[AP Preview - WashingtonCaps.com Preview]
Two-and-a-half months ago, the Caps visited the Kings out in La La Land to complete a SoCal back-to-back after beating the Ducks the night before. The result was less than desirable (though two empty netters helped the final score look worse than the game itself).
Jose Theodore watched that game from the bench, and Mike Green, Alex Semin and Sergei Fedorov all were out with injuries (Green's suffered the night before), so when the Kings pay a visit to D.C. for the first time in two years tonight, the Caps should be better prepared and certainly will have fewer excuses to fall back upon in the event of a subpar performance.
Of note is the fact that the Kings are one of two NHL teams (San Jose being the other) against whom Alex Ovechkin has never scored a goal (and one tonight would be the 200th of his career). Oh, and here's a fun fact - the Caps and Kings used to be division rivals! It's true! (Hey, I'm trying here).
L.A. (the team, not the city) is on the lower end of mediocrity - 21-21-7 record, decent goaltending, unintimidating scorers and middling special teams... in a word: meh. In a few more words: the kind of team that gives the Caps fits (see also Oilers, Edmonton).
The puck drops a few minutes after seven tonight. Hopefully, 22 guys in red will show up on time for it.
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
I'm not sure I buy the "Green for Norris" hype just yet, but it's certainly more believeable than "Green for MMA Champion."... The Bears added a goalie to the roster, meaning a) Michal Neuvirth isn't expected back in Hershey any time soon and b) neither is Simeon Varlamov (and if you missed Dmitry Chesnokov's translation of a recent interview with Varly over at OFB, make sure to check it out).... On this date back in 1991, Dino Ciccarelli scored his 400th career goal (en route to 608) in a 5-3 Caps win over Vancouver. Three years later, Peter Bondra had his five-goal game, and five years after that, he lit the lamp three times after scoring four two days earlier against Tampa.... Finally, for some reason, February 5 has historically been a big day for The Rink. From a personal hockey/blogging highlight to not one but two fun pictures to caption (remember that second one?) and even a Sean Avery post, we've had nine previous posts on this date. Who knows what we'll have today?