Monday, November 24, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Wild

Fresh off his nomination to the AHL Hall of Fame, Bruce Boudreau will try to salvage what could turn out to be a terrible road trip.

Washington Capitals (11-6-3, last game 7-2 loss to San Jose)
Minnesota Wild (11-6-1, last game 2-1 loss to St. Louis)

The story so far...
The visits to Los Angeles and San Jose resulted in nothing more than butt-whippings that could have been closer contests. This is only the third time during Boudreau's reign as coach that the Capitals have dropped back-to-back games, and tonight the team's resiliency will need to be on display against a staunch Minnesota defense.

Key Players
WSH: Nicklas Backstrom
MIN: Niklas Backstrom

Brick-wall defense
The Capitals are one of the NHL's most dangerous offensive teams, as are the Pittsburgh Penguins. But when Sidney Crosby and company visited Minnesota, the high-powered Penguin offense was held to only 1 goal. With key cogs Alex Semin and Mike Green not playing, the Capitals will need to find the back of the net early and often. The last thing Minnesota wants is Ovechkin taking control of the ice and, as seen in the bout with the Penguins, they are capable of shutting down offensive superstars.

The importance of scoring early
The Wild's win percentage when leading after the first period? 100%. Ouch. Their win percentage when trailing after one? 25%.

The Backstrom story...
Get to know the man who will probably frustrate Caps fans for 60 minutes.

Battle of the Backstroms
Minnesota goalie Niklas Backstrom is a hot goalie at the moment. At 5-2-1, with a 2.21 GAA, Backstrom has been the backbone of the Wild's defense. On the other side of the rink, you have Nicklas Backstrom, the Capitals' top center. On the road, he is 4-11-15 and is currently riding an eight-game point-scoring streak.

Screw Oh Canada, this should be Canada's national anthem
The Minnesota Wild's fight song, The State of Hockey.

Test for the special teams
The Wild are the league's best penalty killers and have only given up six power play goals this season.


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