5 things to know for Capitals-Red Wings: First place vs. last place

J.J. Regan
NBC Sports Washington

The Capitals (18-4-5) begin a four-game road swing on Saturday with a game against the Detroit Red Wings (7-18-3) before heading west to California. You can catch all the action on NBC Sports Washington with Caps FaceOff Live kicking things off at  6 p.m. before Caps Pregame Live begins at 6:30 p.m. to bring you up to the 7 p.m. puck drop. Stick with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Postgame Live and Caps Overtime Live.

Here's what you need to know for Saturday's game.

About last night

Both teams were in action on Friday with very different results. Washington battled back from a 3-1 deficit against the Tampa Bay Lightning for a 4-3 win in overtime. Dmitry Orlov scored the game-winner with his second goal of the season. You can read a recap of the win here.

The Red Wings, meanwhile, were on the wrong end of a 6-1 beatdown in Philadelphia. Robby Fabbri tied the game at 1 in the first period, but the Flyers would rattle off five unanswered gaosl for the win.

First vs. last

Washington is tied for first in the NHL with 41 points. The Red Wings are in a full rebuild which is a polite way of saying they are really bad. Detroit sits in the bottom of the league's standings with only 17 points, five less than the 30th New Jersey Devils.

In a league dominated by parity, the Red Wings are an outlier. They have lost six straight and are winless in their past eight (0-6-2). In the last four games, Detroit has been outscored 19-2. Things are so bad that after a 6-1 loss on Friday, head coach Jeff Blashill said his team's performance was "light years better" than in their previous game, a 6-0 loss to Toronto.

I get that the scoreboard does not always paint an accurate picture of how a game played out, but you won't find many coaches pointing out the positives of a 6-1 loss in the NHL.

Detroit is struggling in every facet

It is hard to point to one reason for the Red Wings' struggles this year because they are bad at pretty much everything.

Detroit ranks dead last in the NHL in goals per game (2.14), goals against per game (3.89) and the penalty kill (72.4-percent). They are only 28th on the power play with 13.1-percent though so I guess that's something.

Samsonov gets the start

Ilya Samsonov will get his first start since Nov. 15, when the Caps fell to the Montreal Canadiens. The rookie netminder was red-hot to start the season, but has called in recent weeks with a 2.65 GAA and .913 save percentage.

As for the Red Wings, the likely starter will be James Reimer. Calvin Pickard got his first start for the Red Wings on Friday as Jimmy Howard was out with a lower-body injury. Considering he did not dress on Friday, it seems doubtful he will step in for the start on Saturday. That would suggest Reimer would get the start. Reimer had flu-like symptoms on Wednesday, but had to step in for Howard once he got injured. He backed up Pickard on Friday though and should be ready to play on Saturday.

Reimer is 4-4-0 with a 2.71 GAA and .910 save percentage. Considering how the season is going in Detroit, those are fairly impressive numbers.

Detroit's leading scorer is out

Anthony Mantah leads the Red Wings with 12 goals and 23 points, but the Caps won't have to worry about him. He suffered a lower-body injury on Sunday and is expected to miss a few weeks.

Yeah, it's been that kind of season for the Red Wings.


5 things to know for Capitals-Red Wings: First place vs. last place originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

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