Thursday, January 25, 2007

Capitals/Hurricanes Preview

Washington Capitals (20-21-7, 47 points)
Carolina Hurricanes (25-19-6, 56 points)

Television: NC8
Radio: WTNT 570-AM
Gametime: 7:00 PM

The second half of the season officially begins Friday in Raleigh, North Carolina as the Capitals begin a home-and-home series against the defending Stanley Cup champions. It was only eight days ago that Washington entered an away game against Carolina riding a six game road losing streak and a three game losing streak overall. Despite all that, the team was able to put together a solid sixty minute effort for an impressive 5-2 win.

They will need an even better performance in order to overcome a Hurricanes team that will be fully prepared to avenge what their coach Peter Laviolette described as a bitterly disappointing effort. Carolina went into the break with a two game losing streak after they followed up that game with an overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning last Saturday.

Alex Ovechkin will return to the team after missing Thursday's practice while traveling back from the NHL All-Star game in Dallas. A game in which he had the most ice time of any forward and was able to tally his first career all-star goal. It remains to be seen if Ovechkin will continue to wear his stylish but controversial blue mirrored visor in the regular season. While not against NHL rules, a similar mirrored visor he wore last year was voted down by general managers by a vote of 29-1 after New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur complained that he could not see his eyes. He enters Friday night's game riding a nine game point scoring streak, accumulating 4 goals and 11 assists over that span.

Carolina defenseman Niclas Wallin is questionable for the game with a lower-body injury which he suffered against Washington in last week's game.
For the Capitals, what last week was described as the flu, has now been changed to an upper body injury for Brian Pothier. He will miss Friday's game as defenseman Jeff Schultz was recalled Thursday to take his place in the lineup. He played well when he was thrust into the lineup before the break because of injuries. As reported in the Washington Post, Matt Bradley will also be missing from the lineup for personal reasons. This could explain why Jakub Klepis was recalled earlier in the week. Richard Zednik should return to the lineup any day now after recovering from a severe groin injury.

It will be the fifth out of eight games on the season between these division rivals.

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