Monday, December 22, 2008

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Rangers

Garbage goals, that's how the Capitals won the last time they faced the Rangers, and it's going to be a key to tonight's game as well.

With the injury plague returning for round two, the Capitals are going to be stretched thin and relying on some call-ups to help carry the load.

Our guess? Bourque, Mink, Osala or Aucoin could be returning for a brief stay. Help is on the way though, Schultz and Clark are scheduled to return by next week.

As if the injuries weren't enough, we now have the issue of goal tending. Brent Johnson is getting the start in net but after the Capitals 7-1 loss to the Flyers, I don't think either Theo of Johnny "earned" a start.

What do you do when you fall down? You get back up.

Washington Capitals (20-11-3, last game...never happened)
New York Rangers (22-12-2, 3-2 loss to San Jose)

The story so far...
Injuries and soft goaltending. That's been the story of the past two months and it doesn't seem to be getting better. The Capitals will need to light a fire under the pads of Johnson and Theodore while making the most of their call-ups. Last time the Capitals had numerous AHL-er's in the line-up, they managed .500 hockey. With some experience under their belt, one can hope they will only get better.

Key Players
WSH: Brent Johnson
Johnson's streak of great hockey game to a sudden halt against the Flyers. After letting a softie by to put the Flyers ahead 1-0, Johnson collapsed, eventually being pulled in favor of Theodore in the third period. Think Johnson want's to repeat that performance? Johnson is 2-0 against the Rangers when he starts, and has a 1.89 save percentage. The last meeting between Johnson and the Rangers, a 3-1 win for the Caps where Johnson was named the first star.
NYR: Nikolai Zherdev
The Rangers leading point scorer hasn't been a pest to the Capitals in his career, but he is a primary source for the Rangers offense. He has seven points in his last five games, three of them goals. He is also on a team that has eight players with 10 or more assists, so that means the offense won't be confined to just any one player.

Games of importance
Carolina and Minnesota - The Caps hold a six point lead on the Canes.
Nashville and Florida - While the Panthers aren't likely to catch the Capitals anytime soon, they are a threat to the Canes.

Out of the mire
The last time Alex Ovechkin faced the Rangers this season, he was in the middle of a slump and had just returned from a short trip to Russia. Energized, and charging up the league leader boards, Ovechkin is usually good for some points against the Rangers. He has 13 points in 13 games against the Blueshirts, seven of those points are assits.

Re-living the trash
The Capitals survived against the Rangers thanks in part to some ugly goals. One even went to review as the net was knocked off it's moorings as the goal crossed the line. If the Capitals want to beat Henrik Lundqvist, they will need to go for the trashy goals.

Speaking of Lundqvist
Here's a nice interview with him. Worth a watch if you don't know anything about him.

Speaking of interviews
Have you seen the Sovetsky Sport article on Viktor Kozlov? It's definately worth a read, if you have 20 minutes to devote to it. Check it out here. The Russians seem to give the best interview this season.

When you think "Winter Classic" you think "McNuggets"
McDonalds is now the official "Quick service resturant" of the NHL. Great, so when will we see Happy Meals with NHL toys? For that matter, who would be the toys!


1 comment:

  1. All I want for Christmas is Lundqvist to be totally crashed. At least one goal by every Capital would be great...

    Finnish athletes should be sent to Russia so they might learn to give good interviews. It would also be great if they learned to success...


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