Mar. 1 vs. Florida: In the 1994 NHL Entry Draft, the Montreal Canadiens used their second and eleventh picks on right-handed catching goalies (a bit of a rarity). Both are still playing, and the higher pick has a career 183-197-40 record with a 2.65 GAA and a .909 save percentage, as well as a Vezina Trophy and a Hart Trophy. The lower pick has slightly better numbers - a career 191-188-54 record with a 2.57 GAA and .914 save percentage - but no major hardware. They'll likely square off in this one, two franchises apiece later.
Mar. 3 vs. Carolina: If the 'Canes roster stays substantially similar to what it looks like right now, by the time this game rolls around they'll have six 30-plus-year-old forwards (three of whom will be older than 35) and four defenseman over thirty. As of last summer, they were the second-oldest team in the League, and haven't gotten much younger (though losing Cory Stillman helps). Can they hold up over the course of a season? We should know by March 3.
Mar. 5 vs. Toronto: Another Great Moment in Alex Ovechkin History:
Mar. 8 vs. Pittsburgh: With the departure of Georges Laraque to Montreal, the Pens went out and acquired a new tough to protect their investments. No, it's not Matt Cooke, but Eric Godard, who has danced with The Donald in the pale rinklight twice before (and John Erskine once... ouch), including this scrap from back in 2003:
Mar. 10 @ Nashville: Nearly a year after the Caps visited Music City and chased Preds starter Dan Ellis with three early goals, they return to Nashville to see what color David Poile's hair is nowadays.
Mar. 12 @ Philadelphia: Mike Green's stickless hip check. Great save after great save. The Semin-to-Backstrom passing clinic. Coming back from down 2-0 in an elimination game to tie it heading into the third. Ovechkin's two third-period goals to send the series back to D.C. Was Game Six in Philly the Game of the Year?
Mar. 14 vs. Carolina: The Caps begin a stretch of five straight (and six of seven) against Southeast Division rivals. How they fare in these next two weeks will likely go a long way towards determining the Division Champ.
Mar. 16 @ Atlanta: A five-game road trip opens in Hotlanta, where the Thrashers might be wearing a jersey described as follows:
"[A] dark red jersey with the word "THRASHERS" on the front, just above the player’s uniform number, which will appear on both sides of the design. A broad white stripe will adorn each arm of the jersey with a dark red number in the stripe. A broad white-and-dark blue stripe will run down the sides of the jersey."Sounds absolutely putrid - a perfect fit for the on-ice product.
Mar. 17 @ Florida: A night after visiting the Thrash, the Caps head to Sunrise to take on Jay Bouwmeester and the Panthers. Just kidding - J-Bo won't still be with the Cats come March. But Tomas Vokoun will be, and that might be a problem, as he owns a 2.16 career GAA against the Caps to go with a .933 save percentage. Of course, the Caps beat Vokoun three times the last time they faced him in Miami:
Mar. 19 @ Tampa Bay: How many games do you think Olie Kolzig, Gary Roberts and Mark Recchi will combine to play this season? I'm setting the over/under at 121 - the combined age of the three when they drop the puck for this game - and taking the under.
Mar. 21 @ Carolina: When Rod Brind'Amour and Sergei Fedorov first played against one another in an NHL game, Bruce Boudreau was en route to a 40-goal/120-point season in the IHL, Glen Hanlon was one of Fedorov's teammates and Karl Alzner had just turned two-years-old. Chris Chelios, mind you, was in his eighth season in the League and John McCain was just eight years older than Barack Obama is right now.
Mar. 24 @ Toronto: Tune in to this one because Mats Sundin could decide whether or not he's going to play in 2008-09 and for whom at any moment.
Mar. 27 vs. Tampa Bay: One year ago today these two teams met and Tomas Fleischmann scored the overtime game-winning goal after Alex Semin had sent the game into overtime with a tally in the last five minutes of regulation, leading John Tortorella to proclaim "I’m not going to talk about the third period," as he walked out of his postgame news conference. Sigh. I'm really gonna miss Torts.
Game of the Month: Pittsburgh's the obvious choice, but something tells me that Saturday night game in Raleigh is going to be must-see T.V. Better yet, it might be the perfect time for a Rink road trip.