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WGD: Game 44: Red Wings vs. Capitals

After sliding back into the ‘W’ column like (D)bosses against the Nashville Predators, the Wings are hosting the Washington Capitals today in the fifth game of their six game homestand. The record has not been good, going 1-3-0 since hosting the Panthers on New Years Eve, but with some key players back in the lineup, the Wings are the closest to full strength that they’ve been in a long time.

Though even at full strength, they will have a handful with the Washington Capitals. The defending Stanley Cup Champions are currently first in the Metropolitan Division with a 6-3-1 record in their last 10 games. Ovi has been on fire and the support system has been actively backing him up. They are not going to make life easy for the Red Wings this afternoon.

THE RED WINGS

LW C RW
Tyler Bertuzzi
Tyler Bertuzzi

Rating: 72.2#75 LW

Dylan Larkin
Dylan Larkin

Rating: 77.7#32 C

Gustav Nyquist
Gustav Nyquist

Rating: 74.1#44 RW

Thomas Vanek
Thomas Vanek

Rating: 71.7#87 LW

Frans Nielsen
Frans Nielsen

Rating: 73.2#75 C

Anthony Mantha
Anthony Mantha

Rating: 75.3#36 RW

Michael Rasmussen
Michael Rasmussen

Rating: 71.8#121 LW

Jacob De La Rose
Jacob De La Rose

Rating: 68.2#189 C

Andreas Athanasiou
Andreas Athanasiou

Rating: 75.6#43 RW

Justin Abdelkader
Justin Abdelkader

Rating: 69.9#116 LW

Luke Glendening
Luke Glendening

Rating: 69.2#180 C

Darren Helm
Darren Helm

Rating: 71.1#139 RW

Defensive Pairings
Niklas Kronwall
Niklas Kronwall

Rating: 71.4#84 LD

Nick Jensen
Nick Jensen

Rating: 71.2#76 RD

Jonathan Ericsson
Jonathan Ericsson

Rating: 68.7#127 LD

Filip Hronek
Filip Hronek

Rating: 71.8#59 RD

Dennis Cholowski
Dennis Cholowski

Rating: 71.4#86 LD

Luke Witkowski
Luke Witkowski

Rating: 67.9#108 RD

Blashill is going to stick with Friday’s winning combination after four forwards each contributed a goal in the overtime victory. Dylan Larkin played the hero with the game winner, but secondary scoring from Bertuzzi, Vanek, and Athanasiou got them there.

The blue line is still devastatingly bad, with Luke Witkowski now a mainstay. Hronek has looked really good in his call-up, though.

THE CAPITALS

LW C RW
Alex Ovechkin
Alex Ovechkin

Rating: 85.8#1 LW

Evgeny Kuznetsov
Evgeny Kuznetsov

Rating: 78.8#26 C

Tom Wilson
Tom Wilson

Rating: 75.8#33 RW

Jakub Vrana
Jakub Vrana

Rating: 72.9#83 LW

Nicklas Backstrom
Nicklas Backstrom

Rating: 78.7#28 C

T.J. Oshie
T.J. Oshie

Rating: 76.6#28 RW

Andre Burakovsky
Andre Burakovsky

Rating: 71.7#85 LW

Lars Eller
Lars Eller

Rating: 73.6#67 C

Brett Connolly
Brett Connolly

Rating: 73.8#47 RW

Chandler Stephenson
Chandler Stephenson

Rating: 69.7#170 LW

Travis Boyd
Travis Boyd

Rating: 71.9#119 C

Devante Smith-Pelly
Devante Smith-Pelly

Rating: 68.4#124 RW

Defensive Pairings
Michal Kempny
Michal Kempny

Rating: 74.5#30 LD

John Carlson
John Carlson

Rating: 81.4#4 RD

Dmitri Orlov
Dmitri Orlov

Rating: 73.4#43 LD

Matt Niskanen
Matt Niskanen

Rating: 74.5#30 RD

Jonas Siegenthaler
Jonas Siegenthaler

Rating: 73.1#49 LD

Brooks Orpik
Brooks Orpik

Rating: 70.0#94 RD

The Capitals made very few tweaks to their lineup last offseason, so they are still built to contend for the Stanley Cup. Ovi leads the charge with his 30 goals and 46 points in 40 games. It’s the 14th season in a row that the captain has hit the 30 goal mark. He’s of course being helped by Nicklas Backstrom who leads the team in assists.

Tom Wilson has been really good too, contributing 19 points in his 21 games. It’s earned him a spot on the first line.

Defense is probably the Capitals biggest flaw, but when you have a goalie like Braden Holtby, you don’t need four top-2 defenseman. Carlson, Niskanen, and Orpik will do down the right side. Carlson, in particular, is having a highly offensive season. He’s third on the team in points with 39.

BETWEEN THE PIPES

Jimmy Howard vs. Braden Holtby

Because of the early start time, starting goalies have yet to be confirmed, but I would anticipate Howie and Holtby between the pipes at both ends of the ice. Howard has been challenged as of late with all the veteran defenseman up in the press box, but his play this season has been good enough to earn him an spot on the Atlantic Division’s all-star team.

Holtby has been playing below his career average, posting a .910 save percentage so far this season. He most recently posted two sub-.900 performances, where he allowed a total of 11 goals across both games. He’s 2-3-0 in his last five.

HOW TO WATCH

Puck drop is at 5:00 P.M. ET and you’ll be able to watch the game on Fox Sports Detroit.

As always, make sure you’re following us on Twitter for all kinds of fun in-game reactions, gifs, and all the other things you’d expect from a hockey blog twitter account.