The Capitals received a little help in the standings last night thanks to New Jersey's 2-1 win over Tampa Bay, which prohibited the Lightning from adding to its lead as the Southeast Division leader.
If Washington were to build off of its late rally against the Islanders and win three in a row -- beginning tonight against the Blues and then during back-to-back games in Florida that include an important final meeting of the year against Tampa Bay -- the Capitals would sit on top of the division by Tuesday. But to accomplish that goal, the Capitals must first win consecutive games at home for the first time since late November.
Coach Bruce Boudreau is a noted stats junkie, but the news that Washington hadn't won two straight at Verizon Center since Nov. 26 and Nov. 28 was a surprise to him this morning. He reiterated what he believes is a need for the Capitals to reassert themselves on home ice.
"The winning at home is important to us and it's important to me and the whole team. We'd like to get on a roll at home and be a dominant team again in this building," said Boudreau, who also discussed the potential move the Capitals could make in the standings over the next few days.
"It's an exciting time, but every year it seems to be getting sooner and sooner that we start doing [scoreboard watching]. I remember when it used to be the last eight games or the last 10 games. Now its been going on for the last 40 games. There's 20 percent of the season left there's a lot of time for a lot of teams to do a lot of different things."
Some news and notes from practice:
--Braden Holtby said after practice that he felt good and that he didn't feel any ill effects of the knee injury that has prohibited him from playing since Feb. 23. It's unclear if Holtby may get a start during this recall stint with the Capitals. It likely depends on how quickly Washington anticipates that Semyon Varlamov, who did not practice the past two days, will return, and how much the Capitals want Michal Neuvirth to carry the load.
"It all depends; we'll see," Boudreau said when asked if Holtby might get a game. "We're getting to the point, we have all the faith in Braden in the world, but we'll play it day to day."
--Tom Poti, who has been limited to only parts of 21 games this season largely because of a nagging groin injury, told reporters that he received a cortisone shot earlier this week and that he was waiting for it to kick in. The veteran defenseman added that he will travel with the team to Florida this weekend, marking his first road trip since the back-to-back games against Dallas and St. Louis in early December. It doesn't sound like he will appear in a game just yet, though.
--Marco Sturm took the option to not skate this morning, though he did ride the bike, I'm told.
--Todd Ford has been reassigned to Hershey.
--In case you missed it, Alex Ovechkin is tweeting again, and it's worth a follow.