I've been away from The Rink for a couple of days, so I didn't have the opportunity to recap Saturday night's game. Let me do so now:
Now that that's out of the way, let's turn our attention to the here-and-now, shall we?
The last time the Caps faced off against the Ottawa Senators, Washington had one of its best performances of the year, a dominating effort that resulted in a 6-2 win for the boys from D.C., capping off a four-game win streak that also included wins against Tampa, Dallas and Buffalo. Since then, the Caps have been a very pedestrian 7-9-1, and they continue to be incredibly streaky (the Ottawa game was followed by 3-1-1, 1-7-0, 3-0-0 and the current 0-2-0 stretches) and maddeningly unpredictable. The only thing that is consistent with these Caps, it seems, is inconsistency.
The Sens, for their part, come in to tonight's game on fire. Despite being without their top two centers (Jason Spezza and Mike Fisher), Ottawa is 9-1-1 in their last 11, outscoring opponents 25-10 during their current four-game winning streak. Dany Heatley and Daniel Alfredsson are both playing Hart-calibre hockey, Wade Redden (nine points in his last six games) has shrugged off his early-season injuries and slumps and Ray Emery is 7-1-1 with a 2.21 goals against average and a .931 save percentage in his last nine games. And for you trend junkies, here's your ominous stat of the day: the Sens are 6-1 in their last seven games after scoring five or more goals in their previous game, while the Caps are 1-4 in their last five games after allowing five or more goals in their previous game.
The way the Caps have been playing of late, this game could get ugly. Olie Kolzig and Brent Johnson (who will get tonight's start) have been victimized by poor coverage, bad goals and mental lapses lately (Kolzig has a 6.06 GAA and .848 SV% in his last two games, Johnson ghastly 13.09 GAA and .684 SV% in his last two), and if there's a team that can make you pay for such breakdowns, it's Ottawa. But the way this season has gone for the Caps, would it surprise anyone to see them put it together for a big win tonight?
Caps hockey: expect the unexpected.
- Hart: Patrick Marleau (GWG, A, 8 SOG)
- Ross: David Legwand, Patrick Marleau, Vincent Prospal, Ed Jovanovski (3 points each)
- Norris: Ed Jovanovski (2G, A, -1, 8 SOG, 3 hits, 3 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Dominik Hasek (23-save shutout win)
- Richard: Kristian Huselius (2G)
- Calder: Jiri Hudler (GWG, +1, 3 SOG, 1 hit, 1 blocked shot)
- Aiken: Roman Hamrlik (0 points, -3, 0 SOG, 2 minor penalties)