Contemplating the Caps Top Nine

There’s been several suggestions in the media lately about shifting the lines around for this season, NoVaCaps article by Harrison Brown is just the latest incarnation of it. I honestly think it’s a combination of summer doldrums filler writing to produce clicks and comments combined with actual assessment of some of the previous lineups used coupled with some creative theories on how to maximize the talent in the top nine in different ways as a reflection of the depth of the top three lines as the roster exists right now.

I actually don’t mind if there’s some experiment early on in the season as long as we’re pretty sure of how the lines shake out before say Thanksgiving / Christmas. If we’re going into the new year still playing mix-and-match that’s problem. But, the nice thing bout the Caps is that there’s enough complimentary styles in how the top-nine play that there’s definitely some opportunity to experiment to find groupings that can work in case of injury, that can give a new look to enhance specific matchups, or just to give guys breaks / promotions in ice time.

For starters, there’s probably some “wrong” answers inherently, but also there’s a lot of unknowns right now.
Panik & Haglin — Both guys are new(er) to the team. Hags had the experience of coming in at the deadline so we’ll have to see how he fares for a full season, while Panik has to adjust to the system, teammates, role, etc.
Oshie & Kuzy — Both guys are coming off some kind of “injury,” in the case of Oshie it was enough for him to miss time in the playoffs, for Kuzy it seemed nagging enough it affected his play across the board.
Oshie, Ovi & Backstrom — Will old man time catch up as all three are a year older with a year more wear and tear on the “wrong side of 30” so to speak. While I wouldn’t get against Ovi but will it be a 33 goal season like a few back or a smashing 50 goal one like this past? Can Oshie find another 30 goal season?
Vrana & Wilson – Both seem to have another gear to hit in their games, but will they take it this season, or perhaps plateau off a bit after extraordinary steps up last season?

Next, you have to think about what qualifies as the first line. How you define that probably defines how you figure out the next two. There are combos that will create top heavy and sheltered lines and combos that can make more even minutes distribution. There are combos that maximize scoring, or possession, or defense, or physicality, etc.

The biggest threat on the team is Ovi, so matter where he lines up / with whom there’s going to be a focus by fans, the media and the opponents. So maybe Ovi’s presence is what defines the “first line” to some degree. To that end there’s three possible ways leveraging the three different centers:

Ovi-Backstrom >> the classic conservative approach leveraging both Backy’s familiarity with Ovi and his solid defensive game

Ovi-Kuzy >> the high risk, high reward approach leveraging Kuzy’s speed and vision to go all out on the rush

Ovi-Eller >> in an emergency you gotta do what you gotta do. Injured Ovi’s played down-line before. Eller’s contributed up-line to fill for injuries. It’s not going to light up the world but it’s not necessarily the worst combination (I mean, it’s not first line Beagle!)

And three possible ways to go on wing. Here’s how the could match against the centers:

Ovi-Wilson >> Successful pairing of complimenting styles (Ovi the shooter, Wilson the net and wall presence) featuring two of the biggest bodies on the team. Call it the all-pain pairing and the one relied on a lot the last few years regardless of who centered them
Kuzy helps make Ovi more creative, benefits Wilson’s offense while Wilson helps provide some defense to Kuzy’s style — this is what, on paper, might be called the de facto “first line”
Backy knows Ovi’s abilities and is a deft playmaker who can also help Wilson’s offense, but it’s more defensively sound an we’ve also seen it’s success
Eller brings defensive ability without the same offensive upside but if you need to free up offensive centers for other pairings could work for the short term.

Ovi-Oshie >> Successful pairing of complimenting styles (Ovi the shooter, Oshie the net and wall presence) this was the pairing when Oshie first came over from the Blues and helped really bring stability to the top line after a rotating door of opposite wingers for Ovi.
Backy centered this a lot before so we know it’s defensively responsible while still having some offensive upside.
Kuzy could help spring Oshie more while Oshie’s possession ability could help stabilize Kuzy’s defense. We’ve seen versions of this before with mixed results
Eller brings defensive ability without the creativity but probably wouldn’t stifle the offensive upside of either of these guys either in the short term

Ovi-Panik >> this would be new and untested with either center. If Panik doesn’t completely defer to Ovi and is able to pull the trigger enough on his own his defensive style could compliment the line well. After all Ovi’s played with guys less skilled than Panik on his opposite wing over the years. It’s definitely intriguing if you’re trying to distribute Wilson and Oshie’s scoring elsewhere.
Kuzy could help spring Panik more while his possession ability could help stabilize Kuzy’s defense.
Backstrom could also help get Panik more looks while the two would compliment each other on possession
Eller is probably a stretch for this as it would rely very heavily on Ovi for offense but it should be defensively responsible and thus could be useful in select situations.

From there there’s two approaches. Match a wing to a center like what was done with Ovi above and find an opposing wing to compliment the pair, or rather, match wing pairings by skills and then find a center for them. I chose the latter because the Caps really seem to like to design line building using a balance of puck distribution, shooting and forechecking, or more simply balancing scoring prowess and defensive acumen. the way the top-nine is built with varying strengths and individual abilities on the wings offers a lot of combinations. If we assume something like the first wings defined above with Ovi-Wilson, you’re probably looking at the following second and third wing pairings of:

Vrana-Oshie >> Successful pairing of complimenting styles (Vrana the shooter, Oshie the net and wall presence).
Backy has centered this the most and his style compliments both guys well, so it’s predictable — This is what, on paper, generally looks like the de facto “second line”
Kuzy hasn’t seen this pairing as much but could really help spring Vrana while benefiting from Oshie’s possession ability to stabilize his defense
Eller brings defensive ability helps Vrana and keeps the line responsible but’s a poor man’s version of Backstrom since it lacks the same offensive upside

Haglin-Panik >> Redundant in that it’s heavily focused on possession. Panik would be considered the trigger man.
Kuzy – this would certainly help Kuzy’s defense. It could potentially spring Panik for scoring or open Kuzy up more to call his own number because of their possession responsibility
Backstrom – creates a strong possession line. Could open backy up to calling his own number more or could produce good numbers for panik with Backy’s ability to distribute the puck.
Eller – Also would drive possession. Relies on how Panik and Eller mesh for creating scoring which is an unknown at the moment but on paper has depth potential but this is most likely the de facto third line

