Game Preview: Islanders @ Capitals


After a four-day mini-break, the Capitals return to the ice at Verizon Center on Thursday night when they host the New York Islanders. Puck drop is 7:00 PM. 

NEW YORK
The Islanders (8-10-4) are playing their second game in a back-to-back set, having beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-3 on Wednesday night in Brooklyn. The Islanders beat Calgary 2-1 in overtime Monday night at Barclays Center. Even with the two consecutive wins, the Islanders are tied for fewest wins in the NHL (8). The Metropolitan Division standings through Wednesday night’s games:

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The Islanders have been utilizing the unusual three goalie system for a good portion of the season. Thomas Greiss got the start in goal for the Islanders against the Penguins, so the Capitals will likely face former Capitals goalie Jaroslav Halak in goal on Thursday. 

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The Islanders are struggling to score goals, currently ranked 27th in the league with 50 goals in 21 games. John Tavares leads the Islanders in points (17) and goals scored (6). Brock Nelson is second on the team in goals and assists, with 5 and 8 respectively. Josh Bailey is third on the team in scoring with just three goals and 9 assists.

Forward Andrew Ladd agreed to a seven-year, $38.5 million contract with the New York Islanders over the summer, but has just two goals and one assist. Coupled with the loss of key players Kyle Okposo and Frans Nielsen over the summer of 2016, the Islanders are struggling offensively.

Special Teams:
The New York Islanders are currently ranked 28th in the league in power plays with a conversion rate of 12.1%. The Islanders penalty kill is currently ranked 22nd in the league with a 80.8% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 92.9.

Other Notes:
The Islanders are dealing with several injuries. Already without defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Ryan Pulock, the Islanders lost Adam Pelech to an upper-body injury during Monday’s 2-1 overtime win over Calgary in Brooklyn.

WASHINGTON
The Capitals (13-6-2) should be well-rested, having last played on Saturday, where they lost 4-2 to the Maple Leafs in Toronto. The Capitals had played three games in four nights, and it showed.

Matt Niskanen, who sustained a “lower body injury” Saturday against the Maple Leafs, returned to practice on Wednesday, and looks like he will be a “go” for Thursday night. T.J. Oshie, who participated in non-contact portions of practice will not play on Thursday night. Niskanen spoke with the media following Wednesday’s practice:

Special Teams:
The Capitals power play continues to flat-line, currently ranked 19th in the league with a conversion rate of 15.6%. The Caps penalty kill is currently ranked 17th in the league with an 82.6% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 98.2.

Other Notes:
The Capitals recalled forwards Paul Carey and Jakub Vrana from the Hershey Bears of the American Hockey League (AHL) and re-assigned Zach Sanford to Hershey at 5:00PM on Wednesday. Look for Vrana to get the start Thursday night against the Islanders.

MATCHUP
This is the second meeting between the Capitals and Islanders this season. The two teams met in the Capitals home opener on October 15th, with the Capitals winning 2-1. Daniel Winnik scored both of the Capitals goals in the game.

During the first television timeout, the Capitals paid tribute to former Capital Jason Chimera.

Series Flashback:

SHAVINGS:

  • Alex Ovechkin’s nine game-winning goals against the Islanders is tied for the most he has scored against an NHL franchise (Winnipeg: 9)
  • Fans attending the Capitals game against the Islanders at Verizon Center are encouraged to provide for extra travel time, to take alternate routes or public transportation, due to the National Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. Please click here for further details.

GAME LINKS:
Game Notes vs. NY Islanders, 12/1/16 (Capitals PR)
Capitals Recall Paul Carey and Jakub Vrana from Hershey (Capitals PR)
Caps Back to Work vs. Isles (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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