Washington Capitals at New Jersey Devils
Date: Friday, Oct. 13, 2017
Time: 7.00 PM EDT
Where: Prudential Center, Newark, New Jersey
TV: NBCSW, MSG+
The Washington Capitals travel to the Prudential Center in Newark tonight to take on a New Jersey Devils club that has surprised many with their first few results.
The Devils (3-0-0) finished dead last following the 2016-17 season for goals scored in the Eastern Conference; so far this term, they’ve tallied 16 goals – including six in their last two games. On Wednesday, against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Devils even scored scored while down two men on the penalty kill. Brian Gibbons slotted home a rebound from Adam Henrique’s shot. It was the Devils’ first 3-on-5 goal in their history.
The Capitals (2-1-1) have also scored 16 goals to date this season, with Alex Ovechkin accounting for half of those goals. However, the defense has looked a little fragile with head coach Barry Trotz trying out Aaron Ness and Christian Djoos alongside Taylor Chorney. Djoos was impressive in the Caps’ 3-2 loss to the Penguins on Wednesday and scored a goal and an assist on his NHL debut. Expect Djoos to start tonight with Chorney – or possibly Ness at Chorney’s expense.
Ovechkin on Fire
Alex Ovechkin has reinvented himself this season. After a career low count of 33 goals last season (the first time the big Russian did not score at least 50 goals in a non-strike season), he’s scoring at a pace that will eclipse that 33-goals-mark in just a few months. Ovechkin scored a hat trick in both of the Capitals first two games against the Ottawa Senators and the Montreal Canadiens – in fact, he scored four against the Habs. Goal number eight came Wednesday in the loss to Pittsburgh. Ovechkin leads the NHL for goals scored.
“You can see maybe he’s more hungry,” Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov told The Washington Post about Ovechkin. “I can see this in his eyes.” Ovechkin is always a menace to any NHL team, but the Devils will be particularly cognizant of the 21 goals he’s scored against New Jersey in 45 meetings.
Tom Wilson: The Enforcer Returns
Having served out his four-game suspension for an offense he committed during the preseason, enforcer Tom Wilson is available for selection tonight. Tonight will hopefully debut a brand-new Wilson. It’s time for him to cut down on his 18-wheeler hits in favor of a more measured approach. He’s strong on the penalty-kill and effective on the back-check, but he needs to imagine a stop sign on any player within hitting distance – especially if that player is in a prone position or doesn’t have the puck.
“I expect the same Tom Wilson,” said Capitals coach Barry Trotz following the team’s practice Thursday. “He’s going to be a big body, hard to handle, and he’s going to be a good penalty killer, detailed. I don’t expect him to change other than on some decisions.” Those “decisions” refer to the heavy hits that have lost the Capitals games in the past.
Expect a good game tonight with a flurry of goals; a total of 10 or 11 isn’t out of the question.