Washington closes out its preseason schedule with a pair of home games sandwiched around the second annual Caps Convention this weekend. The Capitals’ busy weekend gets underway when the Columbus Blue Jackets pay a visit to Verizon Center on Friday night.
The Caps put their perfect 4-0 pre-season mark on the line against the Jackets. Along with the Pittsburgh Penguins, the Capitals are the only Eastern Conference clubs with unblemished exhibition records. Calgary (5-0) and Edmonton (4-0) have both achieved perfection thus far out west.
The Caps have outscored opponents by a combined 15-6 in their four victories, and no club in the league has surrendered fewer goals against than Washington.
With goaltender Semyon Varlamov still nursing a minor ailment, Michal Neuvirth and Dany Sabourin are the goaltenders who will dress for the Caps tonight. Neuvirth is expected to go the distance; he is 1-0 with a 2.02 GAA and a .917 save pct. in two prior preseason performances.
Sabourin has stopped all 23 shots he has faced in 63 minutes of exhibition work stretched over two appearances.
As the Caps hit the ice for Friday’s penultimate pre-season contest, they are still carrying 17 forwards, eight defensemen and three goaltenders. Expect three forwards, one defenseman and one goaltender to be trimmed from that roster between now and next Wednesday’s NHL-mandated deadline for setting opening night rosters.
The Caps are fifth in the league with a 25% power play success rate in exhibition play. Washington is also fifth in the circuit in pre-season penalty killing with a 94.1% kill rate. The Caps had killed 17 successive man-advantage opportunities before the Boston Bruins finally broke the spell in the third period of Wednesday’s 4-1 Washington win in Beantown.
The Blue Jackets are 3-3 in pre-season play, including a 6-2 setback at the hands of the Caps on Sept. 22 in Columbus.
Columbus has allowed an average of nearly three goals a game in the exhibition season. Goalie Steve Mason – expected to be the team’s mainstay in goal after a sub-par sophomore season in 2009-10 – has recorded a 2.84 GAA and an .896 save pct. in his three outings to date.
Mason won’t be making the trip to the District tonight; the Jackets will go with Mathieu Garon and David LeNeveu in goal.
Ex-Caps captain Chris Clark will be back in D.C. tonight with the Jackets. The Capitals dealt Clark and Milan Jurcina to Columbus last Dec. 28 in exchange for left wing Jason Chimera. This will be Clark’s first return to the District since that deal. Among all players in Caps’ history to sport the captain’s “C,” only Rod Langway and Dale Hunter wore it longer.