Category Archives: Capitals

A Caps Fans And A Pens Fan Walk Into A Bar …

Mr. Irrelevant Caps correspondent Brad Parker returns (!) to preview the Caps-Pens series. He’s joined by Ian Brinksman, a Pittsburgh native and devoted Penguins fan who had the misfortune of working with Brad once. Brad asked the questions and Ian answered. Enjoy watching them go snark-for-snark.

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1. Didn’t you guys suck a few months ago? What the hell happened? (Figured I’d lob you one first so you can tell us how amazing your coach is and explain how Sid saved Pittsburgh.)

The Pens didn’t suck as such, but they definitely plodded along in mediocrity. I don’t think there was much strategic difference between Mike Johnston and Mike Sullivan, but the team certainly responded after the former’s firing. Part of that transformation has to do with the coach, but it also coincided with call-ups, the trade for Carl Hagelin, and yes, Sidney Crosby waking up from his early-season doldrums and tearing the league apart.

With all due respect to Sullivan, I think the main difference in watching this team now and from the beginning of the season (and frankly from much of the last half dozen years) is its speed. How Washington deals with it will be an interesting match-up.

2. Do Pens fans hate the Caps as much as we used to hate you?

Used to? Almost as soon as the Caps finished up with the Flyers, my social media was flooded with the familiar frothy-mouthed anti-Crosby vitriol. I mean, your twitter handle is dedicated to mocking him. But in answer to your question, no, not quite.

The Caps are certainly a rival, but they pale in comparison to our cross-state friends from Philadelphia. And as you would probably guess, that’s because the Flyers actually beat us from time to time in the playoffs. So yeah, the relationship is a bit condescending, which I imagine is part of why Caps fans hate the Penguins so much. Maybe this is the series that changes that, but until the Caps actually beat the Pens in April/May that relationship isn’t going to change.

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3. It’s obvious that we hate Sidney Crosby because he’s a whiner that dives and yet is treated as infallible by the incredibly biased Canadian media. Why do you guys hate Alex Ovechkin, who is the greatest goal scorer of his generation and plays the game with unbridled enthusiasm and infectious joy?

I’m glad to see your journalistic objectivity is intact. I’ll ignore the Crosby baiting, other than to say I wish the league protected him as much as is claimed. Maybe then he wouldn’t have lost a year of his career to concussions.

Anyway, I love how Ovechkin’s description has been updated over the years from “best player in the world” to “best goal scorer!” And I think that gets at the heart of the antipathy. Penguins fans view him as a threat and a massive talent, but (rightly) view Crosby as the superior player. So as the NHL rammed their “rivalry” down our throats, our tribal instincts took over and the need to defend Crosby translated into attacking Ovi.

Personally, I like Ovechkin. I have an affinity for all Russian players; I find them endlessly amusing. I don’t like a lot of his hits as some of them can be quite reckless, but I don’t have any burning hatred for the man.

4. Which Penguin, who we aren’t talking about now, will Caps fans hate in a week?

This might be a bit obvious, but I think it’ll be Phil Kessel. If you look at his stats alone, he had a solid season. But in typical Kessel fashion, he disappeared for large swaths of the year and started to hear some of the same complaints that marred his time in Toronto. After an especially ghastly game in March, Kessel was able to muster some consistency that carried over into the playoffs in a big way.

From my very unscientific eyes, he was the best player on either team during the first round. His speed and shot created havoc for the Rangers. And apparently this shouldn’t be all that surprising, as his performance in past playoff games and the Olympics shows a man who ups his game when the stakes are high. I don’t think it’ll be long before I hear Caps fans mocking our fat, balding winger.

5. Um, that goalie you have is pretty awesome, right?

Matt Murray is one of the most highly regarded goalie prospects and he’s absolutely playing like it. Even when Fleury is finally healthy enough to play, I’d rather keep rolling Murray out unless he starts to stumble. I like Fleury a lot, but this kid has been everything we could possibly ask for and I don’t want to upset that.

6. The schedule was clearly altered because Justin Bieber is playing at Verizon Center on Friday. What’s your favorite song by the Beebs? (I know you’re kind of a hipster and will try to pretend you don’t like him, but seriously.)

