Sunday, March 09, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Penguins, March 9th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

And here we are...the showdown we’ve been waiting for. No, not Ovechkin vs. Crosby...Pittsburgh vs. the English language.

Verizon Center might be inundated with Allegheny Virus this afternoon – otherwise known as Penguin fans – and it might be helpful for Caps fans to understand their language in order to console them after the Penguins fall. So, yer ol’ Uncle Peerless is providing as a public service a Pittsburgh-to-English dictionary for yinz t’use (see, we’re falling into the trap already) in speaking “Pittsburghese.”*

For example...if someone breathes on Sidney Crosby, Pens fans will have a “canipshun,” which in English is “to have a fit or get upset.” Let’s hope Pens fans have lots of canipshuns this afternoon.

And if the Capitals can get a big day out of Alexander Ovechkin – maybe a cupple-tree goals or so (that would be “two or three,” in English), then perhaps Penguin fans will have to wait “a whole nuther” year for Evgeni Malkin or Sidney Crosby to challenge for the scoring title. Of course, Pens fans will argue “That ain'da way I see it.”

If Mike Green can add to his goal total with a back-door pinch or an end-to-end weave, you might see a Pens fan turn to his buddy (who missed the play while wiping nacho cheese off his chin), pointing to the big screen and lamenting, “look, look…yagottaseediss!”

Should the Caps get some breaks from the men in the striped shirts, you might hear Pens fans “skwillin’” (“squealing” to you and me) about how the Pens can’t get a break.

If Donald Brashear and George Laraque go toe to toe, you might pay attention to which one “jukes” first (flinches).

But today the Caps are trying to take another step (“anudder,” in Pittsburghese) in climbing from the depths of the conference to a playoff spot.

As for the Penguins, they seem almost mortal these days. After a 7-2-2 run that got them to the Ottawa-Montreal-New Jersey level of the Eastern Conference, they’ve stubbed their collective toe in their last five:

Record: 2-3-0
Goals for/against: 11/17
Power play: 1/19 (5.3 percent)
Penalty killing: 14/18 (77.8 percent)

Part of that is the cooling off of Evgeni Malkin. After the center went 8-16-24 over the first ten games of February, he’s been 3-4-7, even, over his last eight games. Ditto Ty Conklin. After going 6-1-3, 2.27, .931, to open February, Conklin is 0-2-0 in three appearances since, 4.46, .862. That could mean an appearance by Marc-Andre Fleury. In four appearances since returning from a high-ankle sprain, he is 2-1-0, 2.30, .933. He’s never lost to Washington, going 6-0-0, 1.97, .938 in six appearances. Of course, the Penguins coming to town means an appearance by The Chosen One…Sidney Crosby is returning from a high-ankle sprain of his own, and in two games since coming back is 0-2-2, +1. Against the Caps, he is 5-12-17, +5, in 10 games. One player the Caps will not face today is newly-acquired Marian Hossa, who is still out with a sprained knee.

The Caps are 2-7-2 against the Penguins since the lockout, having been outscored 46-32 in those games. Unlike what was the case in most of those games, however, the Caps bring a deeper offense to the battle. It isn’t necessarily “stop Ovechkin, stop the Caps” heading into this one. While Ovechkin is still the key – 6-9-15, +9 in his last eight games – the Caps have other weapons, some in some unfamiliar places…Brooks Laich with three goals in his last three games…Nicklas Backstrom being 2-6-8, +9 in his last five games…Viktor Kozlov is 2-3-5, +9 in his last five games and leads the team at +18…Tom Poti has six assists in his last five games and is +5.

For the Caps, things are now in the desperation stage…with last night’s action, the Caps are seven points behind Carolina (with two games in hand) and six behind Philadelphia, with 13 games to play. Today’s game – against an old rival in a soldout arena – will have “playoff air” written all over it. Of course, we all can count on Pens fans to act like “lunch-heads” (idiots) when they get to the big city, too. So be tolerant when the “yinzers” (Pittsburghers) find their day ruint (ruined) by a Caps win, just tell them, “sees ya in da playoffs” ...

Caps 5 – Penguins 4

...but you already figgurred dat already.

* Thanks to