The Capitals (4-3-1) will take on the Nashville Predators tonight, playing for the first time since 2006 without Alex Ovechkin. Ovechkin will be in Russia tending to his ill grandfather. The date of his return is still uncertain, but Alex will definitely miss Saturday night’s game at Buffalo, while the Senators’ game on Election Day is still in question.
Although he has only accumulated 5 points in 8 games (regular NHL player standards=great, Ovechkin standards= what’s wrong with AO?), his presence on the ice will be missed greatly. This means that Brooks Laich will most likely be paired with Backstrom and Kozlov on the first line. The second line and defensive pairings are still up in the air. There is a possibility to put Fedorov on the blue line, inserting both Eric Fehr and David Steckel into the second line to accompany the NHL’s leader in points, Alexander Semin.
Nashville (4-4) comes into D.C. for the first time since beating Washington 5-2 in 2005 . They have won two of the past three games and sport a 4.2 goals-per-game average in their last five games.
Dan Ellis will be the likely starter for the Preds who have conceded 23 goals in the past five games. The Predators' problems don’t end there as their Power Play (17.1%) and Penalty Kill (75.6%) both rank in the bottom half of the league and are both worse than Washington’s special teams.
Brent Johnson will get the start, giving Jose Theodore a break after starting all three games on the road trip. Johnny owns a 5-2-1 (one tie) career record against Nashville with a 1.60 GAA and .937 save percentage. In addition, Johnson earned a shutout against the Predators in 2003, his last shutout recorded as a member of the Blues.
Sergei Fedorov- Sergei has six points in his last six games, including a two goal performance in the win against Dallas. He has the most games played against Nashville among active Capitals players and averages 1.1 points-per-game on Tuesdays (how’s that for useful statistics?).
Tomas Fleischmann- I think this is the year that Fleischmann has a break-out season. In just eight games, he has already compiled 30% of the goals he scored in 75 games in all of last year.
Jason Arnott- Jason averages close to a point a game verses Washington. Also, Arnott has seven points in just five games played this year (missed three games with a broken finger).
Patric Hörnqvist- Hörnqvist was “Mr. Irrelevant” of the 2005 NHL Draft (same round as Sergei Kostitsyn) and has spent the past three years playing in the Swedish Elite League. Now in his first year, he leads all rookies in shots on goal and is among the top 5 in rookie points and top 5 in average ice time for rookie forwards.
Note: I thought about using this picture, but decided against it...