Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Caps Looking To Climb

The Capitals took some time off yesterday, Bruce Boudreau canceled the practice scheduled at St. Pete Times Forum. It was an earned day off considering they held the Florida Panthers, a team desperate to make the playoffs, shot less in the third period helping Jose Theodore to only his second shutout of the season.

Tonight they face the Tampa Bay Lightning, a team that will not make the playoffs. The Caps have had their troubles with teams below the 8th and final playoff spot in the standings (ref. Atlanta Thrashers' beat down 5-1). But with a win tonight, the Caps can leap frog the New Jersey Devils (who lost last night to Carolina) and put the pressure on the Boston Bruins (who play tonight and on Sunday then take five days off before playing again).

Just when you thought the Bruins would not be caught, the Caps are just five points away from the Eastern Conference leader. They had as much as a 12 point lead in the East, but surges from both the Devils and the Caps have the Bruins looking over the shoulders. For the Caps to catch the Bruins they will have to play better defensively and be more consistent.

The game tonight against the Lightning should be a different style of play for the Capitals than the game they played against Florida. Look for the Caps to be a little more aggressive on the forecheck and it should be a much more wide open game. Although, the Caps have to play within themselves and four-on-ones will hurt more than help if they are not more responsible on defense.

The Capitals are 1-1 on this long, five game road trip. They will come back to the phone booth for a four game set before jetting off for their last three games on the road. The season's end is approaching quickly and it is important for the Caps to end these games on a high note as we shift into the post season.

NHL Notes:
  • Congratulations to Martin Brodeur for becoming the winningest goaltender in the NHL. I remember when Patrick Roy broke the wins record at the phone booth against the Capitals. What is he going to do with that net?
  • The experts at are debating who gets MVP honors. 2 to 1 Alex Ovechkin gets the votes, but it is hard to deny Evgeni Malkin's point assault this season. Of course the reigning MVP should take top honors again, but I am bias.
  • The playoff race in the Western Confernce is so tight, it's like a 6'7" fat guy getting in and out of a Smartcar. As it stands, the twelfth place Anaheim Ducks are still in the play off race with 72 points. That makes it as much as seven teams that are on the playoff bubble. This should make the home stretch in the West a battle every night.

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