But you could also swap the wingers around the centers like this to provide some creative ways of redistributing scoring, physicality and defense along the top nine:

Vrana-Wilson >> Potentially complimenting styles (Vrana the shooter, Wilson the net and wall presence), that separates the big bodies of Ovi and could be a common look in the post-Ovi era whenever that comes.
Kuzy – Success here depends on how much Vrana improves defensively as well as Kuzy since Wilson probably cannot offset both their lapses right now. However, Kuzy’s creativity could really spring Vrana too turning this in’t a poor man’s version of the Ovi version of this grouping and potentially a top line of the future.
Backstrom – Vrana’s skated with Backy before providing creative offense and possession help. Wilson on the opposite wing gives the line a heavier look from the Oshie pairing which could be beneficial, it’s like a twisted version of recent top lines.
Eller – Adds defense to Vrana if necessary and compliments Wilson’s possession approach but would likely also create a plateau in Vrana and Wilson’s offense.

Vrana-Panik >> Potentially complimenting styles (Vrana the shooter, Panik more defense). this would be new and untested with either center.
Kuzy – Both guys benefit from Kuzy’s creativity on offense. Probably relies too heavily on Panik for his defensive ability though.
Backstrom – Potentially good balance of creating offense from the wings and gives Vrana a bit more freedom since Panik can cover on the possession side too.
Eller – Isn’t going to light up the world for either possession or scoring but should provide complimentary roles among the three, though depends heavily on Vrana’s individual scoring ability.

Haglin-Oshie >> Redundant styles that focus on possession. Oshie would become the trigger man out of necessity.
Kuzy – this would certainly help Kuzy’s defense and was used at times already last season seemingly for this reason. Relies heavily on Kuzy for scoring either by feeding well to Oshie or calling his own number with more creative freedom since they other guys are providing cover.
Backstrom – creates a potential possession juggeranut but probably isn’t going to score a tonne with Oshie as the primary threat since Backy doesn’t call his own number as much and Haglin isn’t known as a scoring winger any more.
Eller – Also would drive possession but if the Backstrom version doesn’t score much then the Eller version does even less but might also be an interesting look for the third line of the future.

Haglin-Wilson >> Redundant styles that focus on possession. Would be an absolute pain-in-the-ass to play against with two agitators together.
Kuzy – both guys help kuzy’s defense. Depends on Wilson and Kuzy for offense which although they’ve had success with Ovi also could rely on him to free them up.
Backstrom – creates a potential possession juggeranut but probably isn’t going to score a tonne with Wilson in the role of Oshie above now.
Eller – Also could drive possession but if the Backstrom version doesn’t score much then the Eller version does even less, probably similar to Oshie above

I’m not saying all of these should be tested on ice, or even that I’d want to see most of them personally. Something like Ovi-Backstrom-Panik with Vrana-Kuzy-Wilson with Haglin-Eller-Oshie could buy you some interesting matchups, to say the least, but I probably wouldn’t want to have to run with that more than a couple of games under specific circumstances right now although there’s probably some shadows of the future team hidden in there. The reality is you could configure the centers and wings more like interchangeable puzzle pieces than what most teams might be able to accomplish and have a lot of possible successful combinations, which, might be a nice problem to have as a Cup winning team is usually more than just the sum of it’s individual pieces.

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Orlov and the Caps Second Pairing

Orlov article on NBCSW today by J.J. Regan

This was my initial thoughts on it as part of an ongoing discussion on a Caps blog I frequent.

The second pair had a rough time of it last year, for sure, but I’m honestly not really that concerned with it for the coming season. Here’s part of why:

Orlov demonstrated in the past he can be a stud top pairing D with an some offense upside. At points he’s demonstrated a solid transition game and adequate passer. Some good ability to jump into the play in the o-zone. A deft shot. The ability to check. And, good positioning in his own zone. Sure, the boneheaded plays are there for him — but I do think he’s gotten better at limiting them and that he’s also not alone in making them (Carlson’s been accused of it over the course of his career plenty as well, for example). There’s still a lot of room for improvement for Orlov even from his previous apex, which is what makes me think that last season was a bit of an aberration and he should be able to bounce back. Notable too, the defense all struggled early in the season, as did the team in general, as they tried to accommodate the changes in Reirden’s approach, which I feel like I remember it being much more man coverage and less the 2-1-2 and modified right wing lock style they’d leaned on heavily for the Cup run. I also feel like I remember there being notes about how lopsided the zone starts were originally with the Carlson pairing taking a lot in the ozone to utilize his shooting and the Nisky pairing taking a lot in the dzone. As the season wore on (up till the injuries started piling up) it seemed like the responsibilities of the pairs changed (the third pair picked up a lot of the Dzone starts) and Orlov, at least, recovered somewhat, whereas Nisky still seemed a step behind – at least to my lying eyes. With a full offseason to review the tape, a full preseason to acclimate to a new partner, and whatever changes Rierden makes to compensate for the reworking of the blue line (and team defense overall) I expect Orlov to do better.

The current conclusion is that Orlov will most likely be paired with Jensen, and as has been discussed a tonne already, was a cornerstone for the Detroit blue line. However, as other commentators have noted around the internet and a bunch of my Wings fan friends and family have mentioned the Detroit system is very north south, whereas the Caps system they noted seems to have a lot more cross-over between blueliners. It’s also noteworthy that the Detroit system is “slower” and doesn’t attack off the rush nearly as much as how the Caps try and set up, due in part to a LOFT issue at forward for the Wings. So, coming over Jensen was learning a new system on the fly. Furthermore, it’s not like the Caps themselves were necessarily executing their own system flawlessly, although by the trade deadline they were better than they had been earlier in the season. And, of course, Jensen’s time skating third pair minutes to adjust to his new team mates didn’t last very long due to injuries which forced Rierden to shuffle players around to compensate, including Jensen who was then forced into starting on his off-wing at times, who was playing first-line minutes next to Carlson, etc. creating a lot of inconsistency for a guy who was still trying to learn a system and build chemistry with the team. Given a full offseason to study, a full training camp to acclimate and a much more defined role in picking up Nisky’s spot in the second pairing Jensen has all the potential to excel with the Caps and probably surpass his previous output in Detroit. And, hopefully, this happens paired with someone like Orlov in the whatever the best possible pairing combinations are for the team

