Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Gameday Preview: Capitals/Senators Round II

As I mentioned before I'd gotten a bit lazy during the holiday season because, well, that's what the holidays are all about. As part of my laziness I'd stopped writing gameday previews. Well, I'm trying to start the New Year off right (so far, so good) and with that in mind I've adopted a new format for gameday previews. As always, suggestions as to what sections aren't really helpful or interesting, what it might be nice to add or layout suggestions are welcome. And awaaaaay we go!

Ottawa Senators at Washington Capitals
Tuesday January 1, 2008, 4:00 pm
Verizon Center in Washington D.C.

For all their struggles this year the Capitals have been able to handle the Senators, the Eastern Conference's best team, notching a 4-1 victory on November 8th and a wild 8-6 win December 29th to close out 2007. It might seem too much to expect to think the Capitals can defeat the best in the East three times in a row but then, how implausible did it seem they would beat them in November? How plausible did it seem they would beat the Sens two games in a row? You can bet Coach Boudreau and the boys are expecting a win tomorrow afternoon and Caps fans should too.

About the Opponent

Ottawa Senators (25-9-4, 54 points, 1st in the Northeast Division, 1st in the Eastern Conference)

Team Leaders
: Daniel Alfredsson (24)
Assists: Jason Spezza (35)
Points: Dany Heatley (52)
Penalty Minutes: Chris Neil (98)

Betcha Didn't Know....
The modern-day Senators were founded by real estate developer Bruce Firestone, who suggested it to other executives at his company (Terrace Investments) after a game of shinny.

Random Senators Statistic:
During the 2004-05 season Brian McGrattan had 551 penalty minutes in 71 games for the Senators AHL affiliate in Binghamton, New York.

Keys to the Game


Stay out of the box. The Senators have so much firepower that it's a challenge just to stop them 5-on-5, so the Capitals can't afford to give them extra opportunities.

Outwork the Capitals. There's no doubt Ottawa is the better team but the Capitals, especially after Boudreau took over, work in all three zones and play a full sixty minutes. The Senators will have to match that if they want to win. As Coach Boudreau said, "Hockey is a simple game. It come down to the will and the want. If you want it more than them, and you're willing to pay the price more than them, you're going to have success."

Players to Watch

Olaf Kolzig - Kolzig has been struggling over the last several weeks and although he has looked better he hasn't has that great game to let everyone know he's back on track. With how much firepower the Senators have Kolzig can't allow any softies and may have to make a big save or two for the Capitals to win.

Mike Fischer - He's not going to put up another hat trick, but Fischer's performance in this game could be the difference between a win and a loss for the Senators. If Fischer can build off last game's outburst and be the catalyst for secondary scoring Senators fans and management hope he can the team becomes a lot harder to handle. A team with two scoring threat lines is always harder to handle than a team with only one - even if that one is Heatley, Spezza and Alfredsson.

Both teams button down and play tight defense after the 8-6 shootout north of border a few days ago, with the Capitals prevailing 3-2 in front of a large (and enthusiastic) New Year's matinée crowd.

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