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Postgame Notebook 9-30

by Mike Vogel / Washington Capitals
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Four out of Seven –
For the fourth time in seven preseason games and the fourth time in the last five contests, Washington limited the opposition to 20 or fewer shots on goal. The Caps allowed 165 shots on goal in the seven preseason games, an average of 23.6 per game. That’s a significant improvement over the 33.3 per game that Washington allowed during the 2006-07 regular season.

“I don’t even know if it’s defensively that we changed a whole lot,” says Caps defenseman Brian Pothier. “but I think it’s just the fact that we’re holding onto the puck more. We’ve got guys who thrive on possession now. We don’t have to play in our own end when we have the puck the whole night. It’s a nice change.”

Just a Bit Outside – Eighteen intended Washington shots missed the net in Sunday’s game against Ottawa, and 18 others were blocked en route to their intended destination. The Caps missed as many shots (18) and had as many shots blocked (18) as Ottawa had attempted shots (15 on goal plus three blocked). The Caps missed more shots (36) than they had shots on goal (35) for the evening.

Circle Work – The Caps dominated the Senators in the face-off circle on Sunday, winning 38 of 53 draws for a gaudy 72% success rate. Dave Steckel was perfect, winning all seven of his face-offs. Michael Nylander won 13 of 17 (76%) of his face-offs, and Boyd Gordon won 9 of 12 (75%).

Full Circle – Thirteen years ago, the Capitals spent a second-round (41st overall) choice in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft on Scott Cherrey, a left wing with the OHL’s North Bay Centennials. Cherrey wound up playing for three more teams in the OHL before gong off to the University of New Brunswick. His pro career consisted of one season – 1999-00 – with the ECHL’s Mobile Mysticks.

But he was on the ice surface at Verizon Center on Sunday afternoon. Cherrey was one of the linesmen for the Caps-Sens preseason game, and you’ll be seeing more of him in that capacity. He’s slated to wear the stripes for one of the NHL’s regular season games this Saturday.

Five in a Row – After defenseman Milan Jurcina took the game’s first penalty – a hooking call at 9:15 of the first period – Washington was the benefactor of five consecutive power play chances. Although they moved the puck well at times and generated a lot of scoring chances, Washington was 0-for-5 with the extra man in Sunday’s game against the Senators.

Ex-Caps Represent – Ottawa’s brass is liberally dotted with former Capitals. Sens general manager Bryan Murray stood behind the Washington bench as Capitals coach for the better part of the 1980s and is the longest tenured coach in club history.

Head coach John Paddock was Washington’s third-round choice (37th overall) in the team’s inaugural amateur draft of 1974. Paddock played eight games in a Caps sweater in 1975-76 and later coached three different teams – including the Hershey Bears – to Calder Cup championships in the AHL.

And ex-Caps goaltender Ron Low – who authored all eight Washington wins in the team’s maiden season of 1974-75 – is a Senators assistant coach.

Perfecto – Despite icing a Sunday lineup that will more closely resemble that of the 2007-08 Binghamton Senators, the defending Eastern Conference champion Senators ran their preseason record to a perfect 7-0 with a 2-1 win over Washington. Ottawa outscored the opposition by a combined 26-15 during the preseason, and posted the only unblemished record of the 30 teams in the league.

Down on the Farm – Hershey hosted Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Sunday at Giant Center in a final preseason tune-up before the same two teams meet in upstate Pennsylvania on Wednesday for the season opener. The Baby Pens prevailed by a 5-1 count, dropping Hershey’s preseason mark to 3-1. Wilkes-Barre/Scranton was 3-for-12 on the power play against the Bears. The lone Hershey goal came off the stick of Andrew Gordon, with help from Jamie Hunt and Grant Potulny.
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