The Blues are on a winning streak again, although the last two were in a shootout. The Predators scored with less than 3 minutes left to tie it up. The Hurricanes battled back from being down 2 goals to tie up their game. Neither game was decided in OT, and so went on to the shootout. Anything can happen in the skills competition, so I wouldn't rely on those too much. I'm sure Coach Hitch had plenty to say about both games. They were lucky and came away with wins in both cases. You can't press your luck too far, though.
The Capitals are having themselves quite a season, currently battling the Rangers for the third playoff spot in the Meh-tropolitan Division. They're only 4-3-3 in the last 10 games, and just lost to Montreal in OT on Saturday. That may seem like a cold streak, but it also disguises how tough to beat they are at home. The last time the Caps have lost at home in regulation was December 2 against the Canucks. They have points in their previous 10 home games, and a 13-5-5 home record overall. While they have some scars from the road games, they have been on top of things at the Verizon Center.
A big part of Washington's success has been Braden Holtby. Although he did allow the OT game-winner Saturday, Holtby hasn't allowed a goal in regulation in over 6 periods of work. His save percentage for the season is .923 , and improves to .928 in 5vs5 (per www.war-on-ice.com). He's responded well to the new coaches in DC, and it is showing results. Backup Justin Peters has made only 7 starts this year, and has an .864 save percentage.
As for the scoring, well, it obviously flows through Alex Ovechkin . He leads the team (and the league) with 29 goals this year. Linemate Nicklas Backstrom leads the team in points with 50 (15g, 35a). The next two points leaders are both defensemen, so the Blues will need to be especially wary of shots from the blueline. John Carlson has 5 goals and 30 assists for 35 points, and Mike Green has 29 points on 5 goals and 24 assists. With this much offense spread out between the forwards and defense, it's no surprise that the Caps also enjoy a potent power play. They are 4th in the league, scoring on 23.3 percent of their chances. If the Blues go to the box time and time again, they'll surely regret it. Special teams could be the lifeline for either team, as St Louis is second in the league at 24.4 percent.
If they can play their game and shut down Ovechkin, the Blues should do well. As newcomers Ty Rattie and Marcel Goc adjust to their roles and linemates, that should help the team as well. Brian Elliott will be back in goal for the Blues, and it is expected that the Caps would start Braden Holtby again, despite the back to back games. Peters did start for them in the game at Scottrade, but he would be a last resort here with Holtby's hot hand.
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Final Verse: It's a brunch-time game today, with the puck dropping at 12 Noon St Louis time. The GameDay thread should be along shortly before that. The TV broadcast is on NBC Sports, and the radio call will be on KMOX 1120 AM. You might want to swap out the beers for mimosas and bloody marys... or not. Your call. Come join us for the game day thread, and enjoy the father-son moments that NBCSN will surely show us. Here are some highlights from when the Caps came to St Louis earlier this year: