When the Winnipeg Jets and Washington Capitals last met in early March, Braden Holtby thwarted thirty-five shots as the Capitals shutout the Jets 3-0. Now both teams will find themselves back inside the confines of the MTS Centre for back-to-back contests tonight and tomorrow.
As part of our gameday coverage, we had a few questions relating to the Caps before puck-drop tonight. With that, here is our pal Geoff Thompson from Japers' Rink in today's instalment of Gameday Questionnaire:
1. Can Braden Holtby return to his 2012 Stanley Cup playoff form or was his impressive spring just a mirage?
Braden Holtby’s 2012 Playoff run was above and beyond expectations placed on the then twenty-two year old goaltender, but the rookie handled his transition well and took the Capitals to an EC Semifinal appearancee. Through the early part of 2013, Holtby has returned closer to what Capitals fans can expect from him for the foreseeable future - generally solid goaltending with ups and downs.
While surviving his trial by fire in April of 2012, expect Holtby to remain a part of winning Capitals teams through the next couple of seasons
2. How would you rate Washington's ever-revolving door of defensemen this year?
Boy, have the defenseman for Washington been a changing carousel of call-ups. Injuries to Green, Erskine, and Orlov have paved the way for several first time NHL debuts, Steve Oleksy and Tomas Kundratek now regular defenseman for the Capitals, and rookie Cameron Schilling getting a taste of NHL ice a couple week back. Oleksy and Kundratek both get passing grades in their first stints in the League, Oleksy opening eyes in Washington with a point streak and mean streak. Kundratek’s play, although unrefined yet, is natural and fluid, capable of making strong plays with his feet and good first pass instincts.
3. Marcus Johansson seems to be a player struggling to find his game under the Oates regime. Where does he fit in with the team heading forward?
In hindsight, Johansson’s concussion issues seem to have stemmed from a January 15th preseason collision in practice with Ovechkin. While not caught at the time, Johansson’s struggles through the first two months of play can be understood with the information we have now. Johansson has four points in March (6 GP), compared to a single point in the previous nine contests. A healthy Johansson will be a vital piece to a successful Washington third line, the Swede’s skating and puck skills are above those of your average third line center.
Ed. Note: We thank Geoff for his for his time in this edition of Gameday Questionnaire. We'll be back with more from Japers' Rink in tomorrow's preview.