Tonight will be the fourth and final meeting of the 2009-2010 season between the Washington Capitals and the New York Islanders, and the current buzz in hockeyland is simple:
Will this game go into overtime, or end in 60 minutes?
Of the nine meetings between Bruce Bouderau’s capitals and the Islanders, seven have gone to overtime, one to the shootout, and only twice has the game completed in regulation time (both times, a Caps win).
- 12/22/07 – 3-2 OTL
- 02/20/08 – 2-1 SOL
- 12/04/08 – 5-2 W
- 12/16/08 – 5-4 OTW
- 01/19/09 – 2-1 OTW
- 04/01/09 – 5-3 W
- 10/24/09 – 3-2 OTW
- 10/30/09 – 4-3 OTL
- 11/11/09 – 5-4 OTW
- 01/26/10 – TBD
Only three of the nine meetings have ended badly for the Caps: both games in Boudreau’s first season as coach, and one so far this season.
I am not one to make predictions, as things go badly when I do. But I will look at both teams:
Still without starting goaltender Semyon Varlamov (knee, groin), the Capitals have two netminders who are doing quite well of late: Jose Theodore and Michal Neuvirth have backstopped the Caps to nine wins in the last ten games.
Brian Pothier is still out of the lineup; Capitals Insider reports the veteran blueliner has a broken hand. But John Erskine returned to the lineup in the last game, against the Phoenix Coyotes.
Defenseman Radek Martinek has been out of the lineup since he tore his right ACL back in November, and is expected to miss the rest of the season.
Right Wing Tim Jackman has a broken orbital bone (ouch!) and is expected to miss a few more weeks.
Defenseman Brendan Witt has a calf injury, and is on IR.
Defenseman Andy Sutton is slated to return from a two-game suspension he was dealt after boarding Penguin Pascal Dupuis; the defenseman has not been especially healthy this year or last, having missed 6 games in November-December with a groin injury and the last 50 games of the 2008-09 season with a broken foot. In 2007-08, he missed the last 22 games due to an ankle injury.
The Islanders fell to the Devils, 4-2 last Saturday, but have had several days to prepare for the Capitals.
Tonight, the Capitals and Islanders will face Don Van Massenhoven (#21) and Dennis La Rue (#14) in zebra stripes with orange markings; the linesmen will be Mike Cvik (#88) and Brian Mach (#78).