Pregame #75: Washington Capitals vs. Ottawa Senators

Washington Capitals (43-21-10) at Ottawa Senators (28-37-9)
Location: ScotiaBank Place
7:30 PM
TV: CSN-DC Plus (CSN+ Channel Finder) (Game On!), TSN
Radio: 1500AM, 820 AM, and XM
Previous Meetings:
Oct 11, 2010 OTT@WSH 3-2 W (OT)
Dec 19, 2010 WSH@OTT 3-2 W
Jan 16, 2011 OTT@WSH 3-1 W
Familiar Faces of Former Capitals:  Sergei Gonchar (1997-2004)
Former Senator:  Brooks Laich (2004)
The Enemy:  Silver Seven, Five for Smiting, The 6th Sens

The Southeast Division-leading Washington Capitals embark on a trip to the nation’s capital to face the Ottawa Senators in the first of back-to-back games.  Tomorrow night’s game in Montreal will close out a stretch of 6 straight games the Caps have played away from Verizon Center due to scheduling conflicts.  The Caps will try to complete the season sweep of the Sens for the first time since 2007-08. 

The Senators will be returning to Ottawa after a Broadway Showdown with the Rangers that took the shootout to settle.  The Senators have been playing good hockey lately, despite being in last place in the Eastern Conference.  They have won 3 of their last 4 and 6 of their last 9 games, and they are showing no signs of slowing down. 

Injury Report:  The Caps will be without star LW Alexander Ovechkin, who will rest a variety of bumps and bruises, and C Jason Arnott (groin), who is listed as week-to-week.  Defensemen Mike Green (head) and Tom Poti (groin) are on long-term injured reserve.
-The Senators expect to be without team captain RW Daniel Alfredsson (back), F Peter Regin (shoulder), D Sergei Gonchar (concussion), D Matt Carkner (lower body), LW Milan Michalek (broken foot), and G Pascal Leclaire (lower body). 

Support the Red, White, and Blue!  But Mostly Red.

Three Things to Watch For:

Fehr Warning:   Eric Fehr has run roughshod over the Ottawa Senators this season, scoring 2 goals and 4 points in 2 games.   He also took 11 shots on goal, laid out 2 hits, and has a +2 rating.  Fehr, who eased back into the lineup on Tuesday after a short absence with a shoulder injury, had a huge game the last time he re-entered the lineup after an injury. Look for another big game from Fehr tonight as he has been crashing the net very effectively and should be itching to claim his spot in the lineup before the playoffs start.

Junior Senators:   Of the 20 Senators who suited in the first meeting between these two teams this season, 6 have since been traded and 6 are injured.  Chris Kelly, Mike Fisher, Brian Elliott, Alexei Kovalev, Chris Campoli, and Jarkko Ruutu are all on different NHL teams, and the injured Senators are listed above.  As a result, the Senators are using quite a few young players from their AHL squad.  In fact, 5 skaters expected to face the Capitals will have 30 or fewer NHL games worth of experience.  Look for a rested Capitals team to take advantage of an inexperienced bunch of kids playing on back-to-back nights. 

Easy Mac:  Since Craig Anderson played in New York last night, the Caps could face the Senators backup goalie, Curtis McElhinney, who the Sens claimed on waivers from Tampa Bay on trade deadline day.  McElhinney was the goalie the Caps torched for 7 goals earlier this season in Anaheim, and while he has played much better since arriving in Ottawa (3-2, 2.14 GAA, .932 Sv%), he’s coming off a 4-goal loss to Carolina on Tuesday.  Look for the Caps to attack the goal early and often tonight.