When the Caps faced Ottawa on November 4, Brent Johnson made 42 saves in a 2-1 overtime loss. That effort, coming on the heels of the 5-0 loss to Buffalo and subsequent bag skate, launched the Caps on an eight-game point streak (6-0-2) and began a 4-0-1/1.82/.949 stretch for Johnny.
A primary difference between that win streak and the team's 5-6-0 run that followed it, of course, was team health. But that difference is slowly but surely disappearing, and with Alex Semin and Tom Poti returning Wednesday night against Boston and the returns of Mike Green and Sergei Fedorov imminent, the Caps seem poised to pick up where they left off in mid-November.
Those four injured players rejoin a team whose number one(ish) goaltender is playing well (but not unrealistically so), whose power play has been a scorching 38.9% successful over the past five games and whose penalty kill has snuffed out 85.2% of the extra man advantages it has faced over the past seven games. Adding a pair of top six forwards and top pairing defensemen to that mix could make the Caps scary good, scary fast.
But points aren't handed out on style and skill alone - the Caps still have to play the games - and the next one up is another meeting with the Sens. After that November meeting (actually, after the following game with Philly), Ottawa hit the skids and has a 5-6-3 record, which apparently has eliminated them from playoff contention. The Sens still have their "big three," but unfortunately for them, that's pretty much all they've got, and, as a result, they're near the very bottom of the League in scoring (and wouldn't you know it - the offense craps out right when they've figured it out in goal).
The Caps have more or less owned the Senators over the past two-plus seasons (6-2-1), and tonight provides a good chance to add to that dominance. Getting a couple more key contributors back in the lineup sure would help in that effort, especially if the guys who have been carrying the water in their absence can keep the pedal to the floor.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Toronto (and Mike Toth) has spoken: Ovechkin > Crosby.... In a surprise to absolutely no one, the Caps are a top team in shorthanded faceoffs, but (slightly) below average in power play draws.... Cap of the Day: Enrico Ciccone.