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!

Monday, February 20, 2012

Gameday: at Carolina, Feb. 20

Must. Win. Game.
The Washington Capitals are in Raleigh, North Carolina, this evening to take on the Hurricanes as they play the third of four games on their current road trip.  The Capitals, who lost Saturday night in Tampa following an encouraging win Friday against the Panthers, are 3-5-2 in their last ten games and 29-25-4 overall for 63 standings points in 58 games.  Those 58 points place them third in the Southeast Division, one point behind the Jets with three games in hand, and two points behind the Panthers.  Carolina, who have played well since hiring Kurk Muller around the same time as the Capitals hired Hunter, are 5-2-3 in their last ten and 22-26-11 overall for 55 standings points in 59 games.  Those 55 points places them last in both the Southeast Division and Eastern Conference.  This is the fifth of six meetings between these two teams this season; the Capitals lead the season series 3-1.

Because of an injury to regular starter and workhorse Cam Ward, Muller will be forced to turn to Justin Peters in goal for the Hurricanes today.  Peters has only played in four games this year, but made 35 saves in a win during his most recent start and has a 3.65 GAA and .911 save percentage on the year.  Outside the crease, Carolina will be missing defenseman Joni Pitkanen (concussion/knee surgery) and forward Tuomo Ruutu (upper body), while winger Chad LaRose is questionable, also with an upper-body ailment.

Tomas Vokoun should start in goal for the Capitals this evening after a solid performance against the Lightning on Saturday.  Vokoun is is 23-14-2 on the year with a 2.41 GAA, .921 save percentage, and four shutouts, and has been carrying the team of late.  Hopefully he can have a big game to help the Caps win a must-win contest.  On the injury front, the Capitals will be without star center Nicklas Backstrom, who has a concussion.  With the return of a healthy Mike Green, it remains to be seen who will sit if Hunter decides to return to six defensemen.  It is likely that Jeff Schultz will head to the press box and Jay Beagle would play in that case, but if the coach sticks with seven defensemen, look for Beagle to sit again.

That's all for now.  Puck drops 7:37-ish.

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