The Capitals finish up a challenging week with home games against the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday and a matinée game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. Washington will look to extend their 7-game winning streak before leaving on a three-game road trip that starts in Pittsburgh on Monday.
The Blackhawks (27-12-5) currently sit atop the Western Conferences’ Central Division with 59 points. The Hawks are coming off a 4-3 overtime victory over the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night, extending their own winning streak to four games. The wins all came on home ice at United Center.
Corey Crawford will get the start in goal on Friday for the Blackhawks. Crawford is 16-8-0-3 with a 2.35 goals against average and a .925 save percentage.
The Blackhawks are doing fairly well in the injuries department, with only one player, Marcus Kruger, on the injured reserve list. The Blackhawks activated forward Marian Hossa from Injured Reserve on January 5th..
The Blackhawks power play has been steadily rebounding after is slow start, and is currently ranked 13th in the league with a 19.1% conversion rate. The Blackhawks penalty kill continues to struggle, as it has most of the season. Their PK is currently ranked 27th in the league with a 76.3% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 95.4.
Chicago is in the bottom half of the league in shot attempts, ranked 18th in the league, averaging 29.4 shots per game. The Blackhawks are giving up the 8th most shot attempts per game at an average of 31.2 shots per game. The ‘Hawks are a +17 in goal differential through 44 games played.
The Capitals winning ways continue as they notched their 7th straight win over the Penguins on Wednesday night. The win adds to a pretty successful week (so far) that includes ending Columbus’ 16-game winning streak, a resounding win over Carey Price and the Candiens in Montreal, in addition to handing the Penguins just their second regulation loss in a month and a half.
The Capitals offense has been heating up as of late. After a sluggish start to the season, the Caps have scored 21 goals in the last five games and 29 goals in their last seven. In addition, the Caps defense continues its strong play, led first and foremost by goaltender Braden Holtby.
Holtby is now 20-8-0-4 with a stingy 1.90 goals against average and a .932 save percentage. Holtby will get the start on Friday night, but look for backup Philipp Grubauer to possibly get the call on Sunday, with the Caps having a back-to-back set on Sunday and Monday.
The Capitals power play finally broke their slump with two goals in four opportunities against the Penguins. The Caps power play is currently ranked 16th in the league with a conversion rate of 18.0%.
The Capitals penalty kill wobbled a bit in their last outing, giving up two goals in five Penguins power play opportunities. However, The Caps PK remains third best in the league with an 85.9 success rate, for a combined special teams index of 103.9, their highest index rating of the season.
The Capitals are in the top third of the league in shot attempts per game, ranked 10th and averaging 30.4 shots per game. The Capitals give up the 6th fewest shots per game in the league, at an average of 28.0 shots per game. The Caps goal differential continues to climb, now at a +34 through 41 games.
The Capitals won the first meeting between the two teams back on November 11th in Chicago. Jay Beagle netted a pair in the 3-2 win. The Capitals will once again need to make good use of their power play opportunities, against a poor Blackhawks penalty kill.
Game Notes vs. Chicago, 1/13/17 (Mike Vogel)
Blackhawks face road test against Ovechkin, Capitals (NHL)
- Alex Ovechkin scored two goals, including his 1,000th NHL point, and
- Nicklas Backstrom registered four points (1g, 3a). Since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Backstrom leads the League in three-assist games (33) and ranks tied for third in four-point games (17).
- Backstrom has earned 11 points (3g, 8a) in three games against the Penguins this season, marking the most points an NHL player has recorded against one team this season and the most points a player has registered against the Penguins in one season since 2011-12 (Ilya Kovalchuk: 4g, 7a).
By Jon Sorensen
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