Pregame #12: Washington Capitals vs Toronto Maple Leafs (11/03/10)

Washington Capitals (7-4-0) vs Toronto Maple Leafs (5-5-1)
Arena: Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 PM ET
TV: Comcast SportsNet DC
Radio: XM, 1500 & 820 AM
Previous Games: (none)
Games Remaining:
Dec 6  TOR v WSH 7:00 PM ET
Jan 22 WSH @ TOR 7:00 PM ET
Apr 5  WSH @ TOR 7:00 PM ET
Game Promotion: Scarf Giveaway presented by Capital One Bank
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals:
Head Coach Ron Wilson (coached Washington 1997-2002)
Assistant Coach Tim Hunter (former assistant coach with Washington 1997-2002)
Assistant Coach Rob Zettler (played with Washington 1999-2002)
Vice President of hockey operations Dave Poulin (played with Washington 1993-95)
Know the Enemy:
Down Goes Brown
Pension Plan Puppets

The Washington Capitals return home following a 2-1-0 road trip tonight to face a visiting Toronto Maple Leafs squad that has lost 6 of their last 7 games, including their last three straight. Over this 7 game span, the Leafs have only been able to muster 9 goals – including being shut out twice in the past week. Across the ice, the Caps will look to continue to rehab from their disappointing 2-1 loss in Minnesota Thursday night- a bounce-back that has already included a 7-2 slaughter of the Flames in Calgary to end their road swing. Tonight is the first game of November for the Caps, a month that not only features members of the team participating in Movember, but has ample opportunity to pick up points in the standings with 9 home contests.

You know what to do.

Three Things to Watch For:
Neu & Improved: NHL’s Rookie of the Month for October, Michal Neuvirth, will most likely get the starting nod again tonight after logging minutes in each of the Capitals’ 11 games so far this season. Neuvi currently posts a 2.15 GAA and .926 Sv %, both good for 8th in the league. He’s also tied for first in wins with his 7-3-0 record. Against Toronto in his career, the backstop is 0-1-0 in 2 games (1 start), including a 5.98 GAA and .833 Sv %. He will most likely face off against second-year goalie Jonas Gustavasson, since Jean-Sebastien Giguere started last night’s contest against the Ottawa Senators. In 4 starts this season, Gustavasson has recorded a 2.36 GAA and a .921 Sv % with a record of 1-2, and has only faced the Caps once in his career – allowing 3 goals on 19 shots in 38 minutes in relief of then-Leaf Vesa Toskala.

Doing it on Defense: With Tom Poti’s lingering lower body injury, the Caps were forced to recall Brian Fahey today for the third time this season. Fahey, who will most likely be paired with John Erskine, has averaged 11:05 TOI/G in two games with the Caps (both wins). The Caps defense has kept them in many games this season, including boasting the 4th bast GA in the league (2.27) and Penalty Kill (90.2%). Although the Leafs weren’t built to be the most offensive team in the league (and sit 24th averaging 2.42 GF/G), the Caps D will have to stop a hot Clarke MacArthur, who has 7 goals on the season and 2 points in the last 2 games.

That’s Offensive! Several Capitals look to continue their hot streaks tonight, including Alex Semin (6 points in his last 4 games) and Alex Ovechkin (who has scored in back-to-back games). Les Capitales will need to get on the board early in the contest as the Leafs are 4-0-0 when scoring first, but are 1-5-1 when their opposition nets the first goal. This will be a role-reversal for the Caps’ norm this season, as they’ve only scored 5 of their 34 goals in the first period. Perhaps DC can rekindle some of Saturday’s Power Play magic when they went 3-for-4. The Leafs will be without defenseman Dion Phaneuf, who suffered a leg laceration from Peter Regin’s skate during last nights game.

Related side note: The Maple Leafs issued a statement regarding Regin’s girlfriend earlier this afternoon, so please heed their caution: “Please note that Elisha Cuthbert does not a have a Twitter account. Please refrain from quoting this false source in future reporting. Thanks for the co-operation.” Apparently a twitter account said to be the Cuthbert’s was tweeting updates of his injury. The account has since been deleted. There is no word of a @PeterReginsCalf twitter account at this time.