The Caps begin their final 10-game stretch tonight when they visit the Devils at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. Puck-drop is 7:00 PM.
Having sewn everything up but the President’s trophy, and maybe a number of personal and team accolades, the Caps now officially enter “the calm before the storm” phase of the season. Coach Barry Trotz stated last week that he doesn’t believe in resting his players, so the game tonight should be business as usual, with individual motivation and team energy being the key challenge.
The two metropolitan teams last met on February 20th at Verizon Center, as the Caps had to rally for the 4-3 win. In fact, the Caps rallied from 1-0, 2-1, and 3-2 late in the third period for the win. Brooks Orpik scored the game winner with 4:00 left in the game.
New Jersey Devils
The Devils will be desperate, as they are still mathematically alive for the playoffs, trailing the Flyers by six points for the final wild-card spot. New Jersey will also be looking to stave off Braden Holtby’s run at former Devil’s goalie Martin Brodeur’s single-season win record.
The Capitals made their way to New Jersey yesterday, and did not hold a morning skate today. The goalies did wok-out, and Coach Trotz worked with the Michael Latta, Taylor Chorney and Mike Weber, the likely scratches for tonight’s game. T.J. Oshie did not make the trip with the team, and will likely miss the game due to illness.
John Carlson may return to the line-up tonight. According to Isabelle Khurshudyan, “Coach Barry Trotz was vague on whether he’d play, but Carlson is likely to make his second return to the lineup on Friday night against the New Jersey Devils.” The fact that both Chorney and Weber held typical healthy-scratch practice today leads one to believe Carlson will be a “go”. If Carlson returns tonight, the Capitals defensive core will be fully in tact for the first time since November 10th, when Brooks Orpik was injured in Detroit. The projected starting lines for the Caps tonight:
According to Tom Gulitti, Braden Holtby will get the start tonight for the Capitals. Holtby has 44 wins through 72-games this season; just four wins shy of Brodeur’s 48-win record-setting season in 2006-2007. For reference, Brodeur had 42 wins through 72 games in his record-setting season.
The Capitals will face the last Wild-Card team in the opening round of the playoffs. If the season ended today, they would face the Philadelphia Flyers.
The Capitals will return home tonight following the game, and get set to face Troy Brouwer and the St. Louis Blues on Saturday night at Verizon Center.