Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Hurricanes, November 12th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

It’s a marquee matchup, as Wes Johnson might say, between teams 1 and 1A in the Southeast Division as the Caps visit Raleigh, North Carolina, to take on the Hurricanes.

We were doing some research on hockey and North Carolina, and we compiled from hockeydb.com this list of players born in the Tar Heel State to suit up for a National Hockey League team…

…ok, so it’s not a long list. Perhaps it’s the lack of ice in those parts, and maybe it’s just the predilection for eating large amounts of pig. We were wondering about preparing pig in the North Carolina way and were looking for a culinary expert to give us some tips, but all we could come up with was The Swedish Chef, who we’ve learned is quite a hockey fan. We sat down with the chef (and Nicklas Backstrom, who served as interpreter) to get his take on the Caps, the Hurricanes, and tonight’s matchup…

Chef, It’s a pleasure to meet you…

“Leekooise-a I'm soore-a (Likewise, I’m sure).”

Chef, have you had a chance to watch any Caps games this year, and if you have, what has impressed you the most?

“I'fe-a seee a cuoople-a gemes, und I reelly leeke-a thees gooy reeght here-a. (I’ve seen a couple of games, and I really like [Backstrom]).”

Well, Nicklas looks like he’s about to break out; he’s put together a string of good games, even though he hasn’t shown up a lot on the score sheet. He’s had six assists in nine career games against the Hurricanes, but hasn’t netted a goal himself. Think he will tonight?

“Ooh, ebsulootely (oh, absolutely).”

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they had one taken away from them late in the game last Thursday. What’s your take on the home team?

“I lufe-a zeeur mescut (I love their mascot).”

You love their mascot?

“Yeeh, veet feeneger sooce-a und cule-a slev (yeah, with vinegar sauce and cole slaw).”

Chef, I’ve always wanted to ask you…the lyrics you used to sing in the intro to your cooking show…what do they mean?

"Yorn desh born, der ritt de gitt der gue, Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn børk! børk! børk! (five on four, and still you cannot score…why don’t you just try to SHOOT THE DAMN PUCK?)"

Really?...well there’s a scoop, I guess. Chef, the Caps are coming into this game atop the Southeast Division and…

"Surry, boot I hefe-a tu cetch a plune-a. Hur kommer jag till flygplatsen?"

Well, we’ll let Professor Backstrom take care of that…As for the game, this contest reunites the contestants of last Thursday in a game the Caps won, 3-2, in what has to be regarded as a heist that would make Willie Sutton proud. Not much has happened since then to alter our take from the game six days ago, but here are some things to think about…

Carolina is 1-1 in two games since the game on November 6th, both in Raleigh. They scored only four goals in doing so, beating Ottawa, 2-1, then losing to Atlanta, 5-2. What is odd about the results is that it was Michael Leighton posting the win in the nets and allowing only one goal to the high-powered Senators, and Cam Ward getting lit up by the Thrashers for five goals (four of them on nine shots in a brutal second period).

Eric Staal will be entering the game without a point in his last four games. His brother, Jordan, had a hat trick and four points last night against Detroit. If brotherly competition has meaning, Staal will be someone to watch.

Rod Brind’Amour is dead last in plus-minus in the NHL (-13) and is on pace to go -71.

Sergei Samsonov seems to want to keep Brind’Amour company. He’s minus-5 in his last six games and is minus-8 overall (11th worst in the league). At least Brind’Amour has 10 points. Samsonov has three.

The Caps have had 22 skaters dress this year. Of that number, 21 have points. Only Chris Bourque, who played in only one game, does not have a point.

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

Carolina: Tim Gleason

You might think, sure, the Hurricane blueliner could get the assignment of defending when Alex Ovechkin is on the ice, and perhaps that’s true. But there is an odd statistic about Gleason that bears noting. He has six assists on the season (no goals), and five of them have come in the Hurricanes’ six home games. OK, three of them were on opening night, but still. Actually we point out Gleason to note a broader point. Carolina defensemen are 8-32-40 this year (by comparison, Caps defensemen are 9-17-26). The 5-2 loss to Atlanta ended an eight-game streak in which defensemen registered at least one point. Over that stretch, Hurricane defensemen were 6-14-20 (the Hurricanes had a total of 22 goals in those games). If the Hurricane defense is fully integrated into the offense tonight, it could make for a difficult night for the Caps.

