Friday, October 27, 2006

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!! -- Caps vs. Canucks, October 27th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!

We have a real treat for our readers today while the boys get ready for their game in Vancouver this evening. We’re here with Dr. Vynot Schootdepuck, Director of Advanced Applications at the Bettman Institute of Technology and Competitive Hockey.

Dr. V, what have the brainiacs at BITCH thought up that you’re going to show us today?

“Vell . . . ve heff here ze noo ‘Fata henns.’

Hens? You’ve bioengineered chickens?

“No . . . henns, henns! At ze ends of your wrists.”

Oh, hands. And what do they do?

“Vell, zey are really gluffs zat you put on like ziss . . . and pr-r-r-resto! You heff henns like Gr-r-r-retzky!”

And you named them, ‘Fata hands,’ why?

“Who else vould needs zem more, eh?”

I see your point . . . what is this, Dr. V? . . . it looks like a curved mirror.

“Ahh, zat . . . Zat is a new visor ve are developink for Alex Ovechkin.”

It looks like the mirrored visor the league won’t let him wear.

“A lot of people make zat mistake . . . but you attach it to a helmet like ziss . . . and put it on . . . “

I can still see your eyes, Dr. V.

“Ja, you vould zink so . . . but in reality, you are zeeing a holographic image of my eyes. It fools ze goalie and ze defensemen into thinking zey zee my eyes, ven in reality, I’m looking zomevere else.”


“Vuht, you are zelling Guinness, now? . . . hah, zats a joke . . . but look here, ziss is ze brilliant part . . . votch as I raise my stick to shoot . . . “

Oh, my . . . that beam just . . . melted the goalie.

“Ja, you like it? . . . ze stick has a transmitter in it zat activates ze mirror venn I raise my stick to shoot, activating ziss energy beam zat melts ze goalie. You zenn shoot ze puck into ze empty net. Verks every time.”

Uh, Doc . . . what happens when Alex raises his arms to celebrate a goal? You could kill an entire line of Caps.

“Ja, ve haven’t verked zat part out yet.”

Oh, now what’s this? . . . It looks like a wig of hair.

“Ah . . . zat is our latest pr-r-r-roject. It’s a zooper zecret effort commissioned by one of the league’s officials.”

It . . . it’s a hard shell, Doc. Not a hair out of place, either . . . let me guess . . .

“Ja . . . Fraser. He just doesn’t want to vere dat helmet”

Well, that’s all the time we have for Dr. V. for this visit . . . on to the game. Tonight, the Caps visit the Paris of southwestern Canada, Vancouver, to take on the Canucks, who are led by the best twins in the NHL, Daniel and Henrik Sedin (or is it Henrik and Daniel? . . . I can't ever keep them straight). Actually, the Sedins do, in fact, lead their club in combined points (14 apiece, natch) and plus-minus (+17 between them). But that’s where the highlights more or less end on offense. The Canucks are 20th in scoring in the league. They are dead last in home goals scored, but having played only two home games – fewest in the league -- will do that. Still, six goals in two home games isn’t exactly burning out the bulbs in the scoreboard at GM Place.

Contrary to the image of the run-and-gun Western Conference, it is on the defensive side of the ledger where the Canucks shine, giving up but 2.09 goals per game -- fourth in the league in that statistic. The acquisition of Roberto Luongo appears to be paying dividends early. Facing 29 shots per game, he’s managed to post a 2.08 GAA (sixth in the league) and a .928 save percentage (seventh).

There aren’t a lot of Vancouver stats that come jumping out, save this one. They’ve killed all 12 of their man-disadvantages so far at home. The Caps’ road power play is puttering along in 18th place in the league (13.8 percent). But, the Caps also are the second highest scoring team in the league (3.62 goals per game -- almost a full goal per game lower than first place Buffalo, but almost a full goal per game more than Vancouver).

The Peerless suspects that Vancouver is going to be very happy to be coming home after a reasonably successful (3-2-0) five-game road trip – perhaps too happy . . . too inclined to try to put on a show for the home folks. That could put a lot of pressure on Luongo to stand tall in a wide-open game. It’s a role he played often and well in the past when he wore a Florida Panther jersey. But, the Caps have already put to rest the Panther hex that held them last year, and it’s time to put this one to rest as well.

The Caps have to make a dent in the Canucks’ penalty kill in this one. They are 3-for-6 in their last two games on the power play. That suggests success, but it also indicates a lack of opportunities. That will require attention, especially since the Caps, themselves, have yielded at least one power play goal in each of their last seven games (although they’ve killed 18 of 21 – 85.7 percent – in their last three games).

The Caps will be one goal better on special teams than will the Canucks, and that will be enough . . .

Caps 4 – Canucks 3.

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