THE WASHINGTON OVECHKINS (PRE GAME OPINIONS)
Is this game an easy win for the Buds? No, because nothing will come easy for anybody. So, the Leafs have to work hard for a win as the Capitals are fresh off a 4-3 over the Canucks. One player to keep an eye on is rookie Evgeny Kuznetsov who had accumulated his first 3 career points (all assists) in that game, and is looking for his first NHL goal. Overall, the Capitals are a tough team to play against but a win is possible.
In order for the Leafs to come out with the win, they must do the following:
1) Shut down Ovechkin and Backstrom
Although the Capitals have some good offensive options in Mike Green, Marcus Johansson, Grabovski and Kuznetsov, in the end, their top line has to produce if they want to win. In order to prevent that from happening, Ovechkin and Backstrom cannot have good opportunities to score all the time.
2) Score early and wear them down
Just like in the Flyers game, the Leafs were able to to score two quick goals before the first period was five minutes old. Although it had to take overtime to come away with a win, the Leafs were able to keep the Flyers off the scoreboard until late in the second. In this game, the Leafs need to have an early lead and hold on to it.
3) The power play needs to light'em up
The Capitals don't have a strong penalty kill, and the power play is the Maple Leafs specialty. Unfortunately, it has been as cold as the ice with only 2 goals in the last 22 tries (Don't quote me on that!). But the power play is showing signs of improvement as the Leafs are slowly getting their power play numbers up. Its only a matter of time before the Leafs explode on the power play, in a good way!
It may seem weird to have to wait until Sunday to watch a weekend game, but it will most definitely be worth the wait. My prediction for this game is: it will be close for most of the game until one team scores late in the third and pop in an empty net goal as well.