Monday, May 4, 2009

No Flu For You, On To Game Two. Erskine Possibly Out, Alzner Possibly in?


So I wake up this morning and start my reading and what do I find? Tarik El-Bashir, of Washington Post fame, is reporting on his blog, Capitals Insider, that two top Capitals prospects with the Caps AHL affilate, the Hershey Bears had been held out from last nights Bears playoff game vs the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins, Pittsburgh's AHL affiliate, due to an "illness". Hmmm... Flu? Worse... swine Flue? Oddly enough the two players in question are defencemen Karl Alzner (left top) and Tyler Sloan. (lower left) They just also happen to be the Bears top D paring. At the same time, we also learned that the Caps had recalled them both to the big club. It gets more interesting by the minute. Something was definitely amiss here. Why would the Caps recall two sick defencemen, and risk getting thier entire roster infected with the secret "illness" that was plaguing the two baby caps? was it worth the risk? Something was definately not right here. As we would later learn, it was all a big cover up. A ploy to throw off both the Bears and the Caps enemies. The baby Caps were never in fact "sick" with anything, and were on the ice practicing this morning at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington. Tyler Sloan told Bashir...

"I don't know anything right now. We've just been told that it's precautionary in case anything happens. I was going to rink for meetings, then went home for some rest and a nap and got a phone call saying, 'Stay home, you're sick. And your partner caught the flu."
The more menacing thing behind all of this was, why they were called up. As it turns out, they were called up largely as a precautionary measure. However, it is also now clear that John Erskine is "questionable" for tonights game 2 of the Caps Eastern Conference Semifinal series VS the Pittsburgh Penguins. Erskin did take a hard shot to the leg and limpped back to the bench during game one on Saturday. It is being reported that Erskin has some type of leg injury, and may need to rest for a game. The Caps are already without the services of defencemen Jeff Schultz, which has them with 6 healthy defencemen currently available. Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told Tarik...

"We've only had six healthy defensemen up here and I think we were playing with fire if someone would go down in warm-up. We've got John banged up a little bit. He's going to try it and see if he can go. But we figured we take precautionary measures and call up a couple of guys just in case. If we had to go to one, they both know our systems as well as anyone."

So at least one of the baby Caps may likely get a shot at thier first NHL playoff game tonight against the Penguins. My guess, and hope, is that it will likely be Alzner. Alzner is a highly touted, big, speedy, and agile defencemen, and is considered by many to be the Capitals top prospect at the position. Alzner was drafted by the Caps in the 2007 NHL entry draft, 5th over all, and has had a great career thus far for Hershey. He has also gotten some NHL time under his belt with the Caps as well, appearing in 30 games for them over this past season, scoring 1 goal, getting 4 assists, and taking one penalty. His plus / minus rating was -1.

So that brings us to game 2. The series, and the matchup the whole world has uber hyped up and had been hoping for, Ovechkin vs Crosby, Caps vs Pens, resumes tonight @ 7PM on the Verizon Center ice. The Washington Capitals are looking to take full advantage of thier home ice and extend thier series lead to 2-0. If that is to happen, the Capitals MUST play a better game than they did in game one, where they were outshot, and were often out skated, out hustled, and also made many bad mistakes and givaways. David Steckel was quoted as saying regarding his goal, and the game...
"I think it was a wake-up call. We were getting our [butts] handed to us, pretty much. It was a joke. I don't know if it was because it was an afternoon, [but] we didn't come ready to play."
Pittsburgh is a dangerous team for sure, and it will only be a matter of time before a team that good takes advantage of the Capitals mistakes. Hopefully the Caps have identified where they could have improved from game one, and will take that to heart tonight and get on top of this game early, to stay. If they can do that, and Simeon Varlamov can continue his goaltending heroics, with the Caps getting scoring from all available sources, they should be just fine, and should once again come out on top.


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Which team is the Capitals biggest threat in the Southeast division this season?