Washington: Alex Ovechkin

OK, Ovechkin broke the nine-game streak without a goal. He still does not have a goal on the road this year. But here’s the thing – Ovechkin has had nine instances of going without a goal in four or more games in his career. Generally, he’s emerged from them with a vengeance (streaks and aftermath)…

Nov. 19-Dec. 1, 2005 (six games): three goals in three games
Jan. 26-Feb. 7, 2006 (five games): eight goals in seven games
Mar. 30-Apr. 8, 2006 (six games): four goals in four games
Dec. 29, 2006-Jan. 4, 2007 (five games): three goals in two games
Feb. 3-8, 2007 (four games): one goal in one game
Feb. 15-24, 2007 (five games): four goals in three games
Mar. 15-21, 2007 (four games): two goals in one game
Mar. 24-31, 2007 (four games): three goals in two games
Feb. 15-27, 2008 (seven games): six goals in three games

Ovechkin has 17 goals in 25 career games against Carolina, ten of them in Raleigh. As if he wouldn’t command enough attention, he now has the burden of a streak lifted and is going into a rink where he’s had a lot of success. This could be a big night.

Washington is 4-7-1 in Carolina since the lockout. They were outscored 17-8 in four games last year in Raleigh (1-3-0). The Caps can’t let the Hurricanes get off fast. That’s a recipe to get swamped in Carolina. But, given the way that Brent Johnson has played and, just as important, how his teammates have been playing in front of him, the Caps certainly have it in them to reverse that trend. If you’ve been reading this space for any length of time, you know that we think they will…

Caps 5 – Hurricanes 3

Sittin' at the end of the bar...

Did you know that...

-- This is the best Capitals record (8-4-2) after 14 games since the 1995-1996 season, when they started 9-5-0.

-- The Caps have scored 42 goals through 14 games. Last year, they did not score their 42nd goal until game 19, also against Tampa Bay. The Caps lost that one, 5-2. Olaf Kolzig lost that game, too. (edit: oops, not he didn't...Brent Johnson did).

-- The Caps have allowed 40 goals through 14 games (not including Gimmicks). Last year after 14 games?...40.

-- The 8-4-2 record puts the Caps on a pace for 47-23-12 (106 points). Think Caps fans would like that regular season result?

-- Three teams have two players ranked in the top-ten in plus-minus: Boston, Chicago, and Washington. The Caps are the only team with two Alexes in that group (Semin, ranked first, and Ovechkin, tied for sixth).

-- Speaking of Ovechkin, he is tied for eighth in hits among forwards, despite his having missed two games.

-- Mike Green is picking up where he left off. He's tied for second among defensemen in goals scored.

-- Alexander Semin has a 24.4 percent shooting percentage. Picking his spots well, or not taking enough shots? Discuss.

Veterans Day 2008

"To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…"

And with that, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed November 11, 1919, as the first “Armistice Day.” Seven years later, Congress would adopt a resolution to direct the President to issue an annual proclamation calling upon all Americans to observe “Armistice Day” in the United States. Armistice Day would become a Federal holiday in 1938, and the name “Armisctic Day” would become “Veterans Day” in 1954.

While it has become something of a commercial event like other Federal holidays, it is an opportunity for Americans to remember the contributions that military veterans have made to ensure the blessings of liberty that Americans have enjoyed in the 89 years since Wilson’s declaration.

But in addition to remembrances of the contributions of those many veterans, it seems as worthy to remember the contributions of the families of those veterans, those mothers and fathers, brothers and sisters, sons and daughters who have sacrificed much – time spent apart from their loved ones, the burden of helping their wounded recover, and in laying to rest those who made the ultimate sacrifice.

To all of those who serve in uniform and their families, thank you.