That being said there’s a lot of inherent question marks to the blue line, including what’s noted above:
Kempny and Djoos are both coming off injuries
Jensen and Gudas are both essentially new additions to blue line and team in transition
Orlov will have a new partner for the first time in several years
Sieggy and Djoos will likely be the ones battling for roles and ice time

RHD: Carlson, Jensen, Gudas
LHD: Orlov, Kempny, Siegenthaler, Djoos

Maybe Carlson-Kempny isn’t a lock for the top pair if Kempny needs more time to recover, or Orlov-Jensen doesn’t mesh, or both Sieggy and Djoos have stunning camps and there isn’t a clear winner (or worse they both struggle), in which case we could possibly see a lot of potential mix and match like puzzle pieces while still creating complimenting pairs for Dmen.

Perhaps, as well, Rierden might also look back at last season’s performance as well as the changes in skillsets on the roster this season and make new determinations in how to run the defense / systems over all.

That’s where it could become very interesting and how that all plays out I think might have a bigger effect on Orlov’s performance than Orlov’s contributions independently since there’s going to be a lot of moving pieces surrounding how Orlov is ultimately going to be leveraged by the Caps this year.

Since this was on a Caps blog, it received the following reply that I’m copying here for context so you understand the rest of my post in response:

Good post. An Orlov lover here. A few points:
1) Interesting that Mr. Defense Rierden doesn’t seem to be a big improvement over NOT Mr. Defense, Barry Trotz.
2) Therefore, did Rierden bring Orlie down? Me thinks so. Screw the man-to-man and get back to zone.
3) Unlike last year, develop a defense where Orlov should focus on his OFFENSE (yeah, you read that correctly) and worry less about his defense.
4) If that is the case, then perhaps, Gudas is the best defensive-minded D-man. (Certainly not Carlson and, apparently, not Jensen.)
5) I’m still not convinced Jensen is top 4 caliber. If so, then tell him to stay the hell back and let Orlov improvise
6) If Jensen continues to be mediocre and Gudas is no better than a 3rd pair rightie, teach Sieg IMMEDIATELY to be the stay-at-home d-man on the right side (despite being a leftie).
7) Unless proven otherwise, keep Djoos on the 3rd line. His offense might be essential from the left side if the two new guys in the system don’t develop as expected.

I honestly think this particular poster reminds me a lot of Bobby who I used to co-author a sports blog with back in the day. They are both knee jerky in their panicky responses. I mean we used to joke about Bobby hitting the panic button all the time. They are both also emotionally tied to certain players as fan-favorites disconnected sometimes from the reality of the players performance so it can make for some uneven analysis and a lot of tangental thoughts. And, just like with Bobby, we both end up replying back and forth a lot, butting heads on some of our takes on what’s happening with the team. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the banter. The following was my response to their reply to me:

  1. Not sure how you can call Trotz not Mr. Defense. His teams in Nashville were predicated on defense from the goalie through the blueline to how the forwards played. That’s how they built success as a franchise under his tenure, and featured a lot of stud dmen along the way. To the point where when Trotz came over to the Caps there was a concern initially he might stifle the creative forwards we had with his defensive systems. This didn’t really come to fruition as he found ways to leverage the top-end talent well, but he also managed to help Ovi overcome the stigma that he couldn’t play D. It was also thought that because Trotz was a D-first guy he wouldn’t be able to develop the young forward talent the team had, and while you can talk about Bura’s troubles under Trotz you can also point to how he helped finally unleash Wilson, gave Vrana an opportunity to claim a top-six role, reclaimed the career of Connolly, etc as well. But that was against the grain of his reputation which is why it stands out. Meanwhile, he did a good job with the Caps D those years too. And, now that he’s with the Isles he’s gone back to really focusing on getting the most out of inferior players by playing strong defensive systems – because let’s face it, that isles blue line was swiss cheese before Trotz got there.
  2. Did HCTR bring Orlov down? It’s going to be really hard for me to prove or disprove it one way or another with any definitive purpose. Maybe someone else who’s better with pulling advanced stats can demonstrate it better. However, from my viewpoint, some of it is on HCTR but not all of it:

a) Rierden’s System: the transition to Rierden’s system last year seemed to be rough for the whole team early on. I’m not a systems expert so it’s more parroting what I’ve read elsewhere but generally the Caps moved into more of a man-to-man style last year than what they were using before. There may have been good reason to make those changes, I’ve never really read an analysis that’s quoted Todd specifically saying he did it for any given reason. But, generally, as I understand it, a 2-1-2 or wing-lock system is very rigid, there are specific roles an responsibilities that must be adhere to, which is why these kinds of tight systems are heavily relied in by teams with lower talent levels (see this year’s Isles for example) whereas with man-coverage schemes there’s supposedly a bit more freedom for creativity that top-end talent can try and exploit so it’s possible that part of Rierden’s plan was to try and leverage some of his talent to do so. I can’t say for sure. But I can say that it’s as much on the players to perform the system as it is the coach to produce it. But it takes time to learn and adjust to something new and for Orlov, as well as a lot of the team, it did seem like the struggled to make the change, especially early on. It might have taken more out of Orlov’s numbers in making that transition to the new system than it took out of other players which is why he struggled.

b) Nisky as a linemate: This goes back to HCTR seemingly refusing to break up the pairing when it struggled. But it also speaks to the process of Nisky’s play falling off overall. There were already issues with Nisky’s underlying numbers under Trotz the year before despite Trotz leaning on that pairing heavily on the Cup run. They became more pronounced this year and it might not have mattered who was coaching this past season there’s a pretty good chance Nisky would continue to fall off at the rate he did, and, he probably would have dragged whomever he was with down with him. So, then the question is how do you shuffle the pairings to negate some of Nisky’s falloff if your a coach? Would you break up the Carlson-Kempny pairing that was already very steady and potentially make two pairings uneven rather than one? Would you pair Seiggy or Djoos as kids with Nisky and make them drag him up and down the ice? Would you figure out a way to put the boat anchors of Nisky and Orpik together as a third pair and overplay everyone else to really, really limit their minutes? It’s possible Rierden looked at the alternatives and might have figured Orlov was mature enough to deal with the situation and in having to deal with a less than ideal version of Nisky it hurt some of Orlov’s personal numbers.

