Monday, October 13, 2008

Pre-Game Thoughts: 10/13/08 Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks - UPDATED

A sigh of relief was all that could escape Capitals fans mouths after Alexander Ovechkin notched his second goal in Saturday nights game to give Washington a 4-2 lead with under five minutes left to play.

For the second game in a row the Capitals struggled early, and were forced to prove their resilience as they erased a two goal deficit early in the second period. Tonight they will face a Canucks team and a familiar foe who will look to shut the Caps down.

Roberto Luongo has faced this team as a member of the Florida Panthers, and now as a Vancouver Canuck. He is 15-9-3 with two shutouts, a 2.14 GAA and a .933 SV% lifetime against Washington. Luongo, in all likelihood will shut the door on the Capitals should they stumble out of the blocks again, so it will be imperil that they play a full sixty minute game.

Washington will have to get more production out of their third line of Fleischmann, Nylander and Clark. Not only have they yet to show up on the score sheet, but with the exception of Fleischmann, more resemble the ghosts of the Montreal Forum.

To put it into context, the Canucks third line of Alexander Burrows (2G, 1A), Ryan Kesler (1G, 2A) and Rick Rypien (2G) have ammased 8 points combined, compared to the one assist Michael Nylander marked against Atlanta.

Bruce Boudreau runs an up-tempo offense that relies on each line doing their part. They key to Washington's success tonight will be to ensure they can play a full team game and put up points early. If Luongo is provided a two goal lead, it could be curtains for the Capitals this evening.

Update: Tarik El-Bashir reports that Fedorov will be playing defense tonight. I will continue to update as news becomes available.

"With a game against Roberto Luongo and the undefeated Canucks looming tonight, Coach Bruce Boudreau appears to have changed things up. Sergei Fedorov wearing a black jersey this morning and he's working with the defensemen. Michael Nylander, meantime, has replaced him as the second line center, while Boyd Gordon is centering the third line."

Also of note, Jose Theodore has a career record of 17-7-1-2 with three shutouts in head-to-head match-ups against Roberto Luongo.

Update 2: Here are the line-ups for tonight:

Washington Forwards
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 25-Kozlov
21-Laich, 92-Nylander, 28-Semin
14-Fleischmann, 15-Gordon, 17-Clark
87-Brashear, 39-Steckel, 10-Bradley

Washington Defense
26-Morrisonn, 52-Green
3-Poti, 55-Schultz
91-Fedorov, 23-Jurcina

Brent Johnson will get the start in goal tonight, which according to Boudreau "was the plan from the start".


I Rock the Red said...

As an unfortunate side note, TSN.CA reports that Rangers prospect Alexei Cherepanov has died. He collapsed on the bench during the third period of his game today, and died a short time later.

TJ CAPS8 said...

Yes, I saw that as soon as I came in the door. What a terrible loss, he was not only a very gifted athlete, but from what I've seen and heard a stand up kid with a lust for life.

The sports world lost a great young man today.