Wednesday, February 13, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Thrashers, February 13th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

On the road again…that’s where the Caps find themselves tonight as they visit Philips Arena and the Atlanta Thrashers in one of what will be always a series of critical games against a Southeast Division foe.

After this contest, this trip will continue with a special treat for the boys, as Tarik El-Bashir reports in this morning’s Washington Post:
"The Capitals open a critical Southeast Division swing tonight in Atlanta, then will be joined by 16 fathers -- and one father-in-law -- for this weekend's games in Sunrise, Fla., and Tampa."

We thought we’d bring in a few famous fathers to get their take on what this trip might be like for parents and children…

First, we have Jim Anderson of Springfield. Jim, you have three children, correct?

“I have three wonderful kids…two daughters – Kathy and Betty – and of course, my son, Jim junior.”

That’ would be Bud…Jim, what are the biggest problems you have to deal with in raising three children?

“Oh, that’s easy…always having to know what’s best. Every night, I come home from work, take off my sport jacket, put on my comfortable sweater, and want to just kick back with a martini… But no, I have to deal with the everyday problems of a growing family. And I have to always be this thoughtful, responsible adult who deals with every crisis with a warm smile and some sensible advice. I envy today’s Dads, who are pretty much big, goofy doofusses who couldn’t spell ‘Dad’ if your drew it on a blackboard for them.”

It sounds like a lot of pressure, but Cliff Huxtable, you think it’s all worth it, don’t you?

“Oh, absolutely (rolls eyes). We have five kids – Sondra, Denise, Theo, Vanessa, and…and…

Rudy?

“Rudy…I always miss that one. He’s a handful…”

She…

“Really?”

So Cliff, what’s the secret to raising five kids?

“Lots and lots of Jello pudding…”

Last, we have Homer Simpson, and you’re also from Springfield, aren't you?

“Uh-huh…”

You have three children at home, right?

“Uh-huh…”

You’re always having to deal with daily problems with Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, aren’t you?

“Who?...”

Your three children…Bart, Lisa, and Maggie…

“I thought there were doughnuts…”


Well, we’re out of doughnuts, but we do have a game tonight, and the Caps find themselves looking up once more at the Carolina Hurricanes as the boys skate against the Thrashers. Carolina beat Boston last night, 3-2…fortunately, it was not a three-point game.

But as for the Thrashers, they are a team of streaks lately. Since alternating wins and losses over a six game stretch from December 27th to January 6th, they’ve had these streaks:

Two losses (one in a shootout)
Two wins
Five losses (two in shootouts)
Three wins
Two losses


They won their last outing – a 2-1 overtime win against Tampa Bay – but their 6-6-3 record over the last 15 games is the very definition of “treading water.” The particulars over those 15 games:

Record: 6-6-3
Goals for/against: 31/41
Power Play: 9/54 (16.7%)
Penalty killing: 50/60 (83.3%)

Atlanta has suffered a lack of offense. In the past 15 games, they have scored more than two goals just three times (all in wins). And, they’ve struggled mightily even in getting shots to the net. In the ramped-up NHL, they’ve managed to average only 24.9 shots a game (if that was a full-season figure, it would be last by almost a full shot per game) and have registered fewer than 20 shots three times.

For a team with offensive firepower of the likes of Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa, with a Mark Recchi, Todd White, and Slava Kozlov thrown in, the sustained lack of offense is unsettling…one worries that they are just on the cusp of breaking out. As for Kovalchuk and Hossa, their numbers look very ordinary over the last 15 games:

Kovalchuk: 5-1-6, -9 (12 games)
Hossa: 8-3-11, -6


The 13 goals is respectable, but the 4 assists between them is telling. It is a problem familiar to Caps fans – a lack of supplemental scoring (18 goals in 15 games from players not named “Ilya” or “Marian”). Recchi has one goal (1-9-10, -5), as does White (1-5-6, -3). Kozlov has two (2-5-7, +2).

However, these are players who seem to save some of their best for the Caps over their respective careers:

Kovalchuk: 34 games, 20-24-44, +16
Hossa: 43 games: 22-26-48, +13
Recchi: 87 games, 46-58-104, +23
Kozlov: 43 games, 13-15-28, +4
White: 16 games, 5-8-13, +10


As dormant as they have been, Caps fans will hope the trend continues, which means the burden falls to Kari Lehtonen to keep pucks out of the net. He’s done his part. In 12 games in this stretch, Lehtonen has an unremarkable win-loss record of 5-4-2, but his GAA is 2.14, and his save percentage is .936 – both fine numbers. He also has a shutout in the mix, that accomplished against Washington on February 2nd. After a rocky start, he’s been consistently solid over the last five weeks. And, Lehtonen has a fine career mark against the Caps – 7-3-2, 2.63, .915 in 12 career games. He is 1-2-0 this year.


Coach Bruce Boudreau puts it succinctly… "We're playing everybody that we have to beat." That’s it in a nutshell as the Caps head off on a road trip in February that has meaning. And in the game of leap-frog that the Caps and Carolina Hurricanes are playing lately, the Caps will jump the ‘Canes once more…


Caps 3 – Thrashers 2


1 comment:

jason said...
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