The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
Well, after the guilty pleasure for fans that is the trading deadline, we are back to playing actual games with a return engagement this evening against the New Jersey Devils. First, we would be remiss without sending out a big thank you to the New York Rangers (I’ll take a shower later) for knocking off the Carolina Hurricanes last night, 4-2. The Carolina loss puts the Caps back on the “good” side with respect to games-in-hand…a five point deficit with three games in hand (and the chance to pick up six points).
“I could help you with that…”
Well, if it isn’t the Devil himself. Lucifer, Satan, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub…can I call you “Bub?”
“Only if you want to spend a couple of millennia in a heated room.”
OK…well, it’s good to have you here. But legend had you all in red, with horns and a long tail. In reality, you look sort of like…Monty Hall.
“It’s a common misconception…”
So, I take it you’re a hockey fan…
“What, are you kidding?...With guys like Sean Avery and Jarkko Ruutu and Steve Downie making mischief every night? It’s like heaven…oops, I didn’t really say that.”
Do you actually inhabit their souls and cause them to wreak havoc?
I see…there’s something I always wanted to ask you…That whole “Faust” thing. I know, it was just a story and all, but have you ever really made a deal like that?...where you agree to allow someone to attain the pinnacle of happiness, then claim their soul?
“You ever hear of Gary Bettman?”
“I owe the little twerp a visit.”
As for the game, we’ve just been here with the Devils, and we covered their recent history in that game’s prognosto. Not much has happened in the meantime, except the Devils failing to give the Caps an assist in a 2-1 overtime loss to Carolina on Sunday.
There’s no doubt that the Caps will be seeing their nemesis, Martin Brodeur, in net tonight. Marty’s had a nice February:
Games giving up more than three goals?...none. He’s only had three games where he’s given up as many as three goals. This is called “being in a zone.” Or maybe he's made one of those pacts with the Devil.
And it’s a good thing for the Devils, too, as their offense has been a bit sluggish. The do have 44 goals in February for a 3.14 average, but this number is somewhat misleading. They have 16 of those goals in three blowouts against Los Angeles and Carolina (twice). In the other 11 games, they’ve averaged about two-and-a-half a game. Nine of their games have been of the one-goal variety (including overtime/shootout contests). Marty’s held on to that margin of error, though, with a 5-1-3 record in those one-goal games (including last Sunday’s 2-1 win over Washington). Clearly, solving Brodeur is going to be Job 1 for the Caps tonight.
Job 2 is getting Alex Ovechkin of the six-goal slide he is on in the goal-scoring department. This matches the longest goal-scoring drought of his career, which occurred twice in his rookie season. On each of the other occasions, Ovechkin scored a goal in a Caps win to break the skein (a 1-3-4 effort as the Caps beat the Rangers on December 3, 2005; and the game-winner in a 1-0-1 effort as the Caps beat Boston, 2-1, on April 10, 2006 -- Ovechkin was the first star in both games).
Job 3 is getting Cristobal Huet settled in. He left Montreal in something of a slump, losing three of his last four games there, while giving up 13 goals in the process. Getting him out of the gate fast will be important to the Caps’ chances over the last 18 games.
Oh, and you single guys?...here’s a tip from your Uncle Peerless. Today is leap day, where legend has it that a woman may propose to a man, and in the distant past, a refusal on the part of the man was punishable by a fine. Maybe some damsel will propose to her guy on the big screen at Prudential Center this evening.
In the end, whether the guy says “yes” or not, the Caps build on their Tuesday win over Minnesota and put some heat on Carolina…
Caps 2 – Devils 1