Assorted StuffPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Today is the first time the Caps can catch their collective breath just a bit. The 2010-11 regular season got underway in Atlanta last Friday, and Washington got off to a busy start with four games in six nights. With that stretch now in the rear view, the Caps have consecutive days (Thursday, Friday) without a game for the first time this season. Washington had an optional practice at Kettler today, with most players participating. Injured skaters Tom Poti, Matt Bradley and Marcus Johansson were all on the ice as was recovering goaltender Semyon Varlamov. It’s too soon to tell which – if any – of the Caps’ ailing warriors will be able to suit up for Saturday night’s game in Nashville. More on that tomorrow prior to our afternoon departure to Music City. Here are a few other observations/random notes for a leisurely and rainy Thursday: * Alex Ovechkin played in his 400th NHL game last night. He scored his 273rd goal, and now has 536 points. Only four players scored more goals than Ovechkin through their first 400 games in the league: Wayne Gretzky (366), Mario Lemieux (320), Mike Bossy (319) and Brett Hull (312). They’re all Hockey Hall of Famers. * Is Michal Neuvirth like the starting pitcher in baseball who you have to get to early or not at all? Neuvirth has give up nine goals in four games this season. Four of those were scored in the first period, three in the second and just two in the third. For the second time in three games on the just-completed homestand, Neuvirth nailed the door shut after the opponent took a first-period lead, enabling the Caps to come back and win. * The Caps allowed the Islanders just one power play shot on goal in Wednesday’s win. During its current run of 15 straight successful penalty killing missions to start the 2010-11 season, Washington has allowed just 15 shots on goal during 29:37 of shorthanded ice time. * It has been 133 games (and the better part of two calendar years) since the Caps have put together a run of four straight regular season contests without allowing a power play goal against. You’ve got to go back to Dec. 7-13, 2008 to find the last time Washington achieved penalty killing perfection in a quartet of consecutive games. Washington went 18-for-18 on the kill in those four games against Carolina, Boston, Ottawa and Montreal. The Ottawa game was noteworthy because that is the game in which Brett “Stretch” Leonhardt dressed as the Capitals’ back-up goalie for the game, and the Montreal game marked the NHL debut of Varlamov. Varlamov stopped 32 of 33 shots in that game, and the Caps killed eight penalties without incident. * Goaltender Dany Sabourin has dressed for each of Washington’s first four games this season, but he was placed on waivers today. If he clears by tomorrow’s noon deadline, he will be reassigned to AHL Hershey. That personnel move means the Caps believe Varlamov is ready to play. Whether or not he starts on Saturday in Nashville remains to be seen. Whenever Varlamov does get back between the pipes, it will be his first game action since Sept. 22 when he played spotless hockey in the first half of the Caps’ first pre-season game in Columbus. Given the length of the layoff, and the fact that the injury interrupted Varlamov’s training camp, is Caps coach Bruce Boudreau worried about his young netminder’s return? Varlamov allowed six goals on just 28 shots in a 6-5 loss at Ottawa last Feb. 11 in returning from a two-month injury layoff. “I will always worry about it,” says Boudreau, “but I have the confidence in him that he’ll be able to do it. He only has about half a game under his belt as well, and it was a pre-season game. The good thing is it was a pre-season game where we were outshot a lot in the first half and he held them to nothing and he was outstanding. “I think that he was so prepared by coming here at the beginning of August, that this was a by-product of it. You see how hard he works out there, anyway. I’m hoping he is going to be ready.” * Looking ahead to this weekend’s visit to Nashville, the Predators may have goalie Pekka Rinne – who pitched a 3-0 shutout against the Caps in the Oct. 3 pre-season finale at Verizon Center – back in action for Saturday’s game. Rinne left the Preds’ season opener with a lower body injury, and rookie Anders Lindback started against and beat the Blackhawks last night for his first career NHL win. Lindback will get the call again tonight as the Preds return home to take on St. Louis. Nashville’s game against Washington on Saturday will be its third in four nights.
Washington hits the road for the second time this season today, heading to Nashville for a quick trip to face the Predators on Saturday night. This game marks the Caps’ first foray outside its conference this season, but Washington should be familiar with its foe because it played two of its six