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Preview: Capitals vs. Islanders
On Saturday night, the Capitals take a trip up to Long Island for the first of their four game set with the Islanders. Last season, the Capitals swept all four games from the Islanders during the regular season. This season, both teams come in looking better than they did last year. With the offseason acquisitions the Capitals picked up, coupled with the emergence of the core of the Islanders team, will make for an interesting tilt not only this game but for the remainder of this season, and for seasons to come.
Last season, the Islanders started off extremely slow. It looked like it was going to be another excruciatingly long season for Islanders fans on Long Island. But with Michael Grabner rattling off a 34 goal season, and key players like John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Moulson coming into their own gave Islanders fans a reason for hope this season. Currently, the Islanders sit in last place in the Atlantic Division with 8 points while the Capitals are atop of the Southeast Division with 16 points. But don’t let this fool you. The Islanders have one of the strongest young forward corps in the league and will be a formidable opponent once they figure out some of their defensive and goaltending struggles (although Nabokov has at times looked solid between the pipes.)
Even though I have always been a Capitals fan, I believe that I do have a breadth of knowledge when it comes to the Islanders. Growing up 15 minutes away from the Nassau Coliseum, I’ve had the opportunity watch many Islander games on TV (along with Ranger and Devil games) and attend many Islander games. Most of my friends are Islander fans and do enjoy engaging in conversations with them about their team (it’s usually about how bad they are, and how much longer it will be until they make the playoffs). So I decided to take it to Twitter and ask you, the reader, to ask me questions about the Islanders that you may not know so that way I can give you some more knowledge about the team the Capitals face Saturday night. So without further ado, here are some of the questions I was asked.
Let’s start with one of my fellow co-writers for Capitals Outsider, Taylor Lewis (@TaylorL_BSI):
What is up with Rick DiPietro’s beard?
I was hoping someone would ask me about Rick DiPietro. Has anyone seen this ridiculous thing on his face? If not, let me be the first to break it to you so you know what Taylor is referring to:
Oh man. The only logical explanation to this would be that he is trying to hone his inner Chuck Norris- “There isn’t a chin under Rick DiPietro’s beard, just another glove to make saves with”. I do have to give him style points for the Mets though. I am really waiting for the day birds make a nest in his beard like what happened to Peter Griffin in Family Guy:
Next question is from Pierre (@CapitalsCenter):
How would you like to see AlexOvechkin respond after the controversy with Bruce Boudreau?
There was absolutely no controversy with what happened in the game against Anaheim. For so long, Capitals fans have complained about a lack of discipline and a lack of accountability within the team. Now, Coach Boudreau finally put his money where his mouth is. Good for him. It all starts with Alex. It sends a message to the rest of the team by saying “if I am willing to bench the highest paid player and the captain of this team for his lack of production, I will do it to you too.” The only reason why this got blown up as much as it did was because it was the Capitals and it was Alex Ovechkin. If it was any other team and any other player (except Dan Bylsma benching Sidney Crosby), it wouldn’t have received the amount of attention it did.
With that being said, Alex doesn’t have to be the same player he was in the past. I actually wrote an article explaining why. Right now he is tied for the team lead for goals and is second on the team with points. He needs to just step up and lead this team. He’s done a good job so far, but he needs to do it all season long. All he needs to do is keep taking accountability for his play, and push himself to be the best player he can be while pushing his teammates to be the best they can be. The stats will always generate themselves.
Here’s a question from Brad (@inkedcapsfan):
Who is your favorite Islander?
Right now it has to be John Tavares, hands down. He was supposed to be the saving grace of this team and it has taken a while for his game to actually show up. This past offseason he signed a six year/ $33 million extension with the team and has also been rewarded by being named an alternate captain for the team. During the second half of last season, there were flickers of his game starting to shine through. Now it has and will be a lethal force for this team for years to come.
Now here’s a question asked by Lana (@lanaEile):
What do the rookies bring to the team? Who are the heavy hitters?
Right now, the Islanders don’t carry an actual “rookie” on the team. Their youngest players are Travis Hamonic and Grabner, who are currently in their second years with the team. Hamonic is a hard-nosed defenseman who I feel is still trying to get the feel for the team while Grabner came out of nowhere last season (although my personal opinion is that he will never see another statistical outburst like he had last year). However, they do have a player in Bridgeport (their AHL affiliate) named Nino Niederreiter who was drafted with the 5th overall pick in the 2010 Entry Draft that will definitely be a force to be reckoned with in the future. The heavy hitters on the team are pretty much the obvious ones you hear about in the news: John Tavares, Kyle Okposo, and Matt Moulson. They are the main players who will generate the Islanders offense. If you can stop them, you can stop the Islanders.
And the last question comes from the famous Capitals Tattoo Guy, our very own Mike Xtremist! (@MikeXtremist)
What do you and the #CapsTattooGuy have planned?
Have planned? Well, I figured we could head over to Borelli’s for a great Italian dinner then find a bar to……wait. What? There’s a hockey game at the Coliseum? And the Capitals will be there? Well I guess we will have to head over there, with my main job being to make sure that no Islanders fans try to be funny with your Capitals kilt and to try to protect you in case a piece of the roof decides to fall on top of us (hey, the building is old. What else do you expect?)
So there’s my preview for this upcoming game. Be sure to tune in to CSN-Washington to catch the game on TV and also tune into my Twitter feed for the latest updates about the Capitals all day long.