Capitals-Blackhawks Preview

BY foxsports • February 27, 2016

The Chicago Blackhawks have acquired a bevy of players as they gear up for another Stanley Cup run and could have some of them in front of the home crowd Sunday.

The Blackhawks might need all the help they can get with a matchup against the league-best Washington Capitals and red-hot superstar Alex Ovechkin.

Chicago general manager Stan Bowman started his flurry of trades Thursday by re-acquiring Andrew Ladd from Winnipeg. The former Jets captain and member of the Blackhawks' 2010 Cup-winning team was brought over with Matt Fraser and Jay Harrison for Marko Dano and two draft picks.

Bowman added Christian Ehrhoff from Los Angeles on Friday for another veteran defenseman Rob Scuderi. He then picked up Tomas Fleischman and Dale Weise from Montreal for Philip Danault and a second-round pick in 2018.

"I really like the way this team looks right now. I'm excited to get on the ice and play," Bowman said. "Sometimes the moves are there to help your team and I think this year we clearly had some pieces we thought would give us a better chance."

Chicago (38-20-5) is expected to have nearly all of its new players available Sunday. Weise has to clear up an immigration issue first and reportedly will join the team within seven days.

The Blackhawks could use a boost from their new acquisitions after losing five of seven, totaling six goals in those defeats. A 3-1 setback to Nashville on Thursday was their fourth in five home games since the All-Star break.

The Capitals (45-11-4) have won 10 of 12, beating Minnesota 3-2 on Friday. Ovechkin started a third-period rally with his league-leading 40th goal and Dmitry Orlov tallied the tiebreaking score with 5:04 remaining.

Ovechkin has 11 goals and four assists in his last 10 games to vault past Chicago's Patrick Kane, who has 35 scores.

The five-time goal-scoring champ had the final score in a 4-1 win over Chicago on Oct. 15, Washington's fourth straight victory in the series. He has five goals and three assists in his last six games versus the Blackhawks.

"Obviously, they're skilled guys and won the Stanley Cup last year. They're an experienced team and it's a huge test for us," the Washington captain said.

The Capitals won't have their top scoring defenseman, John Carlson, for this trip after coach Barry Trotz announced Saturday he's out at least three weeks after re-aggravating a lower-body injury. Brooks Laich might play if he clears waivers, and Washington could get Jay Beagle back from an upper-body injury that's kept him out since Dec. 30.

"I think (the return) will come sometime this week. It's up to the coaches," Beagle said. "It's getting better. It's getting stronger every day. It's close."

Mike Weber, acquired from Buffalo on Tuesday for a third-round pick in 2017, went through his first practice with the Capitals on Saturday. The defenseman had to make a detour to Michigan for the birth of his second child this past week.

Ladd, who will play on the left side of Chicago's top line, had four goals in his final three games with Winnipeg and scored a goal in each of his two contests against Washington this season.

Fleischmann, who spent his first five-plus seasons with Washington from 2005-10, scored against his former team Wednesday, just his third goal in 35 games.

Former teammate Braden Holtby has a 1.67 goals-against average in winning his last three starts against the Blackhawks.

Chicago counterpart Corey Crawford has a 3.99 GAA in his last five starts after posting a 1.67 GAA in his first 15 of 2016.

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