The Capitals return to action Saturday looking to erase the memory of Thursday’s blowout loss. The task will not be any easier, however, as the Caps will be hosting the red-hot Toronto Maple Leafs (7 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).
Here are three things to watch.
Among the league’s young stars, Connor McDavid is generally more highly regarded as arguably the best player in the NHL. Matthews, however, is not far behind.
In five games this season, Matthews already has found the back of the net nine times. That is more than eight different teams and tied with another three. He has been scoring seemingly at will this season thus far and will present a major challenge to the Capitals’ defense.
Toronto’s offense is just ridiculous.
In addition to Matthews, the Maple Leafs also have budding star Mitch Marner and added John Tavares in the offseason. Tavares is a player that Washington has grown very familiar with over the years when he was with the New York Islanders. Now, instead of just being a big fish in a small pond, Tavares was added to the roster of the up-and-coming Leafs and the offense is humming at an absurd pace.
The Maple Leafs are averaging 5.00 goals per game thus far in the young season while the Caps sit just behind them at 4.50 goals per game.
The good news for Washington is that they have a strong top four on defense and a proven defense that helped lead them to the Cup last season. The Maple Leafs, meanwhile, are trying really hard to convince themselves that Morgan Rielly is a No. 1 defenseman.
There should be plenty of scoring to go around in this one.
Bounce back game
The Capitals were trounced on Thursday 6-0. Saturday’s game offers a glimpse at just how this team will respond.
How will first year head coach Todd Reirden approach this game? How will the defending Stanley Cup champions respond to getting kicked in the teeth? How will Washington respond to a team looking to establish itself as a true Cup contender?
After the home opener, a game in Pittsburgh and a Stanley Cup rematch against Vegas, it is perhaps understandable why Washington struggled to get up for New Jersey. That should not be the case Saturday in a big-time matchup against Toronto.
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