Sunday, March 18, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Lightning, March 18th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! . . .

It’s Matinee Sunday for the Caps as they take on the Tampa Bay Lightning, and today’s theme is, “The Fine Line.” As in , the fine line that separates winning and losing in this league. And Tampa Bay seems to be on the wrong side of that line at the moment, courtesy of . . . the Washington Capitals?

Could be (although coincidence cannot be ruled out). Let’s look at Tampa, before and after the March 1 5-4 shootout win over the Caps:

- Before: they came in on a 17-4-2 run . . . after: 2-4-0

- Before: scored 72 goals (3.13/game) over those 23 games . . . after: scored 13 (2.17/game)

- Before: gave up 64 goals (2.78/game) . . . after: gave up 20 goals (3.33/game)

- Before: 21-for-82 on the power play (25.6%) . . . after: 4-for-22 (18.1%)

- Before: 68-for-84 penalty killing (80.1%) . . . after: 18-for-20 (90.0%..ok, there’s that one)

- Before: they did not lose a one-goal game in regulation (13-0-2) . . . after: they’ve lost their last two games by one goal in regulation

- Before: 9-2 in extra-time games (20 of 36 standings points earned that way) . . . after: 0-1 (one of four standings points earned)

- Vincent Lecavalier . . . Before: 18-13-31, -3 (1.35 PPG) . . . after 6-3-9, -4 (1.50 PPG)

- Martin St. Louis . . . Before: 12-20-32, +3 (1.39 PPG) . . . after: 0-5-5, -2 (0.83 PPG)

- Brad Richards . . . Before: 9-17-26, +1 (1.13 PPG) . . . after: 1-2-3, -1 (0.50 PPG)

For the Caps, it’s a chance once more to play spoiler, the Lightning coming into this contest only four points ahead of the ninth-place New York Islanders, with the Islanders holding a game in hand. Washington comes into this game on a two-game points earned streak, the first time they’ve done that since the last week of February. Today they will have the chance to do something they have done only once this calendar year – win consecutive games (January 4-6, over Montreal and Atlanta). The Caps haven’t won consecutive games in regulation since early December (a four-game streak, November 28 – December 6).

Something to watch for . . . “The Alex Effect.” One might expect that the Capitals are more likely to win games when one of the Alexes scores a goal, and in fact, this is true. When Alex Ovechkin scores, the Caps are 16-12-5 (9-22-8 when he does not). When Alexander Semin scores, the Caps are even more likely to win – 13-8-4 (12-26-9 when he does not). When both score, the Caps are 9-1-1, including wins in the last eight times this has occurred. The club against which the Caps’ have had little success in this regard? . . . Tampa: 1-2-1 when Ovechkin scores, 1-2-3 when Semin scores, 1-1-1 when both score.

So what does it all mean, Oh Peerless one? The Caps have won but one game against the Lightning this year. What happened in that game that did not happen in any of the others?

Boyd Gordon scored, and it is the only game in which no power play goals were scored.

Had enough of the numbers? Well, here’s the poop . . . the Caps are 1-3 in home matinees this year. Tampa’s won both of their away afternoon games. No matter, today is a bright sunny day (and hopefully one for Boyd Gordon).

Caps 4 – Lightning 3.

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