Home Game #1, vs. Winnipeg Jets (1 point)
Tuesday, January, 22nd, 2013, Verizon Center
Where Are They?
The Winnipeg Jets are coming off of a tough sixty five minute loss to the Boston Bruins on Monday, Patrice Bergeron taking two points for the Bruins in the shootout’s second round. Monday’s game was the Jets’ second of the season, Winnipeg’s opening game on Saturday night a humiliation at home against the Ottawa Senators. In both games Claude Noel’s club has only registered a single goal; defenseman Dustin Byfuglien against Ottawa and forward Chris Thorborn in Boston. Expect the Jets’ attack to be amplified, Noel knows his club needs to spot goaltender Ondrej Pavelec a bigger margain for error.
Pavelec has started the past two games for Winnipeg (including the first of back-to-backs) so don’t be surprised if Noel calls back-up goaltender Al Montoya’s number before Tuesday’s pre-game skate. Former Islanders and Coyotes property Montoya signed a one year deal with the Jets at a hair over $600k, giving the former University of Michigan product a ton of upside up north.
Who To Watch.
Right winger Blake Wheeler will need to get it going sooner rather than later and at least get the garage door opened on this road trip. The top six winger has been on the ice for three goals against, two against the Senators and once in Boston. The defensive deficiencies would be easier to overlook if Wheeler could produce for Noel in the offensive zone. The big winger has only put one shot on net through the season’s first two games. Wheeler did score against former Bruins teammate Tuukka Rask in the shootout on Monday night, so don’t be shocked to see him skating with some confidence across Verizon Center ice.
Why It’s Big Here.
Most Washington Capitals, Joel Ward being the lone exception, would like a better personal performance Tuesday night in Washington, DC. The Capitals’ top trio of Ovechkin, Backstrom, and Johansson combined for zero points, four PIMs, and a -3 rating. The top three all skated over seventeen minutes and must make a scoring sheet impact with the high number of minutes they’re being fed. On the bottom half of Washington’s twelve forwards Ward put two goals past the Lightning’s Lindback on five shots in barely over thirteen and a half minutes of ice time.
Without the top six forwards firing early Washington will be hard pressed to make a playoff seed in the newly shaped Southeast Division, and a season starting slump could be too much to overcome in late April. Expect Head Coach Adam Oates to focus on getting his superstars going in the offensive zone Tuesday night while tidying up in the blue paint.
Skating the most of any Washington forward not named Ovechkin last game look at winger Troy Brouwer (21:01) for a big contest.
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