Thursday, April 29, 2010

Now I realy fix the Capitals

Bounced from the playoffs like a small baby on Grandpa's knee.

I've spend a solid 12 hours thinking about this loss. Well, I slept about 7 of those hours, plus getting my son ready and off to school, getting a soda... Ok, I've spent a solid 12 minutes thinking about this.

But I'm convinced the problem here is the coach.

I like Bruce Boudreau. He seems like a good guy. But he didn't adjust one iota to Montreal's gameplan. And if he did, I couldn't tell. His guys were still trying to play "fast break" hockey last night. And Montreal was ready for it. I also HATE the way he handled the goalies this series. Unless there is an overwhelming lack of confidence in Jose Theodore in the locker room, how do you not go back to him in game 7? I know, Varly only gave up 2 goals, but my hunch tells me Theo was going to stone the Habs.

So, as much as I hate to say it, I let Gabby go, but only if I can get a coach to replace him who has WON the Stanley Cup. The Caps have lost 3 game 7's in 3 years, all at home, and the only playoff series they won in the last 3 years they started 0-2 and then struggled to win a 7th game late at home. One year is a fluke. Two years is a trend. Three years is a culture. It's time to change the culture.

Then there are the players. Mike Green. Goodbye. I don't care if you are leading scorer among defensemen, you're shit in your own end, consistently. I trade you for whatever I can get. Alexander Semin. Goodbye. Sorry, I know you scored 40 goals this year, but you're scoreless in 14 straight playoff games, and not by accident. And you're a head case. Brooks Laich, where you even on the playoff roster? Fleischman? Knuble?

Tops on the Caps shopping list - a burly, meaty, TALENTED, nasty forward, a younger Mike Knuble type, but younger and a bit meaner (ok, I want a Dale Hunter type. There, I said it). A shutdown, intimidating defensemen who can help patrol the goal area and set the proper tone in his own end. An aging veteran (think Sergei Federov) who has won the cup that can show these guys how to win in the postseason. Maybe two of those guys.

Granted, my re-made Capitals won't lead the NHL in scoring. They probably won't win the Presidents Cup, but who cares? They'll be ready for the playoffs. They've got 50 weeks to get ready for the only season that counts - how will they spend that time?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In which I fix the Capitals

The Caps lost game 6 of their 7-game series last night to Montreal 4-1.

A lot of people think these guys are choking. A lot of people are being critical of the people saying these guys are choking. I don't know if they are choking, but they are getting outworked and outcoached.

The Caps during the regular season had the best record in the NHL. They were an unstoppable scoring machine. But that was the regular season, and the cliche' is that everyone "take it up a notch" in the playoffs. Apparently, what that means is everyone plays defense for 60 minutes. Everyone except the Capitals.

That's not fair. Since game 3 the defense has been respectable, but there is no doubt the Caps are getting outworked by a less-talented Montreal team. And there is no doubt Bruce Boudreau is getting out-coached, simply because he has yet to adjust to what Montreal is doing. Boudreau is right about one thing, the Caps have 4 or 5 guys who are simply along for the ride.

So what changes to I make? First, I start Theo. Sorry Varly, but I ride the veteran now. I just feel that he's ready. Second, I yank Mike Green off the Power Play, put in Corvo. Stop forcing the issue with him and Semin - once teams tighten down, these guys wither and crumble under playoff pressure. I get Laich, Knuble, Gordon, et al - the Blue Collar guys - more ice time. I might even make a case for not dressing Semin, especially if he keeps playing like he was on the other team. It's painfully clear they have to get traffic in front of the net in order to get goals. Montreal has figured out it's better to give up 55 bad shots than 25 good ones, and they are letting the Caps shoot from long range where the goalie can see the puck clearly.

At practice today, I would spend the whole time working on fundamental stick-handling and passing drills, and no time on game strategy or power play. I want these guys to come out flying, not thinking about their struggles.

It's hard for me to envision a scenario where the Caps don't eek out a win. Sadly, if they give up the first goal, or go the first two periods without scoring (even if its 0-0), or go down two goals, I think it's over. The Capitals are playing to win a Stanley Cup. The Canadiens are playing to win a series, and that makes them dangerous.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Note for Facebookies: These Notes are auto-copied from my really lame, largely ignored blog. Please feel free to crumble up this webpage and throw it in a trash can.

I first heard this phrase used in reference to baseball, when someone was saying there were three kinds of lies - lies, damn lies, and statistics. The implication being that a statistic is nothing more than data which can be interpreted in a myriad of ways. The data itself is fact, but the conclusion drawn from an analysis of the data is simply mere opinion.

This makes sense to me. Statistics are often used to support arguments or contrasting points of views. But every so often numbers show their true nature, and can be very revealing and informative.

There has been a lot of outrage / angst / grousing about the direction of our Government lately, and the way they conduct business. If you poll 100 people about the way things are going, you would probably get 102 opinions. I'm leaving that alone - but one thing stood out for me today as I was conducting my morning readings.

Conservatives and "Tea Party-ers" have been protesting, meeting, gathering and one of the common threads I've picked up is that taxes are now too high, the government is taxing everyone to death, blah blah blah. Ok, I got it, you think taxes are too high. So I decided to do a tiny bit of research on my Google Machine.

Did you know that since 1979 through 2006 the effective federal income tax rate on ALL households has been between 19.8% and 23%, with the VAST majority of those years between 20.4% and 22.6%? 2007 numbers are supposed to come out soon, but they are expected to be in the low end of that range based on actual tax rates. If you break the data down into quintiles (20% ranges) then 80% of U.S. citizens pay an even lower percentage than previously mentioned.

I didn't know that. I would've thought by all the jumping up and down it had been all over the map. Note this is "effective" tax rate data - actual tax rates are all over the map but the rules covering what is taxable and what isn't, and what you can deduct have been just as all over the place.

I'm not going to entertain whether or not 21% is too much, not enough, or just the right amount of tax. I'm sure 100 people would give 102 opinions. I will say I've LONG been a fan of doing with a progressive income tax and replacing it with a national sales tax. If you applied a 20% sales tax (in lieu of an income tax) to the 2009 Domestic Gross Product you would not have a Federal Budget deficit this year (at least, the last I checked, it was real close). It's a "fair" tax, meaning everyone pays the same rate. In reality, the rate could be lower and you'd still do far better than now.

So where's my Well-Formed Thought? This time around, I'm passing. I see the data, I draw my own conclusions, and so should you. Don't listen to what you see on TV or hear on the radio (often presented in such a way as to elicit outrage or angst), or even read on the Internet and take it as fact - it's probably a lie, a damn, or a statistic.