For the second time in four nights the Caps and Devils will meet as Jersey visits the nation's capital. This time, however, it's the Caps who come in on a high note (following Saturday night's 6-3 win over Atlanta) and the Devs who are looking to get back into the win column (after Sunday's 1-0 overtime loss to the Rangers).
If the Devils were ripe for the pickin' on Friday night - and they were - they're even moreso tonight, playing the second of back-to-back road games and the third of a three-games-in-five-nights set. In fact, Devils' bench boss Brent Sutter noted that the Caps were the "fresher" of the two teams on Friday night - and that was before last night's hard-hitting OT affair for his squad. Whether Martin Brodeur will be in net yet again or Kevin Weekes gets his first start since November 12 remains to be seen, but either way Jersey has got to be a tired team, and the 32 hits they absorbed in last night's loss will serve to weaken them that much more.
The Caps, for their part, should be playing with all the confidence they displayed on Saturday night and, if they come out guns a-blazin', could have another big night. Of course, "shoulds" and "coulds" have turned into "didn'ts" all season long for D.C., but Matt Pettinger's goal on Saturday night sure did feel like both he and the team had turned a corner, didn't it?
As every game becomes more important than the last for these Caps, Monday night's is certainly one that they should win - and hopefully tonight's "shoulds" and "coulds" turn into "dids."
Elsewhere 'Round the Rinks:
Random stat of the day: four Caps (Nicklas Backstrom, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Jeff Schultz) are younger than the youngest player on the Devils roster (Travis Zajac), and two Caps (Donald Brashear and Olie Kolzig) are older than the oldest player in Jersey's lineup (Brodeur).... Backstrom has nine points in eight games (including two three-point efforts) under Bruce Boudreau and only has two fewer points over that span than the two players ahead of him among the rookie scoring leaders combined. If you'd written him off for Calder consideration, you'd better have an eraser handy.... Josh Godfrey had two goals and a pair of assists in Sault Ste. Marie's win over Sarnia last night. He's now third among OHL defensemen in goals and ninth in points.... Finally, gotta hand it to the WaPo - what a great picture they've got accompanying Tarik's article today.
- Hart: Milan Hejduk (3G, 3A, +4, 4 SOG)
- Ross: Milan Hejduk (6 points)
- Norris: Andres Lilja (Game-winning goal, +3, 2 SOG, 3 hits, 3 blocked shots)
- Vezina: Martin Brodeur (28 saves on 29 shots against in OT loss)
- Richard: Milan Hejduk (3G)
- Calder: Dustin Byfuglien (G, A, 3 SOG, 4 hits)
- Aiken: Hannu Toivonen (L, 8 goals allowed on 25 shots against)