A handful of NHLers, a bunch of AHLers, a few OHLers and an "other" or two (*cough* Jakub Cutta *cough*) got together down in Raleigh last night for the first of far too many preseason games for each team. And while the result may not indicate much about the season ahead, rumor has it that the 'Canes may soon announce that they're going to suspend operations to deal with the nation's economic crisis and seek to postpone the season opener. Huh.
Some observations on the game:
- Simeon Varlamov was sharp, especially late in his only period of action (the first). He ended up stopping all 18 (or 20, depending on who you believe) shots he faced, and while he flopped around a bit at times, he stopped everything that came his way.
- With Chris Clark back in D.C., Matt Bradley wore the "C."
- The Tomas Fleischmann - Michael Nylander - Viktor Kozlov line was the most impressive trio on the ice, by miles. While you shouldn't put much stock in preseason lines (especially those with obvious and glaring holes in forechecking and defensive responsibility), the chemistry these three showed last night will give Gabby something to think about.
- The biggest surprise of camp has been and continues to be John Carlson. Last night he shook off a rough start to end up with an assist, three shots on goal and four hits in 17:17 of ice time (and, frankly, looked better than Karl Alzner).
- The 'Canes radio guy picks some curious syllables to emphasize in player names.
- The pairing of Alzner and Jeff Schultz led the team in shifts and minutes and looked fine doing so.
- Stat of the Night: Nylander won 11 of the 13 draws he took (as a team, the Caps won two-thirds of the game's faceoffs). Now, Nyls has never been a great faceoff guy, but his proficiency in the dot against the 'Canes would seem to indicate a healthy shoulder.
- Fleischmann, 14... Fehr 16... Fleischmann, 14... Fehr 16... Fleischmann, 14... Fehr 16...
- Unofficially, the RBC Center shattered a record last night for the most god-awful tunes blared over a PA in a sixty-minute hockey game.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Bryan Murray recalls the last time one of his teams - the 1989 Caps - went to Sweden (or is that Thweden?).... In case you missed Alex Ovechkin's ESPN The Mag cover, here it is (and here's The Mag's colorful-but-boring Caps preview)... Speaking of AO, Allan Muir gets points for picking Ovi over Sid (in fantasy hockey, at least), but loses points for misspelling Alex's center's first name.... Finally, they're happy to be getting Joel Broda back in Moose Jaw.