Capitals: 48-26-8, 104 points, first in Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals will be returning to the playoffs as Stanley Cup Champions. Tonight the Capitals will start their playoff journey against the Carolina Hurricanes, a team that had not been in the playoffs for 10 years. The Capitals have the advantage when it comes to playoff experience. Capitals forward Nic Dowd and defenseman Nick Jensen will be making their playoff debut tonight. Todd Reirden will be making his head coaching debut for the Capitals tonight. Last year he was the bench assistant for now Islanders head coach, Barry Trotz. Reirden’s familiarity with his players helps the Capitals.
The key for the Capitals to be successful against the Hurricanes will be in the power-play and playing strong defensively for goaltender Braden Holtby. Ovechkin, 33, won his eighth Rocket Richard trophy this season. In total, the Capitals had seven 20-goal scorers this regular season. The biggest challenge for the Capitals is defense. Last month, Capitals defenseman Michal Kempny had season-ending surgery for his left torn-hamstring. Washington will depend on John Carlson on defense. He is one of the best power-play defensemen in the league. Expect a lot of minutes from him in this series. The Capitals can win the series in four to five games if they played a good overall balance game.
Hurricanes: 46-29-7, 99 points, fourth in Metropolitan Division, first wild-card spot in Eastern Conference
The Hurricanes will be having 10 players making their playoff debut tonight. They will depend on their captain, Justin Williams, to provide experience and leadership to help his younger teammates. Sebastian Aho, 21, leads the team in goals (30) and points (83). Aho and his young teammates will be tested against the defending Stanley Cup champions. Carolina’s speed and strong forecheck can provide strong competition against the champions. The young players to watch are rookie Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen, both 20-goal scorers. In the trade deadline, the Hurricanes acquired Nino Niederreiter from the Minnesota Wild. With Carolina, he had been outstanding scoring 14 goals and 30 points in 38 games. On net, Petr Mrazek will start. He had an outstanding season having a 2.39 GAA and .914 save percentage in 40 starts. In the playoffs, he played 11 games and had a 1.98 GAA and .927 appearances.
For the Hurricanes to be successful they would have to shoot a lot. This season, led the NHL with 34.4 shots on goal per game. Maintaining a high shot total means more chances to score. A strong performance from Mrazek can help the Hurricanes compete against the Stanley Cup champions.
— dom luszczyszyn 🍁 (@domluszczyszyn) April 10, 2019
Defenseman Michael Kempney will be out for the rest of the playoffs with a torn left hamstring. He suffered the injury last March.
Calvin De Haan upper body injury makes him questionable for tonight’s game. He skated Thursday in Washington. He will most likely be out tonight according to head coach Brind’Amour.
Capitals projected lineup
Alex Ovechkin — Nicklas Backstrom — Tom Wilson
Carl Hagelin — Evgeny Kuznetsov — T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana — Lars Eller — Brett Connolly
John Carlson — Nick Jensen
Brooks Orpik — Christian Djoos
Hurricanes projected lineup
Nino Niederreiter — Sebastian Aho — Justin Williams
Andrei Svechnikov — Jordan Martinook — Brock McGinn
Greg McKegg — Lucas Wallmark — Warren Foegele
Jaccob Slavin — Dougie Hamilton
Brett Pesce — Justin Faulk
Haydn Fleury — Trevor van Riemsdyk
Game: Washington Capitals vs. Carolina Hurricanes – Game 1
Venue: Capital One Arena
Location: Washington, D.C.
Date: Thursday, April 11, 2019
Start Time: 7:30 p.m. EST
TV Info: USA, SN360, TVAS2, NBCSWA, FS-CR
Featured Image Credit to The Hockey News
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