Game Preview: Blues at Capitals

st-louis-blues-at-washington-capitals-nicklas-backstrom

The Capitals host the St. Louis Blues at Verizon Center on Wednesday night, in the 4th game of the Capitals season-long five game home stand. The Capitals will next host the Buffalo Sabres on “Black Friday” to wrap-up the home stand, before heading out on the road to face the Maple Leafs this Saturday in Toronto.  The Capitals will then have four days off before their next game when they host the New York Islanders next Thursday, December 1st at Verizon Center.

ST. LOUIS
The Blues are off to a good start this year, under “lame duck” head coach Ken Hitchcock, who is in the last year of his contract with the Blues. The Blues (11-6-3) will be playing the 2nd game of a back-to-back set, having beat the Bruins in Boston on Tuesday night, 4-2.

Jake Allen started Tuesday in Boston, leading one to believe the Capitals may face Carter Hutton Wednesday in DC. Hutton worked with Capitals head coach Barry Trotz and Capitals goalie coach Mitch Korn when they were all with the Nashville Predators.

Special Teams:
The Blues power play is currently ranked 11th in the league with a 20.6% success rate. The Blues penalty kill has been stout so far this season, currently ranked second in the league at 88.8% for a combined special teams index of 109.4.

Other Notes:
Alexander Steen will not – at least initially – accompany the Blues on their two-game road trip to Boston and Washington D.C.  Steen has been out of the lineup since taking a hard hit from Buffalo Sabres defenseman Josh Gorges on November 15th.

WASHINGTON 
The Capitals (11-5-2) will be looking to rebound following their third period slip to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. Tom Wilson spoke with the media on Tuesday about team consistency and the Capitals third period woes against the Blue Jackets.

This will be the second game without T.J. Oshie, who was arguably the Capitals hottest player when he was injured against Detroit last Friday. Lars Eller returned to practice on Tuesday and could be back in the lineup for the Blues game, although Trotz would not completely confirm his return. The Capitals lines for Wednesday night will likely be similar to the lines that practiced together on Tuesday:

Special Teams:
The Capitals are 19th in the league in power play with a 15.4% conversion rate. The Capitals penalty kill is currently ranked 16th in the league at 81.8%, for a combined special teams index of 97.2, down slightly from last game.

THE MATCHUP
This is the first of two meetings with the Blues this season with the set wrapping up on January 19th in St. Louis. In the teams’ last meeting on April 9, the Capitals defeated the Blues 5-1 at Scottrade Center. Braden Holtby stopped 19 of 20 shots in the game to earn his 48th win of the season, tying Martin Brodeur for the NHL’s single-season wins record (48, 2006-07). Alex Ovechkin scored three goals In the last meeting to reach the 50-goal plateau for the seventh time in his career.

Series Flashback

SHAVINGS

  • Nicklas Backstrom registered two points (1g, 1a) on Sunday against Columbus, marking his fourth multi-point game of the season and 180th of his career.
  • Nicklas Backstrom ranks first in franchise history in 50-assist seasons and since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Backstrom ranks tied for first in the NHL in 50-assist seasons (Ryan Getzlaf, Henrik Sedin, Joe Thornton).
  • Backstrom has earned eight points in his last four games and leads the Capitals in assists (12) and points (17) this season.

GAME LINKS
Game Notes vs. St. Louis, 11/23/16 (Capitals PR)
Caps’ Eller Hopeful About Wednesday, Says Injury Is Not A New One (CSN)
Caps Host Blues on Thanksgiving Eve (Mike Vogel)

By Jon Sorensen

About Jon Sorensen

Jon has been a Caps fan since day one, attending his first game at the Capital Centre in 1974. His passion for the Caps has grown over the decades, which has included time as a season ticket holder, social media and community organizer, and most recently led to the founding of NoVa Caps in 2014. Jon earned a Bachelor's of Science in Engineering at Old Dominion University, and is a Systems Engineer during intermissions, which has been instrumental in supporting his Capitals habit.
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