Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Rangers, February 10th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

And today, it’s a matinee offering as the Caps host the New York Rangers at Verizon Center.

And, as the Caps note in the media advisory accompanying the game preview, there will be other doings in Chinatown that will mean Caps fans need to get an early start to the game (so leave right after you read this). There is a parade in Chinatown today to celebrate the Chinese New Year and the ushering in of the Year of the Rat. According to the Chinese Culture Center of San Francisco

“People born in the Year of the Rat are noted for their charm and attraction for the opposite sex. They work hard to achieve their goals, acquire possessions, and are likely to be perfectionists. They are basically thrifty with money. Rat people are easily angered and love to gossip. Their ambitions are big, and they are usually very successful. They are most compatible with people born in the years of the Dragon, Monkey, and Ox.”

If you were to look up the birthday of Ranger captain Jaromir Jagr, you would find that his birthday of February 15, 1972 makes him one day removed from being a rat (Feburary 16, 1972 was New Year’s Day on the Chinese calendar…it’s true, look it up!).

But we know better, don’t we Caps fans?

According to the Wikipedia entry for the zodiacal sign “Rat,” rat people “often carry heavy karma and at some point in life may face an identity crisis or some kind of feeling of guilt.”

Now there’s the Jagr we know and love. If anyone should feel guilty about the last half dozen years of hockey, it’s this guy…signs a huge contract, then ultimately gives up on his team, causing ownership to literally pay to have someone else take him off their hands. He has a couple of good years in his new home, then when it comes time to take the reins of leadership and lead the club to a long Stanley Cup run, his year is one big “where’s Jags?” moment.

It’s so bad, even Jagr’s one man fan club is calling him out…

But it’s not like the big guy to suffer publicly…much. Jagr through the years has often been of the “woe is me” school…

"I'm not complaining . . . it's the way it is," Jagr said about dealing with the rough treatment. "It's tough . . . it's not easy, but it's the way it is."

-- Jagr, on February 5th, commenting on the manner in which he is defended.

"I don't really look at how many shots they got, I look at how many goals we score - and we don't score many goals…"

-- Jagr, last Friday, after going a seventh straight game without a goal.

…and a selection found by perusing the results of searches on Jagr quotes…

“Most people have friends, but no money. I have the opposite.”

“To me, it doesn't matter if I have a 'C' or not. If the team is going to do good, I'm going to get a bigger reward than other guys on the team. But if the team's going to do bad, I'm going to be blamed…”

“Nothing happened. The coach put me out there for the last 20 seconds, but I didn't even try. I just stood there. That's not what we wanted to do, embarrass the team.”

Then, of course, there is the anonymous teammate reported to have uttered this memorable comment…

"When you're losing, Jaromir Jagr is the worst guy in the world to be around because he acts like a suck."

Unfortunately, the Rangers haven’t been losing a lot lately – 6-3-0 in their last nine games, including a 2-0 whitewash of the Philadelphia Flyers yesterday in Philly (the third shutout in their last nine gmes). The Rangers aren’t doing it with offense, either:

Record: 6-3-0
Goals for/against: 23/16
Power Play: 7/35 (20.0%)
Penalty killing: 23/28 (82.1%)
Games in which Jagr has not registerd a point: seven (including his last six)

For the Rangers, the investments in Chris Drury and Scott Gomez have paid recent dividends. Drury is 5-3-8, +2, in this 6-3-0 run (including a pair of game-winners), while Gomez is 2-5-7, +3. Fedor Tyutin leads the club in assists in this stretch with six and has a +6 to go along with it.

The key, though, is Henrik Lundqvist, who has slipped a bit in the win-loss record of late (4-3-0 in this nine-game stretch), but has a 2.28 GAA (better than his 2.37 season mark) and a .906 save percentage (same as his season mark). Since Steve Valiquette pitched the shutout in Philly yesterday (his second straight goose egg – both against the Flyers), Lundqvist would appear to be the one getting the call today.

But what about Jags, you ask? He’s 1-3-4, +3 in this stretch, which is pretty much what his season looks like so far. He is on a pace to finish the year 21-45-66, even, which would be his lowest goal of his career (he even had more – 32 – in the 48-game year of 1994-95). 66 points would be his lowest total since his rookie year (57). To give you an idea of what 21-45-66 looks like, those were the goals-assists-points put up by J.P. Dumont last year in Nashville. Dumont is a fine player…he also is not making $8.36 million this year. And Dumont was a +14.

Jagr has had more than his share of success against the Caps in his career (29-54-83, +11, in 65 career regular season games). He is 0-4-4, +1 in the three games the teams have played this year. But if you’re looking for a former Penguin to torment the Caps, you might cast a glance at Martin Straka (16-26-42, +12, in 44 career games). He is 3-0-3, +1 in two games against Washington this year.

Today’s object is to make Jagr “act like a suck,” and that means pounding the Rangers early and often, coming as they are off a tough intra-divisional game. And it is not as if the Caps lack for motivation. Carolina lost last night, denying themselves the opportunity to take a three-point lead on Washington, but the Atlanta Thrashers beat Tampa Bay in overtime to jump the Caps into a tie with the Hurricanes for the top spot in the Southeast. A win will put the Caps back in the top spot, all alone; a loss in extra time will vault them there by virtue of having played fewer games that either the Thrashers or Hurricanes, despite all three teams having 58 points.

It should be a hard-fought, low-scoring kind of game...the sort in which the Caps are going to depend on goaltender Olaf Kolzig for a solid game. Kolzig, though, has not given up fewer than three goals in consecutive appearances in 2008, and he’s allowed more than three on six occasions in his last 12 appearances. If the Rangers score more than three today, they win.

But, they won’t.

Caps 2 – Rangers 1


DMG said...

Holy crap, did you read that Brooks article?

In that case, the Rangers owe it to themselves to see what bounty Jagr might bring back on the rental market. Surely he is a more proven and valuable commodity than Marian Hossa. Surely he is as equally attractive as Mats Sundin.

Yeah, the pouty winger with no leadership skills is more attractive than a guy who has more points this year, had more points last year, has no attitude and plays defense and a guy who has more points, plays a more difficult position and has had the poise to be a captain in one of the NHL's toughest markets.

The Peerless said...

Look up the term "man crush" in a will find a picture of Brooks gazing longingly at a photo of Jagr.