c. Reid Cashman as a Defensive coordinator. Rierden the previous year was a very accomplished defense coach paired with Trotz who was a solid defensive minded head coach. A lot of the players on the D really seemed to have very high regard for his work. Rierden this year was a rookie head coach who selected and a replacement for himself with essentially no previous experience in that role. It’s very possible this could also have affected Orlov’s play, and that of the blue line in general, since Cahsman isn’t the same kind of hands on coach as Rierden was, at least so far, compared the players talk about the kind of guy Rierden was for them

d. Orlov himself. Players have off years, it happens, even to the best of them. He’s logged a lot of heavy minutes the last few years and maybe the shortened off season did affect him this past year. It definitely seemed to hurt a few other guys. While it might be on HCTR to recognize some of this, it’s also on the player to perform too. I don’t disagree that there should be an effort to unleash Orlov in the O-zone more. He’s shown he has the ability to jump up on the play and be successful and it was being utilized at bit under Trotz when Nisky was playing better. It’s hard to really know how much though was a step back for him as a player this past season or if it was a function of other things, but remember, he was 10th on the team for points, second only to Carlson on D and not getting 1st Power Play unit time. His 3 goals was low, especially considering Nisky somehow potted 8, and you’d like to see that back up with the shot Orlov has but again, it’s not like he hasn’t shown he has the ability in the past so it’s more likely the lack of goals was an aberration probably driven by an abysmal 3% shooting.

  1. Not sure the dislike for Jensen at all. His numbers last year on Detroit were solid and even with the rough time of it for his bouncing around during his transition to the Caps lineup he still finished the year pretty strong. While he’s not a stud, he’s also not being paid like a first pairing guy either. He fits squarely in the second pairing type of performance. He’s a smooth skater. He has a really solid first pass. Has a good sense of north-south movement on the ice. To further this with some numbers and names According to Hockey-Reference, here’s what his performance last year on Detroit looked like (I didn’t know how to use the filters so some of the rank numbers would be different if you put minimums, or exclude goalies, etc. but I did limit the comparisons to only his time in Detroit for most of this)

a. Jensen was given solid minutes in Detroit
ATOI 20:48, Wings 7th — Wings D 3rd behind DeKeyser & Green — league 96th (comparable on D to: Travis Hamonic, Andy Greene, Alex Goligoski, Noah Hanifin, Jay Bouwmeester, Anton Stralman — would have been 8th on the Caps — Caps D 4th behind Carlson, Nisky & Orlov

TTOI 1248m, Wings 6th — Wings D 2nd behind Kronwall — league using only his Detroit minutes T253 comparableleague full season total minutes by Matt Grzelcyk, Victor Mete, Joel Edmundson (while his total minutes of 1588 were T89th comparable on D to Brian Dumoulin, Victor Hedman, Shea Theodore, Justin Braun, Alex Goligoski) — Detroit minutes only would have ranked 13th on the Caps while his total season was 7th behind Carlson, Nisky & Orlov on the D

b. Jensen wasn’t necessarily getting easy minutes:
DzS% 55.2, for Wings 10th — for Wings D 3th behind Ericsson, DeKeyser (4th if you include the kids Sulak & Hicketts who both were at the bottom of ice time) — league T342 comparable on D to: Dan Hamhuis, Travis Sanheim, Johnny Boychuk, Caleb Jones, Marco Scandella, Zach Bogosian, Brian Dumoulin — would have been 9th on the Caps — Caps D 4th behind Nisky, Orpik and Seiggy

c. Jensen was holding his own on a team that overall struggled
CF% 49.7 on Wings 5th — Wings D 2nd barely behind Hronek — league T422 comparable on D to: Jeremy Lauzon, Slater Koekkoek, Juuso Valimaki, Justin Braun, Aaron Ekblad, Brandon Montour, John Moore, David Savard, Sean Walker, Ryan Graves, Dennis Cholowski — would have been 13th on the Caps — Caps D 4th behind Carlson, Kempny, Djoos

FF% 49.9 on Wings 5th — Wings D 2nd barely behind Green — league T411 comparable on D to: Aaron Ekblad, Ryan McDonagh, William Borgen, Marcus Pettersson, Oscar Fantenberg, Andrej Sekera, Michael Stone, Troy Stecher, Dan Hamhuis, Sean Walker, Travis Sanheim, Jacob Trouba — would have been T10th on the Caps — Caps D T3 with Seiggy behind Carlson and Kempny

d. for some additional contributions that one might find interesting about Jenson
Takeaways: 21, Wings 8th, Wings D 1st
Blocks: 79, Wings 4th, Wings D 3rd (behind DeKeyser & Kronwall)
Hits: 61 wings 15th, Wings D 5th (behind Ericsson, Kronwall DeKeyser & Hronek)

Jensen’s numbers the previous season in Detroit are very comparable. He’s been a consistent contributor in the role Detroit was using him for. His time with the Caps was influenced by all of the factors previously mentioned.

