Caps-Blues preview

The Caps will start the month of December off by facing old nemesis, Jaroslav Halak who will be the Blues starting goaltender tonight. I’m sure you all remember him as the brick wall Washington ran into in the playoffs last season when he was with the Montreal Canadiens. It’s obvious that the Blues were saving him for this game when they saw they had the Caps on the second night of a back-to-back given his history against Washington. Halak was having a Veznia-like season for the first month but has fallen down to Earth recently. Still, it will be a tough test for Washington since Halak knows he is in the heads of many players on the team after the playoffs last year.

Starting in net for the Caps will be Semyon Varlamov. This is going to be his fourth consecutive start and he’s done very well ever since coming back from injury (3-0-0 .929 save pct) so it makes sense to keep riding the hot goaltender. No real changes to the lineup other than Mike Knuble being on the top line again and Alex Semin on the 2nd line. With how Boudreau’s been changing things up lately, I could see this switching by the 2nd period.

Who to watch in tonight’s game:

– Marcus Johansson. With Flesichmann off the team, the 2nd line center position is his to lose right now. Let’s see if he can continue to play as well as he has the last few games.

– DJ King vs. Cam Jansen? It could be a possibility with King in the lineup. Two former teammates going at it would be interesting to see.

– Alex Pietrangelo. Keep your eye out for him on the Blues. I’ve been high on him for awhile now and it’s good to see him on St. Louis’ roster full-time and making the most of it.

– John Erskine. He is going to have a lot of pressure on himself to elevate his game with the Caps trading for Scott Hannan. He is already playing some of the best hockey of his career but he might have to do more than that to stay in the lineup every night and not in the press box.

– Erik Johnson. Because well…he’s Erik F’n Johnson.

– The Blues in general. It’s not often we get to see them and they are looking like a possible playoff team out of the West now that they have a coach who is giving their young players more ice time. It also helps having a workhorse goaltender like Halak. They have fallen off recently after the injury to TJ Oshie but they did give the Chicago Blackhawks a run for their money last night getting some bad goaltending from Ty Conklin. Unfortunately for us, Conklin isn’t starting tonight and I think St. Louis will be more determined to give a better defensive effort tonight.

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