My favorite moment was when Bieber thought he was sufficiently street to rap “Lose Yourself” in Detroit.

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7. Will any games in Pittsburgh be moved because of a Foghat/Blue Oyster Cult double bill?

Scheduling a Penguins playoff game on the same day as the Steelers draft is yinzerpocalypse.

8. Would fans in Pittsburgh rather see the Pens win another Cup, the Steelers win another Super Bowl, or the Pirates win another World Series?

Ooof. As much as it pains me to admit it, probably another Super Bowl.

9. You guys always beat us in the playoffs, even when we’re up by two games. Do you have any fear playing the Caps this year?

It’s funny. If someone were to show me the Capital’s record, statistics, and a breakdown of their team’s makeup — but hid the name of the team/players — I’d be incredibly nervous. But as soon as the Capitals name was revealed, I’d relax immediately. I don’t think I’m alone either. As soon as the Flyers began to make a series of it, I watched as Capitals nation began to have a collective freak-out.

Look, I should be incredibly nervous. But the Capitals remain the Bengals of hockey. Incredibly good during the regular season, hilariously inept in the playoffs. Bungles are going to Bungle, and until they change it, Caps are going to Cap.

10. Does Sidney Crosby still live with Mario Lemieux?

Ha, no. Does Alexander Ovechkin still have a tramp stamp?

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11. In your opinion, exactly how many hats should be thrown on the ice after a player records a hat trick?

In the year 1389, the Kingdom of Serbia was overrun by Ottoman forces in the “Battle of Kosovo.” Despite an obvious military defeat, the Serbs spent the next 700 years viewing this battle as the ultimate victory as Prince Lazar’s sacrifice stopped the Ottoman advance (note: it didn’t).

I bring this up only because it’s the closest parallel to your insistence on always bringing up the 2009 playoffs, where Crosby made an ill-advised statement during the Capitals’ Game 2 victory. To follow Brad on twitter (@stopthehats) is to see this event mentioned in constant, triumphant joy!

But of course the Penguins would go on to win the series and embarrass the Capitals in game 7. Why this series would be remembered fondly by a Capitals fan can only be explained by some deep, horrifying psychosis.

12. The Penguins will win this series if …

The Penguins will win this series if they continue their season-long mitigation of Ovi (zero points), and not allow the Capitals’ lethal powerplay too many opportunities.

13. The Capitals will win this series if …

The Capitals will win the series if they find a way to slow the Penguins aforementioned speed, force them to make stupid penalties, and rattle the rookie goaltender.

14. Your prediction?

I don’t think any team will dominate. I’ll say Pens in 6, but I could just as easily imagine a scenario where it goes the other way.

15. If your prediction comes through which of the following will you enjoy more: the victory or my Twitter meltdown?

Your Twitter is a master class in trolling. The only thing that makes it bearable for me is when the Caps do lose, you seem to have a complete psychotic break. I especially enjoyed the series of cryptic Prince (RIP) lyrics during the game 5 loss. I’ll enjoy the victory more, but it’s really closer than it ought to be.

Caps Fans Get The Best Return on Investment During These NHL Playoffs

Here with a guest post about this Caps’ playoff run and league-wide ticket prices is Mr. Irrelevant tickets partner TiqIQ.

It’s that time of year again — intensity picks up, facial hair begins to grow and dreams of hoisting Lord Stanley swirl in the minds of 16 NHL teams. For fans, the harrowing experience of the NHL Playoffs brings forth a gambit of emotions, from the elation of a big win to the frustration of an overtime loss. Patience is certainly tested, but one question remains; which fan base is getting the best bang for their buck during the 2016 NHL Playoffs?

Looking at secondary market data for 2016 NHL Playoff tickets provided by online aggregator TiqIQ and VegasInsider’s Stanley Cup odds for each team, it appears that the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Washington Capitals provide the best value for the greatest return this postseason. At the other end of the spectrum sit the New York Rangers, whose exorbitant ticket prices at Madison Square Garden and long odds at the Stanley Cup make them one of the worst deals in the playoffs this season.

