The stakes will be high on Thursday as the Columbus Blue Jackets will look to make history and extend their win streak to 17 games. All that stands in their way of tying the longest win streak in NHL history is the Washington Capitals.
Here are three bold predictions for Thursday’s game (7 p.m., CSN).
1. The Caps will get at least 35 shots on goal
When facing a hot goalie, Washington has a tendency to start throwing pucks on net as much as possible. Against Keith Kinkaid and the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 29, for example, the Caps fired 44 shots on goal. There’s no hotter goalie in the NHL right now than Sergei Bobrovsky who has won his last 14 straight starts. Despite how well Columbus is playing, they remain in the middle of the pack in terms of shots allowed per game at 29.8. The Caps will get plenty of rubber on net, but that won’t necessarily be a good thing as Washington usually starts firing perimeter shots in these situations rather than setting up better opportunities.
2. Zach Werenski and Seth Jones will combine for more points than all six of the Caps’ defensemen
Washington has been getting good offensive contributions from the blue line lately, but the Blue Jackets have been more effective with Werenski and Jones. In what is his first NHL season, Werenski already has 25 points, five more than the Caps’ leading scorer on defense, John Carlson. Werenski and Jones have a combined 13 goals this season, while all seven Caps’ defenders who have played this season have only 12.
3. Alex Ovechkin will have a multi-point game with at least one goal
Ovechkin is a player who is at his best when the lights are brightest. Yes, the Caps have a shoddy record when it comes to the postseason, but Ovechkin is 3rd among active skaters in goals per game in the playoffs and 5th in points per game. Let me be clear, there is no substitution for playoff hockey. I’m not saying Thursday’s game will match the intensity or the feel of a playoff game. It won't. But one thing is clear, Ovechkin steps up in the biggest moments, even if he isn’t always able to carry the team with him.
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