Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Canadiens, December 20th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

‘Tis the holiday season and a time for families to get together to sing carols, exchange gifts, and talk hockey, and The Peerless is no exception. Our two cousins, Fearless and Cheerless are here to knaw on some drumsticks and talk about the Caps…

…Cheerless, Fearless, happy holidays.

Cheerless Prognosticator: “What are you so friggin’ happy about? The Caps are still in last place in the East.”

Fearless Prognosticator – “Geez, give it a rest… you sound like a message board poster.”

Do you guys get to watch the Caps much back at the prognostihomestead?

CP: “Sure…why do you think I’m cheerless?”

FP: “Geez, what Crosby crawled up your butt and died?”

Guys, guys…let’s try to keep in the spirit of the holiday. We’ve got Montreal coming to Verizon Center tonight…you guys know anything about them?

CP: “I know they’re from Canada.”

FP: “You should work for ESPN.”

CP: “They have a better record than the Caps?”

No in their last ten games they don’t. In fact, the Canadiens have been stumbling about, managing only a 4-4-2 record in their last ten games.

CP: “Yeah, but they’re 10-5-1 on the road, Mr. Blogger.”

That’s true, and they’ve been fine on the road in their last ten, too, going 3-1-0, including wins over the Flyers and the Bruins. But some chinks are showing in the Habs’ armor lately. The team stat that jumps out at you is the Montreal power play. They are second overall on the power play this year (23.9 percent) and tops in road power play efficiency (27.6 percent). In their last ten games, the Canadiens have slipped to 7-for-43 (16.3 percent) overall, but they are 5-for-19 on the road (26.3 percent).

CP: “You’re giving me a headache.”

Is he always like this?

FP: “Only when he’s awake.”

Well, the Caps had better be awake on the penalty kill, because Montreal spreads things around. 11 different players have scored power play goals, led by Alex Kovalev with nine.

CP: “Is he still in the league?”

It does seem like he’s been around forever, but he leads the club in goals and total points, in addition to his nine power play goals. He’s got a lot of help…six players have at least ten power play points (by way of comparison, the Caps have two).

CP: “It’s not looking good, cousin.”

Well, there are two things that work in favor of the Caps concerning the Montreal power play. First, despite the efficiency they’ve enjoyed, they’re only 13th overall in road power play chances. Second, the Caps have killed 88.4 percent of their shorthanded situations over their last ten games. What’s more, the Caps have done this while shorthanded 43 times. Minimizing those chances have been important.

FP: "Dontcha just love it when he’s going on about those numbers?"

CP: "Yeah, a regular ‘beautiful mind’…"

As for the Caps, no team in the Eastern Conference has fewer home wins (six, tied with Montreal). But they are 4-2-1 on home ice since Bruce Boudreau took over behind the bench. They’ve outscored the opposition 24-20, and their penalty killing has been especially effective (25-for-27; 92.6 percent). Eleven different Caps have scored those 24 goals on home ice, led by Alex Ovechkin (six) and Mike Green (four).

But what they might have to contend with is the Bear killer, himself, Carey Price. Caps fans might remember that Price was the netminder for the Hamilton Bulldogs during their 4-1 Calder Cup final series win over the Hershey Bears last spring. After appearing in only two regular season games after being moved up from Tri-City in the WHL, he went 15-6 to lead the Bulldogs to the Calder Cup. Thus far this year the rookie has fine numbers: 9-6-2, 2.72, .915. And, he has a link to the Caps as well. During the lockout in 2004-2005, Price was mentored by Caps goalie Olaf Kolzig at Tri-City. That the two could be battling one another in this contest is one of the interesting subplots.

CP: "Oooh…drama."

If Cristobal Huet plays – and he’s just back after sitting out a few games with a groin injury – he has some pretty good career numbers against the Caps: 4-2-0, 2.54, .912.

CP: "Didn’t you say something about a drumstick?..."

OK, OK! Anything to shut you up…but first, the mentor will defeat the mentee..

CP: "Is that really a word?"

Yes, for heaven’s we said, the mentor will defeat the mentee, and the Caps will inch just a little closer to the top-eight.

Caps 4 – Canadiens 1

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