Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Caps-Ducks Preview

Happy Halloween! Artwork by Eric Brooks
Last Saturday, the two hottest teams (at the time), met when Detroit came into town. Since then, the Caps have lost 2 straight and tonight's game carries a new theme.Who can break the slump? While we have lost 2 straight, the Anaheim Ducks come in losers of 5 of their last 6. This looks like a great game for the Caps to bounce back with. Semin has 6 goals in his last 3 games against the Ducks, and Anaheim has a lowly 13.3% power play. They key for this game is going to be winning the special teams battle. Anaheim gives up a lot of penalty minutes, averaging 14 a game, but have been killing them well (85% penalty kill). If the Caps can find a way to get on the board on the power play, things should be looking up for the Caps, if not, expect a low scoring battle.

Boudreau has indicated that the lines will be shifted up quite a bit. The top line stays the same, but Chimera moves up to the second line with Johansson and Semin. Hendricks moves up to the third line with Joel Ward and Brooks Laich. The biggest move is Mike Knuble, who has never dropped further than the 2nd line, is pegged to play alongside Halpern and Perreault. I definitely expect Mike Knuble to come out and have a big game tonight. Boudreau scratched MoJo for the first game this year, and he has come out firing ever since. Knuble tends to start out slow in games, but I think he will work to do whatever he can to prove he belongs on the top two lines.

Boudreau has a history of shaking up the lines when things aren't going well. When the new line combinations don't work, he abandons them pretty quickly, but these guys have been practicing like this all week so the line combinations are definitely something to keep track of as the game goes on.

The power play and penalty kill lines should stay consistent and this is a match up that could be exploited by the Caps.

 Here is a summary of the key stats that will make a difference in the game.

  • Caps power play: 25.7% vs. Anaheim penalty kill: 84.8%
  • Anaheim penalty minutes per game: 14.73 vs. Caps: 9.44
  • Caps goals per game: 3.8 vs Anaheim goals per game: 1.91

  • Caps home record: 5-0-0 vs. Anaheim road record: 2-3-1

Key Match up 
Tomas Vokoun vs.  Jonas Hiller

*Update 10:04am: Mike Green has missed his 7th day of practice and is expected to be scratched from tonight's game as well.

*Update 10:18am: Capitals recall Cody Eakin from Hershey. This is a kid I've been waiting to see for a couple years now. Whether he gets a game jersey is yet to be decided, but it'd be hard to put him in for MoJo or Perreault at this point since they've been two of the better players on the team through 9 games. Eakin will rock #50 whenever he gets his chance to play. It wouldn't surprise me to see Knuble get scratched tonight..if so, it'll definitely send a message to the locker room!

*Update 10:31am: Capitals assign Sean Collins back to Hershey. Either Green is ready to go (doubtful)..or Erskine is ready to play. I'd be shocked if they called up Orlov this late in the day.