In recent history, the Washington Capitals have been the measuring stick for the Southeast Division, at least in the regular season. In their only match-up with the Caps this season, the Canes measured up nicely.
In that game on October 8, Jussi Jokinen
scored in the final 90 seconds to tie the game at three and force overtime. Mike Green – who the Capitals might be without tonight – scored the eventual game-winner on a power play in overtime, but the Canes left with a well-deserved point.
Tonight, they’ll get another crack at a Washington team that won its first seven games. After losing two straight, the Capitals topped the Ducks in overtime.
“They’re just a [darn] good team. They’re deep,” head coach Paul Maurice said of tonight’s opponent. “They changed their look a little bit, but they have good goaltending and some good young defenseman. Understandably, their high-end talent gets most of the coverage and rightfully so.
“It makes it harder to run your match-up against them. You go in with your game plan and then you’ve got to try to find who’s hot on their team and who’s going on your team and try to get that match-up in-game.”
Maurice previewed tonight’s tilt, saying that it would be a fast-paced and physical game.
“The team that wins the special teams war usually does well,” he said.
That much was true on October 8. The Canes scored two power play goals, but they also surrendered two, including Green’s 4-on-3 overtime goal.
Since then, the Canes have, overall, made a habit of staying out of the penalty box. When they do get into penalty trouble, they’ve been strong on the kill as of late, killing 29 of their opponents’ last 33 power plays (87.9 percent).
While Eric Staal
hasn’t been lighting up the scoresheet lately, he did against the Capitals earlier this season. In that game, Staal had three points (2g, 1a). He is also a point-per-game career player against Washington, recording 50 points (22g, 28a) in as many games.
“I felt good that night,” he said about his game earlier this season. “You always have to bring your best against Washington.
“I don’t like losing to them. I don’t like losing to anybody. They’re a team that I’ve played a lot over my career.”
Call-ups Zach Boychuk
and Drayson Bowman
will surround center Tim Brent
on the fourth line tonight. But that doesn’t mean Maurice anticipates the line to have minimal impact.
“We expect a game out of them,” he said. “I know we have a couple of young guys on the wings, but we don’t feel the need to hide those guys over the course of the game.”
At home, the Caps are 6-0 on the young season, but on the road they’ve posted a record of just 2-2. Since losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning on opening night, the Canes are 3-0-1 at home in their last four games. If the Canes can come out with the effort they had against Tampa Bay on Tuesday, we should be in for another good game tonight.
”It takes a lot of fight to be able to be ready to compete against them but it’s a lot of fun,” Staal said. “It’s a good challenge. For me, I look forward to it.”