|Remember this? 21, 273 Canadiens fans certainly will.|
The Washington Capitals are in Montreal, Quebec this evening as they kick off their six-game swing away from Verizon Center with a date against the Montreal Canadiens. The Capitals have ridden their recent surge to the the top of the Southeast Division and second in the Eastern Conference; they have earned 90 standings points in 70 games played coming off their 4-3 overtime defeat of the Blackhawks on Sunday. The Canadiens, on the on the other hand, are currently in second place in the Northeast Division and sixth place in the East with 83 points in 69 games; they shut out Pittsburgh their last time out 3-0. This will be the third of four meetings between these two teams this season, they have split the first two meetings. In addition, this will be the first visit to the Bell Centre since game six of last year's Eastern Conference Quarterfinal. And we all know how that went.
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin will roll with Carey Price in nets for squad for the league-leading 60th time. Price, who has rebounded terrifically this season following his decidedly average 2009-2010, owns a rock solid 2.29 GAA and .924 Save% to go along with eight shutouts, second in the league only to Henrik Lundqvist. Price also is tied with Vancouver's Roberto Luongo for the NHL lead in wins with 33. OK, you get it, he's good. On the injury front, left winger Michael Cammalleri is questionable for the game, as he is battling the flu and did not practice yesterday. Defensemen Brent Sopel, Jaroslav Spacek, Josh Gorges, and Andrei Markov are all out with long-term injuries.
For Washington, Braden Holtby is expected to get the nod for the fourth consecutive game in goal. The rookie has won his last four decisions, posting a 1.05 GAA and .965 Save% in 220 minutes of play to help lead the Caps on their recent charge. According to Bruce Boudreau, Michal Neuvirth is fully healthy and can play when called upon, so we may see him this evening instead; nothing is confirmed. Outside the crease, Jason Arnott is at home with an undisclosed injury and is being called "week-to-week;" he will not play. Nicklas Backstrom is expected to take the morning skate and may make a return to game action depending on his thumb feels. Tom Poti is also on the trip and could possibly make a return as well depending on how his wonky groin feels after he skates in the morning. Other than those two potential returns from injury, no lineup changes are expected from Bruce Boudreau, which means that Tyler Sloan, Jay Beagle, and DJ King will be healthy scratches.
This is a huge game for the Capitals as they look to build more momentum heading into their brutal road trip. Puck drops 7:11-ish; check back later this afternoon for updates from the morning skate.