Game 50 Preview: Caps and Wings in the Afternoon

Posted by Dave Nichols | Friday, January 30, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (30-15-4-64, first in Southeast, second in East) host the Detroit Red Wings (31-10-7-69, first in Central) at 12:30 pm from Verizon Center.

The Capitals enter the game having dropped their only game since the all-star break, a 3-2 overtime decision to the Eastern Conference leading Boston Bruins Tuesday night. Detroit has dropped their last two, a 3-2 OT loss to Columbus on Tuesday and a 4-2 loss to Dallas Thursday night.

The Red Wings, the reigning Stanley Cup champion, will be without forwards Henrik Zetterberg (back) and Tomas Holstrom (groin) for the game, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Detroit is the highest scoring team in the NHL, and are led by all-star Pavel Datsyuk. His 57 points (19 goals, 38 assists) are good for a tie for sixth in the league. Marian Hossa has 24 goals to pace the Wings in that category. Zetterberg is third on the team in scoring and Holstrom is particularly strong on the power play, so the Caps receive a benefit there.

As always, all-star Nicklas Lidstrom leads the Wings blue-liners with 32 points (seven goals, 25 assists, plus-15).

The Wings have a two-headed approach at goalie, where Chris Osgood and Ty Conklin have pretty much split the starts (26-24). Conklin's stats have been better overall (16-6-2, 2.31, .917), but the veteran Osgood (15-4-6, 3.29, .880) is getting his fair share of playing time.

Osgood was yanked from Thursday night's game with Dallas, however, so he may be relegated to the pine for this marquee matinee.

The Capitals have had several days off this week for practice. Thursday night the team participated in an outdoor skate at a local country club. Coach Bruce Boudreau initiated an intra-squad scrimmage and captains Jose Theodore and Brent Johnson picked squads for a three-on-three game.

There was debate about the victor, but all enjoyed the event and it seemed to breathe new life into a team that has been struggling on special teams of late. Washington has allowed a power play goal in each of its last nine contests.

The team hopes that the return of Tom Poti, easily its best overall defender, will bolster the struggling penalty kill unit. Poti has missed the last nine games.


WAS: PP-6th (22.0%, 46/209); PK-24th (78.5%, 50/233)
DET: PP-1st (27.7%, 57/206); PK-25th (78.4%, 44/204)

WAS: D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR)
DET: RW Darren McCarty (Groin-IR); D Brad Stuart (Ribs-IR); C Henrik Zetterberg (Back-Questionable); RW Tomas Holstrom (Groin-Questionable); LW Jiri Hudler (Undisclosed-Questionable)