|Division Rank||7th Metro||1st Metro|
|Conference Rank||14th EC||1st EC|
|Last 10 Games||5-4-1||8-1-1|
|Streak||Won 1||Won 5|
|ES Goals For %||42.6%||57.8%|
|ES Corsi For %||53.1%||50.2%|
|Power Play % (Rank)||18.3% (16)||26.2% (2)|
|Penalty Kill % (Rank)||76.3% (28)||83.9% (6)|
|ES Save %||.908||.939|
|ES Save %||.882||.902|
*Stats from NHL.com and War on Ice
- As of last evening, the Washington Capitals have the best record in the NHL. They have one of the most potent offenses, the ability to shut teams down defensively, excellence on special teams, and their goaltender is team MVP. Their 50 points in 32 games is the team's best start in franchise history. They are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and have won five in a row.
- So how do the Canes stand even a snowball's chance tonight? Two words: letdown game. The Caps come into tonight's game fresh off a crazy evening at Madison Square Garden, facing off against the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last season. After spotting the Rangers a 3-1 lead, they scored four unanswered goals in the second period, chased Henrik Lundqvist out of the net, and ended up 7-3 winners. Former Hurricane Justin Williams was the game's first star with two goals and an assist, and Nicklas Backstrom and Marcus Johansson also had three-point nights. After an emotional win, a late flight to Raleigh, and one game separating them from a four-day holiday break, perhaps there's a chance the Caps could let their guard down. If the Canes can play as they have shown they can for the better part of December, and get a decent performance in net, the game may at least stay competitive.
- Besides, the Caps haven't swept the Canes since 1997-98. This is the second of four match-ups between the Metro division rivals this season. Jeff Skinner scored the lone goal for the Canes in a 4-1 loss in DC back on October 17, and the Canes went 1-2-1 against the Caps in four games last season. But the Caps have won five of the last six games played at PNC Arena, and are 18-6-3 against the Canes since the 2010-11 season. Alex Ovechkin has 74 points against the Canes in 62 career games, and Nicklas Backstrom has 49 points in 42 games.
- The Caps won't hold a morning skate today. T.J. Oshie rested for a good portion of the third period after suffering a lower body injury, so his status may be in question. Barry Trotz did not confirm a starting goaltender in his post-game comments, but backup Philipp Grubauer typically plays the second game of a back-to-back situation. That said, Holtby did start (and won) both games in their most recent back-to-back. Holtby was pulled two games ago (vs. the Lightning) because Trotz did not like the way the team was performing in front of him (they responded with five straight goals and a win), and after giving up three early goals he was almost pulled last night for performance reasons but remained steadfast for the last two periods to support the comeback. With a break until Saturday, there's a good chance he'll be back in net tonight. Holtby leads the league in both wins (21) and GAA among leaders (1.96).
- The Canes took the day off yesterday after a great overall team effort and even greater goaltending effort led to their 2-1 victory over the Penguins Saturday night. Head coach Bill Peters tinkered with the lineup slightly going into Saturday's game, drawing Riley Nash back in on the fourth line instead of Chris Terry, and shuffling the defensive pairings for the first time in several weeks. After his 37-save performance Saturday (.974 save percentage), Cam Ward will probably get the start in net again tonight. The Canes power play continues to click. Both goals against Pittsburgh were scored with the man advantage, which is now 10-for-29 (34.5%) in the month of December.
- UPDATE 11:00 am: Michal Jordan has been recalled from his conditioning stint in Charlotte [CH.com]. The former Checkers captain played in four games and scored three goals during his assignment. Jordan is back with the Canes but is not expected to be in tonight's lineup. Chris Terry looks to draw back into tonight's game in place of Riley Nash, but otherwise the team is lining up as they did against Pittsburgh on Saturday, including Cam Ward in net.
Hurricanes (from Saturday's game)
Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm
Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil
Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe
Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry
John-Michael Liles - Justin Faulk
Ron Hainsey - Jaccob Slavin
Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce
Injuries and scratches: James Wisniewski (IR ACL), Nathan Gerbe (ankle), Riley Nash (healthy), Michal Jordan (healthy)
Capitals (from Sunday's game)
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson
Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Andre Burakovsky
Nate Schmidt - John Carlson
Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen
Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney
Injuries and Scratches: Brooks Orpik (lower body), Stanislav Galiev, Connor Carrick
- Canes Game Day hub [CH.com]
- Caps/Rangers recap [WaPo]
- Team Canada has made its final roster cuts for the World Juniors, and Canes prospects Haydn Fleury and Roland McKeown are in the tournament [Hockey Canada]
- Alex Nedeljkovic has also officially made the Team USA roster (side note, the Canes have a fourth prospect, Sebastian Aho, already officially on the roster for Team Finland) [USA Hockey]
- Noah Hanifin will not be playing in the World Juniors for Team USA, and he's okay with that, because his NHL team needs him [N&O].
- Eddie Lack is not the same goaltender that played in Vancouver; Jason Botchford explores why [The Province]
- Editorial - How a new owner might affect the Hurricanes and Raleigh [Today's Slapshot]
- Mid-term grades for the Canes defense [Section 328]
- The Capitals are adjusting to life without a morning skate [WaPo]
- Enough's Enough: The Costs of Relying on Braden Holtby Too Much [RMNB]
- NHL Christmas wish list: what each NHL team needs the most [USA Today]
- Finally, wishing all of our readers a wonderful holiday.