  1. Seiggy on the third pairing with Orpik I believe was playing on his off-wing already. Djoos was as well during his time with Orpik. The addition of Gudas allows both, I believe, to play to their on-wing which I think is preferable overall. Gudas is also an improvement defensively over Orpik which should also help both guys excel a bit more. We’ll have to see how the chemistry comes together in camp between the three of them, how Reirden and Cashman want to leverage the different skill sets, etc. to really get a feel for how that bottom pairing might come together. Each of the three brings something different to the table and there’s lots of ways to potentially put those puzzle pieces together but we don’t have nearly enough info where we’re at now to do anything other than speculate. There’s certainly no indication for a need to panic with suggestions he should be turned around to his off wing and moved back up a pair.
  • Like I mentioned before, maybe not clearly enough, because there’s a LOT of ifs in the lineup there’s a LOT of different ways the pairings could go, just because the foregon conclusion seems to be
    Carlson – Kempny
    Jenson – Orlov
    Gudas – Seiggy/Djoos

  • it doesn’t mean there isn’t flexibility to do try things like
    Carlson with either Seiggy (seemed to work at the end of last year) or Orlov (had mixed results in the past, but both players have matured a lot since then) or Djoos (intuitively doesn’t seem good, but who knows)

    Jensen with Djoos (seems to keep the kind of balance in complimenting skill sets) or Seiggy (could be interesting as I don’t think they’re ) or Kempny (seems a little redundant style wise but who knows)

    Gudas – we already know about Seiggy or Djoos here, but Kempny could make an interesting partner if necessary (especially if he’s not fully recovered from the injury) and although you might not want Orlov having to drag Gudas up and down the ice he’s already done something similar with Nisky so, again, who knows

    The key with some of these more experimental pairings is to also consider the ice time. You’re not going to probably have a first pairing skating huge minutes if your lineup looks like this, but then again, you’re bottom pair can probably take on more than maybe what the Caps bottom has been skating, meaning if you got stuck with something like Carlson-Seiggy + Gudas-Orlov + Jensen+Kempny you might be thinking more like 2A+2B+2C rather than 1+2+3 for pairings, not dissimilar to the flexibility the Caps technically have in their top-six forwards being somewhat interchangeable if necessary. It’s not ideal but it’s potentially a lot more viable than expecting Seiggy to move up a pairing on his off wing, for example.

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    Metropolitan Peoples Hell 2019 edition of Mosh Pit Hell, the BNTNJW DirtyJerzCore Episode

    #MetropolitanPeoplesHell 2019 edition of MPH happened tonight Sunday 7 July at 7PM USCDT on KAOS Radio Austin as we pay tribute to the Garden State in the Mosh Pit Hell of Metal, Punk and Hardcore.

    Celebrate Be Nice to New Jersey Week with the annual DirtyJerzCore edition aptly titled #MetropolitanPeoplesHell and experience the one man diner mosh by new releases from Nights of Malice (Ocean County), Framework Nj (Woodbridge), Old Wounds (Middlesex), Mercy Union (JCNJ), East of the Wall (Gunnison Beach), Binary Code (North Bergen), Thank You Scientist (Montclair) as well as classic Jersey jams from the likes of New Brunswick’s Fit for An Autopsy, Dystrophy, Fortheloveof, Deadguy, My Chemical Romance and Thursday, JCNJ’s Apocrophex and Orchid, plus Zakk Wylde (Jackson), the Banner (Bloomfield), Scary Stories (Denville), the Bouncing Souls (Basking Ridge), Senses Fail (River Vale), the Number 12 Looks Like You (Fairlawn), Policy of 3 and more.

    As you learn the value of NJ’s epic contributions to music past and present in America you’ll learn how to support the next generation to create the future of music through Verona, NJ based

    New Jersey is my adoptive home. It’s where I grew up, not just physically but musically as well and my relationship to the likes of Edison, Les Paul, David Sarnoff is only trumped by my interest in and love of the likes of Springsteen & Van Zant & the E Street Band, Jon & Richie & Bon Jovi, Skid Row, Lauryn hill & Wyclef & the Fugees, Ice T, Queen Latiffa, Patti Smith, Sinatra, Basie, Bennett, Cozy Cole, Al di Meola, Bill Evans, Joe Pass, John Pizzareli, Sara Vaughn, Rory Black, Paul Simon and countless others including the Dillinger Escape Plan, Burnt by the Sun, Luddite Clone, Dischordance Axis, God Forbid, Dim Mak, Cognative, Strychnia, Folly, Lifetime, Ensign, the Misfits, Toothgrinder, Ripping Corpse, Overkill and many, many more.

    Diving into this year’s show the new East of the Wall set the tone. It’s fucking genius and I don’t know how I ever overlooked it. From there it was getting acquainted with new Binary Code, another band I’ve enjoyed for a long time as was surprisingly behind on their latest work, an atmospheric endeavor that challenges everything you thought you knew about them. That led into Thank You Scientist, a band which I am woefully under-exposed to and don’t possess nearly enough of and their latest, another emotional showdown in the vein of Coheed and Cambria that’ll leave your cranium churning. Meanwhile I was feeling very much in a dirty rock mood and revisted Zakk, who despite all his success is still one of Jersey’s best kept secrets…and the Bouncing Souls who despite not getting nearly enough spins on the show are one of the top plays this time of year from my personal listening year in and year out. While I was revisiting good ol’ listenings it brought back classic Thursday and My Chem and the #12 a great reminder of my time working with Eyeball Records back in the day.

    Zakk Wylde “Bored to Tears” Sonic Brew

    Nights of Malice “a Myraid of Misfortunes” Sonnets of Ruin (2019)
    Fit for an Aytopsy “the Travelers” Hellbound
    Apocrophex “Sovereign Symbol AEternalis
    Dystrophy “Demise” Wretched Host
    Framework NJ “No Sacred Ground is Left to Burn” NSG EP (2019)

    Old Wounds “Stripes” Glow (2019)
    Fortheloveof “In Concequence” IC (cue :11, note fade in)
    Deadguy “Angry Dwarf” Screamin with the Deadguy Quintet
    the Banner “a Hellbound Heart” Frality
    Scary Stories “Rope” Rope

    Mercy Union “Chips & Vics” the Quarry (2019)
    the Bouncing Souls “Gasoline” Ghosts on the Boardwalk
    My Chemical Romance “Famous Last Words” the Black Parade
    Senses Fail “Glass” Renacer
    Thursday “Cross out the Eyes” Full Collapse

    East of the Wall “Leinholder” NP Complete (2019)
    the Number 12 Looks Like You “Jaywalking Backwards” Mongrel
    Orchid “…and the Cat Tuned to Smoke” Dance Tonight, Revolution Tomorrow
    Policy of 3 “Danielle Day” Anthology (cue :05)
    Binary Code “Absolute Nothing” Memento Mori (2019)

    Thank You Scientist “Terraformer” Terraformer (2019)

    July 7 at 1900 USCT using the player here on the site, try Tune In to listen with a mobile app.
    Pick up the podcasts archived at mphnoiseradio.podomatic.comor the archived stream after the broadcast at
    Follow along with the show and keep up with the metal, punk and hardcore all week long using @MPHnoise on your favorite social network and don’t forget to support the station with @KAOSATXoffical, the only official handle for #KAOSradioAustin, where it doesn’t have to make sense.

