Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Caps vs. Sharks February 17th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!


"What’s wrong, cuz? Had to much to drink last night?"

Uh-uh… I OD’ed on goals.


Yeah… 13 of ‘em. All those flashing red lights… I felt like I was watching a crime scene.

“Well, that Anaheim goalie…his play was a crime.”

The Caps’ kiddie pair wasn’t much better… six goals on 21 shots? Ughhh…

"Cuz…ya know we got another game tonight to preview…."


It’s another sunny day in California as the Caps complete their first set of back-to-backs inside of a week, tonight taking on the San Jose Sharks in a rematch of a battle between these teams only nine days ago. Since that 2-0 win over the Caps, the Sharks have split four games. In doing so they extended a trend Caps fans would be familiar with – an inability to score goals. Over their last six games heading into tonight’s contest with the Caps the Sharks have scored a total of 12 goals. Fortunately for the Sharks, they have allowed only seven goals in that span, getting two shut outs along the way in posting a 4-2-0 record. The overall numbers look like this…

Antti Niemi authored both shutouts, one against Boston, the other against the Caps. He was the goaltender of record in all six games, stopping of 163 of 171 shots on goal (.953). He is 1-0-1, 1.967, 2.03 career versus the Caps.

San Jose brings five 40-point scorers into this game, topped by Dany Heatley and Joe Thornton at 47 points apiece. Heatley is in his second season in San Jose, and while he has posted decent numbers (58 goals and 129 points in 140 games), he is not the efficient point producer he was in Ottawa, where he had a pair of 100-plus point seasons. But even with those seasons, Heatley has dropped in production to where he is about a point a game player. At the moment he is 1-3-4 in his last 11 games. In 31 career games against the Caps he is 11-23-34.

Thornton is another player whose production has slipped a bit in recent years. After going 42-164-206 in his first 140 games with the Sharks, he dropped to 96 points in the 2007-2008 season, following that up with seasons of 86 and 89 points. He is on a pace for a 69 point finish this season. He, like Heatley, is 1-3-4 in his last 11 games. In 32 career games against Washington he is 12-19-31.

Marc-Edouard Vlasic gave indications early in his career that he might grow into something of an offensive defenseman. He had a 26-point season in his rookie year and followed that up two years later with a 6-30-36 scoring line. But over the past two seasons he has only 28 points in 122 games. The drop in points has been a product of a lack of helpers. He certainly has had his troubles lately getting points, failing to record a goal since December 18th, a span of 25 games. He is plus-2 over that same stretch, though. He is 1-1-2 in five career games against Washington.

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

San Jose: Logan Couture

Logan Couture comes into this game second among all rookies in scoring (24-12-36). Since getting the game-winner in the 2-0 win over the Caps nine days ago he seems to have hit a bit of a rough patch, going 0-1-1 in four games since then. Three of the last five goals he has are game-winners. But he’s struggled a bit at home, only 6-4-10 in 24 home games (versus 18-8-26 on the road).

Washington: Whoever gets the call in goal

After last night’s bizarre game, either of Semyon Varlamov or Michal Neuvirth have to shake off the poor effort (compounded by poor play in front of them) against Anaheim. Neuvirth has not allowed more than three goals in consecutive appearances this year; neither has Varlamov.


1. Don’t get happy. Seven goals is nice. But not when you’re in a game trading them with your opponent. San Jose is a different animal; resist the temptation to take shortcuts and cheat toward getting out of the zone early.

2. Focus! Last time these two teams met, it looked as if goalie Michal Neuvirth lost his edge a bit in the third period. He – or Semyon Varlamov – has to play 60 minutes, just like the skaters.

3. Don’t read the history book. The Caps have not won in San Jose since October 30… 1993. They are 0-9-1 in San Jose since that win. The have been outscored 18-5 in their last four visits there. Don’t dwell on it. That’s our job.

In the end, how do you follow up the journey into the Twilight Zone last night? Put it away and dig out the tape to watch over a few beers years from now, because this ain’t the 80’s, and teams aren’t going to be successful winning games 7-6. The Caps are still in search of that happy medium where they play responsibly, yet dynamically. The Caps are likely to face a better goaltender than what they faced last evening, and they need to be sure they are solid in their own end, too. A return to normalcy…sort of.

Caps 4 – Sharks 2

A TWO-point night -- Game 58: Caps 7 - Ducks 6

You want to tell me what the hell THAT was?!

The Caps beat the Anaheim Ducks last night, or rather “outlasted” them, 7-6 in a goal-fest in Anaheim. It was like watching Apollo Creed and Rocky Balboa trading head shots over 15 rounds. Getzlaf on an early power play goal…Ovechkin splits the defense and scores…Laich picks off a pass attempt and converts the gift…Selanne, then Lydman, then Perry for the Ducks…now it’s Semin and Steckel for the Caps…

By the time it was over, it was Alexander Semin getting the tying and winning goals on his way to a hat trick to give the Caps the win in a game that treated goaltenders like they were playing in the All Star Game.

Other stuff…

-- Anaheim led 1-0, 4-2, 5-4, and 6-5…and lost. That’s gonna hurt.

-- Caps gave up six goals on 21 shots over 45:51. They did not allow a shot on goal in the last 14:09 of the game. They had only two shot attempts in that time (both blocked). See? They can play defense.

-- The hat trick by Alexander Semin was his fourth of the season, tying a record for the team held by Peter Bondra (1995-96) and Dennis Maruk (1980-81, 1981-82).

-- The 13 total goals was the most scored by both teams in a Caps game since the Caps beat Ottawa, 8-6, on December 29, 2007.

-- The Caps had only two power plays and had only one power play shot on goal, which did not find the back of the net. The Ducks also had one shot on the Caps power play… and scored.

-- Cam Fowler was on the ice for five of the seven Caps goals on his way to a minus-5. That makes him minus-18 for the year. Last among rookie defensemen.

-- At the other end of the spectrum, John Carlson was plus-4. He is now plus-17, second among rookie defensemen.

-- Lost in the hoopla was that Karl Alzner set a personal career high with three assists, his first multi-point game since December 6, 2008.

-- The Caps were guilty of trying to play too much defense by moving their sticks (taking swipes at passing Duck players) instead of moving their feet.

-- And top of that, while neither goalie was sharp for the Caps, it didn’t help that the skaters in front of them were setting screens almost as good as what Anaheim was setting, or deflecting pucks into their own net.

-- Seven hits for Luca Sbisa? Well, he does lead the Ducks’ defensemen in hits.

-- John Erskine came to the defense of teammate Matt Hendricks, who was plastered into the end boards from behind by Andy Sutton. Erskine got an instigator, a fighting major, and a 10-minute misconduct for his trouble – 17 minutes in penalties. That ended his night.

-- That meant that Scott Hannan and John Carlson had to log more than 25 minutes, Karl Alzner and Jeff Schultz more than 22 minutes.

-- Jason Chimera had a short night, too. He was whistled for goaltender interference at 8:46 of the third period and didn’t get onto the ice again in the last 11:14.

In the end, a truly bee-zarre game. A throwback, a reminder of what a lot of games were like in the mid-1980’s (the Caps, for example, played 12 games in 1985-86 in which at least ten goals were scored by both teams). It was nice to see the Caps break out, but not at the expense of a .714 save percentage on only 21 shots on goal. The Caps’ defense seemed to right itself late, after a time out taken by Bruce Boudreau. Allowing no shots on goal in the last 14:09 is pretty good, even in a game with as many goals as this, especially when it does come to close out the game. They will need that kind of tighter defensive play against the San Jose Sharks as the Caps look to sweep the first of two back-to-backs they play over the next week.