Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Gameday: vs. Carolina, Oct. 8

Leh go.
The Washington Capitals will begin another quest to bring it all home Saturday night, when they welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the Verizon Center ice for their 2011-12 regular season opener.  The Capitals had another banner regular season last year, winning the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the second year in a row and the Southeast Division for the fourth consecutive campaign with a 48-23-11 record, good for 107 points.  After winning their first round playoff series 4-1, the season came to a crashing halt when they were swept out in the second round of the postseason.  The Hurricanes, on the other hand, failed to make the playoffs for the second consecutive year and the fourth year out of five since their 2005-06 Stanley Cup win.  They were third in the Southeast and ninth in the East with a 40-31-11 record, good for 93 points.  Carolina was also beaten in their opener last night, falling to the Lightning by a 5-1 score.  Tonight's meeting is the first of six between the two teams this season.

For Carolina, bench boss Paul Maurice will give the nod in nets to stalwart Cam Ward, who has been the Hurricanes' franchise goalie for the last half decade. Ward was a workhorse last year, leading the league in starts, minutes, and saves while compiling a 37-26-10 record to go along with a 2.54 GAA, .923 save percentage, and four shutouts.  Carolina is led offensively by superstar captain Eric Staal and reigning Calder Trophy winner Jeff Skinner, as well as shiny new offseason acquisition Tomas Kaberle on the blue line.  The Hurricanes also have an interesting rookie, Zac Dalpe, who is a dark horse for some to win the Calder.

Washington coach Bruce Boudreau has surprised everyone by selecting Michal Neuvirth to be his goaltender for tonight's game over offseason prize Tomas Vokoun.  Neuvirth was very solid last year, posting a 27-12-4 record with a 2.45 GAA, .914 save percentage, and four shutouts, which led all rookie goaltenders. He is certainly capable of getting the job done, as he proved last season, but this is definitely a shock given Vokoun's reputation.  On the health front, the Capitals will be missing defensemen Tom Poti and John Erskine, who are on the mend with groin and shoulder ailments, respectively.  DJ King and Marcus Johansson will be the healthy scratches.

Puck drops 7:07-ish.  Check back later.

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