Looking ahead at the Caps' next four opponents

Looking ahead at the Caps' next four opponents
January 28, 2013, 9:15 pm
Share This Post

The Capitals play four games in six days this week, beginning Tuesday against the Ottawa Senators and ending Super Bowl Sunday against the Pittsburgh Penguins. In-between, the Caps also visit the Toronto Maple Leafs and host the Philadelphia Flyers.

Below is a look at this week’s opponents. All numbers are through Monday.

TUESDAY, JAN. 29 @ OTTAWA SENATORS (3-1-1; 2ND PLACE NORTHEAST DIVISION)

The Senators enter Tuesday’s game against the Capitals looking to snap a two-game losing streak, which includes Sunday’s 2-1 shootout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Reigning Norris Trophy winner Erik Karlsson has picked up where he left off last season, with three goals and five points through five games. 

The Senators are also reaping the benefits from a full (albeit abbreviated) season from forward Kyle Turris. Ottawa acquired Turris in a mid-season trade last year from the Phoenix Coyotes and the former third overall pick leads the team with four goals and five points in five games. 

Craig Anderson has impressed as well this season with a 3-0-1 record, a league-best 0.74 goals-against-average and .975 save percentage entering Monday’s games.

THURSDAY, JAN. 31 @ TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS (2-3-0; T-4TH PLACE NORTHEAST DIVISION)

When the Capitals visit Toronto on Thursday, the Maple Leafs will still be seeking their first home win of the season (Toronto is 0-2-0 at the Air Canada Centre, with a road game Tuesday in Buffalo). 

The Maple Leafs are dealing with early season injuries to top-six forwards Joffrey Lupol (broken forearm) and Clark MacArthur (finger), while last year’s leading scorer Phil Kessel has been held to just two assists through five games.

The Maple Leafs promoted James Van Riemsdyk (three goals and an assist in five games) to their No.1 line at practice Monday in hopes of jumpstarting Kessel and top-line center Tyler Bozak. 

On the backend, defenseman Dion Phaneuf has averaged 27:56 of ice-time per game- second most in the NHL behind only L.A’s Drew Doughty (28:58)-  but the Leafs captain also owns a league-worst minus-8 rating.

Former Capitals center David Steckel has been a healthy scratch in four of Toronto’s first five games this season.

FRIDAY, FEB. 1 VS. PHILADELPHIA FLYERS (2-4-0; 5TH PLACE ATLANTIC DIVISION)

The Capitals begin a three-game homestand Friday when they host the Philadelphia Flyers for the only time this season.

Philadelphia began the year with three straight losses, but the Flyers have since won two of three overall. Former Capitals forward Mike Knuble signed with Philadelphia on Friday and the 40-year-old has one assist and one shot on goal through two games.

Matt Read had a hat-trick in Philadelphia’s 7-1 win over the Florida Panthers last Saturday, and his three goals for the season are tops among all Flyers.

SUNDAY, FEB. 3 VS. PITTSBURGH PENGUINS (3-2-0; 2ND PLACE ATLANTIC DIVISON)

The Capitals host the Pittsburgh Penguins on Super Bowl Sunday for the second time in four years. The Caps beat the Penguins 5-4 in overtime on Feb. 7, 2010 to set a franchise record with their 14th straight win. 

The usual suspects are among Pittsburgh’s leading scorers this year with Evgeni Malkin leading the way with a goal and six points through five games. Sidney Crosby has chipped in with three goals and five points, while James Neal leads the team with four goals for the season. 

With Sunday’s game at Verizon Center representing Pittsburgh’s second game in as many days (they host the New Jersey Devils on Saturday afternoon), it is possible that backup goalie Tomas Vokoun could face his former team.

Vokoun is 1-1-0 with a 3.03 GAA and .908SV% through Monday.

The Capitals are 14-6-2 all-time on Super Bowl Sunday (14-5-1 all-time in home games on Super Bowl Sunday).