Caps Return Home After A Horrendous Road Trip

The Washington Capitals went on a two game road trip this week, starting it in Nashville, TN versus the Predators and ending it in Denver, CO versus the Avalanche. Both games were an absolute disaster and is hands down the worst road trip the Caps have had in a very long time.

The Caps first visited the Music City, where the Nashville Predators have a very strong fan base (one of my personal favorites). Everyone was excited for this matchup because defenseman Matt Niskanen was returning from being on IR, a key part to the Caps’ defensive core. Off the bat, Nashville began to reign shot after shot down on Braden Holtby. It seemed as though every shot they took was on net, being placed in the perfect spot and/or being deflected. Holtby made every save he could have, but with Nashville out shooting Washington 12-0 only ten minutes into the game with barely any team support, even the best crack at some point. Nothing clicked for the Caps until the second and third periods where TJ Oshie and Alex Chiasson scored, but too little too late. After Nashville scored their sixth goal in the second period on Holtby, he finished out the remainder of period and was replaced by Philipp Grubauer, who did not allow a single goal in the third. Washington went on to lose 6-3, also losing rookie defenseman Christian Djoos to an upper-body injury.

Washington travelled to Denver in hopes to recover from the slaughter in Nashville, but would only be unprepared for the young Colorado team’s fast-paced style. One of the biggest surprises was Coach Trotz’s decision to make Jakub Vrana a healthy scratch, promote Brett Connolly to the third line, and activate Nathan Walker. Grubauer would get the start this game because of his performance in Nashville. This did not stagger the Avalanche for they opened up the scoring only 14 seconds into the game with a snipe from Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog, who would go on to score his first career hat trick in the third period. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Connolly were the only ones to score for the Caps. Grubauer could not hold off the young and proficient Avs team as they would crush the Caps with a 6-2 blowout. The entire team looked mentally and physically drained after the final horn, basically recapping the road trip for all its viewers.

This road trip was absolutely horrendous to watch. The entire organization, from the coaching staff and down, needs to take a hard look in the mirror and reevaluate themselves. There was a consistent lack of effort from the entire team. Not enough battles being contested in the corners nor along the boards. What I noticed was the breakout and the entry into the offensive zone was poorly executed every time, which resulted in turnovers and fatigue. I trust in Coach Trotz to make the necessary changes and send the right messages to the right people who need them in order for the Caps to start clicking again, or at least experiment with the different combinations for different results to start producing a sixty minute effort from the players that want to play. It won’t be as cute and pretty as it once was last season, but enough to grind out some wins in order to make the post-season.

We Like Winning Better: Caps Move onto Denver

Ok, there really isn’t anything good we can say about the Capitals-Predators game on Monday. So we have decided to focus on the positive aspects of the Caps, including winning against the Pens and Islanders. Lets hope they learn from their mistakes and come out crashing the net and shooting like nobody’s business in Denver on Thursday.

niskanen hiWe do want to welcome back Matt Niskanen who returned to the ice after missing 13 games with a hand injury. Unfortunately in his 20 minutes of play, he didn’t have too much to show for it except two minutes in the box for holding. You can tell from the following video that he was not feeling great about the game, for a number of reasons:

Looking back, the Caps played well against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winning against the Pens is always a boost to the team and to the fan base. And there were some great moments that night:

And then we had the shootout win against the Oilers. Now this wasn’t a fabulous game either with Dmitry Orlov scoring the only goal in regulation and TJ Oshie winning it in the shootout with the only puck in the net.

The Caps managed to hold back Connor McDavid to three shots and zero goals, so there was that! Ju Jhar Khair earned his second NHL goal and first of the season against the Caps; his error also opened the door for Orlov to score.

Braden Holtby (and to be fair, Philipp Grubauer) has been doing his darndest to keep the Caps in the game, he often looks alone when the opponents come crashing our net. He had 29 saves against the Oilers,

The Caps are still getting way to many penalties and Tom Wilson is involved in too many fights to actually be helping the team. Don’t get us wrong – we love Tom– we just want to see him play more then we want to see him sit.

We need to see more from Alex Ovechkin but the team can not put so much pressure on him to be the deciding factor in winning or losing. Ovi has 13 goals

Meanwhile, TJ Oshie is second in the league right now with power play goals (six) and he has a total of nine goals in 19 games, leaving us wanting a LOT more from him.

