The Capitals are in Montreal for their Saturday matinée with the Canadiens at the Bell Centre. Puck drop is 1:00 PM. The Capitals will return home after the game for their traditional Super Bowl Sunday matinée game, this year against the Los Angeles Kings. Puck drop is high noon on Sunday.
The Canadiens (30-15-7) remain atop the Atlantic Division’s standings, but are now just six points ahead of the red-hot Ottawa Senators in points. Montreal is 4-5-1 in their last 10 games, and coming off a loss to the Flyers in Philadelphia on Thursday. The Canadiens will remain at home following their game against the Caps to host the Edmonton Oilers on Sunday.
Carey Price starts for Habs vs Caps, Therrien won’t say who starts against Oilers on Sunday.
— Аrpon Basu (@ArponBasu) February 3, 2017
Montreal is finally getting healthy. Star forward Alex Galchenyuk (Knee) returned to the lineup on Thursday against the Flyers. This leaves Brendan Gallagher as the lone remaining player on the Habs injury list.
The Canadiens have the second best power play in the league so far this season, converting on 23.3% of their man-advantage opportunities. The Canadiens penalty kill is currently 22nd in the league, with a 79.2% success rate, for a combined special teams index of 102.5%
Montreal is 17th in the league in shot attempts with an average of 29.7 shots per game. The Canadiens are 11th in the league in fewest shots against with an average of 30.0 shots per game.
METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS
The Caps should be back to full strength Saturday afternoon in Montreal, as Justin Williams is expected to return to the lineup. Williams missed Wednesday night’s tilt with the Bruins due to a lower body injury he sustained against the Islanders on Tuesday night.
Justin Williams returned to practice on Friday, and all signs indicate he will return to the lineup on Saturday versus the Canadiens. As insurance, the Caps recalled Jakub Vrana Friday morning.
With back-to-back games scheduled for the weekend, it looks like Philipp Grubauer will get the start in Montreal and Braden Holtby will get the start against the Kings on Super Bowl Sunday at Verizon Center. However, Trotz would not confirm the plan on Friday, so anything goes at this point.
The Capitals power play continues to improve and is currently ranked 14th in the league with a 20.8% conversion rate for the season. The Capitals have scored 12 power-play goals in their last 12 games.
On the flip side, the Capitals penalty kill has continued to struggle as of late. The Caps have given up a power-play goal in six straight games. Washington has now dropped to 5th in the league with an 83.9% success rate, for a combined special teams index (STI) of 104.7. This is their lowest STI since the Pittsburgh game on January 16th.
The Capitals are 18th in the league in shot attempts per game with a 29.7 shots per game average. The Capitals are giving up the 7th fewest shots per game, with an average of 28.3 shots per game.
THE MATCH UP
This is the third and final meeting between the two teams. In their last meeting, the Capitals beat Carey Price and the Canadiens 4-1 in Montreal. The Canadiens won the first game 2-1 at Verizon Center on December 17th.
As noted, the Caps tallied four goals against Carey Price and the Habs in their last meeting. It will be interesting to see if the Caps can continue their offensive resurgence. The Capitals hope to have their penalty kill issues straightened out in time for Saturday’s tilt, as the Canadiens power play is second in the league.
- John Carlson is scheduled to play in his 500th NHL game.
- Washington blueliners are contributing 2.25 points per game.
- the Caps lead the NHL in five-on-five goal differential.
By Jon Sorensen