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!

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Gameday: vs. Carolina, Mar. 6

There's been a lot of this recently in Caps land.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to Verizon Center on Tuesday night as they attempt to break a two-game losing streak that has included two shutouts.  The Caps are are 4-6-0 in their last ten games and 32-28-5 overall for 69 standings points in 65 games.  That places them third in the Southeast Division, three points back of the Jets with two games in hand and five back of the Panthers, and ninth overall in the Eastern Conference.  The Hurricanes, on the other hand, are 4-2-4 in their last ten games and 24-27-14 overall for 62 standings points in 65 games.  They are therefore last in the Southeast Division and fourteenth overall in the East.  This is the sixth and final meeting between these two teams this season; the Caps lead the season series 3-2 but have not scored a single goal in their last two games against the Canes while giving up eight in a pair of blowout losses.

Cam Ward will start for Kirk Muller's men despite allowing four goals on 23 shots in a overtime loss against Tampa Bay in his last start.  Ward, who has been the Hurricanes' workhorse for the last six years, is 22-19-11 on the year with a 2.84 GAA, .909 save percentage, and three shutouts, including a 23-save blanking the last time of Washington the last time he faced the Capitals.  Outside the crease, the Hurricanes will be without two of their key players: defenseman Joni Pitkanen, who is out with a knee injury and concussion that has caused him to miss 40 games, and forward Tuomo Ruutu, who has an upper-body ailment that has kept him sidelined for almost three weeks now.

Michal Neuvirth is expected to start in goal for the sixth consecutive game despite losing his last two contests.  Neuvirth is 9-11-3 on the year with a 2.85 GAA, .900 save percentage, and two shutouts; he made 30 saves on 33 shots in his last game against the Hurricanes, a relief appearance two weeks ago.  On the injury front, the Caps are still without star center Nicklas Backstrom, who is not even in the country, as he is visiting family in Sweden as he tries to recuperate from a concussion.  In terms of lineup changes, Dale Hunter will keep his defense intact, with Roman Hamrlik and John Erskine remaining benched.  He will, however, change his forward corps, with Mike Knuble being benched for Keith Aucoin.

Puck drops 7:08-ish.  As always, follow me on Twitter here for news and updates.

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