The Capitals are inching closer to the 10-game mark in the 2015-16 regular season and they have gotten off to a pretty good start. After winning five-straight games that includes a sweep of Western Canada, the Capitals suffered a 3-1 setback on Wednesday night against Metropolitan Division foe Pittsburgh Penguins. Friday, they face another Metropolitan Division opponent as the Columbus Blue Jackets make their first trip to Washington this season.
The Capitals and Blue Jackets had very spirited contests in 2014-15. There were many goals and lots of fights/scrums in their games. In their 5 meetings last season, the Capitals went 3-1-1 against the Blue Jackets. All 5 games were decided by 2 goals or less. Check out these couple of scraps from last December’s meeting with Columbus:
This is the first of four meetings between the Capitals and Blue Jackets this season. They will not see each other again until right after New Years on January 2 in Columbus.
SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
After beginning the season 0-7, the Columbus Blue Jackets made a head coaching change. They fired Todd Richards and brought in John Tortorella. You may remember Tortorella from his Rangers days:
The Jackets have now won a couple of games under Tortorella’s watch, but they have a lot of work to do in order to get out of their 2-8 hole.
Led by Ryan Johansen and Nick Foligno, the Jackets have a potent forward group that scores some goals. There is a good mix of speed and grit with this group. I would describe the Jackets as a very scrappy team. Scott Hartnell, Brandon Dubinsky, Boone Jenner, and Jared Boll round out the scrappiness part of the Jackets lineup.
Where the Blue Jackets have their weak spot is their defensive core. Jack Johnson plays a bulk of the minutes for the Jackets on the blueline, and 2012 2nd overall pick Ryan Murray is still trying to come into his own as a top-pair NHL defenseman.
Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky has not gotten off to an ideal start. He has only 2 wins, a 3.99 goals against average, and .864 save percentage. While he has had a rocky start, he is still capable of stealing games for the Blue Jackets on any given night.
WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
The Capitals are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a game where they did not play poorly. They came out flat in the first period, and took some early penalties which killed a bit of their momentum.
The Capitals actually ended up outshooting 34-25 and killed a Penguins lengthy 5-on-3 powerplay early, but goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was very good all game for the Penguins. The Capitals did not help themselves by going 0 for 3 on their powerplay, and they could have used a powerplay tally in the third period.
What the Capitals need to fix is giving up goals that come right after they score goals. The Penguins scored their tying goal within 30 seconds of the Capitals scoring their opening goal. The Penguins scored their second goal within a couple of minutes of scoring their first goal.
The Capitals errors involve mental lapses in games. When the Capitals blow defensive coverage for just a few seconds, goals end up in their own net. Unfortunately, most of the goals other teams score against the Capitals come right after the Capitals score their goals.
After the Capitals play the Jackets tonight, they will hop on the jet and head south down to Sunrise, FL to play the Florida Panthers on Halloween. Their short road trip continues as they then depart to the Big Apple and they will face the NY Rangers on Tuesday.
Friday, October 30, 2015 – CSN-DC, FS-O; 7 PM ET
Columbus Blue Jackets
Brandon Dubinsky – Ryan Johansen – Cam Atkinson
Scott Hartnell – Alexander Wennberg – Nick Foligno
Boone Jenner – William Karlsson – Matt Calvert
Rene Bourque – Gregory Campbell – David Clarkson
Jack Johnson – David Savard
Fedor Tyutin – Dalton Prout
Ryan Murray – Cody Goloubef
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Justin Williams
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson
Michael Latta – Brooks Laich – Andre Burakovsky
Brooks Orpik – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – Nate Schmidt
Blue Jackets – Nick Foligno: The 27-year old Buffalo, NY native and Jackets Captain is coming off a 31-goal and 73-point campaign from last season. He is a complete player and does a little bit of everything for the Jackets. His presence is known most on the Jackets powerplay, as he is good at finding the soft spots and good at getting around the net. While he only has 1 goal so far this year, he has the ability to light the lamp anytime he is on the ice.
Capitals – Evgeny Kuznetsov: He was the NHL’s 1st Star of the Week last week after he registered 9 points in three games. He continued his scoring ways on Wednesday night as he tallied the Capitals only goal of the game. “Kuzya” is on the verge of a breakout season for the Capitals and he only gets stronger in games as the games roll along. His chemistry with Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie has been phenomenal and it continues to get better. Kuznetsov has registered 4 goals and 12 points in 8 games this season.
By George Foussekis