The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
It’s “hump game” of the three game road trip, as the Capitals visit the Phoenix Coyotes, who seem to be in something of a state of denial with respect to their guests. If one were to go to the Coyotes’ web site this morning, one would find this blurb in their pregame preview…
“In two games against Phoenix, [Alex Ovechkin] has registered two goals and two assists.”
Well, no, not exactly, he’s registered one goal and THE goal.
“You’re not going to post a video of that, are you?”
Well, this is a surprise…Mikael Tellqvist, the Coyotes’ backup goalie…aren’t you starting tonight?
You don’t sound especially excited about it.
“Would you? I mean, here’s Ovechkin, in a slump, and he’s coming here, where he had –gulp-- that goal.”
You mean, THE goal, right?
“Look, I know about goals…there was that dipsy-do thing through eight defenders that Rick Nash scored against us..”
You mean, against you…
“Yeah, OK, against me…and there was that falling down backwards on the seat of his pants backhand thing Sidney Crosby scored against us…”
“yeah, yeah…against me…
You do know about highlight reel goals, don’t you?
“Nice way to get into your first game of the year, isn’t it?...Donald Brashear will probably to a somersault and head one into the goal tonight…”
Well, one can hope...
Tellqvist catches the Caps coming off their worst offensive production of the season in their 2-1 loss to Calgary on Tuesday. For the record, he will bring a 1-1-0, 3.53, .892 lifetime record against the Caps into tonight’s game.
He and the rest of the Coyotes are coming home after a four game road trip, the last three of which they lost. They also gave up 14 goals in the process…if the Caps are going to spring back on the offensive end of the ledger, this might be the team against which to do it.
Phoenix doesn’t bring a lot to this game (with an exception), based on their five game results:
Record: 2-3-0, 4 points (T-13th in the West)
Goals for: 2.40 (25th in the league)
Goals against: 3.40 (23rd)
5-on-5 ratio: 0.54 (29th)
Power play: 19.0% (12th)
Penalty killing: 85.0% (10th)
As you see, the Coyotes' special teams are not bad, both ranking in the top half of the league in efficiency. Their 5-on-5 results to date, though, are something the Caps should be able to exploit (the Caps are third in the league in 5-on-5 goals ratio).
Phoenix has had problems with bad starts. Their total of three first period goals ranks tied for last in the league. But, they’ve also had something of an odd pattern to their offense. They’ve scored only one goal in each of games 3 and 5. They scored four goals in their second game and three in their fourth. This will be game six on their schedule…the Coyotes and their fans might be forgiven if they can keep the pattern going against a Caps team that has allowed the seventh highest total of goals so far this season.
Individually, things start with an old friend – Olli Jokinen. The former Panther is 14-15-29, -13 in 49 career games against the Caps, and he leads the Coyotes in scoring at the moment (1-5-6, even).
To Jokinen, one must add Shane Doan in the list of players to watch. The Phoenix captain is not a player the Caps see much of, but in 16 career games is 3-6-9, +1, with two game winners to his credit.
The Coyotes have gone young with some promising early results. Two rookies have made a mark thus far – Kyle Turris (picked third overall in the 2007 draft) is 1-3-4 in five games, while Mikkel Boedker (picked eighth overall last June) has a pair of goals in five games. Two other rookies have appeared in all five games – Kevin Porter (no, not the former Bullets basketball player) and Viktor Tikhonov, grandson of the legendary coach of the Soviet Union hockey team. All in all, Phoenix carries 11 players on its roster 23 years of age and younger. It is also a team with size. Only Boedker is shorter than six feet, and 14 skaters tip the scales at over 200 pounds (five over 220).
The Peerless’ Players to Ponder
Phoenix: Daniel Carcillo
Carcillo returns from a two-game suspension, the product of engaging in fisticuffs with Chicago’s Ben Eager – Carcillo was on the players’ bench while Eager was on the ice. Carcillo – the league’s penalty leader by almost 100 minutes last year and a top-ten finisher in fighting majors – might be watched to see if he is on his worst behavior. The Coyotes lost both games in his absence – to Ottawa and Montreal – by a combined score of 10-4. He has never played against Washington.
Washington: Alex Ovechkin
This will be Ovechkin’s first visit to Phoenix since scoring “The Goal.” He also comes into this game on a four-game goal scoring drought. Here is your fun Alex stat for today…in each of his first three seasons, he finished his first seven games of the season with four goals. He currently has two…do the math.
The other thing to note about this game is that Jose Theodore has never lost to the Coyotes in regulation time. He is 5-0-3, 2.67, .905 in nine career appearances against Phoenix. Ovechkin getting off the schneid…Theodore continuing his solid recent play…sounds like a plan.
Caps 5 – Coyotes 2