Washington Capitals (30-10-5) vs New Jersey Devils (15-21-7)
|Predicted Goaltender||Record||GAA / SV% / # SO|
|Washington Capitals||Braden Holtby||18-8-4||2.99 / .901 / 0|
|New Jersey Devils||MacKenzie Blackwood||14-12-6||2.86 / .907 / 1|
After dropping the second game of their back-to-back to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday, the Washington Capitals are back in DC to take on the New Jersey Devils. It certainly helps that the Capitals are 13-4-4 at home, and the Devils are just 9-11-0 on the road, but Washington’s power play is among the worst in the league since the start of December. The Capitals did however defeat New Jersey back on December 20th, 6-3 at Prudential Center.
The Washington Capitals lost to the Philadelphia Flyers back on Wednesday by a score of 3-2. Arguably the Caps’ worst showing of the season thus far, the power play was 0 for 5, and the Flyers ended up scoring shorthanded to break a 2-2 tie. The goal from Kevin Hayes ended up being the game-winning goal for Philadelphia, ending a four-game losing streak. Just three minutes and 24 seconds into the first period, Travis Konecny, the Flyers leading goal-scorer and point-getter, gave Philadelphia a 1-0 lead. Nicklas Backstrom, known more for his play-making rather than his goal-scoring, scored his 9th of the season, tying the game at one goal each shortly after the seven-minute mark. The Flyers were gifted one power play in the first period, but luckily Washington kept them off the board. Richard Panik was also assessed a 10-minute misconduct, a penalty that many of us still don’t understand. Jakub Vrana on the delayed penalty gave Washington their first lead of the night, with his 19th of the season. After ending a 10-game scoreless drought, Vrana is on a four-game point streak, and has four goals in three of those four games. TJ Oshie, who was actually attempting to block a shot, prevented Holtby from tracking Robert Hagg’s long-distance slapper. The puck thus ended up behind Holtby as Hagg tallied his first goal of the year late in the first period, once again tying the game, 2-2. The Caps received three power plays in the second period, but only Kevin Hayes would end up scoring. Just short of the 18-minute mark, Kevin Hayes would, on the Capitals power play, score short-handed to give the Flyers back their lead. Washington would be gifted two additional opportunities in the third, but the Flyers were successful in preventing the Caps’ power play units from even setting up in the offensive zone. Since December 1st, Washington’s power play is 30th of 31 teams, and is operating at just 13.7%. Although the loss should not be blamed solely on Capitals netminder Braden Holtby, the veteran has just five wins in his last 11 showings, and has allowed a whopping 33 goals against in those 11 games.
We also need to talk about defenseman Nick Jensen. Both teams allowed way too many turnovers back on Wednesday, but one especially bad turnover by Jensen ended up in the back of Washingtons’ net. The defenseman, who was acquired from the Detroit Red Wings for Madison Bowey and a 2019 5th round pick, has just two assists and posts a -5 through 45 games. Jensen leaves much to be desired, especially after signing a four-year, $10 million contract extension immediately upon being acquired (Lingebach). For comparisons sake, Bowey has two goals and 11 assists, but has played just 33 games, and actually was placed on waivers after posting (-) ratings in three straight games, including a -4 night versus the Leafs. Bowey ultimately cleared waivers, and was then recalled from the AHL due to injuries among the Red Wings defensemen. Capitals general manager Brian Maclellan rarely gets it wrong as far as acquisitions go, but this one leaves many scratching their heads.
Braden Holtby will start for the Capitals tonight.
The New Jersey Devils last played on Thursday, where they lost to the New York Rangers, 6-3. Since the team fired head-coach John Hynes back on December 2nd, the Devils are 6-7-3, and have been outscored 51 to 43. The first period saw five goals, and one overturned goal against the Rangers. Artemi Panarin scored his 24th of the season before the game was six minutes old, giving New York an early lead. On the Rangers power play, Kevin Rooney scored shorthanded for the Devils, tying the game at one goal each (Subban, interference). Defenseman Tony DeAngelo, just under two minutes later, re-established the Rangers lead, and two and a half minutes after DeAngelo’s goal, Chris Kreider on another Rangers power play tallied his 14th of the season, giving New York a 3-1 lead. A late Devils goal from Blake Coleman brought New Jersey within one, heading into the second period. Blake Coleman’s second goal of the game, the game-tying goal, was challenged, but was upheld as a good goal as Jacob Trouba pushed him into the net, dislodging the net from its moorings. Tony DeAngelo scored his second of the game minutes later. The Devils were then called for too-many-men, giving the Rangers another power play. Just short of New Jersey killing off that penalty, they were called for high-sticking. DeAngelo scored his 3rd of the night, marking his first career hat trick on the power play. The Devils elected to pull Blackwood for Louis Domingue, who hadn’t played since December 13th. Play resumed as 4-on-4 after Wayne Simmonds and Trouba were called for matching penalties. With just over seven minutes left in the game, Jesper Fast doubled down on the Devils, scoring the Rangers’ six goal of the night. Kyle Palmieri leads the team with 16 goals and 30 points, with half of his goals coming on the power play. Louis Domingue, who is just 1-4-0, is expected to start for the Devils.
New Jersey will be without MacKenzie Blackwood (OUT, upper body), Ben Street (DL, upper body), and Jack Hughes (OUT, upper body). Hughes, the first overall pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, is a -10 and has six goals and 10 assists through 36 games (TheScore). Earlier today, the Washington Capitals reassigned defenseman Christian Djoos to the Hershey Bears.
Coverage of the game begins at 6:00pm with Caps Faceoff Live, followed by Caps Pregame Live at 6:30pm, all on NBCSN/NBCSWA, with puck drop shortly after 7:00pm.
HockeyDB. (2020). Madison Bowey Hockey Stats and Profile. Retrieved from http://www.hockeydb.com/ihdb/stats/pdisplay.php?pid=134163.
HockeyReference. (2020). Nick Jensen Stats. Retrieved from https://www.hockey-reference.com/players/j/jenseni02.html.
Lingebach, C. (2019). Capitals immediately ink Nick Jensen to four-year extension. Retrieved from https://thefandc.radio.com/capitals-immediately-ink-nick-jensen-to-contract-extension.
TheScore. (2020). New Jersey Devils News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/6.
TheScore. (2020). Washington Capitals News & Stats. Retrieved from https://www.thescore.com/nhl/teams/15.