Friday, February 6, 2009

Just How Good Can the Caps Do This Season?

So before we get to the meat and potatoes of today's post a quick look around the limited portion of the hockey blogsphere that I frequent (something I haven't had virtually any time to do for the past two weeks while I toiled away here at ICx Technologies both in Northern Va and in Ottawa).
  • First it would be inconceivable not to mention the awesome move that former Cap Richard Zednick used to score his 7th goal of the season last night. To use an "Ovechkinism" it is sick! (and that of course means really, really good.)
  • Second, what about that...the Capitals recalled Karl Alzner today. Unfortunately, Viktor Kozlov's groin tweak looks like it'll keep him off the ice a while longer as he hasn't been on the ice since the end of the first period Tuesday against the Devils. Of course the other bad news that dropped yesterday was that Brent Johnson needs hip surgery, a really tough thing to happen to a really nice guy in a contract year. That's why Michal Neuvirth was on the bench backing up Jose Theodore last night.
  • Pepper over at "The Red Skate" appears to be suggesting that taking an occasional loss in stride is the proper perspective. That's probably an intelligent perspective to have as when one surveys the information below, losses to opponents by the Capitals so far this season are indeed something that has only been an occasional occurrence.
  • Capitals Kremlin makes a point about the productivity, as well as the issues that "hubris" and "over cuteness" of "The Young Guns" last night can create. However, in his failure to point out the four LA Kings who notched five goals, on breakaways or uncleared rebounds, in addition to the great goaltending by Jonathon Quick, doesn't give the Kings their due. The Kings won last nights game as much or more than the Capitals lost it. They took advantage of the openings the Caps gave them and during the first two periods, manufactured a few of their own. A close review of the tape of the game by several Caps skaters will point to weaknesses that need to be watched and remedied in order to ensure the Caps make a run deep into the playoffs this year. Over the course of a seven game series, bad habits become noted weaknesses that NHL level players prey on.
  • Peerless's review of last night's game is, as usual dead nuts on, the flavor of which can best be captured in this short excerpt: "That was pretty much the recipe for success for the Los Angeles Kings as they parted the red-jerseyed Capitals often for breaks down the middle of the ice for scores and scoring chances, then held on for dear life in the final seconds in a 5-4 defeat of Washington last night."
  • If you haven't heard, "Joe B" now has a blog and he makes some interesting post game points about the loss to the Kings. Joe notes that it seemed like the Kings were trying to go glove side high on Theo a lot. It seemed to me watching on TV that at least during the second period, Theo seemed to be either starting with his glove low or dropping it pretty quickly as he went down into his butterfly.
  • Puckdaddy looks at the logic and illogic of a return to the Rangers by Sean Avery.
  • Mirtle once again looks at the march to the magic "90 point" number for the playoffs. Candidly other than the Capitals, the Florida Panthers look pretty good for a second Southeast Division team in the playoffs if they keep the pedal to the metal. The Caps have two games against the Cats this month including "next up." Carolina needs to turn it up a notch if they are to get to the projected 91 points needed, but how about the fact that the Penguins are a "bubble team" who would have predicted that one at the start of the season?
  • Japer's Rink looks to add to the fighting controversy discussions of late.

And now back to our regularly scheduled programming....

In order to figure "how good the Caps do this year," we have to look at just how they've been doing so far this season. The Caps have been consistently good this season and went from "good" in October and November to "almost fantastic" in December and dropped back to "very good" in January. The month by month results looked like this:

October: 5-3-1 (11 points, 0.611)
November: 8-5-2 (18 points, 0.600)
December: 11-3-0 (22 points, 0.786)
January: 7-4-1 (15 points, 0.682)

Overall the Caps have gone 31-15-4 for 66 points and played 0.660 hockey for the first four months of this season. Right now the Caps are 33-16-4 with 70 points in 53 games this season. They are on pace for a 108 point season if they maintain the 0.660 average pace they've been on overall this season. If they play a little better than the 0.682 pace they had in January they could easily reach a 112 points. Putting a 108 - 112 point season into perspective, last season the Canadeans won the Eastern Conference with 104 points and only the San Jose Sharks and the Detroit Red Wings had more points in the Western Conference with 108 and 115 points respectively. In the 2006-2007 season the Buffalo Sabres won the East with 113 points and the New Jersey Devils came in second with 107 points, while over in the West the Red Wings and the Anaheim Ducks had 113 and 110 points respectively. So to make it simple, this year's Caps team is really, really good overall and playing better now then they did during the first two months of the season.

For the remainder of February, the Caps have 10 more games to play; six home games and four away; nine against Eastern Conference foes and one against a Western Conference opponent (Colorado at Verizon Center on February 20.) They play the Florida Panthers twice once home and once away and the Tampa Bay Lightening once; however six of the remaining 10 games this month are against teams that made the playoffs last season. During the month of March, the Caps will play 13 games (12 against Eastern Conference foes, six home games and 7 away games). When the season wraps up in April, the Caps play six games, all against Eastern Conference foes with three at home and then three away. So far this season, the Caps are 26-7-4 against Eastern Conference opponents, that's 0.757 hockey. Of the Caps remaining twenty nine (29) games, twenty seven (27) are against other Eastern Conference teams. If the Caps stay on or close to their current track record against Eastern Conference foes, they will capture between 110 and 114 points. That's basically why you've been feeling well... - it's ALL good.

The biggest question mark for the Capitals right now that Brent Johnson needs surgery has to be "What should we do about a second goaltender?" If you feel like you're hearing the theme song from "Jaws" just when you though it was safe to get back into the water, you're probably not alone.

Anyway what are your thoughts? other than: LETS GO CAPS!!!

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