Tonight, the Caps travel to Ottawa and take on the Eastern Conference leading Senators. These two teams last met on November 4th in Ottawa's Scotiabank Place and the Caps broke the Senators 8 game winning streak with a convincing 4-1 victory. The Senators are 9-1-1 in their last 11 and have more players in hot streaks in their lineup than any other team in the league right now. Leading the hot streak for the Sens has been goaltender Martin Gerber who has a GAA of 1.90 and a save % of 0.940 in his last five games played. The Senators first line of Alfredsonn-Spezza-Heatley has been on fire the past five games and will be a formidable challenge for the Caps to contain. The Caps enter the game off an overtime road loss in Pittsburgh, Thursday; while the Senators last game resulted in a 5-2 home victory over the NY Islanders that same evening.
The big hockey news out of Ottawa the last couple of days has surrounded a "goaltending controversy" caused apparently by some frustration on "backup" Ray Emery's lack of playing time so far this season. Caps fans will find this a bit ironic since their backup goalie is sidelined for two to four weeks due to an injury suffered in the last game against Pittsburgh. Emery is in his fourth NHL season and led the Senators to the Stanley Cup finals last season after Gerber was sidelined early in the season; this season the shoe is on the other foot and Gerber is now the hot number 1 goalie in Canada's capital city. After several days of speculative and less than flattering stories, Emery met with his teammates and subsequently the press to clear the air and indicated his frustrations are centered inwardly on his own performance and motivation issues and he does not want them to be the center of a controversy or a distraction to the team. He also indicated that he doesn't "think" he wants to be traded and likes playing with the Senators and their chances for a successful season. Whether this is the end of the controversy or not remains to be seen.
Regardless of the supposed Senators goalie controversy, it'll be a tough game for the Caps and they need to once again break an Ottawa winning streak (this time three games) to capture a much needed two points. Ovechkin has a couple of stitches in a deep thigh cut but will likely play. It's also likely that Olie Kolzig will again be in goal as the Caps try and once again frustrate the Senators who have outscored their opponents 47-25 in their last 11 games. The probable line combinations for the Caps are:
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 25-Kozlov
43-Fleischmann, 92-Nylander, 28-Semin
18-Pettinger, 39-Steckel, 21-Laich
87-Brashear, 15-Gordon, 10-Bradley Washington
Goaltenders: 35-Cassivi, 37-Kolzig.
LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!!