Gameday: at Winnipeg, Dec. 15

The Washington Capitals are in Winnipeg, Manitoba this evening as they attempt to shake off another hammering and get a win to open their brief two game road trip.  The Caps enter tonight’s game with a 4-6 record over their last ten, and are 15-13-1 overall for 31 standings points.  Their record places them third in the Southeast Division, seven back of leaders Florida, and in twelfth in the Eastern Conference, two points back of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Conference.  The Jets, on the other hand, are coming off a huge win over the NHL-leading Minnesota Wild and are 6-3-1 over their last ten and 14-12-4 overall. That record gives them 32 standings points, which has them second in t he Southeast and tenth in the East. This is the third of six meetings between these two clubs this season; they have split the season series so far.

Claude Noel is almost certain to call on Ondrej Pavelec against the Caps tonight. Pavelec’s numbers don’t look spectacular, but he still has posted an 11-10-4 record on the year, including that win over the Wild, in which he stopped 34 of 35 shots.  On the year, he has a 3.11 GAA, .902 save percentage, and two shutouts.  Outside the crease, the Jets will definitely be without two defensemen: Derek Meech, who is on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury, and power play quarterback Tobias Enstrom, who is also on the shelf with a shoulder injury. Forwards Alex Burmistrov (undisclosed) and Nik Antropov (foot) are both questionable; neither of them player on Wednesday.

Michal Neuvirth seems likely to start for Dale Hunter after being solid in relief on Tuesday night.  After a promising rookie year, the sophomore Czech goalie has crashed and burned magnificently this year, posting a 3-5-1 record, 3.73 GAA, and .875 save percentage.  On the injury front, Washington will be without Mike Green (groin), who is believed to be in Vancouver seeing a specialist about his injury, and Jay Beagle (concussion).  Matt Hendricks, who has now missed more than a week, is questionable.  If he were to return to the lineup, it remains to be seen who would be scratched; my money is on Cody Eakin.  Jeff Schultz could return to the lineup also after being healthy scratched for the last two contests.

Puck drops 8:38-ish.  It’s 14 degrees in Winnipeg.

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