Thursday Roundup/Gamenight: Caps @ 'Yotes

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

We're going to kick things off today with your ridiculous and utterly meaningless stat of the day: The 19 skaters the Phoenix Coyotes have used so far this year have combined for 846 goals and 1,563 assists (in 5,291 man games) - 48 goals and 400 assists fewer than their head coach had in 1,487 NHL games.

If you don't know much about the 'Yotes, here's a four-bullet primer:
  • Shane Doan, Ed Jovanovski and our old buddy Olli Jokinen are All-Star-caliber players. Tonight's goaltender, Mikael Tellqvist, is not.
  • They're young and talented - Peter Mueller, Martin Hanzal, Kyle Turris, Mikkel Boedker and Viktor Tikhonov are all former first round picks from the past four drafts (Boedker and Tikhonov from this past year's draft). In fact, Steven Reinprecht, at 32, is the oldest player on a team that only has five players over the age of 29 (the Caps have seven).
  • Daniel Carcillo is a classic "love to hate him" type player, and will be returning to the lineup tonight after serving a suspension for tussling with Chicago's Ben Eager (Eager was on the ice at the time... Carcillo was on the bench). He had 19 fights and 324 PIMs in just 57 games last year, but can score a bit too, as his 13 goals will attest (in short, he's everything we hope Stefan Della Rovere will become one day). Just imagine for a moment how much you would despise this guy if the Penguins had never traded him in the Georges Laraque deal.
  • They have five different players with a fighting major already this season (the Caps have three).
In other words, expect a young, skilled team with more than a little sandpaper. If the Caps aren't ready for that, they'll drop a third game in a row before they know what hit 'em.

Oh, and the last time the Caps visited the desert, this happened:
You didn't think I'd get through this post without that, did you?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

If you missed Leonard Shapiro's article on Joe Beninati and Craig Laughlin in yesterday's WaPo, check it out.... Speaking of print media, Tyler Sloan made the front page of The Globe and Mail.... Sticking with print, your obligatory "Alex Ovechkin is coming to town and he's really good" article.... How screwed were we that the Caps didn't get to play on International Caps Lock Day?... Ken Klee cleared waivers. Tampa must be waiting for him to be put on re-entry waivers before claiming him (or for him to buy his way onto the team).

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