Game Preview: Canucks @ Capitals

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The Capitals (16-7-3) will face off with the Canucks (12-13-2) for the second and final time this season on Sunday afternoon at Verizon Center.  Puck drop is at 5 PM, and the game will be televised on CSN-DC.

VANCOUVER

The Canucks are back out East for the second time this year.  They are currently in the middle of a 5-game road trip, which will conclude Tuesday night in Raleigh, NC.

The Canucks have hit the injury bug in their first quarter of the season.  They have been without their top defensive pair of Chris Tanev and Alex Edler for several games.  Chris Tanev has missed over a month of action, and Alex Edler last played on November 26th.  Feisty forward Derek Dorsett recently underwent neck surgery, and will probably miss the remainder of the season.

As expected, 36-year old twins Henrik and Daniel Sedin are leading the Canucks in scoring.  The Sedins have a young group around them, as the Canucks are in the middle of a “retool.”

One of the Canucks young players that is exciting to watch is 21-year old Bo Horvat.  Horvat was taken by the Canucks in the 1st round in the 2013 NHL Draft, and he certainly has the makings of a future Captain in Vancouver.

You can review complete stats for the Canucks here.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Canucks powerplay has not been very good this season.  It has only been 14.1% efficient this season, which ranks in the NHL’s bottom 5.  The Canucks penalty kill has been a bright spot for them.  They are currently ranked at 84.9% effective, which is 7th best in the NHL.

SHOTS FIRED

The Canucks rarely ever get past 30 shots per game.  They are currently averaging 29.2 shots per game, which is 22nd best in the league.

OTHER NOTES

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WASHINGTON

The Capitals are currently involved in a tight race inside the Metropolitan Division.  They are close in points with Pittsburgh, NY Rangers, Columbus, and Philadelphia.

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The Capitals are coming off a big 4-1 win against Buffalo on Friday night.  The Capitals defeated the Sabres 3-2 on Monday night at Verizon Center.

SPECIAL TEAMS

The Capitals powerplay struck twice against the Sabres on Friday night.  Jakub Vrana scored his 1st career NHL goal on the powerplay.

The Capitals powerplay has recovered a little bit lately.  Their powerplay is currently 16.7% effective, which is 16th best in the NHL.  The Capitals penalty kill has been strong in recent games.  It is 82.3% effective, which is 16th best in the NHL.

SHOTS FIRED

The Capitals do average over the 30-shot plateau.  They currently average 30.4 shots per game, which is 11th best in the NHL.

THE MATCHUP

The Capitals had a “players only” meeting shortly after their close home-ice victory over the Bruins on Wednesday night.  It was a game where the Capitals almost collapsed, after they delivered a quick 3-0 start.

The meeting was probably a good thing for a team that has been a little shaky all year.  The Capitals played one of their best games of the season against Buffalo on Friday night, and now have a 3-game winning streak going.

Defenseman Matt Niskanen missed the game against the Sabres, but was spotted skating on the ice on Saturday.  His status for the game against the Canucks is still unknown.

As for the Canucks, goaltender Ryan Miller removed himself out of the game against Tampa on Thursday night, due to “tightness.”  Miller has been the Canucks #1 goaltender this year, but may see some rest if he is unable to play against the Capitals.  Miller has always played well against the Capitals, even with his days back as the goaltender with the Buffalo Sabres.  If Miller is unable to play, expect Jacob Markstrom to be the goaltender for the Canucks in the matchup against the Capitals.

The Capitals defeated the Canucks 5-2 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver on October 29th.  The Capitals will likely start Braden Holtby against the Canucks on Sunday.

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SHAVINGS

GAME LINKS

Caps Overpower Sabres, 4-1 (Dump N’ Chase/Mike Vogel)

Game Notes vs. Vancouver, 12/11/16 (Capitals PR)

Before Matt Niskanen can play, he has to pass NHL concussion protocol (Washington Post/Isabelle Khurshudyan)

Two-Goal Second Period Fuels Caps To the Win In Buffalo (CSN/J.J. Regan)

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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