#56 Detroit Red Wingsvs.#55 Washington Capitals
Written by Valdis Pans
Washington Capitals (39-11-2-4) vs. Detroit Red Wings (22-25-10-0)
When: 2:00 PM ET, Saturday, February 18, 2017
Where: Joe Louis Arena, Detroit, Michigan
Lines: Washington -170/Detroit +150
The in-form Washington Capitals (1st in Metropolitan Division) will kick off their three-game road trip with a meeting against the Detroit Red Wings (8th in Atlantic), who have suffered a lot lately…
The Washington Capitals (39-11-6) will embark on a three-game road swing right after their designated NHL break, which was preceded by 12 consecutive wins at home, six overall victories in a row and a perfect showing in their most recent four-contest homestand (4-0-0), during which the Caps outscored their opponents 22-7. Their latest triumph took place at Verizon Center last Saturday, when the hosts disposed of the visiting Anaheim Ducks in a tightly fought 6-4 victory. T.J. Oshie (23 goals, 40 points), Nicklas Backstrom (17 goals, 60 points), Tom Wilson (4 goals, 13 points), Daniel Winnik (7 goals, 17 points), Zach Sanford (1 goal, 2 points) and Marcus Johansson (19 goals, 40 points) all scored for Washington.
Braden Holtby made 18 saves for his 14th straight win, which ties him for the 2nd place in the NHL’s All-Time Longest Win Streaks by a goalie. He is three victories shy of the NHL record of 17 consecutive wins, set by Gilles Gilbert (Boston Bruins) during the 1975-76 season. Holtby is 29-8-4 for the year with a 2.02 GAA and has gone 8-2-0 against the Detroit red Wings in previous meetings with a 1.87 career GAA. The Caps are still topping the league with 84 points from 56 fixtures and have a 15-6-5 road record. They are 2nd in most goals scored per game (3.41), 1st in least goals allowed on average (2.09), 5th in power play with a 22.1% success rate and 4th in penalty kill with 84.5% efficiency.
With just two victories in their past 12 games (2-6-4) and another bulk of five defeats in a row (0-4-1), it is quite impossible to envision the Detroit Red Wings (22-25-10) playing in their 26th consecutive playoff season. The team hasn’t played all too bad lately. The problem for the Wings is – when they score freely, the defense allows even more goals. When their goaltending is top notch, the guys can’t score themselves. While the former was evident in both 6-3 losses to the Washington Capitals and the Minnesota Wild last week, the latter was on show at Joe Louis Arena on Wednesday. Detroit allowed just two goals on 29 shots against the visiting St. Louis Blues, despite being outshot 16-4 in the second period alone. Yet, the hosts couldn’t manage a single goal themselves from 25 shots, including four on three power play opportunities.
Petr Mrazek was excellent in the net for the Wings, making 27 saves. He is 12-15-6 for the current campaign with a 3.04 GAA and has gone 1-3-1 in the past against the Washington Capitals with a combined GAA of 2.25. The Red Wings are currently 27th in the league with 54 points from 57 games and are trailing the playoff berth in the Eastern Conference by nine points, having already played an extra game. They are scoring the 5th lowest quantity of goals per outing (2.37), conceding the 5th highest amount in their defensive zone (3.00). Detroit’s penalty kill ranks 21st with 80.2% proficiency, while its power play is still at the very bottom of the NHL with an 11.8% return.
It’s not that the Red Wings have been playing horribly lately. They just haven’t been good enough, which against the current Capitals team is bad enough. Having said that, the Caps are returning from their bye week, which already has put some spanners in the works for many teams, with the Los Angeles Kings being the latest one (losing 5-3 at home to the visiting Arizona Coyotes). Washington has also lost all of their last six games played on three or more days’ rest, so Detroit really has a chance here, at least on paper. The latest 6-3 victory for the Caps just a week ago aside, both teams have not been really going crazy goal-wise in their head-to-head meetings, averaging a combined total of 2.83 goals per fixture in their previous six matchups prior to last week…
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Valdis got his first ever article published when he was 13, and has rarely stopped. He has worked for FHM, MTV Baltics and has done loads of freelance (from columns for Cosmopolitan magazine to helping with organization of Macy Gray’s shows in the Northern Europe). Speaks five different languages, loves pizza, American Horror Story and pipe organ music, and knows European soccer better than dates of his family members’ birthdays. Is an avid fan of ice-hockey too. He is a Latvian after all...