Thursday, October 4, 2007

Game #1 Washington Capitals at Atlanta Thrashers

Where: Philips Arena, Atlanta, GA

When: October 5, 2007, 7:30 PM

History:
Caps Record on this Date: 3-3-0-0
Caps Game 1 Record: 15-15-2-0
All-Time vs. ATL: 20-14-5-3
Last Season vs. ATL: 3-3-2
Last Meeting: 4/4/07, WAS 3 ATL 2

This Year:
WAS Record: 0-0-0
Division Rank: Tied 1st
Conference Rank: Tied 1st

ATL Record: 0-0-0
Division Rank: Tied 1st
Conference Rank: Tied 1st

Probable Line-Ups:
Washington
Forward Line 1: 8 Ovechkin, 25 Kozlov, 43 Fleischmann
Forward Line 2: 28 Semin, 92 Nylander, 19 Backstrom
Forward Line 3: 18 Pettinger, 15 B.Gordon, 17 Clark
Forward Line 4: 87 Brashear, 16 Sutherby, 21 Laich
Defense Pair 1: 3 Poti, 23 Jurcina
Defense Pair 2: 2 Pothier, 26 Morrisonn
Defense Pair 3: 4 Erskine, 52 Green
Goalie: 37 Kolzig
Back-up Goalie: 1 Johnson
Scratch: 10 Bradley, 39 Steckel, 55 Schultz

Atlanta
Forward Line 1: 17 Kovalchuk, 12 White, 18 Hossa
Forward Line 2: 13 Kozlov, 16 Holik, 9 Dupuis
Forward Line 3: 11 Perrin, 44 Little, 53 Sterling
Forward Line 4: 29 Larsen, 23 Slater, 27 Thorburn,
Defense Pair 1: 77 Zhitnik, 28 Havelid
Defense Pair 2: 2 Exelby, 22 Klee
Defense Pair 3: 5 McCarthy, 41 Enstrom
Goalie: 32 Lehtonen
Back-up Goalie: 1 Hedberg
Scratch: 36 Boulton, 7 Popovic

Injuries:
Washington – 14 Fehr (hip), 44 Eminger (ankle)
Atlanta – 20 Rucchin (concussion)

Caps Milestones:
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 Goals to reach 100 for his career
Alex Ovechkin needs 2 Points to reach 200 for his career

Preview:

The Caps finished the preseason with a 3-3-1 record and open the regular season in Atlanta. These two teams traditionally do not get along well. They recorded 342 penalty minutes in their 8 meetings last season. This includes the November 22nd game where they racked up 176 minutes most of which came in the 3rd period and featured 5 fights and 3 suspensions for instigating. An interesting side note was Alexander Semin and Marion Hossa not playing nicely together. Not sure of the reason but these guys just do not like each other.

Most likely Kari Lehtonen will start in goal for Atlanta. I’m sure Alex Ovechkin can’t wait to get out there; in his two years in the league he has scored more goals against Atlanta (14) than any other team in the league and more goals against Lehtonen (11) than any other goalie in the league. He also has 14 Assists and 2 Game Winning Goals vs. the Thrashers. I’m sure Kari is looking forward to seeing him too.

The team is focused on getting to the playoffs this year. The Owner, Ted Leonsis, has publicly stated that the Capitals rebuilding program has ended. The general feeling is the team now has the personnel and experience to compete for a playoff spot. To do this they need to be better in their own division. The division play is the key as they play 32 games against 4 teams. Last season the Caps went 11-15-6 in the division for 28 standings points. In my opinion, they need to be somewhere in the 40 to 45 point range in the division to be competing for a playoff spot come March. I think they have the ability to do it. It all starts with Atlanta, a division foe, Let Go Caps!

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