It was a dreary Tuesday night in Washington. The Capitals lost their second consecutive game for only the second time this season. In the Capitals 5-2 loss against Florida, the powerplay stunk and they had some key players missing from the lineup.
The Capitals have not played a lot of hockey over the past few weeks. Between game cancellations due to snow, and the NHL All-Star break, the Capitals have not been tested physically or mentally in a while. In their last two games, they have started out slow, and it has cost them dearly.
The road does not get any easier for the Capitals, as they now have to face their tough Metropolitan Division rival NY Islanders. This will be the start of a 3-game, 4 night long weekend for the Capitals.
The Capitals and Islanders had their first meeting of the season in Brooklyn on January 7. The Caps came out swinging and they delivered a 4-1 loss to the Islanders.
This is the second meeting of the season between the Capitals and Islanders. They will see each other in 2 weeks back at Barclays Center.
SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: NY ISLANDERS
The Islanders have hung around in the Metropolitan Division this year, but now the race for the remaining 2 spots is a dogfight. The Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Devils, and Hurricanes are all battling for the remaining slots.
The Islanders have had a lot of success at home this season. They have recorded a 16-8-3 record at home, which is one of the top records in the Eastern Conference. The success at home has not been the same on the road. The Islanders have only won 10 out of 21 road games.
John Tavares and Kyle Okposo are leading the way in points for the Islanders this year. Tavares attended the NHL All-Star festivities last weekend, as he was the Captain for the Metropolitan Division team.
The Islanders are coming off a 5-3 victory over the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday night. They have won 5 out of their last 10 games.
WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
The Capitals have been scratched by the Cats a couple of times this year, but they should not be too concerned. The Capitals are still leading the Metropolitan Division by a significant margin.
The Capitals will get Alex Ovechkin back in the lineup against the NY Islanders, after he served his 1-game suspension for skipping the All-Star Game. Marcus Johansson could be out for some time, after he sustained an upper-body injury against the Flyers last week. Jay Beagle is still on the shelf with his hand injury. Taylor Chorney left the Panthers game early due to flu-like symptoms, so it will be interesting to see if the Capitals decide to recall a defenseman.
There is some good news out of Capitals camp recently: defenseman Brooks Orpik is skating with the team. Orpik has been out of action since November 10. The Capitals could really use his physicality on their blueline heading down the stretch toward the playoffs.
Barring any more major snowstorms in DC, the Capitals have a loaded schedule in the month of February. Thankfully there are no more long breaks. The Capitals will have a lot of games played every other day throughout the month.
Thursday, February 4, 2016 – NBCSN; 7:30 PM ET
Schmidt – Carlson
Alzner – Niskanen
Orlov – Chorney
de Haan – Hamonic
Leddy – Mayfield
Hickey – Zidlicky
Capitals – Andre Burakovsky: The 20-year old Austria native is on a goal scoring streak. He has 4 goals in his last 3 games for the Capitals. Burakovsky has really skated well alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams on the Capitals second line. His confidence and icetime continue to grow every game. Kuznetsov and Burakovsky showing a ton of chemistry together bodes well for the future of the club.
Islanders – Brock Nelson: The 24-year old Minnesota native is an underrated player for the Isles. The Islanders 2010 1st round pick is a rangy winger that is also on a 2-game goal scoring streak. He already has 20 goals in 48 games played this year. Nelson is on the verge of hitting 30+ goals if he continues his pace. While the Islanders have Tavares and Okposo as their best scoring threats, Nelson is their sneaky threat.
By George Foussekis