Red Wings set stage for battle of unbeatens with Capitals

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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.

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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.