Friday, January 15, 2010

Caps vs. Maple Thug Leafs 1-15-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (28-18; 62 points; 1st Southeast Division, 3rd Eastern Conference, 5th Overall) vs. Toronto Maple Thug Leafs (18-27; 43 points; 5th Northeast Division, 14th Eastern Conference, 28th Overall):
Caps Game #47, Home Game #21, NHL Game #705

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: 57 Atlanta
Southeast Division Championship: 57 Atlanta
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 77 New Jersey
President's Trophy: 77 New Jersey


Verizon Center, Washington, D.C., 7:07 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. Toronto TV: None. Radio: CFMJ 640-AM.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RIS (French).  NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic and TSN feeds.

Tonight, the Caps wrap up a three games in four nights run by starting a three game homestand when they host the Toronto Maple Thug Leafs.  This is the fourth and final meeting this year between the teams with the home team coming out on top in every game so far this season.  The Thug Leafs were in action last night when they ended a four game losing streak by beating the Philadelphia Flyers at home 4-0.  It was Toronto's second win in their last eight games.  The Thug Leafs have lost their last four and eight of their last ten games on the road.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostCaps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

Toronto Globe and Mail.  Toronto Star:  dream scenario, not going anywhere, finesse works, fitting in well.  Toronto Sun: they're alive, no big whoop, notes, Leafs Report, angry GM, wide awake.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

Well folks, this is shaping up as a classic trap scenario.  The Thug Leafs come into town with a dismal record on the road and overall, making their first stop on a five game road trip, owning the worst Penalty Killing unit in the NHL, and having played the night before and their third game in four nights.  The Caps on the other hand have games coming up against Philadelphia, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Phoenix next week with three of those four games at home.  You could understand why the Caps might be looking past the Thug Leafs tonight despite losing the last two games against Toronto.  Furthermore, Bruce Boudreau in his comments yesterday gave no indication that Michael "Bebe" Neuvrith will be assuming the backup goaltender role tonight.  So will Bebe get pulled for the third game in a row?  But after three poor first periods, the Caps could use a Power Play or two tonight to get things going.  The Thug Leafs did play last night so they could be prone to taking a couple of penalties early on tonight.  The fatigue factor will also swing the Caps way late in the game if the Caps need to mount yet another comeback.  So it looks as if the Caps will have to stay in a total funk in order to lose this game tonight.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 5
Thug Leafs 3
Winner by Laich
(22-24 on the season with one perfect game)

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