These back-to-back games against the Winnipeg Jets will have a significant impact on the Capitals season one way or another. Washington can start closing the gap on the Southeast Division leading Jets and the rest of the Eastern Conference playoff field but if it falters here finding a road to the playoffs will go from difficult to daunting.
“This is an opportunity. You want to make up ground on the team, no better way than to play that team,” Brooks Laich said. “We can potentially take four points and now all of a sudden we’re only five points back, and there’s still 17 games to go in the season. That’s a lot of hockey. We can really turn the tides here and put some pressure on the other teams with a good weekend in Winnipeg.”
This pair of games is also an opportunity for Winnipeg, which has won six of its past eight to take over the top spot in the Southeast with 34 points. The Jets have a two-point lead on Carolina and are nine ahead of Washington, they know two wins in 48 hours here would go a long way in knocking out the Capitals from the division race.
“I think we understand where we are. We’re in that big group that’s kind of battling for the last few playoff spots even though we have the lead [in the division] right now,” Jets captain Andrew Ladd said. “We want to distance ourselves from that group, that entails us winning some tough games and keep pushing forward.”
If you missed it earlier this evening, the Capitals are set to waive forward Joey Crabb on Friday. Crabb has been designated as a non-roster player prior to Thursday’s game in order to make space for Mike Green, who has been activated from injured reserve, on the active roster.
Faceoff: 8 p.m. (EDT) MTS Centre | TV: CSN | Radio: 106.7
Discuss the game in the comment section below and based on warmups here’s what the lineup should look like:
Goal: Holtby, Neuvirth.
Scratches: Jeff Schultz, Aaron Volpatti and Wojtek Wolski.
IR: John Erskine (left hand/wrist),Tomas Kundratek (right leg/knee), and Tom Poti (back).