Friday, December 12, 2014

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Game 29: Lightning at Capitals, December 13th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Look, these guys just played last Tuesday, and both teams played one game since, so if you think we’re writing 1,200 or so words about this matchup again, think again.*  Look at our prognosto and game wrap for Tuesday's game for some background.  We do have some more thoughts about this game, though…

-- The Caps are 1-1-2 in a rematch against an opponent they beat the first time they squared off this season.  Washington beat Carolina on December 4th after beating them in overtime on November 8th, they lost to Columbus in overtime on Thursday after beating them on November 11th, the lost to Calgary in overtime on December 4th after beating them on October 25th, and they lost to the New Jersey Devils in regulation time on November 14th after beating them on October 16th.

-- On Tuesday, Braden Holtby faced 23 shots on goal in the Caps' 3-2 overtime loss to Columbus.  It is the seventh time this season that he faced fewer than 25 shots in a complete regulation or extra time game (that is, not counting partial games played).  He is 2-2-3 in those games with a save percentage of .892 and has allowed three or more goals in four of those decisions.  It is quite a drop off from his career record in such games coming into this season (6-3-2, 1.78, .912).  It seems that Holtby, who still has only 128 regular season appearances in the NHL has a bit of work to do on this part of game management.

-- The Caps are the only team Tampa Bay has faced over the Lightning’s last nine games to score more than three goals against them, the 5-3 win on Tuesday.

-- Odd fact… the Caps have not lost this season when scoring four goals (4-0-0).  However, they lost two of the four games in which they scored five goals (2-1-1).

-- The Caps scored a power play against Columbus on Tuesday night and lost.  It happens more often than you might think.  Washington is 8-6-4 when scoring a power play goal.  On the other hand, they are 4-7-3 when allowing a power play goal, which is probably what many folks might expect.

-- John Carlson has points in six of his last seven games (2-7-9, plus-9) and is now tied for fifth in scoring among defensemen (4-17-21).

-- The Caps are 5-5-4 at home this season.  Through 14 home games last season the Caps actually lost six times in regulation.  They won the other eight games.  Here is the thing about those eight wins, though.  Four of them came in extra time, three of them in the Gimmick.  That’s how thin the margin can be in earning standings points.

-- Jason Chimera had been such a good fella, too.  His straying from the rule book was described in fine form at Japers’ Rink here.  He’s had an odd season when it comes to infractions.  In his first 16 games he took seven minor penalties, never more than one in a single game.  Then he ran off a string of 11 games in which he took just one penalty.  Then came Thursday night and taking a pair, including that penalty in overtime….ugh.

-- Don’t let Tampa Bay get to “four.”  The Lightning are 15-0-0 when scoring four or more goals, and only two of those wins are in extra time.

-- The Caps have a very respectable 9-5-2 record against Eastern Conference teams.  It is, however, something of a split personality.  Washington is 6-1-2 against Metropolitan Division teams, but only 3-4-1 against teams in the Atlantic Division.  Tampa Bay is in the Atlantic Division.

In the end…

The trick about losing streaks is nipping them in the bud before they become streaks.  Only once this season have the Caps had a losing streak longer than two games (a five-game streak, October 26 – November 4), so they have been fairly good at avoiding prolonged slumps of that variety.  On the other hand, they haven’t had a winning streak of longer than three games (twice, the more recent one snuffed out in the loss on Tuesday).

If the Caps can win three of every four games (they are 3-0-1 in their last four contests), it will make for a happy spring, certainly.  But the more immediate chore is to keep from getting that second straight loss.

Capitals 4 – Lightning 2

*  OK...734 words.

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