Capitals Daily Report: Caps Battle Coyotes Before “Road Running” for Home Ice

The Capitals look to set a franchise record for home wins in a season with a win tonight over the Arizona Coyotes. Prior to the game, the team held an optional skate at Kettler. Puck drop tonight from Verizon Center is at 7 PM

MORNING SKATE
The optional skate was very sparsely attended, with only four players out on the ice. Those players were the projected scratches for tonight: Paul Carey, Taylor Chorney, and Nate Schmidt as well as Philipp Grubauer. Even though Braden Holtby wasn’t on the ice this morning, head coach Barry Trotz confirmed he will get the nod in net tonight.

“Yes he’s starting, why did you ask me that?”, Trotz joked as he met with the media after the skate.

With the Capitals in need of points to get the number one seed in the playoffs and home ice advantage, Trotz stressed the importance of the road ahead.

“I think in the playoffs (having home ice) gives you an advantage. If you get into a game seven, I think the home ice is probably a little bit bigger advantage than the first six games,” Trotz said.

Trotz could be right. In his era since he coached the Caps in 2014-15, the Caps are 1-1 in Game 7’s. The win came at home against the Islanders in the first round and the loss came the following round to their neighbors, the Rangers, in Manhattan. The Capitals didn’t have any game sevens last year but with the competitiveness of the NHL playoff format, don’t be surprised if there is one in the first or second round.

Here’s what the lines are projected to look like tonight.

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie
Johansson-Kuznetsov-Williams
Connolly-Eller-Burakovsky
Winnik-Beagle-Wilson

Defense
Alzner-Carlson
Orlov-Niskanen
Orpik-Shattenkirk

SCENES FROM KETTLER

BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Coyotes are second to last in the league at 27-38-9 (63 points). Even though the Caps are 41 points higher, this is an opponent they shouldn’t take lightly. Mike Smith (18-23-8) gets the start in goal.

“Any time you play a team from the west, you really don’t know them. They got a lot of young guys,” said Trotz. “Those young guys have produced. Arizona has the second most production of rookies in the league, they’re very fast, their skilled, and their high draft choices are very skilled and very quick. That makes them dangerous. If you’re not ready for them, they’re going to hand you a loss.”

Here are their projected lines for tonight.

Forwards
Domi-Dvorak-Vrbata
Perlini-Martinook-Rieder
McGinn-Holland-Duclair
Crouse-Jooris-Fischer

Defense
Ekman-Larsson-Schenn
Goligoski-Murphy
Chychrun-Michalek

METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 12.48.51 PM

The Penguins fell to the Islanders 4-3 in a shootout in Pittsburgh. Despite the Pens gaining a point, the Caps still lead the Metropolitan Division as well as the league. Pittsburgh plays Philadelphia tomorrow. The Blue Jackets defeated the Flyers 1-0 this afternoon and now have 103 points. The Blackhawks (102 points) play the Panthers tonight.

GAME CHIPS

  • Tonight is the first of meetings between the Capitals and Coyotes this season.
  • The Capitals were 1-1-0 last season against the Coyotes.
  • These teams will meet again in six days at Arizona (March 31).

SHAVINGS

  • Karl Alzner is two assists shy of 100 in his NHL career.
  • Nicklas Backstrom is two goals shy of passing Bobby Carpenter (188) for eighth place on all-time franchise-goals list.
  • The Capitals are 4-0-1 in their last five games, an NHL best. (Tarik El-Bashir)
  • The Coyotes are 1-3-1 in their last five games (29th). (Tarik El-Bashir)
  • The Capitals have posted a 30-6-2 record at home this season, tying the franchise record for home wins in season (1985-86, 2009-10: 30).
  • Braden Holtby leads the NHL in shutouts (8) this season, ranks second in goals-against average (2.03) and wins (38) and fifth in save percentage (.926).
  • Alex Ovechkin has scored 29 goals this season and sits one goal shy of reaching the 30-goal plateau for the 12th consecutive season.
  • Nicklas Backstrom recorded three points (one goal, two assists) on Tuesday against Calgary and he has earned 10 points in his last five games (one goal, nine assists).

DAILY LINKS
Game Notes vs. Arizona, 3/25/17 (Capitals PR)
Caps Close Homestand vs. Coyotes (Mike Vogel)

INTERVIEWS
Barry Trotz

By Michael Marzzacco

Photos from today's practice are now up on our site. 😳

A post shared by NoVa Caps (@nova_caps) on

About Michael Marzzacco

Michael is an avid DC sports fan with a passion for writing. He has followed the Washington Capitals since the 2003-04 season, around the time his enthusiasm for DC teams really began. It was from the days when they had the worst record in the league to when they became the most exciting team in the area. His Dad took him to his first Caps game a couple of years later. One of his favorite memories was being in the stands during the 2015 Winter Classic where Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with 12 seconds left. Michael graduated from Radford University in May 2016, earning a degree in journalism and focusing on sports journalism and broadcasting. His goal is to work in sports media in Washington, D.C.
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