WASHINGTON – The Habs will need another strong performance Thursday night against a Washington squad desperate for their first win.
A team with its back against the wall can often make for the most dangerous adversary. While the 2012-13 NHL season may still be in its earliest stages and a lot of hockey remains to be played, every team knows that a bad start could spell doom in a 48-game campaign. There’s no doubt the Capitals will have that in the back of their minds when they hit the ice Thursday night to try and avoid starting the season with an 0-3 record – and the visiting Canadiens know it.
“They’re going to be coming out hard for sure. They’re hungry and they’ll be looking for some success. They’ve got a good team and we have to be ready for them,” said Canadiens captain, Brian Gionta who like the rest of his team is ready to push the pace against the Caps, despite playing their first game of the season outside the friendly confines of the Bell Centre. “It doesn’t change things for us at all. We’re focused on ourselves and how we play the game and that’s the only thing we can control.”
Getting off to a solid start by dropping the gloves in his first game as a Hab and then picking up his first point in the next, Brandon Prust is ready to bring more of the same in Washington alongside rookie linemates Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher.
“These make for some of the toughest games because all the pressure is on their shoulders and they absolutely want to win. They’re going to be doing everything in their power to score early get the first goal and we have to be ready for that,” pointed out Prust, who despite only facing the Capitals 11 times since entering the league managed to score two of his seven career game-winning goals against Washington.
“They have a lot of weapons at their disposal and some of the best players on the planet. It’s going to be a night where our own special teams will need to have a good game,” underlined Prust, of the Caps’ struggling penalty kill who thus far has allowed five goals on 12 attempts since the start of the season.
“They have guys that can hit really hard and others that have a ton of speed,” he added. “We’re both sort of similar teams in that sense, so you should be ready for a bit of everything tonight.”
With star captain Alex Ovechkin still on the hunt for his first goal of the campaign and the Capitals averaging 32 shots per game agaisnt their opponents, Michel Therrien knows what the Capitals are capable of, even if their stats might not currently suggest it.
“We’re going up against a good team. They might be having a bit of trouble getting in synch right now, but this is still a team that’s capable of scoring a lot of goals,” dropped Therrien, who didn’t hesitate to go with the same winning lineup from Tuesday night, sitting forward Lars Eller and defenseman Yannick Weber. “Tonight, they should hit the ice playing with a lot of desperation and we’re going to have to ready for that from our end. I’m looking for another good performance from our team tonight and with the same strong work ethic that we showed in our last game.
“It’s our first game on the road,” he added. “I’m looking forward to seeing how we’re going to respond.”
Justin Fragapane is a writer for canadiens.com.
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