The above graphic depicts each team’s home ticket average during the first round on the secondary market as well as their odds of winning the Stanley Cup. Perhaps expectedly, the Rangers lead the list with a whopping home average of $518.50, though at 18/1 odds leave fans paying big prices for what will likely result in an early exit. Washington Capitals playoff tickets, however, are the ninth most expensive in the opening round of play at an average price of $234.72 at Verizon Center. With 11/4 odds to win it all, the Capitals serve as the best deal through the Quarterfinals.

Such a claim is better represented through the team-by-team value index, which can be seen below. These numbers illustrate which fan bases receive the best value by multiplying each team’s first-round ticket price average at home by their Stanley Cup odds and then dividing that number by 1,000. The lower the number, the better the value, and the Capitals lead the list with a .65 rating.

Interestingly enough, while the Rangers own a 9.3 rating on the value index, they aren’t the team with the worst value from a ticketing and competitive standpoint this postseason. That honor belongs to the Philadelphia Flyers, who typically post high ticket prices at Wells Fargo Center and have the worst odds of winning the Stanley Cup at 200/1. Their 48.7 rating is far-and-away the worst value in the league. That number is certainly impacted by their first-round opponent in the Washington Capitals as well, who are clear favorites to win their first Cup in franchise history this season.

Other notable teams on the value index include the Detroit Red Wings and Minnesota Wild. Prior to being eliminated by the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday night, the Red Wings were second to the Flyers as the worst value in the 2016 NHL Playoffs with a 12.8 rating. That number is interesting considering the team’s continuous regular season success and record 25th consecutive playoff appearance, which didn’t seem to translate into a deep playoff run. Like the Flyers, the Wild typically own big ticket prices during the regular season and have the fourth highest average ticket price during the first round. Their 50/1 Stanley Cup odds make them the third-worst value at a 12.8 rating.

The Capitals may offer the best value to their fans, but several teams trail closely behind through the first round of play. Anaheim Ducks playoff tickets at Honda Center are the cheapest of the Quarterfinals at $145.11, and though the team has 12/1 odds at raising the Cup, they have the second-best value index with a .8 rating. The San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars follow at respective ratings of 1.3 and 1.5.

Of course, plenty of hockey is left to play, and it remains to be seen if the Capitals have enough to win it all come June. For fans, however, they’ll gladly enjoy the ride – and the value that comes with the franchise’s potential first Stanley Cup.

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Are The Caps The Warriors Of Hockey?

The Caps have 88 points already. That’s seven more than any other team in the league and 15 more than any other team in their conference. They’re basically the Warriors of hockey, running away with the regular season.

Of course, this year’s Warriors already have a championship under their belt, so the Caps are more like last year’s Warriors, is what I’m saying. Or at least I hope they are.

Ovechkin is Curry and Backstrom is Klay. Kutzy is Draymond. Justin Williams is Iguadola? That’s about as far as I can go with this, except Trotz is Kerr and Holtby is Bogut, the protector.

Washington looks like a lock for the 1 seed in the East and will probably be the No. 1 team in all of hockey heading into the playoffs. Problem is the Ovi-era Caps have been the 1 seed a couple of times before, and it didn’t go very well. They were the top team in the East in 2009-10 and 2010-11, losing in the first and second rounds, respectively. (Sorry to bring up old shit.)

Is that unusual, though? For 1 seeds to bow out early? No. Over the last 10 years, here’s how the NHL’s 1 seeds have fared …

2015: Rangers and Ducks both lost in the conference finals
2014: Bruins lost in second round, Ducks lost in second round
2013: Blackhawks won the Stanley Cup, Penguins lost in conference finals
2012: Canucks lost in first round, Rangers lost in conference finals
2011: Canucks lost in Stanley Cup finals, Caps lost in second round
2010: Caps lost in first round, Sharks lost in conference finals
2009: Sharks lost in first round, Bruins lost in second round
2008: Red Wings won the Stanley Cup, Canadiens lost in second round
2007: Sabres and Red Wings both lost in the conference finals
2006: Red Wings lost in first round, Senators lost in second round

As the emphasis shows, only twice in the past 10 years has a 1 seed hoisted the Cup. Twice in 10 years or twice out of 20 teams that have earned 1 seeds — either way, not great!

