Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The Thrilling Conclusion

Coach Hanlon has discussed taking the season in 5-game increments, with a goal of 5 points per set. Monday’s game kicked off set #3 and they're off to a good start with a win over Calgary. Wit that in mind, here’s a look at what’s ahead for our Caps in the next four games:

Game #2 – vs. Atlanta:
- Atlanta’s record so far has been an astonishing 8-3-3, logging 19 points to lead the Southeast Division. The Caps and the Thrashers have met twice already and each game was won by Atlanta by a score of 4-3 – once in shootout and once in overtime.
- After winning four straight, the Thrashers have dropped four of their last five, including their 8th straight loss to Toronto Monday night and a 5-2 loss to Carolina tonight.
- 7 of the Thrashers 13 games have been 1-goal contests, 6 of which have been decided in overtime or a shootout.
- The Thrashers acquired Jon Sim from the Florida Panthers in the offseason, or as I like to call him, the Cap-Killer...the guy just loves to score on us.

Game #3 - @ Philadelphia:
- Philly has gotten off to a rocky start to put it lightly, winning only 3 of their first 11 games and tying Boston for last place with 7 points. The dismal start to the season prompted GM Bobby Clarke to resign and coach Ken Hitchcock to be fired.
- Part of the reason for their slide is a lack of offense – the leading scorer on the team is Peter Forsberg with 9 points, and 11 players have yet to register a point. The Flyers have been outscored 42-22 in their first 11 games, twice allowing 8+ goals in one game.
- 2 of the Flyers’ 3 wins have come on home ice, beating the streaking Atlanta in a shootout and shutting out Chicago on Monday.

Game #4 – vs. Ottawa:
- Ottawa’s start has been marked by streakiness and inconsistency; they dropped 3 straight after beating the Maple Leafs in Toronto to start the season. After a win and a loss, they then kicked off a 3-game winning streak during which they outscored their opponents 21-5. They have lost their last two to division rivals Boston and Montreal, both on the road.
- The Sens have only needed the extra frame once, a 3-2 shootout victory against the Habs.
- After finishing last season with 20.8% effectiveness on the power play, 4th overall, the Senators currently are connecting for only 9.4% and are ranked 29th in the league. They also lead the league in short-handed goals allowed with 4.

Game #5 - @ Carolina:
- Carolina has also been experiencing some inconsistency as they recover from Stanley Cup hangover. A win over the Thrashers tonight put them one game over .500, less than stellar considering they kept many of their core players from their championship run a season ago.
- While the 'Canes are only slightly better than the Caps on both the power play and the penalty kill, they are very stingy when down a man at home. So far this season they have only allowed 2 power play goals for an efficiency rate of 95.6%.
- Rod Brind'Amour once again leads the team in the faceoff circle, winning 60.1%.
- 5 of the 6 wins this season by the 'Canes have come against the Southeast Division - they've beaten Tampa Bay twice and Atlanta three times, scoring 4+ goals in each game.

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