Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Thursday, January 4, 7:00 pm
Broadcast Info: NC8, WTEM 980 AM; RDS, CJAD
2006-07 Season Series: Caps 0-1-0, Canadiens 1-0-0
2006-07 Standings: Caps 16-17-7, 39 points - 3rd in division, 12th in conference; Canadiens 23-11-5, 51 points - 2nd in division, 4th in conference
Last Game: December 27 in Washington, Caps lost 4-1
- Despite outshooting the Habs 14-7 in the first period, the Caps appeared sluggish to start the game and failed to generate any quality chances through 20 minutes.
- Two goals by the Canadiens late in the first period would be all they would need to hold off the Caps, as Washington's attack during the first two frames presented little threat to Huet.
- Aaron Downey would have less than 2 minutes of ice time the entire game, but that would be enough for him to score his first goal of the season, the eventual game-winner, and tangle with Brashear in a lopsided boxing match that sent him to the dressing room.
- The only Caps tally came with less than three minutes remaining in the third period, as Semin ended Huet's shutout bid on a power play and with Olie on the bench.
- The Caps only took 4 penalties but with Montreal boasting the best power play in the league, that 4 was too many. Koivu connected with the extra man to make it 3-0 with just over 5 minutes left in the game to put it out of reach.
- Brooks Laich was likely the best player on the ice for the Caps, showing jump and having good positioning all night as the rest of his team flailed around him.
Things to Look for:
- The last time these two teams met, just over a week ago, Montreal boasted the top power play in the league and the second best penalty-killing unit; they now hold the top spot in both. Meanwhile, special teams for the Caps have suffered in their recent rough patch, with the power play dropping to 19th and penalty killing holding steady at 20th.
- A great deal of the Habs' success so far this season can be attributed to stellar goaltending and dominance when up or down a man. Their five on five play, on the other hand, has it's problems like most other teams. If the Caps stand a chance, they can't rely on the occasional power play to boost their offense and will have to stay out of the box as much as possible.
- Although the Caps have lost 5 straight, only one of those losses could be pinned down as a poor effort through all 60 minutes. They have managed to string together a few good periods at a time but are still missing the full 60 minute game. Their latest malady seems to be the opening period, once their strength, where they have fallen behind and been unable to recover.
- As it has happened all season long, when the Caps offense starts to sputter nothing goes right. This is not yet a defensively sound team and goaltending has been inconsistent lately - the goal scorers and role players alike need to step up the offensive output as a whole.
- Speaking of offense, Ovechkin is experiencing a goalless drought that has now stretched to four games. He continues to pick up assists, but his last goal came in the 6-3 loss to Buffalo where he taunted the booing masses. Honestly, if it were anyone else I'd be worried, but Ovie will pull through this just like he has in the past. Goal-scorers find ways to score eventually.
- Since beating the Caps last week, Montreal has dropped two of their last three, losing consecutive 3-1 games to Florida and Tampa before snapping the mini-slump Tuesday night with a 5-2 victory over the Lightning.
- The Caps haven't won a home game since December 16 against the Flyers, losing 4 straight in front of us long-suffering locals. Tonight's game is the second of a 4 game homestand - they need to recapture home ice advantage, even if the home crowd is graveyard-esque. The last Habs game actually had a pretty boisterous crowd (a few Habs fans, but not overwhelming amounts) - hopefully those same fans will come back tonight.
- Saku Koivu is one point away from reaching the 500 point plateau. While I'm rooting for Captain K to hit that mark (and there's no doubt that he will), I'd like him to be the first player on the cusp of a milestone to not reach it against the Caps. Hey, there's a first time for everything.
- I've got a lot riding on this one - should the Caps lose, I have to post something nice about the Habs. Usually that wouldn't be hard since I am a fan, but I'd hate to have to do that at the cost of a Caps loss. Incidentally if the Caps should happen to win, keep your eyes peeled for a post describing the all-time greatest Capitals over at Eyes on the Prize...
Possible Lineup for the Caps
8-Alex "the Vending Machine Bully" Ovechkin, 9-Dainius "Shoots it Wide" Zubrus, 17-Chris "Fearless Leader" Clark
28-Alexander "Fancy Hands" Semin, 24-Kris "the Invisible Man" Beech, 18-Matt "Princess" Pettinger
21-Brooks "Underrated" Laich,16-Brian "the Reawakened" Sutherby, 27-Ben "Keeper of the Plague" Clymer
87-Donald "Sucker Punch" Brashear, 15-Boyd "Killer" Gordon, 38-Jakub "Bench Warmer" Klepis
2-Brian "Break on Through" Pothier, 26-Shaone "Kissing Disease" Morrisonn
3-Lawrence "Blue Line Special" Nycholat, 52-Mike "No Longer" Green
6-Jamie "Scarface" Heward, 44-Steve "Getting Better" Eminger
1-Brent "Splitting Lumber" Johnson, 37-Olie "the Workhorse" Kolzig
Possible Lineup for the Canadiens
21-Chris "Golden Boy" Higgins, 11-Saku "the Flying Finn" Koivu, 73-Michael "Newfie" Ryder
15-Sergei "Chunky Monkey" Samsonov (just for you, Jordi!), 35-Tomas "the Tank Engine" Plekanic, 27-Alex "the Pilot" Kovalev
42-Alexander "Loose Cannon" Perezhogin, 14-Radek "Doesn't Need a Nickname" Bonk, 20-Mike "Out of the Desert, Into the Snow" Johnson
32-Mark "Neutral Zone" Streit (Get it? Because he's Swiss...well, at least I make myself laugh), 47-Aaron "Wait...Brashear is Left-Handed?!" Downey, 84-Guillaume "l'Homme Invisible" Latendresse
25-Mathieu "Dapper" Dandenault, 44-Sheldon "Wicked Point Shot" Souray
8-Mike "the Other #8" Komisarek, 79-Andrei "Ovie's Nightmare" Markov
51-Francis "Boo-Yah" Bouillon, 52-Craig "Face-Grabber" Rivet
30-David "the Swiss Alp" Aebischer, 39-Cristobal "Hip Hip" Huet