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Game 33: Nashville @ Washington – Capital Punishment


Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images North America

In dramatic fashion, which is the “Predator way” of winning games this year, Nashville  defeated the Washington Capitals in their first meeting at Bridgestone Arena. With the Capitals drawing first blood at the mid-point of the third period, the Predators scored 3 unanswered goals to win the contest.

It was Joel Ward’s first regular season return to Nashville and he was remembered with an ovation and a very fitting tribute video to one of the hardest working forwards in the NHL.

The Predators may have won the first battle on home ice, but can the Washington Capitals dish out some “punishment” to turn their season around?

This Year’s Series: 1-0-0 (1-0-0 Home, 0-0-0 Away)

This Season’s Video Recaps:

Nov. 15 2011:

Video Coming Soon

Looking at the Capitals: The scoring threats on the Capitals alone are enough to strike fear in the heart of any defensive lineup. In the off-season, the Capitals made a steal of a deal to get Tomas Vokoun for peanuts compared to what he has earned in recent years. A perfect teacher for the young Michal Neuvirth, Vokoun gives the Capitals a fighting chance in every game they play (sound familiar?)

Jason Chimera has provided a great output of goals (11) on the season tying him for the team lead in goals with Nicklas Backstrom. Ovechkin is off to a slower start than he is accustomed in his prolific career, but others (Chimera, Brouwer, Laich) are stepping up to fill the gap.

Looking at the Predators: It is a continuing streak, but one in which the last two games have been ugly, almost non-deserved wins. The Predators and especially Coach Trotz know this too and their post-game reaction to the Red Wings and Blues games were not as lively or optimistic as one would expect after a win.

Pekka Rinne, much like Tomas Vokoun thrives on chances and a relentless pace of shots. Pekka is tracking the puck very well and many around the NHL have stated that Rinne has the best glove hand in the league. Defensively Klein, Hillen and Josi are starting to become very effective in their end at getting the puck out and away from their opponents. Weber and Suter need no accolades because they play night in and night out some of the best defensive hockey on any team.

For the Capitals to win: Start playing some defense. The most offensive-minded players on the Capitals are also the ones on the ice for the most goals against. Sure Ovechkin, Semin and Backstrom can score at will, but at what expense? If the Capitals can’t find a way to shut down the Predators offense, especially if the Capitals take any penalties, then it’ll be a long night for Vokoun and the Washington defensive lines.

The Capitals have one of the loudest crowds in the league and they will need to keep the crowd into the game. Some amazing plays and scoring in bunches could deflate the Predators in a way that they can’t get the momentum back.

For the Predators to win: Even if it’s ugly: a win is a win. The Predators are going to have to start shooting the puck more. Sure Vokoun gets better the more rubber he sees, but not getting chances for rebounds and tips is killing the Predators, especially goal-screener extraordinaire Patric Hornqvist.

Hornqvist makes his living camped out in front to put home the “garbage goals” but he’ll have a hard time finding those if the Predators don’t put more shots on net. Tootoo will have to start getting under the Capitals skin and draw some penalties. The entire 60 minutes against St. Louis, the Predators didn’t get one single PP (although one penalty was called with 7 seconds to go in overtime). Being top 5 in the league on the man-advantage has it’s perks, but not when the officiating doesn’t go as planned (6 PP opportunities for the Blues).


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