The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
The Washington Capitals return home this evening after their 4-3 loss in Columbus to the Blue Jackets to face the Pittsburgh Penguins. It will be the first home game for the Caps since the All-Star Game break, and it will be the first of three meetings of these clubs over the next four weeks.
Pittsburgh is coming off a 5-3 win at home over the Winnipeg Jets, no mean feat given that the Jets went into the break on a five-game winning streak. For the Pens, the win broke a four-game losing streak and expanded their lead over the Caps in the Metropolitan Division to five points.
In our abbreviated prognosto for this game, here are some facts with which you can impress your friends…
- For the Caps, this season has been all about who gets to “1” first. When they do, they are 23-1-4, the second best record in the league. When the other guys score first, the Caps are 1-13-5, the worst record in the league.
- No team has played in fewer road games so far than Pittsburgh (20), although their 10-5-5 record is very respectable.
- Pittsburgh is a very good penalty killing team (87.1 percent/4th in the league). They have to be. Only Winnipeg has faced more shorthanded situations (200) than the Penguins (171).
- When the Caps are shorthanded, let’s see if they can score. With just one shorthanded goal this season (Eric Fehr), only Florida has fewer (none).
- Alex Ovechkin had a three-game multi-point streak broken last night in Columbus. Had he recorded a fourth straight multi-point game it would have made it his longest such streak this season (he had one December 29 – January 4th against the Islanders, Blackhawks, and Panthers).
- The Caps have 16 players in double digit points. Last season, over 82 games, they had 16 players in double digit points. If Brooks Orpik gets a point tonight, he would make 17 players this season with double digit points.
- The Caps have only three players in “minus” territory so far this season among 22 skaters having dresses for games: Brooks Laich (minus-1), Jason Chimera (minus-1) and Tom Wilson (minus-2). Last season, 19 of 35 skaters finished in “minus” territory.
- Last night’s two-point night for Evgeny Kuznetsov was his first multi-point game since November 28th against the Islanders. It also broke a personal seven-game streak without a point for Kuznetsov.
- Andre Burakovsky goes into the game against the Penguins on a three-game scoring streak (2-2-4), his longest points streak since opening his NHL career with a four-game streak in October.
- It might not matter which goalie gets the nod in the second of back-to-back games tonight. Neither has an especially noteworthy record against Pittsburgh. Braden Holtby is 1-4-0, 3.40, .900 in five career appearances against the Pens, while Justin Peters is 2-4-2, 4.18, .880 in eight career appearances against Pittsburgh. Holtby’s win, however, was a 3-0 shutout in Pittsburgh on December 27th.
In the end…
The Caps would not be the Caps if they didn’t make it hard on themselves. That’s what they have done to open the post-All-Star Game portion of their schedule. They lost a game against a beatable opponent last night, then have to turn around, head home, and play a rival on national television. Well, if it was easy, I’d be in the NHL and not writing this stuff.
Capitals 3 – Penguins 2