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Washington Capitals

Can The Caps Snap The Slump?

Washington CapitalsAfter a four-game losing streak, the Caps look to buck the recent trend tonight against the San Jose Sharks. Jose Theodore is expected to start in net at Verizon Center, and the line combinations should be similar to those against the Devils, although injuries to John Erskine and Tom Poti may mean changes defensively. Most notably this indicates the continued use of Mike Knuble on the top line, with Alex Semin dropping down to the second line. Knuble certainly had good chemistry with Ovechkin and Backstrom, highlighted by his good goal against Martin Brodeur. Coach Boudreau has changed things up in recent games to try to record a win, and this may well continue tonight in attempt to overcome the impressive Sharks.

Discipline has been a severe problem during the slump, including nine minor penalties against the Flyers. After a great start to the season, winning 4-1 in Boston and 6-4 in the home opener against the Maple Leafs, things were looking good for the Caps; however the signs were starting to show. In the Leafs game, Semyon Varlamov conceded three third period goals – something he had done twice previously in pre-season – which gave Toronto a glimmer of hope and left the Caps looking shaky in the remainder of the game. I’m not blaming Varlamov, but this highlighted the Caps poor defensive play, and this issue became obvious in the games against Detroit and New Jersey as Jose Theodore, who took over from Varlamov after the Russian conceded four against Philadelphia, actually played fantastically well, but still conceded as he was put in trouble by the players in front of him.

This begs the question, is the Caps policy of simply trying to score more goals than the opposition going to work this season? So much is said of the offensive capabilities of Mike Green and Co, but the story of the season so far has been Washington’s defensive frailties. With so many young defensive prospects, though, trading in d-men would be impractical, so it may just be a case of being patient and waiting for the likes of Alzner and Carlson to come through. Looking at the current defensive record, though, the sooner they are NHL-ready the better.

Against the Sharks tonight, the Capitals will certainly have to come up with something new, as the Sharks have started well and seem to be as good as they were last season, with Dany Heatley slotting in nicely for them. The Caps have never won against Evgeni Nabokov, but if they can stay out of the penalty box and give Theodore some help in front of the net, then tonight could be the night.

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4 comments for “Can The Caps Snap The Slump?”

  1. You guys might get ‘well’ against my Sharks tonight. The Sharks are a different team this year, they’re still trying to figure it out.

    Posted by sharksfanNo Gravatar | October 15, 2009, 10:59 am
  2. I dunno we have been pretty poor lately. I can see it being a high scorer tonight and may well go to overtime. Hopefully we can improve defensively and the big guns can keep firing them in the net.

    Posted by colonelbagpussNo Gravatar | October 15, 2009, 11:18 am
  3. Good luck! It took the Yotes 3 periods, an OT and a shootout to defeat them. I thought Nabokov looked really good in net.

    Posted by PuckGalNo Gravatar | October 15, 2009, 11:49 am
  4. Ovechkin and company should have more room to maneuver as Crank Shaft, Douglas Murray, will be out of the line-up with flu-like symptoms. Derek Joslin got the call-up from Worcester and is matched-up alongside Dan Boyle. Murray’s physical presence will surely be missed against the highly skilled and physical Ovechkin.

    Can you imagine what would happen if the Sharks make a bad line change and Jason Demers and Joslin are on the ice at the same time? This could get ugly.

    Posted by FC Sharks FanNo Gravatar | October 15, 2009, 1:06 pm

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