Friday, October 8, 2010

Preview: Devils @ Capitals

New Jersey Devils @ Washington Capitals

Washington: 0-1-0, 0 points; 54-15-13, 121 points, 1st in EC last season
Leading scorer last season: Alex Ovechkin, 50-59-109
Fenwick% last season: 51.5%
Probable starting goalie: Michal Neuvirth
Player to watch: The fourth line center--Matt Hendricks, David Steckel, or Boyd Gordon

New Jersey: 0-0-1, 1 point; 48-27-7, 103 points, 2nd in East last season
Leading scorer last season: Zach Parise, 38-44-82
Fenwick% last season: 51.8%
Probable starting goalie: Martin Brodeur; Johan Hedberg would not be surprising
Player to watch: coach John Maclean (I know, I know, he's not a player...)

The Capitals go from facing Ilya Kovalchuk's old team to his new one. Both teams will be playing the second of a back-to-back, with the Capitals having dropped a 4-2 decision in Atlanta before flying to Washington and the Devils falling at home, 4-3 in overtime to Dallas. In terms of shots, both teams played fairly even games. It looks to me like the Devils and Stars started even, but the Devils jumped out ahead 2-0. In the 2nd, the Stars had most of the shots, and it was reversed in the third. The line of Zach Parise-Travis Zajac-Ilya Kovalchuk picked up two goals, while the Caps' top line picked one one marker.

This New Jersey squad probably underwhelmed in their season opener too, but on the other hand are much better than the Thrashers. The Devils are icing a bona-fide shut down defenseman in Anton Volchenkov, and at least two bona-fide two way forwards in Zach Parise and Travis Zajac. The Capitals will have to play much, much better, and much, much faster than against Atlanta.

According to In Lou We Trust, the Devils made lots of mistakes, especially from their blueline, in their season-opening loss. If they continue that trend, the Capitals will cream them. I think the Devils will be better, but still have not ironed everything out. As long as the Capitals' D move the puck up the ice more quickly, they should be able to contain the Devils' deep group of forwards.

Capitals 3, Devils 2.

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