Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Tuesday Roundup

Would someone kindly explain to me how the Caps get stuck playing six games in nine nights and follow that up immediately with nearly six full days off? To put this ridiculous scheduling anomaly in perspective, consider that the Redskins will have pissed away lost two games in between the Caps' last game and their next one.

But while it's frustrating for us impatient fans, as mentioned before, it will give the team a chance to get healthy and work on getting used to Bruce Boudreau's system, so when the break is finally over on Friday night, they'll be a well-oiled 20-engine killing machine.

Or not.

One thing is for certain, though - when the Caps return to action later in the week, they'd better start winning some games on home ice. There are only three teams in the entire League - Montreal, Toronto and Atlanta - with less than twice as many home wins as the Caps have. If the season is to be salvaged, the team will have to play much better hockey at home (as in above .500), and they'll have their first chance to better that disappointing 3-8-1 mark Saturday night when they open a four-game home-stand against Atlanta.

Anyway, since things are pretty slow for the next couple of days, I figured I'd throw out a question for discussion each day. Today's question: what the hell is wrong with Matt Pettinger? Here's a guy who had scored 36 goals over the past two seasons (in 135 games - a 21.9 goals per 82 games pace) and now sits dead last in shooting percentage among NHL forwards with at least 40 shots on goal. One goal and two helpers all year. No points since October 29 (he actually had his goal and an assist in that game, meaning he has all of one assist in his other 25 games this season). On the plus side, every goal he's scored this year has been a game-winner.

Has his shoulder never fully healed? Is he skating with the wrong linemates? Has he just had rotten luck? Any and all theories are welcome.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Cory Stillman (2G, +2, 5 SOG)
  • Ross: 8 players tied with 2 points each
  • Norris: Joni Pitkanen (G, A, 3 SOG)
  • Vezina: Cam Ward (28-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Cory Stillman (2G)
  • Calder: Kris Letang (Game-winning goal)
  • Aiken: Martin Straka (0 points, -4 in 4-0 loss)


Anonymous said...

He's trying too hard because he cares so much. As the sages say: "The worst thing you can do as a hockey player is go out and think." Poor ole Petty is holding on to the stick too tightly. The more time that goes by the worse it'll get for him. Hypnosis? Meditation? Dunno!

He also appears to not be quite as fierce in the area of hitting and slamming as he has been in years past. This bashfulness may be a symptom of a poorly repaired earlier injury.

He's a good man. I wish him the best. (sigh) Now is the time!

Anonymous said...

Petty is now clearly pressing, and that almost always leads to more offensive futility. But the origin of his scoring problems probably lies with his linemates and what Hanlon wanted them to accomplish, namely, play strong defense and chip in goals. The problem is that this line focused way too much on the defensive side of the ledger and could never get on track offensively. While we have focused on Petty, the fact is that both Gordon and Clark (a 30 goal scorer last year!) produced nothing on the third line. It's just a really bad mix of players who on paper, looking at individual stats, should be pretty strong. However, the sum was never greater than the individual parts.

The problem with the third line is that they really need soemone who can carry and distribute the puck. No one on this line can do it. As a result, they never enter the offensive zone with possession and speed. How many times have you seen Pettinger dump and chase the puck into the zone? Or enter one-on-one to simply take a long slap shot into the crest of the goalie? Right now, I would be tempted to sit Pettinger for a few games and then bring him back as LW on the fourth line with Backstrom. I have to believe that Petty could bury more of thse great set-ups from Backstrom.

The only thing that gives me optimism is that BB seems to have a better idea of how to get players on-track than Hanlon.


Anonymous said...

It's actually a good sign as shooting percentage is highly prone to random variance. Theres an excellent (almost certain really) chance that he is performing below his "true" shooting percentage based on pure dumb bad luck. If his SOG declined dramatically as well, then we shoiuld worry.

b.orr4 said...

The year Dennis Maruk scored 60, I think he went the first ten games of the season without a goal. When he did finally score, he was so relieved he threw his stick into the stands. Now, I'm not comparing Maruk to Pettinger, but when a guy who's proven he can score is getting quality chances, sooner or later it will break. I doubt he'll get 20 this year, but I wouldn't be suprised to see him reach 15.

DMG said...

I'm against the idea of playing Pettinger on line 4 as a LW - where would Brashear go?

I agree that more than anything else it has just been bad luck, although playing on a line with less skilled players hasn't helped. Bad luck has been the story of the year for the Caps and this is another example, but like any bad luck it'll turn around. Either that or he'll become Jeff Halpern, have one bad year and never be the same.

JR said...

Sounds like a "they are who we thought they were" situation to me. On the other hand, it seems like the line combos are never the same for more than 2 games anymore.

Stimpy said...

He has contracted Fleischmannitis. He gets chances, but can't finish. And with nobody else on that line scoring, he isn't going to get any assists from his near misses. He just needs a fugly goal and he'll start putting in some shots.

Anonymous said...

Don't be too concerned about the layoff. Mediocrity will return to the ice soon enough. With any luck this team will grow as the year progresses.

Anonymous said...

It's not that Pettinger is not getting scoring chances -- without any checking, he's had several shots on goal in the last couple of games. All his shots are going into the goalie's sweater. He looks like he's skating well and getting pucks. But the shots aren't going in. He's slumping, and he's got bad luck. So he tightens up and tries too hard. Hopefully he'll go back to basics, simplify his game, and keep shooting on net. Perhaps if the team's fortune's reverse, so will his, and he won't have to worry about getting that all-important goal.