Jose Theodore will start in net tonight at Nassau Coliseum as the Eastern Conference-leading Caps go for a season-best seventh victory in a row. If they win, it will match the longest streak of Coach Bruce Boudreau's tenure (he's done it twice before).
Theodore will likely face Dwayne Roloson, who came off the ice first this morning, instead of Rick DiPietro (more on him later).
Based on the skate, the Caps' lineup appears to be unchanged.
For the Islanders, Josh Bailey's status for is unclear. Their fifth leading scorer with 12 goals and 13 assists, the center missed the morning skate because he's sick, according to Coach Scott Gordon. But the doesn't mean he's out, Gordon added.
The Isles will get back 6-foot-6 defenseman Andy Sutton, who is coming off a two-game suspension for his hit last week on Pittsburgh's Pascal Dupuis:
Gordon this morning defended Sutton.
"It was one of those situations where he couldn't pull back and change his mind," Gordon said of Sutton. "It happened too quickly. It's not like he went with the intention of hitting him from behind."
Some other notes and quotes to get you ready for tonight's showdown at Nassau Coliseum:
*Injured defenseman Brian Pothier (broken hand) is cleared to return. He won't suit up tonight, but he might tomorrow.
*The Islanders have been rotating goalies and tonight is Roloson's turn. DiPietro, who recently returned from a year-long layoff because of knee surgery, is 2-2-0 with a 2.22 goals against average and a .917 save percentage since coming back. But Gordon said the team is proceeding cautiously with their franchise netminder.
"I've told the guys that when there are four games in a week, you're going to play two," Gordon said. "There's plenty of ice time. And realistically, we have to be smart with Ricky, too. We can't expect him to play the number of games that he did when he was healthy. We're not just trying to get him going for this year, we want him ready for the long haul."
*All three of the teams' meetings this season have required extra time, with the Caps winning twice. In all, the Caps and Isles have gone beyond regulation seven times in their last nine meetings.
*Since the Caps last saw the always-hardworking Islanders, New York has climbed back into the playoff hunt. They've gone 10-4-1 in their last 15 and currently sit 10th in the jumbled standings -- just a point out of sixth place.
"They work really hard and people underestimate them, and they shouldn't," Boudreau said. "I think they're a really good team and they scare me to death."
*Asked about his team's success on the penalty kill in recent games, Boudreau said that the team isn't doing anything different tactically. He said the biggest difference is that the eight forwards the team uses are doing a better job of executing quick line changes, which ensures fresh legs. Ideally, Boudreau said, he would like to see four line changes on each penalty kill.
And, Boudreau added, like his line combos at even strength, he's been staying consistent with the forward pairs.
"It's a significant factor is why we're being successful," Boudreau said. "It comes with confidence. When your team is playing well, they feel good about going out there and being able to kill it. They want to do it and they're getting the job done."
*Boudreau's first response when asked about the PK was a funny one: "Usually when I talk about it, we don't do good ... for lack of good English technique," he joked.
*Boudreau on whether Alex Ovechkin has done anything differently since being named captain: "Not that I know of. I really don't know what he does off the ice. And sometimes that scares me. I haven't noticed any changes. He hasn't called team dinners or anything of the sort. He's just been him."
I'll check in with a lineup later.