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A week ago today, we mentioned that Alex Ovechkin's two-game absence from the Caps lineup presented opportunity aplenty for both the Caps and AO. Some players took advantage (at least for one night). Others did not. Now we'll see if the Great Eight can himself make the most of the opportunity to once again show everyone in the League why he is the reigning MVP and get his game, and more imporantly the Caps season (too dramatic?), back on track.
And what better team for Ovechkin to face in this effort than the Ottawa Senators, a squad he positively torched last season to the tune of six goals (including his first career four-goal game) and four assists in four games? For his career, AO has ten goals and nine assists against the Sens in twelve games (his third-highest points-per-game rate against any opponent he has faced more than three times, behind only Philly and Atlanta).
In fact, for one reason or another, the entire Caps team (other than the new guy between the pipes) has fared well against Ottawa recently, going 7-2-0 in their last nine games (after being winless in their previous eight) and outscoring the Sens 37-25 along the way (including 22-12 in last season's four-game sweep).
The current Senators squad comes into the game with a 4-5-2 record, thanks in no small part to a horrid five-on-five goal ratio (both their power play and penalty kill have been strong, however) and weak goaltending from incumbent number one, Martin Gerber... who won't starting tonight. Instead, the Caps will face the red hot Alex Auld, who is 3-2-1/2.15/.931 on the season and has had only one game with a sub-.921 save percentage thus far (so he's due for a shellacking, eh?).
On offense, the Sens are led bythe usual suspects, with Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza, Filip Kuba and Daniel Alfredsson all playing at a point-per-game clip or better.
Wait, Filip Kuba? Heh. (He's no Andrej Meszaros, is he, Brian Lawton?)
So here it is Election Day, and the Caps will get their leader back (talk about the change we need) leaving us with one question: Can we enjoy a Caps win tonight? I've got all the hope in the world that, indeed, yes we can.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Pierre LeBrun weighs in on Semin/Crosby and includes some damage control from Ted Leonsis. Good stuff, though there's no way Ray Shero could take GMGM.... Speaking of the Pens, take a look at this eight-step program to better our friends from Pittsburgh and tell me how many would apply to the Caps (I count a bare minimum of five).... Still sticking with the City at the confluence of the three rivers, LCS Hockey thinks Alex Semin is a stooge, but that Sidney Crosby isn't progressing as a player and right now is just "a fast Adam Oates," which I thought was more or less Semin's point.... The Caps are enjoying the second largest attendance boost over last year's numbers in the League.