By Leslie Silvey
After drubbing the elite Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, the Capitals packed up their gear and headed towards the oil sands of Western Canada for this week’s matchups with the Edmonton Oilers and the Western Conference champion Vancouver Canucks.
As we all know, the Caps are off to a red hot start and boast the League’s top power play thus far this young season. The additions of Troy Brouwer, Joel Ward, Roman Hamrlik and Jeff Halpern have provided depth, chemistry and net presence while Tomas Vokoun’s performance against the Wings and .944 save percentage earned him NHL Third Star of the Week honors. Young stars Marcus Johansson and Mathieu Perreault have been tough to stifle with four and three goals on the season respectively, while our jovial captain tallied two goals and two assists in the last two games. Mike Green had a brilliant showing against Detroit with two goals and two assists. He suffered a twisted ankle during the Detroit game but will be travelling with the team out west. Meanwhile, Sean Collins has been summoned up from Hershey in case the defense needs additional reinforcements.
In addition to the toll of travel and time zone changes that wreak havoc on the internal clock, the Caps will have their work cut out for them on this west coast swing, most certainly against the offense-laden Canucks, led by the Sedin twins (who I am convinced possess some sort of supernatural twin powers). Thursday brings a contest against a struggling Oilers team, whose most gifted scorers have not yet found their magic touch. As of this writing, the team has only put up eight points on the season and none of them have come from the team’s big names Jordan Eberle, Shawn Horcoff or Magnus Paajarvi. Despite their offensive woes, Edmonton is scary strong defensively with a 1.43% goals against (GA) average and have elder statesman Nikolai Khabibulin standing stingily in their net.
The bigger test on this road swing comes on Saturday night when the men in red face the wonder twin Sedins and their Canuck colleagues. Vancouverites will be watching former Florida Panther sniper David Booth, who was acquired in a surprising trade this past weekend. Booth will skate on a second line along with American players Ryan Kesler and Chris Higgins. The Capitals defense will also be busy keeping the Sedins out of the visitors’ paint. Captain Daniel Sedin leads the team with 12 points while twin Henrik isn’t far behind with 10 of his own.
This west coast jaunt marks the first multiple-game road trip of the season for the league-leading Capitals; they should return victorious if they play the next two road games the way they’ve performed at Verizon Center of late!