Game three of Washington’s 2011 pre-season slate takes the Capitals to the Windy City for an 8 p.m. date with the Chicago Blackhawks. Both clubs are seeking their first victories of the pre-season.
Five of the Caps slated to suit up for tonight’s tilt will be doing so for the first time in the 2011 pre-season, including center Ryan Potulny. Potulny, the leading scorer for the 2011 Calder Cup champion Binghamton Senators, is one of several forwards in the mix for the final few opening night roster spots in Washington this fall.
Centers Cody Eakin, Christian Hanson and left wing D.J. King (and possibly Mattias Sjogren and Chris Bourque as well) are among the others slated to play in Chicago tonight who are embroiled in that battle for as many as three available roster spots up front. Left wing Alex Ovechkin is also slated to make the trip to Chicago for Friday’s game.
Washington will be playing its third pre-season game in four nights in three different cities tonight when it takes on the Blackhawks. The Caps fell 2-0 to Nashville on Tuesday night in Baltimore and then dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Blue Jackets in Columbus on Wednesday.
The Hockey News predicted a 2012 Stanley Cup final series featuring the Capitals and the Blackhawks in its 2011-12 forecast issue. Chicago won the Cup in 2010, then pushed eventual Cup finalist Vancouver to a seventh and deciding game after first falling into an 0-3 hole in the opening round of the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs last spring.
Friday’s game is the Blackhawks’ 2011 pre-season home opener. The Hawks suffered a 4-2 road setback at the hands of the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday and dropped a 4-1 decision to the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Thursday.
Chicago’s lineup for Friday’s game with the Capitals is expected to feature Hawks captain Jonathan Toews as well as former Capitals Andrew Brunette and Brian Fahey.
Left wing Brunette was Washington’s seventh-round (174th overall) choice in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. He played 62 games in parts of three seasons with Washington before going to Nashville in the 1998 expansion draft. The durable Brunette has played in 80 or more games in each of the last nine NHL seasons, and he appeared in his 1,000th NHL contest with Minnesota last season. The Hawks are the sixth different NHL club for which Brunette has toiled.
Defenseman Fahey is a Chicago-area (Glenview, IL) product who made his NHL debut with Washington last season, collecting one assist in seven games with the Capitals. He had four goals and 29 points in 60 games with AHL Hershey in 2010-11.