Game Day Preview: Islanders @ Capitals


The Washington Capitals hoped to start their season on the right note with a road victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins, but ultimately fell short in a 3-2 shootout loss on Thursday. They will look to get their first notch in the win column in the 2016-17 season when they make their home debut Saturday evening against another Metropolitan Division rival: the New York Islanders. 

The Capitals hoped that Thursday night’s contest would act as a salve to soothe some of the wounds from last season’s second-round loss at the hands of the Penguins, outshooting Pittsburgh 41 to 30 as Penguins goalie Marc Andre Fleury was forced to withstand an onslaught of sustained Capitals offense, born most consistently by the all-Swedish second line Marcus Johansson, Nicklas Backstrom, and Andre Burakovsky fittingly referred to as the “Tre Kronor” line.

Having at least earned a point during a critical divisional road game, Washington can now turn their attention to the New York Islanders. The Islanders are becoming more familiar with their surroundings now that they’re starting their second season in Brooklyn, but the team has undergone significant changes since last spring. Gone are cornerstone players like Kyle Okposo, a reliable power forward who signed a six-year contract with the Buffalo Sabres, and Frans Nielsen, one of the most reliable two-way players in the game who took his talents to the Detroit Red Wings. In addition to the loss of skill, the Islanders also lost heavyweight winger Matt Martin, the perennial league leader in hits and penalty minutes over the last few seasons.

While the Capitals will certainly look to contain offensive heavyweights such as Tavares and Andrew Ladd (signed to a seven-year, $34.5 million deal in July), all eyes will be on Jason Chimera, who will take the ice at Verizon Center in a visitor’s uniform for the first time since being acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in the 2009-10 season.

A longtime fan favorite, Chimera signed a two-year deal with the Islanders during the offseason, and will be charged with filling some of the scoring void that remains from winger Kyle Okposo’s departure to the Buffalo Sabres during free agency. Braden Holtby will get the start for the Capitals. Thomas Greiss will be between the pipes for the Islanders.

PROJECTED LINEUPS:
Washington Capitals

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Andre Burakovsky
Zach Sanford – Lars Eller – Justin Williams
Daniel Winnik – Jay Beagle – Tom Wilson

Defensemen
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – John Carlson
Brooks Orpik – Nate Schmidt

Goaltenders
Braden Holtby
Phillip Grubauer

New York Islanders

Forwards
Andrew Ladd – John Tavares – Jason Chimera
Shane Prince – Brock Nelson – Josh Bailey
Anders Lee – Ryan Strome – Matt Barzal
Nikolay Kulemin – Casey Cizikas – Cal Clutterbuck

Defensemen
Nick Leddy – Travis Hamonic
Thomas Hickey – Johnny Boychuck
Calvin de Haan – Dennis Seidenberg

Goaltenders
Thomas Greiss
Jaroslav Halak

The full rosters for Saturday night’s home opener.

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Mike Vogel’s pre-game report is right here:

By Keith Leonard

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Home opener: 10/15/16

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