1/26/17 Game Preview: Washington Capitals vs. New Jersey Devils

It’s Retro Night! The New Jersey Devils (20-20-9) meet the Washington Capitals (32-10-6) for the third time this season. The Devils and Capitals both played Tuesday night and both lost: the Devils fell to Los Angeles, 3-1, and the Capitals were shut out by Ottawa, 3-0.  Both teams had poor outings. New Jersey got off to a rough start and couldn’t completely recover as the game went on; Kyle Quincey scored the lone goal and Miles Wood led the team with five shots. Washington allowed a shorthanded goal at the beginning of the first and a second goal shortly thereafter, and also could not stage a comeback.

The two teams have met twice before in a home-and-home series in late December; the Devils were also on their Dad’s Trip for both games. The Devils had a shootout win on December 29th in Washington. P.A. Parenteau scored the lone regulation goal, and Michael Cammalleri and Jacob Josefson both scored in the shootout. The second game (at home) was a 6-2 loss and it was brutal. It was definitely not the ideal way to go into the New Year. Kyle Palmieri and Beau Bennett scored the two New Jersey goals. The Devils went a miraculous 0/9 on the power play. Keith Kinkaid started in net for both games. He was much better in the first, saving 43 of 44 shots faced, posting a .977 save percentage. His second game was pretty bad: he stopped only 20 shots of 26 faced, and had a .769 save%.

This was also the game in which Washington’s Tom Wilson boarded New Jersey’s John Moore. Moore had to be taken out on a stretcher and no penalty was given out during the game but the league also took no further disciplinary action against Wilson. Moore did not start skating again until last week and he has yet to start practicing with the team. There will undoubtedly be some bad blood and I know that Devils fans won’t forget.

After Cory Schneider’s outing on Tuesday, New Jersey’s starting goaltender is a toss-up. Keith Kinkaid played very well (saving 13 shots in two full periods) on Tuesday after Schneider was pulled. Kinkaid also started the previous games against Montreal and Philadelphia. As a fan, however, I would like Kinkaid to continue to start, especially with how he’s played. Start the hot goalie (the team also plays significantly better when Kinkaid is in net so let’s see). Edit: Keith Kinkaid will, indeed, be in net tonight. Braden Holtby will probably be in net for the Caps.

The Devils lineup might see a few changes tonight. Beau Bennett is still out and won’t play; he was placed on injured reserve yesterday, retroactive to January 20th. The Devils also claimed forward Stefan Noesen off of waivers from the Anaheim Ducks, who was former teammates with Kyle Palmieri in Anaheim and Albany’s (AHL) Scott Wedgewood in the OHL. He has two goals in 12 games and could be in the lineup tonight; he will wear #23.

The Devils are 4-1-1 in their last six games played, all four wins coming on the road. They have scored 16 goals in that span and have played very well. They have won only two of their last nine games at home. New Jersey is 1-1 against Washington this season. The Devils are averaging only 2.20 goals/game and Washington is averaging 3.21 but the Caps lead the league in goals against average with 2.08. The Devils have scored just three goals (excluding the shootout) in both games they have played against Washington this season. They are going to continue to make it difficult to score and the Devils need to take advantage of any opportunities they are given (especially on the power play).

The Capitals’ shutout loss against Ottawa was their first since December 1st, when they lost to the New York Islanders, and their third of the season. They had scored at least four goals in the eight games before Tuesday’s; their last game with less than four was a 1-0 win against – surprise, surprise – Ottawa. They are now 12-1-2 in their last 15 games. Washington is 8-0-1 in their last nine games against New Jersey.

It is Retro Night at The Rock; the first 9,000 fans will receive a special pair of Devils-themed retro socks. Hopefully the Devils can reverse their luck at home and come out with a win against the Metropolitan-leading (and East-leading) Caps; puck drops at 7PM.

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