Monday, March 03, 2008

Monday Roundup/Gamenight: B's @ Caps

[AP Preview - Preview]

It certainly wasn't the primary motivation for acquiring goaltender Cristobal Huet at the trade deadline last week, but with three of the Caps' last 16 games against the Boston Bruins, it doesn't hurt that Cristo has dominated the B's throughout his career. In three games against the Bruins so far this season, Huet is 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals against average and .943 save percentage, and for his career he is 8-2-0/1.93/.940 with three shutouts (the most wins and shutouts he has against any opponent).

In fact, Huet has great career numbers against a handful of the Caps' remaining opponents: his best career GAA (1.08) and save percentage (.964) are against Florida, who Washington will face twice more; he's 2-0-1/1.73/.947 against Nashville (who the Caps play on March 18); he's 4-2-2/2.05/.932 against Atlanta, 6-3-0/2.24/.931 against Tampa and 3-2-1-0/2.37/.931 against the 'Canes (each of whom Washington will play two more times before the regular season wraps up); and he's 3-2-0/2.13/.915 against Pitt, who the Caps face at home next Sunday.

Sure, Huet is no longer playing behind Mike Komisarek, Andrei Markov et. al., but the fact that he has a career 29-13-1-4 record with a 1.97 GAA, .937 SV% and nine shutouts against the teams the Caps will play in 13 of their last 16 games has to count for something. Oh, and against those other three teams - Buffalo, Calgary and Chicago - Huet is 8-9-1-3/2.73/.909... maybe Olie Kolzig can get some work in in those games - he's 26-19-6-1/2.42/.914 against that trio of teams.

The flip side of the "Huet vs. the Bruins" coin is "Tim Thomas vs. the Caps." The B's netminder is 8-0-1 with a 1.82 GAA and .940 SV% in his career against Washington, thanks in large part to Zdeno Chara's ability to shut down Alex Ovechkin. For his career, the Great Eight has only five points - and only two goals - in nine games against Big Z's teams (Boston for this year and last, Ottawa in '05-'06) and three goals and four helpers in nine tilts against Boston.

So even though the Bruins come into tonight's game 7-0-1 in their last eight and the Caps have been playing around .500 hockey for the past month-and-a-half (8-6-3 since January 22), expect another tight game - since the lockout, only one of the nine games between these two teams (of which the Caps have won only one, by the way) was decided by more than one goal (this season's only meeting, January 3rd's 2-0 Boston win). Oh, and for those of you revenge seekers, a reminder that this will be the first time the Caps have seen Milan Lucic since he quite possibly ended Brian Pothier's career.

The Caps should have no trouble getting up for this game. Maintaining that intensity will be the challenge.

Why The Bruins Will Win:
"The Bruins will beat the Caps tonight because Tim Thomas does yoga. All bets on the Bs are off if Huet wears his old Canadiens helmet, though." - The Hockey (and Donut) Blog

"Right now, the Bruins are flat out clicking. Everything that can go right is going right, and Boston has six straight wins. Between the pipes, Tim Thomas has allowed just one goal in his last two outings. This alone is not a good sign for Washington, as Thomas is 8-0-1 in his career against the Capitals. A solid performance from Thomas and the rest of the B's could lead to seven wins in a row." - The Bear Cave

"The Bruins will win because they're on a 6-game win streak. Besides, the only quality players on the Caps' roster are Ovechkin and ...uh....that other....hmm. Well, at least they have Ovechkin." - The Spoked B

"The Bruins will win because they have won their last six games, and are planning to make it seven tonight to keep the streak alive." - WickedBruinsFan
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Happy 24th Birthday to Alex Semin and Happy 45th to Kelly Miller... H/t to Ted Leonsis for digging out this GMGM gem.... On this date in 1996, Jim Carey set the franchise mark with his sixth shutout of the season (and second in two days). He'd add another three before his Vezina-winning campaign was over, and the nine shutouts remain a Caps single season record.... On this date in 2004, the Caps sent Sergei Gonchar to Boston for Shaone Morrisonn and the picks that were used to draft Jeff Schultz and Mikhail Yunkov.... On this date in 1895, according to the HHOF, "The earliest recorded ice hockey game was played, with McGill University going against the Victoria skating club, at the Victoria Rink in Montreal. The two teams played with nine men on a side, and used a flat disk as a puck." Chris Chelios finished the game with a plus-two rating.... Finally, one year ago today, we wished Semin a Happy Birthday with some of his personal highlights and started our offseason free agent wish list by looking at the available centers.

Daily Awards
  • Hart: Craig Anderson (53-save shutout win)
  • Ross: Patrick Kane (3 points)
  • Norris: Niklas Kronvall (2A, +3)
  • Vezina: Craig Anderson (53-save shutout win)
  • Richard: Patrick Kane, Jeff Carter (2G each)
  • Calder: Patrick Kane (2G, including the game-winner, A, +2)
  • Aiken: Henrik Lundqvist (3 goals allowed on 8 shots against in just 19:40 (!) of work)


Tyler said...

Over the last few weeks, when the Caps have gotten solid goaltending, they have won. When they have netminders misplaying the puck into the boards or giving up softies, they have lost. It's that time of year.

b.orr4 said...

To beat Boston, they've got to get inside the head of Tim Thomas. He's got an Olie-like temper and they need to piss him off. Run him a few times, bump him whenever they have the chance and just make life generally miserable for him. If ever there was a time to go to the net, this is it. OTOH, the Bruins have to be thinking how are they going to beat Huet.

Anonymous said...

The Caps should win because Olie won't be in net. The rebounds off of him lately have been downright unnerving. And Sundin's goal Saturday should have been stopped.

JP said...

@ anon: No argument from me on most of that, but the Sundin shot did ramp off of Mo's stick and, as Olie said, "went to the 10th floor instead of the first." I can't fault him on that one. The third goal, however...

dmg said...

Depending on Thomas' disposition might that have an adverse affect? For example, I know Ovechkin seems to play better when people get physical and piss him off a little.

Chimaera said...

this is a game the Caps need to steal to have a chance.

Sadly there a few of those still on the schedule. That is what happens when you play down to your competition.

b.orr4 said...

Don't know if ticking him off will help, but really can he get any better against Washington than
8-0-1, 1.82 GAA and a .940 Save Percentage? Whatever they're doing now isn't working.

Moby said...


A goalie's reaction to being ticked off and the consequences of it are much different than an offensive player such as Ovechkin. A goalie plays a significantly more mental game.

dmg said...

That's a good point.

I see where you're coming from but doesn't Kolzig have a reputation as playing better when he's angry? Also my personal experience has been that it's easier to get into the game if you're angry as a goalie - a guy comes in too hard, you get your shot in, he and another guy on your team sit and it gets the adrenaline flowing without making you lose focus, whereas as a position player it tends to stay with you because you know you can paste the guy if you get him in the right spot. But that might just be me.

Noah said...

I have a friend here at work, that did Yoga in Clarendon with Viktor Kozlov

So yeah, caps will win.

DJ Abisalih said...

I'd like to take a mulligan on this one!!

Victor said...

Can't wait to read those Boston blogs tomorrow.