Pregame #9: Washington Capitals at Vancouver Canucks

Washington Capitals (7-1-0) vs. Vancouver Canucks (4-5-1)
Rogers Arena
Time: 10:00 PM
TV: Local: Comcast SportsNet (HD) (Game On!), Canada: CBC (HD)
Our Bloguin Partner:
  Benched Whale

Rock on in Vancouver!

The Washington Capitals are coming off their first loss of the season.  They played a hungry young Oilers squad and took far too many penalties, robbing themselves of offensive flow, nevermind manpower.  Missing Mike Green took a big chunk out of the team’s offensive game plan and speed, something replacement Sean Collins didn’t make up for.  Goaltender Tomas Vokoun played well again, and should get the call once again as the Caps take on last season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner and Western Conference Champion.

The Vancouver Canucks are fighting the hangover from Hades.  After running roughshod over the NHL until the last game of the season, the ‘Nucks are just fighting for air right now.  Their powerplay is a pedestrian 19/2% (10th) after finishing 1st last season.  The penalty kill is sitting at 86% (11th), comparable to last season, but they finished 3rd in the league.  Worst of all for Vancouver, their goaltending has been suspect.  Roberto Luongo’s season statistics are so scary they are unfit to be published on a family-friendly website.

Injury Report: Capitals’ D John Erskine (shoulder surgery), RW Jay Beagle (consussion) and D Mike Green (ankle) are out.
-For the Cancuks, LW Mason Raymond (neck), D Aaron Rome (hand), and RW Byron Bitz (hernia) are on injured reserve.

Three Things To Watch For:

Twin City:  Much has been said about the vaunted Sedin twins, but containing them is the key to victory for the Capitals tonight.  Daniel (12 points) and Henrik (11 points) are the only two forwards on the roster who have done any damage this season, even strength or powerplay.  The Caps’ defense will have their hands full breaking their cycle game, but there’s nobody else on the roster worth losing sleep over right now.

Sharp Shooter:  Playing in Canada seems to agree with Alex Ovechkin.  Even though he didn’t score in Edmonton, Ovie put 7 shots on net, his highest total of the season, and looked dangerous all night.  If Ovie can bring that level of enthusiasm tonight and shoot the puck with regularity, he’ll be in the MVP debate again. 

Homecoming King:  “King” Karl Alzner is returning to his hometown tonight, and he got the party started a couple days early.  Alzner potted his first goal of the season on Thursday in Edmonton and now the Burnaby native gets the chance to show off in front of his friends and family.  The former captain of the Canadian World Junior team, Alzner is playing excellent hockey right now and should put on a good show for the home crowd.