The Capitals face their toughest stretch of competition this coming week with games against the Canadiens, Penguins and Blackhawks, all within a five days. The trio of tests begins Monday night in Montreal. Puck drop is 7:30PM.
The Canadiens (25-9-6) are currently atop the Atlantic Division standings, with 56 points through 40 games. The Habs just wrapped up a successful 7-game road trip that began on December 23rd in Columbus. The team secured 10 out of a possible 14 points on the trip.
The Canadiens have been dealing with several key injuries through the first half the season, most notably Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher. The current injury status as of Sunday evening:
The Canadiens power play is essentially where they were entering the first contest against the Caps on December 17th. The Habs are currently ranked 11th in the league with a 21.3 conversion rate. The penalty kill has dropped three spots since the first meeting, currently ranked 21st in the league, at an 80.3 success rate, for a combined special teams index of 101.3.
The Canadiens continue to fire the puck at the net, and are currently ranked 8th in the league in shots per game at an average of 31.1 shots per game. Montreal is giving up 30.1 shots per game, good enough for 13th in the league.
The Capitals (25-9-5) are riding a five-game winning streak, after beating the Ottawa Senators 1-0 on Saturday night. The Caps may be dealing with a couple of significant injuries. T.J. Oshie left the game after sustaining an “upper body” injury in the second period. The injury appeared to be to his left shoulder, the same shoulder he dislocated in November, causing him to miss seven games.
I guess this is when Oshie was injured? pic.twitter.com/qDJYRmX63P
— GIF Grand Maester (@myregularface) January 8, 2017
Tom Wilson also sustained enough of an injury while blocking a shot that he was unable to practice in Montreal on Sunday. Both players are currently listed day-to-day.
The Capitals recalled Paul Carey from Hershey on Sunday evening, indicating one or both of the players will not likely play on Monday night.
Braden Holtby will get the start on Monday night in Montreal. Holtby notched his second consecutive shutout (5th of the season) Saturday night against Ottawa. Holtby is 8-1-2 lifetime versus the Canadiens with a .942 save percentage and a 1.64 goals against average (GAA).
The Capitals power play continues to struggle. After starting the season struggling, the Caps power play seemed to find its way in mid December. Since the first meeting against Montreal, the power play has been in a steady decline.
The Capitals power play is now ranked 21st in the league with a 16.4% conversion rate.
The penalty kill has been fairly steady, and remains at 3rd in the league in overall penalty kills at an 87.1 success rate, for a combined special teams index of 103.5.
The Capitals have dropped to 12th in the league in shots per game with an average of 30.2 shots per game. The Capitals are 6th best in the league in fewest shots allowed per game, with an average of 28.0 shots per game.
Coach Trotz After Practice on Sunday:
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) January 8, 2017
The Capitals will be looking for redemption following the last meeting on December 17th, The Habs won 2-1 at Verizon Center, ending the Capitals longest winning streak this season at six games. It looks like we are in store for round two of Holtby-Price on Monday night.
- Braden Holtby has now gone 121:54 since giving up his last goal – since he was pulled in the Toronto game.
- Nicklas Backstrom earned an assist on Oshie’s first period goal, marking his 500th NHL/Capitals assist.
- Backstrom is the first player in Capitals franchise history to record 500 career assists and the first player from the 2006 Draft class to reach the 500-assist plateau.
By Jon Sorensen