Who: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, NJ
When: Friday, February 29, 7:00 pm
Broadcast Info: CSN; FSN-NY
Here we go again - another game that is "the biggest game of the year", and it's up to the team to ignore all the controversy swirling around them and just play their game. Carolina's off tonight after falling to the Rangers (and a great big thank you to the Blueshirts for doing that, by the way) so that makes this one of those coveted games in hand for the Caps. A win and they're three points back...a loss and they stand pat but drop to two games in hand.
These are the games they need to win - you know, kind of like that big game against the Canes a week ago? It's important to note that the Caps outplayed the Devils the last time these two teams clashed; here's hoping for an off night by Brodeur so they can make that effort count.
Tonight's game holds a few new little wrinkles, more commonly known as Sergei Fedorov, Matt Cooke, and Cristobal Huet. The Caps came out flying against Minnesota on Tuesday after the deals were done and the new players weren't even there - how they respond to the new additions actually being in the lineup will set the course for the rest of the season.
Careful, though, expectations may be high but as we all know it's the rare player who can slide into a lineup and find instant chemistry. Just read this cautionary tale to see how rare it really is.This may take a bit of tweaking, probably more of an issue Fedorov and Cooke than Huet but relevant all the same. It would be great if they can come in here and just tear it up in their respective roles; that being said, I think we'd all settle for just an emotional lift from the rest of the team.
Expect to see Huet in net, facing off against our nemesis Martin Brodeur. The good news? Huet's played one game against the Devils this year - it was at Prudential Center and it was a winning effort. The, er, not-so-good news if you will? Thirteen shots against, three goals allowed in that win, not exactly stellar numbers.
Of course, he followed that performance with a 35-save shutout...against the Caps. But that's neither here nor there.
And on the subject of goaltending, it's hard not to laugh at this little snippet swiped from the NHL.com preview:
After pulling off a major trade before Tuesday's deadline in hopes of helping to make their first playoff appearance in five years, the Washington Capitals suddenly have three quality goaltenders on their roster. The New Jersey Devils, meanwhile, are doing just fine with their one.Ouch. Poor Weekes, guess he's not a "quality goaltender" - but hey, he does have lovely music on his website!
Just a quick reminder about tonight's game - if you haven't already heard, a number of big-hearted Caps bloggers have banded together with the Capitals, the Bears, and other groups in a grand fundraising effort to support the Wilson High School hockey program. Be sure to come out and lend your support if you're in the DC area, as we all gather at Clyde's to watch the game and support a great cause.
You can read all the details about this event here, as well as information on how to donate if you're not able to attend. It's a fantastic effort and all involved should be commended - hope to see you all there!