Washington Capitals (22-20-8) at New Jersey Devils (21-19-11)
|Date & Time||Friday January 24, 2014, 7:00 PM (EST)|
The Line: New Jersey Devils -142 / Washington Capitals +129 --- Over/Under: 5
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The New Jersey Devils will be looking to follow up their biggest win of the season on Friday night when they host the Washington Capitals at the Prudential Center. The Devils played a perfect game on Tuesday night when they hosted the St. Louis Blues and it's exactly the way they need to play going forward if they're going to make a serious push at a playoff spot. New Jersey attacked from the opening faceoff as Mark Fayne and Ryan Carter scored 24 seconds apart in the opening three minutes of the hockey game to give the Devils a lead they would never relinquish. The lead was cut to a goal before Jaromir Jagr made it 3-1 with his 16th goal of the year midway through the period and it was smooth sailing from their for the Devils. Ryane Clowe and Adam Henrique added second period goals and Damien Brunner and Eric Gelinas scored in the third period as New Jersey had seven different goal scorers in their 7-1 rout of the St. Louis Blues. It was impressive for the Devils to beat one of the best teams in the National Hockey League the way they did on Tuesday night but head coach Peter Deboer is going to stress the fact that if they can play this way every night they're capable of beating anyone. It's not always going to be realistic to score seven times on 23 shots in a game but the way the Devils generated their quality opportunities was impresive. This is a New Jersey club that plays more of a defensive style this year but if they can pick their spots correctly and take their chances when they're given they have plenty of guys who can put the puck in the net. The Washington Capitals will come in on Friday night and there's still no word as to whether or not Alex Ovechkin will be in the lineup for this one. Washington has lost six straight games and right now they're not scoring or playing defense. It's a really tough time for Adam Oates and his troops but whether or not Ovechkin plays it doesn't change the fact that this team needs to find a way to get a contribution from guys other than the superstar that everyone comes to see. There aren't enough secondary scores that the Capitals can rely upon to put the puck in the net when Ovechkin isn't scoring. Oates made his own bed with the goaltending changes and we'll have to wait and see if Braden Holtby can regain his confidence in net for a franchise that never seems content with whatever young goaltender they have playing. Since Olaf Kolzig left we've seen names like Semyon Varlamov, Michal Neuvirth, Philipp Grubauer, and Holtby, but no one seems capable of securing the position. This is the start of a five game road trip for the Captials and considering they've lost six straight that's not a good thing. It would be great for Washington to get off to a good start here on the road with a victory but with the way the Devils looked on Tuesday night against a team much, much better it's hard to see the Capitals doing too much in this one.