The Washington Capitals have been one of the hottest teams in the NHL recently. They are having no problem getting enough momentum and offense, and seem able to hold onto their leads and win hockey games.
Coming off their fifth straight win against the New York Islanders Tuesday, Washington is looking to let the good times keep rolling when they take on the Carolina Hurricanes.
Washington Capitals at Carolina Hurricanes
PNC Arena – 7: 30 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – CSNMA, FSCR
2016-17 Season Series:
Nov. 12- Hurricanes 5 Capitals 1
Washington Capitals – 18-7-3, 39 Points
Away Record: 7-3-3
Hot Players: Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Justin Williams
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Brett Connolly-Lars Eller-Jakub Vrana
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
Carolina Hurricanes – 12-11-6, 30 Points
Home Record: 8-3-0
Hot Players: Jeff Skinner, Victor Rask, Lee Stempniak, Justin Faulk
Key Injuries: Bryan Bickell, Eddie Lack
Joakim Nordstrom-Jordan Staal-Elias Lindholm
Jeff Skinner-Victor Rask-Derek Ryan
Sebastian Aho-Teuvo Teravainen-Lee Stempniak
Brock McGinn-Jay McClement-Viktor Stalberg
Ron Hainsey-Justin Faulk
Jaccob Slavin-Bret Pesce
Noah Hanifin-Matt Tennyson
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Washington will need to continue their offensive stride Friday if they want to extend their winning streak to six games. Evgeny Kuznetsov seems to be finding his scoring touch, as is Justin Williams, who has four goals in his last five games. With their top players generating more offense, they should have no problem finding success against the Hurricanes.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Washington’s power play, which has made huge improvements of late, will be facing off against the Hurricanes PK, which is the best in the league with over 92 percent success. While Washington is doing a better job of picking up speed, making strong passes and crashing the net, Carolina has a well-coached penalty kill that can take the puck and run with it, creating more offense.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3) [/miptheme_dropcap]Due to lack of production, Andre Burakovsky will be scratched for the second straight game, and Brett Connolly will continue to take his place on the third line wing. Head coach Barry Trotz told reporters following practice that there was no timetable on the young winger’s return to the lineup. The Swedish winger has gone his last seven games without a point and has just two goals and 10 points this season.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Philipp Grubauer will get the nod for the Capitals Friday, which makes Holtby available to square off against the tougher, more dangerous Montreal Canadiens Saturday. In his last three starts, Grubauer has been excellent, stopping 84 of 88 shots and boasting a 1.33 GAA. Though a solid backup option that can frequently be counted on as the last line of defense, his last game against Carolina this season was a rough start, where he allowed four goals on 36 shots.
Washington has done an outstanding job expanding its lead and securing a place in the top eight of the Eastern Conference, but if they want to continue their climb to the top, they need to keep winning hockey games and limit Carolina’s chances.
The Hurricanes have won three of their last five, but are nowhere near making a strong push forward in the Metropolitan Division. They are, however, an offensive threat, as seen coming off an 8-6 win against Vancouver Tuesday, and can generate a lot of offense if they are given too much time with the puck. Overall, Washington needs to play with a shutdown style to defeat Carolina.
Sammi Silber covers the Capitals beat for The Hockey Writers and is an NHL contributor with Sporting News. She has also contributed to USA TODAY College, Huffington Post, FanSided and the Nation Network. Silber has written four books and recently worked on graphics for the film, The California Golden Seals Movie.