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Morning Skate: Caps

Well, how do you follow a game against the top team in the Western Conference? With a game against the top team in the Eastern Conference of course! Detroit heads to the nation's capital tonight for a big game following two shootouot losses over the weekend.

  • The Chicago-Detroit game was one of the best regular season games I've ever watched. I've refrained from really doing a post about that game because I was just wiped out from the weekend and the week before. But it was indeed, one of the best games I've ever watched two teams play. The overtime was so intense that my hands were shaking as I watched. If the Wings play like that the rest of the year (which I don't really expect) then they will be in great shape.
  • How can you not love Patrick Eaves after that last game? Granted, Kris Versteeg isn't exactly Tie Domi in the fight department but Eaves dropped the gloves and hung in there (see after the jump) and landed some good punches of his own. In addition to the fight, Eaves scored a goal (although nobody watching on NBC got to see it live) and fought hard in the corners all game. He may have found a home in Detroit and I sure hope so. 
  • Last time these two teams met, waaaaaaaaay back on October 10, Detroit won 3-2 with goals from Ville Leino (what?), Jason Williams (who?), and Tomas Holmstrom. Chris Osgood got the W and Jose Theodore with the loss. It was the game after the Wing lost Johan Franzen to injury, that seems like a decade ago. This has been the longest half season I can remember.
  • Washington has an incredible offense. Scoring from top to bottom of the forwards and then the defenders have quite a few goals themselves. The Detroit defense has to be on top of its game again to keep the offense in this one. 9 players with 10+ goals and two 20+ goal scorers, that's some scoring depth.
  • Dan Cleary is a quiet difference maker. Cleary is working great in the defensive and neutral zone pressuring puck carriers. He doesn't have the takeaway numbers to show for it but definitely puts enough pressure on to move the puck
  • Time for a little Ovie lovin'. In my humble opinion, Alex Ovechkin is the best player on the planet. He is exceptional at every aspect of the game, and I mean every. He's only two back in goals for top in the League from Patrick Marleau (with 9 fewer games--injury, suspension). He's top 10 in the league in assists, a healthy 54% in the face-off circle, a league leading +28, produces turnovers, and oh--he hits everything that moves. The only thing is faulted for it seems is having questionable hits at times but otherwise, he is the best player in the NHL.
  • Last 10 games: Washington is 6-4 in it's last 10 games while Detroit is 5-2-3. Not bad by the Wings, especially since they could very easily be 7-2-1. 
  • Caps top scorer: Alex Ovechkin with 30 goals and 34 assists. Woah. Ovie has more goals than the top two Wings scorers. 
  • Japer's Rink is your Capitals link. Excellent, excellent blog and well worth the read. 
  • Caps out: Semyon Varlamov, John Erskine, Brian Pothier from what I've read.
  • Should be interesting to see how Theodore plays in net. Varlamov was a front runner for not only Calder but maybe even Vezina. Theodore is 13-7-4 with a 2.88 GAA and a .902 SV%.
  • In the AHL, the Griffins are on a slide recently. 3-7 in their last 10, oy.
  • How to beat the Caps: Well, same as Chicago. Keep the puck off the Caps sticks and on those of Detroit. Puck possession will be big this game as the Caps offense is incredibly high powered. Should be a low scoring game if the Wings can play tight defense.  
  • Key match-up to watch when the Red Wings are on the attack: Draper-Helm-Eaves line should be interesting to watch. So much energy on that line and Eaves played incredibly in the Chicago game and Helm is still playing like a well seasoned vet instead of a young kid. All three of them should be able to use their speed to find some creases in the  
  • Key match-up to watch when the Capitals are on the attack: No better match-up to watch than six time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom taking on Alex Ovechkin and the top line of the Capitals. 
  • Pre-game video:
    How can you not like Patrick Eaves? Smiling after the fight and a goal to go with it