We have seen the best and worst from the Capitals this week. On Tuesday night against the Florida Panthers, the Capitals came out and delivered a pathetic performance. On Thursday night against the NY Islanders, the Capitals were more focused and dialed in, and they delivered a tight 3-2 win over their Metropolitan Division rivals.
It is now Super Bowl weekend, and the Capitals will continue to get a good dose of the Metropolitan Division over the next couple of days. While the Capitals continue to maintain a sizable lead in the Metro, the games continue to get tougher down the stretch as teams push for playoff spots.
The Capitals next two Metropolitan Division opponents, New Jersey and Philadelphia, are clubs that are pushing for playoff spots. The Capitals will host the Flyers on Super Bowl Sunday in DC on NBC. Before the Capitals have to face the Flyers, they have to make a quick trip up to Newark to face the Devils. Let’s take a look at the Devils.
It has been a while since the Devils and Capitals have seen each other. The last time these two clubs met, it was the Capitals opening game of the season on October 10. The Capitals handed the Devils a 5-3 defeat, as the Capitals ended up scoring 3 of their goals in the 3rd period.
This is the second meeting of the season between the Capitals and Devils. They will see each other in 2 weeks back at Verizon Center.
SIZING UP THE OPPONENT: NEW JERSEY DEVILS
The New Jersey Devils will be having a Michael Cammalleri bobblehead giveaway promotion as the Washington Capitals come to town on Saturday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Devils, he has missed their last couple of games with an upper-body injury. He has been out of action since January 26, right before the All-Star break. There is a chance Cammalleri could return against the Capitals, and he has always bit the Capitals on the scoresheet.
The Devils are depending on a healthy Mike Cammalleri to get them back into the postseason. The Devils are right in the thick of things in the Metropolitan Division race. They are playing a quicker game under new Head Coach John Hynes.
While the Devils still struggle some to score goals, goaltender Cory Schneider is one of the best in the business right now. He has recorded 23 wins, 2.03 goals against average, and .929 save percentage. Schneider is one of the stingiest goalies in the Metropolitan Division, and he has played very well against the Capitals in the past.
The Devils have won 6 out of their last 10 games. They are coming off a 3-2 shootout loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.
WAVE TO THE GOOD GUYS: WASHINGTON CAPITALS
The Capitals have shown why they are the best in the NHL right now. When they have had dud games, they have usually responded well. Anyone can see that this club does not like losing.
The victory on Thursday night against the Islanders was by no means a perfect win, but it was a good character win. The game also demonstrated how important Ovechkin’s presence is in the Capitals lineup. Ovechkin was missed dearly against Florida, but he responded well coming off his 1-game suspension as he delivered the game-winning goal against the Islanders.
So with the Capitals back on track, they will face 2 tough opponents in the span of 24 hours. Word out of Capitals camp is the Brooks Orpik continues to get closer, but he will not travel with the club to New Jersey. It will probably be another week or two before we see him back in the lineup. Marcus Johansson was in a gray non-contact jersey back at practice on Friday, and he will travel with the team next week as they take a Central Division swing. The Capitals recalled Paul Carey and Connor Carrick from Hershey, and they will both be traveling to Newark with the team. The Capitals have re-assigned Zach Sill and Aaron Ness to Hershey.
Saturday February 6, 2016 – CSN-DC, MSG+; 1:00 PM ET
Nate Schmidt – John Carlson
Karl Alzner – Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov – Taylor Chorney
Capitals – T.J. Oshie: The 29-year old Washington native had a 2-point night against the Islanders on Thursday night. Oshie is on a 4-game point scoring streak. He has recorded 16 goals and 32 points in 49 games this year. Oshie has been a perfect fit on the Capitals top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. He is a very versatile player that can play in any situation for the Capitals.
Devils – Kyle Palmieri: The 25-year old New York native is another American born player that is having a career season in New Jersey. Palmieri has recorded 20 goals and 35 points in 52 games this year. The former Anaheim Duck 1st round pick has a nose for the net, despite his smallish frame. Like his teammate Mike Cammalleri, he has a good hard shot and he is a guy an opposing team cannot give open space to.
By George Foussekis