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.

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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…

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Capitals Chaos: Oshie to the 3rd line and other Caps musings

I found the article JJ Regan on NBCSW about moving Oshie to the 3rd line interesting.

Seems though like it would be highly contingent on being able to find another top six winger (or high end middle six) to pair with Vrana assuming that Ovi-Wilson remained the top line pair and that Wilson and Vrana both are at least as good as, if not improved from, this year’s regular season. I think if I’m looking at the Caps model it’s a trigger man on one side and a tendentious body with some net-presence on the other.

And, obviously, also is highly contingent on being able to navigate the salary cap hell the Caps are already in and this kind of move seemingly exacerbates since Oshie is being paid like top-six/first line wing, not like the bottom of a middle-six/top-nine.

I also don’t see that coming from within the organization:
Connolly seems like he would be redundant to Vrana if you consider Vrana the trigger man of the line. While Connolly is good, and his reclamation story has been exciting, he’s not necessarily that tendentious complimentary piece the Caps seem to like to balance a line with. I’m also not sold that he’s really a top-six talent even though he’s had great success in the Caps top-nine. Regardless, he won’t come as cheap as he has been the last few years.
Buracuda seems like he too would probably be redundant to Vrana. Unlike Connolly though his story has been frustrating and despite his size, to my eyes, isn’t that tendentious complimentary piece either. He seemed like he should be a top-six type of talent but there’s something vexing about his streakiness and although he might tip the ice the Caps favor he can’t seem to score with any consistency which negates his value that high up in the lineup. It’s not just the confidence issues he’s working through, or the injuries, it’s the the slow release of his shot, or that sometimes it seems he just plain holds the puck too long in general and other skills things that, to me, also seem to hold him back. And that’s not even getting into the complexity of having to re-sign him (if you qualify him you’re most likely overpaying, if you don’t qualify him you have to negotiate with him hoping he’ll come back but that the process and the reduction of his contract doesn’t play into his lack of confidence)
Hagelin I never figured was going to be here more than as a rental. Even IF he took a big reduction in salary to stay, while he is tendentious he has hands of stone and wouldn’t really be contributing much other than tipping the ice toward the Caps because he probably won’t score. He seems like a solid bottom-sixer but I wouldn’t want to depend on his output to power the top-six on a competitive team at this point in his career.
Stephenson is quick, he had flashes of being pretty good in the past but also struggled a lot with consistency. I was hoping he’d take a step forward this season and it really seemed like he struggled. Not saying he’s already hit his ceiling as maybe he could still find another gear but I’m pretty hesitant to think of him in a top-six role for any length of time.
And what is down in Hershey is not necessarily inspiring to think of jumping into the top-six immediately, nor even being eased into it over a season or two…

So, you’d have to go outside of the organization to find someone who both fit the stereotype the Caps have for what that winger should “look” like (modeled after Wilson & Oshie at the moment to compliment Ovi & Vrana) and would also fit within the confines of the very limited cap space the Caps have.

Thus, to me, making a Oshie to the third line move something a team with more depth in it’s forward corps might do, or a team with a bit more leeway in their cap space might try, or a team that was ready to tank and wanted to test what it had while conserving vet’s health to be traded might try, but not something the Washington Capitals can probably pull off at this moment in time. I mean, if they found another winger to fill the role I have no problem envisioning Oshie tearing it up one line lower, but I have a real problem at the moment wrapping my head around who that wing replacing him might be.

And, speaking of managing the salary cap and related issues it begs some questions about another high paid veteran Niskinen. Several interesting takes by NoVa Caps, Stars and Sticks and the commenters at Japer’s Rink the last few days inspired these thoughts from me too:

I’m not 100% sure how much of some of the performance was on the Coaches, on Orlov as his partner, or on him by himself. But, for long stretches things just didn’t look quite “on” for Nisky. He was rarely the most aweful guy on the ice but for someone brought in to add a predictable stability

From Coaching: to my lying eyes it seemed like Nisky-Orlov were being deployed more heavily as a shutdown pair then Carlson who seemed to be getting deployments to take greater advantage of that pair’s offensive abilities and to shelter the third pair more with easier assignments. That seemed to be combined with, again, to my lying eyes, less support from the forwards than what there seemed to be especially at the end of last year. It didn’t seem like the staff had an answer for how to more evenly distribute the defensive pairings, nor how to create five-man units that allowed the pairings to play better, nor how to deal with giving Nisky or Orlov much needed rest, such that they always seemed like they were playing from behind. Maybe the short off-season didn’t help but a night off once in a while might have as possibly would have breaking the pair up to more evenly distribute the “tougher” minutes, etc. That doesn’t excuse Nisky from everything, but it seemed like some of his troubles were a symptom of the coaching / usage / system at times.

