The Peerless Prognosticator is ON THE AIR!!!
If it is Monday, it must be hockey in Washington. For the second straight week and the third time in three Monday games this season, the Washington Capitals host a game at Capital One Arena, this time welcoming the Anaheim Ducks in a 7:00 start. The Caps had their 13-game points streak stopped last week when they dropped a 5-2 decision to Montreal, but they rebounded with a 3-2 Gimmick win over Boston on Saturday. Anaheim comes to Washington fresh off a 4-1 win over the St. Louis Blues that ended a five-game losing streak (0-3-2).
Then and Now…
This is not one of the great rivalries among those the Caps have with NHL teams. It will be only the 38th regular season meeting of the clubs, and the Caps will be looking to even their wins and regulation losses, taking a 17-18-1 (one tie) all-time record against the Ducks into this game. Washington is 9-9-1 on home ice against the Ducks in the all-time series. Since 2005-2006, the Caps are 11-7-1 overall and 5-4-1 on home ice against Anaheim. The Ducks won both games of the season series last year, a 6-5 win in Washington on December 2nd and a 5-2 win in California on February 17th. The Ducks have won the last three meetings of the clubs, and the Caps have not defeated Anaheim in regulation since February 2017.
Active Leaders vs. Opponent…
The name “Jakob Silfverberg” is not likely to command a lot of attention outside of Southern California, and frankly, it might not command much in that part of the country. But Jakob Silfverberg is making his way up the all-time rankings for the Anaheim Ducks, knocking on the door of the top-ten in a number of categories he does not already occupy. If he plays 35 more games this season he will become the 11th player in team history to appear in 500 games with the franchise. He is eighth on the club’s all-time list in goals scored (116), 13th in assists (134), 11th in points (250), 11th in plus-minus (plus-35), and tied for seventh in game-winning goals (17). He has established himself as, if not an elite scorer, than a reliable secondary scorer, a more or less 20-goal/45-point player per 82 games in his seven years with the Ducks.
This season, Silfverberg is on a career pace in goals, assists, and points. Currently 9-8-17 in 21 games, he is on pace to put up 35 goals (career best to date: 24 last season), 31 assists (he had 26 twice in his career), and 66 points (he had 49 points in 2016-2017). He is one of seven players so far this season with two shorthanded goals, and he is one of 19 players in the NHL with at least ten shorthanded goals since 2012-2013. He has shorthanded goals in seven of the last eight seasons, one of only three players in the league with as many (Michael Grabner and Brad Marchand are the others). He comes into this game with points in seven of his last ten contests over which he is 4-5-9, minus-5. Silfverberg is 5-5-10, even, in 15 career games against the Capitals.
Cam Fowler was the 12th overall pick of the 2010 Entry Draft and the third defenseman taken in that draft. The Ducks are no doubt pleased that Erik Gudbranson (taken third overall by Florida) and Dylan McIlrath (taken 10th by the New York Rangers) did not slip to their spot or that Fowler was taken by either of those teams. No defenseman in his draft class has appeared in more NHL games than Fowler (641), he is second to Justin Faulk in goals (62 to 85), and he leads his class of defensemen in points (281). Those 62 career goals are most by a defenseman in Ducks history, as are his 641 games played, 2109 assists, and 281 points. He even has four career shorthanded and game-winning goals to top the career list among defensemen and is one of three defensemen in Ducks history to record a hat trick (Hampus Lindhom and Lubomir Visnovsky are the others), turning the trick in a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets in November 2018.
Fowler has had recent difficulties staying in the lineup, though. After appearing in 80 games for second time in three seasons in 2016-2017, he missed 15 games in 2017-2018 to knee and shoulder injuries, and last year he missed 23 games after taking a puck that deflected off his own stick into his cheek, causing multiple facial fractures. He has appeared in all 21 games for the Ducks this season and is having a typical year with four goals (most among Duck defensemen) and five assists, going plus-5 in the process. But his season has unfolded in two parts. Fowler was 2-3-5, plus-7, in his first eight games, but he is just 2-2-4, minus-2, in his last 13 games. In 13 career games against the Caps, Fowler is 0-8-8, minus-6.
So, who will it be in goal? Will it be Ryan Miller, the third-leading active goaltender in wins against the Caps (19) and who is 3-0-2, 2.61, .919 in five games this season? Or will it be the goalie the Ducks hope will be their number one for years to come, Josh Gibson, who is 7-9-0, 2.83, .915 this season, but is just 1-2-2, 3.22, .901, with one shutout in six career appearances against the Caps? Miller has lost his last two decisions, both in overtime at home, to Chicago and Detroit, stopping 66 of 73 shots in the two games (.904), after stopping 92 of 99 shots (.929) in four appearances (three wins and a no-decision) to start his season. Gibson has been streaky, winning his first three decisions of the season, losing a pair of consecutive games, and then after beating Buffalo to end that streak, lost four in a row. He is 3-3-0 in his last six decisions, 3.34, .904. Miller has won his only two appearances against the Caps with the Ducks, stopping 42 of 46 shots (.913), one win on home ice (a 5-2 win last February) and one in Washington (a 6-5 win in December 2018 in which he relieved Gibson). Gibson is 1-1-1 in Washington in his career with a 4.94 GAA and a .855 save percentage.
