Tuesday, October 21, 2008

A "smack my head, I got it" moment

The Tampa Bay Lightning have gone and done it again. They have claimed former Capital Matt Pettinger on re-entry waivers from the Vancouver Canucks.* Given the collection of forwards the Lightning already have obtained, one might ask with respect to the Pettinger claim ..."why?"

It took us a while, but we think we've figured it out. Follow along...

First, let's leave aside that idea that the Lightning picked up Pettinger because Len Barrie, one of the co-owners, is a friend and business partner, as reported by the Vancouver Sun. That's crap. There is a bigger theme here.

In David Koci, Ryan Malone, Mark Recchi, Gary Roberts, and Adam Hall, the Lightning have assembled themselves quite a group of former Penguins.

On the other hand, with Jeff Halpern, Jamie Heward, and Olaf Kolzig, the Capitals Alumni association is also well-represented. But, the Lightning needed another former Cap to even up the score (especially since Heward has been sent to AHL Norfolk).

Why? We think it is part of Oren Koules' (also a Lightning co-owner) nefarious plot to make up for the abysmal play of the Lightning on the ice and turn the St. Pete Forum into the set of some weird shoot for a horror movie, a Capitals versus Penguins death match, the perfect remedy for a guy who made his mark with the "Saw" movie series.




edit...St. Louis picked up Koci on waivers from Tampa Bay, but the Ducks have put Ken Klee on waivers...the plot thickens.

* Thanks to leftwing and CStoneNo37 on The Official for the heads up


From the "what, are you kidding me?" file, Greg Wyshynski asks the question this morning, is it possible for Sidney Crosby to be underrated at anything? Specifically, the issue is goal scoring and whether the youngster is somehow underrated in that aspect of the game, given this compendium of highlight quality goals assembled by TSN Canada.

Well, here's the deal...if the standard is, say, Marco Sturm or Niklas Hagman -- both of whom finished last year with 27 goals to finish in the 50ish ranking in the league, then yes, Crosby isn't getting the credit he deserves for averaging 37 goals per 82 games so far in his career (some of them of, yes, the highlight variety).

But that's not the standard here. This is a young man who scored 120 goals in 121 regular season games in Canadian junior. He has been heralded as the next coming of Wayne Gretzky perhaps since his age was still in single digits. He's done this before. His talent, including his ability to score goals, has set a high bar.

But that's the point...how he is "rated" - under or otherwise - is a product of what is expected of him, and what is expected is "a lot." That might be both compliment and curse, but it's not as if we're comparing him to Sturm or Hagman. Crosby is rated highly in all aspects of his game, and rightly so. Frankly, I'd expect a highlight goal a month, not a compilation of ten that included shootouts (sorry, Gimmicks not allowed, they are not "goals" anymore than home runs in home run derbies are "home runs").

The question is, in my opinion, almost insulting to Crosby. He is lauded enough, with good reason we might add, without needing the manufacture of his being "underrated" with respect to one part of his game.

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Flames, October 21st

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

The Caps are on the road this week, tonight visiting the Pengrowth Saddledome (which sounds like a condition one might look up on WebMD) to take on the Calgary Flames, and speaking of Flames, you’ll never guess who we found way up here on the Canadian prairie…

“Wilkommen…bienvenue…welcome…c’mon in.”

That’s right, the Teutonic Titwillow, herself…Lili von Schtupp. It’s a long way from Rock Ridge, Ms. Von Schtupp…

“Call me, Wiwwy…”

Yes, Wiww…Lily…it’s a long way from Rock Ridge, how did you end up in Calgary?

“Zey ran out of schnitzengruben in Wock Widge…”

Well, tonight the Flames take on Alex Ovechkin and the Caps. Being a fan of the game, how would you preview the Caps and Ovechkin for Flames fans?

“I vood say…’Vhy don't you admit it? He's too much of man for you. I know. You're going to need an army to beat him! You're finished. Fertig! Verfallen! Verlumpt! Verblunget! Verkackt!’”

