November 22 vs. New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center
Time: 7:00 pm TV: Comcast SportsNet Radio: 820AM, 1500AM and XM Pre-Game: Pre-Cap Podcast at 2 pm on washingtoncaps.com
Washington Capitals (14-5-2)
New Jersey Devils (5-13-2)
Coming off consecutive losses (0-1-1) for the second time this season, the Capitals take to the road for a two-game tour. First stop is New Jersey, where the Caps will take on the Devils for the second time this season on Monday night.
Washington rebounded from Friday’s 5-0 whitewashing in Atlanta – its worst defeat in 23 months – with a 5-4 overtime loss on Saturday against Philadelphia. Given that the Caps trailed the Flyers by a pair of goals midway through the third period, the point gained in that game has to be seen as a good one.
The Caps scored three power play goals in the third period of the Philadelphia game, and the three tallies came in a span of just 8:18. It marked the first time the Caps had struck for three power play goals in the same period of a game since they netted three extra-man tallies in the first period of a 5-3 win over the Lightning on March 27, 2009 at Verizon Center. Those three goals were scored in a span of 12:49.
Washington’s power play has been flourishing this season and especially of late. The Caps have at least one power play strike in eight of their last 11 games, and they’re 14-for-38 (36.8%) during that stretch.
The Caps have converted nearly a quarter of their power play chances on the season despite getting just two extra-man lamplighters from captain Alex Ovechkin. After going without a power play goal in his first 10 games of the season, Ovechkin struck twice on the power play in a span of just 12 seconds in a 7-2 win over the Flames in Calgary on Oct. 30.
Since that game, Ovechkin has again gone 10 straight games without a power play goal. He does lead the Capitals in power play assists (nine) and power play points (11). Ovechkin is tied for third in the league in power play helpers.
At the quarter mark of 2010-11, Ovechkin remains on pace to total 44 or 45 power play points for the season. He has had 46 power play points in each of the last two seasons and had 37 in each of the two campaigns prior to that. Ovechkin’s rookie season total of 52 power play points still stands as his single-season career best.
New Jersey supplied the opposition for the Capitals’ home opener on Oct. 9. Washington prevailed by a 7-2 count in that contest.
With Saturday’s power play prowess, the Caps have moved up to fifth in the NHL with a 23.7% success rate on the season. Washington is ninth in the league with a penalty killing success rate of 84.6%. The Capitals have won 50.9% of their face-offs this season, the 11th best rate in the circuit.
After moving from Colorado for the start of the 1982-83 season, the New Jersey Devils (née Kansas City Scouts) missed the playoffs in their first five seasons – and six of their first seven – in their new home. Since then, the Devils have appeared in the Stanley Cup playoffs 19 times in the last 20 seasons, winning the coveted chalice three times. New Jersey entered this season with a string of 13 straight postseason appearances.
That postseason streak is in jeopardy in 2010-11, as the Devils are on pace for their worst season since 1983-84, their second campaign in New Jersey. Rookie Devils head coach John MacLean was a rookie on that ’83-84 team.
Coming off a 103-point season that resulted in its fourth Atlantic Division title in five years, New Jersey has yet to win consecutive games this season. The Devils are 1-5-2 on home ice in 2010-11.
A string of injuries hasn’t helped the Devils’ fortunes in the season’s early going. New Jersey has at least five players on injured reserve and as many as four more players could miss Monday night’s game with the Capitals.
New Jersey’s injured reserve list is populated by the likes of defensemen Bryce Salvador, Anssi Salmela and Mark Fraser along with forwards Zach Parise and Jacob Josefson.
Future Hockey Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur is out for a week or two with a bruised elbow. Captain Jamie Langenbrunner is doubtful for Monday’s game because of a neck injury, and defensemen Andy Greene (stinger) and Matt Taormina (ankle) are both listed as questionable.
Because of salary cap constraints, the Devils were able to dress only 15 of the maximum allowable total of 18 skaters for a couple games early this season. Soon after, their rash of injuries enabled them to park some salary on injured reserve and add a few more bodies to the roster so they’d be able to dress 18 skaters. Twenty games into the campaign, New Jersey has already employed 28 different skaters and three goaltenders.
New Jersey has deployed 10 different defensemen, and Salvador and Salmela are likely to eventually add to that total; they have yet to suit up this season. Eight players have made their NHL debuts for the Devils this season, and New Jersey has already rolled up a total of 118 man games lost to injury in 2010-11.
The Devils are currently on a 1-4-1 run, and they have scored just three goals in their last three games, all regulation losses. With just 36 goals this season, New Jersey is averaging fewer than two tallies for tilt and it is saddled with the league’s least prolific attack.
The second period has proven to be particularly problematic for the Devils this season. They’ve allowed a total of 32 goals in the middle frame of their 20 games, the same number they’ve permitted in the first, third and overtime periods combined.
In their last 15 games, the Devils are an anemic 4-for-46 (8.7%) on the power play. New Jersey is at 10.2% on the season, 29th in the league. The Devils have killed off 80.8% of their opponents’ manpower advantage opportunities. They rank 19th in the circuit in that department. New Jersey has the league’s seventh-best face-off success rate at 52% on the season.
Notes: Caps goaltender Semyon Varlamov started and won a 4-3 decision for the AHL Hershey Bears against Hartford on Sunday. Varlamov has started three games for Hershey this season, posting a 2-1 record to go along with a 3.36 GAA and an .855 save pct.