Friday, March 16, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Maple Leafs, March 16th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR . . .

In a very abbreviated version this morning (lots to do, lots to do). Tonight, the Caps get right back to it in the back half of a back-to-back, hosting the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Leafs are desperately trying to climb into the top eight – they sit ninth this morning, one point behind eighth-place Carolina with two games in hand. They don’t seem to be playing like it, though, with a 5-5-1 record in their last 11 games. However, they have won their last two – a pair of one goal games – and they will be catching the Caps coming off a frustrating and disheartening loss in Boston in a shootout last night.

For the Caps, the key might be special teams. Toronto is only 3-for-49 on the power play in their last 11 games (6.1 percent), while they’ve surrendered 13 power play goals in 51 shorthanded situations (74.5 percent penalty kill).

Trouble is, the Caps are winless in their last seven home games (0-4-3).

The Peerless is nothing if not hopeful, though, and Toronto’s inconsistency will be their downfall tonight.

Caps 3 – Leafs 2

After-Math -- Caps vs. Bruins

One point tonight . . .

“Penalty kill” took on a whole new meaning last night as the Caps fell, 4-3, to the Boston Bruins in a shootout. The Caps played a uniquely undisciplined and silly game in giving up nine power plays – the Bruins scoring on three of them – in the loss. Five high-sticking penalties? It wasted a hat-trick effort from the captain, Chris Clark, and a fine performance in goaltender Olaf Kolzig’s return to the ice after a knee injury shelved him for a month. The penalty kill more or less killed the Caps' chances for a win.

Young teams make errors of omission and commission, but this was just the kind of sloppy attention to the matter at hand that a young team with nothing to play for has to be held to account for. More’s the pity, because the boys played a very solid game for almost forty minutes. But they just couldn’t help themselves on penalties, and it destroyed any momentum they were managing to build. The result? A blown three-goal lead. Whatever else the Caps accomplished in this game, that’s the bottom line.

And no, it’s not acceptable. Not if the Caps are fighting for a playoff spot, not if they are playing out the last dozen games.

Inidividually, there were some fine efforts. Clark and Kolzig, of course. But there was Milan Jurcina returning to Boston and making his presence felt…and felt…and felt in more than 28 minutes of ice time. Jeff Schultz had a pretty good game, too. But then again, both were on the ice for two Bruin power play goals, too. Alex Ovechkin finally got off the schneid on the shootout with a nice goal.

But the Caps gave themselves little to build on with their incessant march to the penalty box. They had a chance to stand on the Bruins’ throats and instead used their sticks on them.

Another reason it’s an early spring.