Friday, February 1, 2008

Capitals/Thrashers Preview

Atlanta Thrashers at Washington Capitals
Saturday, February 2nd, 7:00 P.M.
Verizon Center in Washington, D.C.
Last Meeting: 12/8/2007, Capitals win 6-3

After avenging the perceived disrespect the Capitals felt at the hands of the Canadiens the Capitals host their Southeast Division rivals, the Atlanta Thrashers, less than twenty-fours after the Thrashers topped the Sabres in a shootout (exacting a little revenge of their own) to pull a point ahead of the Caps in the Southeast and in the Eastern Conference. With two games in hand and just the one point back the Capitals are still sitting pretty when it comes to the Thrashers but it would be nice for the Capitals to pick up a win and move ahead of the Thrashers in the standings. Plus there are temporary bragging rights at stake.

About the Opponent

Atlanta Thrashers: 25-25-4, 54 points, 2nd in the Southeast Division, 10th in the Eastern Conference.

Team Leaders
Goals: Ilya Kovalchuk (38), active - Marian Hossa (22)
Tobias Enstrom (28)
Ilya Kovalchuk (64)
Plus/Minus: Niclas Havelid (+3)
Penalty Minutes:
Chris Thorburn (74)
Chris Thorburn (8)

Random Thrashers Fact
Perhaps the most significant of Don Waddell's follies as general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers was his selection of Braydon Coburn (since traded to the Flyers for Alexei Zhitnik) with the eighth overall pick in the 2003 entry. Dion Phaneuf was selected ninth.

Random Thrashers Statistic
The Thrashers have as many guys (four) with plus/minus ratings of -15 or worse as they do players with ratings better than even. Of the four players with positive ratings only one has played more than 30 games this season.

Keys to the Game

Be prepared for anything. The only thing that's consistant about the Atlanta Thrashers is that they're inconsistent - any aspect of their game could be on or off on any given night and while that isn't a good thing by any stretch, it does make them difficult to gameplan for.

Listen to Brad McCrimmon; tune out Don Waddell. Seriously, Waddell sucks.

Players to Watch

Alexander Ovechkin - With his four goal, five point night against the Habs Ovechkin pulled into the NHL lead in points and opened some space between himself and Thrashers' left wing Ilya Kovalchuk in the goal-scoring race. Look for Ovechkin to build off that momentum and prove to Thrashers fans who the best goal scorer in the NHL truly is.

Marian Hossa - Despite being named an all-star Hossa's play has been criticized this season by Atlanta fans and media alike and the winger's going to need to come up big time if the Thrashers want to win without Kovalchuk in the lineup.

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