For a good look ahead with analysis on tonight's match up please go over the Peerless's blog, here. Since this is a late post, probably because I was catching up on the sleep I lost watching the Ducks' and Kings' games against the Caps earlier in the week, I'll just be "throwing my two cents in on what you've probably already read elsewhere. That being said, tonight's game will be a tough one. I know that's hard to figure out since the Sharks are leading the league and have their number 1 goalie back in the net. According to Tarik, the Caps got the day off yesterday to rest, and like almost everyone else who watched the Kings game, I think that was probably a good idea. Also according to Tarik, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel and both Sergei Federov and Mike Green returning to the line-up are possibilities tonight. Though it looks like Alender Semin is still out. On Green's status this is what's in Tarik's blog from yesterday: As far Green's injury, the Caps feared the worst yesterday. But his MRI came back negative and today he's feeling "a lot better." "I'm not ruling him out of anything," Boudreau said. "At the same time, we're going to make sure he's ready to play before we put him back in." (That last remark is a bit of a Yogi Bera, isn't it, Coach?) That has to be great news, as does the possibility of Federov coming back into the lineup. "Feds", "Game Over", and the "Russian Wizard" (I'm still searching for a good nickname for Alexander Semin - how's that one sound, I kind of like it...) account for 24 of the 64 goals the Capitals have potted to date. Getting at least two of the three back will help take some pressure off of Backstrom, Ovechkin, Fleischmann (who is having that breakout year we've been waiting for) and Laich.
A few other things to note...
1) This season so far the Caps are getting secondary scoring. Something the Caps will need to continue to do, if they are to win tonight. To date 16 Caps have scored 1 or more goals this season, and 12 Caps have two or more goals on the season.
2) Tyler Sloan has now played in 11 NHL games, one more than the current NHL CBA specifies so that he will need to clear waivers if he is to be sent back to Hershey. Given his salary cap friendly price and the numbers he's been posting, he may not see Hershey ever again, one way or the other. Personally, I hope he stays here in DC for the rest of the season. He has played very well for an undrafted rookie and has not made many rookie mistakes at all. His numbers are very solid, both from a defensive perspective and from a perspective of supporting the offense when needed.
3) To win tonight, the Caps have to come out ready to play and play both well and hard for all sixty minutes; Jose Theodore or Brent Johnson have to have a great night in the net; and the Caps defensemen have to do a better job of keeping the low slot clear by pushing the play to the boards. For the Sharks to win, they need to tie up the Capitals, not get frustrated by the relentless forecheck the Caps are capable of, and not buy all the hype associated with their new "BlackArmor", though that last one probably won't be too hard for them to accomplish.
4) Don't bet against Alexander Ovechkin breaking his "Never scored a goal against the Sharks" streak, even though the Kings kept that in tact on Thursday evening.
5) From a standings perspective, tonight's game is more important than Thursday night's was for the Caps. They are now just one point ahead of Carolina, the Caps have a game in hand. The Hurricanes are idle today but play the Nashville Predators tomorrow afternoon. We've already pointed out the Caps are playing the team with the best record in the NHL tonight. The Predators are basically playing 0.500 hockey and won't be pushovers for the 'Canes, especially if Preds' goalie Dan Ellis has a good game, but it's not hard to see Carolina walking away from that game with two more points either.
6) I made my friend Pat's son very happy last week. Pat is a Shark's STH, he came to the VC for last year's Caps - Sharks matchup and invited me out to the game. For a lot of reasons both personal and professional commitments made the possibility of me going a "no-go." Pat's son is ecstatic as he now gets a chance to see Alexander Ovechkin play. All I can say is it's too bad it looks like he won't also get to see Alexander Semin play too, and I hope he enjoys the game but that his father doesn't finish the night in too good a mood, since I'm hoping at the end of the night BlackArmor is 0-1-0 and the Sharks have their first home loss in regulation this season. Let's all hope the Caps team gets together, decides to win this one as an "anniversary gift" to Coach Boudreau, and just plays phenomenal hockey "ALL NIGHT LONG". Cmon guys "You Can Do It!"
LETS GO CAPS!!!!!!!!!!!!