So today begins the trip Caps fans have been eyeing all year long. A rare set of games against the Hawks, the Preds and then those SE matchups we all love.
I don’t have to explain the importance or ramifications of this trip. The Caps sit 2 points out of the 8th spot and 5 points out of the 3rd. They are not only chasing Philly, Boston, and Carolina but are battling Buffalo and Flordia in the trenches.
On paper, this trip should result in many wins for the Caps, but we know that means absolutely nothing.
The Caps boarded a plane on route to Nashville for a Central Division game vs the Predators. The Predators are in the same spot as we are at this point. They are currently 2 points out of the 8th spot. The Predators have been terrible on home lately but are riding a hot goalie right now in Dan Ellis...yea I know who? Huet will be in net after a stellar performance on Sunday. The last time these teams met the Caps were simply outmatched. In Ovechkin’s first season the Caps lost at Verizon Center 5-2.
The Caps follow this with a tilt against the Hawks. Caps fans may get their first chance to check out Toews and Kane. We will also get to see Backstrom play against his “Calder-nemisises...or is it nemisy? This game is that big ol’ game in hand that we have had for what seems like forever. If we win, those are 2 points that will cut into that 5 point lead Carolina has-HUGE.
The Hawks’ young pair have rejuvenated this franchise and the United Center has been rocking all year. They too have a great future ahead of them. But it’s not this year. This is a game the Caps should win.
The Caps then focus solely on the Southeast. The Caps play Atlanta and Tampa Bay which are obviously “should wins”. But what is it about Tampa’s recent play that kind of worries me? In recent years it seems like late in the year the Caps play spolier to Tampa in some capacity-I’m sure they would love to do the same to us.
And how about Carolina and Flordia? We all know how big the game against Carolina is and how bad we felt after that 6-3 loss. If the Caps win that Nashville game and win at the same pace of Carolina, beating them would put us one point behind them.
But then there is Flordia. They have quietly won 7 in a row. In my opinion they still have our number (especially at the BA Center) and could challenge for the Division title as well. They only have two games this week- Toronto and Tampa. So, I think by next week they will most likely still be on our backs in the standings. How big and challenging will that game be?
I honestly believe because of Boston and Philadelphia’s tough schedule the Caps could go 6-3 the rest of the way and make it-but who really knows. I think it is legitimate to believe that the Caps could show up at the Phone Booth on April 1st with 88 points (5 of 6 road wins).
Check out the new poll-HOW MANY WINS WILL THE CAPS GET ON THIS TRIP?
Many questions, many games, many states, many frequent flyer miles, hopefully many wins.
Here’s to the trip and our team’s postseason hopes! __________
Here is the breakdown of the goaltending situation. Coach has only announced Tuesday and Wednesday night but here is what I would do.
It ends up being 3-3 but that’s not why I did that. Olie has done well vs Atlanta and Tampa so that makes sense. Boudreau goes off of past history. For Carolina it had a lot to do with Olie’s last performance against them. For Flordia, it’s more about getting rid of the “they always beat us” mentality. New goaltenders can change that-look at Boston. Boston has owned us in recent years but Huet changed that for us.
It gives them rest and makes a lot of sense. The only issue is that Olie “tweaked” something in practice today. Apparently it’s nothing big but anything could happen. Brent Johnson IS making the trip.
In the “GREAT” news category, it looks like Captian America Chris Clark will be suiting up as soon as Tuesday night. What will the lines be? I’m glad you asked.
It’s more likely that Clark will go on the third line to keep his minutes down, but I am going to pretend that he’s 100%.
Flash is most definitely the odd-man out. Laing could make his way in for a game pushing Cooke to the right side of Laich, dropping Bradley to the 4th line and putting Fehr in the press box.
NEWS AND NOTES
- Some street cred from TSN
- Fuel for the fire Caps fans
- OFB’s got a great read on one of my favorite sights
- Ted’s got some more emails to show that will make you cringe
- Go Go Godzilla...a great read
- Salt-N- Pepper Beard is questioning Ovy’s two way play.
- Trade Crosby? This guy’s house is going to be burned down.