OK ... so I was bored and you are all rewarded with a giant Tidbits for this game. Here goes:
• Brent Johnson, who will start in net for Washington, has not beaten Carolina the past two seasons. In four starts in 2006-07 he was 0-4 with a 4.27 goal-against average and .896 save percentage, and in one start and one relief appearance last year he was 0-1, though his numbers were good at 1.56 GAA and .938 S%. So far this year he's 1-1-2 this year with a 2.47 GAA and .914 S%.
• Second-year center Nicklas Backstrom's play was a big indicator in the Caps-Canes eight-game series last season, which the teams split. When Backstrom registered a point, the Caps won. When he didn't, the Canes came out on top. Overall, Backstrom had six assists and was minus-1 in eight games vs. Carolina. Backstrom has been quiet to start the season, registering just four assists — all on the power play — in 11 games.
• Reigning Hart Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin is off to a slow start (2-3-5, plus-3 in nine games, though he still leads the team in hits with 26), perhaps caused by him dealing with the poor health of his grandfather in Russia. Last year A.O. had no such problems vs. the Canes, potting seven goals and adding four assists in eight outings. Those numbers average out be very close to Ovechkin's point output for the entire 2007-08 season.
• Alexander Semin, who was named NHL player of the month for October, also fared well against Carolina last year. He had four goals and two assists (all of those points but one goal were on the power play) in six games. In 2006-07, he was 7-4-11 in eight games against the Hurricanes.
• Before getting hurt last season, Michael Nylander put up good numbers against Carolina. In four games, the 36-year-old Swede had two goals and three assists, though he was a minus-4.
• Veteran pivot Sergei Fedorov had three assists in two games vs. Carolina — both Caps wins — after being acquired from Columbus at the trade deadline last season.
• Heavyweight matchup: Donald Brashear and Wade Brookbank tussled Feb. 28 after Brashear hit then-Cane Trevor Letowski.
• Carolina's power play has risen from the depths of the league to a respectable 17th (17.2 percent), but is still just 25th on the road at 13.2 percent. Washington is 20th at 15.7 percent (14th at home at 19 percent). The Caps' PK is 15th at 81.5 percent (at home it's 13th at 85 percent), while Carolina's is 20th at 79.6 (on the road it's 13th at 83.8 percent).
• Carolina is the league's fourth-least penalized team, spending just 11.7 minutes in the box per game. The Caps are 14th at 14.5 PIMs per game.
• The Canes continue to struggle with shots against. They are 27th (ahead of only Southeast rivals Florida, Tampa Bay and Atlanta) at 33.4 shots allowed per game.
• Half of Carolina's eight road games have gone beyond regulation. Carolina is 2-2 in those games. Of Washington's four home games, they have also gone to extra sessions half of the time. They split those two games.
• Washington does not have an empty-net goal this season. Carolina is tied with Florida and St. Louis for tops in the league with three.
• The Caps have allowed 15 goals in the first period this season, fourth-most in the league, but have allowed just eight in the second (T-3rd best). Carolina is in the middle of the pack in both with 10 allowed in the first, 11 in the second.
• Washington has the second-worst winning percentage when scoring first, finishing off only 40 percent of the games when they jump to a 1-0 lead. Only Chicago (33.3 percent) is worse. Carolina has won 57.1 percent of the games when they score first (t-20th). The Caps rank near the bottom in winning after leading after two periods as well. They're 29th (ahead of Pittsburgh's 40 percent win rate), having won just half of the games they lead after two.
• Eric Staal is one power play goal shy (48) of tying Ron Francis (49) for third in Carolina history (not including Hartford). Jeff O'Neill is tops all time with 61, while Rod Brind'Amour is second at 54. Staal's next goal will also break a tie with Erik Cole for third in career Canes goals. Both are at 129. Joe Corvo's next power play goal (he has six) will tie him for third all-time among d-men in Canes history. Sean Hill (19) is first, while David Tanabe (12) is second — both with more than 300 games played. Glen Wesley, Paul Coffey and Steve Chiasson all have seven, though they did it 729, 113 and 94 games respectively. Corvo will play his 36th game as a Cane tonight.
• Tuomo Ruutu and Patrick Dwyer are two of just five players listed as right wings in Canes history to be plus players in their time with Carolina. In 26 games, Ruutu is plus-3, while Dwyer is plus-1 in just two games. Ray Sheppard was plus-6 in 84 career games as a Cane. Chris Murray (seven games, plus-2) and Sandy McCarthy (13 games, plus-2) are the others. Wade Brookbank (plus-5 in 44 games) and Sergei Samsonov (plus-1 in 50 games) are two of seven left wings who are on the right side of the plus/minus ledger. Cole (plus-13 in 418 games) and Andrew Ladd (plus-10 in 137 games) are on top. The others are David Gove (plus-2 in two games), Tomas Kurka (plus-1 in 17 games) and Damian Surma (plus-1 in two games). Four listed centers on this year's roster are among the seven plus players as Canes. Chad Larose (plus-16 in 199 games), Matt Cullen (plus-7 in 147 games), Brandon Sutter (plus-2 in seven games) and Dwight Helminen (plus-2 in five games) all make the list. Keith Primeau leads the way at plus-27 in 159 games, while Marty Murray was plus-6 in 66 games as a Hurricane. Joe Jensen, who currently plays for Carolina's AHL affiliate in Albany, is the other at plus-1 in six games.
• Brent Johnson's (11) next overtime/shootout loss will tie him with Olaf Kolzig (12) for the most in Washington history. Frederic Cassivi has the only other OT/SO loss.
• Here's a final funny one: Cam Ward leads all NHL goalies in PIMs this season with four.
**** Two trivia questions, each for 10 CC points: Ex-Washington agitator Dale Hunter is second all-time in NHL history in career penalty minutes with 3,565, trailing only Dave "Tiger" Williams’ 3,966. Hunter got 2,003 of those playing for the Caps.
1. Who is second all-time in Caps PIMs?
2. What active NHLer — not necessarily still with the team — has the most PIMs as a Capital?
Post answers below for the CC points (they may be worth something down the road)!