Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Preview: Caps Face the Jets in Season Opener!

Photo Credit : Washington Post
For the first time since Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi Finals of 2012 against the New York Rangers, the Washington Capitals will play hockey at their home, the Verizon Center. Their opponents - the Winnipeg Jets:

The Caps had a less than ideal start to the season, losing to Southeast Division rival the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-3. Highlights can be found here. Whilst it is tough to open on the road, the Caps were not too impressive and have something to prove. Although there were positives throughout the game, goaltending from Holtby needs to become more reliable and consistent, whilst the powerplay lacked execution for much of the game and the Caps were outshot and out-hit.

So, on to the imminent opponent:

The Jets (mark two) are entering their second season as an NHL franchise, having missed out on the playoffs last year. They haven't had the best start to their season this year, losing the first game at home to Ottawa 4-1 and then forcing Boston to a shootout at TD Garden only to lose out there. One point from two games signals a rather slow start. But don't underestimate them because the Caps haven't even picked up a point yet, so cannot afford to be relaxed going into this game.

For the Jets, offense has had little factor for them this season, scoring just one goal in each game, with big man Dustin Byfuglien and Chris Thorburn being the only Jets players to light the lamp. However, the Caps need to pay particular attention to Andrew Ladd, Olli Jokinen and Evander Kane. Although of these players only Ladd has registered a point thus far, they will all be itching to get their names on the scoresheet - and have the quality to do so, with each one of them scoring at least twenty goals last year.
Keep an eye on Kane - he scored 30 goals in 2011-12 (Photo Credit Winnipeg Sun)
The defense isn't too great either - although only one goal was conceded against the shootout loss against the Bruins, they allowed the B's to shoot on goal 27 times. The same can be said for their performance against the Senators, although goal tending could not help force a point for them in that contest. Last season was equally unimpressive, as only Tobias Enstrom and Ron Hainsy were plus defensmen.

The key to winning tonight is simply to beat the Jets goaltender Ondrej Pavelec (assuming he plays). The 25 year old Czech stopper was very impressive in the Bruins game, keeping the biscuit out of the tin on 27 of 28 shots and enduring overtime. Caps players will have to pick their shots well to beat this man:

Photo credit - CBC Sports
So, it's going down in Chinatown for the first time in well over six months! Make sure you get behind your boys and rock the red tonight, I want to hear you unleash the fury from across the Atlantic!

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