Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Caps Sweep Regular Season vs. Pens; Are NHL's Current Hottest Team

So much for "coasting" into the playoffs. That's four wins in a row, tops in the NHL at the moment:
  1. basically without even trying,
  2. against teams trying their faces off, and
  3. without their/the NHL's best defenseman (Green) for the past two.
Wishin' you were still in red, Brent?

I should note the Blackhawks have four wins in a row too; but the Caps beat them most recently, so tie goes to the awesome.

Other sweet things about tonight: (and why didn't someone alert me to the simplicity radness of bullet points earlier?)
  1. The Caps swept the season series from the Pens.
  2. The Pens are now 0-9-1 against the Caps (0-3-1) and Devils (0-6) this season, the East's #1 and #2 teams, respectively. But the regular season means nothing. Sure.
  3. Ovechkin potted two, and is now tied with Crosby for the lead in the Richard race (48).
  4. The Caps continue to get absolutely screwed on the penalty disparity against the Pens, yet equal them in power play goals. 1-4 for the Pens, 1-1 for the Caps. That's 15 games in a row where the Pens have had as many or more power plays than the Caps. Hmm.
  5. Jeff Schultz.
As for Schultz. If he remains healthy (quickly, find some wood and knock on it), this will be the first playoffs these Caps have ever had with him. If you recall, he was injured against the Flyers in '08, and broke his rib during game 1 against the Rags last spring and missed the rest of the playoffs.

His presence would be at least a good thing, possibly a great thing. He was a +5 with 2 assists tonight while logging 25 minutes of ice time. He absolutely shut down Crosby (power play goal) and whatever other chumps pass for "scorers" on the Pens these days. My subjective memory tells me that Malkin has a hard time solving Schultz's well-positioned, large body. What I'm saying is, Schultz could just be the secret playoff weapon nobody is talking about. If tonight is any indicator, I am right.

So hooray to the streaking Caps, losing Pens, the magical Mr. Nasty and Ovechkin back where he belongs atop the goal-scoring charts. I cannot wait to see these dinguses in the playoffs.

[Image via REUTERS/Jason Cohn]


  1. Ha. Dinguses.

    I loved Ovie putting the puck in the net with less than a second left. Not just because it tied him in both the Art Ross and Richard races. Not just because Sidney Crosby is the one he tied. Not just because it inches him closer to his fourth 50-goal campaign in five seasons.

    But because an empty net goal with less than a second left always pisses the opposition off, and getting the goat of Pens' fans is my number one source of happiness.

  2. Ovie now leads the NHL in empty-netters (thanks Steinberg) but hey, gotta make up for all those missed games somehow!

    Interesting note from the folks at PensBurgh:

    Caps defensemen Jeff Schultz was a +5 (meaning he was on ice for all the goals Washington scored, and none against) which tells two things: 1) he played very well and 2) he didn't match up that much against Crosby (3 points). The Caps tend to not worry about matchups, and with nothing to play for there's no reason for them to do so. In the broader scheme of things how Crosby -- or Malkin -- fares when Schultz is out there at even strength if these teams meet again (as most expect they will) might go a long way to determining the outcome.

  3. Mike Green as the best defenseman in the NHL?
    Just because he can score some goals doesnt mean he should get that title....

  4. It's not a quantifiable thing, but he sure has looked like the best defenseman this season. His main competition, Duncan Keith, has been on the ice for a substantially higher percentage of 5 on 5 goals against this year, while at the same time being in on substantially less 5 on 5 goals for. Look it up if you don't believe me.


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