Nov. 6 vs. Ottawa Senators at Verizon Center
Time: 7:00 pm
Radio: WTNT 570 AMOttawa Senators (5-7-0)Washington Capitals (5-4-4)
The Washington Capitals are in the midst of a ?weave? portion of their schedule. The Caps alternate home and road games from Oct. 30-Nov. 15, a span of eight games. After a 5-3 win over the Flyers in Philadelphia on Saturday, the Caps head back to Verizon Center for a one-game ?homestand? with the Ottawa Senators.
Washington?s prior schedule has also taken on a bit of a weave pattern. The Caps have yet to win consecutive games or lose consecutive contests in regulation through their first 13 games of the season. The Capitals can put together consecutive wins for the first time this season with a win over the struggling Sens on Monday.
Saturday?s win was an important one. It came in the second of back-to-back games, and just one night after the Caps let a 2-0 lead slip away on home ice against Southeast Division-leading Atlanta. It also ended a 16-game winless drought in Philadelphia that stretched back to Jan. 31, 1998.
Washington coach Glen Hanlon has tweaked his lineup a bit in recent games, but he made some sweeping changes before the Philadelphia game. The foremost change involved scrapping the Ben Clymer-to-defense experiment after a 12-game trial. That plan looked like a smashing success in the preseason, and even worked well through the first handful of regular season games. But Clymer and Hanlon agreed on Saturday morning that the time had come to move the Minnesota native back to the right side of the CBS line with Matt Bradley and Brian Sutherby. That trio had been a consistently solid unit for the Caps for most of last season.
Clymer was evidently happy and comfortable in being reunited with Sutherby and Bradley. Clymer netted a pair of goals against the Flyers; his linemates finished the night with two assists each.
With Clymer back up front, defenseman Steve Eminger returned to the lineup after a two-game exile. Eminger had not been a healthy scratch in the NHL since Dec. 7, 2002 when he was just 19 years old. Eminger logged just over 15 minutes and recorded three blocked shots and an assist against the Flyers on Saturday.
Richard Zednik suffered an upper body injury in Friday?s loss to the Thrashers, so Tomas Fleischmann was summoned from Hershey on Saturday. The AHL?s third-leading scorer, Fleischmann was inserted into the Washington lineup against Philly. He picked up an assist despite just 7:39 in ice time.
Washington is currently in the midst of a stretch of schedule in which it will face 100-point teams from a year ago in five of six games. That period began on Oct. 30 in Calgary. The Caps beat the Flames and the Flyers, but fell to the Atlanta Thrashers (the only team in the six-game span that did not record 100 points last season) on Friday at Verizon.
The Caps are 2-1 halfway through that run. After Ottawa?s Monday visit to the District, the Caps travel to Carolina on Thursday before hosting the New York Rangers on Sunday.
Washington ranks 15th in the league in power play efficiency with a 15.8% success rate. The Caps rank 18th in the NHL with a penalty killing success rate of 83.1%.
The Sens are starting a four-game road trip in Washington, and Ottawa is carting a three-game losing streak with it to Verizon Center. Most recently, the Sens absorbed a 3-2 home ice loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday after jumping out to a 2-0 lead.
Ottawa is coming off a third straight season with 100 or more points, and a ninth straight playoff appearance in 2005-06. The Sens matched a franchise record with 113 points last season, and led the NHL with 314 goals scored. They also led the league with 25 shorthanded goals and finished fourth in the league in both power play and special teams.
For all their good work during the regular season, the Sens were bounced out of the postseason in the second round, suffering a defeat to the Buffalo Sabres in the second round.
Ottawa has managed only 37 goals in its first dozen games this season, and 21 of those came during a three-game winning streak from Oct. 21-26. The Sens have been stingy in surrendering just 30 to the opposition, the third lowest total in the NHL.
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson has been a lightning rod for early season criticism of the team?s performance. Alfredsson has netted only two goals thus far this season. Facing the Capitals might help in that regard; he has totaled 23 goals and 40 points in just 36 career games against the Caps.
The Senators are dead last in the league in power play success, with an efficiency rate of just 8.4%. Ottawa features the league?s third-best penalty killing corps with a 90.6% kill rate.