CAPS GAME DAY--Game 75: Sick Caps Take On Toronto

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, March 24, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (45-23-6-96, first in Southeast, third in East) travel to Air Canada Center in Toronto (30-30-13-73, fifth in Northeast) to face a Maple Leafs team playing out the stretch, mired in 13th place in the conference, eight points out of a playoff spot with nine games to play.

Washington trails New Jersey for the playoff's second seed by one point, but the Devils have a game in-hand on the Caps, having played in one fewer game at this point.

The Capitals are dragging entering the contest, as the team is ridden with a flu bug that has affected everyone from Alexander Semin and Matt Bradley to coach Bruce Boudreau and GM George McPhee. Bourdeau typified it as a "head cold", but Semin and Bradley missed practice this week, and the team recalled RW Steve Pinozzotto from AHL Hershey as an emergency stand-by.

To accommodate Pinizzotto's salary, goalie Simeon Varlamov was returned to Hershey and Daren Machesney was recalled and will back up Jose Theodore in goal this evening.

The Caps will be without enforcer Donald Brashear for a seventh straight game as well, along with Boyd Gordon with a broken finger.

DC hopes it can get the scoring magic back, as the team has only averaged 2.36 goals per game in 11 games in March to rank second-to-last in the conference. The Caps had averaged 3.30 goals per game up until that point.

In the 4-1 loss to Carolina Saturday, Washington put up 32 shots but could only get one, Mike Green's 28th goal of the season, past goalie Cam Ward. Alex Ovechkin, who scored his league-leading 50th goal against Tampa Bay earlier in the week, managed seven shots on goal but could not beat Ward.

The Caps only got one goal against Toronto the last time these two teams played, Mar. 5 at the Verizon Center. Semin punched one in with 39 seconds remaining to avoid the shut out. Washington leads the season series two games to one.

Jason Blake (25-32-57, plus-3 ) and Alexei Ponikarovsky (21-32-53, plus 6) are the Leafs leading scorers. Martin Gerber, acquired at the trade deadline with the season-ending injuries to Vesa Toskala, is the goaltender. He is 8-12-1 with a 3.91 goals against average and .901 save percentage for the season.

Toronto leads the lead with 323 games played by NHL rookies this season.

WAS: PP-2nd (24.3%, 73/300); PK-20th (79.9%, 71/354)

TOR: PP-13th (19.6%, 58/296); PK-29th (75.8%, 67/277)

WAS: C Boyd Gordon (Finger-IR); G Brent Johnson (Hip-IR); RW Chris Clark (Wrist-IR); RW Matt Bradley (Flu-Questionable); LW Donald Brashear (Knee-Questionable); LW Quintin Laing (Spleen-Out); LW Alexander Semin (Flu-Questionable)

TOR: D Jonas Frogren (Knee-Out); RW Niklas Hagman (Head-Questionable); D Tomas Kaberle (Hand-Out); G Vesa Toskala (Hip/groin-Out); D Mike Van Ryn (Knee-Out); D Jamie Heward (Concussion-IR); G Olaf Kolzig (Arm-IR)