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game preview

Capitals at Blues preview

Past two Stanley Cup champions face off in season opener for first time since 1962

by Louie Korac / NHL.com Independent Correspondent

CAPITALS (0-0-0) at BLUES (0-0-0)

8 p.m. ET; NBCSN

 

The Game

The past two Stanley Cup champions open their 2019-20 regular season when the St. Louis Blues play the Washington Capitals at Enterprise Center on Wednesday. 

The Blues won the Stanley Cup for the first time in their 51-season history when they defeated the Boston Bruins in seven games and will raise their first championship banner during a pregame ceremony. The Capitals won the Cup in 2018 after defeating the Vegas Golden Knights in five games.

It will be the second time in the NHL modern era (1943-44) the two previous Stanley Cup champions play their first regular-season game against each other. The Chicago Blackhawks (1961) and Toronto Maple Leafs (1962) were the last to do so.

The Capitals will be without center Evgeny Kuznetsov, who begins a three-game suspension for inappropriate conduct during the offseason.

Defenseman Justin Faulk will make his Blues debut after he was acquired in a trade with the Carolina Hurricanes on Sept. 24.

 

Players to watch

Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has 17 points (10 goals, seven assists) in 14 season-opening games. Ovechkin, who has one season-opening hat trick (Oct. 5, 2017 at the Ottawa Senators), has 30 points (17 goals, 13 assists) in 19 games against St. Louis.

Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko has 10 points (eight goals, two assists) in his past eight games against the Capitals.

 

They said it

"Tonight's a big night for both sides. ... We'll try to contain their energy a little bit and try to stick with them and try to sneak out a win here in Game 1." -- Capitals forward T.J. Oshie on his former team, the Blues

"It's not going to be easy for us this year. I think we're really going to have to dig in and be tough. Everyone's going to be gunning for us. We've got to expect that." -- Blues center Brayden Schenn on being defending Stanley Cup champions

 

Capitals projected lineup

Alex Ovechkin -- Nicklas Backstrom -- Tom Wilson

Jakub Vrana -- Lars Eller -- T.J. Oshie

Carl Hagelin -- Chandler Stephenson -- Richard Panik

Brendan Leipsic -- Nic Dowd -- Garnet Hathaway

Jonas Siegenthaler -- John Carlson

Dmitry Orlov -- Nick Jensen

Martin Fehervary -- Radko Gudas

Braden Holtby

Ilya Samsonov

Scratched: Tyler Lewington, Travis Boyd

Injured: Michal Kempny (hamstring)

Suspended: Evgeny Kuznetsov

 

Blues projected lineup

Jaden Schwartz -- Brayden Schenn -- Vladimir Tarasenko

Sammy Blais -- Ryan O'Reilly -- David Perron

Robby Fabbri -- Tyler Bozak -- Robert Thomas

Ivan Barbashev -- Oskar Sundqvist -- Alexander Steen

Alex Pietrangelo -- Justin Faulk

Jay Bouwmeester -- Colton Parayko

Vince Dunn -- Robert Bortuzzo

Jordan Binnington

Jake Allen

Scratched: Zach Sanford, Carl Gunnarsson, Mackenzie MacEachern

Injured: None

 

Status report

The Capitals placed goalie Pheonix Copley on waivers. ... Kempny has been cleared for contact but will not play. ... Fehervary will make his NHL debut. … Capitals coach Todd Reirden said Samsonov is expected to make his first NHL start at the New York Islanders on Friday.

 

Stat pack

The Blues won both games against the Capitals last season, outscoring them 9-3. ... Since the start of the 2014-15 season, Ovechkin (236) and Tarasenko (182) rank first and third in goals scored. ... Since 2016-17, the Blues have the most wins against the Eastern Conference (60).

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