    Posted in Entertainment, music, radio show | Leave a comment

    Moshing Poindexters Heroes 2019 edition of Mosh Pit Hell, the Einstein & Oxford Episode

    #MoshingPoindextersHeroes 2019 edition of MPH happened Sunday 30 June at 7PM USCDT on KAOS Radio Austin as we pay tribute to the scientific landmarks of the day by Einstein and at Oxford University in the Mosh Pit Hell of Metal, Punk and Hardcore.

    The Nerdcore of #MoshingPoindextersHeroes celebrates the 1905 publication of On the Electrodynamics of Moving Bodies and the 1860 Evolution Debate with new cranium melting cuts by East of the Wall, Fractal Universe, the Biscuit Merchant, Inferi, Legion of the Damned, Dream Theater as well as classic brain busters by Between the Buried and Me, Borknagar, Obscura, Divinity, Vektor, Black Crown Initiate, Unfear, Byzantine, Division by Zero, Fates Warning, Perc3ption, In the Woods… and more.

    As you learn about the scientific achievements of the past you’ll also find out how to support the next generation of achievements with a wonderful STEM organization empowering women.

    What I love about programming a show like this is not only how great the Music, Philanthropy and History come together but just how much fun it is. Since I stopped trying to push out 45-50 shows a year it’s given my sense of excitement about certain show themes room to grow and provided me with more time to sink down the rabbit hole for each episode. There’s so much tangental research I had to leave out putting together the second break for the show, for example, about the different people’s lives and their own influences and achievements outside of their participation in the Oxford debate and how the other papers published by Einstein in that series affected science.

    Beyond that, there’s the music. I love nerdcore. Prog. Technical Death Metal. Tech & Mathcore. Djent. You name it. If it exploits composition and challenges your mind along time or key or lyrics or whatever. East of the Wall’s new one was mostly lost in the shuffle of things this year till I pulled it out and fell in love with it a few weeks back coming into this episode. It’s beautifully brutal stuff, one of the most complete thoughts in a catalog of some pretty expressive stuff already. the Biscuit Merchant I discovered while researching a previous episode and I absolutely adore them and their old school meets new approach to being both prog and death. The new Inferi is the best thing I’ve heard in that vein since Divinity’s double EP concept records a few years back, which of course, meant revisiting that too. The Dream Theater as you already know from recent spins is a heavy prog epic and the best things they’ve done in years, especially exploiting their heavier side. While the new Fractal Universe is an over-the-top indulgence in a culmination of all their previous experiments. And, then there’s revisiting Vektor who are both criminally underrated and don’t get nearly enough spins on the show either as well as Unfear who are atop my current listening pile quite often lately.

    East of the Wall “Tell Them I’m Sorry” NP-Complete (2019) (cue :15 to have bleed with intro, 5:20 creates hard ending)

    Fractal Universe “Rising Oblivion” Rhizomes of Insanity (2019) (cue :02)
    Between the Bury and Me “Astral Body” (4:44)
    Borknagar “Universal” the Archaine Curse
    The Biscuit Merchant “Illusions of Innocence” Ongaku (2019) (watch points)

    Inferi “a New Breed of Savior” the End of an Era (2019) (long fade intro)
    Obscura “Universe Momentum” Cosmogenesis
    Divinity “Momentum” the Immortalist
    Vektor “Dying World” Outer Isolatin

    Legion of the Damned “Charnel Confession” Slaves of the Shadow Realm (2019) (cue :02)
    Black Crown Initiate “Withering Waves” Wreckage of the Stars (5:35)
    Unfear “Blinded by Rage” Chronicles of a Broken Dream
    Byzantine “Forged in the Heart of a Dying Star” Byzantine

    Dream Theater “Pale Blue Dot” Distance Over Time (2019) (cue 1:06)
    Division by Zero “Glass Face” Independent Harmony
    Fates Warning “Face the Fear” Inside Out
    Perc3ption “Nonexistence” Reason and Faith

    In the Woods… “Cloud Seeder” Cease the Day (good fade ending into outro)

    June 30 at 1900 USCT using the player on the site, try Tune In to listen with a mobile app.
    Pick up the podcasts archived at mphnoiseradio.podomatic.comor the archived stream after the broadcast at
    Follow along with the show and keep up with the metal, punk and hardcore all week long using @MPHnoise on your favorite social network and don’t forget to support the station with @KAOSATXoffical, the only official handle for #KAOSradioAustin, where it doesn’t have to make sense.

    Posted in Entertainment, music, radio show | Leave a comment

    Capital Chaos, I cannot believe I’m defending these guys

    The Capitals just signed deals to bring in on short term Gudas and Haglin. WTF. Seriously, Caps killers from arch rival Philadelpha and Rangers (with a Penguins connection)

    Ugh, I just threw up in my mouth a little. And, yet, I find myself writing responses like these to people regarding the signings, that, given any other circumstance I’d bash my cranium against the curb for:

    Gudas is good. Like middle pairing, tilts the ice because he suppresses shots like a master of rarely giving up high danger scoring chances good, makes his team mates (especially forwards) better for his contributions in the neutral and defensive zone good. Like, his general physicality is frightening to others with how hard he hits when he needs to, how often he does despite his generally good positioning and how much he allow the rest of the players around them to do their thing at the threat thereof both in standing up on the blue line and clearing the crease to push play out of the dangerous areas.

    I know, I know, he’s a goon. I readily admit he is. Gudas has had some rage-anger Hunter-meets-Simon type of moments that continue to be marks on the Caps past, and he’s not Wilson in that you can argue Wilson’s hits are hockey plays gone awray because size and speed play to his disadvantage and the timing was questionable. That’s a biiiiiig pill to swallow. Especially on a Caps team that has some big, emotional personalities. But, it’s also a Caps team where Ovi has learned to be smart with his body. Wilson is learning to be smart with his body. If Orpik sticks around in some way he can pass that along too. Ward learned. DSP was good during his time. Reclamation projects are a part of recent Caps successes.

