Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Thrashers

Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Atlanta Thrashers
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Wednesday, November 22, 2006, 7:00pm

Broadcast Information: CSN, WTNT-570 AM; SportSouth

Media Notes:
WashingtonCaps.com
AtlantaThrashers.com (You have to register to view this now, probably to keep people like me from trolling...nice try, but I got in anyways)
Washington Post
Washington Times
CBS Sportsline
NHL.com
Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Season Series: Caps 0-1-2, Thrashers 3-0-0

Season Standings: Caps 8-6-6, 22 points - 3rd in division, 9th in conference; Thrashers 12-7-3, 27 points - T-1st in division, 5th in conference

Last Game: November 3 in Washington, Caps lost 4-3
- The Caps jumped out to an early 2-goal lead on a power play goal from Zubrus in the first period and a shorthanded goal by Clark less than 2 minutes into the second. Within the span of less than four minutes, however, the Caps watched the Thrashers turn what was a 2-goal lead into a 1-goal deficit.
- Zubrus would notch his second of the night with 6 seconds remaining in the second period, seemingly taking the momentum back from a suddenly energized Thrashers team. Unfortunately a goal by Steve Rucchin 27 seconds into the final frame would again give Atlanta the lead and would be enough to earn them two points on the night.
- The Thrashers' victory marked the first time this season that the Caps and Thrashers would finish a game in regulation. Their last two meetings, also wins by Atlanta, were won in overtime and a shootout - all three Caps losses have been by the score of 4-3.
- Until this game, the Caps had not lost in regulation when leading after the first period, going 3-0-2 in that span.
- Jon Sim continued his love affair with the back of the Capitals net, scoring the first Atlanta goal and assisting on the game winner. He now has 3 points in 3 games this season, bringing his total over the last two seasons to 11 points (9 goals, 2 assists) in 9 games against Washington. That's not counting the hat trick he scored in a wild 7-6 preseason game while with the Flyers...
- The Caps were shorthanded only 5 times during the game and killed off all 5. The bad news? 4 of the 5 penalties were hooking infractions...you'd think they'd catch on after the second or third one, wouldn't you?

Things to Look For:
- Both teams are in the midst of mini slumps, with the Caps dropping their last 3 (0-2-1) and the Thrashers losing 4 straight (0-4-0). You know the old saying - something's gotta give. Okay, so it's not a great saying, but I think it's appropriate.
- Both teams should be nice and fresh for this Thanksgiving Eve matchup, having had the last three days off. The break for the Caps came after a rough stretch where they played 3 games in 4 nights. The rest was needed, as this is a Caps club in the midst of a little injury bug. All but Semin should be cleared for action tomorrow night, although I'd expect Clarkie to be sporting some kind of scary-looking face mask to protect those pearly whites...or what's left of them.
- At one point Atlanta boasted the three top scorers in the NHL in Hossa, Kovalchuk and Kozlov, but recently they have slipped to 2nd, 8th and 11th respectively. Slackers. Still, they have combined for 83 points so far, and the lowest scoring among the three of them is Kozlov with a measly 26 points. The next highest scorer on the Thrashers roster is Mellanby with 14 points. Their entire team can score, but if the Caps can keep those three off the board (and maybe Mr. Sim for good measure) they may have a chance at a 2-point night.
- Despite the fact that Atlanta is in the middle of a losing streak, the Caps need to come out firing and not let up. A desperate team is a scary team, and as I've noted in the past the Caps have historically woken up teams that were slumping...just take the last time these two teams met, when Atlanta came in having lost two straight and nipped that in the bud.
- The Thrashers have won all three meetings this season three different ways - regulation, overtime and shootout. I'd say it's time for the pendulum to swing a little bit our way. If the Caps can do the same in the next three matches (or win all three in regulation, which would be even better), it all goes back to even and the last two games will determine the outcome of the season series...
- Washington has given up 2 power play goals in each of their last 2 games; up until then they hadn't given up more than one power play goal in a game since the 4-0 loss to Edmonton back in October. The Thrashers power play has stumbled of late, connecting on only one of their last 15 chances with the extra man. Despite that fact, they remain at 8th place in the league with 19.2% effectiveness on the power play. The Caps are ranked 17th in both power play and penalty killing. In that same vein, Dainius Zubrus continues to uncharacteristically lead the Caps in penalty minutes with 25 - that's 2 more than tough guy Donald Brashear.
- Atlanta is currently experiencing a little goalie setback, as Lehtonen was pulled for the second time this year in the Thrashers' recent 5-3 loss to Dallas. Hedberg will likely be in net tonight against the Caps, but neither goalie has been particularly solid of late - they have allowed 5 goals in 3 of their last 4 losses.
- Bobby Holik is one goal away from the 300 mark. Let's make him the first player not to get a milestone against the Caps this season...
- Home ice advantage has to be exactly that - an advantage. So far this season the Caps are 3-4-1 on home ice, which means they are actually below .500 at home and above .500 on the road. Cue Twilight Zone music...here.

Projected Lineup for the Caps
Forwards:
8-Alex "Lucky #13" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Write-In" Zubrus, 17-Chris "Hannibal Lecter" Clark
28-Alex "Not Playing" Semin, 38-Jakub "Hits the Big Time" Klepis, 18-Matt "DJ Shortie" Pettinger
10-Matt "the Glue" Bradley, 16-Brian "the Guts" Sutherby, 27-Ben "the Glory" Clymer
87-Donald "Piano Man" Brashear, 15-Boyd "the PKer" Gordon, 20-Richard "Streaks" Zednik

Defensemen:
2-Brian "the Capital Capital" Pothier, 26-Shaone "Shortcut" Morrisonn
47-Bryan "I Was Framed!" Muir, 52-Mike "Babyface" Green
4-John "Surprise!" Erskine, 6-Jamie "Old Bones" Heward

Goaltenders:
1-Brent "Heeere's Johnny" Johnson, 37-Olie "the Other Captain" Kolzig

Projected Lineup for the Thrashers
Forwards:
17-Ilya "Broken Stick" Kovalchuk, 20-Steve Rucchin, 19-Scott "Honeydew" Mellanby
13-Vyacheslav "Missed the Cut" Kozlov, 16-Bobby "Unibrow" Holik, 18-Marian "Puck Hog" Hossa
29-Brad Larsen, 23-Jim "A.C." Slater, 11-J.P. "V.J." Vigier
14-Jon "Buffy the Caps Slayer" Sim, 9-Glen "Metro" Metropolit, 36-Eric "Michael" Boulton

Atlanta Defensemen
25-Andy "Nice Guy" Sutton, 28-Niclas Havelid
3-Vitaly "Gesundheit" Vishnevski, 7-Greg de Vries
4-Braydon "Hair" Coburn, 34-Shane "Silent H" Hnidy

Goaltenders
1-Johan "In Over His" Hedberg, 32-Kari "I've Got No Rhythm, I've Got No Music" Lehtonen

Stay tuned, per Vogel's notes these are bound to change - I hope so, since Semin being on the IR makes it kind of hard for him to play. They apparently will be updated after Wednesday morning’s skate - that's code for who the heck knows anymore...

1 comment:

Logan said...

Havelid's not playing, since he's in Sweden for his mother's funeral. We get to see Mark Popovic instead.