Capitals-Hurricanes preview

After three days off, the Caps are about to embark on a long road trip beginning with tonight’s game in Raleigh against their division foe the Carolina Hurricanes. You could say that the Caps are off to a shaky start but a 5-3-0 record isn’t anything to complain about. Some of the key things from last year are missing, though. One of which being their effectiveness on the powerplay. The Caps powerplay percentage sits at 12.1% right now, which is around 20th in the league. Getting a healthy Mike Green back will do wonders for them if they wish to improve on that mark. The other thing missing has been the explosiveness of the first line of Alexander Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Knuble. We are so used to seeing these three put up points at a ridiculous pace but they’ve been slow out of the gate this season. The good news is that they were showing signs of improvement in recent games but they still look a bit off and are having trouble scoring. One has to think that these three are too talented to be held scoreless for so long and they will break out of it soon, which I agree with.

Washington will be without defenseman Tom Poti for this road trip as he is out with an undisclosed injury. Also injured is goaltender Semyon Varlamov who started the season on the IR and is back on it yet again. Brandon Fahey and Braden Holtby have been called up to replace these two. I can only hope that Fahey looks better than he did in his NHL debut against Nashville. What I’m wondering is why most are saying that Karl Alzner will be scratched instead of him or Tyler Sloan, because that’s just a bad idea, in my opinion.

Know Your Enemy: Carolina Hurricanes edition

If you’re a Caps fan you should know that games against Carolina are always difficult for the Caps. No matter what their record is they always play Washington tough. This will be Carolina’s home opener as they began the season on a long road trip beginning in Helsinki, Finland and ending in Phoenix, Arizona. They came out of that stretch 4-3-0. Their powerplay has been about effective as ours (12.7%) and their penalty killing ranks at 26th in the league. It’s a good chance for the Capitals to get their powerplay going.

Who/What to Watch:

Washington Capitals

Mike Green – Getting him back couldn’t be more important to both the powerplay and the defense. Both have been incredibly shaky with him out and for good reason. Whether or not he is 100% is still the question.

Powerplay – As I said earlier, Carolina has one of the worst ranked PK’s in the league and it’s a good chance for the Caps powerplay to get things going.

Mathieu Perrault – He was great in his first game this season and continues to make the most of his time in the NHL. How he does on this road trip will likely decide whether or not he’s hear to stay.

Carolina Hurricanes

First line (mainly Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen) – Staal has destroyed the Caps in previous years and is always a factor whenever he’s on the ice. Jokinen had a 30+ goal season last year and is looking like he’s getting even better with the start he’s off to.

Anton Babchuk – He’s been very effective on the blue line after not playing last season and already has 2 goals. He’s also been promoted to the top defensive pairing with Joni Pitkanen. Also keep an eye on Joe Corvo just because I want to see if he screws up or not. /bitter

Brandon Sutter – I’ve always liked him and I’m curious to see how he plays tonight. He’s a great play-making center and plays a responsible, defensive game at the same time.

Line combos:

Washington Capitals



OvechkinBackstrom – Knuble

Laich – Perrault – Semin

Chimera – Fleischmann – Fehr

Hendricks – Steckel – Bradley

Green – Schultz

Carlson – Erskine

Sloan – Fahey

Neuvirth

Out: Karl Alzner, Semyon Varlamov, Tom Poti

Carolina Hurricanes

Jokinen – Staal – LaRose

Skinner – Ruutu – Cole

Samsonov – Sutter – Kostopolus

Bowman – Dwyer – Dalpe

Pitkanen – Babchuk

Gleason – Corvo

Harrison – McBain

Ward

Out: Justin Peters, Jiri Tlusty, Patrick O’Sullivan,

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: