The Capitals are off to one of their best starts in franchise history. While they remain in 2nd place in the Metropolitan Division, they are still in striking distance of the 1st place NY Rangers.
After a few days off this week, the Capitals are now scheduled to play a lot of games at the end of November. The good news for the Capitals is that they are beginning a 5 game homestand, which begins tonight with the Western Conference powerhouse Dallas Stars.
The Dallas Stars managed a two game sweep of the Capitals in their meetings in 2014-15. There was a lot of scoring in each game. Ovechkin managed to get a beautiful breakaway goal against the Stars last season:
This is the first of two meetings between the Stars and Capitals this season. They will not see each other again until February 13 when they have their rematch in Dallas.
SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: DALLAS STARS
The Stars are off to a hot start in their 2015-16 season. How are they one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Well, mainly because they have two of the NHL’s leading scorers – they have the defending Art Ross Trophy winner Jamie Benn
They also have a guy named Tyler Seguin who is pretty good:
The Stars have really revamped their roster within the past couple of years. Behind Seguin and Benn, they brought in former Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp over the summer in a trade. The Stars were able to bring in veteran goaltender Antti Niemi to help sure up their goaltending over the summer. The Stars have been running a two goalie system for this season, as Niemi has shared the net duties with Kari Lehtonen.
The Stars are young on their blueline. John Klingberg, Jyrki Jokipakka, Jason Demers, and Jordie Benn are all under 30-years of age. Klingberg is one of the NHL’s top point producing defenseman.
WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
The Capitals five-game homestand is critical for them and they need to get off to a fast start. Dallas will give the Capitals a good test, and the Capitals need to be ready and firing at all cylinders.
On this five-game homestand, the Capitals will face the Dallas Stars, Colorado Avalanche, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, and Tampa Bay Lightning. This is a winnable homestand for the Capitals and they should win at least three or four of these games.
The main concern surrounding the Capitals right now is the health of defenseman Brooks Orpik. Orpik’s injury is nagging and it is probably something minor. If the Capitals were in the playoffs right now, he would probably play through what is nagging him.
The Capitals have noticeably given up more breakaways in recent games, and they need to clean up their act in the neutral zone and defensive zone. If they give up too many odd-man rushes to the Stars, it will be a long night for the Capitals at the Phone Booth.
Thursday November 19, 2015 – CSN-DC; FS-SW; 7 PM ET
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Patrick Sharp
Mattias Janmark – Jason Spezza – Patrick Eaves
Antoine Roussel – Cody Eakin – Valeri Nichushkin
Colton Sceviour – Vernon Fiddler – Ales Hemsky
Alex Goligoski – John Klingberg
Johnny Oduya – Jason Demers
Jyrki Jokipakka – Jordie Benn
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – Taylor Chorney
Stars – John Klingberg: The 23-year old Swede is a young defenseman who is on a roll right now. Drafted by the Stars in the 5th round in 2010, he is a late gem that produces points from the blueline. Klingberg plays the point on the Stars powerplay, and he can move the puck around well. If he continues his rapid point pace, he could become a Norris Trophy finalist by the end of the season.
Capitals – Nicklas Backstrom: From one Swede to another, Backstrom is reunited with Ovechkin. Backstrom has 12 points in 13 games so far even though he missed a few games earlier this season. Backstrom was the Capitals 4th overall pick back in 2006 and has been alongside Alex Ovechkin for most of his career.
By George Foussekis