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Evgeny Kuznetsov (17), John Carlson (13) and Nicklas Backstrom (11) lead the team in assists. Odd that Nicky’s numbers are lower but great to see Kuzy and Carly producing so much for the team. Especially good to see Carlson looking more like the player we knew before his injuries and great the he is holding up with all the extra ice time with Nisky out.

With Niskanen back we hope to see the defense for the team step it up more. He is a great leader and encourager. We have some young guys who are finding their groove, especially Madison Bowey. Unfortunately, Christian Djoos left the game with an apparent upper-body injury. We should hear more at practice on Wednesday.

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The bottom line to all this is, we the fans like winning better. Who doesn’t? And we get that the Caps will loose a game here and there. What is disconcerting for us is that they are now 19 games into the season and they still haven’t found the missing identity Coach Trotz often refers to. And for us, that is his responsibility. We can’t help but wonder what is going on between the locker room and the ice. We just hope they rediscover their magic soon. For now, they are in a wild card place in the standings. It is still early friends, but we would fell a bunch better if they moved up a tad bit more in the standings. Are we right?

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Caps, Preds, and Mutual Disdain for Penguins

Preds Loss is Like Losing All Over Again

The Penguins had a celebration parade today after the Nashville Predators had to suffer through the Pittsburgh Penguins hoisting the Stanley Cup in their own arena. We felt their pain after watching the Washington Capitals lose to the Pens in game seven in our home. People we have talked with said they felt sick after the final round–mostly because there was a sense that the NHL handed the Pens the Cup by overlooking penalties and unfairly penalizing opponent teams.

Maybe its sour grapes here in Washington. Maybe we are jealous of the Pens ability to outplay the Caps. Maybe we want to believe our players are better then the Pens players and we would never stoop to their tactics to win. And maybe we are tired of the Ovechkin-Crosby comparison that the NHL and NBC use to boost ratings and hype a sport that doesn’t bring in the money that football does. 

Simply put, the NHL Playoffs left a nasty taste with almost every hockey fan that isn’t following the Pens. There is no underestimating the physical game that the Pens play. They are brutal on the ice as they move with speed from one end to the other, plowing through anyone in their way. This brutality is frequently called ‘dirty’ by anyone not from Pittsburgh and fair play by anyone who loves the Pens. And you can’t overlook its three primary players: Sidney Crosby, Evegni Malkin and Phil Kessel.

Unfortunately, most of the playoffs focused on Sidney Crosby, in positive and negative terms. His behavior detracted from the skills of Pens’ players and their coach. The NHL loves its Canadian-born player and have elevated him to near sainthood. NBC and its affiliate sportscasters, seem to drool over just the mention of his name. Every game starts with a discussion of his greatness and no matter who else is on the ice, their first shots are always of Sid the Kid skating onto the ice. No other player in the league is more adored by the NHL and NBC, which leaves most of the rest of the hockey fan base a bit nauseous. From what the rest of us hear, Sid can do no wrong and even if he does, well…he is the best don’t ya know?

It seems Crosby, and maybe even the Penguins, have their favorite targeted players. That person who the Pens want to undermine and get out of the game. Crosby personally seems to have a rival or some level of animosity with every team and that was pretty apparent during the playoffs. It includes Brandon Dubinsky, Alex Ovechkin, Erik Karlsson, and PK Subban.

In round one it took the Pens five games to eliminate the Blue Jackets. Brandon Dubinsky has been known to “get under the skin” of Crosby who is known to retaliate or take the first stab but we didn’t see as much of that in this round. Instead, much of the post- round analysis focused more on coaching style and the inability of Sergei Bobrovsky to stop the puck. In the final game of the round, a game-tying goal by the Jackets was waived off and they were instead given a penalty for interference. This caused some ire with CBJ fans as Sidney Crosby would go on and score thus leading the team to a 5-2 finish over Columbus. The playoffs; however, came down to one goalie outstaying the other and one team outplaying the other–in this case it happened to be the Pens.

