Sunday, March 04, 2007

Fiddling with numbers...

The Caps are on a pace to finish 30-37-15 this season . . . 75 points.

They also finished with 75 points in the 1996-97 season.

They went to the Stanley Cup final the next season.

Just thought you'd like to know.

You've GOT to be kidding me . . .

Selling a product is one thing, but taking me (or any other hockey fan) to be some rube from the sticks is another matter entirely.

The Blogger-in-Charge had this to say in his take Friday under the topic, "Good News for NHL Attendance:"

"Why is it that the good news that the NHL is experiencing isn't translating to more positive press and references in newspapers around the country? The NHL is recording record attendance. We have a great partnership with our players, revenues are up and I bet March will be even better as the playoff races are as tight as I have ever seen them."

Hey, The Peerless will take a shot at this one . . .

Because people have eyes, big guy. And they can recognize the difference between a flesh-and-blood person and an empty seat. If the NHL is going to count every ticket sold, "distributed," printed, or thought about as "attendance," then guffaws over pronouncements that there is "good news" about attendance will continue to be heard.

I wonder . . . do the Caps count this guy as part of the "paid attendance?" . . .

After-math -- Caps vs. Islanders

No points tonight, Caps fans.

George Armstrong Custer . . . Davy Crockett . . . Spartacus . . . Glen Hanlon.

Leaders of battles against overwhelming odds, doomed to fail because of opponents’ vast advantages in skill and numbers.

Last night, the Washington Capitals hit their low point of the season in a 6-2 pasting at the hands, sticks, and bodies of the New York Islanders, typified by having to play Tomas Fleischmann as a center for much of the last half of the contest. This club has nothing more to give than effort. They are running out of bodies. They dressed seven defensemen and 11 forwards for this one (losing one forward along the way). Couple that with nothing to play for in terms of standings, and it makes for a pretty grim way to be finishing up the season.

The game itself was a clear reflection of where these clubs are at the moment. One is fighting for a playoff spot; the other is fighting not to be embarrassed. The Peerless has no quarrel with the Caps effort last night. It might not have been quite to the level or with quite the focus of the game against Tampa Bay on Thursday, but effort wasn’t the reason the Caps lost.

The Caps lost because they got behind the eight ball early – part their own doing (a product of inexperience) and some a product of obstruction calls than might not have qualified as tackles in a touch football game. Let’s not go down that road, though. The Caps were brutal on the penalty kill. Jeff Schultz happened to be a particularly unfortunate soul, as he was on the ice for the first three Islander goals (all power play tallies). Brooks Laich and Jiri Novotny had a good view of the scoring, too – they were on for four of the six goals the Isles scored.

But as much as Washington’s defense – and especially the penalty killing – struggled, it was equally a case of the offense failing to convert any of the chances they had . . .

- Alexandre Giroux misfired on a semi-breakaway.
- Alexander Semin had Islander goalie Rick DiPietro at his mercy and decided to pass the puck to a covered Alexander Ovechkin (now he decides to pass…)
- Brooks Laich had a great tip-in opportunity that he tipped into Rick DiPietro’s logo.
- The Caps wasted four power play opportunities (while giving up three power play goals) before scoring a man-up goal when the game had been decided.
- Alex Ovechkin was held to one shot over the first 58:45 of the game; Alexander Semin had one shot for the game. Those two players had 57 percent of the Caps goals among players who took the ice last night.

If there is one thing obvious at the moment, this team can’t pass very well, and it shows up in an inability to enter the offensive zone under control. Whereas the Islanders were entering the Caps’ zone in control of the puck for most of the night, the Caps were left to dump and chase, and this club is not really engineered at the moment for fierce forechecking. That stands in stark contrast to the Islanders, who perform that task rather effectively.

The Caps also couldn’t escape the contest without two things happening. John Erskine got another delay-of-game penalty, and the Caps sustained another injury. Kris Beech took one shift in the second, during which he blocked a shot, and was absent for the remainder of the evening. Fans will be asked to bring equipment to the next home game on Friday against Carolina, just in case.

Steve Eminger described the situation as “real frustrating.” That’s what happens this time of year to teams with little to play for. Clubs like the Islanders – if they expect to make the playoffs – have to make short work of clubs like the Capitals. That’s what the Isles did. That is something to which this group of Caps must aspire – to be in the position of taking advantage of weaker opponents in a playoff drive.

That, unfortunately, will have to wait until next year . . . well, we hope next year.

Goalies Just Wanna Have Fu-un

In the red cornah . . . from Calgary, Alberta, Canada . . . weighing in at two-hunnert-an-tree pounds, all of which is stupid . . . The Binghamton Basher . . . Jeff . . . Glass-s-s-s-s-s-s.

And, in the white cornah . . . from some frenchie town I can't pronounce . . . weighing in at two-hunnert-an-tree pounds, all ot it heart . . . The Hershey Hammer . . . Max Dane-yo-o-o-o-o-o-o . . .

Gentlemen . . . remove your masks, and come out fighting . . .

Maxime Daigneault got five minutes for what he described as the first hockey fight in his life (fighting) and a bloody nose, Glass got 29 (leaving the crease, instigating, misconduct/instigating, fighting, game misconduct/secondary altercation), a knot over his eye, and the loss in a 7-1 contest.