The two nations' capitals will square off tonight, at 7:30, in Ottawa on election day across the United States. Both teams are coming off losses on Saturday night. The Capitals were shut out by the Buffalo Sabres, and Ottawa lost a tough game to Tampa Bay in overtime. Neither team has yet to find its true identity yet this season, and both teams will be looking to change that tonight.
The Capitals (5-4-1) are tied for second in the Southeast Division, with eleven points, and trail division leading Carolina by three points. The Senators (4-5-2) are in last place in the Northeast Division, and trail division leading Buffalo by eight points. Two points will be at a premium for both teams in order just to keep pace with their respective divisions.
The Capitals have shaken up the lines since Saturday's disaster in Ottawa. Alexander Ovechkin will be back, after spending the last week back home in Russia. A rejuvenated Ovechkin, could be just what this Washington team needs, to get back on track. The Capitals have been lead by Ovechkin's fellow countryman, Alex Semin, who has eight goals and eight assists for a total of sixteen points. Ovechkin, meanwhile, has two goals and three assists for five points. One has to imagine he is going to break out of his slump soon and in a big way. Ovechkin has always relished the attention he get while in Canada so maybe tonight he will have a big game.
The New Lines
For the Caps, the first line will remain virtually unchanged from the way we have often seen it. That is where similarities to other lineups we have seen this year end. Nylander and Fleishman have moved to the second line with Semin. This is not a big surprise with the way that Fleishman has developed this year. He is much quicker, bigger, aggressive with the puck than he has been in years past. He has also had great chemistry with Nylander early on this year and hopefully, Semin can add to it. Federov has moved back to the third line with Laich, while Bradley has moved up to the third line. This line should be Washington's strongest fore checking line, and you should look to see a lot of chances coming from this line, as a result of the fore check. Bradley has skated hard all year and fore checked well, so it's nice to see him get a chance to move up. Clark has moved down to the fourth line with Boyd Gordon and Donald Brashear. Clark has had a slow start this year after missing most of last season with a nagging groin injury. As a result, he has had a hard time getting back into the swing of things early on this season. Boudreau hopes that maybe he can find some chemistry with the grinders, Gordon and Brashear.
The defense has gone through a big shake-up, as the pairing of Morrisonn and Green has been broken up for the first time since Boudreau started with the Caps last November. Morrisonn will play with Poti tonight on the first line, while Green moves back to the second pairing with Shultz. Neither Morrisonn or Green knew why Boudreau made the move and he isn't saying. Erskine and Jurcina remain unchanged.
The goaltender issue remains unchanged, as Johnson is scheduled to start, but Boudreau wouldn't commit. This tells me that Johnny has some sort of nagging injury bothering him. If Johnny can't go, then Theodore will be in.
Ottawa has a highly explosive offense and like Buffalo can skate with anyone in the league. Their issue comes with the play of the defense and goaltender. The Senators have scored 31 goals this year but have been scored on 31 times. Ottawa has the talent with guys like Heatley, Spezza, and Alfredsson, to score in bunches and reverse that trend. Dany Heatley currently leads the team with seven goals and six assists for a total of thirteen points. Defenseman Filip Kuba has been a nice surprise for Ottawa, early on this season, as he has twelve points. Alex Auld the back-up is expected in net tonight for the Senators. He has played well for them this year with a record of 3-2-1. He has a 2.15 GAA and a save percentage of .931%. It will be important for the Capitals to get to him early, especially in Ottawa.
The keys for the Caps tonight will be two fold. One, they have to not allow the Senators to just skate right around them at will. They had a tough time keeping Buffalo from doing this the other night. It will be up to the defense to make sure that they are not getting caught up ice. They will also need to play the body more, in order to keep, the speedy Senators off the sheet. Two, they will need to stay out of the penalty box. Ottawa operates at 25% on the power-play this year and seven or eight penalties against the Caps, would be lethal.
That's all for now.