Game 20: Caps continue short homestand, host Jets at Verizon

November 23 vs. Winnipeg Jets at Verizon Center      
Time: 
7:00 pm
TV: CSN-D.C., TSN-Jets, CSN-MA

After a brutal 0-3-1 four-game stretch, the Capitals finally got back on the winning side of things with a 4-3 win over the Phoenix Coyotes on Monday night in D.C. 

They'll be looking for more of the same as they play the middle game of a three-game homestand against their division rival (still weird I know), the Winnipeg Jets.

The Jets have recovered from an awful start and sit just four points behind Washington in the standings. Winnipeg also manhandled the Caps in their last meeting 4-1 at the MTS Centre. 

Washington desperately needs to see its captain find the scoring sheet.

Caps coach Bruce Boudreau tried to awaken his team by benching star winger Alexander Semin on Monday night, it worked to an extent, but Semin will be back in the lineup tonight. Boudreau said after the game that it was something he wanted to do "for the whole group," and wasn't a personal thing with the star Russian. 

Center Nicklas Backstrom ended his four-game scoreless streak Monday by tallying a goal and an assist, he leads the club going away with 22 points (6 G, 16 A) this season, seven  better than Alex Ovechkin. 

Ovechkin has been slumping all season, posting seven goals and a -5 plus/minus rating. Boudreau recently denied speculation that the league had "figured out" the sniper, but did talk of how he'd like to see a reappearance of Ovie's power forward game. 

The Jets come in having won three in a row, and are 5-3-2 in their last 10 games overall. Claude Noel's squad has gotten better goaltending from Ondrej Pavelec of late, the Czech stopper has started 12 games in a row. He'll be in net to face the Caps tonight, who he is 4-1 against in his last six starts, with two shutouts, a 0.65 GAA and a .981 save pct.

Opposing Pavelec will be veteran Tomas Vokoun, who earned his ninth win of the season Monday against the Coyotes. He has not yet faced the Jets in his career, as Michal Neuvirth started for the Caps last week in Winnipeg. 

Dustin Byfuglien has started to come around for the Jets lately. The big defenseman has six points in his last five games, including a goal and two assists in his last game against Philadelphia. 

Alex Semin was Bruce Boudreau's first healthy scratch victim, it appears as if Joel Ward is going to be his second. Ward slept through a team meeting and has accepted his fate, noting so following practice Tuesday that he had indeed missed the meeting and knew of the consequences. 

 Accountabily is part of the reason the Caps have struggled so mightily this month, with players not stepping up for their play or their teammates. This and other benchings should serve as a wake-up call for this bunch. Mathieu Perreault will take Ward's spot in the lineup tonight. 

Notes: 

  • Center Brooks Laich has goals in back-to-back games, notching the game-winner vs. Phoenix on Monday, and regestering the Caps' only tally at Toronto on Saturday...
  • Defenseman Dennis Wideman is scorless in his past five games...
  • Forward Alex Ovechkin is on pace for 30 goals...