The Pens went on to face the Capitals in round two. The Pens knocked the Caps out of the playoffs the previous season so revenge was already in the air. We all know how much the Pens dislike Alex Ovechkin and his flamboyant style of play, but in this round the contempt was even more heightened. There was a point when it felt as if the Caps and Pens were back at the Winter Classic when an on-ice collision ultimately led to a concussion diagnosis for Crosby.  This time in a freak play in front of the net, Crosby fell and as Crosby went lower, Nisky’s stick wound up hitting Crosby in the head. Niskanen was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for the ‘cross check.’ There were reports that Crosby suffered another concussion, his second in the season. Things got pretty nasty with Marc-Andre Fleury taping over former Pens’ Niskanen’s name on his helmet. The names were those that Fleury considered his favorite teammates.  Crosby returned to practice four days later and five days later for game five. Many wondered if he was back too soon or if he had actually suffered a concussion.  People watching were genuinely concerned that it was  and as a result there was a sense from the NHL and NBC that Crosby needed to be treated with kid gloves because of his frail condition. Every time Crosby landed on the ice NBC sports went into crisis mode that he might be injured again.

There were strange calls—like early whistles—against the Caps which gave the impression of favoritism. And let us not forget the infamous Nick Bonino dive which led to a high stick call against TJ Oshie. Even though the refs got it wrong, this time folks like Don Cherry called Bonino out for “faking” and questioned what was going on with the officiating.  The ensuing power play ensured a game four win for the Pens. In the end, the Caps suffered a second round two defeat at the hands of the Pens leaving the fans stunned and bitter. At this point, Caps fans became fans of #anyonebutthePens

Round three and fan hope turned to the Senators. Caps fans were ready for retribution and thought for sure the Sens would bring it. Crosby was in the midst of a scoring drought and the series was overshadowed with continual talk about Crosby’s frail nature. We kept wondering why he was playing if the Pens were really afraid he would be hurt or if this was just a mental game they were playing with the Sens. Erik Karlsson brought some comic relief when he mocked Crosby’s whining at the refs and his incessant whispering on the ice.

Matt Murray found his way back to the net when Fleury was pulled after game two, which changed much of the dynamics to the game as he stopped 123 of 130 shots. The Kessel, Crosby, Malkin threesome was in full force for this round but let’s face it; we were rooting for Craig Anderson to hold them back. He did stop 206 of 220 shots but sadly it wasn’t enough. The Sens fell to the Pens in game seven. Oddly, the NHL reportedly ‘censored’ a video of Karlsson telling Crosby he hoped he was healthy–after all we were all wondering at this point if he was playing injured and if the Pens were ignoring potential concussion symptoms. (YardBarker)

And then everything seemed to shift and become all about Crosby. The Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford complained that Crosby was receiving abuse at the hands of opponents. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman was forced to address the charges and the allegation that the NHL allowed Crosby to play even though he had a concussion. Bettman pretty much blew it off, but not NBC sports. 

PK Subban became the player to hate by the Pens in the final round. He too is an equally tough, and sometimes considered ‘dirty’ player. He will do what it takes to score, and like Ovechkin, he does it with flare which drives the Pens nuts. In the first game, the Preds held off the Pens from shooting for 37 minutes of play (The Score). Caps fans were pretty excited and impressed and oh so hopeful that this signaled the end of the the Pens run.It was not to be, but it did give us another view of Crosby and the Penguins’ culture.

There were questionable calls that led to the refs calling back goals–which pretty much no one agreed with.

By game five things got pretty disgusting with regards to Crosby and the pass he seemed to have been given. First we had the slamming of Subban’s head into the ice. Any other player would clearly have been ejected and likely been suspended. Not Crosby–he got two minutes:

And then he threw a water bottle on the ice. He claimed it slipped out of his hand and went into his Mr. Innocent act. He got a pass while again, any other player would have received a poor sportsmanship penalty.

In the end, many believe that the playoffs were ruined by the behavior of the NHL’s ‘Golden Boy,” Sidney Crosby. He may well have extraordinary skill but his on-ice attitude leaves much to be desired. He is frequently viewed as a dirty player who gets away with things that would lead to the ejection of other players. He is unapologetic for his own behavior while frequently whining about his own treatment to the refs during the game and pouting after. He feigns innocence and gets away with it. We’re pretty sure every team in the league has some nasty Crosby story. Above all else, Crosby is the reason that no one outside of Pittsburgh is celebrating the Penguins second championship.

