Thursday, April 17, 2008

Game 4: Caps @ Flyers

[AP Preview - Preview]

I was going to call this post "The Audacity of Hope," but that title apparently was taken by some elitist or something.

Anyway, I'm going to make this short and sweet.

In the comments to OFB's tribute to Broadway morning post yesterday, b.orr4 pointed out that in the history of the NHL Playoffs in best-of-sevens in which the team without home ice advantage had a 2-1 heading into Game 4, that team has won just over 60% of the series, to which I responded by geeking out and quoting Han Solo ("Never tell me the odds").

But sixty percent? That's it?

Think about where the Caps have been this year. Take a look here and check out how many days all year the Caps' chances of making the playoffs were as good as 40%. Hell, as late as March 20, the Caps' chances of making the playoffs were just 17%... and we obviously all know how that turned out.

I've said ad nauseum that this team plays best with its back against the wall, which is where it is now. Couple that with the fact that they have been absolutely dominated and yet still "in" every game against a team they've beaten three times since Thanksgiving (twice on the road) and there's certainly - on paper - reason for measured optimism.

The Caps haven't played their best game yet, not by a long shot. The Flyers have. Probably twice.

Don't stop believin'.


Anonymous said...

Exactly, their bag of tricks is empty. Huet is prepared for their cheap shot antics, so is the team, so are the refs. It's due time for Ovechkin. Go, Caps, destroy the m****ers!

b.orr4 said...

JP, thanks for making me the king of stat nerds. LOL. However, I don't want people to think I'm giving up on the Caps. To the contrary, I think their chances of pulling this off are pretty good. More to the point, I think the odds of them winning tonight are excellent because of this one historical stat: when the team with three home games (the Flyers) goes into game four with a 2-1 lead, they win only 48% of the time. So basically, the Caps historically have the better chnace of winning tonight. Why that happens, I'm not sure although I bet desperation plays an awfully large role. That and the fact the visiting team isn't as overwhelmed playing game two in the visiting rink. In any case, I expect a totally different level of play from the Caps tonight and, of course, a win.

JP said...

Oh, I certainly didn't mean to imply that you were giving the Caps up for dead, merely that you related a stat. And you know I'm a numbers guy, so all stat geeks are welcome here.

Shaggy said...

Look - we already ground these scenarios down to a fine powder pre-playoffs, so it's useless to predict. Yet you have to think that statistically, these guys have at least one or 2 (hopefully 3!) good games in them.
First we need a good early lead, and for Huet to shut the Flyers out in the first period. All these PP opportunities cannot go wasted.

bigonetimer said...

All the line juggling is fine, but the fact is that Philly is playing with more passion than we are right now. They are feeding off their aggression and not paying a dime for it.

To me, the keys tonight are eliminating the defensive mistakes and getting our PP going. Have we made the adjustments to get a body in front of Biron, who has had a free pass for three games?

And OV has to get it going early and often. He has been, for him, invisible for the last two games. Time for the greatness to shine.

JP said...

Part of Ovie's invisibility is the result of his linemates. Contrary to Pierre McGuire's assertion that AO "can do it by himself," that's simply not the case come playoff time. Not for Alex, not for Sid, not for anyone. Hopefully throwing 91 out there with him provides a shot in the arm for him and the line.

bigonetimer said...

JP-well put. I think Feds is the right guy to have with the first line right now. I can understand Backstrom's challenges, but Kozlov's play is mystifying. He cycles well and hangs on to the puck, but when it comes time to make the play the Flyers are on to it. I guess I'd like to see more prototypical power forward play from him more often. He has a deceptively quick shot, too. But #8 seems gassed. He is dishing the puck earlier and more often than usual, perhaps sensing that passing sooner opens the ice for him earlier, gets his teammates more involved in the play quicker...The Flyers are playing him great, but something isn't right with him. Hope I'm proven wrong tonight.

JR said...

Question: After the last game of the season, wasn't Chris Clark basically saying he would be ready to go for this series? Did I miss interpret that? Where is he, we need him!

b.orr4 said...

