NBC’s coverage of the 2017-18 season continues on Saturday night, as the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals face off in a Stadium Series game at the Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland at 8 p.m. ET. You can catch all of the action on NBC or on our Live Stream by clicking here.
The third and final outdoor game of the 2017-18 NHL season takes place on Saturday night at the U.S. Naval Academy.
It is there that the Metropolitan Division leading Washington Capitals will play host to the surging Toronto Maple Leafs.
Every outdoor game presents a unique set of challenges for the league and the teams, whether it be glare from the sun, rain, snow, or whatever else mother nature decides to do. For this game the issue is going to be the wind. A lot of wind. The conditions forced both teams to practice indoors on Friday, and neither team had a morning skate at the stadium on Saturday.
The NHL is expected to offer an update on the situation this afternoon. If the conditions do not improve the game could be postponed until Sunday.
[Related: Windy conditions will have impact on game]
If it is played on Saturday it is likely there will be adjustments made so that each team spends an equal amount of time skating into the wind. Previous outdoor games have seen the teams switch ends of the ice at the 10-minute mark of periods.
Assuming the game is played, both teams are kind of trending in different directions over the past couple of weeks.
Even though the Maple Leafs enter the game having lost two in a row, they still managed to earn at least a point in each game by losing in overtime and are riding a six-game point streak. They are also 14-3-2 in their past 19 games. They are still without their top player, Auston Matthews, as he remains sidelined with an upper body injury. They are 1-0-2 since he exited the lineup.
Coach Mike Babcock said on Saturday morning there is still no timetable for his return. He has been skating every day.
Meanwhile, for the Capitals, things have become a little bit more competitive in the Metropolitan Division as they have the Philadelphia Flyers and Pittsburgh Penguins breathing down their necks. Entering play on Saturday the Flyers are just one point back of the Capitals, while the Penguins sit three points back. New Jersey is just two points back of the Penguins.
The Capitals probably haven’t played as well as their record would indicate for much of the season, and it has been a struggle over the past month. Since the start of February the Capitals have managed to win consecutive games only one time and have not won more than two games in a row since the beginning of January.
Alex Ovechkin is still rolling along as he races toward another goal-scoring crown.
He enters play on Saturday with a league-leading 39 goals.
He has seven goals and six assists in his past 10 games.
He is just three goals away from scoring his 600th NHL goal.