Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs Bruins

In today's NHL, a 2-1 game probably wouldn't sound very exciting if you saw it go by on a news ticker. The last time the Capitals faced the Bruins, a 2-1 score had all the thrills of a playoff game, not the humdrum action of a clutch-and-grab-era bout.

It was just another statement win in a season full of statement wins. The Capitals trail the Bruins by 10 points for the conference lead, yet with a win tonight could hold a 3-0 record in the season series. That's plenty of ammo for fans who might want to claim the Capitals are the true "beasts of the East."

Now the Capitals have the last half of the season to chase down the Bruins, and they'll do it with some familiar faces who have been missing from the lineup. In fact, the last time these two teams played, both were dogged by the injury bug and both teams were without key players in their lineups (Milan Lucic, Tom Poti).

Will the Capitals be able to return to work without a vacation hangover? Will Zdeno Chara put a 105.4 MPH slapshot past Jose Theodore? What's the over/under on an Ovechkin funny-hat wearing?

Washington Capitals (30-15-3, first in SE, second in EC, last game 3-2 loss to Ottawa)
vs. Bahston Bruins (34-8-5, first in NE, first in EC, last game 4-3 win over Toronto)

Here's a fun stat that showcases the effectiveness of Bruce Boudreau's coaching. Since the last All-Star Break in 2008, the Capitals have earned 106 points in 80 games (50-24-6). That's just one point shy of the Capitals' best season ever in 1985-86 when they went 50-23-7 for 107 points.

Your guess is as good as mine
The return of injured players for the Capitals spells some problems for Karl Alzner, the rookie who has not only earned a slot on the team, but improved those around him. From the Capitals Web site we are given a vague hint at what is going on...

"The Caps may have one of two injured blueliners (Tom Poti and Shaone Morrisonn) back in the lineup for Tuesday’s game in Boston."

ShaMo and Poti can't both be in the lineup if Alzner is to stay and both practiced fully with the team on Monday, so it's anyone's guess what is actually going to happen. I imagine one will not play, and a roster move will be made by Saturday's game against the Red Wings if Alzner is here to stay. We'll know more as the day goes on.

Flashes of Brilliance
Keep your eye on Tomas Fleischmann tonight; he's easily the "unsung" hero of the season thus far and in his last 10 games has five goals. With Ovechkin and Semin likely to be kept in check by the Bruins' top defensive lines, Fleischmann might be the guy who the Caps can rely on to deliver.

Back to the injuries...
With the return of Tom Poti and Shoane Morrisonn, the Capitals will have only one player on IR, the only player they had on IR to start the season, Brian Pothier. Thank God the injury bug is seemingly over.

Goalie Gaffes
Here's a video of some ridiculed moments in Tim Thomas' career. It seems like "Yakkity Sax" is the go-to song for YouTube goalie embarrassment. Thank you for that, Benny Hill.


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