Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Preview: Islanders @ Capitals

New York Islanders @ Washington Capitals

Washington: 2-1-0, 4 points
Leading scorer: Alex Ovechkin, 3-2-5
Tied Fenwick% last season: 51.1%
Probable starting goalie: Michal Neuvirth (2-1-0, 2.62, .916)
Player to watch: G Michal Neuvirth

New York: 1-0-1, 3 points
Leading scorer: Blake Comeau (3-1-4) and Josh Bailey (1-3-4)
Tied Fenwick% last season: 48.4%
Probable starting goalie: Rick DiPietro (1-0-1, 3.84, .855)
Player to watch: F Frans Nielsen

The Islanders are...something. A popular pick to finish near the bottom of the East, they've already lost world-class defenseman Mark Streit, top offensive threat Johnathan Tavares, and scoring winger Kyle Okposo--their three best player--to injury. Ouch.

Meanwhile, the Capitals will be without Tom Poti, Marcus Johansson, and Matt Bradley. That means DJ King, David Steckel, and Tyler Sloan will be in the lineup. At practice Bruce Boudreau reportedly was using Tomas Fleischmann as the top-line center, bumping Nicklas Backstrom down to 2nd-line center. If this change is simply for this game, it may not be too bad. The Capitals will need their depth to come through, and Nielsen, their top defensive forward, is guaranteed to be out against Ovechkin as frequently as possible. That leaves a hole for Alexander Semin to fill, and Nicklas Backstrom can help him immensely. If I were the coach, though, I certainly wouldn't make this change.

I expect the Islanders to play the Capitals fairly tight, as they always seem to do. Rick DiPietro is a good goalie (then again, the Caps saw a better goalie on Saturday, and look how that turned out), and Frans Nielsen should have Ovechkin and Backstrom under wraps pretty decently. It'll come down to the depth again, but with the injuries the Islanders have, coupled with the Caps' discipline this far, I can't see them winning. The Isles lose at evens and they probably lose on special teams too. Capitals 4, Islanders 2.

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