Wednesday, April 04, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Thrashers, April 4th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!


Yeah, what about it? You have better things to do??

Well, I . . .

No, you don’t . . . keep reading.

Tonight, the Caps end their journey through the Southeast Division with a visit to Atlanta to battle the Thrashers. Frankly, it hasn’t been pretty.


It’s not as if the Caps have been barren of contributions. Alex Ovechkin is 23-18-41 in 31 games. Alexander Semin is 21-17-38 in 30 games. Chris Clark has almost half his goals – 13 – in 27 games. Even Kris Beech has five of his eight goals against the Southeast.

Looking for a problem? Yup, you guessed it – defense. The Caps are 29th in the league in goals allowed within their division. Only Philadelphia is worse. Not the best company to be keeping. Not even Philly saves them in shot differential. The Caps are dead last in the NHL in shot differential within their own division.

The Caps have played Atlanta tough, though. They’ve given up about a third of a goal a game less against the Thrashers than their average against Southeast Division opponents, and they’ve actually outshot the Thrashers. Further, after going 0-2-2 in the first four meetings, the Caps are 2-1 in the last three meetings.

After Olaf Kolzig got the shutout against Florida on Tuesday night, it would be reasonable to expect Brent Johnson to get a start in this penultimate game of the season. Johnson has been respectable, going 1-1-1, 2.92, .908.

If there is one thing to look for – well, in addition to Ovechkin’s seven goals in seven games – it would be special teams. The Caps are 9-for-39 on the power play versus Atlanta this year (23.1 percent) while giving up only five goals in 35 shorthanded situations (85.7 percent). The Caps also have a shorthanded goal against Atlanta this year.

The problem is that Alexander Semin did not take the ice in the third period against Florida. Assuming he is injured, that will leave quite a hole where a 3-3-6 line in six games ought to be.

Nevertheless, winning breeds winning, and where there is one, there are two . . .

Caps 3 – Thrashers 2.

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