Saturday, December 27, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Maple Leafs

Kinda odd how the Capitals will have four retired numbers and don't have any Stanley Cups, right?

In spite of the zero column in the Cup category, the Capitals will be retiring Mike Gartner's No. 11 tonight. Gartner was the Capitals' first-round pick (fourth overall) in the 1979 NHL Draft.

You can find out more information about Mike Gartner here, and you can read more about the ceremony here. Also, to clear up any confusion, the Capitals will be rocking the white Sunday night, not the red. This is a throwback to Gartner's days when the Capitals wore white home jerseys.

Retirement ceremonies are a blessing and a curse. A blessing because they can rile up your fans and players, a curse because they delay the game, which might cause a few players to cool down.

The Capitals are surging, and Alex Ovechkin is itching to get back on the ice to dazzle with more highlight reel goals.

In the opposing corner, you have Toronto. The Maple Leafs were picked in most anaylsts' projections to be part of the "race for the first overall aka John Tavares" but have actually played quite well.

Can the Capitals keep their streak of impressive hockey alive? Will Toronto play spoiler to Mike Gartner's big night? Will Bruce Boudreau ever burp in front of cameras again?

Washington Capitals (22-11-3, 1st in SE, 2nd in EC, last game 3-2 win over Buffalo)
Toronto Maple Leafs (14-16-6, 4th in NE, 11th in EC, last game 4-1 loss to NYI)

The story so far...
What an incredible night for Bryan Helmer, earning the first star of Friday's game! Too bad he's back in Hershey, tough break. But that means that the Capitals are (hopefully) returning to normalcy. Mike Green and Jeff Schultz are set to play against the Maple Leafs Sunday night. If there is one player I've lamented the loss of, it's Mike Green. His ability to ignite the offense is a key cog in the Capitals success, and tonight the Capitals will need to make use of their returning legs to keep the streak going.

Players to watch
WSH: David Steckel
Steckel isn't the biggest name on the Capitals, nor is he a prolific goal scorer. Steckel plays a key role on defense, and he has played plus or even hockey in six straight games. He is also equal or better in 15 of his last 16 games. With the Capitals schedule getting crowded over the next week (Sun. vs. Tor, Tues. vs. Buf, Thurs. vs. TB, Sat. vs. NYR), players such as Steckel will need to continue to be solid, while trying to contribute to the scoreboard in anyway possible. Look for him to take out the trash and put it in the Toronto net.
TOR: Vesa Toskala
Here's a stat to think about. Toskala is 1-2-0 in his last four starts with a GAA of 6.16 goals. In that time span, he's only made 27 saves. If it's Toskala in net, that's all you really need to know about him tonight. If it's not Toskala, then keep this stat in mind: The Maple Leafs defense is averaging 3.8 goals a game in its last eight contests.

Reflecting on the last meeting...
The Capitals won their last meeting with the Maple Leafs 2-1 and Alexander Ovechkin was kept off the goal-scoring sheet in that game. Instead of just viewing the highlights of that game, let's watch Maple Leafs video blogger (and CK favorite) Steve Dangle talk about the game instead.

Getting to know you: Luke Schenn
Let's learn a little bit more about the future of the Maple Leafs' defense.

You always remember your first
Four of the Capitals defensive players scored their first NHL goals against the Toronto Maple Leafs: Shaone Morrisonn, Jeff Schultz, Mike Green and, most recently, Karl Alzner.

More history to celebrate
Alexander Ovechkin is only two goals away from sixth place on the Capitals all-time goal-scoring list. Bobby Carpenter is sixth at 188 goals. Imagine, retiring one number and then watching Ovechkin continue his quest to shatter every Capitals record he can.

It's all in your head

LET'S GO CAPS! Congrats Mike Gartner!


  1. There is no better way to start Sunday morning than watching deranged Leafs fan... :)

    Finland has a lot of "good" goalies but they usually only play 1 or 2 good/great season and then start to suck. Which in this case is good for Caps, but normally extremely harmful to my mental health during the World Championships

  2. Agreed, tanya. The Leafs guy was quite entertaining.

    I wonder if the retired jersey banners are reverting back to red, white and blue tonight. (I also wonder if this is the primary reason Gartner gets lifted this season).


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