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Opening night. Seems like forever ago, doesn't it?
But it wasn't so long ago (less than seven weeks) that these same Caps opened the 2007-08 season with a win on the road against the defending Southeast Division Champs. Actually, check that - it wasn't these same Caps. Those Caps were without Alex Semin. And they dominated, out-shooting the host Thrashers 40-29 and out-scoring them 3-1.
Since then, the Caps have gone 5-13-1. They've scored three goals in less than a third of those games and have managed to win - get this - one game in which they've allowed more than a single goal against. Let me rephrase that: in games in which the Caps have allowed two or more goals, they're 1-13-1. The power play is 4-for-33 (12%) in November, and the Caps are still looking for their first win all season in a game in which they allow a power-play goal.
It also wasn't so long ago that these same Thrashers were 0-6-0. Actually, check that - it wasn't these same Thrashers. Those Thrashers had their number one goalie, Kari Lehtonen.
But Atlanta, led by Ilya Kovalchuk and Marian Hossa (shocking, I know), has made it all the way back to .500, going 10-4-0 since the dismissal of head coach Bob Hartley. They've scored three or more goals in nine of their last ten games and have scored multiple power-play goals in a game five different times with Don Waddell behind the bench.
Quite obviously, these are two teams going in opposite directions right now... just like the Caps and Sens were two weeks ago. On any given Wednesday night in the NHL, any team can beat any other team - maybe this Wednesday will be the Caps' night.
Update. From the Thrash morning skate:
Johan Hedberg will get the start in net tonight. Hedberg is 5-2-2 lifetime against the Caps, with a 2.84 GAA and .849 Sv%.
With the early season turnaround in Atlanta,
interim Head Coach Don Waddell was asked if he had any advice for the Capitals. Unsurprisingly, he responded with the politic,
I know them both [McPhee and Hanlon] very well. They're good hockey people. And good hockey people find ways to get out of difficult situations.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Matthieu Perreault is one hot prospect who's tearing up Le Q.... While things may be bad at the moment, at least we have Alex Ovechkin's Hall of Fame induction to look forward to (cue "Yeah, as a Maple Leaf" comment in 3... 2... 1...).... Which NHLer's name sounds more like a Star Wars character - Tuukka Rask or Jarkko Ruutu?
Hart: Chuck Kobasew (2G, including the game-winner, A, +1, 4 SOG)
Ross: Chuck Kobasew (3 points)
Norris: Cory Sarich (+1, 6 hits, 4 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
- Vezina: Tuukka Rask (W, 30 saves on 32 shots against in NHL debut)
Richard: Chuck Kobasew, Owen Nolan (2G each)
Calder: Tuukka Rask (W, 30 saves on 32 shots against in NHL debut)
Aiken: Jose Theodore (L, 3 goals allowed on 14 shots against)