1. Anaheim is 30th in the league in shots on goal per game (28.60, and they have yet to win a game when out-shooting the opposition (0-6-1) the only team without such a win left.
2. Conversely, the Ducks have 10 wins when out-shot by opponents, the most such wins in the league.
3. The Ducks don’t play well with others. They have been penalized 92 times this season, third-most in the league.
4. Anaheim has only two power play goals on the road this season, tied for fewest with Detroit.
5. In nine road games this season, the Ducks had a positive shot attempts differential at 5-on-5 only twice, October 14th against Boston and October 22nd against Nashville. The Ducks lost both games in regulation.
1. The Caps have had negative shot differential at 5-on-5 in three of their last four home games, minus-24 combined.
2. After going 0-for-13 on the power play in their first three home games, the Caps are 6-for-22 over their last seven home contests (27.3 percent).
3. Similarly, after going 10-for-12 on the penalty kill in their first three home games (83.3 percent), the Caps are 14-for-16 in their last seven home games (87.5 percent).
4. When the Caps were held to a single even strength goal against Montreal in their most recent home game, it was the first time since their home opener that they were held to fewer than three seven strength goals in a game on home ice.
5. The Caps can do a better job managing the puck. In eight of ten home games they have more giveaways than takeaways and have 111 giveaways to 78 takeaways on home ice through ten games on the home schedule.
The Peerless’ Players to Ponder
Anaheim: Ryan Getzlaf
Ryan Getzlaf is the grand old man of Ducks Hockey, the only player in team history to appear in at least 1,000 games. His 1,005 games played with the club are more than 350 more than any current teammate (Cam Fowler: 641). It should be no surprise that he ranks among the all-time best in club history in a number of categories – goals (269/fourth), assists (668/first), points (937/second), plus-minus (plus-148/first), even strength goals (181/third), power play goals (80/fourth), shorthanded goals (eight/fifth), and game-winning goals (54). At age 34, though, some chips are appearing in the armor. After four straight seasons appearing in at least 74 games, he missed 26 games in 2017-2018 to a facial injury and a variety of lesser ailments. He missed 15 games last season to groin and upper-body injuries. With the absences came diminished production. His 14 goals last season made it four straight years with 15 or fewer goals, and his 48 points last season were his fewest in a season since he had 39 points in 57 games in his rookie season in 2005-2006.
Getzlaf has appeared in all 21 games to date for the Ducks, but the production has yet to rebound. His eight goals are more than half-way to the 14 he posted last year, but he has only six assists in 21 games, perhaps a reflection of how offense-starved the Ducks have been for much of the season. His ice time seems to be taking a hit as well. He is averaging 18:06 per game so far this season, his lowest average ice time since he skated 15:04 per game over 82 games in his sophomore season in 2006-2007. He has been warming up of late, going 5-4-9, plus-1, in his last ten games. Getzlaf is 7-18-25, plus-5, in 18 career games against the Caps.
Washington: Dmitry Orlov
It does not seem all that long ago that Dmitry Orlov was a second-round draft pick of the Washington Capitals. But here he is, now in his eighth season with the club, and he has passed Larry Murphy for 12th place on the Caps’ all-time list of games played by a defenseman, and he is within 31 games of becoming the 12th defenseman in Caps history to play in 500 games. Part of that has been his durability. If he plays in all 82 games this season, it would be his fifth straight year of playing in every regular season game, and it would leave him as only the third defenseman in Caps history to record five 82-games played seasons (Karl Alzner has six, and John Carlson has five).
It isn’t as if his playing time has been spent unproductively, either. It is possible that by the end of this season he will crack the top-ten among defensemen in team history in goals (he has 34 and needs eight more to tie Robert Picard for tenth place), points (he needs 15 more to tie Al Iafrate for tenth place), and game-winning goals (he needs one to tie Picard and Matt Niskanen for tenth place). He is already tenth on the list in assists, tied with Niskanen and Rick Green.
Orlov has had some difficulty recovering his goal scoring touch from his career best of ten goals set in 2017-2018. He has only four goals in 104 games on 130 shots (3.1 percent) in the season and change since then. This season he recorded his only goal on Opening Night in St. Louis on what was his first shot on goal of the season. He is 0-for-28 shooting since then. If there is a silver lining in his offense, it is that he has recorded assists in bunches – four in a six-game stretch in mid-October sand three over a five-game stretch to close October and begin November. He is without a point in his last four games, though. Orlov is looking for his first career point against Anaheim, shut out in ten career games to date with a minus-6 rating.
In the end…
Anaheim doesn’t score much, their special teams are weak, particularly the power play, they struggle with shot attempt differential, and they are 2-4-0 in their last four road games. One would think that the Caps would have to play down to their level to make this a competitive game. However, the Caps do not have a great home record so far (5-2-3), losing two straight (0-1-1) since running off a five-game winning streak at home. And, there might be Ryan Miller facing them in goal, a netminder with a career of success against the Caps. Even with the recent offensive hiccups, the Caps are too deep to permit the Ducks anything more than a passing glimpse of being competitive in this game. Or so one would hope, because the games are played on ice, not on paper.
Capitals 5 – Ducks 2