Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Caps @ Predators 3-18-2008 Wrap Up/ Caps @ Blackhawks 3-19-2008 Preview

The Local Yokels:

(Com)Post. Times.

The Neutral Observers: AP Wire.

The Other Side:

Tennessean: no points, disappointed crowd, no offense, star power.

Final Thoughts:

I'm clearly in the minority here, but the more I think about it, the more I think the Caps played a pretty good road game in the second and third periods last night. They snuffed out most of the Predators' chances and other than a Charmin soft goal allowed by Cristobal "WE MUST PROTECT THIS HOUSE" Huet, they wouldn't have needed A.O.'s bank shot for a two goal margin of victory. Sure they could have played a better road game, but they got the result they needed and that is the important thing. Finally, if the playoffs started today, the Central Division, along with the Southeast Division would be sending just one of its five members to the playoffs. Now the Southeast is very much maligned because of this fact but does Detroit's 100 points really mitigate the deficiencies of the Central Division or is because the powers that be don't want to beat up on "traditional hockey markets" like St. Louis and Chicago where they're all too happy to beat up on the Tampa and Carolina markets despite those markets having more recent Stanley Cups than anybody in the Central Division?

74 down, 8 to go.

Washington Capitals (36-38; 80 points; 2nd Southeast Division, 9th Eastern Conference, 17th Overall) @ Chicago Blackhawks (34-39; 72 points; 4th Central Division, 13th Western Conference, 25th Overall):
Caps Game #75, Road Game #35, NHL Game #1,107

United Center, Chicago, IL. 8:38 pm. Washington TV: Comcast Sportsnet Mid-Atlantic Plus. Radio: WWWT 1500-AM, 107.7-FM. Chicago TV: Comcast Sporstnet Chicago. Radio: WSCR 670-AM. NHL Center Ice: Comcast Sportsnet Chicago feed.

Tonight the Caps continue their playoff push when they visit the Windy City for the first time since February 15th, 2004 to play the Blackhawks. The Blackhawks lost their owner a week before the season started and this is usually sends a franchise into turmoil. However, the Blackhawks had already reached rock bottom under the guidance of William Wirtz and his passing has actually allowed the team to begin to prosper again. Nine points out of a playoff spot with nine games to go; Chicago will once again miss the playoffs this season but they, like the Caps, have already amassed more wins and points than they did last season. Recently the Blackhawks have struggled with just one win in their last six games. In their last game this past Sunday, the Blackhawks lost at home to the Calgary Flames 4-2.

What The Natives Are Saying:

Neutral Views: AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Chicago Sun-Times. Chicago Tribune: young guns, old-timer, the matchup.

What Do I Expect Tonight:

The Caps are playing their third game in four nights in their third different city. The Caps are also playing a team that is pretty much out of the race. While it is still mathematically possible for the Blackhawks to make the playoffs, the fact that they have to jump over 5 other teams in nine games makes it rather impossible. The Blackhawks are also trotting out one of their long retired greats tonight for a special honor so you know the players and the fans are going to be extra pumped up for the game. So if there was a game on this road trip where you could expect the Caps to come out a little flat, tonight's game would be it. After all, last night's win gave the Caps a four game winning streak which matches the longest of the Bruce Boudreau era. Does that make it impossible for the Caps to win tonight's game? No, and we've seen how A.O. reacts to playing in a new building as, ever the showman, he always seeks to put on a good show for the locals seeing him for the first time. Nicklas Backstrom also has some incentive to "win" the matchup with fellow Calder Candidates Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane on the other side of the ice. But will it be enough to carry the Caps to victory tonight? I wouldn't be too surprised if it didn't. Finally, the current Chicago slide (one win in their last six games) started when the Blackhawks started when they trotted out Bobby Hull and Stan Mikita for honors on March 7th. So in short, I don't have a really good feeling either way as to how tonight's game is going to play out. I thought last night's game would be a low scoring and grinding defensive battle but it wasn't.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 3
Blackhawks 2
Winner by Semin

(39-34 on the season)

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