Pre-game primer: Ovechkin chasing 50 in 50

Pre-game primer: Ovechkin chasing 50 in 50
November 27, 2013, 2:45 pm
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Caps week in review: 11.27.13

News and notes as the Capitals [12-10-2] prepare to face off against the Ottawa Senators [9-11-4] tonight at Verizon  Center [7 p.m., CSN]:

50 in 50: For the first time in his career, Alex Ovechkin is the first NHL player to reach 20 goals in a season. He’s done it in 22 games. The last time Ovechkin had 20 goals in 22 games was in 2009-10 when he finished with 50 goals. Counting last season, Ovechkin has scored 43 goals in his last 45 games. He needs seven goals in his next five games to hit the coveted 50-in-50 mark. With 20 of the Capitals’ 72 goals, Ovechkin has accounted for 29.8 percent of the Capitals’ offense this season, the highest total since Vancouver’s Pavel Bure scored 29.5 percent of the Canucks’ goals [59 of 200] in 2000-01. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals (20), power-play goals (8), power-play points (14) and shots (123).

Trade freeze: For those on the Marty Erat trade watch, the NHL has a holiday roster freeze from Dec. 19-27. A TSN report on Tuesday named the Vancouver Canucks as a team with interest in Erat, who has asked the Capitals to trade him.

Caps vs. Sens: The Capitals are 11-0-2 against the Senators in their last 13 meetings at Verizon  Center. The Caps have not lost in regulation to the Sens on home ice since March 12, 2006. The Caps have lost three in a row. The Senators have lost four of their last five and five of their last seven. Tonight marks the end of the three-game road trip for the Senators that began with a win in Detroit, followed by a loss in Carolina.  

Karlsson with a K: Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson leads all NHL defensemen with 24 points [7 goals, 17 assists] and is one of just three NHL defensemen who leads his team in scoring [James Wisniewski of Columbus and P.K. Suban of Montreal are the others]. Karlsson also ranks second in the NHL in ice time [27:47], behind only Minnesota’s Ryan Suter [29.33]. “They go as he goes,” said Caps left wing Jason Chimera. “Everything runs through Karlsson. We have to make his life difficult. Get pucks deep and pound him when you get a chance. If he’s tired by the third period that’s what we want.” Caps coach Adam Oates said one of the keys to silencing Karlsson is to keep the Senators off the power play. “No matter who it is, you can’t turn the puck over and let their top players get second and third chances.”

Remember me?: Brooks Laich was drafted by Ottawa in the sixth round [193rd overall] in the 2001 NHL Entry Draft. He made his NHL debut with the Senators on Feb. 3, 2004, against the New Jersey Devils. Laich was traded to the Caps, along with Ottawa’s second-round draft choice in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft in exchange for Peter Bondra on Feb. 18, 2004. In 26 games against his former team, the Wawota, Saskatchewan, native has earned 14 points [5 goals, 9 assists] and 11 penalty minutes. Speaking of that 2005 draft, it was not very bountiful for the Capitals, who selected Sasha Pokulok, Joe Finley, Andrew Thomas, Patrick McNeill, Daren Macheseny, Tim Kennedy and Viktor Dovgan, none of whom played for the Capitals.

Olympic hopefuls:  Capitals goaltender and Canadian Olympic candidate Braden Holtby [10-7-1, 2.59, .925] is expected to face Senators goalie and American Olympic candidate Craig Anderson [5-7-2, 3.31, .900]. In his last nine starts, Braden Holtby is 6-2-1 with one shutout, a 2.16 GAA and a .937 save percentage. He ranks fourth in the NHL in saves [569] In his 10 wins this season, Holtby has posted a 1.85 GAA and a .947 save percentage. Anderson has lost six of his last seven starts.

Tonight’s projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Forward Lines

Marcus Johansson – Nicklas Backstrom – Alex Ovechkin

Eric Fehr – Mikhail Grabovski – Troy Brouwer

Jason Chimera – Brooks Laich – Joel Ward

Aaron Volpatti – Michael Latta – Tom Wilson

Healthy scratches: Marty Erat, Jay Beagle

Defense Pairings

Karl Alzner – John Carlson

Alex Urbom – Mike Green

Nate Schmidt – Tyson Strachan

Healthy scratch: Steve Olesky

Goaltenders

Braden Holtby [starter] – Michal Neuvirth

SENATORS

Forward Lines

Milan Michalek-Jason Spezza-Mika Zibanejad
Clarke MacArthur-Kyle Turris-Bobby Ryan
Cory Conacher-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Colin Greening-Derek Grant-Erik Condra

Defense Pairings

Marc Methot-Erik Karlsson
Chris Phillips-Joe Corvo
Jared Cowen-Patrick Wiercioch

Goaltenders

Craig Anderson [starter], Robin Lehner