Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Pre-Cap: Capitals vs. Kings

Mid-November 2008, the Capitals were in the midst of an eight-game point streak, recording a 6-0-2 record in that span. After dispatching a rough-and-tumble Anaheim Ducks team in a 6-4 game, the Capitals turned their sights to the Los Angeles Kings. Many fans expected it to be an easy win, two points on the road for free, but the Kings had a different plan.

The Capitals were humbled in that game, 5-2, as Dustin Brown, Anze Kopitar and the Kings outworked the high-flying Capitals squad.

Now fast-forward to February. The Capitals are in the midst of a winning streak, spirits are high as the team has dispatched tough foes in New Jersey, Detroit and Ottawa. Now they face the Kings in yet another grueling stretch of hockey. Sounds eerily familiar, doesn't it?

While the Kings aren't likely to be giant-killers on an every-game basis, consider this: The Kings play in a tougher conference and are in the same division as superpowers San Jose and Anaheim.

If the Kings were an Eastern Conference team, they could very well be a playoff-caliber team. The Kings may not be a playoff team this season, but they do resemble the Capitals of years past; young, skilled, scrappy and determined.

Washington Capitals (33-15-4, first in SE, second in EC, last game 5-2 win over NJD)
Los Angeles Kings (21-21-7, last in PAC, 12th in WC, last game 1-0 win over Ottawa)

Key Players
WSH: Michael Nylander
He recorded his first two-goal game since Dec. 29, 2007, and against the Devils, of all teams. He has three goals and an assist in his last four games. Michael Nylander is often chastised for his circle-skating and "pass first and think about shooting after I pass" style, but if Nylander can get his point-scoring ways going now, the Capitals will be happy to have him when the playoffs roll around.
LAK: Dustin Brown
He hits, he scores and he's a pretty good playmaker, too. While Dustin Brown is not Alex Ovechkin, he certainly has a similar hitting game. Brown is second on the Kings in goals (20) and is tied for the lead in points (38) along with Anze Kopitar. Expect to see lots of Dustin Brown flying around, looking for hits.

Crazy stat of the night
Alex Ovechkin has never scored against the Los Angeles Kings in his NHL career.

The Dustin Brown Hat Trick: a Goal, an assist, and a near-decapitation


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