Tonight, the Washington Capitals will be hosting the Minnesota Wild before embarking on a two game road trip out west. The Capitals currently have 16 points with an 8-7-0 record, good for second place in the Metropolitan Division and seventh place in the Eastern Conference. The Wild currently have 21 points with a 9-4-3 record, good for third place in the Central Division and seventh place in the Western Conference. The Wild are currently on a hot streak, having won six of their last seven games and scoring 24 goals in that span. The last time these two teams met was back in March of 2012. The Capitals won that game 3-0.
Here are tonight’s expected lineups f0r both teams:
No changes for the Capitals. Braden Holtby will be in goal for the Capitals tonight. Holtby has a 6-5 record, a 2.68 GAA, and a 92.3% save percentage.
Josh Harding will be in goal for the Wild tonight. Harding has a 8-2-1 record, an NHL-leading 1.09 GAA, and an NHL-leading 95.1% save percentage.
Here are some key match-ups for tonight’s game:
- Alexander Ovechkin versus Ryan Suter- Ryan Suter will have a tough task tonight, as he’ll share a majority of the responsibility of shadowing Alex Ovechkin. Suter will need to be physical with Ovechkin to win this battle. We might also see Nate Prosser shadow Ovechkin at times. Prosser is a big physical defenseman, but I’ll be surprised if Suter isn’t shadowing Ovi for most of the night.
- Capitals Power Play versus Wild Penalty Kill- The Capitals have an NHL-leading PP% of 27.9%. The Wild’s PK is 25th in the NHL, with a 77.8% PK%. If the Capitals can get power play opportunities, look for them to take advantage against a weak penalty kill.
- Wild Power Play versus Capitals Penalty Kill- The Wild have the second best power play in the NHL, with a PP% of 25.0%. The Capitals’ PK is the best in the NHL, with a 91.5% PK%. If the Capitals penalty kill can limit the Wild during power play opportunities, and the Capitals play disciplined hockey to avoid giving the Wild power play opportunities, that would be huge for them.
The Capitals need to play well while at even strength because the Wild are the best team in the NHL at even strength in terms of goals for vs goals against. The Wild have an NHL-leading goals for/goals against ratio of 1.92 at even strength, while the Capitals are 18th in the league with a goals for/goals against ratio of 0.94 at even strength.
I expect a good game between those two teams. Both teams have their strengths and weaknesses, and both teams have been playing very good hockey as of late. Game time is at 7:00 ET.