Rabid Habs

Game Day Preview: Habs vs. Capitals

The Canadiens will get their first chance to put together consecutive wins tonight when they head to Washington D.C. to take on the Washington Capitals.

Both Montreal and Washington come in to Saturday night’s contest having won their first game. Washington also won via the shootout by a score of 5-4 when they met the Ottawa Senators on Thursday night. Alexander Ovechkin had an opening night hat trick and the shootout winner while Evegny Kuznetsov had a strong game with three assists. The Caps captured two points in their season opener despite never having the lead.

Similarly, the Canadiens never held a lead in Buffalo and still came out on top thanks to stellar goaltending from Carey Price and a silky smooth backhand shot by Jonathan Drouin.

After putting four goals up against a typically stingy Ottawa team, the Caps will be a handful for your Montreal Canadiens. Additionally, Montreal may need to weather an early storm fueled by the Caps faithful, as tonight’s match will be Washington’s first at home.

Since the season is still brand new, here’s how each team looked last year:

 

Montreal Team Washington
47-26-9 (103 pts) Record 55-19-8 (118 pts)
226 (15th) Goals For 263 (3rd)
200 (4th) Goals Against 182 (1st)
19.57% (13th) Powerplay 22.98% (4th)
81.12% (14th) Penalty Kill 83.82% (7th)

 

Last year, Washington took the season series 2-1, with the road team winning each game. It is important to note that Michel Therrien was the coach for all three of those games, and Claude Julien now gets his first crack at a chess match with Barry Trotz.

Know Your Enemy

The Capitals are almost unrecognizable from the team that took the ice last year. With Nate Schmidt being selected by Vegas in the expansion draft, and Karl Alzner joining Montreal, the Caps blue-line will rely on youngsters like Taylor Chorney and Aaron Ness to make big steps forward. Up front, Washington’s key pieces remain in place. Kuznetsov has taken over as first line centre with Ovechkin on his wing, while Nicklas Backstrom and T.J. Oshie remain key offensive players in Washington.

The Capitals have taken criticism this year by being a shadow of the team they used to be, but some of that seems a bit overplayed. Up front, Jakub Vrana is the only player with little NHL experience, and he looked decent in his first game this season. Washington may lean on him a bit to provide secondary scoring, but it would be a bit hypocritical of a Habs blogger to criticize a team for relying on young talent (see Mete, Victor).

Look, I don’t think this is the President’s Trophy contending Capitals, but they’re still a tough out. With Ovechkin notching a hat trick in his first game and Vezina winner Brayden Holtby between the pipes, no one should take this Capitals team lightly.

The Lineups

Claude Julien confirmed there would be no changes in the Habs lineup against the Caps

On the Capitals’ side of things, Australian Nathan Walker will make his NHL debut tonight

Walker will be the first Australian native to play in the NHL. He’s the only Capitals lineup change tonight.

Carey Price and Brayden Holtby will the goalies.

Once again, I’ve talked too much. Enjoy the game everyone. Go Habs Go!

Radio: TSN690

Watch: TVAS, City, NBCSWA, NHL.tv

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