t want to bias myself y’know?
Article originally posted on July 10th, 2015 at GBB site.
The Washington Capitals were a team that was set on their backend with Braden Holtby tending the net while John Carlson, Brooks Orpik, Matt Niskanen, and Karl Alzner watched the blue line. But what they were missing was skill and depth up front. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom couldn’t do all the work no matter how hard they tried. Evgeny Kuznetov, Andre Burakovsky, and Tom Wilson all look poised to maybe add that skill and depth in the future but when you have Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, and Troy Brouwer in your top 6 come playoff time it’s easy to why the Caps didn’t get pass the 2nd round. General Manager Brian MacLellan saw this weakness and promised to fix it, and fix it he did.
The Capitals went from a top 10 team in the NHL to a top 5 team within 24 hours when Mr. MacLellan plucked coveted UFA winger Justin Williams and inked him to a very good 2 year deal. Then the next day he traded for 28 year old, skilled winger TJ Oshie, sending Troy Brouwer, Pheonix Copley, and a 3rd round pick back to St Louis. Of course, everyone is pretty excited to see Oshie wear the red, white, and blue in DC, but most people don’t really understand just how much Oshie can bring to the table. Most just see a skilled winger that can give you 50+ points a season and maybe 20 goals, but I would argue he could be even more.
While in St. Louis Oshie spent the majority of his time on ice with David Backes, one of the best 2-way centers you’ll find in the game. This is not a crack on Backes, I would trade most of the Caps players for him to be on our roster, but the point is Backes was sent out against the toughest competition night after night, meaning Oshie was sent out against the toughest players night after night also. It’s hard enough to score in the NHL but it’s even more difficult when you have to face the top end talent of the best teams. Imagine trying to have to score a goal when Stamkos or Crosby or Tavares are out there with the puck.
In 2015, playing with Backes resulted in Oshie, when starting his shift at 5v5, only seeing 325 shift (28.7%) starts in the offensive zone. On top of that he was sent out to start his shift in his own defensive zone 400 (35.3%) times and 408 (35%) times in the neutral zone. That’s the life of a player that that has to shut down top line players. Yet, even with the tougher assignments and more starts in his own end than in the offensive zone Oshie was able to produce, on average, 57.4 points a season (310 points in 410 games). The only players on the Caps that average more are, of course, Ovechkin and Backstrom, and they faced much more favorable opponents when on the ice at 5v5.
You might say “Well maybe Oshie was only able to start in his own end and still do well offensively because Backes is so great at D play and without Backes Oshie wouldn’t do as well”. Good point, but as it is shown below, Backes actually does worse puck possession wise without Oshie on the ice. So really Oshie improves one of the best 2 way centers in the game and still scores, now image that with Backstrom and Ovechkin.
Speaking of which, Mr. MacLellan stated that he pictured Williams with Burakovsky and Kuznetsov on the second line meaning Oshie will more than likely be placed with those very same high producing players in Ovechkin and Backstrom. Ovechkin in the 2014-2015 season, compared to Oshie, started (at 5v5) 455 (37.1%) of his shifts in the offensive zone and only 328 (26.7%) shifts in his own defensive zone. That is a huge difference between how Oshie was used in St. Louis and how Ovechkin was used here. Essentially, if Oshie is activated with Ovechkin this upcoming season he’ll see an uptick of about 8.4% starts in the offensive zone and 8.6% less in his own defensive zone. Also, Ovechkin clocked in 1215 minutes of 5v5 time on the ice while Oshie saw only 1038 minutes (in 9 less games) of 5v5 ice time. So if Oshie is on the off wing of Ovechkin he will not only see more time on ice but more starts in the offensive zone and less in the defensive zone, giving him many more opportunities to help put the puck in the back of the net than he did in St Louis.
