Washington kicks off a four-game homestand and finishes off a weekend set of back-to-back games on Sunday when the Los Angeles Kings visit Verizon Center.
The Super Sunday matinee is a hockey tradition in the District. Sunday's game against the Kings marks the ninth consecutive year the Caps have played a home game on Super Bowl Sunday, and the 25th time they'd done so in franchise history. The Capitals are 16-8-2-0 all-time on Super Sunday and they're 16-7-1-0 at home on Super Sunday.
Sunday's game against the Kings is the sixth of the Capitals' 10 slated Sunday games this season. The Caps are 4-1-0 on Sundays so far this season, outscoring the opposition by a combined 15-5 in the process.
Video: Coach Trotz talks before Sunday's #CapsKings matchup
Streaking - The Kings come into today's game with a five-game winning streak, during which they've outscored their foes by a combined 15-3 and have pitched a trio of shutouts.
Washington is seeking to extend an eight-game home ice winning streak on Sunday. The Capitals have not lost at Verizon Center in calendar 2017, and they've outscored the opposition by a combined 40-12 while posting three shutouts. The Caps are 12-1-1 in their last 14 home games.
In The Nets - We expect Philipp Grubauer to get the start for Washington on Sunday against Los Angeles in the second game of a back-to-back weekend set of games. Grubauer will be taking his third crack at his 10th win; he was on the short end of a 3-2 score last Tuesday in Brooklyn against the Isles and the Caps were blanked in his previous start at Ottawa on Jan. 24.
On the season, Grubauer is 9-3-2 with a 2.13 GAA and a .924 save pct. He has earned at least a point for the Capitals in nine of his last 11 appearances, going 7-2-2 during that stretch.
Grubauer won his only previous career start against the Kings, a 3-1 win here in DC back on Feb. 16 of last season. Grubauer stopped 39 of 40 shots he faced against the Kings in that contest.
With Jonathan Quick having been sidelined for virtually the whole season, the Kings have been leaning hard on veteran journeyman Peter Budaj, who has responded with the best season of his 11-year NHL career. Budaj blanked the Flyers in Philly on Saturday, needing to make only 17 saves. It was his third shutout in his last four starts, and his league-leading seventh of the season.
Budaj has started 12 of the Kings' last 13 games, and he has earned 25 of the team's 27 wins this season. Backup goalie Jeff Zatkoff is just 2-7-1 on the season, and his last victory came nearly two months ago, on Dec. 15 at Detroit.
Relegated to the AHL for the better part of the last two seasons, the 34-year-old Budaj played just one NHL game over the last two campaigns. But he has been a panacea for the Kings this season, and he leads the NHL with a 1.96 GAA.
We're not sure whether it will be Budaj or Zatkoff today, but Budaj's light Saturday afternoon workload (just 17 shots) in Philadelphia may make him available to go again here on Sunday in Washington.
Defensive DNA - For the better part of the last decade or so, the Kings have been known as a defense-oriented bunch. Despite being without Quick, this season is no exception. The Kings rank fourth in the league with an average of just 2.31 goals against per game, and they're the stingiest team in the league in terms of shots against, permitting an average of just 25.7 shots per game.
Is their success in that regard this season a product of the team's defense or of Budaj's strong play?
"That's probably a little bit of both," answers Caps coach Barry Trotz. "I think Budaj is playing well; we obviously haven't seen him a lot, just in some of the pre-scouts.
"L.A. has a signature of playing really good team defense and they have. I think they've managed that situation with Jonathan Quick out for a period of time extremely well. They've got three shutouts in their last four games, I believe. They're just playing good team defense, and they're patient and very structured and playing to their identity. They're a good, heavy forechecking team and they don't make a lot of mistakes. They defend quite well."
All Lined Up - Neither team conducted a morning skate ahead of Sunday's afternoon game in the District, so we won't be certain how the lineups will look until pregame warm-ups. With that in mind, here's our best guess at how the Caps and the Kings are likely to look when they go head-to-head for the first of two times this season.
8-Ovechkin, 19-Backstrom, 77-Oshie
90-Johansson, 92-Kuznetsov, 14-Williams
10-Connolly, 20-Eller, 65-Burakovsky
26-Winnik, 83-Beagle, 43-Wilson
12-Gaborik, 11-Kopitar, 23-Brown
70-Pearson, 77-Carter, 73-Toffoli
74-King, 21-Shore, 22-Lewis
13-Clifford, 26-Dowd, 15-Andreoff
30-Quick (lower body)
71-Nolan (lower body)