Wednesday, March 02, 2016

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Game 63: Maple Leafs at Capitals, March 2nd

The Peerless Prognosifator…uh, Progtakinator…Progfusticator heck…he ain’t here, anyway.

Hi…my name is Cheerless, and I ‘spect you folks have seen me in these parts from time to time.  Yer usually readin’ Peerless and his prognostifications, but he was up late last night celebratin’ the win over the Penguins, so y’all get me this morning.

Now, I ain’t got all Peerless’ learnin’ (even if he got most of it at “Moo U”), so this ain’t gonna be as long as his meanderin’s.  The Caps are playing the Toronto Blue Jays, or Rap Tors, or Maple Leafs, or whatever two-name mascot they have for their hockey team.  Must be a Canada thing or somethin’. 

There’s probably just one thing you have to know about the Maple Leafs.  They’re bad.  It weren’t always like that this season.  They were 16-15-7 just last January 6th after they shut out the Anaheim Ducks, 4-0.  But since then?  They’ve stunk like an outhouse in July.  Just 5-15-3 since then, and they are just 2-8-1 in their last 11 games.

The have two problems.  They can’t score, and they can’t keep the other team from scoring.  Other than that, things are pretty good.  Here is one of the truly weird facts about this team…

In their last 23 games, they scored more than two goals…six times. They scored just one goal or got shutout 10 times.  Just 43 goals in those 23 games.  I’m guessin’ the goal judge doesn’t remember where the switch is to turn on the lamp when they score a goal.

Now, as for the scorin’ against…78 goals allowed in their last 23 games.  That’s 3.39 goals against per game.  Now, that was pretty good for the 1980’s, but these days it makes swiss cheese look like a brick of velveeta.

As you probably figgered out by now, their power play wouldn’t keep the refrigerator bulb lit for two seconds.  Those same 23 games?  They’re 5-for-75.  That’s 6.66 percent, which seems right fittin’.

Too bad, too, because the penalty killers aren’t that bad – 67 for 82 (81.7 percent).  Trouble is, they just have to do it a tad too much – 3.6 shorthanded situations a game.

Now, you probably think all those Toronto fellas have names like Brendan or Clarke or some such thing, but they actually have a guy named “Nazem Kadri.”  Pretty good player, from what I hear.  Second on the team in scorin’ overall (12-22-34), and he’s got points in four of his last five games (1-5-6).  What he don’t have is a goal against the Caps, ever.  In 13 games he’s got five points, all of them assists.

Then there is this kid named “Nylander.”  Guess all you Caps fans know his dad, Michael, played for the Caps – twice in fact – but they say this kid William’s gonna be better.  Eighth overall draft pick in 2014, Maple Leaf fans have been waitin’ on seein’ this kid play the way Caps fans were waitin’ on that Kuznetsov kid, just not as long.  He played his first game on Monday against Tampa Bay.  Didn’t seem fazed by it, but hey, he’s represented Sweden in six international tournaments.  He’s been on the big stage.  Didn’t get a point against the Lightning, but he skated almost 19 minutes.  Guess the team will give him a long look-see now.

Of course, Caps fans will be seeing blue when they see Brooks Laich take the ice (see what I did there?...and Peerless thinks he’s the clever one).  He played his first game with the Leafs on Monday, and he got 12 minutes of ice time.  No points, but they’ve been hard comin’ to him this season (1-6-7 in 61 games with the Caps and the Leafs).  This’ll be the first time he ever faced the Caps, ‘cept in practice…aw heck, I can’t go on…

As for the goalies, James Reimer is gone to San Jose (he might still be celebratin’), and Garrett Sparks played on Monday, so it might be Jonathan Bernier.  If it is, it might not end well for the Leafs.  There are 47 goalies in the league that have at least 1,000 minutes of ice time.  In save percentage, Bernier ranks 46th (.898).  He’s 45th in goals against average (3.12).  He’s allowed three or more goals in seven of his last nine appearances, including one in which he allowed three goals in 20:57 (against the Flyers, 22nd in scoring offense in the league…not the 1985 Edmonton Oilers, although the 2016 Oilers lit him up for four goals the last time he saw them).

Anyway, the only way the Caps lose this game is if they admire all the press clippings (do they do clippings anymore?) from last night’s game against Pittsburgh, or they can’t get the tears out of their eyes from the tribute they’ll play for Brooks Laich in the arena.  They could win this game by a touchdown.  Well, maybe not with the extra point.

Capitals 6 – Maple Leafs 1

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