Opening Night on a Friday in Atlanta (for the second straight year) with reigning Jack Adams Trophy winner Bruce Boudreau behind one bench and his buddy John Anderson behind the other, the NHL's top two goal scorers from a season ago firing pucks at every opportunity... and likely a bunch of empty seats (limited interest in Becoming One in Blueland?).
As these two teams are tied in the standings for quite possibly the last time all season, let's take a quick look at some of the current Caps' successes that have come at Atlanta's expense:
- Alex Ovechkin has more goals (20), assists (20) and points (40) against the Thrash (in 24 games) than against any other team during his three-year career.
- Nicklas Backstrom had 10 points (3 goals, 7 assists) when facing Atlanta as a rookie last season (three more points than he had against any other opponent).
- Viktor Kozlov has 34 points in 37 games against Atlanta (including seven points in eight games in 2007-08), his second-highest total against any opponent (he has 37 points in 42 games against the Pens).
- Michael Nylander has 24 points in 23 games against the Thrashers.
- Mike Green posted two goals and five helpers versus the Thrash a year ago, more than he had against any other team.
- Jose Theodore is 11-4-0 with a 2.22 GAA and .922 SV% against Atlanta in his career, and Brent Johnson has similarly stellar career marks - 7-2-2/2.32/.918 - against the Thrash (even with back-to-backs right off the bat, though, don't expect BJ to get a second consecutive Opening Night start).
But there will be wins, stats and moments aplenty to collect over the next six-plus months. And it all starts tonight, at long last.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Brooks Laich was on the Big O and Dukes show yesterday (Segment 6).... Everybody wants to see what AO does for an encore.... Thanks to sk8 for this former Cap update.... Caps prospect Brett Leffler potted a pair of goals in his return from a concussion, but it sounds like his head may not be 100% right quite yet.... Finally, on a personal note, it was four years ago today that my wonderful wife and I said our "I do's." Re-confirming that I made the right decision then, she's totally fine with just watching the game tonight. I'm a lucky man.