Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Caps Tonight

We've played more games than almost anyone else. And if you extrapolate the winning percentage of all the teams over the whole season - the result puts us around the 8th seed - just sneaking in to the post season (as we did last year).

But it's worse than that - we had a really hot start (7-1) and since then we've been playing like a team that won't make the playoffs.

Anyway - we've got a one game winning streak - let's see if we can make it two.

Who the Hell are we playing? Our Nemesis. That team that overcame our 3-1 game playoff lead and sent us home in the first round last year. The Washington Capitals

Primary Skaters: Who else? Alex Ovechkin. He has missed a few games due to injury – but I have a strong feeling he will play – and play hard – tonight. He may be the best player in the NHL and there may be no one better at creating his own shot. Last year he did a swoop-behind-the-net maneuver against Valiquette that was the prettiest goal I can remember seeing last year. Alex has 14 Goals and 9 assists (so he does pass occasionally) in just 14 games.

Some other offense comes from Center Brooks Laich who has 8 goals and Alex Semin who has 9.

In Net: For the Caps it's the two headed monster.

1 - Jose "three-or-more" Theodore. Veteran steady - but not great – goaltender. He is 5-3 with a 3.24 GAA and a .893 Save Percentage.

2 - Simeon "don't call me Simian" Varlamov. The younger - better goaltender that was the key to the Caps coming back against us last year. (As a completely unprofessional observation - I hate this guy). He’s 7-1 with a 2.67 GAA and a 0.912 Save percentage.

And for us - who do you think? Henrik "King" "Hank" Lundqvist. We live and die with our star goalie - but oddly - not that we're scoring more - Hank is allowing more. His GAA is now 2.51 with a .918 save percentage

Scoring & Defense: Caps can score. They average an unreal 3.75 goals a game to our 3.05. On defense they average 3.10 goals against, but that really depends on which goalie they use. We’re letting up 2.70 goals per game.

Special Effects: The Caps score on 24.4% of their PowerPlays to our 22.2%. But we kill off 85.9% of our shorthanded efforts while the Caps are more porous at 78.3%. So something of an advantage for us here.

Scheduling Conflicts: We've only played Thursday and Saturday. Caps played Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. So maybe slightly less rested. But these teams hate each other so they’ll both be ready ad will play hard.

Probable Lines: We've sort of settled into a post-traumatic Center-less line set up

Line 1: Lisin-Prospal-Gaborik. The GAB line (for Gaborik of course). I am amazed at the production and greatness emanating nightly from Marian G. It's a real pleasure to watch him work and I thank the hockey gods he is wearing the Ranger colors

Line 2: Higgins-Anisimov-Kotalik. The HAK line. Our man "Anis" Anisimov centers the number two line based on his talent (but mostly on catastrophic injuries to Dubinsky and Drury). Higs has located the missing particle in his nuclear make-up and has 2 goals. Kotalik has that massive slapshot and a Ranger 2nd best 6 goals.

Line 3: Avery-Boyle-Callahan. The ABC line. Boyle is our third line center. Not great news. And Seanny is getting praise from his coach but no goals or assists.

Line 4: Brashear-Voros-Byers. The PIM (Penalties In Minutes) line. No one wants to admit it - but our record is only stellar when Gabs and Brash both play the same night.

On Defense: You know this already…

Dave Puck Predicts: I'm actually taking Mrs. Pucks out tonight for our Anniversary - so I predict a large food bill and not enough hockey viewing.

Maybe - just maybe - 11 year old Pucks Junior may Blog the first period - subbing for his dad - until bedtime anyway.

But if you want a score – okay. If Theodore plays we win 4-3 on a SO. And if Varlamov starts – well I don’t predict losses so I just won’t predict. I just hope we can compete with these guys.

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