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Ducks Gameday -- what is Pacifically wrong with the Capitals?

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Washington Capitals (29-18-10) at Anaheim Ducks (32-21-4), 7 pm
Japers' Rink and Anaheim Calling -- coast to coast like buttered toast (dammit).

Washington Capitals' 2010-11 season by opponent division:

Opponent Division GP W - L - O WinPct GF - GA = GD PP% PK%
Atlantic Division 14 8 - 2 - 4 .714 2.79 - 2.36 = +0.43 10/54 18.5% 5/51 90.2%
Northeast Division 14 8 - 3 - 3 .679 2.93 - 2.43 = +0.50 7/48 14.6% 9/55 83.6%
Southeast Division 18 10 - 6 - 2 .611 2.61 - 2.44 = +0.17 7/60 11.7% 10/71 85.9%
Northwest / Central 6 3 - 3 - 0 .500 3.17 - 2.33 = +0.83 7/19 36.8% 3/27 88.9%
Pacific Division 5 0 - 4 - 1 .100 1.00 - 2.60 = -1.60 1/16 6.3% 3/13 76.9%
TOTAL 57 29 - 18 - 10 .596 2.65 - 2.42 = +0.23 32/197 16.2% 30/217 86.2%

The Capitals are an underwhelming 3-7-1 against the western conference this season, and they haven't won (or scored more than two goals) against a western opponent in their last seven tries.  And it's worse against the Pacific Division, obviously -- the Caps haven't bested a Pacific team in more than a year, and they're currently on a 3-game losing streak, all against Pacific Division teams.

Of course, sample size is small, and as Mike Chen has noted, the Pacific is the best division in hockey these days.  But still -- Caps do seem to be one of the league's favorite teams featuring one of the league's favorite players.  Ovechkin against the Pacific, incidentally, has just one point over the five games and is a -3.

I'm not really going to spend too much time dissecting this Caps' Pacific struggle, though -- mostly I just hope it continues for one more night.

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Go Vegas!

Speaking of extra defensemen...

I've been doing a lot of Excel work lately at work, so I thought I'd use that to take a look at how Carlyle has juggled his seven dressed defensemen over the last two games.  My source is Vic Ferrari's NHL Head to Head Icetime website, which tracks who players play with and against at 5-on-5 hockey.  I'm not sure these results are too significant, but still, here's who each Duck defenseman paired with at 5-on-5 over the past two games (the numbers represent minutes played together):

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Piechartbeauchemin_medium

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Generally speaking, Carlyle has stuck largely with the Lubo-Lydman pairing plus the Sutton-Sbisa pairing, and Fowler, Lilja, and Beauchemin have been sort of mixed together for a three-man second pairing.  I'm not really sure how long we'll be playing the seven-defensemen game, but it is sort of interesting to see how it works mechanically, at least.

Prediction: The Capitals finally beat a Pacific Division team ... at the Shark Tank tomorrow night.  :)  As for tonight, the game is on FSW again, so I should be around for game comments from the hotel room.  Ducks 4, Caps 2.  Goals by Frenchie, McMuffin, Teemu, and Baldy.

Go Ducks.