Over that decade-long period, the typical 1 seed won 1.5 series — advancing to somewhere between second round and conference finals. So only slightly better than the average playoff team in general? (Though significantly better than the average Caps playoff team.)

We all know the hockey postseason is a bit of a crapshoot — who’s got the hot goalie, who’s got grit, who gets lucky. But this is ridiculous.

The 1 seed is meaningless, and these Caps almost certainly won’t enjoy the happy ending Golden State did in 2015. Make it fun while it lasts.

Update: Boswell wrote about the Caps and found some similar-but-sunnier stats, as Boswell does. The key points I’ll share here are a) the team with the best regular season record has won the Cup in eight of the past 28 seasons, which is better than two of the past 10, and b) four of the previous five teams with a goal-differential about as good as the Caps (factoring in strength of schedule) have won the Cup, which is very Warriors.

(Image taken with love from old school D.C. Sports Bog.)

Caps On A Plane! A Running Diary Of Caps-Rangers Game 3

Here with a retro live blog of Game 3, written from a cross-country flight, is Mr. Irrelevant Capitals correspondent Brad Parker (@stopthehats).

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6:47 — $8 for DirecTV on the flight including NBCSN. Card swiped.

7:00 — Is that a set without a Milbury? Things are looking up already.

7:24 — BTW, on the plane you can’t page through the guide on DirecTV, it’s one channel at a time so I’ll be hitting the back button just flipping between the game and the Impractical Jokers mini-marathon on Tru TV which somehow exists between NCAA tournaments.

7:26 — Joe’s punishment on Impractical Jokers is to walk his dog on Wall St. in silly costumes. Let’s drop the damn puck.

7:30 — John Forsland behind the mic. I guess I will be able to nap on this flight.

7:34 — Just to be clear, you can get satellite TV on a plane, but I have to put my phone on airplane mode? How will the twittersphere survive a Caps playoff game without my snark? What if there’s a hat trick? Will people throw hats willy nilly without a reminder of Sidney’s refined rules of Stanley Cup etiquette?

7:39 — I’m at 38k feet and hearing @wesjohnsonvoice, Caleb Green and Bob MacDonald. What an age in which we live!

7:42 — Dammit! The volume on this thing doesn’t have numbers. How am I supposed to set it to 19?

7:43 — I feel like we didn’t complain about the disparity in PPs enough between games and we’re already paying for it. Could have gotten a call in the first minute.

7:44 — Does Pierre really think his name is Brooks Orpeck?

7:46 — They’ve gone to Pierre about 4 times in the first 3 minutes. Each time he has talked about the Rangers exclusively. I’ve been wondering if the NBCSN coverage really is biased or if it’s just our perception. So tonight I’ll track which team Pierre talks about first each time they go to him.

7:50 — This looks a whole lot like Game 1 vs. the Islanders.

7:51 — 4 more Pierre breaks, 4 more about the Rangers.

7:56 — Chimmer being Chimmer.

7:57 — After 12 times taking about the Rags, Pierre says Washington hasn’t gotten enough credit all year. Ironic.

7:58 — PP for the Caps.

8:00 — Ovi from the Ovi spot and Pierre says Henrik studies film and knew the one-timer was coming: “His brain is like a supercomputer.” No one else in North America could have seen that coming.

8:01 — PP opportunity missed. Let’s see how long it takes for the Rags to get a PP to even it up.

8:04 — Pierre with Trots. He talks about the Rangers first.

8:06 — Seriously considering hitting the call button and asking flint attendant for a Caps goal. Think she’d be displeased?

8:07 — Another Caps PP.

8:08 — Where the hell is Backstrom?

8:09 — Great chances but nothing yet.

8:10 — Another one killed. Rags PP coming before this period ends.

8:16 — End of 1, no score. Pierre count (times talking about said team first in his hit): Rags 18, Caps 4.

8:20 — Q had 30 seconds to get a feminine product from a stranger in the park. No dice so it’s punishment time. They dress him in a Peter Pan costume and tell him he’s going to have to join a live musical in progress but when he hits the stage it’s really pro wrestling.

8:34 — Second period underway, Pierre talks about the Rags but in a negative way.

