Skip to main content

Jets close six-game homestand against Capitals

by Adam Kimelman /

CAPITALS (3-5-0) at JETS (4-5-0)


Season series: The Washington Capitals won four of five games between the former Southeast Division rivals last season, but they split the two games in Washington. The Winnipeg Jets won 4-2 on Jan. 22 in their first meeting of 2012-13, but Washington won 5-3 at Verizon Center on April 23, their final meeting of the season.

Big story: The Jets hope to close their six-game homestand on a positive note; they've alternated wins and losses in the first five, and lost their most recent game. The Capitals also have alternated wins and losses in their past four but hope that comes to an end -- they won their most-recent game and are looking to string together a win streak.

Team scope:

Capitals: Washington coach Adam Oates played with a legendary goal scorer in Brett Hull, and said he sees some of the same characteristics in his current team's top scorer, captain Alex Ovechkin.

"They have the same release, the same power on their shots," Oates told "Ovi [Ovechkin] has the physical strength Brett didn't have, but the more he learns the more he's going to tap into that."

Part of that education is Oates staying on Ovechkin to be more mobile in the offensive end, rather than just setting up in the left circle for one-timers.

Oates said he's talked to Ovechkin about the Hull comparisons, but not often, saying that when he's "in the mood," he tries to add wrinkles to Ovechkin's game.

"I'm so conscious of not overloading him so he can play," Oates said. "But if I see a hole maybe he can exploit, I'm going to show him it."

Jets: With seven points in nine games, Winnipeg defenseman Dustin Byfuglien is off to a strong start. He's also making an impression on the executive staff that will pick the United States team that will take part in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"We've had a lot of scouting on Winnipeg in person and on TV," Nashville Predators general manager David Poile, GM of the U.S. Olympic team, told the Winnipeg Free Press. "We have a committee of seven guys involved and watching and we've had a number of conference calls, and Buff [Byfuglien] is clearly in the mix. We probably are pretty sure on three or four guys and then there are 10 other guys that are up in the air, of which Buff is one.

"His size jumps out at you. Who doesn't want size on a team? He skates great for a big man. His hockey sense is real good. His ability to generate offense is real good. The bigger ice surface, I think, would favor his game. He's got some real good things going for him."

Byfuglien lost 30 pounds in the offseason, and also lost some of the big risks from his game.

"He's been reliable," Jets coach Claude Noel told the Free Press. "He's taken the ups and downs out of his game. He's minimized the risk in his game and this leads to way more stability in our back end. … He hasn't traded the offense for just defense. You see it in the numbers we track. We track scoring chances for and against when a player is on the ice. They're a lot better this year than last year. He's on the ice against the other team's better players all the time and often that makes a player a minus in the numbers we track, but clearly he's been better in that area this year."

Who's hot: With seven goals in eight games, Ovechkin is off to the most prolific start of the season since 2009-10, when he had nine goals in his first eight games en route to scoring 50 goals. … Jets forward Evander Kane has goals in back-to-back games and four goals in his past three games.

Injury report: The Capitals are missing defensemen Jack Hillen (leg) and John Erskine (upper body). … The Jets are playing without forwards Chris Thorburn (lower body) and Jim Slater (undisclosed) and defensemen Jacob Trouba (upper body) and Mark Stuart (hip).


View More