After a 3-2 loss Wednesday in Philly the Caps will look to bounce back against a struggling Devils team. Wednesday’s loss was in large part due to the fact that despite having 5 opportunities, the Caps’ PP unit failed to net a single goal. You can read a more in depth analysis of the Caps’ PP woes here.
The Devils are also coming off a defeat Thursday night at the hands of the Rangers. Despite netting a shorthanded goal midway through the first, the Devils’ were simply outmatched, particularly in the goaltending department, as Blackwood gave up 5 goals on just 25 shots, and was benched halfway through the game.
Braden Holtby’s play has been under some scrutiny of late, and for good reason. He is currently on pace for the worst season of his career, with just a .901 SV%. That being said, he hasn’t been getting a lot of help in front of him, between the high number of key turnovers (I’m looking at you Nick Jensen), and the the near constant parade to the penalty box. Holtby will need to have a strong showing against the Devils, who are ranked 28th in shooting percentage.
The Devils are obviously in the midst of a rebuild, trading away Taylor Hall for prospects and draft picks, so this has been a pretty down year for them (I mean they pretty much have a reserved spot on Steve Dangle’s blooper series “Dang-It’s”). The one bright spot for them has been their penalty killing, particularly over the last month, as they have the 5th best PK in the league over that time span. This will present a challenge for the Caps who are looking to improve their powerplay.
Players to watch:
Despite playing very little on the powerplay, Vrana has managed to get 19 goals, all at even strength, including 4 in the last 4 games. At Friday morning’s practice however, he skated with the first powerplay unit, taking Kuznetzov’s spot.
The Caps have been somewhat stationary during this rut, and Vrana’s speed, and tendency to move around a lot on the man advantage, could be just what this unit needs.
Siegenthaler is in the middle of what I’d call his breakout year. He and Gudas have been solid, stay at home defensemen to replace Orpik and Niskanen. Siegenthaler leads the team in blocked shots, despite having the lowest average ice time of the 6 main defensemen. Combined with his low turnover rate, and sprinkling in the occasional point, he’s making a solid case for himself to stick around.
This Day in Caps History
On January 11th, 2003, the Capitals laid a historic beat down on the Florida Panthers 12-2. Not only was it tied for the most goal the Caps have scored in a game, it was also the most the Panther’s have given up in a game. Jaromir Jagr got a hat trick, and totaled 7 points, tied with Dino Ciccarelli for most in a game by a Capitals player. Additionally, Peter Bondra, and Dainus Zubrus both tallied two goals.