Game Preview: Nashville Predators @ Washington Capitals 1/6/23

Kevin Lankinen is going to have some work to do tonight.

Fresh off a nailbiter of a win against the Carolina Hurricanes, where Juuse Saros made a record-setting 64 saves to pull it off, the Nashville Predators head north to face the Washington Capitals.

The Capitals had a rough start to the season, thanks to approximately their entire roster being injured, but as they’ve gotten players back they’ve started to claw their way back up the standings; they’ve won a lot, and won big, since the start of December.

Some guy named Alex Ovechkin is leading the Capitals in points (48) and goals (29; he scored his 809th career goal last night against the Columbus Blue Jackets). He’s been by far the biggest single contributor to goalscoring on the battered team, with Conor Sheary having scored the second-most this season—11. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Dylan Strome have been racking up the assists, but most of the Caps’ goals have been scored by committee.

Familiar names like Nicklas Bäckström, John Carlson, and Tom Wilson are still missing to injury, but the Capitals have been making do. They look like a fairly average—or slightly above-average—team taking the season as a whole, but right now they are better than that. They’ve gotten some help from a solid goaltending duo. Darcy Kuemper and Charlie Lindgren have posted .916 and .914 sv%s on the season, playing well behind a decent defense.

The Capitals’ power play has suffered a bit with all the absences—losing both Carlson and Bäckström has taken away a lot of Ovechkin’s setup—but is still hanging in their, while their penalty kill is good. With Wilson out, somehow, mysteriously, the Caps have mostly avoided taking penalties this season, but we can probably still expect a fair number of special teams minutes.

While the Capitals don’t have an obvious weakness to exploit, they’re by no means the same kind of shot-share powerhouse that the Hurricanes are. Kevin Lankinen will presumably start on this second half of the back-to-back, and odds are pretty good he won’t have to face 67 shots. Some hard work and puck luck can help the Preds extend their winning streak tonight.

How to Watch

The game airs at 6PM Central/7PM Eastern on Bally Sports South and 102.5 The Game.