Going forward, the NHL really needs to review its officiating and determine how they can ensure more consistency between the regular season and the playoffs. They must do something give the fans the sense that the final round hasn’t been decided as soon as the playoff teams are announced. Clearly the NHL needs a superstar for promotion of the league. Perhaps it is time to find someone of Wayne Gretzky’s caliber who is above suspicion for his play and has the complete respect of the league.

The NHL Network has already decided that the Penguins will be the best team for season 2017/18 and are predicting a third cup in the row for them—with or without Crosby. The worst part of the next year will be that every team will be compared to the Pens and every captain or lead player will be compared to Crosby. And the Caps will constantly face a barrage of questions about playing the Pens and have their two-time loss thrown in their faces. This can go two ways for the Caps—it can demoralize them and beat them down. Or, if folks like Justin Williams and Nick Backstrom have any say in it, call propel them to play harder and develop a winning strategy over the Pens. Either way, it’s gonna be ugly for Caps fans every time we watch those playoff reals, watch Sid lift the cup, and live with the constant reminder that the Pens won the Stanley Cup.

 

 

The Caps and Preds Connection

There is a special kind of connection between these two teams. Many Caps fans jumped on the Predators bandwagon as soon as the Capitals were knocked out of the playoffs by the Penguins.

#anyonebuthePens.

After all, our coach, Barry Trotz, was once their coach. They too were cursed with never getting past the second round. And…they have Filip Forsberg on their roster, who was briefly on the Caps roster.

More important: they have the chance to beat the Caps’ nemesis. And mostly its because we simply can’t stand Sidney Crosby…

This final series has kept us on the edge of our seats as the Preds held the Pens back from getting a shot on goal for 37 minutes in game one. Unfortunately, it only took four shots in the third for the Pens to take the game 5 to 3. The third and fourth games took the playoffs to Nashville and a fan base that has infused their team with energy and confidence. The Preds did what the Caps couldn’t do and delivered two home ice wins.

Caps fans watched with disdain and disgust at what happened in game five as the series returned to Pittsburgh. One thing was clear – we all feel the same contempt for Sidney Crosby, which was heightened after Crosby got a pass for twisting and slamming PK Subban’s head on the ice. While he may be one of the best players in the league, those of us who are not Pens’ fans see things differently.

We’ll let you judge for yourself:

Not to mention a “slip” of his water bottle that would have been a poor sportsman penalty for any other player. Not for the the Golden Boy:

Many Caps fans were watching the game just because, well its hockey, it was the run for the cup, and we love any team that can take down the Pens. Now we are even more invested in seeing the Preds win this thing.  We have never been big fans of PK Subban but given the Subban-Crosby choice, we will never come down on Sid’s side of things.

The series returns to Nashville on Sunday at 8 pm (EST) on NBC. We’ll see if we can stomach NBC’s slanted adoration for the Pens and Sid one more night and if the Preds can bring this to a game seven–back in Pittsburgh. First, they have to figure out their goalie issue and bring that Smashville Energy to the ice again.

GO PREDS!!  We’ re Counting On YOU!!!

Caps Fans Living Vicariously Through the Predators and Senators

There is a real quandary for hockey fans when their team is knocked out of the NHL playoffs. Do you stop watching hockey? Do you watch World Hockey and see how the players from your team do with their homeland team? Do you watch to see if the team that knocks you out, gets knocked out in the next round? Or do you turn off the TV and wait for October??

Many Caps fans have jumped on the Ottawa Senators bandwagon in the hopes that they will keep the Pittsburgh Penguins from making it to the final round. If you are watching, it has been a great series. It is hard for some of us to stomach the likes of Crosby, Kessel, and Malkin but there were great moments in the round. Like when Erik Karlsson made fun of Crosby’s penchant for ‘secret’ messages to his team–or himself?

There will be a Game Seven Thursday night at 8 pm on NBCSN. Sens goalie Craig Anderson has been having a great run–he is worth the watch. You might want to turn the sound off as NBC is still rooting for the Pens and Crosby…

And then there are the Nashville Predators. We feel a special affinity for the Preds. It is the team that Barry Trotz, cut his coaching teeth on. He was never able to get them past the second round of the playoffs, so like us, we were hoping they would break the mode. And they did!!!

