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Our quick guide to tonight’s Hershey Bears – Norfolk Admirals AHL Showcase game at Verizon Center

Our guide to tonight’s AHL Showcase between the Hershey Bears and the Norfolk Admirals at Verizon Center in Washington, DC is simple. It’s in the tweet below and we hope you’ll spread the word. There are downtown businesses and arena workers affected by the NHL lockout that could use the dollars. Enjoy the hockey! And please pour a little money into the local economy too if you can.

One more thing: As tweeter @Sdunn2984 pointed out today, there is a toy drive for the Salvation Army at tonight’s game. “The Capitals will be accepting donations at the F Street Entrance to Verizon Center starting when doors open at 6 p.m.,” according to the team’s website. “The first 1,500 fans to donate will receive a commemorative Adam Oates Hall of Fame poster. The Capitals, GEICO, Comcast SportsNet and The Salvation Army urge all Caps fans to donate at least one new, unwrapped toy for a deserving child this holiday season.”

With Tuukka Rask questionable for Game 1, Bruins may turn to Anton Khudobin as backup goalie

Anton Khudobin

Anton Khudobin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With their top two goaltenders Michal Neuvirth and Tomas Vokoun injured, the Washington Capitals head into tonight’s first round NHL playoff match-up against the Boston Bruins with a netminding tandem of Braden Holtby and Dany Sabourin, two players who spent most of this season playing for the AHL’s Hershey Bears. Neuvirth traveled with the team to Boston, but there’s been no word yet on when he’ll be available.

Washington isn’t the only team with uncertainty in goal. Though not anywhere near as big as what the Capitals are dealing with, the Bruins have a goaltending question mark of their own.

Still recovering from a groin/abdominal injury, Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask may not be available to back up starter Tim Thomas in Game 1 tonight. Reporting on Bruins Insider, Joe Haggerty writes, “Rask seems a very big question mark. It looks like he’s not going to be ready to begin the playoffs while recovering from a groin/abdomen strain. That leaves the door open for Anton Khudobin as backup to Tim Thomas.”

Khudobin has only seven games of NHL experience under his belt, but his numbers have been impressive, as he’s posted a 1.32 Goals Against Average and a .961 Save Percentage, playing for Boston and the Minnesota Wild. In the AHL this season for the Providence Bruins, he’s 21-19-3 with a 2.61 GAA and a .919 SV%.

In his lone NHL appearance this season and Bruins debut, Khudobin stopped 44 of 45 Ottawa shots in a 3-1 Boston victory on April 5. “He was outstanding,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said, according to NESN.com. “He was without a doubt our best player and he kept us in the game when we needed him to keep us in the game. He made some great saves, and we certainly gave him a chance to prove himself. That’s for sure. He faced a lot of shots.”

Via Twitter, pro goalie scout and NHL.com writer Justin Goldman of The Goalie Guild described Khudobin as a “very quick, dynamic goalie w/ a narrow stance that has added some good progressive [butterfly] elements to his game this season. Khudobin doesn’t look all that athletic, but he is. Has a fierce determination, strong work ethic, and a great attitude.”

Is Caps coach Dale Hunter looking to set a new tone for the “second half”?

The Washington Capitals today announced they’ve signed 24-year-old forward Joel Rechlicz and called him up from Hershey. According to the team’s press release, “Rechlicz, 24, has recorded one goal, one assist and 184 penalty minutes in 27 games with Hershey this season. He currently leads the AHL in penalty minutes.”

Could the signing of Rechlicz have something to do with the fact that the Caps are playing Steve Downie’s team tomorrow night? Downie was a bit of a pest the last time the Caps faced Tampa Bay and his fight with Karl Alzner seemed to spark his team. Perhaps Washington head coach Dale Hunter is looking for someone on his bench to use in a similar fashion against the Bolts and other upcoming opponents, or to at least keep guys like Downie from taking guys like Alzner off the ice for five minutes? As writer Ted Starkey pointed out, the Caps also face Montreal and Rene “I Elbowed Your #1 Center in the Head” Bourque on Saturday.

This call up of Rechlicz could set an interesting tone at the start of the “second half,” especially for a team that begins it with three games on the road, a place the Caps have struggled. Are we about to see some Hunter Hockey, as the Caps’ coach looks to establish his team in the stretch run as one that won’t back down and that might even proactively mix it up a bit more with opponents?

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