Game Preview: Capitals @ Islanders

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The Capitals set off for Brooklyn Monday afternoon following their morning practice at Kettler, in advance of their Tuesday night tilt with the Islanders at Barclays Center. The Capitals (17-7-3) are 1-1 so far this season against the Islanders. 

NEW YORK
The Islanders (11-11-5) have been on a bit of a roll as of late, and playing their best hockey of the season so far. After starting the month with wins over the Penguins and the Capitals (on successive nights), the Isles have added impressive wins over the Rangers and Blues to climb back to the 0.500 mark in the red-hot Metropolitan Division. The Islanders only losses since November 30th were an overtime loss to the Red Wings and a 6-2 loss to the red-hot Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night in Ohio.

John Tavares continues to lead the Islanders this season in goals scored (9) and total points (22). Tavares is backed by the continued strong play from Brock Nelson and Anders Lee. The Islanders are 19th in the league in shots per game at 29.3 shots/game. The Islanders are yielding the third most shots per game average at 32.4 shots per game.

Special Teams:
The Islanders power play continues to struggle, currently last in the NHL with a 13.0 conversion rate. New York’s penalty kill has fared, currently 13th in the league with an 83.0 success rate, for a combined special teams index of 96.0.

Other Notes:
Jaroslav Halak has been the preferred goalie for the Islanders as of late. As you may recall, the Islanders have been dabbling with a three-headed (goalie) monster this season.

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In contract news, the Islanders signed 29-year-old right-winger Cal Clutterbuck to a five year extension. The contract was reported to be worth $17.5 million, with an average annual value of $3.5 million per season.

WASHINGTON
The Capitals are riding a 4-game win streak, and will be looking to tie a season long best of 5 consecutive wins when they face the Islanders. The timing of the mini win streak comes at a good time, as the Metropolitan Division has become the power house of the NHL. The Capitals have the 7th best record in the NHL, and the 5th best record in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders, cellar-dwellers in the Metropolitan, are a decent 11-11-5.

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Special Teams:
After a poor start to the season, the Capitals Power play is starting to show signs of life. The power play has notched 5 goals in the last five games, and are currently ranked 17th in the league with a 17.0% conversion rate.

The Capitals penalty kill is still going strong, shutting down 6 power plays against the Canucks on Sunday night. The penalty kill is currently ranked 11th in the league at a player-appropriate success rate of 83.3%. The Capitals special teams index is currently sitting north of 100 for the first time this season at 100.03.

Other Notes:
The Capitals enter an important stretch in the schedule, as six of the Capitals remaining eight games in December will be against divisional foes.

The Capitals practice lines at Monday morning’s practice:

THE MATCHUP
The Islanders blanked the Capitals 3-0 in the last meeting at Verizon Center on December 1st. The Capitals out-shot the Isles 38-28 for the game, but just could not find the back of the net. The Capitals won the series opener, also at Verizon Center, back on October 15th, 2-1.

This is the first of three games the Capitals will play in Brooklyn this season, and the first of two this month. The Capitals will return to Barclays in two-weeks to play again in a Tuesday night tilt.

The Capitals will not hold a morning skate in Brooklyn on Thursday. The St. Louis Blues had to cancel a morning skate last week prior to their game against the Islanders due to traffic in the area.

Series Flashback:

SHAVINGS

  • Alex Ovechkin registered two points (1g, 1a) on Sunday against Vancouver, including his 200th career power-play goal.
  • Ovechkin is the 18th player in NHL history to score 200 power-play goals and just the sixth player to score 200 power-play goals with one franchise, joining Mario Lemieux, Luc Robitaille, Gordie Howe, Joe Sakic and Steve Yzerman.
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov recorded his 100th NHL assist against the Canucks, the 4th fastest to do so for Washington (206 Games Played).

GAME STORIES
Caps Take to the Road in Brooklyn (Mike Vogel)
#CapsNucks Postgame Notebook: Killing It (Mike Vogel)
Jakub Vrana’s Play Continues to Impress Everyone But Himself (JJ Regan/CSN)

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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