Hurricanes Face Capitals Before Heading Home

Washington Capitals v Carolina Hurricanes
Washington Capitals v Carolina Hurricanes / Jaylynn Nash/GettyImages

The Carolina Hurricanes are halfway home as they make their way South after defeating the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. The start of the new year was kind to the Canes with a Metro Division victory. Tonight will be against another division rival.

The Capitals are trending down currently as they have slipped to sixth in the division, only ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins and Columbus Blue Jackets. Washington has lost 5 of their last 6 games, with the lone victory against the Penguins.

In recent years, the Capitals have been known for explosive offense and that has been because of their captain, Alex Ovechkin. This year, Washington has struggled to put the puck in the net with only 88 goals in 36 games. This is only better than the Los Angeles Kings.

Ovechkin still leads the team in points but only has 8 goals on the year. Dylan Strome leads the way in goals with 13 goals but Ovechkin has the edge with 24 points.

Tom Wilson and Anthony Mantha have had strong seasons with 11 goals each. Still, this is hardly the norm in the nation's capital. Evgeny Kuznetsov has just 6 goals and 13 points after having a strong career filled with highlight reels.

John Carlson has had another strong season in DC with 18 points and leading all defensemen. His time on the ice is strong and has not missed any time. Rasmus Sandin has 11 points from the blue line but has yet to light the lamp.

The Capitals have played well at home with a 9-5-4 record. This has been helped in part by goaltender, Charlie Lindgren. The Minnesota native has 4 victories at home and played strong in 15 games. Currently on the IR, expect to see top earner, Darcy Kuemper.

Kuemper signed a big contract with the Capitals after winning the Stanley Cup in Colorado. He has had a tough season with a 3.15 GAA and a .893 save percentage. Those are not great numbers when your offense is second worst in the league. Kuemper has not lived up to his contract but still can shut down the opponent.

The Canes will have to get the puck to the net early and often while staying out of the box. The Canes do not want to be the team to spark Ovechkin's shot on the man advantage.

Tom Wilson is always someone to watch as he can contribute offensively but is known for his bone-crushing hits. Brendan Lemieux may get the nod tonight to keep Wilson honest.