And welcome to Christmas Day for those of us of the prognosticatory realm, for today is…
That’s right, wood-chuck chuckers, it’s the day we all bow to the master – Punxsutawney Phil – and await the moment when he does – or does not – see his shadow to herald the coming of spring. But before the rat with an agent repairs to his digs on Gobbler’s Knob for the day’s festivities, we scored a rare interview with the master…Phil, welcome.
“A pleasure, as always…”
Phil, you’ve been prognosticating for more years than you probably care to admit…what’s your secret?
“Absolutely…that tool who yanks me out of the fake tree stump?...those gloves he wears are cold, let me tell ya, and the toasty thermals save me a lot of aggravation.”
Interesting…Phil, let me take you outside of the meteorological and delve into the hockeylogical for a moment…have you been following the NHL this year?
“How could I not?...being less than a hundred miles from Pittsburgh, it’d be hard not to…Crosby this, and Crosby that…but he looks a little like a groundhog with those teeth, so I have a bit of a soft spot for him.”
What’s been your take on the season so far?
“The amazing parity…it’d test even my profound prognostication skills to figure out who has the advantage going into the home stretch…”
Well, let’s test those skills…first, the question on the minds of all of our Caps fans out there…will the Caps make the playoffs?
“Well, Peerless, I see another six weeks of hockey after the regular season ends for the Caps.”
Wow…that would get them to the conference final, by my calculations.
“OK, maybe not six weeks…it’s sort of a habit with me. Let’s just say that you’ll be prognosticating after fan appreciation day.”
Caps fans will be pleased to hear that…what about the trophies. Alex Ovechkin is on a pace right now to win the Ross and the Richard Trophies for top scorer and top goal scorer. What about the voting trophies…the Hart and the Pearson?
“I think it’s a bit too early to say…there’s nine more weeks of hockey left, and a lot can happen. Shoot,
“No, not really, but if he comes back and puts up any numbers at all, he might become the favorite."
OK, the big one…who is going to skate off with the Stanley Cup?
“That’s a hard one…the only constant so far this year is the Red Wings.
But that’s why they pay you the big bucks…
“Big bucks?!...they pay me in clover and the occasional cricket…maybe I need to have Alex Ovechkin negotiate my next deal, eh?”
We'll ask him…but about that Stanley Cup winner…
“Well, when we get to the playoffs, the game becomes more of a goaltender’s game, so you want to look at a team that gets some consistently high end play in the nets. And a team that is not dealing with health issues – that’s also something that can be a problem to predict with nine weeks to go. But in the end, I’d have to say that the team that will hoist the Cup at the end is – “
“PHIL!...you’re limo’s here…we have to get to Gobbler’s Knob!”
“oops, gotta go…it’s been a pleasure…”
Well, we’ll just have to catch up with the master another time. Meanwhile, it’s Kid’s Night at the Phone Booth, complete with a Keith Jones likeness for the kiddies,
The Thrashers beat the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout last night, 5-4, so one would think they would be a bit drained from the 65 minute effort. The odd part of that game was not so much the result, but how it occurred. Slava Kozlov…nope. Mark Recchi…nope. Marian Hossa…nope. It was Eric Perrin who scored the only goal in Bettman’s Gimmick for the extra standings point. It was Perrin’s first such goal in the NHL. And while we’re at it, there seem to be (or maybe it’s just The Peerless’ medication kicking in) a lot of “three-point” games these days in the East…that could have an effect on the final results, too. But as long as the Caps take care of their own business, three-point games shouldn’t matter in the end.
And taking care of business starts with a contest against a team with which it has been trading standings places the last couple of weeks (the Thrashers currently have the upper hand). And the theme for
Goals for/against: 23/31
Power Play: 9/41 (22.0 percent)
Penalty Killing: 38/44 (86.4 percent)
Shootout goals/shots: 3/15 (20.0 percent)
Shootout saves/shots: 10/15 (.667 sv)
Among the skaters, the Thrashers will no doubt miss Ilya Kovalchuk, who had his knee Ruutu’ed in a game against
But there is that word, “slack”…and it has meaning with respect to these big three. Despite the 13 total goals and 18 total points, they are a combined -18 over the last ten games (all of them -6).
The Caps are 2-1-1 against
All that points to a good night for the home team, provided they just take care of business…
Caps 5 – Thrashers 3