Sunday, February 01, 2009

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Senators, February 1st

The Peerless Prognosticator is… on… the… zzzzzzzzzzz…

"Are you quitting on me? Well, are you? Then quit, you slimy bleeping walrus-looking piece of bleep! Get the bleep out of bed! Get the bleep down out of bed! NOW! MOVE IT! Or I'm going to rip your balls off, so you cannot contaminate the rest of the world! I will motivate you, Private Peerless, IF IT SHORT-bleeps EVERY CANNIBAL ON THE CONGO!"

Geez, Sarge…it’s early, and we had a prognosto yesterday…

"Today... is Christmas! There will be a magic show at 12 hundred thirty hours at Verizon Center! Alex Ovechkin will show you about how the free world will conquer the Ottawa Senators with the aid of God and a few Capitals! God has a hard-on for Capitals because they kill everything they see! He plays His games, they play theirs! To show their appreciation for so much power, they keep the standings packed with fresh losers! God was here before the Capitals! So you can give your heart to Jesus, but your ass belongs to the Capitals blogosphere! Do you understand?"

Sure, Sarge…whatever…

"Oh that's right, Private Peerless, don't make any bleeping effort to get to the keyboard of your bleeping computer. If God would have wanted you up there he would have miracled your ass up there by now, wouldn't he?"


"What is your major malfunction, numbnuts? Didn't Mommy and Daddy show you enough attention when you were a child?"

Ok, ok…I’m up…

"You little scumbag! I got your name! I got your ass! You will not laugh! You will not cry! You will learn by the numbers. I will teach you! Now get up! Get on your feet! You had best unbleep yourself or I will unscrew your head and bleep down your neck!"

Sir, Yes sir!

"Private Peerless, why did you join my beloved Blogosphere Corps?"

Sir, to BLOG, sir!

"So you're a blogger?"

Sir, yes sir!

"Then let me see your blog face!"

"That’s good Private Peerless…but don’t ever “bleep” out my lines again."

Sir, yes SIR!

OK, we’re up and ready… and we sure hope the Caps are, because it’s another 12:35 start, this time against the Ottawa Senators, a team that the Caps will face for the last time this year. And that might be a good thing, because the Senators have won two of the three games played so far (one in overtime). How they’ve managed to do that is a mystery, because frankly, their numbers suck on toast…

One looks at those numbers, and it becomes evident rather quickly how to beat that team – STAY OUT OF THE PENALTY BOX! Maybe we should get Sergeant Hartman to convey that message… Anyway, no team in the NHL has scored fewer 5-on-5 goals – 64 in 47 games – than have the Senators. By way of comparison, the Caps have scored 96 such goals (8th in the league). That, in a nutshell, is the key to the game… keep It 5-on-5.

Need a reminder?...

First game against Ottawa…no power play goals allowed… 2-1 overtime loss (hey, it was a point earned)

Second game… no power play goals allowed… a 5-1 win for the Caps.

Last game, a 3-2 win for Ottawa… three power play goals allowed.

Get the point?

Ottawa is probably thrilled to have January behind them. The Senators went 4-6-2 for the month and scored more than three goals only three times (for which they had only a 1-1-1 record). They were shutout twice and held to a single goal on three other occasions.

At this point in the show, we’d be extolling the performances of the ‘Big Three” top line of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, and Daneil Alfredsson. Well, not this time. Of the 29 goals scored by the Senators for the month of January, the three combined for 10 goals (Heatley getting half of them). In fact, in the 12 games for the month, Heatley was 5-4-9, Spezza was 2-7-9, and Alfredsson was 3-8-11. Those aren’t bad numbers, but they aren’t the sort of point-or-better a game that one usually sees from this trio.

If anything, the rest of the Ottawa roster has had a balanced, if not necessarily prolific, scoring profile. Mike Fisher had four goals in January, Chris Kelly had three, as did Brendan Bell. Antoine Vermette and Chris Phillips had a pair. It just wasn’t enough to keep the Senators from sinking in the standings.

Ottawa has had to depend on an unconventional – for them – source of success… defense and goaltending. The Senators gave up 36 goals in 12 games in January, but that is a bit deceptive. 17 of those goals came in the first four games of the month, when Alex Auld and Martin Gerber were still fighting to see who could win the blue ribbon of suckitude. Brian Elliott took over on January 10th and promptly lost to the Rangers, but giving up only two goals in the process (the Senators, perhaps predictably, were shut out). For the month, Elliott was 4-2-1, 2.27, .918, including a 3-2 win over the Caps. Auld got the start in the Senators’ last game – a 1-0 shutout against Columbus – while Gerber is in Binghamton pondering an uncertain future.

The trouble that an Ottawa goaltender might face though, lies directly in front of him. Chris Phillips is (still) on the way to perhaps the worst season of his career. He hasn’t been a “minus” player since the 1998-1999 season – his second, when he was -5 in 34 games. Today, he will skate onto the ice at -21. If there is a silver lining, it might be that he was “only” minus-2 for the month of January.

Anton Volchenkov is another player struggling with being on the ice for more goals against than goals for. He is -12 in 34 games this year. He was plus-1 for the month, but played in only four games. He did not dress for the last game against the Caps, but should bring his shot-blocking expertise to this one this afternoon.

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

Ottawa: Brian Elliott

OK, the Caps have seen him now. This will be the first team that Elliott has faced a second time this season, and he’s getting the chance in front of what is expected to be a sellout crowd. Also of note here, Elliott has only played in two road games among the seven he’s started. Not that he’s done poorly – a 3-2 win over Atlanta and a 3-1 win over St. Louis. Now, he jumps up several weight classes in competition.

Washington: Eric Fehr

Fehr had several excellent chances to score yesterday and didn’t. It’s getting to be the time in his career where he shows he was that big goal-scorer he was in junior and in the AHL. He doesn’t have to net 20 goals in the last 32 games to make that point, but he hasn’t had one since December 4th against the Islanders – a span of 14 games. We’re guessing he’ll get chances today, given the state of the opposition and the likelihood that they focus on other Capitals.

Washington has struggled offensively in day games this year – seven goals scored in three contests (they’ve allowed ten). It’s somewhat odd, too, given that the Caps lead the entire NHL in shots taken per game in the daylight. Hopefully, they got their “day legs” under them yesterday against the Red Wings and can avoid the “sleepiness” that Alex Ovechkin talked about after yesterday’s win. Will they?

Hey, do you read this stuff?

Caps 5 – Senators 2


Eli said...

Read you loud and clear. Like what you're thinking about Fehr. This really should be the year he makes a dent.

Crazy to think of Gerber in the minors. For most of last year he was, statistically, a beast.

It'll be interesting to see if he comes back up, and who claims him. Tampa? Surely not the Caps?

Anonymous said...

Yup. I read it.