[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]
In 312 career NHL games against teams whose names don't rhyme with "Tapitals," Jon Sim has a grand total of 46 goals. In his other 21 games, he has 11, more than he has against any other pair of NHL teams combined... and he's back for more tonight.
Scared? You should be. Not necessarily of Sim in and of himself, but of facing a crappy-on-paper team with a hot goalie for the third straight game (and we know how the past two have turned out). Tonight's entry is Joey MacDonald, a 28-year-old with more games played in the ECHL than the NHL and more than 200 games of AHL experience who won the bronze for November Player of the Month thanks to an 8-5-1/2.64/.916 month (wait - that really was Third Star-worthy?). MacDonald has shown signs of cooling off, however, as he's been beaten up a bit in three of his last four starts.
Back to the "crappy-on-paper" part, the Isles' offense is terrible (they haven't scored more than four goals in a game since October 11... kiss of death, I know), their defense is worse (though a quarter of us covet a member of their blueline), they're the worst team in the League (perhaps the world) five-on-five, and even have the NHL's worst winning percentage when leading after one period.
Yup. Be scared.
Then again, Bruce Boudreau called out his squad after Tuesday night's loss, saying, "It was the least energy we've had all year.... We didn't play with a lot of life, and everybody's accountable" (and while he didn't name Brooks Laich or Matt Bradley, he had to be thinking about them). You'll recall that the last time he took his team and its leadership (or lack thereof) to task in the media as forcefully, they went on a 6-0-2 tear following the egg they laid in Buffalo.
The Caps are expected to go with Brent Johnson (career 0-6-0/4.52/.863 against the Isles... hey, he's due) in goal and an otherwise similar lineup to the one they've been using for the past couple of games. But which Caps team actually shows up tonight is anyone's guess. If it's a hard-working mix of NHLers with a sprinkling of AHL fill-ins, it might be enough to beat these Islanders. If not, the skid becomes a slide (if 2-5-0 isn't one already).
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Make sure to stop by Isles blog Lighthouse Hockey here at SB Nation to dig on their sweet logo and get a pre-game view from the other side.... Is GMGM a top tier general manager? Pierre LeBrun gives him some love (scroll down a bit).... That last link is a nice segue to this one, as any GM is, to an extent, only as good as his scouts: the Ross Mahoney interview pimped here should be good stuff.... And since it's the Isles on the schedule and we're talking GMs, here's New York's general manager hard at work (you didn't think I'd make it through the post without linking to that, did you?).... TRS uses the "C" word.... On this date back in 1981, Dennis Maruk potted four goals and added two helpers (and probably looked just about this friggin' awesome while doing it).... Patrick Wellar's storybook, um, story is over (for now, at least).