Didn’t we just do this guys?
“Yeah, cuz…last night.”
“No, cousin, I think he means ‘play Winnipeg.’”
“Well, why didn’t he say so?”
“Go look up ‘subtle,’ Cheerless.”
“Ain’t that a thing you put on a horse to sit on?”
Yeah, you go get a subtle and go for ride…
It was quite a ride last night…an Ovechkin goal in the first minute, lots of big saves at both ends, a dekey-do from Matt Hendricks in the Gimmick, and… a loss.
The Washington Capitals have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and start all over again. Only tonight, it matters. A lot. By failing to pick up the additional point in last night’s 2-1 trick shot loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, the Caps find themselves only one point ahead of the Buffalo Sabres for eighth place in the East, and they have only a five-point lead over the Jets, who have a game in hand against the Caps. If Winnipeg wins, and Buffalo wins, things will get dicey for the Caps right quick. Not only will they have fallen to ninth place, but Winnipeg will have closed to three points with that game in hand. The Caps will still hold a wide edge in the first tie-breaker – regulation plus overtime wins – but the margin for error will be gone.
But about this game. Since the Jets beat the Caps by a 3-2 margin in Winnipeg last Friday, the Jets have lost two in a row and have done so in an especially ugly fashion. First, they lost to Carolina on home ice, wasting an opportunity to narrow the gap with eighth place against a team below them in the standings and on an ice sheet where they had lost only ten games in regulation. That was a mere warm-up for an 8-4 shellacking at the hands, sticks, skates, and other sundrie notions of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Tuesday. At least the Jets have had time to think about their place in the scheme of things.
Here is how the teams compare at the moment:
(click pic for larger image)
2. The 12 goals allowed in their last two games is a season high for goals allowed in consecutive games. The Jets have allowed 11 in consecutive games three times this season.
3. Winnipeg has played 73 games this season. Only one defenseman has played in more than 60 of them – Mark Stuart.
4. Among defensemen, Dustin Byfuglien is top ten in goals (tied for sixth), assists (tied for seventh), points (tied for third), game-winning goals (tied for fifth), shots (sixth), and takeaways (tied for sixth)…and yet he is still a minus-6.
5. Remember this number…80. It is the number of third period goals allowed by the Jets, and only three teams have allowed more.
2. On the other hand, Dennis Wideman is in the top ten among defensemen in power play scoring with 20 points (tied for eighth).
3. Only one Caps defenseman is in the top-50 in the league in minor penalties taken (Wideman, 48th).
4. Only two Caps defensemen are in the top-100 in hits (Wideman, tied for 56th; and…wait for it… Dmitry Orlov, 83rd).
5. The Caps have only five goals from defensemen in intra-divisional games this season. John Carlson has two; Wideman, Orlov, and Mike Green have one apiece.
The Peerless’ Players to Ponder
Winnipeg: Ondrej Pavelec
Ondrej Pavelec has allowed five goals in four of his last 11 appearances. Yet, he is still 5-5-1 in those appearances. Since holding the Caps to a pair of goals in the 3-2 win last Friday he has allowed nine goals on 59 shots (.847 save percentage). His road record has been something less than something to behold – 8-15-4, 3.50, .893. The Jets are going to need more from him down the stretch with six of their last nine games on the road.
Washington: Alexander Semin
One wonders, had he been in last night’s game, might the Caps have come away with an extra point, either as a product of his offensive skills in regulation or his creativity in the trick shot phase? That is in the past, but Semin is going to have to make his presence felt in these last eight games for the Caps. He has 20 goals in 36 career games against the Thrashers/Jets, including a goal in each game played against the Jets at Verizon Center this season.
…any way you can. We are past the point of subtlety.
In the end, the Jets cannot lose this game. They do, and they lose contact with eighth place for good, falling seven points behind the Caps with eight games to play and all those road games coming up. The Caps are almost as desperate. A loss and a Buffalo win tonight against the Rangers, and the Caps fall behind the Sabres, setting up a huge game on Tuesday. Any way you slice it, this is as “playoffy” as a regular season game gets.
Capitals 4 – Jets 2