I have previously stated the the Capitals are a slow starting team and this season bears no exception. It will be important to rack up points early in November before heading on a west coast road trip which has the team visiting Anaheim, Los Angeles and San Jose in a three night stretch.
Not to mention the hot start from the Carolina Hurricanes who seem to be able to plug anyone into their battered line up and still consistently win games. It will be important for Washington not to fall too far behind early as it a repeat of last years heroics would be fairly unlikely.
Lets take a look at some of the positives for Washington. Tonight, star forward Alexander Ovechkin will be back in the line up after heading back to Moscow for a week to visit his sick grandfather. Contrary to reports posted on www.life.ru, Ovechkin's grandfather is still alive in hospital, and Alex was glad to have been given the opportunity to see him.
"My mind was already back in Moscow," he said. "I called George [McPhee] and said, 'George I need to go back to Russia and see my grandpa because I don't know when he is going to die. Thanks to the Capitals. They said go there and be with your family. It helped me a lot."
Ovechkin's presence has been missed in the line-up and hopefully he is able to return rejuvinated and into mid-season form as the Capitals will try to turn up the heat and prove they were not just a one year wonder.
Also of note is the demeanor of Coach Bruce Boudreau, who I felt had let his players away with a lot so far. A shutout at the hands of the Sabres on Saturday changed his complex as he skated his players into the ice on Sunday and stated there will be no free rides this season. Perhaps this tough love is what players like Mike Green, Chris Clark, Shaone Morrisonn, Nicklas Backstrom and Jose Theodore need to kick start their game.
The Senators, too, are having a rocky start to the year with a 4-5-2 record so far. Alex Auld will be their starting goaltender and he possesses a 3-2-0 record with a .931 SV% this year.
The Caps will need to be able to capitalize on the power play and prove that they can play a full 60 minutes worth of hockey if they intend to win this game. So far they have taken untimely penalties which have cost them goals against.
It is clear that the Caps will have to make their own break as November's schedule is not kind. They cannot afford to repeat last years mishaps.