The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
An abbreviated prognosto today, since we were guilty of too much celebrating after the Caps’ win over Philly last night.
The Caps return home tonight to face the Florida Panthers, who had a game of their own last night, a 4-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues in Florida. Here are five things in the “know your enemy” file…
-- Since winning their opening night contest, the Panthers have stuck on toast. They are losers in their last four (outscored by a 12-6 margin), seven of their last eight, and 10 of their last 12 games.
-- Florida might be named the “Florida 20’s,” because they are ranked in the 20’s in most of the headline team stats (see the table below). The clear dividing line of rare success and frequent failure this season is the number “3.” Score more than three goals, they win. They have done this twice, a 4-2 win at Dallas on October 3rd (opening night) and a 6-3 pasting of the Penguins on October 11th.
-- Unfortunately for the Panthers they have scored three or fewer goals 11 times and have been shut out three times so far, twice by the Blues.
-- It’s not goalie Jacob Markstrom’s fault. Well, not all his fault. Markstrom got the call in the last three contests for Florida after Tim Thomas went down to injury. He stopped 62 of 71 shots, a .873 save percentage. He lost all three games (0-2-1).
-- Former Cap Tomas Fleischmann leads the Panthers in points. There are 82 players with more than the nine points recorded by Fleischmann. There are 37 players with more goals than the five Brad Boyes has to lead the team.
For the Caps, you might be interested to know…
-- What a difference a 7-0 game makes. The Caps jumped in the league team rankings from 17th to 11th in scoring offense, from 27th to 22nd in scoring defense, from 23rd to 19th in 5-on-5 goal ratio, and from 5th to 3rd on the power play.
-- The seven-goal win over Philadelphia was the Caps’ largest margin of victory since beating the Atlanta Thrashers (now the Winnipeg Jets in the NHL witness protection program), 8-1, on January 9, 2010.
-- Jason Chimera brings a four-game points streak into this game, goals scored in each of them (4-5-9). It is the eighth time in his career that he ahad a four-game points streak. He has never had a five-gamer.
-- Joel Ward’s hat trick against the Flyers was the first of his career and his first multi-goal game since potting pair on opening night against Tampa Bay last season.
-- The Caps have now run off eight straight games of perfect penalty killing performance and have killed off 30 kills in a row dating back to the third period of their 5-1 loss to Colorado on October 12th.
Here is how the teams' numbers compare...
Here is how the teams' numbers compare...
The Peerless’ Players to Ponder
Florida: Eric Gudbranson
The once upon a time third overall pick (2010) from the Kingston Frontenacs would seem to be spoiling on the vine in Florida. Two goals in 117 career games, minus-48 over that span. In this population of defensemen, though, things are not all bad. He has been on ice for “only” 16 goals against in 13 games (tied for 23rd fewest). Among Panther defensemen, though, he has been on ice for only five goals scored by Florida, only four at even strength, the lowest number among defensemen playing in at least ten games. He has one assist in ten games against the Caps over his career and is a minus-9.
Washington: The Second Line
Maybe it’s the name. While the retooled top line was doing well last night – two goals and five assists from Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Fehr, and Martin Erat – and the third line was continuing to outperform their standing (three goals and six assists from Jason Chimera, Joeal Ward, and Mikhail Grabovski), the second line of Marcus Johansson, Brooks Laich, and Troy Brouwer managed one point, and that was a power play goal by Brouwer with assists to Backstrom and Mike Green. Maybe it’s the name of the line. From now on, they are “The Metropolitan Line.”
1. Kill, Kill, Kill. Florida has one power play goal in 22 tries on the road this season, that coming in Tampa against the Lightning back on October 10th. The Panthers have had only one road game since, coming into tonight’s game, but still… This is team the Caps should extend their power play shutout streak against.
2. Team, Team, Team. It was a team effort last night in the absence of Alex Ovechkin. If he cannot answer the bell tonight, the Caps might refresh their memories of six different players recording multi-point games against the Flyers.
3. Focus, Focus, Focus. First game back the day after wrapping up a long road trip? Against a team whose record makes them utterly overlookable? This has the peril of being one of those games of which we might say afterward, “you can’t expect to just throw your sticks on the ice and win.” So, don’t.
In the end…
This game should be over in the first 20 minutes. We have an unsettled feeling that it won’t be, that the Caps will let the Panthers hang around and make a game of it into the third period. They just won’t make a game of it for 60 minutes.
Capitals 4 – Panthers 2