We are so excited for this team to be heading to the final round. Yes, there is that guy that we traded who is playing (Filip Forsberg) which still leads to a lot of whining from some Caps fans. PK Subban was brought to the team from Montreal this season and clearly has been another factor in their new capabilities. Many fans are living vicariously through this team which mirrors the dream we have for our team.

The Stanley Cup final round will begin Monday, 29 May and could run as late as 14 June. It will air on NBC and NBCSN in the US and CBC and Sportsnet in Canada. The dates are as follows:

29 May
31 May
3 June
5 June
8 June *
11 June *
14 June *

*Games played if needed.

So what about you? Are you watching hockey? Are you in for the playoffs and if so, who are you rooting for to take hoist the cup??

Caps Roar Past the Predators

The Nashville Predators made their one and only visit to the Verizon Center this season. It was Jay Beagle’s 300th NHL game and the Capitals spent the night celebrating 25 years of Craig Laughlin as a CSN analyst. They played a great defensive game and Braden Holtby was dynamite–as usual. And there is no underestimating the magic of Evgeny Kuznetsov as he time and again creates opportunities for his teammates to score. Daniel Winnik benefited the most with two goals for the night. Good production all around.

First Period: Solid Start

The Caps had a good start in the first period – holding back the Predators. They were keeping Predators goaltender Carter Hutton company early in the game. Jay “Top Line” Beagle and Jason Chimera both had some quality chances on Huttton. The Capitals penalty kill was successful late in the period. Capitals outskated and outshot the Predators 11-4. It seems like those bad first periods are a thing of the past (hopefully).

GOALS: None

PENALTIES: Nicklas Backstrom (hi-sticking)

SCORE: Game tied 0-0

Second Period: Winnik’s First (and Second) in Red!

While on the power play, Predator Filip Forsberg opened the scoring. Then, Daniel Winnik scored his first goal as a Capital. Amazing slap pass from Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby collected a goalie point. The Capitals went on the power play but did not convert. Kuznetsov does his signature pass (no look behind-the-net) to T.J. Oshie, who got the Caps the 2-1 lead. In the final minute of the period, Winnik scored his second goal as a Capital. Winnik also collected his 200th NHL point on the second goal.

GOALS: Filip Forsberg scored his 29th of the season (assists: Roman Josi and Shea Weber); Daniel Winnik scored his fifth of the season (assists: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Braden Holtby); T.J. Oshie scored his 22nd of the season (assist: Evgeny Kuznetsov); Daniel Winnik scored his sixth of the season (assist: Dmitry Orlov)

PENALTIES: Taylor Chorney (tripping); Ryan Johansen (tripping); Ryan Johansen (cross checking)

SCORE: Caps lead 3-1

Oshie Goal
Oshie expresses the excitement at Verizon Center tonight!

 

Third Period:

It took 36 seconds for Kuzy to make another crazy pass, this time to Andre Burakovsky. Kuznetsov had a hat trick of assists in this game. The game got more physical as the time ticked down for the Predators. In the final minute of the period, the Caps had a 5-on-3 man advantage. Johansen had a hat trick of penalties in this game. It was not a one-game goal for the Caps, who won 4-1.

GOALS: Andre Burakovsky scored his 15th of the season (assist: Evgeny Kuznetsov)

PENALTIES: Alex Ovechkin (hi-sticking); Craig Smith (holding the stick); Mike Ribeiro (game misconduct); Ryan Johansen (roughing); Shea Weber (delay of game)

SCORE: Caps win 4-1

There is no doubt that this is a “creative” and “intelligent” team to quote Coach Trotz. Tonight was the 51st win of the season for the Capitals and 43rd win for Braden Holtby. Holtby is one win closer to the single season wins record held by Martin Brodeur (48).

What’s Next?

Practice: 11:30am on Saturday at Ketter Capitals Iceplex.

Game: Sunday at 6pm against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Consol Energy Center.

Caps: Home Relaxation

After a grueling stretch of 7 games in 12 nights with a cross country flight, the Caps return with only two games this week. However, these games are not going to be easy at all.

First up, Carolina Hurricanes, Tuesday  (3/15) at 7 EST.

Carolina is fighting for their playoff lives. They are five points back from the Red Wings. Carolina is 3-0-2 since the trade deadline. The Caps can lock up a playoff spot tonight with a win, however it will not be an easy task. When these teams match up it is always close, I expect this one to be another one goal game. However, if the Caps can get out to an early lead at home, they might just take all the confidence out of this desperate Hurricanes team.

