Friday, February 23, 2007

Caps/Devils Preview

Washington Capitals (23-28-10, 56 points)
New Jersey Devils (38-17-6, 82 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: Sportstalk 980-AM
Gametime: 1:00 PM ET

It's the first of a home and home afternoon series this weekend as the Caps travel to the Garden State to take on Martin Brodeur and the Atlantic Division leaders.

Again Washington will face arguably one of the hottest teams in the league at the moment as the Devils are 9-3-1 in 13 games since the All-Star break. They are also 19-4-3 in their last 26 games and 26-8-5 in their last 39. At home this season they have an outstanding mark of 22-6-4. Why did I just throw all of those numbers at you? Because all of this means that the Caps will have to play some of their best hockey if they wish to come out of either contest this weekend with two points.

The Caps bring a 1-12-1 record in their last 14 road games into today's contest. The key will be a good start and hopefully some lucky bounces that can get this team on the board first, giving them the confidence they have surely lacked in recent outings. A repeat opening of their last road game in Montreal, where the Caps took 7 penalties and allowed 3 power play goals in the first period, and they will be in for a long and ugly weekend.

While it's hard to believe given the results this past week, goaltender Brent Johnson has filled in admirably for the injured Olie Kolzig recording a 2.65 goals against average and a .908 save percentage in the last four games.

If nothing else today's game will be another chance for Alex Ovechkin to try and break out of the current funk he is in. He has 0 points in his last 4 games and just 1 goal and 1 assist in his last 9. They will need him to find a way to contribute as the team will be without it's captain and first line right winger Chris Clark for the next 7 to 10 days with a shoulder sprain. In his place, Tomas Fleichmann was recalled from Hershey and should get the opportunity to step right into the Capitals top line. The speedy Czech winger has 20 goals and 27 assists so far this season in 43 games at the AHL level.

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