Wednesday, April 02, 2008

The Capitals catch Carolina

Originally uploaded by christopher.creamer
It's been quite a chase up the standings for Washington, but with a big divisional win over the Hurricanes at home, the Capitals are finally tied for the Southeast Division lead.

And finishing third is now a more real possibility than squeaking into eighth.

Both Carolina and Washington have two games remaining, and both face already eliminated Tampa Bay and Florida at home. Carolina's final game of the season is Friday night against the Panthers; Washington gets the cats from Sunrise the next night to close their schedule.

Under Bruce Boudreau, Washington's been 35-17-7, 77 points in 59 games or the equivalent of a 107-point campaign over 82 games.

At that rate, they'd be the best team in the Eastern Conference this season, and behind just Detroit and San Jose in the NHL standings.

Yet, still, they're on the outside looking in (given the 'Canes hold the tiebreaker).

That 6-14-1 hole posted with Glen Hanlon as coach looms large. But Washington has whipped off five wins in a row, and nine in its past 10 games, with Cristobal Huet allowing just nine goals in his past five starts.

They're red hot, and all that stands between themselves and the postseason are the Lightning and Panthers.

Can they do it?




At 2:10 a.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger saskhab said...

Another key point: There is one key head-to-head matchup remaining... Ottawa v. Boston on Friday. If that game is a 2 point game, the team that loses is definitely vulnerable to both the Caps and Hurricanes. If Ottawa were to lose that game, and Carolina and Washington win both their games, both SE teams would pass Ottawa, no matter what Ottawa does against Toronto.

Why? Carolina would have more wins at 94 points than Ottawa, and Ottawa and Washington would each have 43 wins. And Washington SWEPT Ottawa in the season series, which is the 2nd tiebreaker at the end of the season.


At 2:24 a.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger Adam C said...

Heh. I remember that when Washington swept Ottawa, it was commonly looked on as a harmless anomaly: the conference leaders dropping games to one of the bottom feeders. Oh, how long the season is...

At 5:04 a.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It seems like only Oct. 30 that Wayne Scanlan of the Ottawa Citizen was fantasizing about the Senators being the reincarnation of the 1976-77 Habs. Or Nov. 7 when Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun made a similar comparison.

At 7:31 a.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Senators are like the 76-77 Habs in one way. They have a lot of Gilles Lupiens on the blueline.

At 9:21 a.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger chris said...

carolina is climbing a hurdle in that they play tampa and florida both times on the first night of a back to back
the second night of the back to back for those teams is the caps. so washington gets two potentially tired teams as their last two games of the season.
thats a big hurdle for carolina who is trying to find their chemistry as the forwards of old are finally starting to come back.

not to mention brad watson is reffing one of the games.

and ive been seeing caps fans call staal a diver, which is frustrating.

because although he is nearly at top of the list in penalties taken. their god, ovie, is at the top.

not to mention,
diving is a callable offense, and the only person that has called diving minors on us has been brad watson, (in a game a day after the panthers coach complained about carolina being "divers")

im not saying anything in stone, but its a wierd set of occurences involving brad watson (especially after last nights crazy game).

and as a hurricanes fan, it would be impossible for those things not to go through my mind.

any opinions?

At 10:17 a.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous PPP said...

Opinions? Sure, the Canes dive a lot.

At 10:28 a.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous to chris said...

actually Crosby is the leader in penalties drawn per game and your Eric Cole is number two.

At 10:40 a.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger chris said...

i knew about cole and staal on the list, but didnt last night put ovie on top?

my point would only be that fast and skilled stay at the top of that list.
does that mean that fast/skilled players dive?

is this not a fair assumption?

i stand corrected.

as of today:

staal and dustin brown at 43
cole and ovie at 42.

and also on the list:

are these all divers?

more interestingly,
when you add TOI to this stat.
crosby takes the lead by large margin (because hes kept up in penalties drawn, even while out)

does this mean he dives?

i would have to say no.

but to each his own.


At 10:48 a.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous amberlynne said...

I was at the game last night and I can't even begin to describe how awesome the crowd was. I've only been going to Caps games for a few months (I just moved to the area) and it was so nice to see the town finally excited about them again. It's been frustrating to have the Bruins and the Flyers keep pace but hopefully one of them will help us out. Or Ottawa can just go ahead and lose out, that would be fine with me too! It would be a shame to come back from so far only to come up a point short.

Oh, and the reason Ovie draws so many penalties is because he's always moving and trying to make the play. He's too busy trying to score to waste time diving.

At 10:52 a.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger chris said...

i agree

ps if you reply to the auto emails that they send you when someone posts after you, where does it go?

At 12:21 p.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note of caution..last time Huet was in a do or die game...he gave up three crappy goals to lose the game.
That Brashear brain cramp against the Bruins will ultimately be the downfall of the Caps if they lose out.

