Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Penguins, March 27th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Tonight, it’s the eighth episode of “The Alex and Sid Show,” the adventures of two rascally youngsters who skate their way over, around, and through their elders as they work their way to the playoffs.

Oops . . . only one of our title characters gets to go to the playoffs this year. That would be Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins who will skate into Verizon Center with the best record in the NHL in calendar year 2007 (27-8-4). The Penguins who can clinch their first playoff appearance since Jaromir Jagr wore the black and gold.

In a series of streaks of success that has marked 2007, the Penguins are on a 9-2-1 run in their last dozen games. The Caps, meanwhile, are 2-8-2 in their last dozen. Some more of the particulars:


Pittsburgh: 9-2-1
Washington: 2-8-2

Goals For/Goals Against:

Pittsburgh: 38/28
Washington: 31/43

Power Play:

Pittsburgh: 11/58 (19.0%)
Washington: 8/56 (14.3%)

Penalty Kill:

Pittsburgh: 51/59 (86.4%)
Washington: 53/62 (80.7%)

We could go on, but the song remains the same. The thing about Pittsburgh has not been their constants. Sidney Crosby is 7-6-13, -2, in the last 12 games. Evgeni Malkin is 3-8-11, +3. Sergei Gonchar is 2-9-11, +2. OK, one expects that kind of performance. It’s the other guys who step up. This dozen game contribution has come courtesy of Erik Christensen, who is 5-3-8, +5. It has gone a long way to easing the burden on the Penguins of Mark Recchi not scoring a goal since February 19th (17 games).

In goal, Marc-Andre Fleury has been consistent, to a degree. With the exception of his last outing – a 5-0 shutout of Boston – he’s been Mr. Three-Goal-a-Night. Whether it’s been giving up three in a 4-3 shootout loss to the Devils, or three on seven shots in 20 minutes of work in a no-decision against Ottawa, Fleury has given up three goals in six of his last nine appearances.

For the Caps and their last dozen games, The Alexes and Chris Clark have accounted for more than half of the goals scored (16 of 31). Nine skaters account for the other 15 goals, and Tomas Fleischmann has three of those. There just aren’t many contributions coming from the rest of the roster, offensively speaking.

On the other side of the ledger, Olaf Kolzig is 2-2-1 since his return from a knee injury, over which he has a 2.76 GAA and .921 save percentage. But, this is a team against which he’s struggled over his career (12-17-4-1, 3.37, .880).

The Penguins are gearing up for a long spring on the ice, the Caps (well, some of them) are thinking ahead to the Worlds. The issue hanging over the ice is the fact that the Penguins can clinch a playoff spot with a win tonight. So, for the Caps the idea is, “not on our ice.” With Fleury giving up threes regularly, it says here the key is Kolzig.

Caps 3 – Penguins 2.

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