Photo by Andy Marlin/NHLI via Getty Images
Immediately following Tuesday night’s Canadian clunker, the Caps skedaddled south of the border to Newark, New Jersey, in advance of their Thursday night rumble at “The Rock”. This will be the Caps final game before the All-Star break. Puck drop at the Prudential Center is 7:00PM.
The Devils (20-20-9) will be looking to slide above the .500 mark, and notch their 2nd win against the Capitals this season. The Devils, 4-4-2 in their last 10 games, are the Metropolitan Division’s current cellar-dwellers, but have already beat the Caps this season while residing in the Metro’s basement. The Devils have lost three-straight heading into the contest with the Caps (Canadiens, Flyers and Kings).
The Devils have been dealing with a few injuries as of late. Defenseman John Moore, injured on New Years Eve against the Capitals, remains on injured reserve with concussion symptoms.
Cory Schneider looks to get the start against the Capitals. Schneider is 14-15-7 with a .908 save percentage and a 2.75 goals against average (GAA). Keith Kinkaid got the last start against the Capitals.
New Jersey’s power play continues to struggle, ranked 28th in the league with a conversion rate of just 13.9%. The Devils penalty kill is faring much better, currently ranked 15th in the league with a 82.0% success rate, for a combined special teams index (STI) of 95.9.
New Jersey is last in the league in shot attempts, with an average of 27.1 shots per game for the season. The Devils are 9th in the league in shot attempts allowed, with an average of 31.1 shots per game.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS
The Capitals (32-10-6) are still riding high, despite the clunker turned in against the Senators in Ottawa on Tuesday night. Washington remains atop the NHL with 70 points and has the best goal differential (+51) in the league.
Washington’s offense has continued its hot streak, with the exception of games against the Ottawa Senators, who may have the recipe for stopping Caps scoring. The Capitals have scored at least 4 goals in 11 of the last 14 games. The three exceptions all came against the Senators, who have allowed a total of just three goals in three games against the Caps.
Braden Holtby will get the start in net for the Capitals. Holtby has continued his hot-streak of late, raising his record to 23-8-4 with a .929 save percentage and a 1.96 goals against average (GAA).
John Carlson is the only officially listed injury for the Capitals. He is listed as day-to-day, with a lower body injury. Carlson has missed the last five games, and will likely rest until after the All-Star break. Jay Beagle missed the game in Ottawa due to illness, but is expected to be ready for the Devils. TJ Oshie will not play. Oshie left the team on Thursday morning to return home to tend to family matters.
The Capitals special teams numbers continue to improve since the Senators game on January 7th. The Capitals power play has climbed to 14th in the league, its highest ranking of the season, with a 19.9% conversion rate.
The Capitals penalty kill remains the third-best in the league, but has weakened in recent games, allowing power play goals in the last three games. The penalty kill currently has a 85.5% success rate for the season, for a combined special teams index (STI) of 105.4. The league average STI is 99.8.
The Capitals are still in the lower half of the league in shot attempts per game, currently ranked 16th in the league with an average of 29.7 shots per game. Washington has given up the 7th fewest shots per game with an average of 28.2. Since New Years Eve, the Capitals are shooting 16.3%. The league average is around 9%.
The two teams last met on New Year’s Eve, in a penalty-riddled, slug fest that somewhat resembled a hockey game. The Capitals prevailed 6-2, killing all nine New Jersey power plays, and scoring all six goals at even strength.
The Devils opened the home-and-home set with a 2-1 overtime victory on Verizon Center ice, just two days prior. This was the second consecutive loss to the Metropolitan Divsion’s last place team for the Capitals, having lost to the Islanders the game before.
It will be interesting to see the tone set early in this game. Are there scores to be settled, or will there be hockey played on Thursday night? The officials will also be under the microscope, after the deplorable effort put-in by the zebras on New Years Eve.
The game is “Retro Night” for New Jersey. The Devils will celebrate the ‘80s and break out their retro jerseys for the first of two times this season.
— Matt Loughlin (@MattLoug) January 25, 2017
By Jon Sorensen