The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
The Caps are on the road this week, tonight visiting the Pengrowth Saddledome (which sounds like a condition one might look up on WebMD) to take on the Calgary Flames, and speaking of Flames, you’ll never guess who we found way up here on the Canadian prairie…
That’s right, the Teutonic Titwillow, herself…Lili von Schtupp. It’s a long way from Rock Ridge, Ms. Von Schtupp…
“Call me, Wiwwy…”
Yes, Wiww…Lily…it’s a long way from Rock Ridge, how did you end up in Calgary?
“Zey ran out of schnitzengruben in Wock Widge…”
Well, tonight the Flames take on Alex Ovechkin and the Caps. Being a fan of the game, how would you preview the Caps and Ovechkin for Flames fans?
“I vood say…’Vhy don't you admit it? He's too much of man for you. I know. You're going to need an army to beat him! You're finished. Fertig! Verfallen! Verlumpt! Verblunget! Verkackt!’”
I don’t know that I’d go that far; the Flames are a rugged bunch. But Ovechkin might be due, since he has only two goals in five games…
“Is it true how zey say zat Ovechkin is... gifted?“
Well, he did have 65 goals last year…
“It's twue. It's twue. It's twue, it's twue!”
What about Sheriff Bart?...what ever became of him?
“Why don’t you ask him yourself…”
Bart. It’s a pleasure to meet you…
“Now, I suppose you're wondering just what in the heck you're doing out here in the middle of a prairie in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.”
You bet your ass.
Well, relocated movie characters from 1974 might not be “hip,” but the most exciting team in the NHL will be our focus of attention this evening, and no, we do not mean the Calgary Flames. The Flames are a struggling outfit at the moment, as their numbers suggest:
Goals for: 2.80 (T-18th)
Goals against: 4.40 (T-29th)
5-on-5 goals ratio: 0.57 (27th)
Power play: 20.0% (T-11th)
Penalty killing: 80.0% (T-19th)
The 5-on-5 play and goals allowed are especially worrisome. Only Chicago and Dallas have allowed more goals at 5-on-5 (15 each) than has Calgary (14), and both of those teams have played more games. Conversely, only Vancouver and the Rangers have scored more 5-on-5 goals (15 each) than the Caps (14), and both of those teams have played more games than has Washington.
Miikka Kiprusoff has gotten the call in all five games the Flames have played thus far, and he might not be the cause of the problem, but his numbers don’t suggest that he’s been helping matters, either. His 4.37 GAA ranks 32nd in the league, ahead of only Frederic Norrena of Columbus and Martin Biron of Philadelphia. His .851 save percentage ranks 30th. It is not as if Kiprusoff has faced an inordinate number of shots – the 29.6 shots per game Calgary has allowed ranks as the 12th lowest total (tied with Boston) in the league.
What’s more, Calgary seems to have played a somewhat uncharacteristically (for a Mike Keenan coached club) passive game. The 91 hits with which they have been credited ranks them 24th of 30 teams, although they have been somewhat more rambunctious at home (71 hits for 10th in the league).
Individually, the Flames reflect their team numbers. Of the 21 skaters to take the ice so far this year…
- Only two – Daymond Langkow and Andre Roy – are on the plus side of the ledger at plus-1.
- Jarome Iginla has been to the skaters what Kiprusoff has been in goal, and that’s not a good thing. Iginla is off to a slow start: 1-2-3, -5, and 14 penalty minutes.
- Only Todd Bertuzzi has more than one goal for the Flames (he has five).
- Dion Phaneuf – the big banger in this bunch – has been credited with ten hits. By way of comparison, David Steckel has nine in almost 16 fewer minutes of average ice time per game.
The Peerless’ Players to Ponder
Calgary: Craig Conroy
Conroy has not had a lot of success against the Caps, personally, in his career. In 13 games, he is 1-4-5, even. He’s off to a somewhat slow start (as are a lot of Flames), notching only a goal (no assists) in five games with a minus-4 to go along with it. It goes without saying that Iginla is the go-to guy, but Calgary needs to get some other players into the mix, and Conroy is one of them.
Washington: Jose Theodore
Calgary has shown little ability in the early going to mount much of an attack, especially 5-on-5. Against such a team, it is important not to get behind early, and not to allow the cheap goal. Washington has allowed nine first period goals, third-worst in the league and more goals than they’ve allowed in the second and third periods combined. Making Calgary work for their reward will be important, and Theodore is the guy who has to ensure that they don’t get any softies. His career numbers against the Flames – 9-7-2, 2.14, .922 – suggest he’s capable of being that guy.
This will be a homecoming for three Caps defensemen – Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, and Tyler Sloan, and a satisfying homecoming it will be…
Caps 4 – Flames 2