30 December 2013

Game n°42 preview: Caps look to gain capital chez les Sens

Welcome back from the holidays! Fine, perhaps it's the Ottawa Senators who need to do some gaining, not Washington — the Caps currently sit 2nd in the Metropolitan Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference and 14th league-wide... right about the spot where a lot of bloggers, fans and experts picked Ottawa to settle in at comfortably, with two games in hand besides. Well, the second half of the season starts now. Our inconsistency continues, but the boundaries of our inconsistency have moved to the positive side of the spectrum, mostly.

Lately it feels as though everyone's tiptoeing around Paul MacLean, tentatively prodding at his "best players play" motto and wondering why it wobbles like a three-parts-sugar jello pudding in a mid-hurricane desert mirage. While Spezza and Phillips being out of the line-up means MacLean has less options available to put into the blender, it remains to be seen whether Bobby Ryan can reach 17 minutes of icetime (his season average) once he is reunited with MacArthur and Turris, and how the D-pairings will be juggled throughout the game.

Speaking of icetime, it's interesting to note the differences in certain players' icetime in games won versus games lost. As a statistical investigation, it would be intriguing and potentially insightful to compare how MacLean deploys certain players in down-1 or up-2 situations. This relates indirectly to Ryan's shooting percentage, a crazy 16.7% that explains how he leads the team in goals by a 7-goal margin while only getting the 9th-highest amount of icetime.

Homeboy Cody Ceci plays his 10th game today, meaning that one year of his 3-year entry-level contract is gone. Now, we were all outrageously excited over Pageau last year and he hasn't dazzled at the same regularity this year, so it seems a wee bit futile and masochistic to get (too) hyped up over Ceci. Nevertheless, he totes a 51.7% CF% to go with a 46.3 OZ/DZ start percentage, so he's been doing well in minutes that aren't too sheltered.

This seems like a good opportunity to compare Washington's somewhat abysmally trending FF% close. The Capitals might have won a lot, but not too many of their recent wins were deserved. Good time for the upward-trending Sens to start beating teams they should beat, don't you think?


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