Capitals Game Day
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets: Lines, Tale of the Tape, Players To Watch
The Washington Capitals look to finish the month on a high note with one final tilt against the Columbus Blue Jackets before the All-Star break. Lines, who to watch and everything else to know before puck drop:
The Washington Capitals have one game left to go before the All-Star Break, and it's a must-win — and should-win — showdown with the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Here is everything to know ahead of puck drop:
Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Lines
Following a few weeks of struggles and testing out different combinations, head coach Peter Laviolette is shaking things up for the final game of the month. The same group is taking the ice, but will just look a bit different.
Here are the projected line combinations:
Alex Ovechkin-Dylan Strome-Conor Sheary
Marcus Johansson-Nicklas Backstrom-T.J. Oshie
Sonny Milano-Evgeny Kuznetsov-Anthony Mantha
Nicolas Aube-Kubel-Lars Eller-Garnet Hathaway
Erik Gustafsson-Trevor van Riemsdyk
Dmitry Orlov-Nick Jensen
Matt Irwin-Martin Fehervary
Charlie Lindgren will get the start following a rough go-of-it for Darcy Kuemper on Sunday. Kuemper allowed four goals in less than 13 minutes in the second period in that 5-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Tale of the Tape
The Capitals (26-20-6) are clinging onto the first Wild Card spot, but are quickly seeing other teams catch up. They are coming off a lackluster performance against the Maple Leafs where the offense couldn't get much going and the defense struggled, as the team's strong start evaporated in the second due to turnovers, missed assignments and several odd-man rushes against. The power play converted, but ultimately went 1-for-4 and didn't seem to have much urgency. Now, with the race getting tighter in the East, Washington knows that the intensity needs to rise.
Here are other key stats for Washington:
PP: 20.6% (19th) PK: 81.3 (8th) GF/G: 3.10 (17th) GA/G: 2.83 (10th)
Meanwhile, Columbus (15-32-3) is still struggling and has dropped back-to-back games to the Vancouver Canucks and Seattle Kraken and have also lost three of the last four. The season has just not gone according to plan after getting the biggest free agent forward on the market, and the team just hasn't been able to get things back on track and sits last in the Metro.
And the numbers for the Blue Jackets:
PP: 16.5% (28th) PK: 76.7 (21st) GF/G: 2.54 (29th) GA/G: 3.86 (30th)
When it comes to their matchups so far this season, the Capitals have won both games, a 6-2 win on Jan. 5 and a 1-0 victory on Jan. 8.
Washington Capitals vs. Columbus Blue Jackets: Players To Watch
For Washington, look out for Nicklas Backstrom, who has points in back-to-back games and scored the lone goal in Toronto. Meanwhile, Marcus Johansson has points in back-to-back games and four of his last five contests overall. Conor Sheary has points in two of his last three. And of course, watch for the usual suspects in Alex Ovechkin and T.J. Oshie, who struck twice the last time he visited Ohio.
On the Columbus side of the coin, Johnny Gaudreau leads the team with 48 points in 50 games, and he has found the scoresheet in five of his last six games, with seven points over that span. Patrik Laine has also picked up points in five of his last six, with two goals and six assists in that timeframe. Kirill Marchenko has points in three of his last four, and Kent Johnson also has five points in his last five outings. In addition, be on the lookout for Gustav Nyquist and Jack Roslovic.
How To Tune In
Local Capitals fans can catch the action live on NBC Sports Washington and listen at WJFK 106.7 The Fan and Caps Radio 24/7, and Columbus fans can watch on Bally Sports Ohio and tune in at 105.7 Alternative.
Puck drop is at 7 p.m. ET at Nationwide Arena.