From his partner: Orlov had his own trials and pains this season and since they two were shackled to one another sometimes it was difficult to separate out how much negativity they were dealing one another. It’s not like Orlov was dragging Nisky up and down the ice. Not that Nisky was dragging Orlov either as there were enough bone headed plays and missed opportunities by Orlov that Nisky definitely looked like he was having a hard(er) time compensating this year compared to in the past. Could be that something about Orlov’s overall game no longer meshed as well with Nisky for where they both were this season and that “incompatability” ended up being a drag on aspects of how Nisky played as well.

For himself: One year older. Shorter off-season. And, honestly, he never “looked” physically “on.” Can’t put my finger on it since it’s not like there was a report of a nagging injury or anything but it certainly seemed like he wasn’t playing with the same smoothness as before. Like the calibration of everything was just a little off and he couldn’t quite every get that corrected over the course of the season so he looked more regularly human, and functioned more like a middle pairing guy than the one that was tasked to lead the blue line. Won’t pretend to know why or how it happened but it definitely seemed like there was something not there for long stretches this year in addition to everything mentioned above.

I expected more out of Nisky than what I got. Though, what I got was still good enough to win the division on the regular season and push the first round to 7 in an eastern circuit that all losing teams looked horribly over-matched that’s not what his past performance, salary or usage dictates he should be doing and quite honestly, I wanted the Nisky of last year again…

To get a 10: Feel like an average first pairing guy or at worst an above average second pairing guy that demonstrates much more consistency on both ends of the ice while helping the team back to the Cup round.

Or, maybe gets traded and the assets that come in return are viable enough to help the team compete for the cup again (granted that’s mostly out of his control but hopefully his body of work allows for some definable/attributable return).

However, if you do go the trade route, which, of course would open up the possibility of getting a middle-six-to-second line talent with the salary cap savings, you’d also have to consider the following:

Nisky was one of the veterans of the blue line. He and Orpik would both be departing likely in the same off-season leaving Carlson and Orlov as your veterans. Then you have two new(er) guys to the Caps franchise in Kempny and Jensen and two young guys in Djoos and Siegenthaler coming up from the Caps system, plus whatever rookie is being called up from Hershey for that 7th spot if they don’t pick up an aged veteran as a backup.

While there’s something to be said for speed, and for youth, there’s also something to be said for experience and having quality depth. I’m not sure the group above is as inspiring as other blue lines in the league are right now. Not that they couldn’t mature into something more grand than what they appear on paper but as we saw this year dealing with the injuries to Djoos, Orpik and especially Kempny the Caps really need the blue line to be predictable to be successful. All the shuffling especially in the post-season really wrecked the team’s strategy and undermined the continuity between the D and Forwards that was a calling card to their previous Cup run.

It is possible Jensen is able to slot in for Nisky next to Orlov and provide the same kind of stability that Kempny was providing Carlson in that pairing but we really won’t know the full impact of such a move till it’s had time to gel on the ice. Not just because Jensen is new to the Caps system but because he is still young and coming from a team that hadn’t had a lot of success recently which leaves the bottom pairing without a veteran presence and the defense (and locker room in general) with one less voice of successful experience overall. That’s a much more difficult thing to measure the impact of. Although, if you look back at the Caps blue line before Nisky and Orpik were brought in it’s not hard to tell what changed (just read any of my old rants about the Caps blue line being too Caps-centric and too inexperienced and you’ll see the basis for this concern).

In the end though, there’s a finite amount of time left where Ovi will be supernatural and the rest of the core isn’t getting any younger either, so maintaining the status quo might not be enough to repeat. If the franchise is going to shake things up these are the kinds of moves that would be much more than just a tweak here and there. If bold moves like this work, the Caps regain the Cup. If they don’t, one can only image the fan reactions to GMBM overplaying his hand.

