Jose Theodore appears set to start tonight at MSG tonight as the Caps look to extend their franchise-record winning streak to 12 games. The veteran goalie has been a big part of the team's recent success, winning a career-best eight straight games while posting a 1.93 goals against average and a .944 save percentage during that time.
The rest of the lineup appears to be the same, with Quintin Laing and Karl Alzner sitting out once again as the healthy scratches.
As meaningful as Tuesday's milestone win was, Coach Bruce Boudreau said the team celebrated their achievement briefly after the game and quickly moved on.
"I don't want to sound like a broken record, but I just keep thinking it hasn't really sunk in or done anything," Boudreau said. "It was just 'congratulations' after the game and the guys all stood up and cheered as I congratulated them. Now it's on again. It's like starting a new one even though we're continuing the old one."
A win tonight would give the Caps the league's longest winning streak since 2000-01, when New Jersey won 13 in a row. In order to extend the streak, however, Boudreau said Alex Ovechkin and Co. must play with more passion, intensity and focus, particularly in the first period, than they've shown the past three games.
The Rangers, meantime, have lost six of seven and have scored a whopping nine goals during that span. Five of those goals have come off the stick of Marian Gaborik.
"We just want to get back to being more consistent as a team rather than having to rely on, 'Okay, it's a close game, it's the third period, we're going to win it," Boudreau added. "We want to get back to playing the way we're capable, like the way we were games 3-8 on the streak. Earlier on, we wold come out and play for 60 minutes. Now we're getting by playing for 30 minutes. Eventually you're not going to be able to get by doing that."
Here's the rest of your morning briefing:
*Mike Green will serve the third and final game of his suspension tonight. Although he's still walking with a bit of a limp because of a bruised knee, both he and Boudreau "guarantee" that he'll be back in the lineup tomorrow night against Atlanta, which is on the verge of trading captain Ilya Kovalchuk.
"Mike will play tomorrow night, I can guarantee that," Boudreau said.
*Michal Neuvirth, who missed a start in the minors because of a lower-body injury, practiced with the Bears and is "fine", according to Boudreau.
*Speaking of goaltending prospects, Boudreau also said there's a chance that Braden Holtby will get his first start tomorrow night against Atlanta. But if the Caps win tonight, would Boudreau really throw a rookie into his first NHL game with a 12-game streak on the line? I'm not so sure about that.
"We might," Boudreau said. "I haven't talked to [GM George McPhee]. I usually run everything by George and get his opinion on stuff. We'll see how Theo plays tonight."
*Boudreau also said that Semyon Varlamov "might" make a rehab start for Hershey on Saturday against Wilkes-Barre.
"He was out there [at practice in Hershey] for an hour yesterday and they have a full practice today," Boudreau said. "We'll see how he does."
*The ice here at MSG is brand new. Looks like an ice cube -- clear with lots of cracks. Several players and team employees shook their heads when they took a look at it before the morning skate. So expect a lot of bouncing pucks tonight.
*You're not the only one hitting refresh on your browser, anxiously awaiting some trade news regarding Kovalchuk. So is Boudreau.
"I'm a hockey fan," Boudreau said. "I love listening to trade rumors. I don't know what everyone would have to give up for him. ...My buddies weren't phoning me back. I've got to believe something is happening, it's just a matter of when."
*Wayne Gretzky had some interesting thoughts on the Caps, which are on Pierre Lebrun's ESPN.com blog.
"I think probably, them losing to Pittsburgh last year, they probably found that out firsthand. I expect them not to change their style a whole lot come playoff time, but they'll understand they can't trade chances the whole game," Gretzky added. "They will have to be a little more attentive to the defensive side, and I think they will be because of learning from what happened to them in the second round last year. Very similar to what we learned from losing in the finals to the Islanders that year."
*When Shaone Morrisonn retires from hockey, he may have a future in real estate.
The defenseman told me this morning that he's renting out his three-bedroom house in West Vancouver for $1,100 per night for 21 nights during the Olympics later this month. He said he reached an agreement with a family from Japan and he's also requiring a $5,000 deposit for incidentals.
That's it for now. I'm headed over the NHL headquarters in a bit, but will check in with a lineup later.