Saturday, October 14, 2006

The Peerless Prognostictor is ON THE AIR!! -- Caps vs. Thrashers, October 14

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Yes, fans of the swooping eagle, The Peerless is here once again to bring you the finest in prognostitory prognosticationing.

When last we met, we were anticipating a victory against the Minnesota Wild. Well, it didn’t happen – it was a shootout loss – but it sort of had the feel of a win . . . plucky underdog, beat up, goes into hostile arena (well, just how hostile do Minnesotans get? . . . do they pelt you with lutefisk?), plays the undefeated home team to a tie through overtime . . . frankly, it wasn’t a bad result for this squad at this time of the year.

But now, it’s back home and back to the division – the Atlanta Thrashers come to town for a Saturday evening tilt, which makes this sort of a “Saturday Evening Post.” Sorry, kids, that publication was around long before y’all were born.

Atlanta lost a tough one last night – a goal in the last half-second of regulation play from the then-winless Carolina Hurricanes – so they might be in an ornery mood come this evening. What better way to show “Capspitality” than to offer up some down-home southern recipes to the weary travelers . . .

Brian Sutherby’s own “Hits-n-Grits” . . . Take one cantankerous center, add two bad-tempered wings (Donald Brashear and Brooks Laich, preferred brands), stir, and allow to hit for 60 minutes. It’ll tenderize thrasher very nicely.

Alex Ovechkin’s “Spicy Snap Peas and Hot Wrist Shots” . . . One quick-cookin’ treat . . . take one left wing . . . let him churn up ice at high speed . . . add one puck . . . one hot wrist shot later, voila! . . . instant goal. Trouble is, this is such a tasty treat, no one is satisfied with just one! Oh, the peas? Feed ‘em to the dog . . . or Bobby Holik.

Shaone Morrisonn’s “Shoo-‘way pie” . . . a traditional southern treat, fitting for any occasion, be it in front of the net or in the corners or along the boards . . . take stick firmly in both hands, apply it and body to anyone in a light-colored jersey (or small bird like, say, a thrasher), and shoo ‘em away vigorously.

Uncle Glen’s Fine Moonshine Power Line . . . yee-haw . . . now here’s a lip-smackin, thrasher-thwackin’ treat . . . First, ya git a helpin’ o’ Alexander Semin over yonder on the left side . . . then, ya git a big ol’ handful of Dainius Zubrus down in the other corner diggin’ out pucks . . . up over there on the ridge on the blue line, ya get some o’ that Brian Pothier for some added spice . . . over ‘cross the way, maybe a bit o’ that Mike Green . . . kinda young this time o’ year, but tasty anyway . . . and there in the middle, a heapin’ helpin’ of Alex Ovechkin . . . ready to pounce on any ol’ puck that comes his way. Now, that might not be quite the thing for a Kari Lehtonen (but he’s a Finn, what does he know?), but for us Caps fans? . . . whooooooo-EE, that’s mighty fine shine.

Now that’s a menu for a happy ol’ weekend if I ever did see one. As for the game, some things to watch . . .

Atlanta is second in the league at the moment in giving up only 1.4 goals per game. And, they are fifth in faceoff winning percentage. Washington is 18th in both statistics. In this NHL, The Peerless does not see those as separate considerations. Getting the puck and keeping the puck go a long way toward keeping the puck out of your own net.

Atlanta is a team that has been playing well at even strength, with only one player – Steve Rucchin – on the minus side of the ledger. The Caps record on this score is a bit deceptive. The Ovechkin-Zubrus-Zednik line of game one was -4 across the board. IN two games since, Ovechkin has crawled back to -1, Zubrus to -2, and Zednik has not lost any more ground. Clearly, that experiment didn’t appear to work.

Shots . . . The Peerless thinks they matter over the length of a season. Atlanta has given up the fifth fewest shots per game . . . the Caps are 23rd. Add that to faceoffs (it’s that puck thing), and it would seem further to explain the difference in goals allowed (yeah, The Peerless knows, Lehtonen is a fine goalie, too).

So, for the Caps, they have to be mindful of faceoffs and fire as much rubber as possible at the net. Ovechkin will likely get his shots (24 so far); Semin, too (11). But some others need to step up in this regard – Dainius Zubrus and Kris Beech among the forwards, Brian Pothier and Ben Clymer among the defensemen.

The Peerless liked what he saw against Carolina and Minnesota – two teams with capable defenses. While Lehtonen has played very well, that ends tonight at VerMCIzon Center . . .

We’s gonna have us a good time, now, y’hear? Break out the sippin’ whiskey . . .

Caps 5 – Thrashers 3