Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Atlanta Thrashers
Where: Philips Arena
One Philips Drive
Atlanta, GA 30303
When: Friday, December 15, 2006, 7:30 pm
Broadcast Information: NC8, CSN+, WTNT 570 AM; SportSouth, 680 The Fan
2006-07 Season Series: Caps 0-2-2, Thrashers 4-0-0
2006-07 Standings: Caps 13-10-7, 33 points - 3rd in division, 9th in conference; Thrashers 18-9-5, 41 points - 1st in division, 2nd in conference
Last Game: November 22 in Washington, Caps lost 4-2
- I don't know that I really need to recap the last game - it was definitely one for the water cooler (you know, if you happen to work with people who know what hockey is...). If you don't know what happened, I think there might have been one or two articles written on it somewhere.
- I did find an article that was published a few days after the infamous brawl, which I had somehow missed in the press pileup. It's really an unbelievable piece from a supposedly unbiased source, and it basically contends that the Thrashers were angels in all of this and the Caps were a bunch of big, bad bullies. It even paints Hanlon (good ol' Hugs himself) as some screaming maniac and Hartley as the cool, calm one who was worn down and forced reluctantly into a yelling match. Love that journalistic integrity. (For more bias and one-sided points of view, see Journal-Constitution, Atlanta).
- More importantly than all the fighting, of course, was the fact that the Caps again blew an early lead in the second period, letting the Thrashers back in the game with 3 quick goals to put it away long before the nastiness got underway.
Things to Look for:
- Much has been made about the fighting from the last game and whether there will be blows exchanged tonight. The straw that broke the camel's back, Andy Sutton, is actually out of the lineup (sniff...poor baby) but other resident tough guy and cheap shot artist Eric Boulton will be on the bench. That being said, I think we can all agree that games like this rarely live up to the hype. I wouldn't be surprised if a fight or two broke out, but I don't think we can expect an all out brawl.
- The part people seem to be glossing over is that both these teams come into tonight's game needing a win, as the Caps have dropped 2 of 3 and Atlanta just lost their 3rd straight. The Thrashers maintain their grip on first place in the division, but all of a sudden their position seems a little more tenuous - after opening up a big gap early, only 8 points separate them from the 3rd place Caps now.
- We all know that the Caps have not fared well against the Thrash over the last two seasons, but at least this year they've avoided the blowout losses handed to them early in last year's campaign. 3 of the 4 games so far have been one goal games, including 1 overtime and 1 shootout.
- The search continues for that elusive 60 minute game - we saw in the game on Monday how quickly things can turn around, as the Caps blew a 4-0 lead before falling in a shootout. The Thrashers may be slumping of late but they still have the firepower up front that has stung the Caps so many times before - defense has to be solid from all positions for the entire game. I'll say it again...and again...and again - a game lasts 60 MINUTES.
- We've talked about the Caps' continuing second period struggles, but I think it's also worth mentioning how well they've come out of the gate in the opening 20 minutes. They are currently first in the league in first period scoring with 36 goals. It's just those pesky other two periods that get in the way...
- Olie has looked almost human of late, continuing to make good saves but also letting in the occasional softie or mishandling the puck. Since the Caps will probably go with Johnson for the Philadelphia game on Saturday, Olie will need to shake off his last few starts and get back to where he once was - especially considering that Atlanta hotshot goalie Kari Lehtonen has also struggled in his last few starts.
- Does anyone else really want to see if Hanlon continues his rendition of the Chicken Dance tonight? No? Just me?
(Venue subject to change - for more information, visit the Kevin Hatcher Fan Club)
In honor of the hype and ballyhoo surrounding the donnybrook from last game, I've selected a theme for today's nicknames. It's subtle, but see if you can guess it!
8-Alex "Ejected" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Sin Bin" Zubrus, 17-Chris "You Grab My Face Shield, Ilya, I Grab Your Face" Clark
28-Alex "Bring it On" Semin, Kris "Payback's a" Beech, 18-Matt "Feisty Fists" Pettinger
87-Donald "the Instigator" Brashear, 16-Brian "K.O." Sutherby, 27-Ben "Drop 'Em" Clymer
21-Brooks "Old School, Through the Jersey" Laich, 15-Boyd "Killer" Gordon, 10-Matt "Lights Out" Bradley
2-Brian "the Pugnacious" Pothier, 26-Shaone "the Mutilator" Morrisonn
4-John "One-Punch" Erskine, 44-Steve "More than One Punch" Eminger
47-Bryan "Give 'Em Hell" Muir, 52-Mike "Heads Up" Green
1-Brent "Go 'Round" Johnson, Olie "Coming Down the Ice" Kolzig
Possible Lineup for the Thrashers
You know what? I don't really feel like even granting them nicknames this time around, and the lineup will be available later on WashingtonCaps.com if you really have to know who's fight-, er, playing...