Tuesday Roundup/Gamenight: Caps @ Flames

[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]

Since the lockout, the Caps and Flames have tangled but twice - once on each team's home sheet of ice - meaning that of Alex Ovechkin's 250 career NHL games, residents of Calgary have had the chance to see him in their building exactly once, which is, of course, how many times Jarome Iginla has visited the Verizon Center in the past three seasons. But each of those meetings has been something special, no doubt leaving fans longing for more.

In the first meeting between these two elite power forwards (October 30, 2006), Ovechkin's Caps left the Saddledome with a 4-2 win, thanks to a big night in net from Olie Kolzig, a pair of goals apiece from Richard Zednik and Dainius Zubrus (sidenote: which, if any, of those three would make the current Caps roster?), and AO blowing up Dion Phaneuf.

The last time these teams met was last March, when Ovi scored twice in the last 2:05 to give Kolzig a 3-2 win, the 300th of his career.

A few pre-game notes:
  • The Flames are allowing the most goals per game in the League and have had trouble scoring five-on-five in the early going (and their performances overall have been somewhat uneven). The Caps, on the other hand, are a five-on-five machine so far. If they stay out of the box, they'll be putting themselves in a good position to succeed.
  • Ovechkin hasn't yet scored a goal in the Saddledome, one of seven NHL cities in which he has been held goal-less (Chicago, Edmonton, L.A., Minnesota, San Jose and St. Louis are the others).
  • Throw out the first period against Atlanta and Jose Theodore has a 2.79 GAA. Throw out his three first periods overall and he has a 1.35 GAA. Five of the nine goals he’s allowed have been on the PK. Of course, goals allowed are goals allowed, but I think the concerns over Theodore's play so far have been greatly overstated and aren't far from being respectable (that said, the fact that Brent Johnson has played more minutes through five games is noteworthy).
  • JT60 has a career 9-7-2 mark against the Flames with a 2.15 GAA and .922 save percentage (don't forget Theo's Avs are in Calgary's division). Last season, Jose was 5-3-0/1.95/.928. Stout.
  • Michael Nylander had 17 goals and 36 assists in 93 games for the Flames and Chris Clark had 53 goals and 53 assists in 326 games for Calgary (who drafted him in the third round, 77th overall, in 1994).
  • Sergei Fedorov has 22 goals and 29 assists in 56 career games against Calgary.
  • Jarome Iginla has been a staple on my fantasy team for years now, so if someone's gotta score for the Flames...
  • Look for Calgary to try to play a physical game against Ovechkin.
So the Caps open their three-game road trip in Calgary (birthplace of Washington blueliners Mike Green, Jeff Schultz and Tyler Sloan), where they haven't lost since March 13, 1999 (when Nicklas Backstrom was 11-years-old). Might as well keep that streak going, eh?

Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:

This morning's Calgary Sun has articles on Green and AO and a game capsule, and The Leader-Post has one on Ovechkin, too (The Globe and Mail too!).... The Caps are down two spots to ninth in CBS's Power Rankings.... Brits are excited to watch Ovi online (but not Sid?)... John Walton Hockey has a nice recap of what's been going on in S.C. so far.... Here's an interesting nugget for you: Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Matt Stairs (who has quite a way with words) is "the first New Brunswick athlete to reach the final in one of the big four professional sports since Mike Eagles of Sussex played in the 1998 Stanley Cup final as a member of the Washington Capitals." ... Matt Pettinger is on re-entry waivers. Will anyone want a $500k Princess?

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