Twice the ice: Hockey Night In Canada

Washington Capitals at Toronto Maple Leafs (+120, 6)

The basics

Fresh off the “Battle for 29th Part Deux,” the Toronto Maple Leafs meet the Washington Capitals for the second time this season.

Toronto is 3-11-6 and is on a five game losing streak (0-4-1). Washington is 13-4-4 and has won five of six games.

The Capitals defeated the Leafs 6-4 earlier this season.

As least we’ve got our health

Other than injuries to defensemen Mike Van Ryn and Mike Komisarek, Toronto has been relatively healthy this year.

Washington could be missing up to seven players from its opening night roster, most importantly forward Alexander Semin.
 
"It's not from a blow or anything," said GM George McPhee of Semin. "He just tweaked it. He's day to day and will be ready to go when he's ready to go."

Mike Knuble (broken finger) and Jose Theodore (personal) are other notable absences from Washington’s lineup.

Net-virth

Neither Vesa Toskala nor Jonas Gustavsson has emerged as Toronto’s number one option.

Gutavsson gave up five goals and looked lost in his first NHL shootout on Thursday.  Toskala has a GAA of 4.26 but has given up three goals or less in his last three games.

In Washington, prospect Michal Neuvirth has been called up in Jose Theodore’s absence to back up Semyon Varlamov. Neuvirth is starting against the Habs on Friday, so Varlamov will likely start on Saturday.

The A.O. Show

Alexander Ovechkin returned from injury Tuesday and that’s not good news for the Leafs.

Ovechkin has been spectacular against Toronto, with eight goals and six assists in his last eight games. 

Despite Ovechkin’s dominance, the under was on a 7-0 run before an October 3, 6-4 Washington victory. 

Chicago Blackhawks at Edmonton Oilers (+120, 5.5)

The basics

The late HNIC game features the Chicago Blackhawks and the Edmonton Oilers.

The Blackhawks are 13-5-2 and have won five in a row.  Edmonton is 9-10-3 and won its last game to snap a four game losing streak.

Chicago defeated Edmonton 4-3 earlier this season in a game where Edmonton netminder Nikolai Khabibulin was sensational.  Khabibulin made 34 saves, including a penalty shot and two breakaways.

Legal damages

Are the lawyers to blame for Edmonton’s many injuries?

Missing from the last Edmonton practice were: Ethan Moreau (head), Sam Gagner (hip), Liam Reddox (ankle), Shawn Horcoff (shoulder), Ales Hemsky (upper body), Lubomir Visnovsky, Robert Nilsson (concussion), Ryan Stone (knee), Fernando Pisani (colitis), Marc Pouliot (hernia) and Taylor Chorney (ankle).

"There are some legitimate illnesses," Oilers coach Pat Quinn said. "Are the injuries a result of bad training?  "Maybe there's a little more caution because of lawyers and new contracts.

Special (teams) delivery

The Blackhawks snapped out of a power-play funk against the Flames Thursday by scoring four power-play goals.

"Our power play lately has been better," coach Joel Quenneville said. "We had a real tough stretch early on when we weren't getting much production."

Edmonton did an excellent job in its last game killing penalties, but prior to that game had given up four power-play goals in its last seven chances.

Over-whelming

During Chicago’s current five-game winning streak it has averaged four goals per game.

The Oilers have allowed 3.05 goals a game, third highest in the Western Conference.  Part of the problem is that Edmonton has allowed 45 five-on-five goals.

According to Quinn, the Oilers “have six guys who not been doing a strong job of defensive zone coverage.” Quinn added: “Good teams have strong forwards who know what the hell is going on in their defensive zone.”

The over is 4-2 in these teams’ last six meetings.

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