Sunday, April 18, 2010

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Game 3: Capitals vs. Canadiens

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Game 3

And this one means something, if the history of this franchise means anything. 31 times the Caps have played in a Game 3 in the playoffs, in which they have a record of 11-20. In those 11 wins, they went on to post a 7-4 record in those series. In the 20 losses, they went on to post a 4-16 record in those series.

Get the point?

But things are even now, and the Caps have a chance to right things and take back home-ice advantage with a win. It won’t be easy, though, as the Canadiens…

“Three is a very important number.”

Professor! It’s been awhile. Glad to see you could make the playoffs.

“Ach! I vood radder I miss de Nobel lecture, but dey are zo borink anyvay.”

You were saying about the importance of the number “three.”

“Ja. I heff ze three rules of work. Ze first iss, ‘Out of clutter, find simplicity.’”

And that means…

“Enuff mit de fency pents passink de puck! Zhoot ze puck!!  Go to ze net!!!”

And the second rule?

“From discord find harmony.”

Sounds rather Zen, Professor.

“Zen, schmen. Ze Caps heff ziss goaltending pr-r-r-r-r-oblem, no? Vell, it’s not a problem. Ze Canadiens heff ze problem. Halak mit the shaky und ze swiss cheese he hess for a gloff hand. I zink I’m gettink hungry.”

Well, it has been a bit cheesy in this series. About the third rule…

“In ze middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

OK, you got me on that one.

“It iss ver-r-r-r-ry zimple. The Cepps are in ze midst of a difficult zeries against Montreal, yes?”

So far…

“Vell, ze Cepps are not alone. In ze last zeven playoff opening rounds, ze eventually Stanley Cup champion vuss taken to six games, including three times in four years zince ze lockout. Twice in ze last seven years zey zharted in an 0-2 deficit and once tied 1-1.”

The moral of the story being…

“Zometimes, ze first round is ze toughest.”

Well, we are only two games into this series, and two games might not tell us much with respect to this series or the Caps, but here are some tidbits…

-- Nicklas Backstrom has half of the eight goals the Caps have so far. That would also be more than anyone else has scored so far in the playoffs.

-- Eric Fehr has taken ten shots on goal so far. That puts him in a tie for sixth among all players. If you’re wondering, Alex Ovechkin is tied for 35 in shots (six) and tied for 19th in goals (one) through two games.

-- John Carlson is tied for the league lead in playoff scoring among defensemen (1-2-3) through two games. He has almost as many shots on goal (eight) as the rest of the Caps defensemen combined (nine) and almost as many points (three) as the other Caps defensemen combined (four).

-- Mike Green has three shots on goal, has no points and is a minus-1. Hey, Chicago’s Duncan Keith doesn’t have a point, either (through one game), and is a minus-3.

-- For all the grief Jose Theodore will take for his performance thus far, he had a better save percentage than Marc-Andre Fleury through two games (.875 to .870) and a better one than Evgeni Nabokov (.865), and he had a better GAA through two games than Ilya Bryzgalov (3.70 to 4.00).

-- If you’re wondering, Jaroslav Halak is 2-2-1 in his last five decisions at Bell Centre (2.00, .925).

-- The Caps are one of three playoff teams (out of 16) without a power play goal, and they are tied for ninth in penalty killing. Special teams need to improve.

-- Seven shorthanded situations faced in two games is not bad, though. And it had better stay that way if the Caps are going to kill 71.4 percent of the shorthanded situations they face. Only three teams have been in fewer such situations, and two of them played on Sunday night. The other is, uh, Montreal.

-- As if to drive that point home even further, no team has more five-on-five goals scored than the Caps (although allowing six could use some improvement).

-- Only one team had more games in which they scored first than the Caps in the regular season (Chicago did so in 56 games to Washington’s 52). But the Caps fell behind in both of the first two games of this series. Don’t want to do that against a team that emphasizes defense as much as the Canadiens. It plays to their strength, and it requires expending too much energy to climb back.

In the end, the Caps have to win a game at Bell Centre – at least one. And after the iffy performance of Jaroslav Halak on Saturday (five goals allowed on the last 17 shots he faced), there is no time like the present. The Caps peeled away a layer of the onion on Saturday, getting big nights from Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin after the first line struggled in Game 1. Now it’s time for another layer to be peeled back – get Mike Knuble, Alexander Semin, and Mike Green rolling. Given that he had ten goals in 14 career regular season games against the Habs coming into this series, it is Semin who seemed poised for his coming out party in this series.

It couldn’t come at a better time…

Caps 4 – Canadiens 3

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