Friday, November 04, 2016

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!! -- Game 11: Panthers at Capitals, November 5th

The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!

Having finished their first ten games of the season, the Washington Capitals embark on their next ten with the second of a three-game home stand on Saturday night.  The Florida Panthers visit Verizon Center for the first of two meetings in Washington this season.

After going 3-1-1 in their first five games to start the season (their only loss in regulation at the hands of the Caps), the Panthers are just 2-4-0 in their last six contests.  Scoring has been an issue in this recent skid.  Averaging just 2.33 goals per game in those six games, the Panthers recorded more than two goals just twice (accounting for both of their wins) and getting shutout by the Buffalo Sabres on October 29th.

Jonathan Marchessault has three of the Panthers’ 14 goals over their last six games.  It gives him six on the season, one shot of his career best of seven goals in 45 games last season.  He has been a rather good indicator of Panther success in the early going.  Florida is 4-1-0 in the five games in which he has goals (oddly enough, he had two against Toronto in a 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs on October 27th). Marchessault had an assist in the Panthers’ 4-2 loss to the Caps on October 20th.

Vincent Trocheck also has three goals in the last six games, all of them coming in the Panthers’ last three contests.  He had one in a Florida 5-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on October 30th, and he had a pair in the Panthers’ 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils this past Thursday.  Trocheck is tied for the league leads through Thursday night’s games in even strength goals (six).  We did not record a point in the Panthers’ last meeting against the Caps, and he finished a minus-2.

It is early to be invoking the term “slump,” but defenseman Aaron Ekblad is not off to a hot start, either.  He has just two goals so far this season (his only points), one of them in the Panthers’ win over the Devils on Thursday.  Both of his goals so far are of the power play variety.  Ekblad is in a bit of a penalty rut.  He has penalties taken in each of his last three games with a total of eight minutes charged.  He is, however, getting a bigger dose of ice time.  His 23:41 in average ice time so far is two minutes more per game than he averaged last season.  He was blanked on the score sheet against the Caps in their first meeting and finished a minus-2.

1.  The Panthers’ penalty killers are struggling on the road.  Florida is 26th in the league in road penalty killing (68.9 percent).  They have given up four goals in nine shorthanded situations in their last two road games.

2.  Fortunately for the Panthers, the 31 instances in which they found themselves shorthanded on the road so far ranks as the seventh-fewest in the league.

3.  If it’s close, it’s bad for the Panthers, but they are likely to be on the good side of a blowout.  Florida is 2-3-1 in one-goal games, 3-1 in games decided by three or more goals.  They have played only one two-goal game, that being their loss to the Caps.

4.  Florida has just three players with more than two goals.  In addition to Marchessault and Trocheck (six apiece), Colton Sceviour has five.  That is 17 of the team’s 30 goals so far.

5.  Florida has very good possession numbers overall. Their 53.31 Corsi-for at 5-on-5 is fourth in the league.  It doesn’t hold up on the road, though.  On the road, they are 15th (50.37 percent; numbers from

1.  Marcus Johansson has six goals in ten games.  Last season he had his sixth goal in Game 30.  It does not hurt that he is shooting 30.0 percent (6-for-20).

2.  Alex Ovechkin broke a three-game streak without a goal with his two-goal effort on Thursday in the overtime win against Winnipeg.  Even with that three-game streak, Ovechkin has six goals in eight games.

3.  The Caps still rank tied for fifth in fewest third period goals allowed.  But five of the eight goals they allowed so far this season in the third period came in the home-and-home against Winnipeg.

4.  The Caps have seven wins this season when scoring first, second in the league to Montreal (eight).  No team has scored first more often than Washington (nine times).

5. Washington’s plus-5.2 shots per game differential is third best in the league, trailing only San Jose (plus-6.5) and Los Angeles (plus-5.5).

The Peerless’ Players to Ponder

Florida: Jaromir Jagr

Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal of the season in the Panthers’ 4-2 loss to Washington on October 20th.  He does not have a goal in seven games since.  Through his first 11 games last season he already had six goals.  His 1-4-5 scoring line does not compare well with his 11-game scoring line from last season (6-4-10).  And, his shot volumes are down.  Jagr has just one shot on goal over his last three games after putting 24 shots on goal in his first eight contests.  On the road, it has been more troublesome.  He has just one assist in five road games so far.  With this game, Jagr will have played a regular-season’s worth of games against the Caps.  In 81 career games so far, he is 32-61-93, plus-16.

Washington: Andre Burakovsky

Andre Burakovsky scored two goals on Opening Night in a 3-2 Gimmick loss to Pittsburgh.  He has yet to turn on the red light since.  In his last nine games he is 0-for-20 shooting, only four of those shots coming in his last three games.  He does have assists in three of his last five games, although he has just one assist at home so far (his only point at Verizon Center).  It is part of a longer drought on his part.  Including playoff games last spring, Burakovsky has four goals in his last 33 games.  His shooting is 4-for-62 (6.5 percent).  Burakovsky is 2-0-2, minus-1 in five career games against Florida.

In the end…

The Caps are humming along at the surface with four straight wins, but there are blemishes.  There are those five third period goals allowed to Winnipeg in two games.  There are the thin numbers of Andre Burakovsky, Justin Williams (1-1-2 in ten games), and Lars Eller (1-0-1 in ten games.  While both Williams and Eller have contributed in other ways, mostly on defense, getting supplemental scoring from the likes of these players would make one feel more confident about the level of play underlying the recent record.  Being 10-1-0 in their last 11 home games against the Panthers dating back to the 2010-2011 season is perhaps a signal that they could extend that winning streak another game.  Then again, that loss was in the Caps last game against Florida at Verizon Center.  Don’t get cocky.

Caps 4 – Panthers 1

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