The Caps need two points against the Arizona Coyotes (7 p.m., CSN Plus), but will they come ready to play against a scuffling team? Here are three bold predictions for the game.
1. Washington will not lead after the first period
Barry Trotz knows what’s at stake in this game. He also knows that “readiness” might be a problem. The Caps are coming off of what was their biggest game of the season on Thursday against Columbus. A Saturday game in late March against one of the worst teams in the NHL may be hard for the Caps to get up for. From the Coyotes’ point of view, they have a chance to prove themselves against one of the top teams in the NHL. They will put a scare in Washington for at least one period.
2. Braden Holtby will allow one goal or fewer
Hockey is too random to call for shutouts, but take a look at Arizona’s roster and tell me who Braden Holtby should be worried about. It will fall on Radim Vrbata, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Tobias Rieder, Alex Goligoski and Max Domi to generate some goals for the NHL's 27th ranked offense that will also be without captain Shane Doan on Saturday. Look, those players aren’t scrubs, there’s some talent on this roster than can score if teams don’t take them seriously. Considering, however, that Braden Holtby was able to limit Columbus to one goal and Calgary to two earlier in the week, Arizona will need a lot of pucks to bounce their way to get two past Holtby on Saturday.
3. Both teams will combine for fewer than five power plays
Arizona has not generated more than two power plays in a game in each of their last four. Against Florida on Thursday, they didn’t get a single opportunity. In that same four-game stretch, they have only given up seven total power plays. Washington has been playing a disciplined game of late with only five penalty kills in their last four games. Arizona and Washington aren’t two teams with a lot of history and there’s no reason to think this will become a physical, chippy game. Both teams will stay disciplined and special teams won't be a major factor on Saturday.