Thursday’s Philadelphia Flyers-Washington Capitals game was supposed to be a big deal, but the Caps flexed their muscles in that early test. As it turns out, that game was an undercooked appetizer for what should be a delicious main course on Saturday night.
The Detroit Red Wings casually dismissed the hopeless Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday to set the stage for a battle between the league’s only unbeaten teams. Sure, it’s just October. And yes, the Capitals’ playoff struggles are well-documented and the Red Wings aren’t exactly Doogie Howsers in skates.
Still, go ahead and get a little excited about a game that at least a few breathless onlookers will call “a possible Stanley Cup finals preview.” These two teams are clearly ahead of the pack so far, as a few of these numbers should attest.
Scoring goals like hot cakes: the Capitals have 23 goals in six games while the Red Wings scored 18 in five (placing both around 3.6 per game).
Stingy Wings: Detroit’s defensive weaknesses flew under the radar last season, but they’ve only allowed seven goals so far. (Feel free to blame Brian Rafalski or Chris Osgood, even if that’s completely unfair.) The Capitals only allowed eight goals in the five games in which Tomas Vokoun didn’t lose his mind.
Other signs of dominance: The Red Wings average a staggering 37.8 shots per game while the Capitals power play is connecting at a 26.1 percent rate.
To paraphrase Dennis Green, the Capitals and Red Wings have been what we thought they were. It all sets up for a tantalizing “measuring stick” game Saturday night.
This hasn’t been the best night for St. Louis sports fans.
Obviously, the MLB’s Cardinals getting bounced from the playoffs is a bigger deal, but the Blues face bad news, too.
While they’re currently leading the Calgary Flames by a score of 4-3, they’ll need to hang on without Kevin Shattenkirk, whose night is over thanks to a lower-body injury.
There’s no word yet on how severe the issue might be.
Naturally, the Blues must hope that it’s minor, as Shattenkirk is one of the NHL’s truly underrated assets on the blueline.
Stephanie (@MyRegularFace) tracked down a moment when the injury may have happened:
It’s not all rosy for the Flames, either, as Lance Bouma suffered an injury as well.
In some ways, it really felt like their first-round series.
For all the talent on both ends of the rink with the Detroit Red Wings and Tampa Bay Lightning, each squad can really smother opponents defensively when things go that way.
Through two periods, the two teams were very quiet. Things really picked up when Justin Abdelkader unleashed a big hit, a moment that injected enough life into the proceedings for the Red Wings to eventually build a 3-1 win.
Maybe they’re slipping under the radar a bit compared to previous iterations of the team, but it’s interesting that the Red Wings are now undefeated in three games.
They’ve been impressive at times, too, outscoring opponents by a combined score of 11-4.
Call it a refreshing time after Mike Babcock or merely carryover from a subtly solid run last season, but either way, the Red Wings may just be able to keep up their end of a brewing rivalry.