The Washington Capitals have had a roller coaster ride of a season thus far. A two-day break for Christmas seems like the proper respite, but to get there, they will have to get past the New Jersey Devils Friday at Prudential Center.
A 4-1 win over the Nashville Predators Tuesday has Washington sitting at 17-14-1, 10th in the Eastern Conference and two points out of eighth place, which is inhabited by its opponent Friday: New Jersey. A Washington win would tie it with New Jersey for eighth heading into Christmas.
Michal Neuvirth will start for the Caps Friday; it will be his fourth consecutive start. Meanwhile, Tomas Vokoun will back Neuvirth up, making Friday the first time in over two and a half years that Vokoun has sat out of four straight games while presumably healthy. Neuvirth has dominated the Devils during his career; he has a 4-0-1 record with a 1.18 GAA, .960 SV% and one shutout in five career games against New Jersey.
Opposing Neuvirth will be Martin Brodeur. For the Devils, Patrik Elias will return to the lineup after a one-game hiatus due to the flu.
The Caps earned a 3-1 win at Prudential Center November 11, while the Devils earned a split of the home-and-home series with a 3-2 shootout win November 12 at Verizon Center. New Jersey's seven home wins are third-fewest in the East, but no team has fewer points on the road than Washington (12).