Epic Ward. (Courtesy: Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Game Preview: Canes @ Caps (10/8/11)

After a disappointing (to say the least) home opener against the Tampa Bay Lightning last night, the Canes will be able to quickly forget about their performance as they take on the always dangerous Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center tonight. You can read up on the game against Tampa from Sally here. The Washington Capitals came off of a season that had them best in the league points wise, winning them the President’s Trophy.  They made it through the first round of the playoffs, defeating the New York Rangers 4 games to 1, but were swept in the second round by the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-0.

During the offseason, Washington went through several changes, including bringing in veteran goaltender Tomas Vokoun to replace Semyon Varlamov, trading for Troy Brouwer, and bringing in several key free agents such as Roman Hamerlik, Joel Ward and Jeff Halpern. This goes along with the already solid core of players including captain Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Brooks Laich, Alexander Semin and Mike Green. The Capitals will be without a few key players tonight, as defensemen Tom Poti and John Erskine are on injured reserve. Matt Hendricks is also not expected to play, as he are listed as day-to-day. Mathieu Perreault will take the place of Marcus Johansson, who will be a healthy scratch tonight and Dennis Wideman will play tonight after coming off of injured reserve (per @SWhyno). Alex Ovechkin had to take a leave of absence earlier this week due to a death in the family, but he did come back to Washington yesterday and is expected to be in the line-up tonight against the Hurricanes. Plan to see Michal Neuvirth get the start tonight as the Capitals open up their 2011-2012 campaign. To catch up even more on our southeast division rival, check our out sister site, Capitals Outsider.

There have been no line or defensive changes (yet) for the Canes. I would expect that at least one of the defensemen who sat last night (Jamie McBain, Derek Joslin, Ryan Murphy) to get the start in place of Justin Faulk and possibly another defenseman. There has also been no word as to who will start in net tonight. Cam Ward didn’t have the greatest of games statistics-wise, but not all of the five goals that were allowed last night could be strictly put on him. I could see Maurice go either way, since Brian Boucher has proven that he will be a formidable backup to Ward during the season. Ward has done better statistically on the 2nd game of back-to-backs, but considering the Canes upcoming schedule (@ NJ Monday, vs Boston Wednesday before going on a 4-game roadtrip), I would think that Boucher would get a start in the next few games before the trip. Whenever I do receive roster information, I’ll update it here. Be sure to check back later this afternoon for updates!

 

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Tags: Brian Boucher Cam Ward Carolina Hurricanes Derek Joslin Jamie McBain New York Rangers Ryan Murphy Tampa Bay Lightning Washington Capitals

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