Aiming For Eight
Wednesday, 01.27.2010 / 7:00 PM
Mike Vogel - WashingtonCaps.com Senior WriterJanuary 27 vs. Anaheim Ducks at Verizon Center
820AM, 1500AM and XM
Capitals Report/Pre-Cap Podcast at 2 p.m. and Two-Man Advantage Pre-Game Show at 6:15 on www.washingtoncaps.com
Anaheim Ducks (24-22-7)
Washington Capitals (34-12-6)
Coming off a 7-2 victory against the Islanders on Tuesday night in New York, the Capitals return home on Wednesday to face the Anaheim Ducks on short rest at Verizon Center. With a win over the Ducks, the Caps would forge their longest winning streak in more than 20 years.
The Caps’ triumph over the Fishermen was Washington’s seventh in a row, matching its longest streak in the last two decades. The Capitals have had one seven-game winning streak in each of the last three seasons under coach Bruce Boudreau. The last time they won as many as eight games in a row was an eight-game spree from March 9-26, 1989.
Washington has outscored the opposition by a combined 35-17 during the life of its current seven-game run. The Caps have a shooting pct. of 16.9% in their last seven games, meaning opposing goaltenders have combined to post an .831 save pct. against the Capitals during that span.
Although the Caps have had only 22 power play chances during the streak, they’ve converted nine of them for a success rate of 41%. Washington’s penalty killing corps has snuffed 30 of 35 (85.7%) of its opponents’ man-advantage opportunities during the same time.
With an average of 3.81 goals per game on the season, Washington leads the league. The Capitals have scored half a goal a game more than the second place team on that list (San Jose, 3.28 goals per game). Not since 1995-96 has any NHL team averaged as much as 3.81 goals per game over an entire season.
The Capitals are the only team in the NHL to average better than a goal per game more than they’ve allowed this season. The Caps have surrendered an average of 2.75 goals per game.
Washington is 21-7 in its last 28 games, and it has scored an average of 4.11 goals per game during that stretch. In their 52 games this season, the Capitals have rolled up a plus-46 differential in 5-on-5 goals (133-87).
The lone blemish on Washington’s Tuesday night win was the departure of goaltender Jose Theodore from the game with a lower body injury after the second period. Theodore has been in the midst of one of the hottest stretches of his career, winning his sixth straight decision on Tuesday vs. New York.
With Theodore on the sidelines and Anaheim coming in on Wednesday, it’s possible that Braden Holtby
could be headed to town to give the Caps two healthy goaltenders for the game against the Ducks.
Caps goaltending prospect Braden Holtby
was recalled for one game earlier this season. The 20-year-old first-year pro from Saskatchewan served as the Caps’ backup goaltender in an October 17 game against Nashville at Verizon Center.
Although he has yet to make his NHL debut, Holtby has been excellent in the minors this season. He is 15-2-1-1 with the AHL Hershey Bears, and he leads that circuit with a sparkling 1.82 GAA. Holtby has a .935 save pct. in the AHL.
With South Carolina of the ECHL, Holtby has posted a 7-2-1-2 record with a 2.95 GAA and a .911 save pct. Overall, the youngster has a 22-4-2-3 record in his first pro season.
The Caps have played a dozen of their 18 games this season against Western Conference opponents, posting a 7-4-1 mark. Among all Eastern Conference teams, only Buffalo (8-3-2) has a better record against Western foes.
Anaheim is in the midst of a six-game road trip. The journey began with a loss to the Sharks in San Jose last Thursday, but Anaheim rebounded to claim a 4-3 shootout win at St. Louis on Saturday.
The Ducks trailed the Blues 3-0 in that game before staging a comeback. Anaheim has won six games this season in which it has trailed after two periods, tied with Minnesota for the most in the league.
Last night, the Ducks concluded the first half of their trip with a 2-1 loss against the Thrashers in Atlanta. Anaheim is now 6-6-1 against Eastern Conference opponents this season. With 55 points on the season, the Ducks are tied with Dallas for fourth place in the Pacific Division standings. Anaheim is tied for 10th in the Eastern Conference standings, four points behind eighth place Detroit.
Anaheim is 8-3 in its last 11 games. Goaltender Jonas Hiller has started all 11 of those contests, posting a 2.55 GAA and a .919 save pct. during that stretch. Veteran netminder J-S Giguere has been relegated to a highly compensated back-up. He has played just five games since Dec. 11, starting three times.
The Ducks have been bothered by injuries for a good portion of the season, but they got center Saku Koivu back into their lineup for last night’s game in Atlanta.
Anaheim’s recent success has come without benefit of a hot power play unit. Not since going 2-for-7 with the extra man in a Dec. 19 game against Phoenix have the Ducks managed more than one power play goal in a game. Anaheim is 5-for-60 (8.3%) with the man advantage in its last 19 games.
Conversely, the Ducks have been excellent while shorthanded this month. Anaheim is 37-for-43 (86%) while a man down since the calendar turned to 2010.
With an average of 3:36 per game in shorthanded ice time, veteran Ducks center Todd Marchant ranks second among all NHL forwards. Anaheim defenseman James Wisniewski is tied for seventh among all NHL rearguards in shorthanded ice time per contest at 3:41.