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The Malik Report

Red Wings-Capitals morning skate Tweets and articles: Mrazek starts vs. streaking Caps

Updated 2x at 12:08 PM:

The Detroit Red Wings face an incredibly stiff task in battling the Washington Capitals this evening (7 PM EST on FS/CSN Mid-Atlantic/97.1 FM). Washington's won 10 straight games at home, and as the Capitals' game notes point out, Washington's been nearly unbeatable at the Verizon Center:

Top Game Notes

Five Alive – Washington defeated Carolina 5-0 on Tuesday at Verizon Center, marking the franchise-record ninth straight home game the Capitals have scored five or more goals (1/3-2/7: 48 goals). In addition, Washington is the first team to score five or more goals in nine straight home games since Calgary during the 1989-90 season (3/3/90-4/1/90: 50 goals). Capitals senior vice president and general manager Brian MacLellan played for the Flames from 1989-91 and recorded 10 points (4g, 6a) during Calgary’s stretch of home games with five or more goals.

Home Cookin’ – The Capitals have posted a 22-5-1 record at home this season and have won 10 consecutive home games, marking their longest home winning streak since they won 12 straight home games last season (11/21/15-1/17/16). During its home-winning streak, Washington has outscored opponents 50-12 and posted five shutouts. In addition, Washington has earned a point in 12 consecutive home games (11-0-1) and in 15 of its last 16 home games (14-1-1). The Capitals lead the NHL in goals-against per game at home (1.57), rank tied for first in home wins (22) and second in goals per game (3.50). Nicklas Backstrom ranks third in the NHL in points recorded at home this season (33) and Alex Ovechkin ranks tied for fifth (30). Braden Holtby has posted a 17-5-1 record at home this season with six shutouts, a 1.67 goals-against average .935 save percentage. He leads the NHL in shutouts and goals-against average at home, ranks tied for first in wins and second in save percentage.

The Capitals held an optional skate this morning, but CSN Mid-Atlantic's J.J. Regan believes that the Capitals will ice the following lineup:

Based Wednesday's practice, here are the projected lines:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams
Brett Connolly - Lars Eller - Andre Burakovsky
Daniel Winnik - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Defense
Karl Alzner - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Nate Schmidt

Goalies
Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches
Zach Sanford, Taylor Chorney

MLive's Brendan Savage spoke with Red Wings defenseman Mike Green regarding the Wings' plan for defeating the Capitals:

"Just take away their time and space, which is difficult," Green said Wednesday at Taylor SportsPlex. "They play a fast-paced game. They push the puck forward quite a bit and they got some guys that can skate well. If we can get above them and make sure we stay above them, hopefully slow them down. They're a good team, obviously. They've been good for a long time. It seems like lately they've really put things together and they're on a bit of a hot streak right now. So it's imperative that we go in there and create some momentum for ourselves and get off to a good start."

Led by Alex Ovechkin, the Capitals have one of the NHL's most explosive offenses.

Ovechkin, who had 15 shots on goal in a 1-0 loss to the Red Wings last season, is once again among the league's top goal scorers with 26 after topping the NHL the past four seasons. That includes three straight seasons with at least 50 goals.

With 179 goals in 54 games, the Capitals are tied for second in the NHL with the New York Rangers. Only the Pittsburgh Penguins (184) have scored more goals this season.

Slowing down that offense will be a major task for the Red Wings.

"You have to try and eliminate all the space," said defenseman Niklas Kronwall, who will miss the game with a knee injury but could return Saturday in Columbus. "It sounds like cliche, but that's really it. You take away their space because they're so good when they have that extra space they make plays. We have to take away their space and play really compact in the defensive zone as well and not force. You don't want to make too turnovers in your own zone."

Savage continues...

And 97.1 the Ticket's Ken Kal posted several items of note:

The Washington Capitals have won 10 straight at home and they've outscored their opponents 50-12 & posted 5 shutouts during the streak.

...

Red Wings have points in 9 of their last 11 games. Detroit is 5 points out of a wild card spot and 6 points behind 3rd place Toronto.

...

As @Dwakiji pointed out a few moments ago. Detroit 222 man games lost to injury. Capitals 19! Big difference.

The Capitals did take to the ice for their morning skate....

And Kal kept busy...

As did DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji:

Last time I was in this building, it was called the MCI Center and the #RedWings were carrying the Stanley Cup around. June 16, 1998.

After the Capitals' skate, per CSN Mid-Atlantic's Tarik El-Bashir...

Chorney and Sanford taking the scratches' skate. #CapsWings

...

Trotz on #Caps keeping foot on gas: "We learned some things last year. ...This team is maturing." #CapsWings

...

Trotz on Holtby, who is 12-0-0 since Jan. 1: "I think he's fresh, and I think that's a good sign for us." #CapsWings

...

#Caps' PK is 10 for 10 past 3 gms after downturn.Trotz: "We got away from some of our aggressive pressure points. We’ve got that corrected."

And J.J. Regan...

Looks like it's an optional skate this morning, but it's not like we don't know what the lines will be tonight anyway. #Caps

...

#Caps LH Dmen working on taking puck from right boards w/ backhand. Notable bc only real trade deadline target I see for the team is RH Dmen

...

Trotz on difference between last year's team and this year's: the push to be better is coming inside the dressing room.

...

Trotz: "I like the fact that they recognize and don’t accept being mediocre. The players are doing that. It’s not me prodding."

...

Grubauer was first off the ice, but he said he wasn't starting tonight. 'I got you guys' #Caps

The Red Wings hit the ice at the Verizon Center just before 11:30 AM for their morning skate:

From Wakiji...

#RedWings have 10 on ice, including goalies, for optional morning skate. Rest of team working off-ice.

The Free Press's Helene St. James...

Optional skate this morning for Red Wings at Verizon Center but I would guess Petr Mrazek starts tonight.

The Red Wings...

The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan...

NHL.com's Tom Gulitti...

Optional morning skate for Red Wings today in DC.

And Khan:

#RedWings eight skaters at optional practicing breakaways. Looks like Mrazek preparing to start but not confirmed.

Fox Sports Detroit also said, "Hello"...

FYI:

After the Wings' morning skate, per St. James...

Mrazek confirmed

Khan...

Mrazek starting for #RedWings

Wakiji...

#RedWings Mrazek confirms he is starting tonight.

And Krupa:

mrazek starts.

 

Update #2: Here's the Free Press's Helene St. James in text form:

The Wings take on the Washington Capitals tonight at Verizon Center (7, FSD). The Capitals have won four straight games -- the last two were 5-0 victories. They have scored 18 goals over the past four games. They’ve won 10 in a row at home.

The Wings, meanwhile, have played well for the last three games, banking five points as they attempt to rise into the playoff picture.

Jared Coreau was in the starter’s net during Wednesday's practice, but that likely was a ruse -- though Petr Mrazek allowed two bad goals in his last game, he’s the guy that the Wings see as capable of taking them on a run.

The morning skate was optional, but based on the last practice, Henrik Zetterberg is with Gustav Nyquist and Anthony Mantha, Riley Sheahan with Tomas Tatar and Dylan Larkin, Darren Helm with Andreas Athanasiou and Thomas Vanek, and Luke Glendening with Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Jurco or Steve Ott.

On defense, it appears that Ryan Sproul is getting a shot in the lineup after being scratched the last 11 games. His asset is his big shot, but he has had a hard time sticking because of lack of hard play in the defensive zone.

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.