Wednesday, November 04, 2009

The Peerless Progsnoticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Devils, November 4th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

If it’s Wednesday, it must mean hockey, and tonight it’s a visit to The Rock in beautiful downtown, Newark, New Jersey, where the Devils will play host to the Capitals in the second meeting of the clubs this year. New Jersey won the first contest, a 3-2 Gimmick win in Washington on Columbus Day. Tonight the Caps hope to at least return the favor of being a rude guest and will do so without the pleasure of having Alex Ovechkin in the lineup. The over/under for his return from an “upper body injury” looks to be two weeks.

“Trouble in paradise, two o’clock…”

Excuse me?

“Trouble in paradise…”

Are you some sort of wise guy or something?

“Well, yes… Gregory House, M.D.”

Oh, yeah, I hear you’re some sort of diagnostic genius… So, anything to this “upper body” thing?

"That's a catchy diagnosis, you could dance to that."

Well, that seems to be the thing these days. There are more cases of that than of swine flu.

“Then just say it’s ‘idiopathic,’ from the Latin meaning we're idiots ‘cause we can't figure out what's causing it."

He got into a kerfuffle with some Columbus Blue Jackets and seems to have hurt his chest or shoulder. A weird injury.

"Weird works for me."

OK, so what do you think it is?

“Well, it could be anterior displacement of the acromioclavicular bundle.”

Really?

“No, I just made that up.”

Will you be serious?

“Hmmm…. In my judgment…”

Yes?

“boo-boo”

Boo-boo? That’s your diagnosis?

“I solved the case, my work is done.”

Well, perhaps Dr. House can find work as a team physician somewhere, since his diagnoses are as revealing as “upper body injury,” but what about the game the Caps have to play?

The Devils come into this one the very picture of consistency they have been for the last decade and a half. After dropping their first two games of the year, they Devils have gone three wins, a loss, three wins, a loss, and two wins for an 8-2-0 record in their last ten games and an 8-4-0 record overall (if the pattern holds, this is not good news for the Caps). They’ve done it in the accustomed way, too. In only three of those last ten games have the Devils allowed more than two goals, while scoring as many as four goals in a game only twice, themselves. Three of those games have gone to the Gimmick, the Devils winning all of them. Here is how the overall numbers compare…


Unless the sun stops in the sky, or he is spirited away by aliens, Martin Brodeur will get the start. He will be making his fifth attempt at tying the all-time NHL shutout record for goaltenders – 103 – held by Terry Sawchuk. In four appearances since climbing to within one of Sawchuk, Brodeur is 3-1-0, 1.97, .927. In other words, pretty normal.

While the Capitals will be missing Alex Ovechkin, the Devils have been without the services of Patrik Elias for the entire season to date, the result of his having undergone surgery to clean out scar tissue in his groin. He returned to the ice for the first time on Monday, but there is no date that had yet been set for his return. Think he won’t be missed tonight? Since the lockout, he is 5-14-19, plus-5 in 13 games against Washington.

That will leave the scoring load to Zach Parise and Travis Zajac, currently one-two in the Devils scoring rankings. Parise went scoreless on opening night against Philadelphia, but since then has points in nine of 11 games (6-8-14). In 13 career games against he Caps he is 4-8-12, even. But here is the odd part. In 2006-2007, he was 2-3-5 in four games. The following year, he was 0-0-0 in four games. Last year, he was 1-4-5 in four games. This year, he failed to register a point in the first meeting. See a pattern? Let’s hope it continues.

Zajac sprang out of the box this season, going 5-5-10 in his first nine games. In his last three he is 1-0-1. Against the Caps he is 3-5-8, plus-6 in 13 career games.

If you were to be asked, which Devil leads his club in game-winning goals, would you have said “Jamie Langenbrunner?” Well, if you did, you’d be wrong. Dainius Zubrus is the only Devil with as many as two game-winners, which happens to match the number of goals he has for the season of any variety.

In the prognosto for the last Devils game, we made the point that the Devils’ defensemen don’t score and don’t hit, but they play smart. Well, there is one Devils defenseman who is struggling, and that would be Johnny Oduya. Last year, Oduya had his coming out party, finishing the year 7-22-29, plus-21 while playing in all 82 games. Well, it’s a new year, and it seems to be a wall that Oduya has hit. In 11 games so far he has yet to register a point and is a minus-5.

Keys…

1. Score first. Combined, these teams have allowed the first goal of a game only six times in 26 games.

2. Kill penalties. The Devils have had, well, a devil of a time with their power play. In their last eight games they are 2-for-27 (7.4 percent).

3. Step up. The Caps’ blogosphere is awash with commentary about how the absence of Alex Ovechkin gives others the opportunity to step up. We’re tempted to say that this means guys like Nicklas Backstrom or Alexander Semin will be key in this one. Well, probably not. Brodeur has a way of making life difficult for high-end skill guys if he’s getting good looks at pucks. Nope, think “traffic.” Brooks Laich and Mike Knuble might be the keys here.

You might be thinking “Devils” and concluding that this will be a low scoring affair. Well, the Caps scored five goals in two of the last three games against New Jersey. That was with Scott Clemmensen in goal, not Martin Brodeur. So, chances are that three goals wins this game. That sounds about right.

Caps 3 – Devils 2


3 comments:

ЯСупер said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jimmy Jazz said...

It's about time we had a House preview -- easily the best show on television, now that The Wire is ended.

"Thank you Rationalization Man! You have saved the village!"

The Peerless said...

I struggled with this one. I woke up thinking, "how many times can I do the Faust thing?" Then it hit me... "upper body injury." The lamest diagnosis in the history of earth. And since I love "House, M.D.," it was a natural.

Enter the mind of the blogger.