Sunday, February 24, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Devils, February 24th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

It doesn’t get any easier for the Caps this afternoon as the men in red host the New Jersey Devils at Verizon Center. With last night’s 6-3 loss to Carolina, the Caps’ backs might not be quite up against the wall, but they’re casting shadows on it.

The Caps now have 20 games to make up six points…not necessarily desperation time, but it does put them squarely in the unpleasant role of…

“…there’s no need to fear…Underdog is here.”

Underdog…what brings you downtown?

“After watching Olie Kolzig give up six goals last night, I remembered, when Olie's in trouble, I am not slow, so it's hip! hip! hip! and away I go.”

Well, that’s a nice sentiment and all, but there is more wrong with the Caps’ performance these days than goaltending…and it’s likely Brent Johnson will get the start this afternoon.

“Oh…well, I am a hero who never fails, I can't be bothered with such details.”

Let’s just hope the Caps pay attention to details, because we know New Jersey is the kind of team that does…

“The Devils effort is always there, so the Caps will have to hound them everywhere.”

Is it tough coming up with rhymes like that?

“Oh, my friend, you have no idea, I just wish I could buy them at IKEA.”

Back to the game…the Caps have had trouble putting consecutive good games together lately and sometimes haven’t been able to give a full 60-minute effort…when you’re doing your Underdog schtick, how do you handle those kinds of situations?

“The secret compartment of my ring I fill, with an Underdog super energy pill.”

I don’t think that sort of thing is allowed…

As for the game, the Devils come to town 6-0-1 in their last seven games. That pretty much makes the Caps underdogs in their own building. Here is how the Devils got there…

Record: 6-0-1
Goals for/against: 27/13
Power play: 6/27 (22.2%)
Penalty killing: 21/23 (91.3%)

You want balance? 15 Devils share the 27 goals scored over their last six games. Patrick Elias leads New Jersey in scoring over this points-earned streak (1-8-9, +8), while the mighty mites Zach Parise (5-2-7, +6) and Brian Gionta (3-4-7, -2) are right behind. Even Martin Brodeur got into the act, registering an assist yesterday in the 4-2 win against the Islanders.

Speaking of Brodeur, one would think he’d be wearing the baseball cap this afternoon. He’s played in 57 of the Devils’ 62 games this year. His backup – Kevin Weekes – has made only one appearance in almost 11 weeks (a 4-3 loss to Boston on January 5th). Weekes doesn’t have a win since beating Pittsburgh on November 12th.

The Devils would be doing the Caps a favor in sitting Brodeur. He is 31-11-4, 2.09, .913 in 47 career games against the Caps; he is 11-1-1 in his last 13 decisions against the Caps.

If Weekes gets the call, he is the anti-Brodeur in his success against the Caps…2-14-1, 3.24, .892 are his career numbers in 18 games. He lost a 3-2 decision to Washington on December 10th.

A lot has been made – justifiably so – of the Caps’ record since Thanksgiving (22-13-6 at the moment). However, New Jersey has been even better (27-11-3). This is a team that knows how to win, and more to the point, knows how to win when the winter gives way to spring. Although the names change (well, except for “Brodeur”), they’ve been doing it for years. The Caps are searching for that formula.

That makes this test this afternoon perhaps a stiffer one, even if Brodeur sits it out, especially since the Devils are locked in a duel with Pittsburgh, Montreal and Ottawa for the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

Sometimes, though, a team has that game that defines its season. Caps fans would hate for that game to have been last night’s. Perhaps it will be today’s, and that’s why we’re thinking…

Caps 3 – Devils 2

1 comment:

Daniel said...

How can you keep predicting wins every game? The Caps are ice cold, the Devils are red hot. Sadly, it's also about time to decrease the playoff threat level...