Monday, November 19, 2007

Brian Sutherby to Anaheim

Canadian Press is reporting that the Capitals have dealt Brian Sutherby to the Anaheim Ducks for a 2nd round pick in the 2009 entry draft.

A move had to be made to accommodate the return of Alexander Semin to the Capitals' lineup. This comes as something as perhaps a mild surprise, and in a way it isn't, either.

Sutherby -- the 26th overall pick in the 2000 draft -- was pegged early on as a potential captain for the Caps. He gave an indication early on that the vision for him was achievable, winning the most valuable player in the 2003 Young Stars game held during All Star game festivities that year.

But Sutherby was bitten by the injury bug, splitting only 36 games between Washington and Portland of the AHL the following year, and playing only 53 games in Portland in 2004-2005 during the NHL lockout.

He was healthy for the 2005-2006 season and put up his best offensive numbers in his NHL career: 14-16-30 in 76 games. However, last year he regressed, amassing barely half the points he registered the previous year. This year, it was clear he did not figure in the club's long term plans any longer, playing only five games and registering a single goal.

From a young star once billed as a "bigger Michael Peca," he leaves the Capitals struggling to find playing time. In that respect the move is not a surprise. If one looks at the Capitals' forwards, he has been passed among the checking forwards by Boyd Gordon, David Steckel, and Brooks Laich. As an energy forward, one might argue that even Chris Bourque was poised to pass him on the depth chart.

We hope Brian finds the success in Anaheim that he could not seem to find in Washington.

The Peerless Prognsoticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Panthers, November 19th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Tonight, the Caps return home – something less than triumphant, to be sure – to take on the Florida Panthers in a Southeast Showdown, a Marquee Matchup, a Riveting Rivalry. But there are bigger questions than a mere game…there are “issues,” and who better to debate them than the veteran pundits of weekend late-night…Dan and Jane, in our “Point/Counterpoint” segment...welcome, folks. Your first issue is, “should the Capitals be concerned with playoffs at this point?”

Dan, the Capitals have no more business being concerned with playoffs than I do in seeing 8-by-10 glossies of you in a Speedo. They are 6-12-1 and sinking like a puck in a tub. They haven’t had a winning sreak – so much as two wins in a row – since early October. They have all they can do to focus on the game at hand. It’s just beer-addled, macho jerks like you, Dan, who clutch this idea of playoffs like an ugly broad at last call.

Jane, you ignorant slut…why do you think they play the game? To win the Cup! Only the namby-pamby milquetoasts who have never felt the sting of competition play ‘em “one at a time.” That’s for losers and female commentators whose idea of competition is bingo at St. Luke’s on Saturday night. Playoffs? Of course they need to be concerned about playoffs, you ignorant sl—

OK, let’s get to the next issue…Do the Caps need a change in personnel to get them on the right track?

Dan, you don’t change horses in the middle of the stream, you dance with who brung ya, you finish what you start. The Caps no more need a change in personnel than you need another doughnut, you past-faced, doughy, momma’s boy…

Jane, you delirious skag…firing coaches is as old as your 1970’s wardrobe. Teams do it all the time. Look at the Thrashers this year…9-4 since they changed coaches. Look at the Blue Jackets…doing fine with Ken Hitchcock behind the bench – he was a replacement. Look at Red Sullivan…ok, well, that’s a bad example.

OK, folks…what about Ilya Bryzgalov…should the Caps have claimed him on waivers?

Dan, if you bring in Bryzgalov and sit or send away Brent Johnson, what kind of signal does that send to your team when you cut loose a guy who is playing pretty well and is a great teammate? All it looks like is desperation…a club grasping at straws. And it doesn’t do a thing for the real problem – this team couldn’t score waiving hundred dollar bills in a brothel.

Jane, you witless pus-bag…that was the biggest no brainer since the last time you shaved your legs. Of course you claim him. He is an upgrade at an important position, if you’re going to rest your number one goaltender for 20 games. A guy who has had playoff success as a backup, who is younger than the guy he’d be replacing.

Last one, guys…can the Caps make the playoffs?





OK, well…no doubt, they’re real Caps fans. As for the game itself, for the Caps it is a chance to make things difficult for visitors – something they haven’t displayed thus far this year with their 2-5-0 home record. They’ve been outscored 21-16 in seven games on Verizon Center ice.

The thing is, though, Florida has had as anemic an offense on the road as the Caps have at home. In 11 road games, the Panthers have only 20 goals (allowing 33). Their 1.82 goals scored-per-road game is tied for 29th in the league. One gets the feeling that first to one might win this game…and that might come in a shootout.

The Panthers are 1-4-1 in their last six games, the one win coming against the Capitals. They’ve been outscored 17-10 over that stretch. Special teams have let them down in this stretch (sound familiar?), particularly the power play, which is only 1-for-12 (8.3 percent). The penalty killers have not been bad – 25-for-30 (83.3 percent) – but getting outscored 5-1 in special teams situations has not been conducive to success.

As they come in to Washington for the middle game in a three-game road trip, Tomas Vokoun seems likely to see the Caps for the second time in less than a week. His 26-save win last Thursday represents his only win in his last five appearances, in which he is 1-4-0. He’s been a victim of some bad luck in the process, in that the Panthers have scored a total of eight goals in those five games. His GAA or 2.61 and save percentage of .917 suggests a goalie playing better than his win-loss record would suggest.

For the Caps, tonight marks the re-return of Alexander Semin, who has some catching up to do. By November 19th last year, he was 8-9-17 on his way to a 38-goal season. The thing is, though, he was also in the midst of a 12-game streak without scoring a goal. Sometimes, it seems like the Caps are on a similar streak.

Semin’s return marks the first time the Caps have been whole since October 24th. Perhaps coincidentally, that was the last time the boys scored more than four goals in a 5-3 win over Tampa Bay (ok, they had those seven against Toronto, but that game seems so freakish at this point). In eleven games since that all-hands-on-board game, the Caps have scored more than two goals only three times, and they have only 12 goals in their last eight games, five of those by Alexander Ovechkin. Clearly, having Semin in the lineup couldn’t hurt.

The next three home games are against division opponents, so another opportunity presents itself to inch their way up the standings at the expense of their division rivals. Tonight might be looked at as the first game of the rest of the season (as we have our affirmation moment). The Caps will start Thanksgiving week on, if not a high note, at least a winning one, returning the lack of hospitality the Panthers showed the Caps last week….

Caps 2 – Panthers 1