Happy Monday and happy game day, Chirpin’ fam! This week the Washington Capitals are starting off the month facing the Boston Bruins tonight, February 1st, which is the second game of their set against the B’s and the last game of their homestand. On Thursday, February 4th, the Capitals will be back on the road and taking on the New York Rangers at the world’s most famous arena in the big apple. To end off the week, the Caps will be traveling to Philadelphia to match up against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday, February 7th.
The Capitals are currently riding the high of their last week’s successes, minus losing to the Buffalo Sabres in a shootout. After losing 4 of their key players due to COVID protocol, the Caps were able to rack up points in all four games and won 3 out of the 4. It’s also notable to mention that the Capitals had to play without Tom Wilson twice last week due to a really fuckin’ weird injury. Backstrom and Eller ended up leaving the game early against the Isles last Tuesday, and although Backstrom has returned, Eller has not. We are also minus Shultz currently after getting a puck to the face last Thursday against the Isles. The Islanders defense mechanism is just injuring the Capitals until they win, I guess.
The Caps ended their month on a three-game win streak. Thankfully, Ovechkin is now back and returned with typical Ovi fashion by scoring the OT winning goal on Saturday against the Bruins. Orlov is expected to be back tonight, while Eller and Shultz are still day-to-day. There are no updates on Kuznetsov or Samsonov, either, but hopefully those guys return to our lineup sooner than later.
The Capitals are 6-0-3 so far this season.
Monday, February 1st @ 7 pm – Bruins @ Capitals
After us Caps fans screamed as loud as possible after Ovi’s OT goal winner on Saturday, the Capitals are looking to take the series sweep. Although we won that game, the defense didn’t play up to standard during the 3rd period, causing the Bruins to tie the game up 3-3 to force overtime. Our offense also needs to step it up a bit, even though they’ve technically been playing as the Hershey Bears for the past week. We are still lacking in offensive zone time and have about half the amount of SOG against our opponents. Getting more offensive opportunities is crucial.
Pastrnak did make his return against the Caps on Saturday, but everyone knew since it was his first game back, he most likely wouldn’t be playing to the best of his ability. After getting that one game out of the way and shaking the rust off, it wouldn’t be a surprise if he stepped up his game and provided the Bruins more shot attempts tonight. The Capitals STILL need to cool it on the penalties because our PK still isn’t up to standard like when the season first started. That ultimately is what causes us to continue to shoot ourselves in the foot. The Bruins are fifth in the league for PP%, while the Caps are 21st for PK%, so these penalties definitely screw us over most of the time.
Thursday, February 4th @ 7 pm – Capitals @ Rangers
This Thursday is the first time the Capitals will be facing the Rangers this season, and I’m sure us Caps fans still haven’t forgotten the time we let Mika Zibanejad score FIVE goals on us last season. The Capitals have a lot of history with the Rangers, mostly in the playoffs. So far this season, the Rangers have not been off to a hot start. They are currently sitting in last place in the MassMutual East Division with a record of 2-4-2 with 6 points on the board. One possibility the Rags could have started off this season so poorly is due to the distractions within the locker room. There was allegedly an altercation involving Tony DeAngelo after their last game, causing him to be put on waivers. This doesn’t come to anyone’s surprise, though, considering he’s been on the hot seat with the Rangers organization for quite some time now. Although these distractions may not be the main problem of the slow start to the Ranger’s season, I definitely could see how it could cause problems on the ice.
It is quite important to mention that the Rangers are considered the youngest team in the league, while the Capitals are the oldest. There are pros and cons to that, though. Facing the Rangers means that our veteran group is obviously going to be more experienced than the majority of their team. With that being said, though, it might be a challenge for the Caps to be able to keep up with their young, speedy legs. Both teams take way too many penalties for anybody’s liking, so I’m expecting multiple PP’s and PK’s on both team’s behalf. The Rangers and Caps are currently tied for 22nd in the league for the PK. There aren’t any notable lines to mention on behalf of the Rangers, at the moment, due to none of them producing up to standard so far this season. Obviously, the Capitals are still going to need to keep an eye on their veteran players because once they get hot, they get hot.
The Capitals all-time record against the Rangers is 108-91-8 during the regular season.
Sunday, February 7th, @ 12 pm – Capitals @ Flyers
Arguably the Capital’s toughest opponent in the division this year is the Philadelphia Flyers, as much as it pains me to say. The Flyers have also been off to a hot start with a record of 7-2-1 and are currently tied for points with Capitals, marking both of them at 15 points. This will also be the first time the Caps have faced the Flyers this season, and it will undoubtedly be a nail-biter. It is unknown if Samsonov will return before this matchup, but it’s safer, in my opinion, to put Vitek in net for the Caps, considering how well he’s been playing. The Flyers will most likely have Hart in net, and he was a literal brick wall last season.
The Flyers are another team that plays the game quite fast, so our veterans need to find a way to keep up with them. From their top line of offense to their bottom line of defense, they’re pretty efficient all around. Both Flyers and Caps have 98% of their roster already on the board this season with at least a point, so both teams have been producing quite well. The Caps possibly might have the upper hand when it comes to the PP, considering the Flyers are currently in 12th with the Caps in 1st (somehow?). Both teams need to work on their PK as they are neck and neck for 21st and 22nd in the league, and both have taken 36 penalties so far this season. Clearly both Flyers and Caps need to work on their discipline because it seems like it’ll be another game where penalties are handed out left and right. Our defense is going to need to step up to the plate considering how strong their offense is. Hayes, Konecny, JVR, and Farabee are ones to look out for, specifically, considering how strong they’ve started off their season. The Caps defense tends to turn over the puck at the worst times, so they’ll need to find a way to bring their A game to prevent that from happening against this powerful team.
The Capitals all-time record against the Flyers is 87-106-11 during the regular season.
Hopefully, the Capitals can bring the fire against these opponents as they have within the past week. With the number of players we’ve had out of our roster recently, it’s crazy to think about how well the taxi squad dudes have helped this team produce and take these dubs. I know I sound like a broken record, but the amount of dumb penalties this team STILL continues to take absolutely baffles me, as well as the number of turnovers we’ve produced. Even though we’ve had half the amount of SOG compared to our opponents as of recent, I’m proud of the boys for being able to slip those pucks through to the back of the net to carry us to victory. As tradition, @statguyblake has come out with his dope stats for this week, which is definitely worth taking a look at.
The Capitals are still undefeated in regulation, hehe.