Brooks Laich said recently (and I paraphrase Peerless's paraphrasing) that over the course of a season, you're gonna lose some games - the key is to not let one loss become two losses. That's really the bottom line heading into Saturday afternoon's game, which is yet another four-pointer against a likely Eastern Conference bubble team (which includes every team in the Conference other than Ottawa, who may soon join the list if they don't straighten things out in between the pipes).
The Caps have won just once in Montreal since March of 2003 (a 5-1 win thanks to a 43-save performance by Olie Kolzig and a pair of Brian Sutherby goals), but last time I checked Montreal was still in Canada, where the Caps are a perfect 3-0-0 on the season so far (and where the Caps have outscored their Canadian opposition by a combined total of 19-8). The Caps are also a perfect 3-0-0 on the season in day games, and today's bizarre 12:30 start time would make this a day game.
For their part, the Habs have the fewest home wins in the Eastern Conference, but come into the game unbeaten in nine of their last eleven overall (6-2-3) and have given up two or fewer goals in seven of those games while scoring at least four times in six of them. Their power play is the League's best and they come in with two lines that are scoring in bunches.
Injuries and travel woes will make an already difficult task even tougher for the visiting Caps, but here's an encouraging stat to end the preview - the Canadiens have lost 13 of their 19 games following victories this season (6-9-4). Hopefully the Caps can make it 14 of 20 on Saturday.
Oh, and Go 'Skins!
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Bill Clement lists Donald Brashear as the NHL's number three heavyweight (h/t to Kukla's Korner on the link).... Pop the cork on a nice cuvée de prestige - we've been named the biggest bunch of elitist snobs east of Los Angeles.... Flipping through the channels last night I landed on CSTV and found the North Dakota/St. Cloud State game. The game featured a pair of Caps prospects - UND blueliner Joe Finley and St. Cloud freshman goalie Dan Dunn, a tall goalie who gave up a bunch of rebounds (sound familiar?) but made 33 saves en route to an impressive 3-2 upset (Finley, from what I saw, did nothing of note).... Check out today's Ice Sheet for more from me on the NHL. You know you want to.
- Hart: Martin Brodeur(36-save shutout win)
- Ross: Eric Staal (3 points)
- Norris: Andrej Meszaros (G, A, +2)
- Vezina: Martin Brodeur (36-save shutout win)
- Richard: 21 players tied with 1G apiece
- Calder: Jonas Hiller (W, 20 saves on 21 shots against)
- Aiken: Ryan Miller (3 goals allowed on 16 shots against in 30:30 of work)