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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, February 4, 2012

Gameday: at Montreal, Feb. 4

He's baaaack...
The Washington Capitals are in Montreal, Quebec this afternoon to take on the Canadiens in the first of two back-to-back must-win games this weekend.  The Capitals, who lost 4-2 to the Panthers in their last game, are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games and 26-20-4 overall for 56 standings points in 50 games.  Those 56 points place them second in the Southeast Division, three back of the Panthers, and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the Maple Leafs for the final playoff spot.  The Canadiens, who have lost two in a row including a collapsing 5-3 loss to the Devils Thursday night, are 3-5-2 in their last 10 and 19-23-9 overall for 47 standings points in 51 games.  Those 47 points place the Habs last in the Northeast Division and fourteenth in the East.  This is the second of four meetings between these two clubs this year; the Caps won the first in mid-January via a shutout from Michal Neuvirth.

Backup Peter Budaj will get the call in goal from Randy Cunneyworth for just the eighth time this season.  Budaj is 2-4-1 in his seven starts this year with a 2.69 GAA and .910 save percentage.  Outside the crease, the Canadiens will be without two of their top players, as captain Brian Gionta (pectoral surgery) and defenseman Andrei Markov (knee surgery complications) will be absent.  Center Petteri Nokelainen, winger Ryan White, and winger Travis Moen are also out with various ailments.

Tomas Vokoun has been confirmed as the starter for the Capitals after Michal Neuvirth's sub-par performance on Wednesday night.  Vokoun is 20-12-1 on the year with a 2.60 GAA, .915 save percentage, and two shutouts.  He has yet to face the team that originally drafted him this year.  On the injury front, both Mike Green (sports hernia surgery) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) are out.  The Capitals will get a boost, however, as captain Alex Ovechkin will play for the first time in almost three weeks after serving the final game of a three-game suspension Wednesday night.  Jeff Schultz, who played Wednesday, will probably be back in the press box, and Jay Beagle should remain scratched in favor of recent call-up Keith Aucoin.

Puck drops 2:08-ish.  And in other news, I will be on the Habs360 radio show in Montreal at 5:15 after the game to talk Caps.  Follow me on Twitter here for the link to the show.

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