Friday, November 25, 2011

Capitals next five games

The Capitals have rebounded from their four game losing streak with wins in their last two games. Here is a look at the Capitals next five opponents:

Nov. 25 vs. New York Rangers- The Capitals welcome the Rangers to the Verizon Center for the first time since Game 5 of last season's Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. This is the first meeting between the two clubs since the Capitals ousted the Rangers four games to one last spring and should be an intense matchup. The Rangers come into the game on a two-game losing streak that follows a seven-game winning streak. The off-season addition of Brad Richards has paid some dividends for the Rangers as Marion Gabrik is on pace for a 40-goal season. But, Richards has just 13 points in 18 games and needs to be more productive then that if the Rangers hope to move passed the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2007.

Nov. 26 @ Buffalo Sabres- The Sabres currently sit third in the Northeast Division and have gone just 2-2-1 in Ryan Miller's absence. Thomas Vanek and Jason Pominville are off to great starts combining for 49 points in the teams' first 21 games. But, the team is still averaging just 2.8 goals a game and Enroth hasn't exactly been a wall, evidenced by allowing the defending Stanley Cup champion Bruins come back from a two-goal deficit on Wednesday night on home ice. The Sabres have also dropped three in a row at home, so expect a strong effort.

Nov. 29 vs. St. Louis Blues- The Capitals welcome the Blues to the Verizon Center for the only meeting between the two this season. The Blues have gone 5-1-2 since the hiring of Ken Hitchcock including a 3-2 overtime win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday in Pittsburgh. The Capitals swept the Blues last season including a 3-2 win at Verizon Center Mar. 3 in which current Blue Jason Arnott scored the game winning goal. The Blues are not an offensive juggernaut as their top two scorers T.J. Oshie and Alexander Steen have just 14 points a piece in the teams' first 21 games, but they have been more productive since Hitchock took over so watch out.

Dec. 1 vs. Pittsburgh Penguins- I don't need write much about this one as the name of the visiting team paints the entire picture. The Penguins come to Verizon Center for the first time this season and it will be the first time the Capitals have faced Sidney Crosby since last season's Winter Classic. Emotions are sure to run high not just because of Crosby, but it is also the first tiem the Capitals have faced the Penguins since Pittsburgh forward Arron Asham knocked out Capitals forward Jay Beagle when the two fought on Oct. 13. The Capitals won the game, 3-2, in overtime on a goal from Dennis Wideman, but Beagle suffered a concussion as a result of the fight with Asham and hasn't practiced let alone played since. This game will not be for the weak at heart.

Dec. 3 vs. Ottawa Senators- Washington hosts the Senators for the second time this season in this one. The Senators last visit was on Oct. 15, a 2-1 Capitals win that was the fourth of their franchise record seven straight to start the season. The Senators have won just three times in their last nine games since a six-game winning streak to end October. Washington should prevail in this one, though I wouldn't take it for granted.

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