Washington Capitals: 51-15-5
Ottawa Senators 34-31-8
Game time: 7:30 Tuesday
The Washington Capitals, at 107 points, first in the Metropolitan Division and first in Eastern Conference, travels to play the Ottawa Senators who sit at 76 points, fifth in the Atlantic Division and 12th in Eastern Conference. The Caps continue on their three-game road trip, having lost to the Penguins Sunday. This is the third time these two have met this season; the Capitals won the previous two in Washington 2-1 December 16 and 7-1 January 10. The Caps have secured their playoff spot and look to lock up the division and conference race this week. The Senators are struggling and sit seven points out of the final wildcard spot, currently occupied by the Detroit Red Wings. They’d really need to put together a run in order to challenge for a playoff spot.
Holtby, Caps Fatigued?
It was an ugly performance for Holtby against the Penguins, as the Caps lost in regulation for just the ninth time this season. The 26-year-old has allowed at least four goals twice in his last four starts, but he’s been playing at a Vezina Trophy level for most of the season, so it’s likely more of an outlier than anything else. However, a few games off here or there prior to the post season could do Holtby and others some good. Once they lock up the division, conference and President’s Trophy, I’m sure Trotz will start resting players.
The Caps sit second in goals per game (3.1), fourth in goals against per game (2.4), second in power play percentage (23%) and fifth in penalty kill percentage (84.1%).
- Alex Ovechkin has recorded one goal in his last seven games. Ovechkin told reporters last week that the injury he sustained earlier this year continues to “bother” him. Even though he said he is “sore” he continues to play. He will likely earn some rest soon once they wrap up the division and conference.
- The Caps continue to struggle in Period 1. In their last eight games, the Caps have been outscored 10-0 in the first period and have let the opponent score first in 15 of 18 games. Trotz is not too concerned about this but keeps shuffling lines to see if something will spark the team to get them out of their first period funk. However, he also said Sunday that he is “not letting anyone off the hook ” for their poor performance in Pittsburgh.
Time Running Out for Ottawa
With nine games remaining (18 possible points), Ottawa is certainly not out of the playoff race. However, the hill will be tough to climb as they have Carolina (76 points), New Jersey (77 points), Philadelphia (80 points) and Detroit (83 points) ahead of them. They will need a lot of help to grab onto the last wildcard spot.
The Senators are fifth in goals per game (2.8) but a dismal 27th in goals against (3.0), 26th in power play percentage (16.4%) and 29th in penalty kill percentage (75.4%). After a 5-0 win over the Canadiens on Saturday, the Sens will be pumped and ready to fight for two points.
- The Sens can be expected to play for pride if nothing else. Their inconsistent season could make Tuesday night a surprising game, especially if the Caps are the least bit shaky.
- Starting Goaltenders look to be Craig Anderson for Ottawa, who is 29-22-4 with a 2.80 GAA and .918 save percentage and Braden Holtby for the Capitals, who is 43-9-4 with a 2.26 GAA and .921 save percentage.
NOTE: Don’t be surprised if Trotz decides Holtby needs rest. Philipp Grubauer would then get the nod in net. He is 8-6-1 with a 2.19 GAA and .924 save percentage.
Here’s hoping the Caps can snap out of their first period funk and score first for a change.
LET’S GO CAPS!
Written by Christopher Johnson