The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!! . . . The Special “Death to Penguins” edition . . .
For tonight’s game The Peerless brings you “What they said, what they meant.” Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin sat down for a teleconference with the NHL in advance of this game, and the kids displayed their growing comfort with krapola when asked questions about the rivalry. The Peerless, in his never-ending search for truth, ferrets out what was really said (actual Q and A courtesy of Kukla's Korner; "what they meant" is a product of this author's alcohol-addled fantasy) . . .
Q. I’d like to ask both players. How much do you guys get up when you face one another in a game? Do you guys consider that like a prime game for both of you just to show what you can do, or show each other what you can do?
What Alex said . . . “I think
What Alex meant . . . “yup, a real tool.”
Q. Just wanted to know, for the both of you, how different is life in your second year now that you’re not rookies anymore?
What Alex said . . . Yeah. I just feel for comfortable right now. We know the league and we know the rules and we now how good team—you know, we know how to play against some teams. Just I think right now we know the league better than first year. For me right now I know the league and the team and I feel more comfortable.
What Alex meant . . . “except for those damn sticks…”
Q. For Alex, how do you feel about your friend Malkin being involved in this rivalry now, too?
What Alex said . . . I’m really happy for him, because he is a great player and he’s a great guy. He’s a very good person and he’s unbelievable player. His team is lucky team to have Sidney, Malkin. They were drafted and they are good players and probably will be best team in the league. But we have couple guys, too.
What Alex meant . . . “f*** him.”
Q. This goes to
Q. Alex, what do you feel has been your biggest—I guess your biggest thing you’ve had to get used to with the new rules and everything this season? . . . What have you had to adjust to the most this year?
What Alex said . . . Playing hockey, enjoy. You know, because I think me and Sidney, lots of young guys who play, should enjoy the time, because it was our dream. It doesn’t matter what rules. If it’s old or new rules, we just want to play hockey and do best what we can.
What Alex meant . . . “lame questions like this.”
Q. One question for Sidney and one for Alex.
Q. Alex, the hit on Daniel Briere, you said that it was an accident. I’ve only seen the replays, but I’m puzzled by that. When you say that it was an accident, do you mean that you didn’t mean to push him as hard as you did, or it just—the whole contact completely was an accident?
What Alex said . . . Well, my contact was not accident. I wanted to hit him. But if you see replay, I don’t hit him, you know, hard. I just saw his back and I just hit him. I don’t want give him injury or do some injury to him. I’m not the player that—we’re both are players, and I know we both want to play hockey. I don’t want to do some injury to him. Doesn’t matter Briere or some different player.
What Alex meant . . . “after all this crap, I wish I’d sent him into the next time zone.”
Q. This question is for Alex. There’s been a lot of talk in town about your hit on Daniel Briere on Saturday night. First, why did you do it? And second, if that happened to you, how would you have liked your teammates to react? And how would you react?
What Alex said . . . Well, because it was a game, I tell you right it was last question. I don’t want to hit him bad. I just want to hit him—but he turned and I don’t have time to do something. I think the guys,
What Alex meant . . . “who are you, Ken Starr?”
Q. He had just dumped the puck into the zone, and it was a good split second before you hit him. Did that cross your mind at all? Why do you hit a guy that doesn’t have the puck that’s going to leave the ice after his shift?
What Alex said . . . I can’t answer this question, because it was a game. You know, I don’t know.
What Alex meant . . . “you’re about this far from me shoving a stick up your ass and breaking it off at the blade.”
Q. You guys have been linked ever since last year started. Do you have any sort of a friendship away from the rink? Do you guys talk or compare notes at all away from the arena at all?
Q. Alex, have you played golf since the hole-in-one?
What Alex said . . . No.
What Alex meant . . . “No.”
Q. Calling it quits there?
What Alex said . . . Yeah.
What Alex meant . . . “Yeah”
Q. Can you turn back the calendar to this time last year. Compare the player you were then to the player you are now. And how much more improving can you do? That’s for both of them.
What Alex said . . . For me, this year, I try to play more defensively. I have talk with my coach a lot and he tell me, “I don’t care about how we play offensively. I care about how he play defensively.” I know I play right now better defensively. I think all my teammates and all my coaches, they my fans, see it and they know I try to play more defensively like last year.
