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 13, 2012

Gameday: vs. San Jose, Feb. 13

Will Dale Hunter play Mike Knuble this evening?
The Washington Capitals will welcome the San Jose Sharks to Verizon Center this evening as they play the second half of a back-to-back set, desperate to gain some momentum following their bad loss in New York Sunday afternoon. Washington, who have lost two in a row, are 3-4-3 in their last ten games and 28-22-5 overall for 61 standings points in 55 games.  Therefore, they are second in the Southeast Division, four points back of the Panthers, and ninth in the Eastern Conference, two points behind the Maple Leafs with a game in hand.  The Sharks, who were shut out in St. Louis last night, are 4-5-1 in their last ten games and 30-17-6 overall for 66 standings points in 53 games.  Those 66 points place them first in the Pacific Division and therefore third in the Western Conference. This is the second of two meetings between these two clubs this season; the Capitals lost the first one in San Jose last month.  Oh, and related: this is an absolute must-win game for the Capitals.

Antti Niemi should start for Todd McLellan's men despite losing last night.  On the year, the Finnish goaltender is 23-13-5 with a 2.34 GAA, .917 save percentage, and four shutouts.  He has been a big part of these new-look Sharks and is one of their best overall players; Washington's poor offense is going to be crucial to beating a team they have beaten just once in their last fifteen tries. Outside the crease, the Sharks have a few injuries.  Winger Martin Havlat is on IR with a knee injury and will not play, as is defenseman Jason Demers, who will be absent with a lower body ailment.

Michal Neuvirth is expected to start the second half of the back-to-back because Tomas Vokoun is still sick.  Neuvirth, who failed to come up big for his team (again) yesterday, is 6-9-3 on the year with a 3.07 GAA, .894 save percentage, and two shutouts.  On the injury front, both Mike Green (sports hernia surgery) and Nicklas Backstrom (concussion) are out and will not play.  After being scratched for Thursday and Sunday's losses, forward Mike Knuble has been benched again, even though he is simply a better hockey player than both Jay Beagle and Keith Aucoin.  John Erskine should remain in the lineup over Jeff Schultz after playing yesterday.

That's all for now; puck drops 7:39-ish.  No recap from me tonight because of school obligations.