It’s a special “home-and-home” edition of The Peerless to kick off the post-All Star Game sprint to the finish.
For those of you scoring at home, the Caps are 20-21-7 for 47 points. At this time last year the Caps were 17-26-5 (39 points). Two seasons ago, the Caps were 14-27-5-2 (35 points). That’s improvement, but it’s not a playoff pace. If we use last year as a guide, the Caps would need 92 points to make the top eight. That’s 45 points in the last 34 games. Not impossible, but it suggests something like a 20-9-5 finish to get there. By way of comparison, among the division leaders, Atlanta was 18-10-6 in their first 34 games, New Jersey was 19-12-3, and Buffalo was 25-7-2.
Even if we use this year as a guide, Pittsburgh has the eighth spot at the moment, and they’re on a pace for 89 points. Tampa – in seventh – also is on an 89-point pace. Even getting to 90 suggests something like 19-10-5. That’s the hole the Caps dug for themselves by going 5-11-0 leading up to the All-Star break.
This weekend the Caps get to take a big wet bite out of that task by taking on the Carolina Hurricanes in a home-and-home set. The Caps are 2-2 against Carolina, and although the goals stand at 13-11, Carolina, none of the games have been close. Carolina has wins of 5-0 and 4-1 in games two and three of the season series, the Caps a pair of 5-2 wins in games one and four.
Some tidbits about the four games . . .
So, what do the Caps have to do? Get off fast (score first), be aggressive (out-hit Carolina), shoot the damn puck, make sure the usual suspects are represented on the score sheet.
- In every game thus far, the team that scored first won
- Each team split two games on its own ice
- Only once did a team ever surrender a lead (Carolina, in game one)
- The team that won the special teams game (power play scores versus scores allowed) won each game
- Carolina won the faceoff battle in every game, winning 55.2 percent of draws overall
- Washington is 4-20 on the power play (20.0 percent), Carolina 4-21 (19.0 percent)
- The Caps’ top line of Alexander Ovechkin, Dainius Zubrus, and Chris Clark is 0-0-0, -4 in the two losses (Chris Clark missed one game), 5-3-8, +11 in the two wins
- Alexander Semin has the other five goals in the two wins (he has no goals in the losses)
- The Caps have been outshot in three of the four games, 131-107 overall. But, the Caps won both games in which they registered at least 30 shots
- Olaf Kolzig is 2-1, Brent Johnson 0-1 in the four games
- If you’re looking for a good luck charm – Jean Morin. He’s been a linesman in each of the two Caps’ wins (he also has been on hand for one of the losses). In case you’re wondering, the four games have had eight different referees – no special relief there
- Hits . . . in two wins, the Caps had 62 total. In two losses, 34
- If you’re looking for Caps to stand out tonight . . . Chris Clark: 2-3-5, +4 in three games . . . Alexander Semin: 5-0-5 (including a hat trick), -1, 2 PPG
And hope Jean Morin is a linesman.
Friday: Caps 3 – Carolina 2
Saturday: Caps 4 – Carolina 2