No more will there be a revolving door at 1RW like there was in 2014-2015 where Ovechkin and Backstrom had 10 different wing mates including such bottom six players as Jay Beagle, Joel Ward, Jason Chimera, and rookies like Tom Wilson and Andre Burakovsky. Finally, one of the best offensive duos in the league will have a confident, veteran, skilled player in Oshie. This will in return open up the ice for Ovechkin and Backstrom. As a defender if you see Ovechkin on one side and Oshie on the other you can no longer shade to Ovechkin without getting burned. If everyone stays healthy you might see Ovechkin finally reach over the 30 assist mark since he last did it 4 years ago. But let me put down this kool-aid and continue.
An underrated improvement that Oshie brings to the Caps could be on the power play. Yes, the Caps had the number 1 rated PP in the regular season last year so it doesn’t need much help, but by the end and throughout the playoffs the PP faltered.
What makes the Caps PP so deadly is that there are 3 points of attack: Ovechkin on the right circle, someone in the slot, and the Dman at the point to blast away. Obviously, the most deadly of those weapons is Ovechkin but over time teams began to shade Ovechkin more and more, leaving the slot open (mainly Brouwer) for more chances. Now, I don’t have the fancy stats to back this up but the eye test proves it: Brouwer whiffed/shanked a grade-A chance in the slot on the PP about once a game on average. If Oshie is placed in the slot with his slick hands he should be able to score more than what Brouwer did. Brouwer spent 228:30 minutes on the PP last season and only had 8 goals to show for it. Oshie clocked in only 3 goals with 160:40 minutes (10 less games) of play, but Oshie was also on the 2nd PP unit and wasn’t playing with threats like Ovechkin and Backstrom. Brouwer had 12 PP goals in the 2013-2014 season and Oshie has a much better shot and ice awareness, so it isn’t insane to think Oshie gets 10+ goals on the PP this upcoming season; he never had more than 6 and that was his rookie season.
But no player is perfect and Oshie has his faults. First off, and this is most concerning, is that Oshie has never played a full season. Over his 7 year career he has missed about 70 games due to injury, averaging about 10 games a season. That’s a lot of games, but the Caps have been blessed recently with good health so hopefully he gets some of that luck when he gets here. Maybe he used the early exit from the playoffs as a time to heal and strengthen.
Also, Oshie has been known to “not show up” in the playoffs. I’m not a big believer in the theory that some players just can’t produce in the playoffs, it seems to be more of a product of the team than the individual. The Blues are on close to par with the Capitals for post season let downs. Over the past 4 seasons St Louis has been predicted to go far, especially last season, and they can’t make it out of the second round (sound familiar?). Oshie averages about 1 point every 3 playoff games which isn’t great for a top 6 player and definitely concerning (better than Brouwer though), but as showed above, he would be used very differently here so maybe the change of scenery and line combinations will help him, and us, get over that hump.
Imagine this with Backstrom and Ovechkin
To sum up, in 2014-2015 if Oshie played a full 82 game season and had the same amount offensive zone shifts as Ovechkin did (if he played 82 games) Oshie would have had about an extra 93 shifts in the offensive zone. So imagine if Oshie had 93 extra shifts with Backstrom and Ovi against weaker opponents? How many points would that add up to? 5-10? Then add that on top of Oshie’s PP time on the number 1 rated PP, which could add another 5-10 points. After that it’s not hard to see how Oshie could grab an extra 10-20 points a season than his usual output of 57 points; but again that’s if he’s healthy.
My favorite defenseman wow this is tough. There are so many respectable defensemen in the league it’s hard to just pick one. But, I’ll go with Brooks Orpik. This man is a warrior and just all around badass. I truly credit him for changing this Capitals team. He sets the bar high and makes every player better. I think everyone has learned at least something from him. During last season when he was out for a few games due to an upper body injury, we went on a losing streak. And when he came back, we started to grasp our momentum back. His presence truly makes a huge difference. During the playoffs, Carlson’s skate accidentally cut Orpik’s face towards the end of period one. Orpik was back on the ice by the start of period two. His dedication and hard work are inspiring and I am so happy he is a part of our team. Also, he is the nicest guy ever!! Meeting him was so cool and he was so nice and ugh I can’t wait to watch him again this season. Ily Brooks Orpik