Tonight, les Canadiens visit the American capital to take on Washington. Lead by rookie phenom Alex Ovechkin, Washington has struggled overall this season with an 11-19-2 record. Last night they were successful with a 6-5 road win over the Atlanta Thrashers. Thanks to the shootout, which Ovechkin was the only player to score, the Capitals were able to earn 2 points in the high scoring game. Washington’s specialty teams have been brutal this season, with the powerplay ranked 29th, and the penalty killing 30th. During last night’s game, the Capitals powerplay was successful scoring 3 times in 8 chances. However, their penalty killing allowed 3 goals in 9 chances.
Despite Washington’s record, Montreal can not take this team for granted. In their last match on November 19, the Habs had one of the best records in the league. However, the Capitals trounced the Habs 5-1 in Montreal that night, and the club’s record has been 4-6-3 since that date. That loss was particularly humiliating since Montreal out shot Washington 44-20. Forward Brian Sutherby lead the way with 2 goals that night, while goaltender Ollie Kolzig played an outstanding game.
Montreal will have to continue to cope with the loss of captain Saku Koivu, who remained in Montreal due to the groin injury that was reaggravated in last Saturday’s game against Minnesota. Koivu is uncertain when he’ll return to play, but did admit that he played more minutes in Minnesota than he should have played, leading to the injury. Jose Theodore is also unlikely to start tonight, so Cristobal Huet will get his third consecutive start. Jose did practise lightly this week. “I’m feeling better, but the strength isn’t there and there’s still some soreness”, referring to his knee injury. Perhaps the Habs can take advantage of a little fatigue with the Capitals playing in Atlanta last night, by upsetting Washington at home to even their season series.
Possible Line Combinations & Defensive Pairings:
Richard Zednik – Jan Bulis – Alexei Kovalev
Pierre Dagenais – Mike Ribeiro – Michael Ryder
Niklas Sundstrom – Steve Begin – Chris Higgins
Mathieu Dandenault – Garth Murray – Alexander Perezhogin
Craig Rivet – Andrei Markov
Mark Streit/Mathieu Dandenault – Sheldon Souray
Mike Komisarek – Francis Bouillon
Injuries & Scratches: Saku Koivu [C, groin, indefinitely], Jose Theodore [G, knee, day to day], Tomas Plekanec [C, knee, 4-6 weeks], Radek Bonk [C, groin tear, indefinitely]
Alex Ovechkin – Dainius Zubrus – Brook Laich
Matt Pettinger – Jeff Halpern – Chris Clark
Ben Clymer – Brian Sutherby – Matt Bradley
Mathieu Biron – Andrew Cassels – Brian Willsie
Brendan Witt – Steve Eminger
Jamie Heward – Bryan Muir
Ivan Majesky – Shaonne Morisonn
Injuries & Scratches: Jeff Friesen [F, groin surgery, indefinitely], Ollie Kolzig [G, healthy]
Starting Goalies: Montreal, Cristobal Huet; Washington, Brent Johnson
Habs Notes: The Canadiens placed 6 players on various Olympic teams this week: Saku Koivu (Finland), Alexi Kovalev & Andrei Markov [Russia], Richard Zednik (Slovakia), Jan Bulis (Czech Republic), Mark Streit [Switzerland]… Mark Streit failed to play a single shift in last Tuesday’s game, possibly due to the lingering affects of the flu… …Andrei Markov extended his point streak to eight games, notching two goals and seven assists in that span…Pierre Dagenais has now scored on both of his shootout opportunities…Who’s Hot: Michael Ryder [2 G, 1 A, 2 Games], Mike Ribeiro [7 A, 7 Games], Niklas Sundstrom [2 G, 1 A, 4 Games], Andrei Markov [1 G, 2A, 2 Games]…Who’s Cold: Steve Begin [0 Points, 5 Games], Pierre Dagenais [0 Points, 4 Games], Alexander Perezhogin [0 Points, 4 Games]
Capitals Notes: The Capitals placed 2 players on various Olympic teams this week: Ollie Kolzig [Gremany], Ivan Majesky [Slovakia], Ovechkin leads the NHL in shootout goals with five…On December 18, the Capitals recorded a club record 55 shots on goal against Florida, but managed to lose 3-2….Who’s Hot: Alexander Ovechkin [1 G, 3 A, 2 Games], Dainius Zubrus [1 G, 1 A, 2 Games], Brian Sutherby [2 G, 1 A, 4 Games], Jamie Heward [3 G, 4 A, 5 Games], Shaone Morrisonn [3 A, 3 Games], Mathieu Biron [1 G, 1 A, 2 Games]…Who’s Cold: Matt Bradley [0 Points, 5 Games], Andrew Cassels [1 A, 5 Games], Bryan Muir [0 Points, 4 Games]