Eastern Conference Powers Collide in Montreal (WSH/MTL)

Washington Capitals' Alexander Ovechkin, left, checks Montreal Canadiens' P.K. Subban during first period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, April 20, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

Capitals fans are witnessing one of the best assembled Capitals teams in franchise history. This Capitals club has a strong chance at winning the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference.

While the Capitals are not at the top of anything yet, they are one of the NHL’s hottest teams. The Capitals have won 5 in a row, and they have won 7 out of their last 10 games. After a successful 4-2 victory in Toronto last Saturday, the Capitals 3-game Canadian road trip continues with a stop in Montreal.

SERIES FLASHBACK
The Capitals went 1-0-2 against Montreal in 2014-15, with all of the games either ending via overtime or shootout. Last April, Alex Ovechkin became the Capitals all-time goal scoring king with a goal against Carey Price’s Habs.

SERIES PREVIEW
This is the first of three meetings between the Capitals and Canadiens in 2015-16. They will meet again right after Christmas on December 26 in DC.  It is expected that Carey Price will also miss the game in DC later in the month.

SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: MONTREAL CANADIENS
In Montreal’s 26 games they have played so far, they have recorded 19 wins and have scored an outstanding 90 goals. They are ranked 2nd in goals for/per game (3.48), and they are ranked 3rd in goals against/per game (2.15).

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(Photo: NHL)

The Habs special teams are also performing at excellent rates. Their 4th ranked powerplay is clicking at 23.9% effective, and their 2nd ranked penalty kill has been excellent at 86.4%.

The only disappointing news in Montreal right now is that Carey Price is going to be out of action at least 6 weeks with a lower-body injury. This could impact them just a bit in the standings. Goaltenders Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski are expected to handle the load while Price is out.

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(Photo: Eric Bolte-USA TODAY Sports)

Forward Max Pacioretty is leading the way for the Habs in points. He leads the team with 13 goals and 25 points. The Habs Norris Trophy winning defenseman P.K. Subban is third in the NHL among defensemen in points (21).

This Habs club does not have many weaknesses, and they are certainly an Eastern Conference favorite this year. They should win the Atlantic Division, as they currently have an 11-point lead over 2nd place Detroit.

WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
caps-habs-rosterThe Capitals have had a nice little break this week, so they should be well-rested when they travel to the loud Bell Centre. It looks like the Capitals had a wonderful visit to the Andrews Air Force Base as they spent some quality bonding time with one another.

It looks like the Capitals will still be without the services of defenseman Brooks Orpik. He will not be traveling with the Capitals to Montreal or Winnipeg, so he will miss 11 games straight. The Capitals are insisting that he only needs rest, and he will not require any kind of surgery for his injury.

The Capitals have a bit of a tough stretch on the road coming up. After they play the Jets on Saturday, the Capitals will return home for one game on Tuesday against Detroit. After the Detroit game, the Capitals will hit the road again for another three game road trip. The Capitals will travel through the Sunshine State and then close that three game road trip in Pittsburgh.

The Capitals had a great month of November. They registered a 9-3-1 record, while Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby was named the NHL’s Second Star of the Month in November.

STANDINGS UPDATE

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NETWORK INFORMATION
Thursday, December 3, 2015 – CSN-DC; RDS; 7:30 PM ET

PROJECTED LINEUPS
washington-capitals-sports-640x1136-wallpapersWashington Capitals
Forwards:
Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams
Jason Chimera – Jay Beagle – Andre Burakovsky
Brooks Laich – Michael Latta – Tom Wilson

Defensemen:​
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – Taylor Chorney

Goaltenders:
Braden Holtby
Philipp Grubauer

Montreal-Canadiens-2-Sports-640x1136-wallpapersMontreal Canadiens
Forwards:
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Dale Weise
Lars Eller – Alex Galchenyuk – Sven Andrighetto
Tomas Fleischmann – Tomas Plekanec – Paul Byron
Devante Smith-Pelly – Brian Flynn – Christian Thomas

Defensemen:
Andrei Markov – P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu – Jeff Petry
Alexei Emelin – Tom Gilbert

Goaltenders:
Mike Condon
Dustin Tokarski

PLAYER SPOTLIGHT
Capitals – Braden Holtby: The NHL’s 2nd Star of November is putting up career numbers. Holtby is at the top of the NHL in goals against average (1.95) and wins (15). His .926 save percentage is also not too shabby. Holtby has really heated up and if he keeps at this pace, he should be in the running for the Vezina Trophy at the end of the season.

Canadiens – Tomas Plekanec: The Habs 2001 3rd round pick always seems to bite the Capitals whenever they face each other. Plekanec is 2nd in points on the Habs, only behind Max Pacioretty. Plekanec is a fast skater and has a nose for the net. The 33-year old Czech Republic native is coming off a 60-point 2014-15 campaign.

By George Foussekis

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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