Saturday, January 06, 2007

Gameday Preview: Caps vs. Thrashers

Who: Your Nation's Capitals vs. Atlanta Thrashers
Where: Verizon Center
601 F Street NW
Washington, DC 20004
When: Saturday, January 6, 7:00 pm*

Broadcast Info: CSN, WTNT 570 AM; Sports South, 680 The Fan

Media Notes:
Washington Post
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Okay, how much did Hartley pay them to write this?

*Tonight is the 2nd Annual Autism Awareness Night at Verizon Center. The Caps will honor Olie Kolzig in a special pre-game ceremony and will be holding a silent auction on the concourse featuring game-worn equipment from Olie and his teammates. All proceeds will benefit Athletes Against Autism, an initiative of Cure Autism Now founded by Olie Kolzig, Scott Mellanby and Byron Dafoe. If you're unable to attend and still want to help make a difference, visit to make a donation and find out more about this worthy cause.
Washington Times

2006-07 Season Series: Caps 1-2-2, Thrashers 4-0-1

2006-07 Standings: Caps 17-17-7, 41 points - 3rd in division, 11th in conference; Thrashers 24-12-6, 54 points - 1st in division, 2nd in conference

Last Game: December 15 in Atlanta, Caps won 3-2 in OT
- This was supposed to be the throwdown of the century; no one was supposed to be left standing at the end of the game. Players, coaches, trainers - all were going to be reduced to a bloody pulp in the free-for-all that would surely erupt. Or at least that's what the media (and the Thrashers organization) wanted you to believe. But the first meeting of the Caps and Thrashers after the brawl-filled 4-2 loss back in November resulted in little more than a well-played, exciting game from start to finish in front of a sellout crowd.
- Ovechkin would get the Caps on the board on a power play goal midway through the first period for his 19th of the season.
- The Caps were able to cling to a 1-0 lead until the Thrashers responded halfway through the second, with a power play goal from the Caps' old nemesis Jon Sim. The goal snapped a 17-game goalless drought for Sim, dating back to November 3 when he scored against, you guessed it - the Caps.
- Washington outshot Atlanta 13-6 in the third period, but a late third period goal by the Thrashers would break the deadlock
- The game seemed out of reach for the Caps until Vigier, who had scored the go-ahead goal for Atlanta just minutes before, took a delay of game penalty when he inadvertently shot the puck into the stands. With Johnson on the bench the Caps took a 2-man advantage and Ovechkin did the rest. His goal with 31 seconds left in regulation would earn the Caps at least a point as the game went to overtime.
- This happened quickly, so let's break it down - faceoff at center ice to start the extra frame. The Thrashers win the draw but bobble the puck, allowing Ovechkin to squeak through and strip the puck away. He breaks in all alone on Atlanta goaltender Kari Lehtonen and roofs it for the game winner and the hat trick. He does have a flair for the dramatic, doesn't he?
- Ovechkin's hat trick in OT was the second trick of his career - the first also came in a 3-2 overtime win, that time against the Anaheim then-Mighty Ducks. He registered 12 shots on goal against Atlanta - that's 5 more than the next highest, Kovalchuk, and 8 more than anyone else on the Capitals bench.

Things to Look for:
- The Caps have had a day off after soundly beating the Montreal Canadiens Thursday night. Meanwhile Atlanta is coming in off another overtime loss on home ice, this time to the suddenly hot Phoenix Coyotes after blowing a 3 goal lead. The Caps need to be ready and come out strong to start the game - it's a toss-up whether the Thrashers will be fired up after a disappointing loss or tired from the back-to-back games and travel.
- Special teams continue to be a factor for the Caps, as even in a strong win against the Habs the other night they still gave up a goal while down a man. I know the Habs have a great power play, but it had been struggling lately and the Caps managed to wake it up. Penalty killing effectiveness, which once hovered around the middle of the league, has dropped to 20th in recent weeks. The good news? Atlanta's PK is even worse, at 26th overall.
- Ovechkin and Pettinger apparently sat out practice yesterday with what were cryptically termed lower-body (Ovechkin) and upper-body (Pettinger) injuries. Neither is expected to be serious; Ovechkin will definitely play, although Petty will probably be a game-time decision.
- Thrashers' sniper Slava Kozlov took an elbow to the head in last night's loss to Phoenix and is unlikely to dress for tonight's game. Kozlov is a key part of Atlanta's potent offense and has the second most points and assists as well as the third most goals on the team.
- Thursday night's game was one of the few times this season that the Caps have played almost the full 60 minutes; it would do my wounded soul good to see them string a couple of performances like that together, and there's no better time than when the Thrashers are in town.
- Hedberg played last night against the 'Yotes, so the Caps will probably get another look at hotshot goalie Lehtonen.
- Atlanta has dropped three of their last four games, while the Caps have just one win in their last six attempts. Home ice advantage hasn't helped the Caps much, either, as they've actually dropped below .500 at Verizon Center while playing above-.500 hockey away from DC. Gee, can't help but take that personally...

Possible Lineup for the Caps
8-Alex "Primary Assist" Ovechkin (Take that, Sid!), 9-Dainius "Roof It" Zubrus, 17-Chris "My Face is FREE!" Clark
28-Alexander "the Lazy Sniper" Semin, 24-Kris "the Semi-Invisible Man" Beech, 18-Matt "Princess" Pettinger
21-Brooks "What's Not to" Laich, 16-Brian "Going for 3" Sutherby, 27-Ben "Petri Dish" Clymer
87-Donald "Fists of Fury" Brashear, 15-Boyd "Killer" Gordon, 38-Jakub "Welcome to Hanlon's Doghouse" Klepis

2-Brian "Returning to Form" Pothier, 26-Shaone "the Avenger" Morrisonn
6-Jamie "Scarface" Heward, 52-Mike "Down Goes Kovalev, Down Goes Kovalev" Green
3-Lawrence "Stepping Up" Nycholat, 44-Steve "Multi-Point Powerhouse" Eminger

1-Brent "Temper, Temper!" Johnson, Olie "Glove Save" Kolzig

[No Atlanta nicknames today...check with Vogel for updated lines and defensive pairings.]

Come on boys, let's get a winning streak going in front of the home crowd for a change. Atlanta is in desperate need of a scoreboard beatdown tonight.

Let's Go Caps!

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