The late start (10pm) of tonight’s west-coast game may preclude any recap before today becomes tomorrow, so the boys and I decided to lower your expectations in advance.

The Caps got smacked pretty good by the Hurricanes on Monday night. The boys looked lazy and disjointed. It’s been a tumultuous week on and off the ice, so we’re going to rattle off a bunch of excuses in case the team somehow manages to lose to the best team in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks.

Goalie drama. Tarik El-Bashir, Washington’s only remaining hockey-beat reporter, assures us that Little Mikey Neuvirth will start in goal this evening. His backup, Jose Theodore, is 10 years his senior. Theodore racked up a career-best 41 saves just two months ago, but has since been uneven in goal. Bruce Boudreau may now lack confidence in the netminder. I’d be dubious, too, as the guy was once hooking up with Paris Hilton. It doesn’t help that Semyon Varlamov has recovered from some early season miscues and revealed himself as an Olympic-level keeper. Once Varly returns from Hershey and his bout with crotch rot, we may have one of those classic sitcom scenarios on our hands.

Today we learned that Mike Green was not selected for Canada’s Olympic hockey team. This is only the latest in a long line of poor decisions for Canada (giving Alanis Morissette a microphone, slicing bacon too thick, letting Michael J. Fox leave the country), and one they will likely regret. The guy is the number-one scoring defenseman in the league right now. I mean– what else could Team Canada possibly want in a defender other than goal-scoring? Russian Machine worries for Greenie’s bruised ego, and has begun a Twitter campaign to make him feel better and also invade Canada.

Boyd Gordon isn’t playing tonight. Stop the f$#&ing presses.

Jason Chimera will be joining the Caps lineup this evening. The left winger from Columbus is expected to join the second line, perhaps taking (Olympian) Tomas Fleischman’s spot as he moves to center. Will the lineup and personnel shake-ups bring chaos to the team tonight? Will Chimera be welcomed into the team with open arms? Will Al Koken pronounce his name wrong? We can guarantee only that one of the questions will be answered, “yes.”

Alexander Semin left the ice mid-shift on Monday complaining of an injury. He later returned to the ice, but not before raising some questions about his wellbeing. Russian Machine has a vested interest in the Siberian kicking ass. We were willing to let it slide that he refuses to learn the language, but only so long as he plays games and handles the puck he’s freaking Legolas out there. If Alexander has re-injured his wrist, Russian Machine will demand he refund a portion his 6-million dollar contract extension — paid to us. We will accept payment in Green Turtle pub fries.

Lastly, the Caps are playing a team with a five-game winning streak. For contrast, the boys are on a zero-game winning streak. We lost — badly I might add — to the Carolina Hurricanes. That’s not quite as bad as the Harlem Globetrotters losing to the Atlantic City Seagulls, but it’s still pretty bad. If the Sharks manage to outscore the Caps tonight, blame it on momentum.

We’re now three hours out from tonight’s first puck drop.  You have the option of bucking up, quixotically rooting for a win; or you can be like me and dispense with that pollyanna nonse:  drink yourself into the last, glorious stupor of 2009 whilst the Caps get the Caps beat out of ’em.