Washington Capitals at Winnipeg Jets
Date: Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018
Time: 8.00 p.m. Eastern
Venue: Bell MTS Place, Winnipeg, Manitoba
TV: TSN3, NBCSWA
By Bill Sands
After a thrilling 5-4 loss in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings, the Washington Capitals are off on a 4-game road trip that takes them through most of the Midwest and parts of the Northeast.
The Caps get things started on Tuesday night with a tilt against the high-flying Winnipeg Jets. The game marks Washington’s only trip to Winnipeg this year and the Caps are looking to get things off on the right foot.
Washington: It’s been an up-and-down month for the Caps, who have yet to really find their rhythm after coming off their bye week. Washington is 4-3-3 in their last ten games, which is far from terrible but is not up to the standard that the team aspires towards. Included in that streak are ugly losses to Montreal, Pittsburgh, and Detroit.
Though Winnipeg has a reputation for having a raucous fan base, the Capitals have had a relatively easy time at the Bell MTS Place. Washington is 6-3-1 in Winnipeg, and hopefully this trend will continue when the Caps hit the ice on Tuesday night.
The Caps will need to tighten up defensively, as goals-against have been a major issue in the year 2018. Braden Holtby has an abnormally high GPA of 2.79 – despite standing on his head recently against the Blue Jackets – and the team is allowing 32 shots per game, which is not a winning formula, especially for a match-up with a team known for pumping pucks in the net.
After Winnipeg, the road trip will take the Caps through Minnesota, Chicago, and Buffalo. Those are three winnable games, but the Caps will need to take care of business in Winnipeg first, where a convincing win will make the rest of the road trip much more manageable.
Winnipeg: The Caps are in for a tough night as the Jets boast an impressive mix of speed and skill. Even without top center Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg sits in 2nd place in the brutal Central Division and is 6-2-2 in their last ten games.
Leading the way is captain Blake Wheeler, who already has 60 points on the year (with an impressive 46 assists). The veteran power forward is a constant nuisance in front of the net and has soft hands, a wicked shot, and a big body.
Backing up Wheeler is an impressive young core of forwards that includes Patrik Laine, Nikolaj Ehlers, and Kyle Connor. The Jets boast the 6th-best offense in terms of goals per game, but sit in a distant 16th when it comes to shots per game, meaning the team is good at capitalizing on scoring chances. The Caps will need to do more than just limit shot attempts; they’ll also need to limit quality scoring chances. The Caps, if you were wondering, sit dead last with only 28.6 shots per game.
On defense, Dustin Byfuglien is always a threat to score, throw a huge hit, or both. Jacob Trouba is a smooth-skating puck-mover and Tyler Myers is a steady veteran presence on the blue line. Connor Hellebuyck should get the start and has an intimidating record of 28-8-8.