After a bounce-back performance against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday night, the Capitals return to action against young phenom Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers. Puck drop is 7:00 PM and can be viewed on either Comcast Sportsnet or the NHL Network.
The Oilers (33-20-8) are second in the Pacific Division with 74 points, just three away from the San Jose Sharks and are looking to make their first Stanley Cup Playoffs appearance since 2006, when they lost in the Stanley Cup Final to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Oilers have gone 5-5-0 in their last 10 games and are looking to make a statement against a dominant Capitals team.
The Oilers are coming off a 4-3 win against the Florida Panthers on Wednesday night and with the win, ended Florida’s five-game winning streak. In their last five games, the Oilers have gone 4-1-0, and have outscored their opponents 19-13. Both Cam Talbot and Laurent Brossoit have split starts in the last two games, but Talbot seems to be the most likely to start against a high-powered Caps team. The Oilers are led in scoring by the league leader in that category, 20-year old superstar Connor McDavid, with 68 points.
The Oilers are in the top half of teams when it comes to power play conversion, as they sit at 11th with a success rate of 20.6%. They are led in power play scoring by Leon Draisaitl, who has 20 points (10 goals, 10 assists) on the man-advantage this season. Their penalty kill isn’t as great, as they sit at 19th with a kill rate of 80.9%.
The Oilers are one of the best teams in the NHL when it comes to firing the puck at the opposition’s net, as they rank seventh with 31.0 shots against game. They aren’t bad at limiting the opposing team’s shots, as the sit 11th in shots against per game with 29.9.
The Capitals (40-12-7) are first in the Metropolitan Division with 87 points, five more than second-place Pittsburgh, and are also first in the league standingss, three points ahead of the Minnesota Wild. The Caps are coming off their first victory since returning from their bye week, and after a slow start, played more like the team they had been prior to the break.
The Capitals recalled forward Riley Barber and defenseman Aaron Ness from the Hershey Bears on Thursday afternoon, per CSN MidAtlantic’s Tarik El-Bashir. This is Barber’s first time on the active roster. Ness was likely called up as insurance, in case Matt Niskanen can’t play Friday night after sustaining an injury in Wednesday’s game against the Flyers.
The #Caps have recalled Riley Barber and Aaron Ness from Hershey.
— Tarik El-Bashir (@TarikCSN) February 23, 2017
The Capitals’ special teams are once again near the top of the NHL, as their power play ranks fifth with a success rate of 22.1%. The Caps are led in power play scoring by Nicklas Backstrom (23 points) and in goals on the man-advantage by Alex Ovechkin (12). Their penalty kill ranks seventh with a kill rate of 84.5%.
Despite their record, the Capitals aren’t exactly one of the best teams in the NHL when it comes to putting the puck on net. They rank 17th with 29.8 shots per game fired at the opposing netminder. They are, however, better when it comes to preventing the opposition from getting pucks through to their netminder, as they rank sixth with 28.0 shots against per game.
The Oilers came out on top in the two teams’ only meeting this season, back on October 26, by a score of 4-1. The Oilers did so with some of the most talented young players in the game, including McDavid, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Draisaitl, Darnell Nurse, and veterans such as Milan Lucic, Jordan Eberle, and Andrej Sekera.
- The Capitals are 35-29-6-1 in 71 all-time (includes ties) in 71 games against the Oilers
- Alex Ovechkin has 10 goals and 17 points in 13 career games played against Edmonton
- Connor McDavid has one goal and four points in two career games played against the Capitals
By Michael Fleetwood