Thursday, March 01, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Lightning, March 1

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Game One in The Age of Novotny. The Caps will go forward – beginning tonight with their contest against Tampa Bay – looking like the youth movement they’ve been trumpeting for the last couple of years. The departure of Dainius Zubrus and Richard Zednik – with almost 1,300 games of NHL experience between them – depart in favor of Jiri Novotny, he of the 64 games of experience. The forwards likely taking the ice tonight will have an average age of just over 25, and that includes the 35-year old Donald Brashear.

Outside of Brashear and his 828 games of NHL experience, the other 11 forwards will bring a total of just over 1,800 games of experience – barely two full seasons worth of experience on average. By way of comparison, the “big three” forwards for Tampa Bay – Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis, and Brad Richards – have almost 1,600 games of experience among them and a Stanley Cup. We’re not saying the Caps are young, but shaving cream is being replaced with lollipops in the locker room.

This is the club that will take on Tampa Bay tonight, a club that has lost only six games in regulation this calendar year (18-6-2). And the Caps had better do their best to win in regulation, since the Lightning are 8-2 in extra time in 2007, including a perfect 7-0 in shootouts. Washington is 3-4 in extra time since the start of the new year, 1-4 in shootouts.

The clubs last played two weeks ago, and since then have continued the paths they ware blazing before that contest. Washington has been sinking in the standings (1-3-2 since losing to Tampa Bay – in a shootout – on February 15th), the Lightning have continued their climb (3-1-2).

If there is a bright sign, it is that Alex Ovechkin appears to have been awakened from his winter slumber. After a ten game stretch in which he was 1-2-3, -4; he has been 3-2-5, +2 in his last two games.

Although it would be tempting to say Frederic Cassivi will get the nod in goal tonight off his 45-minute against Florida on Tuesday night in which he gave up one goal on 18 shots (1.33, .944) in the 6-5 shootout loss, it would seem likely that Brent Johnson will return between the pipes for this game. He has a fine career mark against Tampa Bay – 4-1-1-1, 2.07, .933. He gave up only two goals in the 3-2 shootout loss to the Lightning two weeks ago in his first start in relief of Olaf Kolzig.

Nothing points to a Caps win tonight. Nothing. Tampa has more experience, they are playing better over a long stretch, they are deeper and more skilled, they are healthier. But, after going 3-6-4 in February, the calendar has turned a page. It’s March, and the Caps are 0-0-0. It says here they will start on a high note . . .

Caps 4 – Lightning 3.

1 comment:

Smitty said...

Holy God... I am the Capitals' average age.

I thought I'd be a lot older before that happened.

/Feel like an old man
//Time to invest in a rocking chair
///And a corncob pipe