I wanted to give you guys a little more good statistical news. The 48%figure I quoted earlier is actually much lower when you factor in the order of wins. Specifically:

Considering win order; considering site order: The team losing Game 1 and winning Games 2-3 with Games 1-2 on the road and Game 3 at home (Philadelphia) has the following best-of-7 playoff series and games record through the 2007 MLB Finals:

Game 4 record, NHL only, Prelim round: 7-12 (.368)

In other words, Philly historically has only a 37% chance of winning tonight. Or to be really positive, the Caps have a 63% chance of winning. That's the best I can do to make you feel good about tonight.

Scott said...

Next thing we know JP is going to be calling Briere a Nerf Herder...

Soulie said...

You all need to watch some Red Sox games. Let me tell ya, after living through '04 and '07, down 2-1 doesn't particularly move me. I've seen atheletes all but walk across the Charles river.

I don't even much care if the Caps don't make it out of this round. I just don't want it to be like this.

Anonymous said...

Yea TJ their bag might be empty but whatever was in it seems plenty enough to beat the Craps.

bigonetimer said...

here are some other intersesting stats:

the team scoring first has won 22 of the 27 playoff games so far this year.

Historically, teams down 3-1 have lost the series more than 90% of the time.

I'm not sayin, just sayin'...

bigonetimer said...

...that'd be "interesting"

Shaggy said...

I was going through your Fanhouse archives and ran across this fron Jan 5 and thought it would be fun to share again:

" I guess I didn't pray hard enough, though (either that or God is spent after delivering for Mike Huckabee on Thursday), because all I got was an unsubstantiated claim that Flyer blueliner Derian Hatcher bit Flyers Devils forward Travis Zajac's finger. Yawn.

There's no video evidence (that I've seen) of the alleged gnawing, meaning it's a good ol' fashioned he-said-he-said at this point, so let's see if we can tease anything from what was said:
"I guess I got close to him and he bit me," said Zajac, who wore a splint on the middle finger of his left hand. "I felt pain, I saw blood and then got stitched up and went back out."

Zajac, who gave the Devils a 2-0 lead with his first goal in nearly a month, missed the rest of the second period but returned for the third. Zajac said Hatcher didn't talk to him.

"I had my finger in his mouth, so I don't think he could," Zajac said.
Wait, is Zajac implying that he had his finger in the 6'5" Hatcher's mouth for the entire third period?

Here's Hatch's side of the story:
"If he's cut, good. But I didn't bite him," Hatcher said. "I didn't think anything of it until someone mentioned it to me. He went like that (face wash) right across my face.

"He got his glove on my tooth, almost pulled it out. It's all sore."
I called an expert to corroborate the plausibility of Hatcher's story, and she assured me that getting things caught on a tooth can be a problem.

And finally, a third party's take from Devils' coach Brent Sutter who apparently did see a video replay of the incident:
"It shows Trav pulling his hand away with the glove still in Hatcher's mouth, like a dog on a bone," Sutter said. "It's not something you like to see in the game, let alone a veteran player like that."

NS said...

JP - do you know of a source that tracks how many penalties a player draws?

curious who the season leaders are


1) A 15 year NHL career, only 17 playoff games and NO GOALS/3 points for Kozlov. Was benched by NJ in 2006. We probably should have seen this coming, eh?
2) Amazing in 3 short games every Caps potential weakness was exposed/exploited. Meanwhile the only weakness so far exploited to any degree by the Caps is the Flyer goaltending. Biron,(despite the SO)is VERY beatable!

JP said...

@ Shaggy: Sigh. Wish I had time to write more over at FanHouse. But alas, keeping you guys entertained here is my top (blogging) priority.

@ NS: Sure do. Check this out. The "DRAWN" and "PDRAW/60" columns are what you're looking for.

NS said...

good stuff. thanks, JP.

thedope said...

Despite the pep talk, I was still a little down until that last line:

Don't stop believin'

Now I'm stoked. Pass the kool-aid.

Huet is our best shot, and this series is a long way from over. With a little less Lovin' Touchin' n Squeezin' of Huet, maybe he will get his confidence back and we'll knot this thing up!

Scott said...

Perhaps it's time to send the Flyers Separate Ways.

Hopefully When the Lights Go Down in the City after the game we wont have to ask Who's Crying Now.

But despite the turnout, Washington Capitals, I am forever yours, Faithfully

Soulie said...

Bravo, Scott. An impressive display of Journey knowledge. It takes a man comfortable with himself to admit that publicly.