I don’t know that I’d go that far; the Flames are a rugged bunch. But Ovechkin might be due, since he has only two goals in five games…

“Is it true how zey say zat Ovechkin is... gifted?“

Well, he did have 65 goals last year…

“It's twue. It's twue. It's twue, it's twue!”

What about Sheriff Bart?...what ever became of him?

“Why don’t you ask him yourself…”

Bart. It’s a pleasure to meet you…

“Now, I suppose you're wondering just what in the heck you're doing out here in the middle of a prairie in the middle of nowhere in the middle of the night.”

You bet your ass.

“I'm hip.”

Well, relocated movie characters from 1974 might not be “hip,” but the most exciting team in the NHL will be our focus of attention this evening, and no, we do not mean the Calgary Flames. The Flames are a struggling outfit at the moment, as their numbers suggest:

Record: 1-3-1
Goals for: 2.80 (T-18th)
Goals against: 4.40 (T-29th)
5-on-5 goals ratio: 0.57 (27th)
Power play: 20.0% (T-11th)
Penalty killing: 80.0% (T-19th)

The 5-on-5 play and goals allowed are especially worrisome. Only Chicago and Dallas have allowed more goals at 5-on-5 (15 each) than has Calgary (14), and both of those teams have played more games. Conversely, only Vancouver and the Rangers have scored more 5-on-5 goals (15 each) than the Caps (14), and both of those teams have played more games than has Washington.

Miikka Kiprusoff has gotten the call in all five games the Flames have played thus far, and he might not be the cause of the problem, but his numbers don’t suggest that he’s been helping matters, either. His 4.37 GAA ranks 32nd in the league, ahead of only Frederic Norrena of Columbus and Martin Biron of Philadelphia. His .851 save percentage ranks 30th. It is not as if Kiprusoff has faced an inordinate number of shots – the 29.6 shots per game Calgary has allowed ranks as the 12th lowest total (tied with Boston) in the league.

What’s more, Calgary seems to have played a somewhat uncharacteristically (for a Mike Keenan coached club) passive game. The 91 hits with which they have been credited ranks them 24th of 30 teams, although they have been somewhat more rambunctious at home (71 hits for 10th in the league).

Individually, the Flames reflect their team numbers. Of the 21 skaters to take the ice so far this year…

- Only two – Daymond Langkow and Andre Roy – are on the plus side of the ledger at plus-1.

- Jarome Iginla has been to the skaters what Kiprusoff has been in goal, and that’s not a good thing. Iginla is off to a slow start: 1-2-3, -5, and 14 penalty minutes.

- Only Todd Bertuzzi has more than one goal for the Flames (he has five).

- Dion Phaneuf – the big banger in this bunch – has been credited with ten hits. By way of comparison, David Steckel has nine in almost 16 fewer minutes of average ice time per game.

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

Calgary: Craig Conroy

Conroy has not had a lot of success against the Caps, personally, in his career. In 13 games, he is 1-4-5, even. He’s off to a somewhat slow start (as are a lot of Flames), notching only a goal (no assists) in five games with a minus-4 to go along with it. It goes without saying that Iginla is the go-to guy, but Calgary needs to get some other players into the mix, and Conroy is one of them.

Washington: Jose Theodore

Calgary has shown little ability in the early going to mount much of an attack, especially 5-on-5. Against such a team, it is important not to get behind early, and not to allow the cheap goal. Washington has allowed nine first period goals, third-worst in the league and more goals than they’ve allowed in the second and third periods combined. Making Calgary work for their reward will be important, and Theodore is the guy who has to ensure that they don’t get any softies. His career numbers against the Flames – 9-7-2, 2.14, .922 – suggest he’s capable of being that guy.

This will be a homecoming for three Caps defensemen – Mike Green, Jeff Schultz, and Tyler Sloan, and a satisfying homecoming it will be…

Caps 4 – Flames 2