8:35 — Rags PP coming on Alzner’s DOG.

8:37 — Serious turbulence, on the plane not the ice.

8:37 — Killed.

8:39 — Has St. Louis ever gone 3-straight games without destroying the Caps? Someone call Elias.

8:40 — First time I’m noticing he crowd being loud.

8:41 — Caps hold the puck in the Rags zone for 2 full minutes, Pierre compliments Rags.

8:43 — BEAGS!!!! I tweeted during Game 1 that no one has ever been more due than Beagle is now. That goal was earned in Games 6 and 7 vs. the Isles. 1-0 Caps 7:31 of the second.

8:49 — Scrum starts in front of the net and DirecTV goes out. We can land a rover on Mars but we can’t get a continuous DirecTV feed on a commercial flight for … it’s back.

8:50 — Feeling a little nauseous. Not sure if it’s the turbulence or having to pay attention to Pierre to keep an accurate count.

8:52 — Captain cuts the game audio to tell me it’s going to be bumpy for another 15-20 minutes. Maybe it’s not Pierre (it’s Pierre).

8:55 — Caps are buzzing, 3 good chances for the Wilson line. Pierre is silent.

8:58 — St. Louis on a breakaway, here it comes. And he shoots it harmlessly right into Holby’s chest. This is not the Cap killer I know.

9:00 — Glencross all alone in the slot, denied. Why the hell did he use up all his goals in his first week with the Caps?

9:07 — Pierre: “We’re gong to have to come up with a nickname for Holtby.” So true. Whoever comes up with a good one will be a beast. A Holtbeast as it were.

9:09 — End of 2, Caps 1, Rags 0. Pierre count: Rags 29, Caps 12 (3 about the goal and one entirely consisted of him saying “a man possessed” about Ovi.)

9:15 — If this game goes to OT will I have to do pushups in the aisle? Must get a message to @puckbuddys to confirm.

9:22 — Impractical Jokers marathon update: It’s the one where Sal is a tour guide on a boat and they make him kayak back to shore. Quality TV.

9:26 — Another pilot announcement about turbulence.

9:28 — Nash just destroyed Orpik. Pierre says it’s darn close to boarding then praises him. Not the Ovi treatment.

9:29 — One minute later they call the same hit on Wilson and it’s ok because of his reputation.

9:33 — KILLED.

9:34 — Did you know that the final score of the baseball games played at CitiField on Saturday and Sunday were both Washington 1, New York 0?

9:36 — Pierre just went on national TV and said that a 3-time Hart Trophy winner who is in the top 3 in PPG in the playoffs among active players has been a breakout player in these playoffs. This is everything that is wrong with the hockey media.

9:39 — This plane is bouncing like the puck at MSG the day after a Clapton concert.

9:43 — I wonder when they’ll give the Rags another PP.

9:52 — Rags just had roughly 57 chances, still 1-0 with 7:30 to go.

9:54 — Ovi to Alzner … off the post. Holy crap it’s loud!

9:56 — Any clear is a good clear. GET IT OUT.

9:57 — 3:13 left and they’re going to break with just crowd noise. Obviously, we are louder.

9:58 — Impractical Jokers update: Murr has his mouth full of novocain and he has to teach a class about cuisines of the world and sample the foods. Brilliant.

10:00 — Can we ask St. Louis not to play the final 2:16?

10:02 — Empty net.

10:03 — St. Louis can hang off the crossbar without his skates touching the ice, adorable.

10:04 — 47 seconds to go.

10:06 — Not 1.3 please.

10:06 — CAPS WIN! Never in doubt.

10:06 — End of 3, Caps 1, Rags 0. Pierre count: Rags 37, Caps 18. Goals scored on shots taken from in front of the net: 0.

I guess I’ll have to take a cross-country flight every game the rest of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

10:08 — The past three professional sporting events between teams from the nation’s capital and the big apple:

Washington 1, New York 0
Washington 1, New York 0
Washington 1, New York 0

10:10 — Hey @NBCSN, can you just play a feed of John Forsland talking so I can sleep the rest of the flight? Wait, Parks and Rec is on, never mind. Best $8 I’ve ever spent!

