Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Tuesday Roundup/Gamenight: Preds @ Caps

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

So Mr. O is taking a few days off to be with his ailing grandparent far away - and I thought that was last week's news.

While the Caps haven't won a single game without Alex Ovechkin in the lineup since March 30, 2004 (they lost the only game he has missed in his NHL career so far), one could easily view the current melancholy situation as one that presents somewhat muted silver linings for both the player and his team.

For the Caps, the opportunities abound for every player on the team to step up where they might have thus far been over-relying on the League's best player, consciously or otherwise. It's an opportunity for Nicklas Backstrom to re-assert himself as an offensive threat and register his first goal... or even strength point... or primary assist of the season. It's an opportunity for Chris Clark to get into the goal column. It's an opportunity for Tomas Fleischmann to continue his development as a scorer and for Alex Semin to prove that he can be every bit as good as he has been when he's the primary focus of an opposing defense. It's an opportunity for the defense and goaltending to tighten up a bit and win a game in which the offense doesn't provide four or more goals of support. It's an opportunity for every single player to raise his game a notch or two - it's in situations like these that players' mettle is tested. We'll see who responds.

For Alex Ovechkin, a little time away from the game to focus on what really matters might be just what the doctor ordered (albeit the result of horribly trying circumstances). Only Alex knows how much his grandfather's health has been weighing on him these past days and weeks, but everyone who has been watching him knows how much his own on-ice struggles have impacted his play. Perhaps this trip and a taste of home will reinvigorate the Great Eight, and if he takes the inspiration to re-dedicate himself to the game in his grandfather's honor, well, look out once he returns. And, if as some suspect there's something slightly off with AO physically (left over from when he left practice early a few weeks ago, perhaps), a few days away from the rink won't hurt on that front either.

Fortunately, tonight's opponent - Nashville - is a team that the Caps should be able to beat, with or without Ovechkin. The Preds are the very picture of mediocrity so far - four wins, four losses; they're scoring a lot but allowing a lot of goals too (thanks, in part, to sub-par goaltending); and their special teams have hardly been special at all. Sure does sound familiar, doesn't it? But the Preds are 1-3 on the road and the Caps are 2-0-1 at home - this is definitely a "should win" for D.C.

So expect an entertaining game (too bad you won't be able to see it without buying a ticket), and pay particular attention to who steps up and who disappears in the absence of AO - it'll tell you a lot about those players.

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

Wade Belak thinks Donald Brashear is tough, and he would know.... Weekly Power Rankings are up at CBC (Caps down two spots to 12), CBS (down two spots to 11), The Hockey News (down five spots to 10), and SportingNews (down two spots to 10).... What's the most impressive record in Caps history? Given the current state of the game, I went with Olie Kolzig's 301 wins.... As promised, KCK's Flickr album from a weekend in Hershey. Very nice.

13 comments:

this space for rent said...

I think we'll be just fine without Ovi. Agreed that the rest of the team is going to have to step up and give a little more, tighten up and work together, but they've already shown that they can do that, that when push comes to shove, they'll tighten up and work as a unit. Let's hope this is enough of a shove.

I'd really like to see the Caps crush Nashville in Ovi's honor. :)

tim :) said...

Watch for Laich to light it up.

Well, watch it if you're there (SIGH).

Anonymous said...

You mean all the Caps had to do was schedule the game for 7:30 rather than 7:00 and it could've been broadcasted? Argh!

b.orr4 said...

I think this is an instance where the rest of the guys will step up their play. Part of it will be because not having Alex there will force them to play harder as a team. However, the more compelling reson may be the respect the team has for Alex. They know how much he's done for them over the last three years and now it's time for them to repay that favor and not make him feel like he's let the team down by leaving. I'm almost 100% confident that we'll see a spirited effort tonight.

NS said...

glad to see GMGM did not break up the 14-92-17 line. too bad we wont get to see live how the team produces.

i am still really worried about the continuing Erskine sightings and play. why why why does he not get booted. he blows.

Tyler said...

Stop wondering. The Caps signed him to a two-year deal. (Groan.)

NS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NS said...

right, but they could have signed him as insurance, since he has NHL experience, but that does not mean he should be playing.

DMG said...

glad to see GMGM did not break up the 14-92-17 line. too bad we wont get to see live how the team produces.

That's Boudreau's decisions, not McPhee's. Unless McPhee is micromanaging the team (which I doubt).

Gary said...

Don't forget to make your SPG picks.

Anonymous said...

Caps crushed Nashville, alright..

Finally, they change the lyrics from "Bobby scores" into "Ovie scores", from the song Good Old Hockey Game. No more Bobby...Ovie Rules...
That's more like it!!

Hazardous said...

NS: Complain more about Morrisonn and Jurcina before Erskine. He's easily better than either of those two chumps.

Anonymous said...

Is it just me, or this is not the team we had late last season? There is no desperation anymore... Nylander sucks lately. Yeah, he scored a wining shot, but he also took like 10 penalties in last 3 games. Morisonn needs to have Jurcina as his room-mate... In Hershey. Alzner is better than two of them combined. It was good to see Clark fin ally playing. And, is it me, or Paul Devorski really hates Caps? Did someone piss in his coffee?