Pregame primer: Ducks on rise under Boudreau

Pregame primer: Ducks on rise under Boudreau
March 18, 2014, 4:45 pm
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News and notes as the Capitals [32-27-10, 74 points] begin a crucial three-game road trip tonight against Bruce Boudreau and the Anaheim Ducks [45-16-7, 97 points] at the Honda Center [10 p.m., CSN]:

Who’s in goal: Jaroslav Halak {27-11-4, 2.25 GAA, .918 save percentage] is expected to make his sixth straight start for the Caps. Jonas Hiller [27-10-6, 2.38, .914] is slated to go for Anaheim. In 10 career appearances against Anaheim Halak is 4-5-0 with a 2.93 GAA and .876 SP, while Hiller is 2-0-1 with a 3.42 GAA and .887 SP in four appearances against Washington.

Wey in: Judging from the defense pairings used at the Caps’ morning skate, rookie Patrick Wey is expected to replace rookie Connor on a third defense pairing with Dmitry Orlov. Wey, who will turn 23 on Friday, has two assists in three NHL games this season.

Trending: The Ducks are 5-2-2 in their last nine games. The Caps have won two in a row but were 1-4-1 before that. The Ducks rank fourth in the NHL in goals scored [218] and fifth in goal differential [plus-46]. The Caps rank ninth in goals [201] and 17th in goal differential [minus-6].

Remember us?: Former Caps coach Bruce Boudreau [303-139-61] became the fastest coach in NHL history to reach 300 wins on Feb. 28 against St. Louis. Legendary coach Toe Blake held the previous record, reaching the milestone in 525 games. With the Capitals, Boudreau was also the fastest in NHL history to 200 career wins, doing so in 326 games on Nov. 22, 2011. He is now 100-50-21 as coach of the Ducks. Caps head coach Adam Oates played in 67 games with Anaheim during the 2002-03 season, earning 45 points [9 goals, 36 assists] and 16 penalty minutes.

[RELATED: Can Washington win its third straight vs. Anaheim?]

Power-ful: The Capitals are 12 for 31 [38.7 percent] on the power play in their last 10 games and have scored a power-play goal in four of their last five games. Washington scored two power-play goals on Sunday against Toronto, marking the 17th time this season the Caps have scored two or more power-play goals in a game. Washington is 13-3-1 this season when scoring two or more power-play goals in a game. The Caps rank second in the NHL on the power play at 23.7 percent. The Ducks rank 20th at 16.4 percent.

Nick and Ovi: Caps captain Alex Ovechkin ranks first in the NHL in power-play goals [19] and second in power-play points [33]. Nicklas Backstrom ranks first in the NHL in power-play assists [33] and power-play points [37]. Backstrom has earned an assist on 13 of Ovechkin’s 19 power-play goals this season.

Minus-man: Ovechkin’s minus-31 is second-worst in the NHL, ahead of only Edmonton’s Nail Yakupov, who is a minus-33.

Brouwer power: Troy Brower scored two goals against Toronto on Sunday, marking his third multi-goal game in his last 12 games. He has scored a team-high 10 goals in the Caps' 14 games since the beginning of February. Brouwer has scored  20 goals in two of his three seasons with the Caps and now has 100 points in three seasons with the Caps.

Fine wine: According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Joel Ward, 33, is the eighth-oldest player in NHL history to record the first 20-goal season of his career. He has set career highs in goals [20], points [40] and power-play goals [6] this season. 

Jaro-star: In five games with the Caps, Halak has registered a 2.42 GAA and .924 save percentage. Halak ranks tied for seventh among NHL goaltenders in wins [27], eighth in goals against average [2.25] and tied for fifth in shutouts [4].

Caps connections: Capitals forward Dustin Penner played in 150 games with Anaheim from 2005-07 and 2013-14, registering 84 points [46 goals, 38 assists] and 100 penalty minutes. Penner won the Stanley Cup with the Ducks in 2007.