The Capitals have enjoyed a lot of success against the New Jersey Devils in recent years. In the last 20 meetings between these two teams, Washington is 16-2-2 and 7-1-1 in its last nine visits to Newark. The Caps will look to extend that dominance on Tuesday when they travel to New Jersey (7:30 p.m., NBC Sports Washington).
You can count the Devils among the teams Alex Ovechkin has tormented over the years. In 52 career games, he has scored 25 goals and 32 assists for 57 total points. And in those 52 games, New Jersey has not always been as bad as they are this season.
The Devils sit dead last in the Metropolitan Division standings with a record of 27-37-9. All signs seem to point to a win for the Caps. There’s just one problem.
Washington may be 7-1-1 in its last nine road games against New Jersey but those two losses were the last two times the Caps played in Newark. That’s right, the Caps have a two-game losing streak on the road in New Jersey. Granted, one of those games was last season, but the lone loss from this season was a whopping 6-0 blowout on Oct. 11.
With a rematch against the Tampa Bay Lightning looming on Wednesday, Washington cannot afford a similar result.
The Caps last played New Jersey on March 8 in a game that everyone assumed Pheonix Copley would start. Instead, Braden Holtby was between the pipes and Copley played the following game against the Winnipeg Jets. With a back-to-back against the Devils and Lightning, head coach Todd Reirden elected not to gamble this time and Copley will start Tuesday saving Holtby for Wednesday.
The Djoos is loose
There have not been many lineup changes in recent weeks, but Reirden is shaking things up a bit.
Based on Tuesday’s morning skate it looks like Travis Boyd is out with Chandler Stephenson moving to the wing and Nic Dowd coming back in at center. On defense, Christian Djoos is back in for the first time since Feb. 23. He will play on the left of the third defensive pair with Nick Jensen. This will be the first time those two have played together.
Capitals’ morning skate lines in New Jersey:— Chris Kuc (@ChrisKuc) March 19, 2019
This could potentially be a big game for Djoos. He has not played since the trade deadline and it certainly appears that Reirden has a Brooks Orpik, Jensen pairing penciled in for the playoffs. Getting Djoos back in may be more about giving Orpik a night off before back-to-back games, but he has to take advantage. With only 10 games left in the season, he may not get another opportunity.
The Devils aren’t just bad, they’re beaten up. New Jersey will be without a number of key players on Tuesday according to reports.
⚠️ Wood, Hischier, Bratt, Zacha, Bastian, Mueller, Vatanen and Hall all still out for #NJDevils. 🤕— Amanda Stein (@amandacstein) March 19, 2019
None of them are at morning skate.
Must win for the Metro
The Caps are dead even with the New York Islanders for first place in the Metropolitan Division. Both teams have played 72 games, both have 91 points, both have a ROW of 38. In case you haven’t heard, the Caps’ schedule is pretty brutal down the stretch. New Jersey is obviously the worst team the Caps have left to play.
A bad team with a bunch of injuries in the middle of a tough schedule while Washington is tied for first place in the division? I may hate the term “must win” in a non-elimination scenario, but if the Caps hope to win the division, these are two points they just have to have.
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