Sunday, October 07, 2007

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Islanders, October 8th

The Peerless is nothing if not relentless in providing Caps fans what they want in hockey coverage, and today is no exception. As part of your enjoyment of today’s matinee against the New York Islanders, The Peerless sat down with the Islander’s "top line" to get their take on today’s matchup...

The Peerless Prognosticator: We’re here with members of the New York Islanders’ top line – Christie Brinkley, Hilary Duff, and the veteran of the group, Carol Alt.

Carol: Hey! it with that ‘veteran’ stuff!

TPP: Sorry, it was a term of respect…

Carol: Why thanks, you pasty white gerbil.

TPP: Hey!...

Carol: Sorry, it was a term of respect.

TPP: Ladies, the Islanders take the ice today against the Capitals, who are off to a 2-0 start. What do you think are the keys to the game?

Christie: Well, I think the guys need to come out feeling good and fit – on top of their game. And nothing gives a body that feeling like a workout on the Total Gym. It sets up in minutes and is a fun and easy way to reach those personal fitness goals you need to have whether you’re scoring a hat trick, or going to the store for snacks for the big game.

Hilary: I’m bored…

Carol: I think the boys need to do it with defense. They just lost so much offense when they let the best player in the NHL get away…

TPP: You’re speaking of…

Carol: Alexei Yashin, right. Those pinheads in the front office just couldn’t see past the noses on their jowly faces, that Alexei was the best thing that ever happened to this franchise, that…

TPP: Better than Bryan Trottier and Mike Bossy and Denis Potvin and four Stanley Cups?

Carol: Cups, schmups…glorified spittoons. Alexei was like the wind out there, gliding across the ice…he was so…

TPP: OK, so…Hilary, you’re the “rookie” on this line, so to speak…what do you bring to the group?

Hilary: I think it’s what I bring to the room, Peerless. Whether it’s making sure the make-up trays are set up properly, or making sure the right hair care products are in each lady’s locker, I try to do all the little things you have to do to win.

Christie: And she’s been such a peach about it, too. She’s a great teammate.

Carol: You said it.

Hilary: Aww…guys…

TPP: So what about today’s game? What’s your take?

Christie: Well, we’re off to a 2-0 start, just like the Caps. But where you guys have done it with defense and puck possession, we’ve been filling the net. Five different Islanders have contributed to the total of nine goals. Mike Comrie has four of them.

Hilary: Of course…

Christie: And Billy Guerin has five assists. No bad for an old man…and, he’s a Total Gym user.

TPP: Carol? How has Rick DiPietro been so far?

Carol: Ricky’s been OK, so far. He hasn’t hit his stride yet – he’s given up six goals and has a save percentage below .900 – but he’ll only get better.

TPP: Hilary, the Islanders lost a lot of players over the off-season, and they’ve had to add some. How has that worked out so far?

Hilary: If you look at Billy Guerin, Ruslan Fedotenko, Josef Vasicek…

Carol: WAH-si-check

Hilary: WAHHHHHHHH-si-cek…they’re always doing that…and Jon Sim, they’re a combined 2-10-12 and plus-four. And Mikey has those four goals and two assists. I’d say they’ve worked out pretty well, but it’s only two games.

TPP: The Islanders look like they’ll be in a tough fight with the Devils, Rangers, and Penguins this year. Even the Flyers look to be a lot better. Do you think…

Hilary: What’s up with Sidney Crosby’s lips, anyway?...can you say “collagen injections?”

Carol: Now now, Hilary…we’ve had this discussion.

Christie: You have to admit, he does look like he’s done a few lip pulls on the Total Gym.

TPP: What about the Islanders? Do they have what it takes to compete in the Atlantic division?

Christie: Oh, absolutely. Pittsburgh might have Crosby, and the Rangers might have Jagr and those two new centers, and Jersey might have Brodeur, and the Flyers…gee, maybe we don’t have what it takes.

Hilary: C’mon, don’t frown.

Christie: Oh, shut up…we suck.

Hilary: What’re ya gonna do, call Chuck Norris?

Christie: I’ll Chuck Norris you, you little…

Carol: Ladies! Ladies!! This isn’t very professional...Peerless, we might not have the stars the other clubs have, but we have grit and heart. We’ll be fine.

TPP: Have you seen the Caps, and what do you think the Islanders have to watch out for?

Hilary: I think they need to watch out for Alexander Ovechkin…he looks like a homeless person out there with the hair and the beard and the missing tooth.

Carol: That’s called a “hockey player,” missy…I think the Islanders can’t get caught up watching the Caps pass the puck around and play keep away. They have to punch them in the nose and get them to play scared a little bit. Be physical.