    Gudas is going to get prime assignments that should both suppress his need to have rage-anger outbreaks because he’ll be picking up probably at worst third pairing minutes as a RHD which pits him against less aggravating top forwards (that might trigger him) along with an LHD that is a better puck mover than what he’s been with pushing toward what should be better forwards in the Caps bottom-six, which will maintain the zone taking some of the stress off him

    Furthermore, he will eat up a lot of PK to take the burden off some of the other D already secured with man-up time (something Niskinen was doing a bit of both of, whom he’s replacing, for example) while still providing him with minutes he’ll be accustomed to and the challenges that he’s seem to excel in.

    We’re not going to know Gudas true worth till we see how he actually slots in once we evaluate Kempny post injury and Jensen after a camp and preseason to become acclimated but it’s really not hard to imagine Gudas-Djoos being pretty complimentary to Carlson-Kempny and Orlov-Jensen with Stiggy as the 7th-D as a starting point. It’s certainly one of the better cost controlled-to-expected reliability D’s in the league.

    Furthermore, I don’t see the problem, at all, with the possibility of having Haglin around in general. I was not someone advocating getting him at the trade deadline because his boxcars have fallen off the cliff and I was not advocating keeping him around now either for the same reason. But, that contract is not bad, even if you are looking at Haglin as a reclaimation project in terms of his boxcars as a best case scenario or a worst case scenario of a 4th liner veteran PKer.

    We have no idea what he’ll actually look like for a full year next year, forget about a few years from now but, based on the going rates on the market for similar players its a) not that bad of an AVV, maybe a quarter million overpay, which in the grand scheme isn’t much leading to b) not enough of an AVV to deter the Caps from probably signing anyone they need this year, or probably next, it’s impossible to look further because there’s just not enough info available and too many moving pieces to make the conjecture c) it’s a very movable contract especially the way the cash is structured in it d) it can be used for the seattle expansion, which can help protect other players e) as long as he performs generally around-value on this contact he’s the kind of player that’s always in-demand, even if he’s only part of an outgoing package. f) GMBM and the Caps mgt have been pretty smart at identifying players of need and then jettisoning contacts as necessary so far, it’s hard to think this would be the example of failure to do so for them (while I’m sure it will happen at some point, we’ll see what it is if it occurs)

    Generally 4th liners come cheaper unless you’re the Islanders overpaying for the Best Forth Line in Hockey. Hags isn’t going to slot in on the 4th now and we can’t know how his cap hit is going to look comparatively in four years if he does sink to a 4th liner’s skill set.

    For a third liner, if his boxcars are in line with what he did during his post-deadline time with the Caps are his real value and not a flash in the pan, he’s probably in line. If not, it winds up being an overpay, but again, by how much really? Dunno, have to see how bad he might actually end up sucking.

    Young doesn’t mean better. There’s lots of aspects of hockey that age is superior to youth, some of which, Haglin supposedly brings to the table. With someone like Hags, who as a tri-stater I had to watch a lot in a Rangers uni, he does things that even if his boxcars aren’t there he’s still contributing. If you are going in knowing he’s not going to be an offensive juggernaut but his style of play is going to mesh well with where you need him in the lineup the lack of boxcars becomes much more palatable. I mean, I’m much more willing to submit to Haglin’s stone hands at this salary figuring maybe he’ll age like Jason Chimera did in a Caps uni than whatever the heck it is that Burakovsky has been doing with his lack of scoring prowess for the last few years at his salary.

    The way I see it, some of this is about filling specific, unique needs to the Caps, in their current system, for the short window of the current Backy/Ovi contracts. If Hags slots in the third line, he’s the grinder of that line, the same role that we have come to expect out of Wilson on the top line now, Oshie before him now on the second line. Which means, we’re looking for a third line trigger man on the opposite side. Hags is very experienced on the PK which means he can take weight off of needing Backy and Oshie there as well which the Caps very much will need since you don’t want top-flight aging talent blocking shots and making hits any more often than they absolutely have to.

    For the youth movement, I don’t know if you remember the Caps Young Guns era well or not, but I remember looking at those lineups complaining that the team was too inexperienced both in age and in the kinds of skills the few veterans they did possess were actually bringing to the table, the more recent teams under GMBM have had much better balance and it’s shown in the consistency of the way they are winning now. I pulled this roster from around 2011. It’s young and very, very Caps system centric…

    Marcus Johannson – F, 20 years old, 2009 Caps 1st round pick, 69 games in 1 years
    John Carlson – D, 21 years old, 2008 Caps 1st round pick, 104 pro games in 2 years
    Bradon Holtby – G 21 years old, 2008 Caps 4th round pick, 14 pro games in 1 years
    Karl Azner – D, 22 years old, 2007 Caps 1st round pick, 133 pro games in 3 years
    A- Nick Backstrom – F, 23 years old, 2006 Caps 1st round pick, 323 pro games in 4 years
    Michal Nuevirth – G, 23 years old, 2006 Caps 2nd round pick, 70 pro games in 3 years
    Seymon Varlamov – G, 23 years old 2006 Caps 1st round pick, 59 pro games in 3 years
    Mathieu Perrault – F, 23 years old, 2006 Caps 6th round pick, 56 pro games in 2 years
    Patrick McNeil – D, 24 years old, 2005 Caps 4th round pick, under 5 pro games in rookie year
    Alex Ovechkin – F, 25 years old, 2004 Caps 1st round pick, 475 pro games in 6 yeas
    Jeff Schultz – D, 25 years old, 2004 Caps 1st round pick, 319 pro games in 5 years
    Jay Beagle – D, 25 years old, undrafted Caps & Pro debut 2008, 41 pro games in 3 years
    Eric Fehr – F, 25 years old, 2003 Caps 1st round pick, 230 pro games in 6 years
    Mike Green – D, 25 years old, 2004 Caps 1st round pick, 366 pro games in 6 years
    Alex Semin – F, 27 years old, 2002 Caps 1st round pick, 392 pro games in 6 years
    Brooks Laich – F, 27 years old, 2001 Ottawa pick who’s NHL debut was 2003 as a Cap, 475 pro games in 7 years
    Boyde Gordon – D, 27 years old, 2002 Caps 1ist round pick, 363 pro games in 7 years

    The veterans on the staff included a couple of older Caps too and everyone else, well, not a single one had one a Cup, as a matter of fact, none had won a conference final to even compete for a cup, and to the best of my memory, none had even been to a conference final. So, while I’m absolutely FOR having a young, cost controlled players which are a necessity in a capped league and I a FOR developing talent from within, I also know that there HAS to be a balance between having young, Caps franchise drafted and developed players coming up AND having the right mix of veteran voices who have been there before. Even with all the guys who already won the Cup on the current squad, having some outside POV, especially from guys who have competed for it in other systems as well, is never going to be a bad thing.

