Washington Capitals (2-0-1 5pts) v. New Jersey Devils (2-0-0 4pts)
Time: 7p ET
Station: NBC Sports Washington, MSG+
After opening the 2021-22 NHL season with a three game homestand, the Washington Capitals are hitting the road for the first time this season as they head to New Jersey to take on the Devils. The Devils, who are in the middle of a five game homestand to start the season, have had to tough matchups to start they season as they’ve taken on the Chicago Blackhawks and Seattle Kraken to go 2-0-0 to start their season. In their season opener against Chicago, the Devils would carry a two goal lead in the third period only to squander it as the Blackhawks would score twice to force overtime. However, it would be Jack Hughes’ second of the game to hand the Devils the 4-3 overtime victory. Then on Tuesday night they would host the Kraken, and after getting a two goal lead, the Kraken would make attempts to get back into the game, but the Devils would hold firm and take the 4-2 victory over the expansion franchise.
For the Capitals they are coming off of a three game homestand that saw them trounce the New York Rangers 5-1, lose in an overtime thriller 2-1 to Tampa Bay, and then cap it off with a 6-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday night. In the Caps most recent contest against the Avs, we would see Evgeny Kuznetsov continue his strong start as he would score two goals and record an assist for his second three point game of the season. Alex Ovechkin would net his fourth goal of the season to extend his goal scoring streak to three games, and Tom Wilson would provide three assists for his first three point game of the season. In net Vitek Vanecek has looked solid for the Caps in his two starts whereas Ilya Samsonov looked ok at best against the Avalanche.
This will mark the first game between both teams this season, and the only one to take place at Prudential Center this season.
Alex Ovechkin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — Tom Wilson
Anthony Mantha — Lars Eller — Daniel Sprong
Conor Sheary — Connor McMichael — T.J. Oshie
Carl Hagelin — Nic Dowd — Garnet Hathaway
Martin Fehervary — John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov — Nick Jensen
Trevor van Riemsdyk — Justin Schultz
Scratched: Hendrix Lapierre, Dennis Cholowski, Matt Irwin
Injured: Nicklas Backstrom (hip)
Keys to the Game:
- Be consistent in the faceoff circle
- The Caps did a much better job in the faceoff circle against the Avalanche on Tuesday night, and they will need to continue their improvement in the faceoff circle as they take on a young and scrappy Devils team.
- McMichael or Lapierre?
- For now I have Connor McMichael in the projected lineup, but that could change between now and then. Hendrix Lapierre has seven more games to play before the Caps have to make a decision on whether to keep him on the roster and burn the first year of his contract or send him back to juniors and saving that year. With Backstrom’s hip injury keeping him out long term the Capitals can continually stretch it out by playing McMichael in the lineup and doing a rotation between the two young stalwarts until they get to game nine for Lapierre.
- Suffocate the Offense
- In both games so far the Devils have scored four goals in both wins. The most goals the Caps have given up combined in the past three games is seven, so they have given up one less goal than the Devils have scored combined for this season so far. The Capitals have also only given up no more than three goals in one game. The Caps need to play a structurally sound game to contain the Devils speed and make sure they are not getting quality scoring opportunities.
New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha — Nico Hischier — Jesper Bratt
Janne Kuokkanen — Jack Hughes — Yegor Sharangovich
Andreas Johnsson — Dawson Mercer — Tomas Tatar
Jimmy Vesey — Michael McLeod — Marian Studenic
Ryan Graves — Dougie Hamilton
Jonas Siegenthaler — P.K. Subban
Colton White — Damon Severson
Scratched: Mason Geertsen, Frederik Gauthier, Christian Jaros
Injured: Mackenzie Blackwood (heel), Ty Smith (lower body), Miles Wood (lower body)
Keys to the Game:
- Get a good start
- Going up against a physically and skilled team like the Caps, the Devils will need to have a great start to their game to see them try to warrant any success against the Capitals. Utilizing their speed and finesse will be a must for this young Devils team.
- Apply Pressure in the Offensive Zone
- In order for the Devils to have success against the Caps is they’re going to need to really grind it out and apply heavy pressure in the Capitals zone, and for long stretches too. The Devils will need to keep the play in the offensive zone otherwise the Caps can make the Devils pay for those mistakes.
- Solid Goaltending
- As of right now Jonathan Bernier looks to be the starter for the Devils, and he is someone that will need to step up his game. From playing against a Chicago team still trying to find themselves, and a Seattle team still building their team chemistry, Bernier has been fortunate to have picked up the two wins he has. Now against a more structured and talented team that has depth throughout the lineup, Bernier is going to need to be at the top of his game.