Will Holtby bounce back against Maple Leafs?

Will Holtby bounce back against Maple Leafs?
November 23, 2013, 12:15 pm
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Laich: 'Whatever we're doing right now isn't working'

Sudden thoughts and second thoughts as the Caps turn the page on Friday night’s 3-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens and turn their attention to tonight’s game in Toronto against the Maple Leafs [7 p.m., CSN-Plus]:

Holtby in net: After a shaky performance in a 4-0 loss to the Penguins goaltender Braden Holtby will get the call tonight against the Leafs. “When we lose or he feels he played bad, he bounces back right away,” said Caps center Nicklas Backstrom. “He has that mentality and I think it’s great to have as a player. He’s one of our leaders out there.” In two career games against the Leafs Holtby is 2-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and a .970 save percentage. In his last eight starts, Holtby is 6-2-0 with one shutout, a 2.32 GAA and a .934 save percentage. He ranks fourth in the NHL in saves [542]. Even though Jonathan Bernier is 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .933 save percentage in two career starts against the Caps, the Leafs are expected to counter with james Reimer, who is 1-2-1 with a 2.98 and .903 save percentage in four appearances against the Caps.

Fehr in, Erat out: Judging from line combinations at the morning skate in Toronto, Eric Fehr will be reinserted into the Caps' lineup, playing left wing on a line with center Mikhail Grabovski and right wing Troy Brouwer. Brooks Laich will center a third line with Jason Chimera and Joel Ward. Marty Erat, who has no goals and six assists in 23 games, appears to be a healthy scratch. 

Welcome home: Three Capitals have strong connections to Toronto.  Right wing Joel Ward is from the Toronto suburb of Scarborough, while Tom Wilson is from Toronto and played his youth hockey there. Mikhail Grabovski played in parts of five seasons for the Maple Leafs from 2008-2013, recording 208 points [91 goals, 117 assists] in 340 games. We’ll have separate posts on Grabovski and Wilson later today.

Ovi watch: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin picked up his league-high 18th and 19th goals in Friday’s loss. He also leads the NHL with eight power-play goals. With 135 career power-play goals Ovechkin is three away from passing Peter Bondra [137] for first place on the Caps’ all-time power-play goals list. Ovechkin’s two-goal game against the Habs was his fifth multi-goal game this season and 81st of his career. He has six goals in his last five games and 11 points in his last nine games. More impressively, he has not gone more than two games without a goal this season.

[RELATED: Caps Carlson makes strong pitch for Team USA]

Totally Carly: Has John Carlson replaced Mike Green as the Caps’ No. 1 defenseman? Carlson led the Caps in ice time on Friday night [24:52] and quarterbacked the top power-play unit from the point. He has six points in his last five games and nine points in his last 10.

Middle children: The Caps lead the NHL in second period goals, outscoring opponents 32-19. But they’ve been outscored 24-15 in first periods and 22-18 in third periods.

Shot records: The Caps have been outshot 802-676 this season. They have allowed 30 or more shots in 20 of their 23 games -- most in the NHL. They have been outshot in 16 of their first 23 games and are 7-8-1 in those games.

Leafs update: The Leafs are coming off a 4-2 home loss to Nashville, which came after a pair of wins over the Sabres and Islanders. Toronto won six of its first seven games this season but is 7-7-1 since then.

Isn’t that special: The Caps have 11 power-play goals in their last 11 games and rank second in the NHL on the man-advantage [24.2 percent]. The Leafs have four power-play goals in their last five games and rank fourth in the NHL [23.6 percent]. The Caps are fifth on the penalty kill; the Leafs are 16th. The Leafs have scored four shorthanded goals this season, one each by Tyler Bozak, Paul Ranger, James van Riemsdyk and Dave Bolland.

Lady Byngers: The Caps [27th] and Leafs [29th] are two of the least penalized teams in the NHL.

Happy Birthday: Nicklas Backstrom turns 26 today.

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