Saturday, January 05, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Canadiens, January 5th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!

Wake up, Cap fans, it’s an early start to the second half of the year as the club visits Bell Centre for a 12:30 game against the Montreal Canadiens.

That’s right…12:30 pm.

But before we get to the particulars, this game starts the second half of the year, and in looking ahead, we’ve brought one of the most renowned practitioners of the prognosticatory arts to predict what the Caps fortunes might be over these last 41 and – we hope – more games.

To The Amazing Kreskin, welcome.

The Amazing Kreskin: “I knew you were going to say that.”

Let’s begin…the Caps are 16-20-5 as we start the second half. Since Christmas, they are 3-1-1 against some stiff competition. They have this roadie against the Canadiens today, then a five-game home stand…what do your spirits say?

TAK: “Well, if the Caps play well, and they score more than their opponents, I am supremely confident that they will win these games…”

That’s a very interesting take…in looking ahead, what do you think the chances are that the Caps will find a way to score more than their opponents?

TAK: “I see that the key is…goals. The Caps have to score more ‘goals’ than their opponents…and if they can do that, then I’m sure they will win at least most of their games.”


TAK: “And there is more…should the Caps emerge from their contests with their opponents scoring fewer goals, they will have an even better chance of success in the second half of the season.”

Ya think?

TAK: “Absolutely…the combination of scoring more and opponents scoring fewer is what I see as the critical force in the Caps’ success in the second half.”

Well, where do you see the Caps finishing in the standings? Will they make the playoffs?

TAK: “I am confident that if the Caps finish no worse than eighth in the Eastern Conference, that they will make the playoffs.”

Well, what are their chances of doing that?

TAK: “If they finish with no more than seven teams ahead of them, their chances are very, very good.”

OK…this has been very interesting, but we’ll take it from here.

Five predictions:

1. Alex Ovechkin will not sign a new contract before the end of the season.

2. Alexander Semin will finish the year with more than 20 goals (he has six at the moment)

3. Matt Pettinger will finish the year with more than ten goals…and in a new city.

4. The Caps will be buyers at the trading deadline, probably for a veteran defenseman. The name that is popping up is…”Greg DeVries”

TAK: “you’re new at this, aren’t you?”

5. The Caps will catch the Florida Panthers – that’s right, the Florida Panthers – for the top spot in the Southeast Division on March 29th, in game 79, when they defeat the Panthers in Florida. They will win the division with 88 points.

Now, as for today’s game…

Since leaving Washington after a 5-2 win on December 20th, Montreal is 3-1-2, outscoring their opponents 22-16. Montreal’s success is not hard to figure out – if you commit a penalty against them, you pay. Six of their 22 goals in the last six games have been scored on the power play in 26 man advantages. Their success rate of 23.1 percent is actually behind their league-leading season success rate of 24.2 percent. They spread it around, too. Five different players have those six power play goals: Andrei Markov, Mark Streit, Andrei Kostitsyn (2), Alexei Kovalev, and Chris Higgins.

Spreading power play scoring around has been a key to the Canadiens’ season. 13 different players have scored power play goals, and 14 have power play points. Six have at least 10 power play points (the Caps have three players in that category).

It isn’t as if the Canadiens have been shirking their responsibilities on the other side of the special teams divide, either. They’ve killed off 18 of 20 shortages in the last six games.

If there is an odd statistic in the Montreal special teams play, though, it is this. The power play goal differential (goals for/goals against) is much narrower at home (18-16) than it has been on the road (27-16) this season.

The bottom line, though, is this…Montreal is 17-6-4 in games in which they score at least one power play goal, 3-7-3 in games in which they don’t. Conversely, the Caps are 13-6-2 in games where they have held a club without a power play goal, but only 3-14-3 in games where they have allowed at least one. The Caps’ penalty killers will be key in this game. The trouble is that in the last five road games, the Caps have killed only 13 of 19 man disadvantages (68.4 percent).

This is the first game of the second half and in a sense the first game of a new season. The pace the Caps have set since Thanksgiving (10-6-4) needs to be maintained, or even improved upon, for the club to have a shot at the Southeast Division crown (and it seems likely only one team from the division will make the playoffs). They get off on the right foot today…

Caps 4 – Canadiens 3

TAK: “I knew you were going to say that…”

1 comment:

AO's Sunshine State Fan said...

So glad that prediction was wrong! Caps WIN! Caps Win!!