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Quick quip: the diner

a friend recently posted a meme that stuck with me. The underlying point of social media is that it’s pretty empty in what it actually proves no matter how much the value proposition is encased in a nice candy crust.

the meme basically depicted an empty fridge with the thoughtless copy “Social media is an empty fridge”

Gee, no shit shirlock.

My Response, “Nah, it’s looking at that 22 page 24 hour diner menu. All that choice. Almost all of it is shit. And the empty calories you get at 2am leave you just as malnourished”

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Padawan Music Chronicles: Iron Maiden

Today the the daycare school the Padawan attend is at asked if I knew what an errand maison was because that’s what the elder padawan was. I inquired about the context and they said that’s what he wanted to listen to during Free Music Friday. I kinda just shook my head as confused as they were at first. They went on to explain that it was daddy’s favorite band and we listen to it in the car. It started to become clearer, but just to be sure, I inquired to the padawan what the wanted to listen to on the way home. To which they responded in the most giddy and excited voice, Iron Maiden. Now, what makes this most amazing is we listen to music mostly without context, I don’t talk about genres or artist names, everything is treated equal and we listen literally to everything. Furthermore, I rarely talk about what I really like. Sometimes if the padawan wakes up while I’m recording @MPHnoise we might talk about it, or they get really into something I might share a bit about it too. It was pretty impressive they managed to come up with the answer… and, thus we listened to the mouse’s best of Maiden all the way home, and everyone headbanged.

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Padawan Music Chronicles: Shoes and Socks

We make up a lot of songs in the house as you all probably know by this point. Unfortunately, a lot of them weren’t documented the first time around, there was a lot going on and some of it got lost in the shuffle. So this time around as the younger Padawan is learning their body parts and the process of getting dressed we are pulling back out some of the old standards including this favorite little ditty. Not sure how to describe it and I’m really not up to transcribing it per se but it has a bit of an old broadway kind of hokieness to it.

Shoes and socks and socks and shoes
we get the
shoes and sock and socks and shoes
we put on
shoes and socks and socks and shoes
we’re wearing
shoes and socks and socks and shoes
shoes and
socks and
shoes
out feet go in the
shoes and socks and socks and shoes
our toes are covered with
shoes and socks and socks and shoes
we’re wearing
shoes and socks and socks and shoes
shoes and
scoks and
shoes

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10 “all-time” “impact” “albums” Day 1: “Sing Sing Sing” 78rpm single

I was challenged by my Bill Humphrey to post 10 albums that really made an impact on me. I happily accept. I have been asked to only include the cover with no explanation (sorry Bill, you know that’ll never happen) and to nominate someone.

> I did a similar exercise to this last year (https://thedmouse.wordpress.com/category/entertainment/music/tops-all-time/) and had to really think about what I wanted to delve into as “impact on me” because there’s so many ways it can be interpreted. By impact in this case I think I’m going to explore the stuff that impacted me as a percussionist and thus helps shape my musical perceptions.

Day 1: “Sing, Sing, Sing” by Louis Prima, arranged by Jimmy Mundy, performed by Benny Goodman featuring Gene Krupa.

Gene was raw and bombastic yet performed with a finesse and innovative style that defined not only swing era drumming but continues to influence drummers today. From the first time I heard the tom intro on vinyl as a child I was sold. It was probably one of the first drum parts I tried to learn by ear, tried to transcribe, tried to craft my own versions of and still to this day is among the first things I mention to people when I talk about being a drummer – hence why it is where this journey will begin. After all: It was balls to include the drummer as a soloist at the time. It was balls to have that soloist begin the song. It was balls to allow that soloist to solo for so long that the recording takes up two sides of a 78rpm. And, it was so beautiful. One of the single greatest 8:39 of any era of music as well as being one of the all-time classic drum solos that cast the way one perceives drums in a new light. Well, it certainly did for me, anyway. And, yes, I am well aware that this is a single song and not an album — at the time albums didn’t really exist the way we perceive them today and an extended play single like this was a musical excursion in the way one might ingest a concept record today.

Today I nominate Jessica Rymarz who probably needs a distraction like this

Posted in Entertainment, music, reviews, Tops All Time, Uncategorized | Leave a comment