Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Sizing Up Tonight's Opponent and Tonight Game

Well tonight the Washington Capitals face off against the fabled Montreal Canadiens, it should be a very interesting game. The Canadeans have been struggling a bit of late; they 3-7-0 in their last ten and they lost their last game 4-2 against the Canaucks in Vancouver on Sunday. This latest set of struggles has led to some open concern and several personnel moves on the roster.

On Tuesday the Canadiens announced they were sending veteran forward Sergei Kostitsyn down to their AHL affilate, the Hamilton Bulldogs and they called up forward Gregory Stewart. Stewart, 22, registered one point (one assist), posted a plus-1 rating and averaged 9:38 of ice time in three games this season with the Canadiens. The left-winger, who started the season in Hamilton, has amassed 17 points (seven goals, 10 assists) with a plus-8 rating and is sixth in the AHL this season with 170 penalty minutes in 51 games with the Bulldogs so far in to 2008-2009 season. Kostitsyn, the 21 year old he's replacing on the Habs roster has scored 23 points (eight goals, 15 assists) and served 64 penalty minutes in 52 NHL contests so far this season. Elsewhere on their roster, the Canadiens also made some moves to shake up their blue line corps, they acquired Mathieu Schneider from the Thrashers for two draft picks. Schneider has yet to see a power play he didn’t like. A defensive quarterback by trade, the 39-year-old Schneider ranked second among Thrashers defensemen with 15 points in 44 games this season before arriving in Montreal. Schneider spent the first seven years of his NHL career with the Habs, from 1988 through 1995 and was on their Stanley Cup winning squad in 1993. Further per James Mirtle's blog: Canadiens star and Captain Alex Kovalev has been given a leave of absence and will not be travelling with the team this week to Washington and Pittsburgh. As of now, the team is saying the reason is that he is tired and not playing well. Reportedly, GM Bob Gainey called his play "unacceptable," and rumors are that Kovalev won't be on this team as of March 4. So the Capitals will be facing a shuffled Montreal lineup with a team that will have been somewhat "energized & motivated" by their general manger and coaching staff. Whether that can jolt them to life against a well playing and reasonably rested Capitals team in the first of nine consecutive home games remains to be seen by fans of the oldest team in the NHL. However, if you are a Caps fan, lets hope they come out motivated to finish their regular season series against the Canadiens 3-1-0 with a win in regulation tonight.

For the Capitals Jay Beagle and Karl Alzner have been sent down to Hershey and won't play against Montreal. Viktor Kozlov also remains injured and out of the lineup. The Caps now have eight defensemen and sending Alzner to Hershey is a way to get him some playing time, additionally he didn't have his best game in his last outing. Otherwise the lineup tonight should look pretty similar to the team that took the ice against Florida.

I'll be there "Rockin' the Red" in Section 103 with my buddy Mike. Should be a good one. I expect Jose Theodore to get the start in net. Here's hoping Theo shuts out his former club and the "Young Guns" all get hat tricks, that said I don't expect a 12-0 score so here's my prognostication:

Capitals 4 Canadiens 1.


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