Thursday, Oct 3, 2013, 5:00 PM MST
The Opposition: Japer's Rink
Season Preview: Three Big Questions Facing the Washington Capitals
Radio: The Fan 960
The excruciating wait is finally over. After a long off-season that extended from the end of April to the beginning of October, the new-look Flames will finally hit the ice tonight in their first game of the season against the Washington Capitals, whom the cup champion Chicago Blackhawks have already claimed as their first victim.
The last time these two teams played each other was January 3rd, 2012. Washington came away with a 3-1 win thanks to Troy Brouwer's game-winner and Tomas Voukun's 18 saves between the pipes. Curtis Glencross scored for the Flames and Miikka Kiprusoff was in net.
How things have changed.
We already had a preview of what this team will look like without Jarome Iginla and Jay Bouwmeester, both traded before the end of the lockout-shortened season, but tonight, we will get our first ever glimpse of the Flames post Miikka Kiprusoff. The Karri Ramo/Joey MacDonald era has begun in Calgary, and tonight we will see it action for the first time in a game that counts.
After finishing first in the Southeast Division this past spring and losing in the first round of the playoffs to the New York Rangers, the Capitals snagged coveted free agent Mikhail Grabovski after he was bought out by the Leafs in July.
Gone are Mike Rebeiro and Wojtek Wolski, but the Caps still have an abundance of forward depth that starts with Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin and Mikhail Grabovski and includes Brooks Laich, Martin Erat, Eric Fehr, Jason Chimera and Joel Ward.
On the back-end, Calgary products Mike Green and Karl Alzner anchor the blueline alongside Canada's public enemy number one John Carlson.
With young up-and-comer Braden Holtby in net and sort-of rookie head coach Adam Oates behind the bench, the Caps are going to be an interesting bunch this season in the re-vamped Metropolitan Division, which will see them go up against the likes of the Penguins, Rangers, Islanders, Flyers, Blue Jackets, Devils and Hurricanes. SB Nations' hockey writers projected the Caps to finish second in the Metropolitan Division behind the Penguins.
The injury to Mike Cammalleri (hand) forces Matt Stajan to centre the first line while rookie Sean Monahan gets his first start of the year on the third line between Sven Baertschi and David Jones. I'd like that fourth line a lot better if it were Tim Jackman instead of Brian McGrattan, but what can you do.
Capitals (as per Japer's Rink):