How, After A Four Day Layoff, and Only the 9th Game Are The Caps the Walking Wounded?
As we look ahead to tomorrow night's game that has to be the question. Also before anyone dismisses the Thrashers look closer at the second place team in the Southeast Division - they are playing 0.750 hockey through their first 6 games this season, are just one point back of the Caps and will take a one point lead in the division if they manage to get a victory in regulation over the visiting Capitals. The Atlanta team web site bills Thursday's game as "Kovalchuk vs. Ovechkin" but the game is of course a bigger contest than the match up between the two team's scoring aces. The Thrashers have started hot, and now have 21 goals for and just 15 against in 6 games; that's an average of 3.5 GF and 2.5 GA a differential of +1.00; the Caps have 29 GF and 24 GA in 8 games - 3.625 GF and 3.0 GA and a differential of 0.625. Of the Thrashers first six games though only one has been against a 2009 playoff team; while seven of the Capitals first eight contests have been against 2009 playoff teams so what happens in this first contest between these two division rivals remains to be seen. This is not however the same Atlanta team that took to the ice last season and if the Thrashers goaltending holds up, they will continue to do well.
I've pointed this out before and I'll say it again, last season the Caps ran hot or cold against the Thrashers going 4-2-0, but the two losses were pretty embarrassing outings and occurred when the Caps traveled to Atlanta. Atlanta is 2-1-0 so far this season. The key for the Caps will be to play solid, smart hockey and throw rubber at the Thrashers netminder, on target, get shots through, and not let the Thrashers guns loose or make it easy for them to break out of their zone. If they do that this will be a two point night for the Caps. Eleven (11) of the Thrashers twenty-one goals have come off the sticks of Ilya Kovalchuk (7) and Rich Peverly (4) - that's 52.4% of their overall production. While the Caps are similarly lopsided in their production with 15 of their 29 goals (51.7%) of their offense coming off the sticks of two players Ovechkin and Semin, and Semin is a doubtful for tonight's game, the presence on five other multi-goal scorers for the Caps versus one (Evander Kane) for Atlanta gives an edge to the Capitals for roster depth. it also means that the Washington game plan can be relatively straight-forward in spite of the fact that Atlanta coach John Anderson has the last change, it shouldn't be too hard for Caps coach Bruce Boudreau to get the matchups he wants as well as keep some separation between the tow teams aces if that's what he wants to do. However, the Thrashers are hot and that's also why as they say, they play the game on the ice - you just never know. The other thing the Caps need to do is "come out swinging" so to speak - playing aggressive, heads up hockey, drawing penalties not taking them, etc.
Predictions and prognostications politely refused today because of the injury report. However I will say this - I want our guys to have a two point night and:
LETS GO CAPS!!!!