In what could be the most important game of the year so far, the New Jersey Devils are set to battle the Washington Capitals tonight at 7:00 PM. They’re coming off an impressive 4-1 victory against the New York Islanders. Meanwhile, the Capitals are coming off their mandated bye week. They last played on January 12 where they defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-3.
Expect this game to be extremely physical and close all night. New Jersey remains five points behind Washington but has two games in hand. Tonight is, in all honesty, the most critical game to date this season. Both teams can use a regulation win. There are many factors to look out for and we will discuss them now.
Who/What to Watch
The Goaltenders… Keith Kinkaid will be in goal tonight for the Devils as Cory Schneider continues to recover from a stomach bug. Expect the Capitals to have Braden Holtby in net. Both teams are relying heavily on their netminders’ performance tonight as both teams have the capability of scoring a lot of goals. Holtby is one of the better goalies in the NHL and Kinkaid is a rather reliable back up. This has the potential to either be a 1-0, 2-1 game or a 6-5 thriller.
John Carlson… It would be too easy to say Alex Ovechkin is the Capitals player to watch. That’s why I believe Carlson is the guy to keep an eye on tonight. With 30 assists on the season, he is easily the best puck mover on Washington’s blue line. He is one of the top defensemen in the NHL and it is incredible that he does not have an extension with Washington yet. Bottom line, expect him to have a major impact tonight.
Taylor Hall… I had to be obvious about something. Hall has got to show off his fancy stick work and score a goal or two tonight. It’s crucial because he is arguably the best player on the Devils, so he needs to have a big performance tonight. Look for a very tight game tonight with him being a major factor because he will need to add to those 45 points.
This is one of the hardest predictions I have to make this year. However, I believe starting Kinkaid against the Capitals is a mistake. I understand there is no choice but he is 1-3 with 4.23 GAA and .867 save percentage against Washington in his career. I’ll take the Capitals to win tonight, with a final score of 5-3.
When/Where to Watch
7:00 PM MSG+, NSWA (DC feed)