Can the Washington Capitals (14-10-1) make it a season-best four-game win streak Thursday night against the Los Angeles Kings (14-8-3)?
By Brittany Evers
Los Angeles Kings at Washington Capitals
When: Thursday, Nov. 30, 2017 at 7.00 p.m. ET
Where: Capital One Center, Washington, D.C.
TV: NBCSWA, FS-W
The Los Angeles Kings head to the Capital One Arena Thursday night to faceoff against the Washington Capitals. November has been a roller-coaster of a month for both teams, with the Kings coming in off of a two-game win streak and the Capitals coming home again riding its own three-game win streak.
Capitals head coach Barry Trotz’s decision to reunite center Nicklas Backstrom with team captain Alex Ovechkin has paid off, with Ovechkin recording yet another hat-trick – against the Maple Leafs on Saturday night. In fact, Ovechkin and Backstrom have combined for nine points in the three games since lining up again alongside each other.
The Kings’ captain, Anze Kopitar, is also playing incredibly well and scored two goals during their latest faceoff against the Detroit Red Wings; he has 17 points (six goals, 11 assists) in his last 16 outings.
Win Steaks On The Line
Both the Capitals and the Kings have a lot at stake given their tumultuous month of November. The Washington Capitals are just now finding their groove with nine wins and four losses this month, while the Kings have five wins and eight losses in November, after having a great start to the season. This match-up will end one team’s winning streak while extending the other team’s into December for a strong start to that month.
The Capitals have won four out of their last five games and only allowed 10 goals during that spell. That was after a dismal two-game road trip run against the Nashville Predators and Colorado Avalanche in mid-November in which the Caps allowed 12 goals.
“I think guys are settling into more concrete roles and are knowing what’s expected of them,” stated Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik. “I think that makes it easier for guys to come in and do their jobs. Special teams have been a little bit better, and that’s something that we addressed after that trip. Defensively, I think we were getting too much separation between the forwards and the defensemen, coming out of the zone. Even when we were defending [well], that’s something that we looked at on video a lot, and we tried to address that. It’s still a work in progress, but we’ve definitely made some big improvements, especially against a few quality teams in the last few games.”
Capitals starting goalie, Braden Holtby, offered up some more positive vibes:
“I think we’re breaking the puck out better, and we’re more on the same page that way. Guys are working hard to get back for our defense, and that’s creating more [breakout] options for them. It’s still a work in progress. There are still times in the games where we’re at a little bit of a disconnect, but we’re pushing to fight through that and get better at it,” said Holtby.
Christian Djoos May Return
The Capitals are going to be well-rested (having not played a game since their victory over the Maple Leafs Saturday) healthier, and they will once again have the home-ice advantage.
Defenseman Christian Djoos may return to the lineup tonight against the Kings after a short spell out due to an injury, and all eyes will be on forward Jakub Vrana as he continues to improve after his benching two weeks ago in Colorado.
Ultimately, the Capitals have won nine of their last 13 games and can close out November on a high-note.
Washington Capitals Projected Lineup
Alex Ovechkin — Nicklas Backstrom — Tom Wilson
Jakub Vrana — Evgeny Kuznetsov — T.J. Oshie
Tyler Graovac — Lars Eller — Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson — Jay Beagle — Alex Chiasson
Dmitry Orlov — Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik — John Carlson
Christian Djoos — Madison Bowey
Starting goalie: Braden Holtby
Backup goalie: Philipp Grubauer
Scratched: Brett Connolly, Taylor Chorney
Injured: Andre Burakovsky (fractured left thumb)
Los Angeles Kings Projected Lineup
Alex Iafallo — Anze Kopitar — Dustin Brown
Tanner Pearson — Nick Shore — Tyler Toffoli
Marian Gaborik — Adrian Kempe — Trevor Lewis
Jussi Jokinen — Nic Dowd — Jonny Brodzinski
Jake Muzzin — Drew Doughty
Derek Forbort — Christian Folin
Kurtis MacDermid — Alec Martinez
Starting goalie: Jonathan Quick
Backup goalie: Darcy Kuemper
Scratched: Oscar Fantenberg, Torrey Mitchell
Injured: Jeff Carter (lower body), Kyle Clifford (upper body), Andy Andreoff (upper body)