The Capitals are finally back home after a three game road trip out west. The Caps went one and three on their road trip to Calgary, Phoenix, and Dallas. They picked up two points on the trip, while they would have liked at least three points, they remain tied for first in the Southeast with Carolina. The Caps play the Nashville Predators Tuesday night at 7pm, however, the game will not be televised because of exclusive television rights to Versus. A few things stood out over the last week on the road. First off, Jose Theodore has established himself as clear number one, after solid performances on the road all last week. Second, the defenseman still need to tighten up and pay more attention to their own zone. Third, Semin and the second line continued to impress. Semin's (7 G, 7 A) two assists and game winning goal tied him for the scoring lead with Pittsburg's, Evgeni Malkin. Finally, the power-play and penalty-kill continue to improve.
The absence of Ovechkin will certainly shake things up with the lines this coming week. The Caps should look at this as an opportunity to see what they are really made of without Alex.
The Caps have only missed Alex for one game as a Capital. Guys like Brooks Laich will take this opportunity to play on the first line and improve on their numbers early on this season. The lines should look like this tomorrow against Nashville:
Brent Johnson will get the start after Theodore played all three games last week on the road. Johnson so far this season is 1-1-1 in three games this year. He has a 2.71 goals against and an .885 save percentage this season. In his last start, against New Jersey, Johnson played well keeping the Caps in it even in losing effort in overtime. He has also always played well in his career against Nashville. In eight starts against Nashville he is 5-2-1 and has a 1.60 goals against average and .937 save percentage.
Nashville comes into tomorrow nights game four and four on the season in a tie for tenth place in the Western Conference. Defenseman Shea Weber leads the team in points with nine, while Martin Erat leads the team in goals with four. Their power-play is operating at 17% and the penalty-kill at 75%. The Predators are the third worst team in the league in goals allowed so it will again be important for the Caps to win the puck possession game and get to the Nashville goalie early. Puck possession will also cause Nashville to take penalties allowing the Caps power-play chances against the 26th ranked Preds PK.
The game is a 7 pm start tomorrow at Verizon Center. See you there. Be sure to Rock the Red!