Oct. 30 vs. Calgary Flames at Pengrowth Saddledome
Time: 9:00 pm
TV: Comcast SportsNet
Radio: SportsTalk 980 AM
LINK: http://www.washingtoncaps.com/news/news.asp?story_id=4272Washington Capitals (3-3-4)Calgary Flames (3-5-1)Matchup
The Capitals conclude their longest road trip of the season on Monday night against the Flames in Calgary, playing their fourth game in six nights. Washington is 1-1-1 on the current trip to date, and is 1-1-2 against Northwest Division foes this season. After Monday?s game in Calgary, the Caps will not leave the Eastern time zone for the remainder of the 2006-07 season.
After winning in Colorado on Wednesday and taking a point in a shootout loss to Vancouver on Friday, the Capitals suffered a 4-0 shutout to the Oilers and Dwayne Roloson in Edmonton on Saturday.
Caps coach Glen Hanlon tried to jolt the road-weary Caps with a few lineup changes on Saturday, hoping fresh legs would help combat the natural sluggishness that goes with playing three games in four nights, and changing time zones for each one.
?I thought they all played well,? he said when asked to assess the play of Bryan Muir, Brooks Laich and Boyd Gordon after Saturday?s loss. ?We?re never happy with losing a hockey game. But it?s almost a better feeling tonight than it was for the point that we took in Vancouver. This is a long process and I think we?re farther ahead tonight than we were [Friday night].?
The reason Hanlon felt better after Saturday?s loss is that the Capitals actually played better in many areas against Edmonton than they had in Vancouver. Washington limited Edmonton to 28 shots on goal, the second fewest it has permitted in any game this season. During one stretch of 8:55 and another of 10:21, the Caps held Edmonton without a shot on goal. In each of their two prior outings, the Caps struggled mightily to clear their own zone and break the puck out efficiently.
?To come into the rink here and have stretches of 10-12 minutes and not give up shots, is an accomplishment,? said Hanlon. ?But we?re talking about achievement here now, and we want to win.?
Washington?s goaltending has been extremely good lately. Both Olie Kolzig (.910 save pct. this season) and Brent Johnson (.926) have given the Capitals a chance to win virtually every game this season. Kolzig had to make more than 40 saves in each of the first two games of the trip to enable Washington to collect three points.
?One thing we wanted to focus on was not letting them have 40 shots or whatever they?ve had the last two games,? said defenseman Ben Clymer. ?So it was good from the standpoint that we were able to limit their shots. But obviously we didn?t win the game and we let four in. It was a frustrating game.?
Although the Capitals were blanked for the first time this season in Edmonton, they went into that contest tied for fourth in the league in goals per game. Washington?s power play has been effective of late (5-for-18 in last five games, 26.3%), but the Caps haven?t had many manpower advantages, mainly because they?ve been playing too much in their own end and without the puck.
?It felt like we had a better effort than [Friday], when we came away with a point,? said center Brian Sutherby after the Edmonton game. ?I thought we did some things better and maybe deserved a little bit better fate. But there are definitely still some things we have to clean up and things we have to do to become a better hockey club. We?ll work on those things and get better for Monday.?
Washington has clicked on 16.7% of its manpower advantages this season, the 15th best rate in the league. The Capitals rank 23rd in the league in penalty killing with a kill rate of 80.3%.
Calgary is 1-3-1 in its last five games and is bringing up the rear of the Northwest Division. The Flames struggled offensively in the early going this season, netting just five goals in their first four games. Calgary opened things up a bit after that, pouring home 16 goals in its next four games.
The Flames are in the midst of a span in which they play five times in eight nights. Calgary is 2-2 at home this season, and is coming off a 3-2 home ice loss to the Nashville Predators on Saturday night.
The Caps won their last visit to Calgary, a 4-1 win on Mar. 20, 2003, and are unbeaten in their last six games against the Flames (4-0-2) overall. Calgary?s last win over the Caps came at MCI Center on Mar. 13, 1999. The Flames took a 5-4 overtime decision that night, scoring twice in the final 1:30 of regulation and taking home two points on Valeri Bure?s game-winner in the extra session.
Going into Sunday?s NHL action, the Flames ranked 24th in the NHL in power play prowess with a 12.3% success rate. Calgary has clicked on six of 24 (25%) power play tries in its last four games. The Flames rank 20th in the league in penalty killing efficiency with a kill rate of 81.4%
Notes: Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf, a runner-up to Alex Ovechkin for the 2005-06 Calder Trophy, missed Saturday?s game with Nashville because of the flu. It?s the first game Phaneuf has missed in the NHL; he was one of four Flames to play in all 82 games last season ? Flames goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff is the only netminder in the league who has played all of his team?s minutes in goal thus far this season ? Former Cap and current Flames left wing Jeff Friesen is without a goal in his last 25 games.