Game 2: Nashville Predators, Friday, March 18, 7 EST.

As of Tuesday, the Predators are a safe nine points ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for a playoff spot. However, with the Blackhawks starting to slump, the Predators may be looking to pounce. They sit only five points back out of the third spot in the Central Division. They may be looking to make a run for that spot.

In these two upcoming games, it is important that the Caps feed off the Verizon Center crowd early. If the Caps start out slow, and allow the first goal, the fans could go into the “here we go again” mentality and be quiet the whole game. Hopefully with a less heavy game week, the Caps can get back on track and fix these slow starts before the playoffs.

I Like It, I Love It; Caps Best Preds in Smashville

 

On Tuesday night, the Washington Capitals took on the Nashville Predators. Andre Burakovsky was celebrating his 21st birthday and Mike Ribeiro was celebrating his 1,000th NHL career game. Marcus Johansson was finally back in the line-up, while Stanislav Galiev was a healthy scratch yet again. Brooks Orpik and Jay Beagle are both still out due to injury.

PERIOD 1- Whistle while you work…

This period seemed to start out very similar to the last couple games. The Caps were called for a few penalties, as were the Preds. The Caps scored first and on just their third shot of the game. Preds had some great opportunities, but ever the awesome tendy, Braden Holtby kept them at bay.

GOALS-Jason Chimera scored his 14th goal assisted by Tom Wilson

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PENALTIES-Nate Schmidt called for holding, Mike Fisher called for tripping, Justin Williams called for hooking, Craig Smith called for tripping, and Marcus Johansson called for hi-sticking

SCORE-Caps lead, 1-0

PERIOD 2-Penalties can kill

This period started out quietly, and stayed that way until about five minutes in. The Caps scored and seemingly took the crowd out of it. At least until the Preds got one past Holtby on the back to back power plays caused by too many men on the ice. There goes the shutout. It started to get pretty heated in the last few minutes but nothing amassed past one goal each.

GOALS-Tom Wilson scored his 5th goal of the season assisted by Marcus Johansson, and Filip Forsberg scored assisted by Craig SmithIMG_9150

PENALTIES-The Caps were called for 2 consecutive bench minors of too many men on the ice (Burakovsky and Marcus Johansson served the penalties)

SCORE- Caps lead, 2-1

PERIOD 3- Mojo magic

The Caps were testing Pekka Rinne early, but he stood tall and kept the Caps off the board until a lucky bounce gave them a two goal lead. A beautiful save by Rinne gave way to another Caps goal as a rebound was put in past the Nashville netminer. A couple of deflections past Holtby gave the Preds some life. A late PP gave the Caps the victory as an empty net goal was scored when Nashville pulled the goalie.

GOALS-Justin Williams scored his 17th of the season assisted by Evgeny Kuznetsov, Marcus Johansson scored his 14th of the season assisted by Justin Williams, Roman Josi scored assisted by Calle Jarnkrok, Filip Forsberg scored his second of the night assisted by Mattias Ekholm, and Alex Ovechkin scored his 31st goal of the season, an empty netter assisted by Nicklas Backstrom.

PENALTIES-Mattias Ekholm called for tripping, and Matt Niskanen called for interference

SCORE-Caps win, 5-3

Caps are now 39-9-4 with 82 points. The third line has been fantastic! Tonight was no exception. With the re-entry of Marcus Johansson, that line showed why they must be feared! They are fast, feisty and can score. The Caps are showing more and more why they are a team to be taken seriously.

UP NEXT-the Caps next game is Thursday against the Minnesota Wild at 8pm on CSN.

No home practices until they return home this weekend.

Happy 21st Birthday to Burkie and Congratulations to Kuzy on 100 NHL career points!

Written by : Ashley Reid

Photos by: Brittney Marcum

Capitals and Predators Pregame Update & Line Projections

 

DON’T FORGET: It’s a 8pm puck drop tonight. Watch on CSN and listen 106.7

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MARCUS JOHANSSON IS BACK!!!

Preds are predicting a little ‘challenge’ between Michael Latta and Filip Forsberg.

We still have no Jay Beagle, or Brooks Orpik.