Christie: I think Ricky needs to be on his game. You don’t know where pucks are coming from with the Caps right now. Last year, you knew it’d be an Alex you had to pay attention to. You still do, although we’ll only see one of them, but they have more weapons now and guys who can actually pass the puck without guys on the bench ducking in fear.

TPP: Last question…do you wish you could lace ‘em up?

Hilary: No way…all those snot rockets flying around?

Christie: I’d like to give it a try. After doing all these pilates on my Total Gym, I think I could hold my own.

Carol: I suppose so, but at the end of the day, I think we’re just as happy being in the stands cheering the guys on. There is one thing, though…

TPP: And what’s that?

Carol: We’re just jealous of Brendan Witt’s purse collection.

Well, there you have it…the Islanders’ “top line” weighs in. They might have the best cheering section in the NHL, but today, it won’t do them much good…

Capitals 4 – Islanders 1

And interlude

Since the fellow who put this together claims in his profile that he can lift a refrigerator, The Peerless will say that this video should receive Oscar consideration for "short subject."

The Peerless' "Wisdom for the Day"

"You can't go 82-0 without going 2-0."

It's a TWO point night -- Caps vs. Hurricanes, Opening Night


That, despite one goal on the scoresheet, was the game Alexander Ovechkin had in the Caps’ 2-0 win in the home opener. Olaf Kolzig earned the first star, and deservedly so for a 23-save shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes, but Ovechkin was all over the score sheet:

-- Six shots

-- One goal (game winner, and his 200th NHL point)

-- Four hits

-- Three takeaways

-- Three blocked shots

-- No giveaways

And it wasn’t like it was just “The Olie and Ovie Show,” either. The Capitals showed the fans in an up-close-and-personal way the stunning difference between this year’s club and the first two editions of the post-lockout Caps. The Caps led in shots, 14-2 after one period and 29-11 after two, the product of playing keep-away with the puck and playing the passing lanes in their own zone exquisitely. The Olympia ice resurfacer hardly needed to resurface the Caps’ end in either of the first two periods.

There were moments, though, when in the third period the Caps looked as if they were ripe to be had. Going into what might have been an early shell (as often as not, a “prevent defense” only prevents one thing…winning). Carolina was able to turn the tables on the Caps and dominate possession and territory in the third, but Kolzig turned away all 12 shots he faced, and the boys stiffened their defense when necessary.

In the numbers were some other encouraging signs amidst the Caps’ 2-0 start:

-- Alexander Semin had four shots and a number of excellent chances. Although he did not score, for a shooter it was a night that said…”soon.”

-- Nicklas Backstrom had another point, and you had to be paying close attention to see why. On a power play, Backstrom had the puck deep in the left wing corner. He worked himself around the boards and found himself with space between himself and a defender. Rather than blindly throw the puck to the point or curl the puck back around the boards – as a rookie might – he made the patient play. He held the puck looking for an opening. He found Alexander Semin, who moved the puck to Milan Jurcina at the top of the zone for a clear shot that found the back of the net. It isn’t a play one gives a second thought about for a veteran, but rookies – in their first game at home – might not make that play.

-- Boyd Gordon held his own against the wizard of the dots, winning six of11 draws against Rod Brind’Amour.

-- The defense held Erik Cole and Eric Staal without a shot on goal (Cole was held without an attempt, Staal had three shots blocked). Cole was 7-5-11 last year against the Caps; Staal was 4-5-9.

-- 15 of 18 skaters were credited with hits, Milan Jurcina, Matt Pettinger, and Alexander Ovechkin leading the team with four, apiece.

-- 11 skaters were credited with blocked shots, Ovechkin’s three leading the way.

-- The penalty killers snuffed out all four man-down situations, making them 8-for-8 in two games.

-- The Caps had 15 takeaways to six for Carolina. Adding in giveaways, the Caps won the turnover battle, 29-24.

-- Shots allowed – 23. That’s 52 in two games. Last year: 63 in the first two games.

Defense is going to be ahead of offense at this time of team and timing and chemistry work themselves out on the offense, especially on the power play and with new ingredients being added to the Caps’ mix. That would seem to account, in part, for the Caps’ comparative inability to finish in some situations, most notably the four-minute man advantage tonight. But plays worked, passes found their targets, players were in high-probability scoring areas without sacrificing defensive responsibility. These are things in which the Caps rarely found themselves last year. It’s only two games, but all signs thus far are encouraging.

It’s the difference between “ugh” and “wow.”