Sunday, February 25, 2007

Caps/Devils Preview

New Jersey Devils (38-18-6, 82 points)
Washington Capitals (24-28-10, 58 points)

Television: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: WTNT 570-AM
Gametime: 1:00 PM ET

When the Caps and Devils hit the ice today at the Verizon Center, the NHL's trade deadline will be a little more than 48 hours away. What that means is that this might be the last time a few select players get a chance to wear a Capitals sweater.

Danius Zubrus and Richard Zednik seem to be the most sought after assets Washington has. Both players will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season, and while the team has expressed interest in resigning them, neither is close to an agreement. If extensions are not reached before the deadline the word is that they will be dealt.

The Caps could also part with a few other players in hopes of solving their current logjam on the blue line. Veterans Jamie Heward and Brian Muir have both been involved in trade rumors over the past few days. The only problem with trading them is, what can you get in return? Is it really worth dealing them for middle round draft picks, which is about as much as I can see them getting in individual deals. Their is always the possibility that they could package them together with Zubrus or Zednik in hopes of increasing their overall value. All of this should lead to an exciting couple of days as the team prepares to make moves to improve the team for the long haul.

As for the game itself, the Capitals will look to build on their solid performance in New Jersey in hopes of sweeping their weekend series against the Devils. While Alex Ovechkin was unable to break out of his current funk, going scoreless again in yesterday game, his fellow countryman Alexander Semin had a goal and assist to lead the Caps to the win. The team also got offense contributions from Boyd Gordon (2 assists), Matt Pettinger (SH goal), Milan Jurcina (1st goal with Caps), and Tomas Fleichmann (1st NHL goal, picured) to provide an unexpected offensive explosion against one of the best goaltenders in the game today.
(Photo Courtesy of Bill Kostroun/AP)

Before yesterday's result the plan was for the Devils to rest Martin Brodeur today and start his seldom used backup Scott Clemmensen. But now it wouldn't surprise anyone if Brodeur is back in the net again today in a game New Jersey would hate to lose.

Heading into the weekend, the Caps had already announced their intentions to play Brent Johnson in both games. On Saturday, he finally was able to win his first game in the fifth start he's had since since replacing the injured Olie Kolzig, and picked up his first career victory over the Devils.

The key to the game will once again be to get out to a good start and avoid falling behind a Devils team that is traditionally hard to come from behind on. Plus, you have to expect New Jersey to be extra prepared for this game following yesterday's outcome.

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