Michal Neuvirth will be in goal tonight as he hopes to help the Capitals beat the Coyotes. Photo by Patrick McDermott
Michal Neuvirth will be in goal tonight as he hopes to help the Capitals beat the Coyotes. Photo by Patrick McDermott

Tonight, the Washington Capitals will be playing the first of their two games on back-to-back days as they take on the Phoenix Coyotes. The Capitals currently have 18 points with a 9-7-0 record, which is good for second place in the Metropolitan Division and sixth place in the Eastern Conference. They’ll look to keep their four game winning streak going, but standing in their way are the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes currently have 24 points with a 11-4-2 record, which is good for third place in the Pacific Division and fifth place in the Western Conference. Both teams have won seven of their last ten games, so this should be a great game. The last time the Capitals played the Coyotes was on November 21st, 2011. The Capitals won 4-3 at home.

Here are tonight’s projected lineups for both teams:

Capitals

Erat-Backstrom-Ovechkin (10-19-8)
Laich-Johansson-Brouwer (21-90-20)
Chimera-Grabovski-Ward (25-84-42)
Volpatti-Latta-Wilson (24-46-43)

Schmidt-Green (88-52)
Alzner-Carlson (27-74)
Urbom-Oleksy (34-61)

Neuvirth (30)
Holtby (70)

Scratches:

Beagle (83)
Fehr (16)
Orlov (81)

Michal Neuvirth will be getting the start in goal tonight for the Capitals. Neuvirth has a 2-2 record this season with a 2.79 GAA and a 91.3% save percentage. He last played against the Florida Panthers.

Coyotes

DoanRibeiroMoss (19-63-18)
KlinkhammerVermetteBoedker (36-50-89)
KorpikoskiHanzalSzwarz  (28-11-29)
BissonnetteHalpernChipchura (12-14-24)

Ekman-LarssonMichalek (23-4)
YandleStone (3-26)
KleslaSchlemko (16-6)

Smith
Greiss

Mike Smith will be getting the start in goal tonight for the Coyotes. Smith has a 9-3-2 record this season with a 2.87 GAA and a 91.5% save percentage.

Home ice advantage will definitely come into play tonight, as the Coyotes are 7-0-1 at home this season. Here are some key match-ups for tonight’s game.

  1. Capitals Power Play vs. Coyotes Penalty Kill. The Capitals have the league’s best power play, with an NHL-leading PP% of 28.1%. Meanwhile, the Coyotes have the league’s 24th ranked penalty kill, with a PK% of 79.0%. This is a match-up that the Capitals obviously want to exploit, while the Coyotes want to avoid at all costs. If the Capitals can get power play opportunities, they should have a good chance of winning.
  2. Coyotes Forwards vs. Capitals Defensemen. The Capitals defense, after a rough first five games, have settled in as of late and have done a great job at limiting opponents’ chances close to the net. The Coyotes have a bunch of very athletic and skilled forwards who are hard to cover, so the Capitals defensemen should have their hands full tonight. I think that they are up to the task though.
  3. Capitals at Even Strength vs. Coyotes at Even Strength. Neither team is overly impressive at even strength. However, the Capitals have to play better at even strength than they did against the Wild. Unlike the Wild, the Coyotes have the firepower to make teams pay for turnovers.

It will be interesting to see how Mike Ribeiro and Jeff Halpern do against the Capitals, as both are former Capitals players. Ribeiro did great with the Capitals last year and played a part in the revival of Ovechkin’s career. Halpern played for the Capitals for seven years.

This should be a great game between two pretty evenly-matched teams. Game time is at 8:00 EST.