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, March 19, 2012

Gameday: at Detroit, Mar. 19

Better days were here in October.  Feels like a lifetime ago.
The Washington Capitals are in Detroit, Michigan, this evening to take on the Red Wings as they play the fourth game of their season-long five game road trip. The Caps, losers of two in a row, are 5-4-1 in their last ten games and 36-30-6 overall for 78 standings points in 72 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, five points back of the Panthers with one more game played, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference, two points clear of the Jets for the final playoff spot in the Conference.  The Red Wings, on the other hand, lost in overtime their last time out, and 3-6-1 in their last ten, and 44-24-4 overall for 92 standings points in 72 games.  That places them third in the highly competitive Central Division and fifth overall in the Western Conference.  Detroit is also 28-4-2 at home this year.  This is the second and final meeting between these two clubs this year; the Caps won the first leg, 7-1, in October.

Jimmy Howard should start for Mike Babcock's men despite getting lit up for four goals in his last start.  After a mediocre sophomore campaign, Howard has rebounded this year with a stellar season: a 33-14-3 record, 2.11 GAA, .922 save percentage, and six shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Wings have several injuries, none more notable than that of captain and seven-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom, who is sidelined with an ankle injury.  Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson (wrist) and forward Jakub Klindl (upper body) are also out. Winger Johan Franzen (back) and center Darren Helm (upper body) are questionable.

Because Michal Neuvirth started last night and lost, the Caps could turn to Braden Holtby in nets for only his second start of the year this evening.  Holtby, who has spent basically the whole year in AHL Hershey, made 30 saves on 35 shots in his only NHL action this year, a game against the Sharks in which he took the loss.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom because of a concussion, though the Swede has skated at Kettler Capitals Icplex for the last six consecutive days.  After such a disastrous game Sunday, expect Dale Hunter to make some changes to his lineup, probably along the lines of Roman Hamrlik returning to action.  But, as always, it's anyone's guess after a loss until the morning skate.

Puck drops 7:40-ish.  Check back later.  And, as always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

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