Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Flames, March 12th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Things have come to a pretty pass,
Our chances are growing flat,
For you like this and the other
While I go for this and that.
Goodness knows what the end will be;
Oh, I don't know where I'm at...
It looks as if we two will never be one,
Something must be done.

You say CAL-garry and I say Cal-guh-ree,
You say OH-fense and I say OFF-ense;
CAL-garry, Cal-guh-ree, OH-fense, OFF-ense,
Time for tonight’s face off.
You like the bisket and I like the basket,
You like CAL-garry and I like Cal-guh-ree;
Bisket, basket, CAL-garry, Cal-guh-ree!
Time for tonight’s faceoff!
But oh! If after tonight’s face off,
Then we must part.
And oh! If we ever part,
Then that might break my heart!
So, if you like CAL-garry and I like Cal-guh-ree,
I'll say CAL-garry and give up Cal-guh-ree.
For we know we need each other,
So we better call the calling off.
Time for tonight’s face off!

What is it with the Caps facing hot teams lately? Tonight, it’s Calgary’s turn to test the men in red, and the Flames are tuning up for the playoffs. Leaders of the Northwest Division, third in the Western Conference, Calgary comes to DC on a nice run in their last ten games:

Record (last ten games): 7-1-2
Goals for/against: 25/16
Power play: 6/49 (12.2 percent)
Penalty killing: 45/53 (84.9 percent)
Shorthanded goals: 4
Record in one-goal games: 4-0-2

Calgary has a simple formula these days…”Iggy and Kipper, and things’ll be chipper.” Jarome Iginla – the player, who if he played in the East, might be considered the best in the game – has had a hand in almost half of the Flames’ goals in the last ten games (6-6-12, +7). What Alex Ovechkin brings to the Caps – scoring, hitting, and a flair for the dramatic – Iginla brings to the Flames. The tale of the tape:

Goals: Ovechkin 54/Iginla 41
Assists: Iginla 41/Ovechkin 41
Points: Ovechkin 95/Iginla 82
Game-winning goals: Iginla 9/Ovechkin 9
Power play goals: Ovechkin 18/Iginla 14
Power play assists: Ovechkin 14/Iginla 13
Power play scoring: Ovechkin 32/Iginla 27
Hits: Ovechkin 190/Iginla 83
Fights: Iginla 5/Ovechkin 0
Iginla vs. Washington: 13 games, 4-7-11, -4
Ovechkin vs. Calgary: 1 game, 0-2-2, +1

One plays the right side, one the left. This is one of those games-within-a-game that makes for entertaining watching, “OvechKam” or no OvechKam.

Iginla hasn’t quite been alone in his contributions in this ten-game run:

Kristian Huselius: 1-6-7, +4 (4-3-7, -8 in 17 career games against the Caps)

Daymond Langkow: 2-5-7, +6 (8-10-18, +3 in 28 games against the Caps)

Alex Tanguay: 5-1-6, +5 in seven games, three missed due to a neck injury (2-2-4, -1 in 8 games against the Caps)

Then there is the guy who will likely be sent out to defend Ovechkin at every opportunity – Dion Phaneuf. Phaneuf is as complete a defenseman there is in the game. He is ranked among the defenseman leaders in several league categories:

Points: 49 (T-6th)
Goals: 14 (T-4th)
Assists: 35 (10th)
PIMs: 163 (1st)
Power play goals: 9 (T-1st)
Power play assists: 19 (T-11th)
Power play points: 28 (5th)
Game-winning goals: 3 (T-5th)
Hits: 172 (6th)
Time-on-ice: 26:32 (5th)

Again…if this guy is in the East, he’s a Norris finalist, if he isn’t already. He will be a perennial in this trophy category.

But on to Kipper. Miikka Kiprusoff started slowly this year, allowing three or more goals in 14 of his first 17 games, going 6-8-3, 3.19, .879 in the process. However, in this ten game run, he is 5-1-2 in eight appearances, 1.62, .953.

Calgary comes to DC healthy (only David Moss is reported injured), rested (only two games since March 4th), and motivated (tied with Colorado in points for the Northwest Division lead and the Western Conference’s three-seed). They are also a superb road team, with an 18-13-1 record away from Pengrowth Saddledome.

For a club reeling after two difficult, self-inflicted losses, fighting for a playoff spot, this is as stiff a test as one could muster. Calgary is a hard team to play against, and they have enough skill to make a team not paying attention pay dearly. More often than not, though, Calgary will play things close – it is what they do best. While they have a .500 record in two goal games (8-8) and three-or-more-goal games (10-10), they dominate one-goal games (18-5-10).

Whether this is a one-goal or a five-goal game, a 60-minute game or a shootout, the Caps have to be on the long end of it. It’s really just that simple at this point. And that’s why…

Caps 3 – Flames 2