Embarrassing, the only word to describe to Capitals performance against the Hurricanes Monday night. The team was out-skated, and out-classed from start to finish by the last place Canes. For a team clinging to the bottom rung of the playoffs a performance like that can linger and become an anchor. However the Capitals remain just 2 points behind Winnipeg and Toronto for the final playoff spot and equally 2 points behind Florida for the Southeast Division lead, so no time to feel sorry for themselves. All hope is not lost just yet for this team's playoff hopes, but it's getting bleak to say the least.
Tonight the Capitals travel to Canada's capital city of Ottawa to take on the Senators who currently sit in 7th in the Eastern Conference standings with 70 points. The Senators have been a bit of a surprise this year with most thinking they would be on the outside looking in come playoff time. And the Capitals a surprise for the exact opposite, most thought they would be near the top of the league around this time of the season. This is the 4th and final meeting between the 2 teams this year with the Capitals winning all 3 previous meetings. Despite the Capitals 3 wins it's hard for me to feel overly confident about tonight's game for a multitude of reasons. First off it's a road game and the Capitals have struggled mightily on the road this year. Also the Capitals are playing some of the worst hockey in recent Capital history with the exception of a win over the Panthers last Friday so to say confidence is lacking would be an understatement. If you look at the previous meetings all were closely fought battles where either team could have come out on top. Nicklas Backstrom scored in all 3 games for the Capitals, he won't be playing tonight and in a series where games have been decided by 1 or 2 goals it's tough to be without a guy who consistently lights the lamp against the Sens. Alex Ovechkin is a game-time decision tonight but if his attempt to practice today is any indication he will also be out, which will hopefully inspire the Caps to play harder since they'll be without their top player. The healthy scratch for the Caps tonight will be Roman Hamrlik as the Caps have begun to shop the under-performing veteran defenseman, there are a couple suitors though no deal has been finalized yet. Looking at the goal-tending match-up tonight the Caps will go with Tomas Vokoun who is 2-0 this year against the Sens while through his career struggling with them putting up a record of 5-11, with a GAA of 3.19, and a save % of .903. The Senators will send Craig Anderson to the crease, Anderson is 0-2 against the Caps this season and has a career record vs Washington of 5-4-1 with a GAA of 2.81 and a save % of .916. Expect to see this in just about everything I write about Caps games for the rest of this season.....tonight is a MUST WIN!
PLAYERS TO WATCH TONIGHT:
Troy Brouwer RW, Washington (Brouwer was one of the few Caps who looked interested on Monday, and he has 2 goals against the Sens this year)
Erik Karlsson D, Ottawa (Karlsson is a dynamic 2 way defender who can really fly, and has been on a hot streak lately)