Capitals, Red Wings continue big week of games
RED WINGS (24-16-8) at CAPITALS (30-12-6)
Detroit 5-2-3; Washington 6-4-0
Season Series --
This is the only meeting between the clubs this season.
Big Story --
Tonight's matchup continues a big week of games for both teams. They each played in marquee games Sunday. The Red Wings lost at home to the Blackhawks in a shootout in the NHL Game of the Week on NBC and the Capitals beat rival Philadelphia at Verizon Center. Washington travels to play at Pittsburgh on Thursday in a rematch of that classic playoff series from last season while the Wings play at Minnesota. Washington returns home for a Saturday night game against upstart Phoenix and Detroit will host another upstart Western Conference club, Los Angeles, the same night.
Red Wings --
They've got points in their last three games and six of eight in January, but they are also coming off back-to-back shootout losses to Dallas and Chicago. The good news is they continue to get healthy. Jonathan Ericsson
got back in the lineup Sunday, leaving only Tomas Holmstrom
, Johan Franzen
, Jason Williams and Niklas Kronwall
on the shelf. Patrick Eaves
earned rave reviews for his goal and fight in Sunday's game. The Wings are very pleased with Eaves, who is playing on a one year deal worth $500,000. Along with Darren Helm
and Kris Draper
, Eaves has helped give the Wings a formidable third line despite all the injuries.
"He's a gamer," captain Nicklas Lidstrom
told the Detroit Free Press. "He isn't afraid to drop his gloves and get the team going."
Home ice has been extremely kind to the Caps this season. They lead the NHL with an .842 winning percentage at home when you don't factor in overtime/shootout losses (16-3-3). They have won four straight at Verizon Center and nine of their last 10. The last time the Capitals lost in D.C. was 6-3 to Carolina on Dec. 28. Their offense has been scorching of late, too. They have scored four or more goals in seven straight games and have totaled 36 goals since a 2-1 loss in Los Angeles. They are 6-1 over the stretch with the lone loss coming in Tampa. Proving they do have balance, Alex Ovechkin has only four of those 36 goals, but he has assisted on 10 others.
"Honestly, we play so much that I don't even know who we play after Detroit on Tuesday," defenseman Mike Green said. "It's like day to day, which I think in a schedule like this you really need to take it day to day. Our main focus is just Detroit."
Who's Hot --
Ovechkin was named the NHL's First Star of the Week on Monday as he had 3 goals, 7 assists and a plus-4 rating in four games.
Injury Report --
The Caps are still without goalie Semyon Varlamov (groin) and will likely be without defenseman Brian Pothier (undisclosed), but there might be encouraging news on defenseman John Erskine. Rookie John Carlson was sent down Monday, which means Erskine (upper-body injury) might be ready to get back in the lineup for the first time in four games. The Wings are still without Holmstrom (foot), Kronwall (knee), Williams (leg) and Franzen (knee).
Stat Pack --
The Caps beat Detroit, 4-2, last season (Jan. 31) at Verizon Center. The last time the Wings won in D.C. was Dec. 9, 2005, a 4-3 victory. … Ovechkin has more assists (34) than goals (30). He hasn't finished a season with more assists than goals since his rookie year of 2005-06 when he had 52 goals and 54 assists.
Puck Drop --
"This is a great 'test' week," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told the Washington Post. "The statistics don't show Detroit as a top team in the League, but you always play them as if they're the top team in the League. Then we're playing the champions and you throw everything out when it's Washington-Pittsburgh. They're a great team. Then you're playing Phoenix, the upstart team. It's not that you take them lightly, but they've got 61 points and they just keep coming at you. Teams get up for us now. So everyday we have to be at our best."