Game Preview: Capitals at Avalanche


The Capitals continue their three game road trip with a Friday night game from the Pepsi Center against the Colorado Avalanche.

Series Flashback:

It is the second and final meeting between the teams this season.  Washington prevailed in the first meeting 7-3 on Nov. 21 on home ice.  That game featured Dmitry Orlov doing a magic trick with the puck and his stick, some sleight of hand:

Scouting the Capitals:
The Capitals have had an incredible regular season.  They carry a 54-16-6 record with 114 points.  On Monday night, they clinched their second President’s Trophy in franchise history, good for the best record in the league, thanks to a 4-1 win over the Blue Jackets at Verizon Center.

The Caps are coming off a 2-1 overtime loss at Philly on Wednesday night in what could potentially be a first round preview with the Flyers currently sitting in the final playoff spot.  Alex Ovchkin scored the lone goal for Washington, which was his 44th of the season.  Ovechkin’s 44 goals lead the NHL.

Braden Holtby has played much better between the pipes as of late as he’s carried a 3-0-1 record in his last four starts.  With a 46-9-5 record, Holtby is two wins shy of tying New Jersey Devils legend Martin Brodeur for the most wins in a regular season.  Broudeur set that milestone back in the 2006-07 season.

Against the Western Conference this season, Washington has a 15-6-3 record.  The Caps have earned a point in 13 of their last 17 games against the West.  The Capitals have the best road record in the NHL with a  25-9-4 record away from DC.  Tomorrow’s game is the first game of a back-to-back for Washington, on Saturday night they will conclude their road trip in Arizona against the Coyotes.

Scouting the Avalanche:
Colorado carries a 39-34-4 record with 82 points.  They sit five points behind Minnesota for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.   They are sixth in the Central Division.

The Avalanche are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Blues in St. Louis.  Mikhail Grigorenko provided the lone goal for the visitors.  They come into Friday’s game against the Caps having lost three of their last four games.

Top six forwards Matt Duchene and Dennis MacKinnon both have suffered knee injuries.  Duchene is the leading goal scorer for Colorado with 29.  He also leads the Avalanche with 56 points but he has been out for the past six games.  He expects to return to the lineup against the Capitals tomorrow night.  Don’t be surprised if MacKinnon makes a return as well.

Former Capitals goaltender and 09 playoff hero Semyon Varlamov will get the start in net against his old squad.  His record is 27-21-3 with a 2.69 goals against average and .917 save percentage.

The Avalanche rank 17th in goals for with 205 and 20th in goals against with 218.  Having only gained two points in their last four games., it would take a miracle for the Avs to get in the playoffs, with the Wild on a six game winning streak.

Players to Watch:
Capitals: Evgeny Kuznetsov
Evgeny Kuznetsov leads Eastern Conference players with 34 points (10 goals, 24 assists) in 24 games against Western Conference foes this season.  Overall this season, Kuzy leads the Caps with 74 points (20 goals, 54 assists).

Avalanche: Carl Soderberg
Avs center Carl Soderberg leads the team in assists with 36.  He also has 12 goals and 48 points.

Network Information:
You can catch the game on CSN with puck drop at 9 p.m.

By Michael Marzzacco

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His interest in the Caps has grown over the decades and included time as a season ticket holder. He has been a journalist covering the team for 10+ years, primarily focusing on analysis, analytics and prospect development.
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