What Alex meant . . . “Glen’s a funny guy.”
Q. For Sidney, today they announced the roster for the Canadian World Junior Team, and amazingly you were still eligible for that. How distant does that seem to you now a few years into the NHL? What did the experience of playing for the national team do for you as a player?
Q. Sidney, if you could tell me one thing you admire most about Alex’s game, and Alex I’m going ask you the same question about Sid.
What Alex said . . . Well, I think how he control the puck. How he find his partners. It’s unbelievable.
What Alex meant . . . “hey, I’m the one with the Calder Trophy”
As for the game . . .
The Penguins and the Caps are two teams joined at the hip by history and experience. The Penguins’ dominance of the Caps in playoffs is well-documented (and sure won’t be recited here); the clubs had similar needs in terms of having to jettison payroll in recent years; each conducted a “fire sale” of high-priced personnel; one of the all time great Pens ended up in Washington (although one year of Frantisek Kucera never gave fans a true picture of his sublime talent), both are in the midst of a rebuild with a promising core of prospects. The Penguins are probably one-up on the Caps – a product of an impartial (wink wink) lottery – in that they won the rights to Sidney Crosby. But the Caps might have a deeper prospect pool, thanks to some astute (no, really) horse-trading by general manager George McPhee.
What all this means are that these are two teams in similar circumstances, being within three points of one another (the Penguins having a game in hand). The Penguins, for all their vaunted offensive potential, are in the middle of the pack offensively – they are 13th in goals-per-game, 14th in 5-on-5 goals for/goals against ratio, 14th on the power play. They have 26 goals in their last ten games, nine of them by Sidney Crosby (4-7-11, +2) or Evgeni Malkin (5-7-12, -1). One might expect that kind of production from the precocious pair, but there are two other Penguins who bear watching. Colby Armstrong is 4-2-6, +5 in the last ten games, and Eric Christensen (recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on November 22nd) is 3-1-4, -1 in his last five.
Defensively, the Penguins are better than they have been in the past couple of years, but that isn’t to say they are in an elite class. They are 21st in goals-against per game, 22nd in penalty killing. Marc-Andre Fleury is giving some indications that the club wasn’t completely out of its mind in selecting him with the first pick in the 2003 entry draft. Fleury is 16th among goaltenders playing more than 15 games in goals-against-average, 17th in save percentage. He is 5-2-3 in his last ten games, 2.77, .895. Ominously for the Penguins, though, he is 1-2-1 in his last four (including an abbreviated appearance against
The Caps come into this game winner of five of their last six games, outscoring their opponents 28-20. In that run, the Caps have rediscovered penalty killing . . . 32 of 36 (88.9 percent) has gone a long way to alleviating the pressure from goalies Olaf Kolzig (4-1-0, 3.40, .910 in this six game run) and Brent Johnson (1-0-0, 3.00, .917). The Caps have been dominating offensively. In their five wins, only one was of the one-goal variety, and in only one of those wins did they score fewer than five goals (four, against
But all of this is window dressing . . . the “story” is the matchup. Here is the “tale of the tape” . . .
Goals: 18 (T-3rd)
Assists: 17 (T-38th)
Points: 35 (T-12th)
PP goals: 7 (T-12th)
GWG: 4 (T-2nd)
PIMs: 34 (T-82nd)
Hits: 63 (T-26th)
Ice time: 20:48/game (21st among forwards)
Takeaway/Giveaway ratio: 31/38
Gear: CCM Sports
Websites: http://www.aimpages.com/alexovechkin/profile.html, http://en.ccmsports.com/community/players/ovechkin/
Goals: 13 (T-27th)
Assists: 26 (T-3rd)
Points: 39 (T-4th)
PP goals: 4 (T-53rd)
GWG: 2 (T-37th)
PIMs: 24 (T-172nd)
Hits: 16 (T-372nd)
Ice time: 20:34/game (T-24th among forwards)
Websites: http://crosby87.com/ (coming soon), http://en.rbkhockey.com/sidney360/
“Story,” my pasty white ass . . . the story is the game and who wins . . .
Caps 5 – Penguins 3.