CAPS GAME NIGHT--Game 52: One Night In New Jersey

Posted by Dave Nichols | Tuesday, February 03, 2009 | , , | 0 comments »

The Washington Capitals (32-15-4-68, first in Southeast, second in East) travel to Newark to face the red-hot New Jersey Devils (32-15-3-67, first in Atlantic, third in East) at 7:00 pm from the Prudential Center.

Fresh off a weekend sweep of Detroit and Ottawa, the Caps will try their luck with one of the league's hottest teams right now. The Devils have won nine of their last ten games, and are within one point of the Caps for second place in the conference.

This is the third of four games the teams will play this season, and they have split the pair of games so far, both in DC. New Jersey won the first meeting back in October, 4-3, as Zack Parise scored the lone goal in a shootout. The Caps took the second game Nov. 14, with Jose Theodore making 32 saves in a 3-1 win.

The Devils are led up front by Parise (29-29-58, plus-22) and Patrik Elias (22-34-56, plus-14). Johnny Oduya (4-16-20, plus-12) and Colin White (1-11-12, plus-17) are their top defenders.

Captain Jamie Langenbrunner had three multiple goal games to finish the month of January for New Jersey, and he has 17 goals for the season.

Scott Clemmensen has been extraordinary in goal, replacing the injured future Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur. Clemmensen is 22-9-2, with a 2.29 goals-against average and .920 save percentage. Brodeur started skating recently to get back in shape following biceps surgery, but is still expected to be out until the first of March.

Washington is paced, as always, by the Russian Machine, Alex Ovechkin. He had five goals in the pair of wins over the weekend, including a hat trick against Ottawa on Sunday. His 36 goals lead the league, and his next tally will be the 200th of his short career. Coach Bruce Boudreau described reaching 200 as, "a minuscule milestone in [Ovechkin's] career."

The Caps learned yesterday they will play the remainder of the season without their captain, Chris Clark, who will be undergoing surgery to repair his injured right wrist. Clark originally hurt the wrist in training camp, and has already spent time on the injured list this season with it. But General Manager George McPhee announced Monday that Clark needs the surgery and will be out the rest of the year.

Jose Theodore will get the start tonight. Washington recalled goalie Michael Neuvirth to back up Theodore, as Brent Johnson is day-to-day with an undisclosed injury, speculated to be the nagging hip injury that has bothered him much of the season.

WAS: PP-7th (22.6%, 49/217); PK-24th (78.9%, 52/246)
NJ: PP-15th (19.0%, 33/174); PK-10th (82.6%, 34/195)

WAS: RW Chris Clark (Wrist-Out) C Dave Steckel (Lower body-Questionable); D Brian Pothier (Concussion-IR); G Brent Johnson (undisclosed-DTD)

NJ: G Martin Brodeur (Biceps-IR)