Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Blues

A Capitals celebration ornament? I can think of a few other great Capitals moments that should be turned into holiday ornaments.

The Capitals were lucky to get two points Tuesday night. They weren't so lucky when Bruce Boudreau made the next day's practice mandatory. It's safe to say the Capitals might be showing a little more, um, work ethic, tonight.

The Blues are a team that has been filled with ups and downs. The Blues lost star blue-liner Erik Johnson to a freak golf cart accident, but then started the season hot. When Sarah Palin came to drop the puck, the rug laid out for her inadvertently injured goalie Manny Legace. Since then the Blues have fallen to the bottom of the Central Division.

Washington Capitals (19-10-3, last game 5-4 OT win over NYI)
St. Louis Blues (12-15-3, last game 6-3 loss to Calgary)

The story so far...
You know who was the best Cap on the ice against the Isles? Brendan Witt: He was a -5. Thanks Witter! Other than that, the Capitals fell asleep, look disinterested and played a poor third period. Fortunately Ovie saved the day in overtime. Think the Capitals want to have mandatory practice after a win again? Look for a solid Capitals effort with production from the bottom tier lines.

Key Players
WSH: Michael Nylander
The lines are jumbling again. That means Nylander might see Alexander Semin back on his line, or he will be grinding it out with Brooks Laich. Whether or not the S.O.B. line stays together, Nylander will have his opportunities. Fans were growing frustrated with Nylander's "pass first, pass again, pass some more, get in the slot, pass again, oh I'll shoot now" play but a GWG against the Canadiens has silenced those critics...for now. Nylander is constantly finding himself in the right place at the right time, but if he makes the right play is the real question. With the possibility of having a true sniper on his line, Nylander could be a major player when the Blues take their shutdown units off the ice. Even without the Semin presence, doesn't it always seem like Nylander is creating scoring opportunities? Now if he'd just shoot.
STL: Keith Tkachuk
He's averaging about a point-per-game against the Capitals in his career, and he's also the Blues' second leading scorer (21 points). Here's what makes him interesting: He's a -6. Usually your top point scorers are positive ratings, which leads us to believe that while Tkachuk is a threat he is also a liability. It should be noted, though, that Tkachuk has been hot as of late; he has 20 points in his last 29 games this season.

These guys are banged up, too
Goaltender Manny Legace is out.
Defenseman Eric Brewer is day-to-day.
Defenseman Erik Johnson is out.
Defenseman Jay McKee is out.
Center Andy McDonald is out.
Center T.J. Oshie is out.
Left wing Paul Kariya is out.
Left wing D.J. King is out.

Fair game?
The Capitals are notorious for letting their goaltenders get run over by opposing players. Won't somebody (cough Brashear) do something? Well anyway, I told you to keep your eyes on Keith Tkachuk, and here's one more reason. He's a tough S.O.B. himself and isn't afraid of a little contact. We might see worlds collide if Ovie and Tkachuk are caught with their heads down in center ice. Anyway, here's come classic Tkachuk checking.

No rest for the weary
This is the Blues' ninth game in 16 days. St. Louis is on a four-game losing streak coming into tonight's game.

Top power play units
Tonight does feature some of the best special teams units in the NHL, offensively. The Capitals remain the sixth best power play in the league, but the Blues sit behind them at seventh.

The Blues are getting into an unhealthy habit, giving up early goals in bunches. In their last loss against the Calgary Flames, the Blues went down 3-0 before scoring. That was the second time in the last three games they had fallen behind 3-0 to an opponent.

Putting the Pain in Palin
As mentioned early, Sarah Palin visited the Blues earlier this season to drop the puck. In return, the carpet laid out for her injured goalie Manny Legace. This incident further promoted the "Palin curse." Another Palin curse incident: Palin visited the Flyers for opening night, and the Flyers were the last team to win a game in regulation at the start of the season. Relive the Legace injury here.


1 comment:

  1. If this were an away game I'd be concerned about a let-down. But, since the Caps are at home, I'm confident the Blues are going down.


Technorati Profile