Well since my last blog post on October 7th, "OUR" Washington Capitals have played 21 additional games, been up and down, and now seem to be settling in for the remaining ~ 3/4 of the NHL season with the type of game and effort we grew accustomed to last season. The Capitals are now 13-7-3 sitting just barely atop the Metropolitan Division and facing the NY Islanders coached by Barry Trotz , himself. The Islanders are surprising everyone being a well coached team playing with great structure and showing the league there is "life after JT (John Tavares.)
The last two weeks the Caps played eight games and have compiled a 6-2-0 record. The Caps now have First Line Tom Wilson back on the ice, are playing with both Evgeny Kuznetsov and TJ Oshie out of the lineup; and with Brooks Orpik also out of the line-up. Lots of guys are stepping up and making a difference but there is no doubt the Tom Wilson's return is helping to motivate the team, as is his play. Alex Ovechkin is also playing awesomely, the 33 year old, generational talent LW has 5 G and 2 A in his last five games and now is on pace for a 6oG season, Another guy stepping up to make sure Kuznetsov being out of the lineup doesn't hurt the Caps too badly is 31 year old Nicklas Backstroke. Back is also playing pretty awesomely - he has 2G and 3A in the Caps Last five games and a 51.27% FO win rate and a total of 25 points (6G & 19A) in the 23GP for the season thus far. If your counting that's on pace for 89 points this season.
Both John Carlson and Dmitry Orlov have stepped it u and Madison Bowey and Christian Djoos have elevated their games too to fill the gaps left by steady Eddie stay at home D-Man Brooks Orpik's absence. Frankly Matt Niskenan and Michael Kempny have also elevated their games so that's really good news. Finally when Braden Holtby was out of the lineup for a couple of three games, Phoenix Copely showed me that all least for this season, he's the Caps solid answer for a backup goaltender.
In just an hour or so the Caps face off against Trotz and the Islanders -
I'm predicting the Caps will maintain their structure and discipline as did the NY Rangers last week when they beat the Islanders 5-0. Since that game against the Rangers, the Isles have beaten the Devils and the Hurricanes in relatively low scoring affairs but they (the Islanders) scored 4 against the Devils and $ against the Hurricanes. I'm predicting this game will be even lower scoring and the Caps will win 3-2 in Regulation.
Islander Players to Watch: Mathew Barzel & Leo Karmorov
Capitals Players to Watch: Alex Ovechkin & Dmitry Orlov