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Like Islanders, wounded, these Capitals be

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New York Islanders (10-12-2) at Washington Capitals (13-9-3)

7 p.m. EST | [some such telco] Center | MSG+2

Some Capitals blogs: Japers' Rink | Off Wing Opinion | On Frozen Blog

After great in-depth reflection, I've reached the shocking conclusion that the Washington Capitals are currently superior to the Islanders. Yet last season 'round this time, despite their roster, that wasn't so clear. The Islanders even took 3 of 4 in the season series.

Then as now, the Caps' top three forwards were better than the Islanders' top three have been at arguably any point in their careers. But the young Capitals seemed held back by a former Rangers goalie who coached them through the ugly years yet couldn't seem to adjust to having actual talent on hand. Amazing now, but just a year ago it looked like Glen Hanlon was taking them through another season as object of "Southleast" ridicule.

The rest, of course, is magical Boudreau history. Due reward for a fanbase that has been through a lot, and an owner who has done everything he can to try to build the team and promote the sport. I still mourn the Caps being torn from the six-team Patrick Division, but perhaps that is appropriate penance for the Faustian deal of having Dale Hunter, that consummate tool, as a franchise hero. (One day, I'll get over the Turgeon hit. But you know, these things take time.)

The Caps are facing a slate of injuries as significant as the Isles [wounded are listed after the jump], enough to make them cap-nervous about funding reinforcements. They may have brought their uninspired road virus back home with them. Still, they lost to a poor Panthers team Tuesday, and -- is it just me? -- doesn't it seem like the Isles always get good teams after they've stunk up the previous game? Sloppy seconds, indeed. (Okay, maybe Dallas doesn't count, but it seemed at the time that they might still be good when the Devils whacked them 5-0.)

Capitals fans also just digested Olie Kolzig's criticism of one of the teammates he left behind. Which is like ... well, there really is no analagous figure to Kolzig in Islanders' history.

All of the Isles long-term greats won Stanley Cups, so there isn't that conflicted near-miss baggage, and all of the other Isles notables were dealt before they settled in long enough to think they had a say like Kolzig. So maybe imagine if Billy Smith ripped into Pat LaFontaine after Smith retired, I dunno. Just know it hurts a Caps fan to see Kolzig this way.

Anyway, the twilight of careers is seldom pretty, and it sometimes brings out the inner tomfoolery in our fading athletic heroes. Kolzig -- he of the once-legendary on-ice temper -- is apparently no different.

Target: Alzner. He's Not So Kingly Yet

Now about that game. The Isles would do well to try to pick on young Karl Alzner and Sami LePisto, the former who will one day be good but is still green (though not that kind of Green -- also injured). Woe, the plight of young defensemen in the NHL. Alzner's one of a plethora of callups the Caps are turning to as injury replacements -- they've even resurrected Bryan Helmer! Helmer had 27 shifts Tuesday! In the NHL! Actually a cool story, as he hasn't played in the NHL since 2004, so now his kids are cognitively aware of the feat. But still: rather illustrative of what the Caps are facing.

With the injuries, let's just say the Caps' currently active defensemen do not ring a bell, except for the guy who spells "Shane," er "Shawn," er ... whatever it is, so that it's kinda funny lookin' -- more than most hockey names, even. Alas, this guy is not hurt. But this playa' hata' [Do you haf dis word in Russian?] is.

Mild Statistic-Related Substance

Mentioned this earlier this week, but if you see fewer giveaways than what turns up on the stat sheet, your eyes do not deceive you. The [Telecom what-not] Center statistician does. [Note to self: Never try to type "statistician" again ... doh!]

And now, the injury list. Note that Mike Sillinger -- trumpets blaring -- will make his first appearance since Feb. 5, 2008.

Injuries: Washington Capitals


Player Injury Type Injury Date
John Erskine mild concussion 12.3.2008


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Sergei Fedorov sprained left ankle 12.3.2008

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Jeff Schultz broken finger 11.26.2008
Chris Clark stress fracture in right forearm 11.26.2008
Mike Green bruised right shoulder 11.20.2008
Brian Pothier post-concussion syndrome 9.20.2008
Alexander Semin strained upper back/shoulder 11.20.2008

Injuries: New York Islanders


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mike Sillinger hip surgery 11.30.2008


Player Injury Type Injury Date
Radek Martinek shoulder 12.3.2008
Nate Thompson undisclosed 12.3.2008

Out (IR / Out / Suspended / Physically unvailable)

Player Injury Type Injury Date
Mike Comrie right hip inflammation 11.4.2008
Rick DiPietro knee surgery 10.30.2008
Frans Nielsen right leg 11.22.2008
Bruno Gervais leg 11.24.2008
Kyle Okposo arm/hand 11.19.2008