The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
The Washington Capitals have little time to reflect on their 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night as they head home to face the Anaheim Ducks at Verizon Center on Friday evening.
The name no longer includes the word “mighty,” but the Ducks have been that so far this season. With a 34-12-6 record, Anaheim holds the best record in the league and is tied for wins with the St. Louis Blues.
The Ducks come to Washington fresh of consecutive wins, beating the Carolina Hurricanes in a 5-4 overtime decision last Tuesday, then beating the Nashville Predators in what for both clubs was a “statement” game, 5-2 in Nashville last night.
In this abbreviated prognosto, here are some random facts with which to beguile and impress your friends…
-- Anaheim has the best record in the league, but you wonder if there isn’t a fun house mirror sort of quality to it. They do not rank particularly highly in any high-end statistical category:
- Scoring offense: 2.88 goals/game (10th)
- Scoring defense: 2.62 goals/game (17th)
- 5-on-5 GF/GS ratio: 1.07 (14th)
- Power play: 17.8 percent (16th)
- Penalty killing: 81.5 percent (17th)
-- What the Ducks do is manage leads extremely well. They are 25-1-5 when scoring first (fourth in winning percentage) and 21-0-2 when taking a lead into the third period (sixt-best winning percentage, one of eight teams not to lose in regulation).
-- One other thing about the Ducks’ game management. Good luck against them in one-goal games. They are 23-0-6. That is the second best winning percentage, and no other team in the league has fewer than two one-goal losses in regulation time.
-- One thing this Anaheim team has in common with the 2007 edition that won a Stanley Cup, they fight. The Ducks have 23 fighting majors, tied for fourth in the league. The 2006-2007 club led the league with 71 fighting majors.
-- Washington played their 33rd one-goal game last night and 13th in their last 17 games. Over both the season (13-10-10) and this recent stretch (5-4-4) they are playing such games at a coin-flip points pace.
-- Seventeen games is more than a fifth of the season, and over that stretch of games Alex Ovechkin is scoring goals at a 77-goal pace over a full season (16). Sustainable? Well, no. He is shooting to a 19.8 percent pace. His career shooting percentage before this streak was 12.1 percent.
-- On the other hand, the goal scoring streak is something of a reset for Ovechkin. Before embarking on it he had 16 goals on 173 shots, a 9.2 percent shooting percentage. As it is, for the season he is shooting 12.6 percent, well in line with his career mark to date of 12.3 percent.
-- Braden Holtby is now top-five in goals against average (2.14/5th), save percentage (.925/5th), and shutouts (six/2nd). He leads the league in total minutes played (2,634).
-- Holtby’s minutes number is more than 100 more minutes than New Jersey’s Cory Schneider (2,524), who started the season setting a club mark for consecutive starts at the beginning of a season.
-- Evgeny Kuznetsov (20 points) and Andre Burakovsky (19 points) rank ninth and tenth in rookie scoring. Kuznetsov ranks fourth in rookie power play scoring (7 points).
In the end…
This will be a benchmark game for the Caps in that they are playing the league’s most accomplished team to date. On the other hand, this will be the Caps’ seventh game in 11 days. They are 3-2-1 in the first six games of this stretch, and quite frankly that is not altogether bad under the circumstances (three back-to-back sets of games in there).
The Caps won their first game when allowing the first goal since they beat Chicago, 3-2, back on November 7th. It would not be something to count on against the Ducks, though, who are a very skilled team at winning when scoring first. That might be the key to this whole game. Anaheim is 25-1-5 when scoring first, the Caps are 25-1-4. Who do you think we have scoring first?
Capitals 3 – Ducks 2