Sunday, March 14, 2010

Caps @ Blackhawks 3-14-2010 Preview

Washington Capitals (45-23; 99 points; 1st Southeast Division, 1st Eastern Conference, 1st Overall) @ Chicago Blackhawks (44-23; 93 points; 1st Central Division, 2nd Western Conference, 3rd Overall):
Caps Game #69, Road Game #35, NHL Game #1,022

Caps "Magic Numbers" (Caps Points Earned+Lost by team named) to clinch:
Playoff Spot: Clinched 3/11

Southeast Division Championship: Clinched 3/11
Eastern Conference #1 Seed: 14 Pittsburgh and New Jersey (7 of 14 eliminated)
President's Trophy: 27 San Jose (10 of 29 eliminated)


United Center, Chicago, IL 12:45 pm. Washington TV: None. Radio: WFED 1500-AM. Chicago TV: None. Radio: WGN 720-AM.  U.S. National TV: NBC.  Canadian National TV: TSN. NHL Center Ice: None.

Today the Caps start a week-long four game road trip when they head to Chicago to face the Blackhawks for the only time this season.  Last year, the Caps opened up their home schedule with the Hawks and the Caps skated off with a 4-2 victory.  Chicago is on track to become the first team other than the Detroit Red Wings to win the Central Division since the St. Louis Blues won it in 1999-2000 with a magic number currently at 14.  Chicago has split their six games since the Olympic Break and are playing in their second consecutive NBC Sunday game at home.  Last week they lost to the Red Wings 5-4.  They claimed a 3-2 win in overtime at home on Wednesday night but lost by the same score late in regulation yesterday in Philadelphia to the Flyers.

What The Natives Are Saying:

(Com)PostExaminerCaps.com.

Neutral Views:

NHL.comAP WireNBC.com.

Open Source Intelligence:

Chicago Sun-Times:  gone in 122 seconds, one shot stop.  Chicago Tribune:  late letdown, tough task ahead, it's good to be Captain A.O.

What Do We Expect Today?:

Well folks, we could be in for about as exciting of a regular season game as one can see between two teams who do not have a long-standing rivalry.  The numbers are amazing, the Blackhawks give up the fewest shots in the NHL but only Toronto and the Blackhawks themselves take more shots than the Caps.  The Blackhawks are one of the best teams on home ice yet only San Jose and St. Louis have won more games on the road this season than Washington.  But the one we want to watch is the Blackhawks Power Play.  At home they're 29th in the NHL with just a 14.9% conversion rate.  The Caps however are equally bad on the Penalty Kill on the road.  The Caps are also 29th in the NHL in that category with a dismal 72.7%.  The Caps Power Play is ranked 3rd in the NHL on the road and Blackhawks Penalty Killers are 3rd on home ice.  Both teams however had questions looming big in goal.  It has to be especially troubling to the Blackhawks because they allow so few shots and with the amount of rubber they throw at the opposition, Jose "Alvin, Simon," Theodore is going to have to be on top of his game today for the Caps to get a win and maybe even some puck possession.  Based on the report about the Caps practice yesterday, Friday night's loss served as a wake up call to the Caps, and one they will need playing at 11:45 am Central Time and losing an hour of sleep last night.  How the Blackhawks respond to yesterday's letdown could be the biggest X Factor in today's game.  Those kinds of losses aren't easily forgotten and can be rather demoralizing to a team.  Either way, it should be a fun one to watch and we would suggest some sort of drinking game for today's game with just the phrase "Preview of the Stanley Cup Finals" but not only is this a Family Blog, we don't to assume any liability for alcohol poisoning.  Finally, one interesting nugget we dug for this game, the last two times the Caps have gone to United Center, a shutout has been pitched.  In the Caps last visit on March 19th, 2008, Olie Kolzig made his last appearance in a Caps uniform while losing 5-0.  It was also the last loss the Caps would suffer in the 2007-2008 regular season.  On February 15th, 2004, Olie Kolzig shutout the Blackhawks, 4-0.  Something tells us though that there won't be a shutout performance today.

Caps Nut Official Prediction:

Caps 3
Blackhawks 1
Winner by Captain A.O.
(36-32 on the season with one perfect game)

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