Friday, February 08, 2008

Friday Roundup/Gamenight: 'Canes @ Caps

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One point separates the Caps and 'Canes in the standings. Six-hundredths of a goal is the difference between the two teams' goals per game and seven-hundredths the difference between the two squads' goals against per game. The Caps' penalty kill is 2.8% more efficient than Carolina's, and their power play 0.8% less efficient. The two teams have split four head-to-head match ups on the season so far, with each team notching a home shutout and another home win, and both teams have been hit hard by injuries (Carolina is without Justin Williams, Matt Cullen, Chad LaRose, Dennis Seidneberg and David Tanabe who have accounted for 26 goals and 75 assists in 190 total games in 2007-08, while the Caps are, of course, without Chris Clark, Michael Nylander and Brian Pothier who have a combined for 21 goals and 39 assists in 96 man-games on the season).

The teams are evenly matched on paper, to be sure, but the Caps come in with momentum. Since Bruce Boudreau took over, Washington is 20-10-4. Carolina is 15-20-1 over a similar stretch, and 4-6-0 in their last ten (the Caps are 7-3-0). Washington's Alex Ovechkin has eight points (seven goals) in his last four outings, Nicklas Backstrom 12 in his last nine and Mike Green four in his last four while Carolina's Eric Staal is pointless in hist last four games, Erik Cole in his last six and Frantisek Kaberle in his last dozen.

Not all 'Canes are chilly, though (Rod Brind'Amour has 11 points in his last nine games and Cam Ward has a 1.98 GAA and .935 SV% in his last four), and not all Caps hot (Alex Semin's goal against Columbus is his only point in six games).

Bottom line: throw out all the stats, because they're gonna play this one on ice (or something close to it), not on paper, and we'll get our first chance to see how the first-place Washington Capitals defend that top spot. It oughta be a doozy.

Why The Hurricanes Will Win:
"The Canes will win if and only if AO comes down with the flu before the game. Otherwise, it's probably going to be ugly." - Carolina On Ice

"Because the Caps are riding high and they aren't used to that. They'll wake up tomorrow and realize something feels wrong and go back to losing again like they're supposed to. I will assist in this by going to DC and changing all the calendars back to November. And because Ovie's gotta run out of gas sometime, doesn't he? Yes?" - The Sliding Pokecheck [Ed. note: No, no he doesn't]
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

So I can get a press pass in D.C. but Pat LaFontaine can't get one on The Island? Ha?... Happy Birthday Dino Ciccarelli... Because I like getting nostalgic, I'm going to start including some links back to what we posted here at The Rink on a given date one and two years ago. I find it interesting to see what we thought at the time and how that may or may not have changed since. So... A year ago today, we previewed the Caps and Kings, looked at why the Caps should trade Dainius Zubrus and discussed an article on one aspect of the culture of the game. Two years ago today we recapped a bleak loss to Florida and found our nominee for hit of the year.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Dany Heatley (2G, including the game-winner, A, 5 SOG)
  • Ross: Evgeni Malkin, Ryan Whitney, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley, Brad Stuart, Alex Frolov (3 points each)
  • Norris: Ryan Whitney (2G, A, 4 SOG, 2 Hits, 3 BkS)
  • Vezina: Mike Smith (25-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Ryan Whitney, Dany Heatley, Darcy Tucker, Henrik Zetterberg, Mike Comrie (2G each)
  • Calder: Kris Letang (Game-winning goal, +1, 2 BkS)
  • Aiken: Henrik Lundqvist (L, 4 goals allowed on 19 shots against)


Tyler said...

Anyone who thinks that 8 is the kinda guy who runs outta gas and doesn't score a goal for ten games (coughIginlacough) isn't paying attention to how frighteningly consistent he's been for 2.5 years.

JP said...

He went six games without a goal twice in his rookie year (and followed each dry spell with a streak of at least three straight games with a goal) and five games without one twice last year (and followed each up with a multi-game/goal binge), and obviously those numbers don't account for assists during his "droughts."

He hasn't gone three games without scoring a goal this year.

He is Jesus of Moscow.

Hooks Orpik said...

JP: Kissing Suzy Kolber termed the "Purple Jesus" for Adrian Peterson, my friends (who are getting into hockey more and more) have taken to calling AO "Red Jesus".

Take that torch and run with it, my friends.

JP said...

Not bad. Nice double meaning on the "Red" also.

Joe said...

