Washington Capitals Vs. Calgary Flames: What To Watch For


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

What should Washington Capitals fans be keeping an eye on during tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames?

The Washington Capitals, fresh off of back-to-back 4-1 victories over the Chicago Blackhawks and Carolina Hurricanes, are set to square off against the Calgary Flames tonight at 9:00 PM EST. What should Washington Capitals fans be watching for as the Caps start their first road trip of the season?

1. How will the Washington Capitals handle their first road game?

The Capitals have had to wait to get their first taste of life on the road. They started off their season with a four-game homestand. Tonight will be the Washington Capitals first away game of the season, and as only the second game with an entirely healthy roster, it should be a good early marker of how the team will fare this season.

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Early indications are the Capitals are going to be very tough to beat at home this season. They took three out of four games on their four-game homestand. They’ve beaten opponents by a combined score of 13-5 in their three wins so far. There’s no reason to believe the Caps can’t recapture the home dominance they displayed during the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, where they went a combined (59-14-9) in the nation’s capital.

One of the true tests of the season, however, will be how the Capitals play away from DC. That test begins tonight. It’ll be important for the team to start this road trip on the right foot, with a win against a struggling Flames team.

2. What will the lineup look like?

The Washington Capitals have had to wait to see what their team would look like with an entirely healthy roster. That happened on Saturday night when center Nicklas Backstrom returned to the lineup after offseason hip surgery  and led the Caps to a 4-1 victory. Now that he’s back, coach Barry Trotz has some tough lineup decisions to make.

Against the Hurricanes, Trotz went with a lineup that looked like this:

Alex OvechkinEvgeny KuznetsovT.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson – Backstrom – Justin Williams

Jason ChimeraJay BeagleTom Wilson

Brooks LaichChandler StephensonAndre Burakovsky

Brooks OrpikJohn Carlson

Karl AlznerMatt Niskanen

Taylor ChorneyDmitry Orlov

Scratched: Michael Latta, Stanislav Galiev, Nate Schmidt

It appears that the Capitals will have the same lineup tonight.

It will be interesting to see how Trotz answers these questions tonight, and throughout the rest of the three-game road trip. He’s indicated that he doesn’t want to break up the “checking line” of Chimera, Beagle, and Wilson. Kuznetsov has quickly gained chemistry with Ovechkin and Oshie, in turn giving the team their best second line in recent memory.

Stephenson and Chorney have both played well so far, so why take them out? If it were me making the decisions, I would keep rolling with this line-up, at least until they give me a reason not to.

3. Can the power play keep up this pace?

The Washington Capitals have converted on 5-13 power plays, good for 38.5% and second in the NHL. Shocking, right? It’s no surprise that the Capitals powerplay already finds itself near the top of the NHL ranks, as they’ve finished first the league the past two seasons. The kicker, however, is that Alex Ovechkin is yet to record a power play goal.

Oshie has already recorded two power play goals from the spot previously manned by Troy Brouwer. John Carlson seems to be taking over for Mike Green with ease, as he already has five points in just four games, which leads all Capitals.

The big question is how long can this powerplay continue to dominate? Despite any signs of slowing down, coach Barry Trotz hinted recently that he has plans to add “a new wrinkle” to the Caps powerplay. If this new wrinkle is successful, opposing teams might be better off strategizing how not to take penalties at all, rather than game-planning how to stop the Caps lethal powerplay.

It’ll be exciting to see when Trotz decides to debut the “new wrinkle.” If it’s tonight, Caps fans should be in for a treat.

Next: NHL Power Rankings Week 3

Next: Caps-Flames: Start Time, TV Info, Live Stream

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