Washington Capitals at Colorado Avalanche: Pregame Report

Michael PrunkaCorrespondent IDecember 17, 2011

The Washington Capitals will meet the Colorado Avalanche in the Pepsi Center this Saturday night. The Caps, who are currently even with four wins and four losses under Dale Hunter, look to keep the momentum rolling. On the other hand, the Avs look to establish some momentum after returning home for a four game homestand.

The Caps are currently tied for 10th place in the Eastern Conference with the Montreal Canadiens. Despite their positive 16-13-1 record, Washington’s performance has left fans frustrated and upset. After starting the season with a seven game winning streak, the Caps are now unable to manage anything beyond a two game winning streak.

Caps captain Alexander Ovechkin scored the only goal in their 1-0 win over Winnipeg on Thursday. With that being his tenth goal of the season, it seems as if “The Great Eight” is finally regaining his momentum. If Ovechkin can manage to score against the Avs, it will be the first time this season he has scored goals in two straight games.

After giving up four goals on 21 shots against the Flyers on Tuesday, Tomas Vokoun was pulled from the net in favor of Michal Neuvirth. Neuvirth then went to start against the Jets on Thursday, shutting them out with 26 saves. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Neuvirth starting again against Colorado.

As for the Avalanche, it seems as if they are looking to Semyon Varlamov for the start on Saturday. Based on his 10-13-1 record and 3.14 GAA, you’d never guess that the former Caps goaltender was a first round draft pick just five years ago. One would suppose that Varlamov is driven to improve his disappointing performance and a win over his former team on Saturday would be the perfect place to start.

In addition to halting Ovechkin’s growing momentum, Varlamov will also need to be weary of other Caps scoring threats such as Nicklas Backstrom, Troy Brouwer, and Jason Chimera.

Former teammates Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov may end up on opposite ends of the ice Saturday night.
Former teammates Michal Neuvirth and Semyon Varlamov may end up on opposite ends of the ice Saturday night.

Seeing that the Caps are 6-8-0 on the road while the Avs are 8-9-0 at home, this game is important for both teams in terms of building momentum and improving disappointing records. The Caps are still looking to provide more consistent performances under Dale Hunter, and momentum on the road will certainly help.

As mentioned earlier, the Avs are beginning a four game homestand. Starting off strong will surely help pull the Avs out of 13th place in the Western Conference. In addition to a solid goaltending performance from Varlamov, Avs leaders like Matt Duchene and Ryan O’Reilly will need to step up to fight off the hungry Washington Capitals.


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