Caps Aim To Keep Devils DownPosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Saturday night marks the last home game for the Caps for a while, just as Friday night marked the last home game for the Devils for a while. Washington sets out on a three-game trip this week that takes it to Nashville, Winnipeg and Toronto. For New Jersey, tonight’s game starts a stretch of five straight on the road where the Devils will visit Washington, Boston, Buffalo, Tampa Bay and Florida. This is the Devils’ longest stretch of consecutive road games this season; their next home game is Nov. 23 against Columbus. The Devils don’t have consecutive home contests until Dec. 8-10; they’ll be playing 10 of their next 12 games on the road starting with tonight’s visit to Verizon Center. After a slow start in Friday’s 3-1 win over New Jersey, the Capitals straightened out their game and halted a brief two-game losing run. They’re happy with the two points, but they also realize they can be better, and they hope to show that tonight in the back end of the home-and-home set with the Devils. “I think we had a pretty big reality check this last week with losing to Dallas, and the video and the practice and everything,” says caps defenseman Karl Alzner, referring to Wednesday’s grueling practice and video session after Tuesday’s 5-2 loss to the Stars. “Guys really wanted to try and make a statement – not to the league, not by blowing out a team – but to ourselves. Just to know that we can get back to that and just playing a strong and solid game. I think we did for the most part a pretty good job. But it means nothing yesterday if we don’t do it again today. That’s the main thing we’re focusing on.” New Jersey’s power play has been struggling, and the Caps made sure the Devils’ extra-man unit stayed struggling, snuffing out all five opposition power plays in Friday’s game. “We knew exactly what they like to do on the power play,” says Alzner. “And I think we did a good job of staying in those lanes and intercepting passes. We know [Zach] Parise likes to jam the puck and [Petr] Sykora likes to shoot. We had all those things that we looked over on video and I think we did a good job remembering it and pressuring and blocking more shots than we have been.” Caps defenseman Mike Green was injured in the first period of last night’s game in New Jersey, his first game back in the lineup after an absence of about three weeks. He won’t play tonight and is day-to-day with a lower body injury that is not related to his original lower body injury. Michal Neuvirth gets the call between the pipes for the Caps tonight after Tomas Vokoun earned his eighth win of the season with a 32-save effort against the Devils on Friday. Neuvirth is 4-0 lifetime with a 1.00 GAA and a .970 save pct. against New Jersey. He blanked the Devils with 33 saves in his most recent start against them, a March 18 assignment in Newark that resulted in a 3-0 Washington win. A night after beating 39-year-old Martin Brodeur for the fifth consecutive time, the Caps will go up against 38-year-old Johan Hedberg tonight. Hedberg is 11-6-2 with two shutouts, a 2.45 GAA and a .916 save pct. lifetime against Washington. Like Neuvirth, Hedberg also authored a shutout in his most recent appearance against tonight’s foe. He made 30 stops against the Caps in Newark on Nov. 22, 2010 to send Washington to a 5-0 setback.
When the Capitals took to the Prudential Center ice in Newark for the start of this weekend’s back-to-back set with the New Jersey Devils, they had seven healthy defensemen for the first time this season. Blueliner Mike Green, sidelined for nearly three weeks with an ankle injury sustained while