Last 10 Games
Last 5 Games
              Capitals @ Blue Jackets Preview         by: Sparky      March 23, 2002


Message Board


Washington Capitals
Columbus Blue Jackets
March 23rd, 2002   7:00 pm
       The Stats
20-38-8-4, 52 points
15th, Western Conference
0-1-0-0 vs. Washington
2.03 Goals/Game (30th)
2.91 GAA (25th)
13.8% PP (25th)
83.5% PK (19th)
12-16-5-4 at home
2.60 G/G
2.40 GAA
2.10 G/G 
2.50 GAA

Top Scorers
R. Whitney - 20
M. Sillinger - 19
G. Marshall - 14
R. Whitney - 36
E. Knutsen - 28
M. Sillinger - 20
R. Whitney - 56
M. Sillinger - 39
E. Knutsen - 37
Tugnutt 11-24-3, 2.69, .907
Denis 8-17-5, 2.87, .907
Sparky's Take
Magic 8-Ball
       Sparky's Take
The Capitals have come alive after leading scorer Adam Oates was traded.  They've won two games away from home against top teams in both conferences and are playing with enthusiasm and confidence that's been missing for quite some time.  Saturday they begin a two games in two nights stretch in Columbus where they take on the Western Conference doormat, Columbus.  Washington needs every point they can get on this road swing to keep their playoff hopes alive, so they've got to come out strong against a weak Blue Jackets squad, especially with Pittsburgh waiting on Sunday night.

The Caps went down early to the Leafs on Thursday, falling behind 2-0 in the first as is their wont these days.  As usual they came storming back in the second and tied it up.  The script changed a little, though, as Washington took the lead, let Toronto tie it up, but then the Caps scored the GWG late in the third for the victory.  Jaromir Jagr scored or assisted on all 4 Caps goals and seems determined to carry this team whether they like it or not.  Very promising was the play of Olie Kolzig in net.  Kolzig made three spectacular saves on Toronto chances and did not give up a stoppable goal.  It's time for him to get hot, finally.  Zubrus and Metropolit look to be playing well with Jagr on the top line now that Oates is gone and will remain there for now.  Look for the Kono/Dahlen line to get going tonight as they match up very well against the Blue Jackets.

Columbus fans have had more to cheer about lately as their team is improving.  The Blue Jackets have given up 2 or fewer goals in 6 of their last 10 games and have a bunch of wins to show for it.  Columbus was busy at the deadline, trading away captain Lyle Odelein for Jaroslav Spacek and a draft pick.  The Jackets will miss Odeleins fierce presence, but Spacek will really help them settle their defense and may contribute on the PP.  Columbus itself is a tough place to play as a visiting squad.  They sell out every game, regardless of opponent, and the fans there are very vocal and knowledgeable.  The Blue Jackets are tough at home, feeding off of the fan frenzy in the stands.

Players to Watch:

-Ray Whitney is the key to Columbus' offense.  He's got a good combination of speed and skill that more than compensates for his small stature.  He leads the Blue Jackets in all relevant offensive categories and has proven that he can generate scoring opportunities out of nothing.  Whitney is on track to set a career high for points, despite playing for the worst team in it's conference, quite a feat in and of itself.

-Jaroslav Spacek has only played two games for the Blue Jackets, but he's made an impact already. Spacek has notched a goal and an assist in those two games, a PP assist and a short handed goal, and is +1.  He's not huge but he's very strong and smart.  Spacek takes up a lot of room on the ice and can make life very difficult for smaller opponents.  He's got the speed to keep up with most forwards, and is not prone to taking penalties or making mistakes.  A great pickup for this team, Spacek is only 28 years old.

-Rostislav Klesa would be the front-runner for the Calder if it weren't for Danny Heatley and Ilya Kovalchuk in Atlanta.  Klesa, a big defenseman, leads the team in +/- (-1 despite the terrible record), has tallied 14 points and plays a physical game.  He's very mature for his age and has done a great job adjusting to a difficult situation in Columbus.  This kid has a very bright future ahead of him, it's just a shame that no one knows about him.

The Caps need this game too much for a breakdown to occur.  With Kolzig, Witt, and Jagr all stepping up their play lately no one is liable to coast just because it's "only" Columbus.  The 3/4 lines should have good games and might be able to score enough to let Jagr rest up a little for Pittsburgh tomorrow.  Peter Bondra's speed will make him very dangerous against the Jackets as well. 

Prediction: 4-1 Caps win.
       The Matchups




Penalty Kill


Columbus has some gritty players, but the Caps have a lot of depth and high end talent, despite no Oates.

Neither team is great defensively, but the Caps blueliners are more dangerous offensively.

The Columbus goalies have been playing very well of late.  Kolzig is en fuego for the Caps, but may rest.

No comparison here.  The Caps are still dangerous without Oates and will look to keep the PP going tonight.

Lousy teams seem to have decent PK.  Columbus plays a solid PK while the Caps are struggling.

Washington has the edge with two huge road wins in a row and a desperate need for points in the standings.

The Caps have the overall edge in this game as long as they don't get overconfident.
       Magic 8-Ball Says...
                         Home                                   Schedule                         Message Board
29-31-10-1  69 points
10th, Eastern Conference
1-0-0-0 vs. Columbus
2.72 Goals/Game (10th)
3.01 GAA  (27th)
19.6% PP (3rd)
81.4% PK  (26th)
11-19-5-0 on road
2.80 G/G 
3.40 GAA
2.80 G/G 
2.80 GAA

Top Scorers
P. Bondra - 34
J. Jagr - 29
S. Gonchar - 23
J. Jagr - 40
S. Gonchar - 32
2 tied with - 24
J. Jagr - 69
P. Bondra - 58
S. Gonchar - 55
Olaf Kolzig 25-27-7, 2.86, .901
C. Billington 4-5-3, 3.04, .879
"Will the Washington Capitals beat the Columbus Blue Jackets tonight?"

"Better not tell you now."

"Aw, come on now, will the Capitals beat the Blue Jackets tonight?"

"Cannot predict now."

The 8-ball is a little tired from trying to predict games that occur so far away, it seems.  Indeciseveness normally means a close game or OT.  The Caps rock in OT, Columbus doesn't, so:
Caps win, 3-2 in OT

Magic 8-Ball's Record: