Well, there's nothing like taking on the league's top team to turn around your foundering fortunes, eh? The Washington Capitals skate into Prudential Center Monday night to take on the Devs, losers of their last three games and seven of their last nine. Here are three points to keep in mind Monday night.
The Caps have been known to start slowly, giving up the first goal in 13 of their 21 games. If Washington takes New Jersey lightly in the early going, the Devils may be able put a goal or two on the board against a less-than staunch defense (2.76 goals allowed per game). The Devils will have to keep the pressure on after that though, the Caps have a .692 winning percentage after yielding the first goal, by far the best mark in the league.
Say Hello to the New Guy ... Again
D Mark Fayne was called up from Albany for Monday's game, though it's not a certainty he'll play against the Caps. Fayne would be the ninth rookie to make his debut for the Devils this season. That's almost half a roster. That can't be a good thing.
Fayne rates as the No. 20 prospect in the Devils organization, according to Hockey's Future. His profile there notes a powerful shot, which the Devs could certainly use to help their struggling attack. The Devils have but six goals from their blueliners this season, with Matt Taormina supplying half of them. That's one more than the Caps' John Erskine, who scores about once every leap year. If you're curious, D-men have supplied 12 games for the Caps, five of them by Mike Green.
The Power Play
The two PP units should provide an interesting contrast tonight. While the Caps are cruising at their usual 20-percent-plus clip, the Devils flaunt the second-worst conversion rate in the league (10.2 percent). Watch how the Caps keep it simple, move the puck quickly, find a shooter with an open lane, put the puck on net and crash for the rebound.