Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Canadiens, January 10th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Well, the home streak has ended, but the Caps have an opportunity to build on a modest two game road winning streak as they head to Montreal to take on the Canadiens. The Canadiens are in the midst of celebrating their 100th season of hockey. It put us in the mind of wondering what was happening a hundred years ago over the course of what might have been a hockey season…

October 1908 – The Chicago Cubs won the World Series in baseball. Since then, the Canadiens have won 24 Stanley Cups…the Cubs haven’t been back to the Series.

November 1908 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were allegedly killed in Bolivia. We say allegedly because: a) their graves are unidentified, and b) besides, Butch went on to coach the Caps.

December 1908 – Construction began on the RMS Olympic at the Harland and Wolff shipyards in Northern Ireland. The Olympic would later have a sister ship…didn’t make it all the way across on her maiden voyage. Something about an iceberg.

January 1909 – was cancelled due to boredom

February 1909 – The Hudson Motor Car Company was founded. It went out of business in 1954 when it merged with Nash to become American Motors, which isn’t around anymore, either.

March 1909 – Theodore Roosevelt celebrated leaving the Presidency by going on an African safari.

April 2009 – The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire is overthrown and replaced by his brother. We think it might have been a fight over which one got the foot rest.

May 1909 – Edwin Land, the fellow who invented the process of instant photography that would become “Polaroid,” was born. Polaroid doesn’t make instant film, anymore.

June 1909 -- Alice Huyler Ramsey, a 22-year-old housewife and mother from Hackensack, New Jersey, becomes the first woman to drive across the United States. With 3 female companions, none of whom could drive a car, for 59 days she drives a Maxwell automobile 3,800 miles, from Manhattan, New York to San Francisco, California. We feel guilty now for not having driven to Montreal for this game.

And speaking of the game, it matches two teams with Stanley Cup aspirations, the difference being that fans in Montreal have actually experienced what that is like, while Caps fans have experienced it only in NHL2009. There are similarities in the teams, as the numbers suggest…


If there is a difference, it is the Montreal power play. Currently ranked 25th, the performance of the man-advantage special team has suffered a mighty come-down since finishing last season ranked first with a 24.1 percent success rate. At their current pace, the Canadiens will score 33 fewer power play goals this year (57) than they had last year (90, which also led the league). What’s the problem?

Well, you could start with the fact that defenseman Mark Streit took his 7-27-34 scoring line on the power play to Long Island, but you wouldn’t stop there. You could take a walk over to Alex Kovalev to take a look, too. Right now, Kovalev is 3-8-11 in power play scoring, a pace of 6-16-22 for the year. Compare that to last year, when he finished 17-30-47 on the power play to lead the league in total power play scoring.

And, last year, the Canadiens had nine players in double-digit scoring on the power play, including three defensemen. Right now, they have seven players on such a pace (none on a pace for as many as 30 points), and only one defenseman in that group (Andrei Markov).

What Montreal has done is improve its five-on-five play, and that has kept them in the hunt. Last year, they finished tied with the Caps at a ratio of goals for –to-goals against of 1.06 (tied for 13th). At the moment, the Canadiens have a 1.25 number that is tied with Detroit for fifth in the league.

This is a young team, at least on the front line. Seven of the 13 roster forwards (not including those on injured reserve) are 25 or younger. The defense is longer in the tooth – four of the seven roster blueliners are on the far side of 30.

But where it might count most in the spring – in goal – Montreal has an emerging star in Carey Price (as if the Caps need to see another brick wall in goal after last night). Price is tied for sixth in wins (despite every goalie ahead of him having played five more games), seventh in GAA (2.30), and ninth in save percentage (.921). Bobby Big Pants (he might be the widest load in the NHL) has only faced the Caps once, however, taking the “L” in a 5-4 overtime loss last January. Not that Caps are unfamiliar with his play. He was the goalie of record as the Hamilton Bulldogs bested the Hershey Bears in the Calder Cup finals two seasons ago, a final in which several Caps played (Tyler Sloan, Jeff Schultz, Tomas Flesichmann, David Steckel, Mike Green), coached by current bench boss Bruce Boudreau, who opined of Price at the time, “I don’t know if he even sweats out there.” Hopefully, the Caps can make him sweat this evening.

All Stars abound for the Canadiens. There are Kovalev and Price, starters both. But there are also Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek. One could make a case for Markov getting a nod, even starting. He’s fourth among defensemen in total scoring, third in assists. He’s top-25 in plus-minus, power play goals, and total power play scoring. He has yet to find the back of the net against the Caps, though in 27 career games (0-11-11).

As for Komisarek, let’s just say that he’s a fine defenseman who is very capable in his own end. However, he’s only played in 24 games this year, missing 16 to a hand injury. He does get the defensive assignments though (second on the team in even strength ice time, tops in shorthanded ice time). We just have a hard time seeing him as the second best defenseman in the East (he typed, tongue-in-cheek).

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

Montreal: Robert Lang

Lang, who was traded away from Washington in the Harding administration when he was leading the league in scoring, has six points in his last three games (4-2-6, +4, including a hat trick against the Rangers). This is coming on the heels of his longest pointless streak this year, four games. Lang has had some success against the Caps – 8-13-21 in 24 career games. However, all eight goals and 11 of the assists were achieved before Lang played for the Caps. He’s faced them only twice since leaving.

Washington: Mike Green

Green had the game winner in the only time Carey Price has faced the Caps. One might wonder if Green isn’t the Cap with the chip on his shoulder who would like nothing better than making a point in Montreal that there was one defenseman left off the All-Star roster who shouldn’t have been. Green is 1-5-6 in eight games against the Canadiens, but all of that scoring came in four games against Montreal last year.

Just like the team that doesn’t want to give up a goal on the next shift after scoring one, the team doesn’t want to post another loss the day after dropping one in front of the home fans. Here is your odd stat…in wins following losses this year (something that has happened eight times), the Caps have scored a total of 37 goals (4.63 goals/game). We like that number…

Caps 4 – Canadiens 2

4 comments:

sleza said...

"April 2009 – The Sultan of the Ottoman Empire is overthrown and replaced by his brother."
Maybe you should call him and warn about this upcoming tragedy?:)

Beat the All Star team 4-2? Outrageous...

The Peerless said...

It wasn't a good day...I missed on the Cubs, too. They have played in a World Series since 1908. It just seems like they haven't. I need to cut back on the NyQuil.

Anonymous said...

Maybe you should call him and warn about this upcoming tragedy?



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motorcycle games said...

well the story has to be weird.