Thursday, October 12, 2006

Gameday Preview - Caps vs. Wild

Happy Birthday, Greenie! :)
Caps' rookie defensemen Mike Green celebrates his 21st birthday today! *Sigh* - they grow up so fast, don't they?
Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Minnesota Wild
Where: Xcel Energy Center
175 Kellogg Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55101
When: Thursday, October 12, 2006 8:00 pm

Media Notes:
PDF Game Notes
St. Paul Pioneer Press
Minneapolis/St. Paul Star-Tribune
Profile-o-rama: Mike Green, Donald Brashear, Ovechkin
Broadcast Information: Comcast Sportsnet, WTNT-570 AM; KSTC Channel 45, WCCO-AM 830

2005-2006 Season Series: N/A
Overall Series: Washington 2-4-0-0, Minnesota 4-2-0-0

Last Game: Nov. 1, 2003 in Minnesota, Caps lost 2-1
- That's right, it's been almost 3 years since the Caps last played the Wild. In that time, both teams have undergone major transformations: 13 of the players dressed for the Caps that night, as well as the head coach, are no longer with the organization (anyone remember John Gruden?). For Minnesota, only 4 players from that game remain. In addition, both had drafted serious firepower up front, with the Caps obviously getting Ovie and the Wild obtaining sharpshooter Marian Gaborik.
- The loss to Minnesota continued the Caps winless streak on the road to start the season, bringing them to a miserable 0-6-1 away from MCI Center.
- Coach Cassidy called out his workhorses after the game, saying "[w]e're right back to where we refuse to shoot the puck...I'm talking about guys with no goals, I'm not talking about Jaromir Jagr. He's been in this league for 10 years and he knows what he's doing with the puck. You know, the Sutherbys, the Halpys, the Battaglias -- who refuse to shoot the puck and they have no goals.'' Butch was such a nice guy, wasn't he? It's too bad he was incompetent and had to leave.
- If Jaromir Jagr did know what to do with the puck, it didn't show in this game - at the time, Minnesota remained the only team he had never scored against.

Things to Watch For:
- Special Teams - always, always, always. Power play was starting to click at the end of the last game and penalty killing has been effective to this point. They just need to start getting a little consistency and momentum going at both ends. No one's asking for 100% on the pk or on the power play; I'd settle for mid-league numbers, enough to keep them in every game.
- Traffic - my one big issue with the last game and basically with every game since last season has been traffic in front of the net. The Caps consistently have opposition players in front of their own net yet are unable to reciprocate. Johnny is starting in net tonight and he had a great outing in the preseason against the Flyers, so here's hoping they give him a fair shot by clearing out the ice in front of him.
- Games are 60 Minutes - no one is questioning their work ethic and I know our boys go out there and play hard almost every night, but it needs to be maintained all the way through. A strong start or a strong finish will only get you through the beginning or end of a game; it is rarely enough to undo whatever damage is done if the other team comes out flying. I'd like to see a strong game all the way through and better recovery after a goal (meaning no more allowing two goals in less than a 5 minute span...)
- Crash and Dash - Minnesota's lineup is very flashy and can put up big numbers...we'll need some serious muscle to keep them in check. Luckily with the return of Matt Bradley, every forward line now appears to have a gritty, in your face type of player to balance out the finesse of the other two. Brashear, Sutherby and Laich earned praises from the media and the coach after their performance last game, so I'd expect another strong showing from that threesome.
-Offensive Prowess - Alex and Alex 2.0 put on quite a show last game and I'd love to see them continue to do so, but the Caps need to find offense from other sources as well. As we all know, putting the offensive eggs in one basket won't get you to the playoffs. They'll need some of the assist-getters of late to chip in a few goals, as well.

Your Projected Lineups:
Washington Capitals
(No nicknames this week...I'm being lazy)

8-Ovechkin, 9-Zubrus, 17-Clark
28-Semin, 24-Beech, 20-Zednik
87-Brashear, 16-Sutherby, 21-Laich
22-Fata, 38-Klepis, 10-Bradley

2-Pothier, 26-Morrisonn
27-Clymer, 44-Eminger
6-Heward, 52-Green

1-Johnson, 37-Kolzig

Minnesota Wild

10-Gaborik, 38-Demitra, 21-Parrish
12-Rolston, 28-White, 96-Bouchard
19-Vellieux, 9-Koivu, 92-Radivojevic
24-Boogard, 37-Walz, 11-Dupuis

5-Johnsson, 55-Schultz
26-Foster, 41-Skoula
3-Carney, 33-Nummelin

32-Backstrom, 35-Fernandez

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