Game Preview: Ducks @ Capitals

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The Washington Capitals are steamrolling their competition right now.  The Capitals are winners of 5 straight, and have won 11 straight games at Verizon Center.  The Capitals bye week is next week, but before they take their week off, they have one more home game against the Anaheim Ducks.  The cross-conference puck drop is at 7:30 PM on CSN.

ANAHEIM

The Ducks are in the middle of a 6-game road trip.  After a sluggish 0-2-1 start to the trip, the Ducks got their first win of the trip in Buffalo on Thursday night.

The 2nd seed Ducks are in a tight race in the Pacific Division.  They are 2 points behind the 1st seed San Jose Sharks, and the Oilers are right on the Ducks tail as they are just 2 points behind them.

The Ducks have flown under the radar and have kept their heads above the water.  Ryan Kesler has been the Ducks best skater this season.  He has recorded 18 goals and 43 points in 56 games.  Kesler, 32, is a dynamic 2-way player and is not afraid to use his beak to get under the skin of his opposition.

In goal, John Gibson has taken the starting job for the Ducks and has performed well.  He has recorded 21 wins, a 2.29 goals against average, and a .920 save percentage.

SPECIAL TEAMS
The Ducks powerplay has been doing well.  They are 20.8% effective, which is ranked 12th best in the NHL.  The Ducks penalty kill has been excellent.  They are 84% effective, which is ranked 7th best in the NHL.

SHOTS FIRED AND SHOTS AGAINST
The Ducks are near the bottom of the league when forcing shots.  They average 29.2 shots per game, which is ranked 24th in the NHL.  While the Ducks do not force a lot of shots, they do not give up a lot of shots.  They give up just 29.1 shots per game, which is ranked 9th fewest in the NHL.

METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS

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WASHINGTON
The Capitals are rolling right now, and have dominated the competition at home in their last 11 games.  Check out some of the ridiculous goal totals:

Unfortunately for the Capitals, they suffered a couple of injuries in their last game against Detroit.  Andre Burakovsky is expected to miss the next 4-6 weeks, as he suffered a hand injury.  Brett Connolly, who scored a goal against the Red Wings, was also injured during the game.  However, Connolly participated in Capitals practice on Friday, so it looks like he may still be good to go for Saturday night.

With Burakovsky on the shelf for over a month, this gives Zach Sanford a chance to stick around in the lineup.  In 24 games in Hershey, Sanford has put up 9 goals and 14 points.

Nicklas Backstrom has quietly shot his name up into the NHL points race battle.  Backstrom has 16 goals and 57 points in 55 games.  He is only 3 points behind Sidney Crosby and Connor McDavid.

SPECIAL TEAMS
The Capitals powerplay has been improving over the last few weeks.  It is 21.9% effective, which is 6th best in the NHL.  The penalty kill has slipped a little, but is still very good.  The penalty kill is 84.4% effective, which is 4th best in the NHL.

SHOTS FIRED AND SHOTS AGAINST
Despite the Capitals winning ways, the Capitals are in the bottom half of the NHL in shots forced.  The Capitals average just 29.5 shots per game, which is ranked 20th best in the NHL.  The Capitals are still one of the NHL’s stingiest teams when giving up shots against.  The Capitals give up just 28.1 shots per game, which is ranked 6th fewest in the NHL.

THE MATCHUP
This is the first of two matchups between the Capitals and Ducks.  The last time the Ducks visited Verizon Center was April 10, 2016, which was a snow makeup game.  The Ducks defeated the Capitals 2-0 in that game.  The Capitals will face the Ducks again on March 12, when they make their trip West to California.

SERIES FLASHBACK

GAME CHIPS

GAME LINKS
Game Notes vs. Anaheim, 2/11/17 (Capitals PR)
With Andre Burakovsky’s hand injury, Capitals face their first real depth challenge (Isabelle Khurshudyan/The Washington Post)

By: George Foussekis

About George Foussekis

I am a sports fanatic. I love hockey and football, and I enjoy writing about my two favorite sports. I am a proud Old Dominion University alum.
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2 Responses to Game Preview: Ducks @ Capitals

  1. Pingback: Capitals Daily Report: What’s the Schmidtuation? | NoVa Caps

  2. Pingback: Capitals Daily Report: Caps Prepare for Ducks Before a Packed Kettler | NoVa Caps

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