At 1:08 p.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous dmg said...


I think that looking just a penalties drawn isn't a terribly effective tool in and of itself to figure out whether someone makes a habit of diving. That said, the Canes have been catching a lot of flack for it, refs hate being upstaged and word travels fast in today's NHL. That, coupled with a couple blatent and stupid penalties by the Canes last night and Laviolette/the bench's repeated breakdowns aren't going to enamor the Canes to the league's officials...they might not get the benefit of the doubt the next couple days; just like a player can get a reputation penalty, a team can have calls affected by their reputation.

Huet's been essentially playing do or die games for the capitals since he went there at the trade deadline: 9-2, 1.75 GAA, .933 save %, 2 shutouts to this point.

And if the Capitals don't make it in, behind Boston, I think that you have to point the finger at Chris Rooney and the officials who bastardize that game.

In any event, if the hockey gods are up there I think the Caps will find a way to get it - they're definitely one of the best 8 teams in the east.

At 3:19 p.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With all due respect to Hurricanes fan, they won a Cup they had no business winning when, down badly in a playoff series against Montreal, Justin Williams performed open-ice corneal surgery on Saku Koivu, with impunity, whereupon the Habs promptly folded up and went home. Though for good measure the next game Williams, having learned nothing, used his stick as a face-cloth on somebody crossing the blueline, Markov???, can't remember. Again without punishment.

So complaining about being called for diving. Maybe just worry about not being able to win in the league's sorriest division. Or having the NHLs most tragically over-rated goaltender (yah, Conn Smythe, blah blah, an award voted on by reporters drunk on Red Bull and overly nitrated sandwich meat with 5 minutes left in the clinching game).

At 3:32 p.m., April 02, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No offense, Dr. James (as I'm a big fan of your blog) - but by the same token, the Penguins are 38-15-6 over the same 59-game span, which is 5 points better than the Caps. A similar extrapolation over the course of an 82-game season would have the Pens as a 114-pt team.

Glad you enjoyed our fair city last weekend.

At 3:34 p.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

True enough, and I'm sure the Sharks are better than both those two marks over that span, but those teams haven't had an organizational shakeup the likes of the Caps.

A new coach changes quite a bit.

At 5:27 p.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger Cams Habs said...

Not trying to poke the hornet nest or anything, but by the sounds of it Chris, you don't seem to have a whole lot of faith in your Canes at the moment :)

I think Washington has the definite advantage of being the hottest team in the NHL right now and playing tired teams for their last two, but it really can go either way. As a die-hard Habs fan (and a small, small soft spot for the Capitals), I can tell you Cristobal has let in more than his fair share of back breakers this season and last. I'm not saying he is bad in pressure cooker situations, but he has by no means proved he can steal games when the heat is on. And right now, the heat is on in a BIG way for him - the Caps franchise really, really needs a post-season berth.

They will be a fascinating last two games, thats for certain. I'm too nervous to make any predictions, but I hope Washington clinches the division - they really need it, Ovechkin and Boudreau especially.

At 6:51 p.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger usually frustrated caps fan said...

James: Great post and great thread. Some are also talking of the possibility of the Maple Leafs in the playoffs as well - my 2 cents:
Leafs probably not so much...
Caps and Ovechkin? - Maybe
For tonight its:

LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

At 6:57 p.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger James Mirtle said...

Toronto's been eliminated from the postseason for a while now, so I doubt that.

At 7:06 p.m., April 02, 2008, Blogger usually frustrated caps fan said...

To Chris and Cams Habs:

I'm a big Caps fan and I HATE the DIVING Penalty it just plain stinks. The reality is when a player like Ovie or Cole or even Crosby who is really good - but nobody can be as good as Versus and NHL on NBC make Sid out to be - dive; they have been fouled - why should they get a penalty. If the ref doesn't agree with what they're doing, let play continue while they have to pick themself off the ice. That said calling an Unsportsmanlike conduct on a guy who has been - crosschecked, tripped, slashed, etc. because you thing he "acentuated the event is IMHO - dumb. None of these guys are divers; they're guys most of the rest of the league needs to cheat to keep up with. Just my opinion and we know what those are like - everybody's got one.

On last night's Caps - Canes game there were bad calls in both directions in the second and third periods. However, Laviolette's "hissy fit" at the end of the second could easily have been a legitimate bench minor and game misconduct. In addition it was a really dumb thing for an experienced coact to do. As I Caps Fan I was elated - nothing like being able to play for 5 minutes while the head coach of the opposition is so angry he can't see straight.

I was just sorry the Caps didn't score a second goal on the second of the double minors so he wouldn't have been coherent for the entire intermission in the locker room either. LETS GO CAPS!!!!


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