Saturday, January 3, 2009

Pre-cap: Capitals vs. Rangers

Good news! Jamie Heward was only diagnosed with a concussion. Even better news! He believes Alex Ovechkin's hit was an accident and called Ovie "one of the cleanest players in the NHL."

I don't think Danny Briere or Evgeni Malkin share that sentiment...

With all that hoopla out of the way, the Capitals can now focus on the Rangers. The last two meetings with the Rangers were at Madison Square Garden, where wins have been tough to come by for the Caps. The season series now moves to Verizon Center, where wins have been tough to come by for the visitors.

Washington Capitals (25-11-3, first in SE, second in EC, last game 7-4 win over Tampa Bay)
New York Rangers (23-13-3, first in ATL, third in EC, last game 5-4 win over NYI)

Key Players
WSH: Brooks Laich
Henrik Lundqvist is a world-class goaltender and will not be easily beaten. Seven different Capitals scored Friday night and, if the Caps want to see success against elite goaltenders, they will need that type of effort from the third- and fourth-line players. Laich has been hot recently with three goals in three games. Laich's goals were the result of tip ins, rebounds and gritty play. If you want goals, go to the net, indeed.
NYR: Marc Staal
Marc Staal is one of the Rangers' best defensemen and, like Karl Alzner, is logging some serious minutes. Staal saw 18 minutes of action Dec. 23 in the last meeting of the two teams and was on ice for two Rangers goals and two Capitals goals. Staal was frequently called upon to check Ovechkin's line in the last matchup and will more than likely have the same duties tonight.

Beating tough competition
Here's a stat to think about. The Capitals are 8-1-1 against the Northeast Division, which features playoff contenders Boston, Buffalo and Montreal. They are 6-1-2 against the Atlantic Division, which features playoff contenders Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, New Jersey and the Rangers.

While he may be part of the KHL now, former Capital/Ranger Jaromir Jagr is still fun to laugh at. Here's an odd YouTube video of him dressed as the man in red.

Backyard hockey with the Staals
Eric, Marc, Jordan and Jared (a Phoenix Coyotes property) all grew up playing together in their backyard. Here's a neat piece on the family rink where this NHL family honed their skills.

In other news...
Slovakia upset the USA at the World Juniors...a heated debate over a possible return to New York for Sean Avery is brewing...Della Rovere is leaving bruises on players and his image to some Caps fans...Brooks Laich is a matchmaker for Caps fans looking for love.


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