Pregame #4: Washington Capitals vs New York Islanders (10/13/10)

Washington Capitals (2-1-0) vs. New York Islanders (1-0-1)
Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet (in market), Versus (out of market)
Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM
Previous Games: (none)
Games Remaining:
Jan 20, 2011  WSH@NYI    7:00 PM ET
Feb 26, 2011  WSH@NYI   7:00 PM ET
Mar 1, 2011  NYI@WSH    7:00 PM ET
Game Promotion: (none)
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals:
Milan Jurcina (2007-2010)

The Enemy:
Lighthouse Hockey
Islanders Hockey Blog

[Update: It’s in the books. Check out the recap here!]

Skidding and sliding away from a sloppy 3-2 overtime victory over the Ottawa Senators in the second game of their current three-game home stand, the Capitals now match up against a depleted Islanders team.  Even with injuries to last year’s top 3 scorers Mark Streit, Kyle Okposo, and John Tavares, the Islanders remain unbeaten in regulation.  They will also play the next two games without defenseman James Wisniewski, who was suspended for an obscene gesture directed towards New York Rangers forward and pest, Sean Avery.

The Islanders still are likely to give the Capitals a tough challenge, as they took three of four games to overtime last season, including an 11-round shootout, and finished the season series 1-1-2 against the Caps.

While the Capitals lead the league in goals with 12 in 3 games, the Islanders are tied for second in the Eastern Conference with 10 goals in just 2 games, led by Blake Comeau‘s 3.  The dark side of the Islanders offense is they have allowed 9 goals while the Caps have allowed 8, none on the powerplay.

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Three Things to Watch For:

Who are you?: With all of the injuries, suspensions, and general roster turnover, the Capitals are likely to face a much different looking Islander team than last year.  Also, with Wisniewski out, look for Jack Hillen to potentially get a sweater tonight.  You might remember him from the last time these two teams met, he was the guy who ate an Alex Ovechkin slap shot and suffered a broken jaw. 

52 Pick Up: With John Carlson stealing the offensive spotlight and Mike Green playing such sturdy defense, Green seems to have forgotten why he was an NHL 1st Team All-Star the last two seasons:  Scoring.  With only 1 assist through 3 games, look for Mike Green to get on the scoresheet tonight.

Trouble Shuffle: Speaking of Ovie, he has put up 5 points in 3 games with no points from #1 center Nicklas Backstrom.  Coach Bruce Boudreau promoted Tomas Fleischmann to center the top line in practice yesterday and moved Backis to the 2nd line with Alexander Semin, with whom he has excellent chemistry.  Boudreau would not commit to using this in the game tonight, citing a jersey mix-up, but we know how much Boudreau like to shuffle the lines to kick-start offense.

The bottom two lines are not immune from the shuffling.  With the injury to Marcus Johansson, look for Matt Hendricks to center the third line.  With Matt Bradley out, look for David Steckel and D.J. King to get into the lineup tonight.  If King dons his #17 jersey tonight, it will be his first game as a Capital.

On the backline, Tom Poti‘s injury leaves a huge hole in the defense. The bottom two defense pairings haven’t been stellar with both Tyler Sloan and John Erskine in the lineup.  Finally, Semyon Varlamov‘s injury leaves starting duties to Michal Neuvirth for the fourth game in 6 days and it leaves #3 goalie Dany Sabourin in limbo while he deals with his daughter’s illness.