Twas Twitter That Killed The Caps

Caps Correspondent Brad Parker returns with a new conspiracy theory.

We all know that the Caps are sitting outside the playoff picture right now. A season with so much hope hangs in the balance. So what went wrong? There are many theories:

• Ovie’s slump
• Injuries to Green and Backstrom
• A lack of secondary scoring
• Less than stellar goaltending
• Another season without a true second-line center
The fired coach that’s now leading the not-so-mighty Ducks on a charge

Each of these things probably plays a role, but are we missing the obvious reason? Is it the bane of modern sports? Has a Twitter jinx killed the Caps? There are other examples of Washington players and coaches using this sinister form of social media and suddenly faltering, but here are the five most egregious.

Nicklas Backstrom — @backstrom19

Sample Tweet: “Hey everyone! I never thought I would be on twitter but I guess some people can convince me!Maybe @kbackstrom85 will shut up now! Haha”

There was no doubt Backstrom was the best player on the team this season. And then he sent that fateful Tweet. At the time he was already injured, but he was expected back any day. He hasn’t stepped on the ice since.

It’s now more than six weeks later, and there’s no return in sight, and many are hinting that since he probably won’t play again in the regular season they should put him on LTIR to free up cap space for a trade.

Backstrom has only played in 38 of the Caps’ 61 games this season and is still just four points behind Alex Ovechkin for the team lead.

Mike Knuble — @mikeknuble22

Sample Tweet: “Please allow myself to introduce myself. This is the REAL Mike. Thanks for following.Tough 3rd tonite.”

Here are Knuble’s point totals in his past eight NHL seasons: 59, 46, 65, 54, 55, 47, 53, 40. The last time he finished a season with fewer than 24 goals scored was in 2001-02.

In the first nine games of this season he had two goals and six points. On October 30, 2011 Knuble joined Twiter. In 48 games played since then he has one goal and six points. He’s the type of gritty veteran that a coach like Dale Hunter should love leaning on during hard times, but Knuble has been a healthy scratch in four of the past eight games.

Mike Green — @GreenLife52

Sample tweet: “WHOOOOOOOHOOOO Atta boys!!!!! break the pickle… tickle tickle”

We’ve documented the totes amazeballs that is Greenie on Twitter. But here’s a quick look at how the jinx struck him.

Back on 11/11/11 Green was ready to return from his first injury this year. The Caps were 7-0 in games he had played and getting him back was going to be a huge lift. His Twitter feed had been silent for a month, but on that day he sent four retweets. That night he skated for 7:44, the Caps beat NJ 3-1, and of course he got hurt again. He wouldn’t return until January 3, the same night that Backstrom took a cheap shot from Rene Bourque.

Alex Ovechkin — @ovi8

Sample tweet: “ok twitter friends im back!!!!”

Ovie’s an early adopter. He was on Twitter well before most players and took some heat for it. You know, the “he’s more concerned about image and having fun than playing hockey” kind of Don Cherry-esque crap. For once he may have been listening (or his handlers were scared of him having an unfiltered line of communications), so way back in January 2009 his feed went dark. Then last March he sent the tweet above.

Since March 2, 2011 Ovie has played in 72 regular season games and has posted 32 goals and 66 points. But let’s look at his career numbers to put that in perspective. In ’09-10 he played in 72 games and had 50 goals and 109 points. Last year was the first time he ended a season with fewer than 92 points. This will be the second straight season that happens.

John Carlson — @JohnCarlson74

Sample tweet: “Good brunch with @DJKING_17 and @GreenLife52

Carlson was a golden boy. A young, rock solid defenseman that would shore up the blue line and be one of the final pieces in GMGM’s Stanley Cup puzzle. But he’s also probably the most prolific Tweeter on the squad, hence his decline.

On the plus side, his goal against Ottawa gave him eight on the season, a career high. On the minus, is his +/-. Last year was his first full season in Washington and his was +21. Through 61 games this season, he’s -7. And he’s losing the fans. Follow any game on Twitter and you see that he is being vilified on the very social media space that he so loves.

So, those are the five reasons Caps fans should be using this hashtag: #fyoutwitter.

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