The Washington Capitals have been playing up and down hockey over the last few weeks, will the better squad show up for their Saturday home game against the New Jersey Devils.
The Capitals took on one of their rivals in the Flyers Wednesday night and took the loss 3-2.
It was a tale of two games, the first period both teams were high octane offensive pressure which resulted in a game knotted at 2-2.
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The Washington Capitals made a good effort to get back in the game late with a number of high danger scoring chances from key spots all over the ice. But they ultimately couldn’t pull off the comeback.
It didn’t help that once they got through the fast action of the first period the Caps appeared to come out flat. This falls in line with the history of the Capitals coming out tired after the first game of a back to back. It becomes hard to argue with the mental mistakes like passing the puck directly to the opponent, i.e. Carlson assisting Hayes on his shorty.
Next the Capitals take on the Devils on home ice, fortunately for them it will be after a few days off. But which team will show up, recently the Capitals have had an up and down run lately with a record of 8-6 since their first match up with the Blue Jackets.
Prior to that the Capitals were on one of the best tracks that they have had over the last few seasons, where they were 18-5 prior to their recent stretch. If there was a team to face to get back on a run like they had for most of the season the Devils are the team to face, as they are in the midst of a three game losing streak and will be without their top draft pick Jack Hughes who is out with an upper body injury.
The last time they played the Capitals defeated the Devils 6-3 on December 20th in New Jersey. It marked the 900th game together for Ovechkin and Backstrom. They made it count to as they accounted for half the scoring with Backstrom having 2G and 2A, Ovechkin added 1G and 1A.
It was a back and forth game early on but the Capitals took over the game late in the second and put the game out of reach in the third period. This game was also after the big trade of Taylor Hall to the Arizona Coyotes. After this contest the Devils have also had an up and down stretch with a few key wins against tough competition, they defeated the Bruins and Islanders. But also hold losses to the Rangers and Blue Jackets in that stretch.
Currently the Devils sit in the basement of the Metro Division, they are only better than Detroit in overall points. The Devils are one of the worst in producing goals as they have only gotten 110 goals leaving them ahead of the Ducks and Red Wings. This is not hard to fathom given they also hold the next to last PP unit with a 14.77% conversion rate.
While they hold a slightly below average PK unit they are one of the worst for allowing goals as they are 3rd in the league by allowing 150 goals again barely better than the Sharks (151) and only better than Detroit (169) otherwise.
The Capitals on the flip side have one of the better offensive teams in a tight race for the top team, they are 3rd at 160 goals for compared to the other two Maple Leafs (161) and Avalanche (162). The chances of the Devils finding a hole in the PK unit of the Caps will be hard to figure as the Caps have the 4th best PK at 83.65%.
The Washington Capitals if they come with the full effort and do what they do best this should be no problem to take care of the Devils. But if they give them too much leeway the Devils have shown lately they can take advantage of any room given.
The Capitals will most likely look to Braden Holtby after a few days off. He owns a 17-6 with a 0.927 SV% and 1.94 GAA versus the Devils. After the few days off the Capitals should be able to come in fresh with their A game. While this is a match up of the top and bottom of the division, the game should not be seen as an easy game anything can happen and the Capitals will need to come prepared for a tough affair.
Here is how to follow the divisional match up:
Date: Jan. 11th
Time: 7:00 PM EST
Where: Capital One Arena
TV Broadcast: NBC Sports Washington
Radio: WJFK 106.7 The Fan, Caps Radio 24/7
Streaming: ESPN+ has a free 7-day trial that includes live streaming for this game on all your smart devices! Besides NHL games, ESPN+ features a selection of live games from MLB, MLS, Serie A, FA Cup, and EFL. Get in on the action with Live UFC Fight Nights, 30+ Top Rank Boxing cards, Grand Slam tennis from Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open.