Well, you can count the games left on one hand. Last September seems like yesterday afternoon, and we’re almost to the end already. But there is work to be done, and the Caps will get to it tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
With five games left, two points to make up on
Our first question…
Will Alex Ovechkin hold off Evgeni Malkin for the scoring title?
“You believe this crap?”
Why, it’s Cheerless Prognosticator, our hang-dog cousin who never saw a sunny day he didn’t think would turn into a thunderstorm.
“Yeah, yeah…what about this 8-ball stuff?”
We professional prognosticators use every tool…
“…you mean every trick.”
…every tool at our disposal.
“Hey, Cheerless, knock it off…I wanna see how this comes out.”
“Fearless, you’re as dumb as a bucket o’ rocks.”
OK, back to the prognostifying…
Will the Caps win at least four of their last five games?
“You get a deal on 8-balls, cuz?”
“Looks honest to me, Cheerless.”
You’re breaking the fog of mystery here, guys.
“That ain’t fog…that’s last night’s bratwurst.”
Okay, okay…will the Caps overtake the Bruins?
“Why don’t you ask it if the sun will rise in the east?”
“Shhh…don’t spoil it, Cheerless.”
Will the Caps overtake the Flyers?
“Can I ask it one?”
Sure, Fearless, give it a shot…
“Will David Archuleta win ‘American Idol?’”
Hey, let’s stick to hockey, ok? Who will the Caps play in the first round of the playoffs?
That’s looking far into the future…too far for our purposes, even if Penguin fans are drooling at the prospect. Tonight, it’s
On Valentine’s Day, the Lightning beat the Flyers, 5-3, to haul themselves to within two games of .500. Then, they lost their next game to the Caps, 3-2, on a late goal from Alexander Semin, which sent them spinning toward Lotteryville…
Record (since February 14th): 5-11-2
Goals for/against: 45-56
Power play: 13/62 (21.0%)
Penalty killing: 58/69 (84.1%)
Record in one-goal games: 1-4-2
When one thinks of the Lightning, what comes to mind immediately is goaltending, and the problems they’ve had with it. The odd thing, though, is that
Well, if we're interested in finding a problem, let’s start with even-strength scoring.
Vincent Lecavalier: 8-6-14, -17 (no, we’re not kidding)
Dan Boyle: 1-12-13, -17 (no, really…)
Paul Ranger: 0-4-4, -8 (yeesh…)
And did coming in new to the Lightning at the trade deadline make a difference? …well, Jussi Jokinen is 14 games, 1-9-10, -10, in 14 games after coming over from
We’re thinking Brad Richards (2-7-9, -2 since joining
On the other hand, Jeff Halpern, who also came over from Dallas, is 7-8-15, +4 in 13 games, and Michel Ouellet is 9-5-14, +7 since February 16th for the Lightning. But if it's these guys leading the way, there is a problem.
As poorly as the top guys have been over the last six weeks, once has to wonder, have they simply tuned out their coach? It’s a question that seems reasonable to ask, and one that might get some attention in the off season. Tampa lacks for a balance of talent, but that's hardly a new development. They’ve been in a nose-dive in the last month with key players who are just a few years removed from a Stanley Cup and still in the prime of their respective careers.
What isn’t likely to be a product of coaching is the goaltending situation. It wasn’t all that good to start the season, and it hasn’t improved much. Johan Holmqvist lost the first three games (one in overtime) in this 18-game drought, then got shipped to
This is a lot like the
It makes us want to ask…who will win this game?
Caps 5 – Lightning 2.