Capitals vs Devils. Devils vs Capitals. No matter how you slice it, skaters from Washington and New Jersey all know they need to catch fire and hit a hot streak if they’re going to keep their playoff hopes alive. As the NHL season winds down to a close, both teams find themselves just on the outside, knocking on the playoff’s door, with six games remaining apiece – including tonight’s Capitals vs Devils game.
Going into tonight’s game, Washington is fourth in the Eastern Conference’s wild-card standings with 81 points. The New Jersey Devils are hot on their heels in fifth in the East with 80 points. Both teams trail the Toronto Maple Leafs (84 points/4 games remaining), the Columbus Blue Jackets (85 points/6 games remaining) and the Detroit Red Wings (86 points, 6 games remaining) for the conference’s two available wild-card spots.
The Capitals face a tough row to hoe coming off a 5-0 trouncing by the Dallas Stars. After tonight’s Devils vs Capitals game in New Jersey, they play three more games on the road, including a matchup with the conference-leading St. Louis Blues, then finish the season at home against two teams that have already secured their playoff berths – the Chicago Blackhawks and the Tampa Bay Lightening. To make things tougher, the Caps, who have dropped four straight and only won four of their last 10, are having difficulty gelling as a unit, as analyzed recently in the Washington Post. On a brighter note, the Capitals have taken their last four road games into overtime, earning the sympathy point in each.
The New Jersey Devils’ road to the playoffs is only a little easier headed into tonight’s Capitals vs Devils game., as Rant Sports pointed out recently. The Devils face the Carolina Hurricanes and Ottawa Senators at home and the Calgary Flames, New York Islanders and league-leading Boston Bruins at home. The Devils, however, have been on a five game point streak, going 2-0-3 in their last five games and 2-0-1 at home in the same stretch. New Jersey dropped their last game to the Buffalo Sabres in shootout – taking them to a dismal 0-11 in overtime shootouts this season.
Look for this game to be a tough matchup between Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, the league’s top goal scorer, and New Jersey’s Cory Schneider, who has been hot in goal for the Devils with a 2.07 GAA. If either teams is to have any hope of making the playoffs, they need to pick up the pace, starting in tonight’s Devils vs Capitals game. You can watch the Capitals vs Devils game live here or here.
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