Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Caps @ Canadiens 2-10-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (41-18; 88 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) @ Montreal Canadiens (28-32; 62 points; 3rd Northeast Division, 7th Eastern Conference, 19th Overall):
Caps Game #60, Road Game #31, NHL Game #886

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: 20 Atlanta

Southeast Division Championship: 23 Tampa Bay
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 34 New Jersey
President's Trophy: 45 San Jose

Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, 7:37 pm. Washington TV: Comcast SportsNet Mid-Atlantic. Radio: WFED 1500-AM.  Montreal TV: None. Radio: CJAD 880-AM.  Canadian National TV: TSN, RDS (French) NHL Center Ice: Comcast SportNet Mid-Atlantic and TSN feeds.

Tonight, the Caps take their winning streak on the road for the start of a three game road trip in four nights when they face the Montreal Canadiens for the fourth and final time this season.  After dropping the first game in D.C., the Caps have come back to win the last two games in the series this season with their other visit to Bell Centre ending in a 4-3 gimmick win.  The Canadiens are one of about 13 teams hanging onto a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference and have been streaky recently.  They had a three game winning streak snapped on Sunday by the visiting Boston Bruins, 3-0.  However, before that three game winning streak was a three game losing streak for the Canadiens.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)Post.  Examiner.

Neutral Views:  AP Wire.

Open Source Intelligence:

The Gazette: more injuries, passing the torch again, letting history decide.

What Do We Expect Tonight?:

Bruce Bourdreau has turned into a college football coach who spends the entire week talking up lesser teams in an attempt to make everybody believe that the next opponent is an almost insurmountable challenge to his team.  Maybe he didn't see how the Washington Redskins completely fell apart after Vinny Cerrato was resigned from his position and Bruce Allen was brought on board?  Of course, when that happened, the Redskins were out of the playoff picture unlike Montreal who is still in the playoff hunt in the Eastern Conference.  However, even if the Canadiens want to put a good show on for their new boss and be known as the team who ended the Caps winning streak, they're simply running out of talent capable of doing such a thing.  Montreal is working with a patched together lineup with six players currently on injured reserve including Andrei Kostitsyn, Mike Cammalleri, Paul Mara, and Marc-Andre Bergeron.  Sure, like just about any other team in the NHL, the Caps have to take Montreal seriously enough or they will end up getting beaten, but there isn't enough here for Montreal to do much damage.  Jaroslav Halak has taken over as the starting goaltender for now in Montreal but has posted some unimpressive numbers in his last two starts.  The biggest key for the Capitals tonight is to move their feet in the defensive zone.  That alone will cut down on the penalties which could be problematic because Montreal has the second best Power Play and the Caps have the second worst road Penalty Killing unit in NHL.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 4
Canadiens 2
Winner by Laich
(32-27 on the season with one perfect game)



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