Apparently, all the Washington Capitals have to do is play the Winnipeg Jets in Winnipeg a few more times and everything will be alright.
That seems strange to say considering the Jets are still in first place in the Southeast Division, and the Capitals are, well, not. But the fact remains that after the Caps whitewashed Winnipeg 4-0 on Thursday night, the Jets have yet to even score on them in two games this season at the MTS Centre.
Conveniently, the two teams square off again tonight in the exact same place in an act of deja vu unique to this very unusual season. You’d expect Braden Holtby to be in net again despite playing last night since he played in both shutouts.
Holtby had to make 30-plus saves the first time but only 20 on Tuesday. That led him to make this comment which I believe was a backhanded way of saying the defense did a good job in front of him:
It was a strange. It was a different game than we usually [have], shots-wise. Usually there are a lot coming from everywhere.
Perhaps it was the return of Mike Green to the defense that helped make the difference. Interestingly, Jeff Schultz was the odd man out, while more recent additions like Steven Oleksy and Dmitry Orlov both played.
Meanwhile, Alex Ovechkin showed once again that he can certainly lead by example when the moment calls for it. Ovi had a three-point night, and linemates Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson each had a goal and an assist. Washington’s captain also sent Mark Stuart to the locker room with a bruising check (though he returned for a bit), and it’s not known if he’ll play tonight.
The Jets could make a change in goal since Al Montoya is back from injured reserve. He hasn’t played much this year but has been excellent when he has, sporting a 2.33 goals against average and .909 save percentage.
And of course, the Jets will come out fired up after a lackluster performance the previous night. There could be more chippiness. Maybe Aaron Volpatti will have to suit up as a result, though Oleksy showed no qualms about throwing down with James Wright. Maybe Evander Kane will get frustrated even earlier and get himself kicked out in the first period.
What’s clear is that the Capitals have a big opportunity to close the gap on first place even more. Here’s hoping they don’t blow it.
Washington Capitals at Winnipeg Jets
Time: 7 pm EDT
TV: Comcast SportsNet Washington (Capitals), CBC (Jets)