Friday, November 24, 2006

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Leafs

Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Friday, November 24, 2006, 7:00 pm

Broadcast Information: CSN, WTNT-570 AM; Leafs TV, 640 AM

Media Notes:
Washington Post
Washington Times
Globe and Mail

2005-06 Season Series: Caps 3-1-0, Leafs 1-3-0

2006-07 Standings: Caps 8-7-6, 22 points - 4th in division, 11th in conference; Leafs 12-7-4, 28 points - 2nd in division, 4th in conference

Last Game: February 28, 2006 in Toronto, Caps won 5-3
- The Caps did a few things in this game that they haven't done in a long time. They took a lead early (0:37 into the first), maintained the lead or tie all the way through the game, and kept their opponent to under 30 shots. Ah, memories...
- Matt Pettinger proved he was the master of all specialty teams, notching a power play goal in the first to give the Caps a 2-0 lead then adding an unassisted shortie late in the second period to finish off Washington's offense for the evening.
- This was a penalty-filled affair, as each team had 9 opportunities with the extra man. A total of 23 penalties were called in the game, with 12 going against the Leafs and 11 against the Caps; Bryan McCabe picked up 14 PIMs, as he received 2 minutes for diving, a 10 minute misconduct at the end of the second period, and a slashing call with less than a minute remaining in the game.
- After the game Darcy Tucker claimed that the Caps had been looking over at the Leafs' bench and laughing (sound familiar?). Said Ovechkin, they were just "smiling and having fun in Toronto." You be the judge.
- The Caps took 4 straight hooking calls during the first and second periods; they then took 4 straight tripping calls. Odd.
- All 5 goals were scored by players with double-digit goal totals on the season: Willsie (12), Pettinger (13,14), Ovechkin (37), and Clymer (11)

Things to Look For:
- Okay - we all know that the last Caps game was quite an exciting one, and the focus of all conversations since then has been on the fighting. Let's not forget, though, that the Caps did lose that game after having a 2-goal lead. They'll need to put the fights behind them, take what they can from the experience, and funnel the energy and passion exhibited in those last two minutes into tonight's game.
- All four games between the Caps and the Leafs last season were high-scoring affairs, with the winning team scoring 4+ goals each time. The Caps took the season series 3 games to 1 and outscored them 14-8. These are two teams that have greatly improved since last season, and both are coming off of disappointing and somewhat explosive losses Wednesday night. Let's just say this should be a good one.
- The Leafs' special teams have been clicking at a tremendous rate this season, ranked 9th in power play and 8th in penalty killing. That's not to mention the fact that they've scored 2 power play goals in their last two outings. I feel like I've said this before, but the Caps have to stay out of the box. I think they're pretty tired of getting penalty minutes after Wednesday night, though...
- The Caps are currently in the middle of a season-high 4 game losing streak but have gone 2-2-2 in their last 6 to pick up 6 points. Some of the games they've stolen a point, others they've been robbed of 2. Tonight's outcome will all depend on which team decides to show up.
- With Brashear and Sutherby out of the lineup per the NHL's eternal wisdom, Eric Fehr will make his regular season debut against the Leafs. He's lighting up the AHL so far this season, but we all saw how that doesn't necessarily translate to NHL points with Fleischmann. Still, I'm looking forward to getting another look at one of our top prospects.
- Sundin remains out with an elbow injury but the Leafs have maintained a pretty steady pace (3-2-1) without their fearless leader, so I wouldn't expect that to be too much of a factor. Of course, Sundin has 51 points in 24 games against the Caps, so I can't say I'll miss him that much.

Projected Lineup for the Caps
(Vogel's saying these are strictly a guess, so you know what that
means - another round of mix-and-match forwards!)
8-Alex "Look Out, Greenie!" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "PIM" Zubrus, 17-Chris "Hannibal Lecter" Clark
18-Matt "Shortie" Pettinger, 21-Brooks "What's Not to" Laich, 20-Richard "Streaks" Zednik
10-Matt "Drop 'Em" Bradley, 15-Boyd "PK Boy" Gordon, 27-Ben "Drop 'Em, Jr."Clymer
38-Jakub "Hot Hands" Klepis, 24-Kris "Life's a" Beech, 14-Eric "I Heart Suspensions" Fehr

2-Brian "The Capital Capital" Pothier, 26-Shaone "Shortcut" Morrisonn
6-Jamie "5 for Fighting" Heward, 52-Mike "Ouch" Green
4-John "K.O." Erskine, 44-Steve "Sutsy's Roomie" Eminger

1-Brent "Heeere's Johnny!" Johnson, 37-Olie "Leavin' the Crease" Kolzig

Projected Lineup for the Leafs
92-Jeff O’Neill, 14-Matt "Center" Stajan, 16-Darcy "Mother" Tucker
23-Alexei "Pony" Ponikarovsky, 42-Kyle "Wish You" Wellwood, 80-Nik "I'd Like to Buy a C" Antropov
33-Bates "Motel" Battaglia, 27-Michael "Woody Wood" Peca, 10-Alexander Steen
21-John "Stripper" Pohl, 18-Chad "Buzz" Kilger, 9-Alexander Suglobov

15-Tomas Kaberle, 24-Bryan "the Overrated" McCabe
25-Hal Gill, 73-Pavel Kubina
7-Colin White, 3-Wade Belak

1-Andrew Raaaaay-croft, 30-J.S. "Your 5-Hole is" Aubin

I'll be in attendance for tonight's post-Turkey Day matchup with the dreaded Leafs - should be fun!

No comments: