Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Preview: Ducks @ Capitals

Data is from Objective NHL,,, and Left Wing Lock.

Anaheim Ducks @ Washington Capitals

Washington: 18-11-3, 39 points
Leading scorers: Alex Ovechkin (12-24-36 in 32 GP), Alexander Semin (18-15-33 in 32 GP), Nicklas Backstrom (11-22-33 in 32 GP)
Goalies: Michal Neuvirth (12-5-2, 2.68, .908), Semyon Varlamov* (4-4-0, 2.62, .907)
Shot differential/game: +4.2
5-on-5 shot differential/game: +4.0
Score close Corsi%: 53.2% (5th)
Adjusted Corsi%: 51.5% (12th)
Notable injuries/illnesses: D Tyler Sloan, F Matt Hendricks, D Jeff Schultz, D John Erskine, D Mike Green, W Alexander Semin, C Nicklas Backstrom, C Boyd Gordon, F Brooks Laich, D John Carlson, C Marcus Johansson
Player to watch: LW Alex Ovechkin

Anaheim: 16-13-4, 36 points
Leading scorers: Corey Perry (16-19-35 in 33 GP), Ryan Getzlaf (10-22-32 in 33), Teemu Selanne (10-18-28 in 26), Bobby Ryan (14-12-26 in 33), Lubomir Visnovsky (4-21-25 in 32)
Goalies: Jonas Hiller* (14-11-3, 2.78, .917), Curtis McElhinney (2-2-1, 2.78, .922)
Shot differential/game: -5.8
5-on-5 shot differential/game: -4.9
Score close Corsi%: 44.0% (29th)
Adjusted Corsi%: 44.0% (29th)
Notable injuries/illnesses: F Teemu Selanne, F Aaron Voros
Player to watch: G Jonas Hiller

*Starter as predicted by LWL

The Ducks are going to be playing the first of five-road-games-in-seven-nights while the Caps...bleck.

1) Shot selection. The Ducks allow a ton of shots. The Caps can pick and choose. No need to pepper Hiller, who's going to stop all the easy ones most nights (at a rate that makes him arguably the best goalie in the league--no, seriously).

2) Don't fight. Even though the Ducks like to.

3) Restrain your frustration. Because that will lead to power plays for, not against. The Ducks' special teams are pretty good, but they take a lot of penalties which expose that weaker-of-the-two 81% PK (compared to a strong 20.5% PP).

4) No power versus power. Bobby Ryan-Ryan Getzlaf-Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, and everyone else. That's the Ducks up front. They're almost a one-line team when they load up on the top unit. Let Steckel handle them, and put out Ovechkin and Semin against anyone else.

5) Hot Varlamov/Neuvirth. Pretty please.

The Caps have been better as of late, dominating shots. At some point the shots are going to start going in. At the start of this cold streak the Caps were around +2 ES shots per game, I think. Now it's +4. That's a good improvement. Anaheim gets outshot a lot, and with all the penalties they take, I can't see Anaheim taking this barring a great game from their goalie. Unfortunately, with the way the Caps have been drawing hot goalies lately (or making them look hot, in some cases), Hiller "stealing" this game is very much a real, scary possibility. I think we're in for a hard-fought win. Capitals 4, Ducks 3 (OT).

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