When the San Jose Sharks and Washington Capitals drop the puck tonight at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m. ET) it’ll mark the second game of a nine-game road trip for the Sharks and another opportunity for the Capitals to try and get things right.
San Jose’s trip didn’t get off to the right start last night getting shut out 3-0 by the St. Louis Blues. Dropping a game to one of the best teams in the West wouldn’t be so bad if the Sharks weren’t trying to hang in there atop the Western Conference with them. Times haven’t been kind of late as the Sharks have just four wins in their last 10 games (4-5-1) and they’ll need to pick things up with a frantic finish ahead of them.
This season, the usual suspects have carried the load for San Jose with Joe Thornton leading the way in points with Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau, and Joe Pavelski not too far behind him. With Dan Boyle and Brent Burns also dumping in points on the blue line, the Sharks are a strong team offensively. Antti Niemi and Thomas Greiss have combined to make one of the better goaltending duos in the league. All of this news should have Washington worried.
The Capitals are slumping just as badly as the Sharks are of late. After losing to the Rangers yesterday afternoon, the Caps have won just three of their last 10 games (3-4-3). Whether it’s been Tomas Vokoun or Michal Neuvirth in goal hasn’t mattered of late and being without Nicklas Backstrom has affected how well their offense performs.
We’re certainly not seeing the usual sort of action out of Alex Ovechkin of late, but both he and Alexander Semin have been good recently. Semin has four goals and five assists over his last ten games and has taken just two minor penalties in that span while Ovechkin has 11 points (six goals, five assists) in that time. They’ll need more from them and a lot more from the rest of the team to try and tackle a playoff spot.