The Winningest Caps-Wiz Postseason Ever?

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The Wizards have won an NBA championship, believe it or not, and the Capitals have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals. But the Wiz and the Caps had never made it out of the first round of their respective playoffs in the same year until this very week.

That means the hometown NBA and NHL franchises have combined for eight playoff wins already in 2015. Eight! So much fun. And they must lose at least four more times each before the wins stop coming.

Odds are, even if the Wiz lose to the Hawks (or Nets) and the Caps lose to the Rangers, they’ll probably eek out at least four more wins. That would put them at 12 this spring, two shy of the all-time combined mark, set in ’78 when the Bullets went all the way (and the Caps finished last).

Most Combined Playoff Wins in Caps-Wiz Playoff History

1978 — 14 (all Bullets)
1998 — 12 (all Caps)
1988 — nine (seven Caps, two Wiz)
1979 — nine (all Bullets)
2015 — eight (four Wiz, four Caps)
1975 — eight (all Bullets)
2012 — seven (all Caps)
2009 — seven (all Caps)

(Image taken with love from the homies at RMNB.)

Caps-Isles Playoff Tickets Are Kinda Cheap, Actually

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Nearly $200 is still a pretty high average cost, but Capitals-Islanders playoff tickets are down in price versus recent Caps first-round playoff matchups. I imagine this is because the Islanders don’t have the fanbase of the Rangers or Bruins, but it should be a good series nonetheless.

Either way, get in tonight for Game 1 starting at $35 by clicking on the image above.

Caps Fan Has Words With Isles Fan. 3,000 Words.

Caps correspondent Brad Parker (@StoptheHats) returns to preview the Caps-Isles series. He’s joined by his longtime hockey teammate and friend LJ, who is a diehard Islanders fan (apparently those still exist). Brad asked the questions, LJ gave the answers. We thank them both.

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1. The Islanders led the Metro division for most of the season. Why?

Main reason has to be the offense. The Islanders were 4th in the league in goals for.

An improved defense as well. Garth, who gets killed as a GM, made two incredible acquisitions before the season started in early October on the same day. Nick Leddy was acquired for a very good defensive prospect (Ville Pokka) and a pick, and Johnny Boychuk for a couple of second-round picks. The fact that Stan Bowman traded Leddy rather than Oduya is insane — Leddy would be the best defenseman on the Blackhawks not named Duncan right now. It goes to my theory that NHL coaches are by and large morons. Quenneville didn’t trust Leddy as much as he trusted others, and during their Stanley Cup and playoff runs, he was relegated to a sixth- or seventh-defenseman role.

Boychuk, meanwhile, given a first pair role after playing behind Chara and others, was also deemed expendable for salary cap purposes by Boston, and he shined with career highs in most categories. Ask Claude Julien whether he would rather have had Boychuk or Zach Trotman coming down the stretch. Boychuk is what Caps fans wish Brooks Orpik could be. As a plus, his brothers might be the funniest in the NHL family on Twitter (outside of Luongo).

Continue reading Caps Fan Has Words With Isles Fan. 3,000 Words.

Some Awesome Ovechkin Goal-Scoring Stats

Ovi got to 50 on the season the other night and 472 on his career, tying Peter Bondra for No. 1 in Caps history. A few cool stats/bits of trivia to celebrate the occasion, starting with:

Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Marcel Dionne, Guy Lafleur, and Mario Lemieux are the only other players to hit 50 goals six times. And they all played in eras with significantly more goal-scoring.

Putting 50 goals into further perspective for the modern era:

And from a few years ago, Via Daily Sports:

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Stick it, Crosby.

1989 Caps ‘Goalbusters’ Poster

I was 11 or 12 when this poster became a thing, but I didn’t see it ’til yesterday (via @japersrink):

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Based off of the goal totals/puck pyramids, this must’ve been during the offseason of ’89. Dino Ciccarelli, Geoff Courtnall and Mike Ridley would go on to score 106 goals the next season, one that ended with a run to the conference finals.

Twenty-five years later, Ghostbusters III still hasn’t been made, though it is in production for summer 2016.

Previously: The Early ’90s Redskins ‘Posse’ Poster