Andre Burakovsky, the birthday boy, has recorded six goals and nine points in his last seven games.

The Predators will acknowledge Mike Riberiro’s 1,000th NHL game, which he played on Saturday. Part of that was played with the Washington Capitals.

 Caps Forward Lines

Ovechkin (8) Backstrom (19) Oshie (77)

Burakovsky (65) Kuznetsov (92) Williams (14)

Chimera (25) Johansson (90) Wilson (43)

Laich (21) Richards (10) Latta (46)

Defensemen Parings

Alzner (28) Niskanen (2)

Schmidt (88) Carlson (74)

Orlov (9) Chorney (4)

Goalies

Braden Holtby (70)** Philipp Grubauer (31)

** Expected in the net tonight.

Healthy Scratch: *Stan Galiev

Injury List

Brooks Orpik (37 missed); Jay Beagle (15 missed)

Reachable Milestones:

Evgeny Kuznetsov only needs one point to reach 100 NHL/Caps career points.

Nicky Backstrom one goal away from a new Caps franchise milestone: (162) for 12th place.

 The Predators Projected Lineup

Colin Wilson, who had seven points in eight games before his injury, returns to the lineup tonight, according to the Preds.

Forwards

Jamkrok (19) Johansen (92) Neal (18)

Forsberg (9) Ribeiro (63) Arvidsson (38)

Wilson (33) Fisher (12) Smith (15)

Watson (57) Gaustad (28) Bass (16)

Defensive Pairings

Josi (59) Weber (6)

Ekholm (14) Ellis (4)

Jackman (5) Bitetto (2)

Goalies

**Renne (35) Hutton (30)

** Expected in the net.

Injury List

Gabriel Bourque and Eric Nystrom

Caps – Predators: First Stop on the Road.

GAME TIME IS 8 pm ET

happy ovi

Coach Trotz is back in Nashville, this time with all his Boyz. Maybe this time the Caps will be able to show up coach’s former team. This is the first of three games on the road and the start of meeting Western Conference teams they have yet to play. After a travel day into Nashville, the team was given some time off to settle in before morning skate on Tuesday and an evening game in front of one of the best fan arenas in the NHL.

The Preds need the win to hold onto the Wild Card spot and to advance into a playoff position. Nashville defeated the Sharks on Saturday with a 6-2 win at home.

Caps Stars

The hockey world continues to stand in awe about the Caps and the amazing depth of the team. These team leaders that have been wowing us lately include:

Andre Burakovsky has at least a point per game in seven games, some games he had multiple points. On Sunday it was clear that he intends to keep the streak. We would say his Sophomore slump is over

Evgeny Kuznetsov is amazing. He has 53 points with 15 goals and 38 assists. He leads the league in +/- with a +25. He is 3rd in the NHL in assists. He has 12 points in his last seven games.

serious oviAlex Ovechkin recorded his 30th goal for the season—his 11th consecutive season with 30 goals. He is now catching up to Patrick Kane’s 32 goals.

Braden Holtby leads the league with 33 wins on the season.

Injury Report and Team Scratches

Jay Beagle: He continues to recover. He continues to work with the coaches.

Brooks Orpik and Marcus Johansson traveled with the team. No word on if or when they might actually play.

Predator Posture

Ryan Johansen leads the Preds with 40 points, although only 14 of those points came from playing in Nashville after the January 6 trade from Columbus. Filip Forsberg has notched 15 goals and 18 assists this season and recorded one goal and two assists in their game against the San Jose Sharks. And we can’t overlook Mike Rbeiro with six goals, 27 assists for 33 points. Mattias Ekholm created havoc both times the Caps met the Preds. So far this season the defenseman has 22 points including 6 goals and 16 assists.

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Let’s put it this way—the Nashville Predators have the potential to give the Caps their first loss on a challenging road trip. They spread the wealth around just as the Caps do, which will make this one of the more exciting matches.

Coming Up

Tuesday, 9 Feb, morning skate at Bridgestone Arena

Tuesday , 9 Feb, Nashville 8pm ET (CSN and 106.7)

Wednesday, 10 Feb, Practice, 1 pm CT at Xcel Energy Center

Thursday, 11 Feb, Wild, 8 pm ET (CSN and 106.7)

Photos by Brittney Marcum &Mel Abernethy