After falling 4-3 in a disappointing loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday, the Washington Capitals have found themselves in a bit of a slump of late. They are 2-2-1 in their last five contests, and can’t seem to find a surefire way to win hockey games.
With a home-and-home coming up against the struggling New Jersey Devils, Washington hopes to end 2016 with a bang, as well as two wins under its belt.
New Jersey Devils at Washington Capitals
Verizon Center – 7:00 p.m. EST
Broadcast channels – NBCSN, CSNMA
2015-16 Season Series:
Oct. 10: Devils 3, Capitals 5
Feb. 6: Capitals 3, Devils 2 (SO)
Feb. 20: Devils 3, Capitals 4
March 25: Capitals 1, Devils 0 (OT)
Washington Capitals: 20-9-4, 44 Points
Home Record: 12-5-0
Hot Players: Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams, John Carlson
Alex Ovechkin-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Justin Williams
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana-Lars Eller-Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik-Jay Beagle-Tom Wilson
Karl Alzner-John Carlson
Dmitri Orlov- Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik-Nate Schmidt
New Jersey Devils – 13-15-7, 33 Points
Away Record: 4-12-5
Hot Players: Kyle Palmieri, Adam Henrique, PA Parenteau
Key Injuries: Taylor Hall, Vernon Fiddler
Michael Cammalleri-Travis Zajac-Kyle Palmieri
Beau Bennett-Adam Henrique-P.A. Parenteau
Miles Wood-Jacob Josefson-Nick Lappin
Sergey Kalinin-Pavel Zacha-Devante Smith-Pelly
Andy Greene-Damon Severson
John Moore-Ben Lovejoy
Jon Merrill-Kyle Quincey
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]1)[/miptheme_dropcap]Washington may be looking to keep its playoff spot, but has a huge opportunity to climb the standings and sweep the Devils, who are currently in the midst of a two-game skid and hold the worst record in the Eastern Conference. Not to mention, Taylor Hall and Vernon Fiddler are out of the lineup; with one of New Jersey’s top scorers out, the Capitals need to capitalize on the opportunity of facing the Devils shorthanded.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]2)[/miptheme_dropcap]Andre Burakovsky continues to find his touch, meaning he gets to keep his gig and stay in the lineup for now. In his three games back in the lineup, Burakovsky has a goal and two assists and is a plus-3. This may mean that he is over his slump to start the year and that he is starting to gain his confidence back. As he continues to get back into the swing of his full-time job in the NHL, expect him to be a key player leading the offensive rush on the bottom-six.
Well, what do ya know? Andre Burakovsky is back on the second power play.
— Isabelle Khurshudyan (@ikhurshudyan) December 28, 2016
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]3)[/miptheme_dropcap]Alex Ovechkin is also finding his game, having scored at least a point in four of his last five games. He appears to have more drive on the ice while taking the puck to the net, and he has more rhythm and speed coming into the offensive zone. With Ovechkin showing flashes of his former self and becoming more dynamic offensively, the Capitals have a lot in their arsenal to light the lamp against New Jersey, a team that allows an average of three goals a game.
[miptheme_dropcap style=”normal” color=”#222222″ background=””]4)[/miptheme_dropcap]Though Holtby allowed four goals on 31 shots against the Islanders Tuesday, he has the chance to redeem himself against the Devils and will likely start, given Philipp Grubauer will start one game over the weekend. The 27-year-old has been outstanding in his career against New Jersey, going 10-3-1 and boasting a 1.99 GAA and .926 save percentage in 14 starts.
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.