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!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Gameday: vs. Carolina, Jan. 15

DC needs to take advantage of their favorable schedule.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to Verizon Center this evening as they attempt to carry forward some of the momentum that they have picked up from their current two game winning streak.  The Capitals enter this evening's contest with a 6-3-1 record over their last ten contests and a 23-17-2 record overall for 48 standings points in 42 games.  Those 48 points places them second in the Southeast Division, two points back of the Division-leading Panthers with one game in hand, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference.  Carolina, on the other hand, enters tonight's game having won two in a row, with a 5-4-1 record over their last ten and 16-23-7 overall for 39 standings points in 46 games.  Those 39 points place them fourth in the Southeast Division and thirteenth overall in the Eastern Conference.  This is the third of six meetings between these two teams this season; the Capitals have won the first two.

Kirk Muller, who was named head coach of the Hurricanes just after Dale Hunter was appointed to lead the Caps, is expected to go with his workhorse, Cam Ward, in goal after he made 33 saves in a 4-2 win over the Bruins last night. Ward, who has started 39 games this year, is 16-16-6 in those 39 starts and has compiled a 3.09 GAA, .902 save percentage, and one shutout.  Outside the crease, the Hurricanes will receive a boost up front, as Calder Memorial Trophy holder and third-leading scorer Jeff Skinner will return after missing more than a month with a concussion.  Nevertheless, Carolina will be without three regulars: forward Chad LaRose (upper body), defenseman Jaroslav Spacek (upper body), and defenseman Joni Pitkanen (knee).

Michal Neuvirth seems likely to get the call in goal from Dale Hunter in order to give Tomas Vokoun a respite after starting eight consecutive games.  Neuvirth, who has not started a game since giving up three goals on six shots in Buffalo on Demember 26th, is 5-7-2 on the year with 3.23 GAA, .886 save percentage, and one shutout.  He has beaten the Hurricanes both times the Capitals have played them this season, stopping 53 of the 57 shots he has faced in the process.  On the injury front, both Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) and Mike Green (groin) are on injured reserve and will not play.  Cody Eakin, who was recalled on Thursday and played Friday at the expense of Mathieu Perreault, will probably will be in the lineup again, as will Tomas Kundratek, who has played the last two games over John Erskine and Jeff Schultz.

Puck drops 5:09-ish.

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