Green Light? – Caps defenseman Mike Green suffered a lower body injury in the waning seconds of a Feb. 14 game against the Lightning in Tampa. Green missed Sunday’s game against the Rangers in New York and has practiced sporadically since.
Green skated this morning, but is still questionable for tonight’s game against the Devils.
“Probably a game-time decision,” says Caps head coach Adam Oates this morning of Green’s status for tonight’s game against New Jersey. “He felt good out there, so we’ll see how he does [in warm-ups] this afternoon.”
Green led the Caps in ice time for each of the team’s first 13 games this season, and his average of 26:33 per game ranks sixth among all NHL defensemen. Green’s 4:43 per game in power-play ice time is fourth among all blueliners and his 19:54 per game in even-strength time ranks ninth.
With two goals and five assists for seven points in 14 games this season, Green is Washington’s leading scorer from the blueline.
On The Mend – Caps forward Marcus Johansson is working his way back into the lineup after sitting out each of the last four games because of an upper body injury. Johansson last played two weeks ago, on Feb. 7 in Pittsburgh.
“First practice back with the guys,” says Oates of Johansson. “I thought he did a pretty good job. He said he felt pretty good.”
There is still no firm timeline for Johansson’s return to the Washington lineup.
“We’re just taking it day-by-day and hopefully it will be 100 percent soon,” says Johansson. “That’s what we’re going for. We have no time or date or anything.”
Better Killers – The Capitals have improved their penalty-killing performance over their last several games. Although Washington has surrendered 16 power-play goals this season – tied for second most in the NHL – the Caps allowed half of that total in their first four games of the season.
Washington started the season by going just 16-for-24 (66.7%) on the penalty-kill in its first four games. Since then, the Caps have been a more respectable 33-for-41 (80.5%) when down a man.
The Capitals are 13-for-14 (92.9%) on the kill in their last four games, but their lone failure on the kill during that span was Derek Stepan’s game-winning power-play goal in the third period of Sunday’s game against the Rangers in New York.
Odds Are – After tonight’s game against the Devils, the Caps will have played one-third of their 2012-13 schedule. Heading into tonight’s tilt, the Capitals have a seven percent chance of making the playoffs, according to sportsclubstats.com.
The Chicago Blackhawks have already completed the first third of their schedule, picking up at least a point in each of their first 16 games and forging a 13-0-3 mark. Chicago boasts a four-point lead over Anaheim in the Western Conference standings and an eight-point cushion over second-place Nashville in the Central Division.
According to sportsclubstats.com, the Hawks are a 100 percent lock to make the playoffs already.
Most estimates come in around 55 points as to what number of points will be needed to secure a playoff berth. If that’s the case, the Caps will need 44 points over their final 33 games, or something like a 20-9-4 record.
On the other hand, the Hawks already have more than half the points they’ll need to get in, and they’ve accumulated that figure in just a third of the season. Chicago could go 10-26-6 the rest of the way (it won’t, by the way) and still finish with 55 points.
No Seconds – Second periods have not been kind to the Caps this season, or the Caps have not been kind to themselves in the second period this season. Washington has been outscored 22-11 in the second period of its 15 games in 2012-13, and it has been outshot 174-117 in the middle frame.
The Caps have surrendered at least one second-period goal in 11 of their 15 games this season, and they’ve allowed multiple goals in five of those 11 games.
New Jersey’s best period has been its second period. The Devils have outscored the opposition 16-10 in the second period of their 16 games this season.
Familiar Foes – It has been nearly seven years since the Caps have played the same opponent in consecutive home contests, but they’ll do so starting tonight when they host the New Jersey Devils in the first of a pair of games at Verizon Center. The Caps and Devils hook up again at noon on Saturday in the District.
Washington lasted hosted the same foe in consecutive home games on April 5-7, 2006 when the Carolina Hurricanes supplied the opposition. That game was immediately preceded by another game against the Canes in Raleigh, so the two consecutive contests in the District made for a run of three straight games against the same opponent.
Less than two weeks earlier, the Capitals had played two straight games against the Hurricanes in Carolina. All together, the Caps and Canes faced one another five times in a span of just 14 days. Washington played five of its seven games during that time frame against the Hurricanes.
The Caps won the first two games in Carolina by identical 3-1 scores before falling to the Canes in overtime by a 6-5 count in the third of the Raleigh games. Washington lost 4-3 in the shootout and then 4-3 in regulation in the April 5-7 games at Verizon Center.