Sometimes you need a stinker to fix the little things that slipped during a winning streak. For the Capitals, the little things would be their neutral zone play. Granted that the Caps played the best team in the league concerning neutral zone play (the dreaded Devil's trap), they still needed to shore up their possession play now that they are going to be playing the league's best over the next few games.
Anaheim, San Jose and Minnesota are in the top five teams in the Western Conference (interesting note: the next four competitors' team name are one syllable, cavemen ecstatic**). The Caps will have to be on top of their game on this road trip, which is probably why Bruce Boudreau had them working on neutral zone play and break out.
They will also be limping into this game with injured players Alex Semin and Shaone Morrisonn were set to return, but now both might be a game time decision. Sergei Fedorov, at the moment, will be out of the line up nursing his sores. He too may be a game time decision.
The good news? With Semin out the Caps haven't slowed their scoring. In the past six games the Caps have scored 3 goals or more. Where Semin was missing, it seems Alex Ovechkin has stepped in. Ovi is on a three goal game streak included putting up a deuce against the Devils including the dramatic tie with only a second left.
Plus the Caps are getting secondary scoring, a problem for them all of last season. Twelve players have 5 points or more so far this season. Considering the Caps had maybe 5 players with 5 points or more through 18 games last season. Players like Tomas Fleischmann (8 pts) is on pace for a 50 point season and the Caps defensemen are starting to warm up with a combined 31 points.
It's a late start for us here in DC, they will drop the puck at 10 pm eastern time. That means get the coffee pots stirring and cozy up next to the fire (for those that have fireplaces only, those who don't, please do not start a bonfire in the middle of your apartment, take it from someone who has been down that road).
** Ducks, Kings, Sharks, Wild. All one syllable. Geico caveman jokes can made here.