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Welcome to Caps 'Round the Clock, a blog covering the Washington Capitals and the NHL. In season, I update the Blog after every practice and on game day with Caps news and information, and then provide a recap and analysis after each contest. I also write a periodical Prospect Watch and weekly feature pieces on the state of the Men in Red and other things Capitals. And of course, I will post videos and tidbits from around the League and offer my two cents as the season wears on. In the offseason, I write a Report Card for each player, and will keep you updated on all the news about the Caps through the summer. I'm glad you're here, and hope you come back!

Saturday, December 31, 2011

Gameday: at Columbus, Dec. 31

Alex Semin needs to continue his recent hot streak.
The Washington Capitals are in Columbus, Ohio, this evening to take on the Blue Jackets as they try and continue their winning ways following their 3-1 victory last night over the Sabres. The Caps enter tonight's play 6-3-1 over their last ten and 19-15-2 on the year for 40 standings points.  Those 40 points place them third in the Southeast Division, five back of the Panthers with two games in hand, and tenth in the Eastern Conference, one point out of the eighth and final playoff spot. Columbus, on the other hand, comes into tonight 2-6-2 over their last ten games and 10-22-5 overall.  That record gives them 25 standings points, which places them last in the Central Division and last in the Western Conference.  This is the one and only meeting between these two teams this season.

Columbus coach Scott Arniel will choose to roll with starter Steve Mason against the Caps in goal this evening following his 31-save effort in a 4-1 win over Dallas on Thursday.  Mason, who won the Calder Trophy in 2008-2009 with an amazing year, has struggled over the last two full seasons and the first half of this campaign.  Overall this season, he is 5-15-2 with a 3.29 GAA and .887 save percentage.  Outside the crease, the Blue Jackets will be without several key pieces for tonight's game.  Offseason free agent prize James Wisniewski is out six weeks after breaking his ankle on Thursday, while winger Kristian Huselius will be absent witha  groin muscle tear and defenseman Radek Martinek will not play with a concussion.

Tomas Vokoun will be the choice in goal for Dale Hunter following two excellent performances over his last two starts in which he has stopped 56 of the 58 shots thrown his way.  On the year, Vokoun is 14-8-0 with a 2.60 GAA, .913 save percentage, and one shutout; his numbers are rapidly improving. On the injury front, defenseman Mike Green, who has missed the last seven weeks because of a bad groin muscle, is on the trip with the Caps but is not expected to play. Cody Eakin, who was recalled by the Caps last night, will give Jay Beagle a rest to prevent a possible recurrence of post-concussion symptoms.  That seems to imply Mathieu Perreault has had a setback with his abdominal injury.  Jeff Schultz is expected to be the healthy scratch once more on the back end.

Puck drops 7:09-ish.  Check back later.

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