Interesting Fact: Alex has attempted 619 shot this season; 304 on goal, 182 attempts blocked, and 133 missed. That is a lot of shooting. His shooting percentage is up around 15% this year. His previous two years he was around 12-13%. Is it from better shots or better setups?

~Mark said...

If I'm BB today, I'm triple-teaming coverage on Cole. He has killed us so many times, and his slump is due to end.
As good a vibe as I have about this game, I am a little concerned the Caps will come out a wee bit too confident in their new-found first place status.

hotdog88gt said...

FYI: Brian Sutherby picked up his first assist in 25 games with the Ducks last night. He got the primary assist on the Ducks' first goal 'gainst the Rags. Pass from behind the goal line out to the point.

I was just wondering how he'd have done under Boudreau but I think after 25 games with Anaheim I have my answer.

JP said...

Come out over-confident/flat. Fall behind. Catch up. Take lead. Hold on for win. Repeat.

Cole's numbers against the Caps:
2007-08: 4 GP, 1 G, 1A
Career: 28 GP, 12 G, 11 A

Maybe they'll trade him before the game.

Tyler said...

I want to see Jurcina take Erik Cole as a personal challenge.

b.orr4 said...

"Cam Ward has a 1.98 GAA and .935 SV% in his last four"...
That's the stat that I'm most worried about. Hopefully, the Philly game has shown the team the importance of driving the net. A big game in February, haven't had one of those in a long time.

NS said...

joe - i think its a combination of things. he is getting in better position for the shots and adapting to the constant multi-man coverage. he has been hitting the breaks when rushing into the offensive zone, hanging back and creating plays alot more this year. With Backis into play, he finally has a setup man to continue play in the zone.

seemed like a lot of his rookie season goals were on the rush and a little fancier.

Anonymous said...

Hey, suggested new pithy One Timer: "Before, we just wanted to get wins. Then we expected to win," said forward Brooks Laich. "Now we expect to take control of games." (from that Canoe article)

JP said...

Brooksie is always good for a great quote.

Further to NS's point, in his rookie year, AO caught a lot of people off-guard and was able to do a ton individually. Last year, there was adjustment, League-wide, to his game and he wasn't able to do as much on his own. This year, for the first time, he has a real center, so he's getting both better setups and more space. It would follow that his Shot Pct. would be a career best, imo.


1) Bush league move by the Isles. Lafontaine has been a classy guy his entire NHL/post NHL career. To deny him access looks petty in the extreme!
2) Time for Caps fans to fill the building. They are IN first, and playing the team right behind them. They have THE best player currently playing in the NHL. If that doesn't excite the faithful, what will? Anything less than 17K 2-nite would be a disappointment

JP said...

Friday Night Home Attendance, To Date:

Vancouver (10/26) - 12,705
Philly (11/2) - 16,055
Buffalo (12/14) - 17,035

Given the rivalry, the proximity of the opponent and the way the team is playing, I think 16,000+ should be a lock, with 17k possible.

DMG said...


On the the other hand there's this:

"Hurricanes goalie Cam Ward’s save percentage has dropped each month this season. From October to January his monthly save percentages have been .912, .907, .899 and .875."

You'll have to pardon me for quoting myself.

Paul said...

It looks like once again Erskine will be out there with Schultz. Obviously the coach has insight into how guys are playing that none of us can have, but that seems overly conservative to me. Both of those guys need to play on the left to be effective and neither one is an effective puck mover. I don't see why Eminger isn't allowed to play on the right with one of them for five games in a row to see what he can do. I know BB is probably just thinking that he wants to keep the puck out of the net for the 10-14 minutes those guys are on the ice, but Eminger has enough upside to be worth the risk, IMHO.


1) Paul, the Eminger situation is the most perplexing story this season for the Caps(ahead of Pettinger forgetting how to score)
2) How he was chosen to be the odd man out(even with the injuries) doesn't make sense. If they intend/have tried to deal him, his worth isn't going up by sitting in the press box(or is it?)

hotdog88gt said...

I'm not complaining about who sits out these games. I'm happy with the fact that the Caps finally have depth at every position except one: Ovechkin Wing.

DMG said...

I think, at this point, Poti, Green, Morrisonn, Pothier, and Schultz should all clearly be ahead of Eminger and since Jurcina has played well at times (including recently) I'll put him up there too. What I don't understand is why Erskine is ahead of Eminger - I love the guys toughness but at the same time it doesn't matter how hard you hit if you can't catch up to the other team's players. And that's really the story with Erskine - he's just too slow and as a result makes too many bad clears from pressure and takes too many holding, hooking, tripping penalties.