    Posted in Opinion, sports commentary | Leave a comment

    Makin Pops Happy 2019 edition of Mosh Pit Hell, the father’s day episode Episode

    #MakinPopsHappy 2019 edition of MPH happens tonight Sunday 16 June at 7PM USCDT on KAOS Radio Austin as we honor Father’s Day with the Mosh Pit Hell of Metal, Punk and Hardcore.

    Celebrate three generations of metalheads from grandpa, to dad to my own padawan sharing music together with #MakinPopsHappy as we explore together new tracks by Dream Theater, Soilwork, Death Angel, Bad Religion as well as newer Rolo Tomassi, Kreator, Testament, Angel Dust, Ignite, Pennywise, Scar Symmetry, Fates Warning, Appearance of Nothing, the Great Dischord, more iconic songs from Iron Maiden, Dark Tranquility, Forbidden , Boysetsfire, Rise Against, Darkane, Nightrage and more

    As you learn that there are about 152 million adult males in the United States. Of these, 70.1 million are fathers and of those there are 2 million single fathers, while almost 1 million are stay at home fathers in a two parent household. 1.5 million fathers are in prison while another half a million are serving in the military away from their family. There’s an estimated 600 thousand plus male couple households, which is double the 2010 census count. Meanwhile 24 million children in America, or 1 out of every 3, live in homes without a father or other permanent male figure…and so on. The facts and figures go on by the plight of the father figure and male role model is that it is in desperate need of support in many different ways.

    My relationship with my dad has become infinitely complex over the years. For better or worse, or whatever the fuck it is now, it is what it is. His influence in my youth, before the chaos, was undeniable. My grandfather was brilliant in that role as well. Since I became a dad, honestly, I’ve been a lot on my own but my Padawan have guided me. They have their own sections of the site and experiences on the show with My Padawan Headbang. At this point, though, the original homage to my dad and his influence on music for me has morphed into a multi-generational musical experience as I attempt to self-define as a dad. I’m torn changing the original incarnation of the show but I know moving forward this is probably the right thing to do.

    Iron Maiden is the band that made me metal. It’s a band I introduced my dad and my padawan to and a sonic pallet that we all continue to share. The opening prog set with DT and Fates harkens back to my dad while bridging the new generation as I intro them to the complexities of both bands as well as the new offerings. One set begins with Soilwork, a band I self-define to and introduced to both generations. It leads a good balance of ideas from thrash and prog and traditional metal in crossing a bunch of sub genres as a sonic transition. Next more classic thrash with a neomodern tilt

    Iron Maiden “Iron Maiden” Live After Death (cue :02, end 4:12 hard stop)

    Dream Theater “Unteathered Angel” Distance Over Time (2019) (watch fade)
    Fates Warning “Like Stars our Eyes Have Seen” Theories of Flight
    Appearance of Nothing “Wasted Time” WT
    the Great Dischord “Deus ex Homie” Duende

    Soilwork “When the Universe Spoke” Verkligheten (2019) (end 5:14)
    Scar Symmetry “the Spiritual Timeshift” The Singularity: Phase I – Neohumanity
    Darkane “Demonic Art” DA
    Dark Tranquility “White Noise, Black Silence” Damage Done (watch hard ending
    Nightrage “Desperate Vows” the Puritian (long outro fade out, end 4:00)

    Death Angel “Humancide” Humancide (2019)
    Kreator “Totalitarian Terror” Gods of Violence
    Testament “Rise Up” Dark Roots of Earth
    Forbidden “Adapt or Die” Omega Wave
    Angel Dust “Border of Reality” BOR

    Bad Religion “Old Regime” Age of Unreason (2019) (fade intro)
    Rise Against “Blood Red White and Blue” Revolutions Per Minute
    Pennywise “Fight Till You Die” Full Circle (cue :02)
    Ignite “Nothing Can Stop Me” A War Against You
    Boysetsfire “Rookie” After the Eulogy (watch long fade outro)

    Rolo Tomassi “the Hollow Hour” Time Will Die and love will bury it (watch ending)

    Tune in tonight at 1900 USCT using the player here on the site, try Tune In to listen with a mobile app.
    Pick up the podcasts archived at mphnoiseradio.podomatic.comor the archived stream after the broadcast at
    Follow along with the show and keep up with the metal, punk and hardcore all week long using @MPHnoise on your favorite social network and don’t forget to support the station with @KAOSATXoffical, the only official handle for #KAOSradioAustin, where it doesn’t have to make sense.

    Posted in Entertainment, music, radio show | Leave a comment

    Padawan Music Chronicles: Faith No More

    Yesterday, picking up Padawan “Evidence” by Faith No More came on. The elder really seemed into it. So, I queued up “a Small Victory” and they were mimicking the vocals and guitars and other effects on first listen. It was funny. Today, when I asked them what they wanted to listen to they volunteered FNM. So, we hit up everything from “Stripsearch” to the “Easy” cover of the Commodores from the duet with Boo Ya Tribe to “Midlife Crisis” and “Last Cup Of Sorrow.” They were enamored. So was the younger one this time too! It was fun watching both of them get a toddlers groove on to songs that make most adults shake their head in frustration.

    I’ve clearly done well so far. We will see how long this lasts…

    Posted in Entertainment, music, Padawan Music Chronicles, parenting | Leave a comment