Pregame #18: Washington Capitals vs. Atlanta Thrashers (11/14/10)

Washington Capitals (12-4-1) vs. Atlanta Thrashers (7-7-3)
Verizon Center
Time: 5:00 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet (Game On!), SPSO
Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM
Previous Games:
October 8th, 2010 Thrashers 4 – Capitals 3
October 23rd, 2010 Capitals 4, Thrashers 3 (OT)
Games Remaining:
Nov 19, 2010  WSH@ATL    7:30 PM ET
Dec  4, 2010  ATL@WSH    7:00 PM ET
Jan 26, 2011  WSH@ATL    7:00 PM ET
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals:
Johnny Oduya (2001 Draft Pick)
The Enemy:
Thrashing the Blues
Bird Watchers Anonymous

The Capitals return home for their second game in less than 24 hours after a disappointing loss to the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena. They will face a struggling Thrashers team that also lost last night, 4-2 to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Atlanta.  The Thrashers are 1-3-1 in their last 5 games while the Caps are 6-0-1 in their last 7.  

The Thrashers have played the Capitals tough both times this season.  If the Caps are going to win, they will do so without rabbit’s foot center Boyd Gordon, who’s out with an ankle injury.  The Caps are 10-0 with Gordon and 2-4-1 without him.  They will also likely be without their most experienced defenseman, Tom Poti (groin), who did not dress against the Sabres.  The Caps will have to play more disciplined hockey than they did last night to win.  

Don’t You Know About The Bird? Then Read On!

Things To Watch For:

Czech Mates:  Thrashers goalie Ondrej Pavelec has returned from his freak opening night injury that saw him collapse just minutes into the game.  The 23-year old netminder has played 6 games since his return with a 1-2-2 mark. He will face his countryman Michal Neuvirth in goal.  Both goaltenders have promising futures and they should be very excited to play each other tonight  

Swedish Mates:  While the Thrashers will likely be without veteran forward Fredrik Modin (foot), they will be icing forward Niclas Bergfors and top defenseman Tobias Enstrom.  Enstrom is 4th among NHL defensemen with 12 assists.  Enstrom will face his good friend and Swedish National Team teammate Nicklas Backstrom, who currently sits 11th in the NHL in scoring overall after his goal last night.   

Double D:  The Capitals defense has ben doing double duty at both end of the ice. In the Capitals’ 7-game unbeaten streak, they have at least 1 goal from a defenseman in every game.  Karl Alzner tallied last night for his first NHL goal since December 6, 2008 (61 games).  Mike Green is second among NHL defensemen in goals (4) and John Carlson leads all rookie defensemen in assists (7) and points (9).  Tom Poti tallied three nights ago and even Tyler Sloan and John Erskine, who is doing his best Olli Jokinen impersonation, have gotten into the act.  In fact, Jeff Schultz is the only regular Caps defenseman without a goal this season, and he has a respectable 4 assists.  It is not a big leap to expect the Capitals defense to strike again tonight.