The Washington Capitals (25-6-2) play host to the Montreal Canadiens (20-13-3) Saturday night at Verizon center. The Capitals beat the Canadiens 3-2 in their first meeting of the season, back on December 3rd in Montreal.
Due to holiday break rules defined by the latest collective bargaining agreement, the Candadiens will have to travel from Montreal to Washington on game day, and are scheduled to arrive around 3:30 PM. Puck drop is 7:08 PM EST.
After starting the season 9-0, the Canadiens limped towards the holiday break, losing 9 of their last 10 games (11-13-3 since the 9-0 start). Still holding on to first place in the Atlantic Division, the Canadiens will be looking to find their game, both offensively and defensively.
The Canadiens lost star goaltender Carey Price to a knee injury he re-aggravated against the New York Rangers on November 25th, which will likely keep him sidelined until sometime in January. After a good start, the Canadiens backup goaltenders, Mike Condon and Dustin Tokarski have been leaking goals as of late.
The team has also missed the services of Brendan Gallagher, who has been sidelined since November 22nd with two broken fingers. When Gallagher was in the lineup, the Canadiens were 16-4-2 and averaging 3.54 goals per game. Without Gallagher, the Canadiens are 4-9-1 and are averaging 1.93 goals per game.
In stark contrast to the Canadiens of late, the Washington Capitals steamrolled into the holiday break on a six-game winning streak. Saturday night’s tilt with the Canadiens will be important for the Capitals to see if they can re-ignite the fire and continue with their dominant play.
Brooks Orpik will miss his 20th straight game due to a lower body injury he sustained in Detroit on November 10th. The Capitals are 15-2-2 without Orpik in the line-up. It seems that Coach Trotz has settled on a line-up as of late, and it is projected that Trotz will continue with this lineup for Saturday night:
For the second time ever, the Capitals will wear their new third (alternate) uniforms on Saturday night.
First Meeting – December 3rd, Bell Centre, Montreal
The Caps were out-skated, out-shot and outplayed for the majority of this game, but were able to steal the win in regulation, 3-2. Braden Holtby was sharp, with a .943 save percentage. The Candiens went with Mike Condon in net, who did not fare as well, giving up three goals on 19 shots for a .842 save percentage. T.J. Oshie had two goals, with the second goal being the eventual game winner. For a complete game recap and video, you can check it out here:
Both teams will be looking to get out to a quick start in this one. Coming off of the four-day break, both coaches will we concerned with a slow start, and falling behind early. It will be interesting to see if traveling on game-day and their relatively late arrival has any affect (good or bad) on the Canadiens. The preliminary lineups for Saturday’s tilt, before scratches: