Half of Caps' Young Guns Head HomePosted on January 14, 2013 by Mike Vogel
Washington puts its 7-11-1 road record on the line in Los Angeles tonight against the Kings, who are 5-1-3 in their last nine games. The Capitals will be without Nicklas Backstrom and Mike Green tonight. Backstrom is missing a second straight game – and just the seventh game of his five-season NHL career – after taking a Rene Bourque elbow to the head in last Tuesday’s 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Green returned to action in that Calgary game, taking the ice for the first time since Nov. 11. He skated 15:43 against the Flames, and was in the lineup when the Caps took the ice for their next game, a Saturday night game with the Sharks in San Jose. Green felt some tightness in his groin midway through that game, and he retired for the night midway through the middle frame after logging 7:11 in ice time. Both players are said to be day-to-day, and both left LA’s Staples Center this morning to board a flight back to Washington ahead of the team, which will depart for the District immediately after tonight’s game against the Kings. The formation of Washington’s vaunted quartet of “Young Guns” coincides with the start of Backstrom’s career in the league in 2007-08. Since then, he has been the most durable of the foursome that also includes Green, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin. Including tonight’s game against the Kings, Backstrom has appeared in 361 of the 368 regular season games for which he has been eligible. Over that same span, Ovechkin is the second-most durable with 352 games played of a possible 368. Semin has appeared in 299 of 368 and Green just 284 of 368. Backstrom, Green and Ovechkin each played in all 82 games in 2007-08 while Semin missed 19 contests that season. The quartet accounted for a combined total of 37 man-games lost in 2008-09 and 26 lost in 2009-10. Last season, the Young Guns combined for 58 man-games lost, with Green accounting for 33 of those. Including tonight’s game, the Caps’ quartet of Young Guns will have missed 36 games this season, with Green accounting for 30 of those. In 367 regular season games together since the start of 2007-08, the Caps have had at least two of the Young Guns in the lineup every night. Coming into tonight’s game, they’ve been without half of the Young Guns in 25 of those 367 games, and they are 16-9 in those games. The Caps had to play without two of the Young Guns just 12 times in the first 313 games they were together, and tonight will mark the 14th time in the last 55 games they’ve had to do so. They were 6-6 without two Young Guns in 2008-09, 8-2 in 2010-11 and are 2-1 thus far this season. The Caps had at least three Young Guns in the lineup for every game in both the 2007-08 and the 2009-10 seasons.
Immediately after Monday’s 5-2 loss to the Kings in Los Angeles, the Caps headed for LA International Airport for the red-eye flight back to the District. Flights of that length are not uncommon for the Capitals; typically they’ll have a “coast to coast” flight once or twice a year. What is unusual