Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!! Caps vs. Avalanche, October 25th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Well, the divisional trifecta was not the statement Caps fans hoped it would be . . . a win, a shootout loss, and a regulation loss – three out of six possible points. It’s better than the boys could manage against division opponents this early last year, but it’s got to improve if the Caps have legitimate designs on fighting for a playoff berth.

It’s with that lingering aftertaste that the boys head west on their longest – distance wise – road trip of the year. Alexander “Otter” Ovechkin, Dainius “Boon” Zubrus, Alexander “Pinto” Semin, Mike “Flounder” Green, and the rest of the Caps’ “Animal House” crew haul tail through Colorado, Vancouver, Edmonton, and Calgary before heading home. It’ll be their last trip west of the Mississippi this year (they don’t go any further west that Pittsburgh after this), so it had better be a good one.

Getting out on the road is all about bonding . . . young guys and vets, North Americans and Europeans. And sometimes, you find that guys end up with special responsibilities . . . like this exchange between “Otter” Ovechkin and “Flounder” Green . . .

“Flounder, I’m appointing you pledge representative to the social committee . . . “

“Gee Otter, thanks. What do I have to do?”

“It means you have to feed me the puck.”

They can even go over mistakes they’ve made in the last few games, like when Otter and the boys comfort a downhearted Flounder . . .

“Flounder, you can't spend your whole life worrying about your mistakes! You fucked up - you trusted us! Hey, make the best of it! Maybe we can help.”

“That's easy for you to say! What am I going to tell Coach Hanlon?”

“I'll tell you what. We'll tell Coach you were doing a great job taking care of the puck, but you left it at the blue line and the next minute, it was gone. We report it to the referees, Clarkie takes care of the rest, the linesman goes and gets a new puck.

“Will that work?”

“Hey, it's gotta work better than the truth.”

If you’re looking for hints at how Colorado might behave as hosts for the evening, it’s hard to figure it out from the statistics. Nothing really jumps out – the Avs are rather average in a lot of the usual numbers. But two things do emerge that could cause some concern. First, the Avalanche have scored more home power play goals than any club in the league, and their home power play is humming along in third place (30.3 percent). Second, the Avs haven’t won a game yet in which they’ve led after one period (they are 0-1-1). But, they are 3-1-1 when leading after two. Given the Caps’ struggles in the second period this year, that could be something to look out for.

On the other hand, while Washington rests in 21st place on the penalty kill, they are 12th in road penalty killing. Their problems on the power play while on the road are as much a scarcity of opportunities as their success rate. Washington is tied for 21st in total road power play opportunities. There isn’t much difference between these teams at even strength effectiveness – Washington is -2 on the road, Colorado – surprisingly enough – is -4 at home.

It would seem that this game will turn on whether Washington can play an opportunistic sort of game – can the Caps minimize their trips to the box and turn their second period misfortunes around. If they can be successful at both, this trip might get off to a successful start.

Caps 3 – Avalanche 1.