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Caps take on the Wings; the Avalanche face the Kings

by Adam Schwartz

The Capitals take on the Red Wings in one of the two NHL games taking place tonight.
After a busy weekend in the NHL, there are only two games scheduled Monday night. At 7 p.m. ET, the Washington Capitals face off against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit in a nationally televised game on Versus.

The second game pits the Colorado Avalanche against the Los Angeles Kings at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles.

Here’s what to keep an eye on:

* Washington sits in last place in the Southeast Division, but is only four points behind the second-place Florida Panthers.

* Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin had his seven-game, point-scoring streak -- which saw the Washington sniper record 10 points during that span -- snapped Saturday in Washington’s 3-2 victory against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

* Washington center Nicklas Backstrom has three goals and four assists for seven points in his last six games.

* After recording a plus-6 rating in three games, Capitals defenseman Mike Green was a minus-5 in his past two games. Green was on the ice for both goals against Saturday in Washington’s 3-2 victory against the Lightning and was a minus-3 Friday night in the Capitals’ 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

* Washington defenseman Brian Pothier is tied for the team lead with Ovechkin with a plus-5 rating. The former Ottawa Senator scored the game-winning goal and assisted on another tally Saturday in the Capitals 3-2 victory against Tampa Bay.

* The Red Wings are running away with the Western Conference lead. Detroit has 49 points and is nine points ahead of the second-place San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars and has garnered at least one point in each of its last 10 contests.

* Detroit got off to a slow start to its four-game homestand Thursday, losing 4-3 in a shootout to Edmonton. The Oilers, in last place in the Northwest Division, have the NHL’s best shootout record at 10-1. Saturday night, the Red Wings defeated the Florida Panthers 5-2 at Joe Louis Arena. Detroit will conclude its stretch of home games Wednesday when the Los Angeles Kings skate into the Motor City.


* It’s a wonder Red Wings coach Mike Babcock doesn’t play Chris Osgood more often. Osgood has only played in three of Detroit’s seven December games, but has helped the Red Wings earn a point in each of his last eight starts and has a 15-1-1 record with a 1.76 goals-against average and a .929 save percentage. While fellow goalie Dominik Hasek’s numbers are solid – an 8-5-2 record with a 2.51 GAA and .879 save percentage – they pale in comparison to Osgood’s.

* Detroit’s star defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom averages more ice time than any player in the League that isn’t on the Anaheim Ducks. Only Anaheim defensemen Chris Pronger (28:12) and Francois Beauchemin (28:09) average more ice time per game than Lidstrom (28:06).

* Colorado is one point from the top in the tight Northwest Division but is only three points ahead of last-place Edmonton.

* Avalanche forward Paul Stastny is following in his father Peter’s footsteps as an NHL superstar. The younger Stastny leads Colorado in goals (14), assists (26), points (40) and plus-minus rating (plus-13). The super sophomore has scored three more points in the same number of games as last season’s Calder Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin and is more responsible in his own end – Malkin has a minus-3 rating.

* Colorado defenseman Scott Hannan is minus-13 this season, but has never finished an NHL season as a minus player. Hannan was signed by the Avalanche to a four-year contract July 1.

* The Avalanche makes both of their visits to Los Angeles in December. Dec. 1, Colorado beat the Kings 5-2 at STAPLES Center.

* The Kings, who have the fewest points in the League, have lost four of their last five games.

* Los Angeles forward Michael Cammalleri has eight points in his last eight games, the streak is highlighted by a three-point performance Dec. 6 when the Kings defeated the Buffalo Sabres, 8-2.

* After a nine-game point-scoring streak, Kings forward Dustin Brown has gone pointless in his last three games and is minus-4.

* After ending a goalless slump Dec. 6 against Buffalo, which stretched back to Opening Night, Los Angeles forward Michal Handzus has scored three goals in his last six games.

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