Thursday, November 20, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Kings, November 20th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE (yawn..) AIR!!!

After a stirring 6-4 win over the Anaheim Ducks, the Caps get right back to it tonight against the 7-8-2 Los Angeles Kings.

The Kings come in rested, not having played since being shut out by Anaheim, 2-0, last Sunday. From the looks of things, the Kings needed it. The loss to Anaheim was their second straight after peeling off four straight wins. Overall this season, the Kings are a club that hasn’t struggled as much as some might have expected, and that is due to contributions from the defense and timely goaltending, as the numbers suggest…

Record: 7-8-2
Standing: 4th in Pacific/T-12th in West
Goals-per-game: 2.41 (27th)
Goals allowed-per-game: 2.59 (T-8th)
5-on-5: 0.79 (T-25th)
Power play: 16.7% (T-17th)
Penalty killing: 86.1% (3rd)
Winning-pct/scoring first: 6-2-0/.750 (T-6th)
Winning-pct/trailing first: 1-6-2/.111 (28th)

What’s noteworthy about those numbers is that for a team predicted to struggle this year, they’ve hung around in games. They’ve scored first in eight of 17 games and have fared well when doing so. But, their record when trailing first is a reflection of an offense that hasn’t done a lot this year. And, they’ve struggled more lately – only once in their last ten games have the Kings scored more than three goals (a 5-3 win against St. Louis on November 8th). By way of comparison, the Caps have scored more than three goals five times in their last ten games.

Individually, the Kings are led in scoring by Anze Kopitar who, for someone playing in one of the world’s great media markets, is a comparative unknown. Perhaps contributing to his anonymity is his lack of goal-scoring. Following a 32-goal season last year, he has only two so far this year. If Kings fans are looking for a ray of hope here, both goals were scored at home.

The goal-scoring chores have so far been the responsibility of Dustin Brown (6-5-11, -2) and Jarret Stoll (6-2-8). Brown is a particularly interesting case and must be considered perhaps the most dangerous offensive weapon the Kings have. In three seasons, he’s gone from 14 to 17 to 33 goals – a handsome progression of improvement. His six so far puts him on a pace for 29.

A big surprise for the Kings is how Drew Doughty – the defenseman selected second overall in last June’s entry draft – has stepped right in and made significant contributions. In addition to his 2-4-6 scoring line, which ties him with Tom Preissing for the team lead among defensemen, he is a team best plus-6 and leads the team in ice time (22:48).

Speaking of defensemen, here is your odd Kings stat…the blueliners have scored, as a group, seven goals. Of that number, three are game winners (two by Kyle Quincey, one by Doughty).

In goal, Erik Ensberg has started seven straight games and performed quite well – 4-2-1, 1.98, .914. His overall goal-against average of 1.96 ranks fourth in the league. Given the hiatus since the last Kings game, one would expect former Caps bench boss Terry Murray to ride the hot goalie for this one.

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

Los Angeles: Patrick O’Sullivan

The talented forward has not (yet?) blossomed into the sort of forward the Kings might have expected when taking him in the 2003 draft. This year, he started well but has struggled recently. After starting the year 3-3-6, +7 in his first six games, he is 0-1-1, -3 in ten games since. The Kings are a team that struggles on offense, perhaps due in part to the lack of production from O’Sullivan, from whom contributions are expected. Given how the Caps are scoring these days, getting something more than two goals is a requirement for the Kings if they are to compete in this game. And to do that, they need O’Sullivan to get off the schneid.

Washington: Tom Poti

If Mike Green’s shoulder won’t allow him to go, Poti is going to assume more of the burden on offense, both at even strength and on the power play. Poti is already third on the team in ice time (21:27) and second to Green among defensemen. The Caps woke up from a power play funk in last night’s win over Anaheim. If they are to continue that, Poti could be a key ingredient tonight.

Since the Caps are doing so well, we have a sparkle in our eye, and a song in our prognosticatorial heart…so we’ll leave it with a song (with our apologies to Randy Newman)…

Hate New York City
It's cold and it's damp
And all the Rangers looks like donkeys
Let's leave Chicago to the Blackhawks
That team's a little bit too ragged
For you and me you Caps fans

Rollin' down the Imperial Highway
With a big nasty redhead at my side
Santa Ana winds blowin' hot from the north
And we as born to ride

Jump over the boards, skate down the ice
Put on the intro baby
It’s all so very nice
We're gonna ride it till we just can't ride it no more

From our blue line to their goal line
From the end boards to the corners
Everybody's very happy
'Cause the goals are coming all the time
Looks like another perfect day

We’ll beat L.A. (We’ll beat ‘em!)
We’ll beat L.A. (We’ll beat ‘em!!)

Look at that goalie
Look at those D’s
Look at that bum over there, man
We’ll score on him with ease
Look at these Caps
There ain't nothin' like 'em nowhere

Alex Ovechkin (We love him)
Nicklas Backstrom (We love him)
Donald Brashear (We love him)
John-ny (We love him, we love him)

We’ll beat L.A. (We’ll beat ‘em!)
We’ll beat L.A. (We’ll beat ‘em!!...We’ll beat ‘em!!)

Beat ‘em, indeed…

Caps 4 – Kings 2


norske said...

(Pssst. Peerless. The Kings didn't pick O'Sullivan in the 2003 draft. The Wild did. They later traded him to the Kings as part of the Demitra trade. It's OK. I'll keep it quiet.)

The Peerless said...

I have to stop writing these things with no sleep...I scrooed up. Sorry about that.