[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]
The last time the Caps were in Anaheim, Alex Ovechkin potted his first career hat trick in a 3-2 Caps overtime win over J.S. Giguere and the Ducks, and that OTL still stands as one of only two blemishes on Jiggy's unbelievable 3-1-1/1.39/.951 resume against Washington. In fact, take away that night's "shelling" and Jiggy is an even more ridiculous 3-1-0/1.00/.966 against the Caps... of course, take away AO and a lot of goalies' numbers look much better.
Besides being the site of one of the Great Eight's many coming out parties, Anaheim was also home to Sergei Fedorov for just over a season - 85 games, to be exact - in which he scored 31 goals, had 35 assists and was forced to wear this (though SoCal was certainly not without its perks for Feds).
But enough about history, especially since eight Caps - Nicklas Backstrom, Eric Fehr, Tomas Fleischmann, Mike Green, Milan Jurcina, Jeff Schultz, Tyler Sloan and David Steckel - have never played an NHL game in the Golden State. Let's talk about the here and now.
The Ducks come into the game with a 6-2-2 record in their last ten... not quite as good as the Caps' 7-1-2 mark. They're scoring at a 2.95 goals per game clip... not bad, but not as impressive as the Caps' 3.24 goals per game. Their defense is allowing three goals per outing... slightly more than Washington's 2.76. The Ducks have been very good five-on-five... but not as good as the Caps, and they're in the top half of the League in shots per game... just a few spots behind D.C.
You get the point - the Ducks have been good. The Caps have been better.
But that's all on paper (and mostly with Alex Semin on the ice and not in the press box, where he's likely to be tonight). Also on paper? Giguere's current 0-2-1/4.51/.851 cold streak, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry's combined 37 points over the last 11 games, the year-to-date decimation of my 401(k), AO and Backstrom's combined 18 points over the last three games, Brent Johnson's 3-0-0/1.72/.939 streak, and so on and so on.
On the ice, however, the Caps will find a rough and tumble (though presumably no longer mighty) bunch - the Ducks led the League in fighting majors heading into last night's action - with a couple of Hall of Fame defensemen and enough fire power up front to set the region ablaze (too soon?). It's a potentially dicey match up for a relatively soft and banged up Caps team... but then again, that's just on paper - we'll see what happens when it plays out on the teevee.
Oh, and make sure to stop by BoC today and tell Sleek he's a douche (be careful, though - that might be actionable).
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
"Campbellnomics" is being met with plenty of resistance, but since it tells us that Alex Semin is the most valuable skater in hockey so far, we're buying it (the fanboy in us wins out over the economist today).... Speaking of Semin, James Duthie has him as an All-Star.... The Baltimore Examiner had a quick chat with AO.... More power rankings, with the Caps up six to sixth at SI.com, up five to sixth at ESPN.com, up four to seventh at Yahoo! and up two to eighth at Fox Sports.... Bucci likes the Caps a lot (but not as much as the Pens, of course).... Double O gets some love from The Hockey News.... If you missed the Lebanon Daily News profile of Karl Alzner yesterday, check it out (and catch him on the radio/internet later this morning).... Good stuff on Grant McNeill here.... Bear Tracks - awesome, as always.... "Goalie weenies" of the world, unite!... Finally, like most of the Caps, one would assume, I've got Anna K. in this one (twins freak me out a little, truth be told).