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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, March 31, 2012

Gameday: vs. Montreal, Mar. 31

Your #1 goalie...for now.
The Washington Capitals will welcome the Montreal Canadiens to Verizon Center this evening as they play a critical game to try and keep their playoff hopes alive.  The Capitals are 5-3-2 in their last ten games and 39-31-8 overall for 86 standings points in 78 games.  That places them second in the Southeast Division, four points back of the Panthers, and eighth overall in the Eastern Conference; Washington has the same amount of points as the Sabres but hold the tiebreaker for the final playoff spot.  The Canadiens are 4-3-3 in their last ten games and 29-25-14 overall for 72 standings points in 78 games.  They are therefore last in the Northeast Division and last in the East. This is the fourth and final regular season meeting between these two teams this season; the Capitals have won all three contests so far by a combined 10-1 score.

Randy Cunneyworth is expected to roll with backup Peter Budaj in nets after Carey Price lost last night in New York. Budaj is 3-7-3 on the year with a 2.90 GA and .905 save percentage. Outside the crease, the Canadiens are decimated by injuries.  Captain Brian Gionta (pectoral), center Scott Gomez (concussion), winger Mathieu Darche (inner-ear infection), winger Travis Moen (upper body), and defenseman Raphael Diaz (lower body) are all on injured reserve and will not play.  Forward Ryan White (illness), defenseman Yannick Weber (knee), and defenseman Tomas Kaberle (upper body) are all questionable.

Michal Neuvirth will get the call in goal from Dale Hunter after picking up the win in Boston Thursday following Tomas Vokoun's groin injury. Neuvirth is 12-12-5 on the year with a 2.89 GAA, .900 save percentage, and three shutouts; he made 30 saves on 31 shots in a win against the Habs the last time he started against them.  On the injury front, star center Nicklas Backstrom will return to the lineup after a three month absence because of a concussion.  Backstrom will resume his customary spot on the top line alongside Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer. Backstrom's return will bump Cody Eakin to the press box as a healthy scratch along with Jeff Halpern and Joel Ward.  John Erskine will remain sidelined with a lower body injury and Jeff Schultz will remain a healthy scratch in back.

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

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