I mentioned in my last post that the Bears are tearing up the AHL, which was mostly echoing a comment made in the telecast of one of the last few Caps games. Somewhat randomly, I decided to follow that up today, and found some interesting things.
I knew the Bears had won the Calder Cup last year, and were doing even better this year, but was still shocked by how much so. Last year, they finished tied for third overall in the standings (although only one point out of first); they had, by far, the most goals in the league, but were 24th of 29 in goals allowed. This year, with thirteen games left, they have only one fewer point than last year, have 20% more goals than the second highest-scoring team, and are tied for second in goals allowed. Wow.
And the players that'll be bolstering the Caps? Well, as one would expect, it's mostly guys we've seen in short stints (heck, maybe all of them are, and I haven't noticed some :). The most important ones look to be: Giroux, Bourque, Aucoin, Alzner, Carlson (as noted previously, currently with the big team), Pinizzotto, and possibly Helmer and Joudrey.
I'm not sure about the contract status of most of the Caps, but there seems to be enough talent to not be terribly upset if several of the older guys walk at the end of the year. The Caps, I'm pretty sure, are already a pretty young team, and it looks like they could easily get younger still.
If nothing else, there seem to be an awful lot of trade chips available, although I'm not sure what those chips would go towards. Maybe trying to get high first-round picks? Or just additional first rounders? A top-notch right winger to go with Backstrom and Ovie (or would that just be silly; actually, they probably couldn't afford that, under the cap)?
Odd bit of trivia I finally tracked down. Ovie's only shooting about 10% more than the #2 and #3 shooters in the league, dramatically down from the 42% lead he had in that category last year. I'd sort of noticed that before (not the exact numbers, but it being much closer), but wasn't sure what was causing it. It's basically just a matter of Ovie shooting a lot less (1.5 S/G less).
Oh, and one bit of advice for Ovie: stop the big loops to stay on your forehand. I don't know whether I just hadn't noticed it before, but it's really hit me recently that he's doing a lot of extra work to keep the puck on his forehand side. I can only see that making the defense's job easier, even though he is a lot more effective on his forehand.