Saturday, November 22, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Sharks

After a tired and poor effort, the Capitals travel to San Jose to play the only other undefeated-in-regulation team at home.

Will San Jose play like Great Whites or will the Capitals make them look more like a Nurse Shark?

Looks like we're gonna need a bigger pre-Cap!

Washington Capitals (11-5-3, last game 5-2 loss to Los Angeles)
San Jose Sharks (16-3-1, last game 4-1 win over Nashville)

The story so far...
Back-to-back games, on the road, in California. That was the recipe for disaster that earned the Capitals a loss to the Kings. While the Kings are no slouch of a team by any means, the Capitals should have won. Now they face a team that is among the NHL elite, and a half-asleep effort will only result in another loss. Have the Caps woken up?

Key Players
WSH: Alex Ovechkin
Ovie has scored against every NHL team except the Kings, Sharks and Minnesota. The Caps' next opponents are the Sharks and then Minnesota, so Ovie might be wanting to cut his list down to one. His goal streak ended Thursday, and so did the Caps' point streak. The correlation should be clear: When Ovie scores, the Caps usually earn a point; keep him off the board and the chance to lose is greater. With Semin still out and Green ailing, Ovechkin will be the focal point of the Capitals offense.
SJS: Devin Setoguchi
The Sharks have been a dominating team so far this season. With 73 goals for and 49 goals against, the Sharks are the best offensive team and among the best defensive teams. Setoguchi has played a large role in that. Coming in to tonight's game, he has 11 goals and 11 assists, leading the team in goals and second in assists. Setoguchi has never played the Capitals in his young career, so it will come down to the Caps defense to shut him down, but when you're surrounded by other stars such as Patrick Marleau and Joe Thorton that's easier said than done.

Shutdown specialists
The Sharks have a potent offense and a tough defense, so tough that if the Sharks lead after the second period your team is likely toast. The Sharks have a .923 win percentage when leading after the second period. When the Sharks lead after one? It doesn't get any better: They are .857.

Boom! Headshot!
Remember awhile back when Ovechkin dented Devils goalie Scott Clemmenson's helmet? Well, Sharks Goalie Evgeni Nabokov is no stranger to pucks to the face, only this one was a little messier.

Getting back on the horse
The Capitals injuries are slowly beginning to heal as Sergei Fedorov may return tonight. Mike Green is no longer wearing a sling, and Shaone Morrissonn is playing. Alex Semin still remains out, but according to Boudreau, "has not been ruled out for Monday." Yeah, right.

Just how missed was Green?
Want an indicator of how Green's play helps the Capitals? Let's look back at the first period of the Kings game. The Capitals only took three shots in the first period, had trouble setting up in the offensive zone and couldn't convert on two first-period power plays. Green's specialty? Rushing to the offensive zone, shooting from the point and quarterbacking the power play.

San Jose is known for two things. Dominating the regular season and then falling in the playoffs. Here's a great parody song about it. Song starts about a minute in.

Not Sharks-related at all
But so funny you just have to see it.


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