Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Caps @ Islanders 1-26-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (33-18; 72 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 3rd Overall) @ New York Islanders (23-29; 54 points; 5th Atlantic Division, 10th Eastern Conference, 23rd Overall):
Caps Game #52, Road Game #27, NHL Game #779

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: 42 Atlanta, Tampa Bay, and New York Islanders
Southeast Division Championship: 42 Atlanta and Tampa Bay
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 61 New Jersey
President's Trophy: 64 San Jose


Nassau County Veterans Memorial Coliseum, Uniondale, NY, 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. New York TV: MSG Plus. Radio: WMCJ 94.3-FM.  NHL Center Ice: MSG Plus and Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic Plus feeds.

Tonight, the Caps start a three games in four night and four games in six days run when they visit the New York Islanders for the final time this season.  The Caps played the Islanders three times in the span of 19 days back in late October-early November with all three games being decided beyond regulation with the Caps running up a 2-1 record.  The Islanders are hanging around the last of the Eastern Conference playoff spots and are currently just one point shy of the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens who are tied for 7th place.  The Islanders however have a game in hand on both teams.  New York had a four game winning streak snapped by the Penguin Scum last week and needed the gimmick to get past Florida on Thursday night before falling 4-2 at home to New Jersey on Saturday night in their last game.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostExaminerCaps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

New York PostNewsday (if you're willing to pay for it).

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

In case you haven't noticed already, we've reached the part of the season where the teams on the edges of the playoff race start picking up their games in order to get into or improve their playoff positioning.  Only two teams so far are out of it in the both the Eastern and Western Conferences.  However teams like the Capitals are still on cruise control for the time being.  The Caps have had problems in the past in taking the teams well below them in the standings too lightly, especially the Islanders.  All three games so far this season have gone beyond regulation time and the last four games the Caps have played on Long Island have been decided overtime.  We happen to think that the Islanders have a very good chance of making it into the playoffs this season.  Islanders goaltender Rick DiPietro is back in the lineup and has already posted a shutout in just four starts so far this season.  That's bad news for the Caps because DiPietro is 9-4 in his career against the Caps and 8-2 since the lockout.  Last week against Detroit, the Red Wings came out guns blazing and the Caps, ok Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore, were able to hold them off.  While that win showed that the Caps don't necessarily have to match their opponent's intensity level at this point in the season to earn a win, they would be well served not to let the Islanders get a lead tonight because DiPietro isn't Osgood.  The good news for the Caps is that Islanders special teams aren't very good.  The Caps have been improving on the Penalty Kill but kill just under 74% of the Power Plays on the road, which is the key for the Caps victory tonight, win the special teams battles like they did on Saturday night against Phoenix and they can come away with two points.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 3
Islanders 2
Winner by Captain A.O.
(24-27 on the season with one perfect game)

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