Caps (24-14-7, 55 points) vs. Senators (17-22-6, 40 points)

What » Game #46

Where » Verizon Center

When » 3 p.m.


Radio » WFED-1500 AM

Spoke with Brooks Laich after practice yesterday and he insisted that – until I told him who the Caps were playing on Tuesday – he had no idea. I don’t doubt the man. He’s as disciplined as it comes and looking ahead is bad for business for any pro athlete.

Then again – seriously, Brooks, take a peek at the schedule just this once. The Caps played Vancouver, the best team in the entire NHL on Friday. They get the best team in the Eastern Conference on Tuesday when they travel up I-95 to play the Flyers in Philadelphia. So, um…yeah, that makes today’s matinee against a floundering Ottawa team a little more critical than normal. Can the Caps win in Philly? Sure. They’ve done it before. Do they want to HAVE to win in Philly or else face a serious skid? That’s not really a good idea.

So we’re all on the same page: This is a big game. The Caps are 1-2-2 over their last five and yet haven’t lost much ground to the Southeast Division brethren, who themselves have had a rough weekend. Ottawa is 1-5-2 in its last eight games and mired in 13th place in the Eastern Conference with their coach and general manager under fire and opposing scouts circling like vultures if a rebuild is declared. Again – don’t lose this game.

Washington has recalled rookie forward Andrew Gordon from AHL Hershey. If Michal Neuvirth starts in goal, as expected, that would mean six rookies in the Washington lineup today. Injuries to forwards Alex Semin (lower-body injury, day-to-day) and Eric Fehr (upper-body injury, three-to-four weeks) have cleared some roster space. Gordon joins defenseman John Carlson, centers Mathieu Perreault and Marcus Johansson and winger Jay Beagle – rookies all. 

“They’re good players. They just haven’t had the chance to make our team,” Washington coach Bruce Boudreau said. “Now, with injuries and situations that they are they’re getting that chance. And when they get the chance the one thing I always learned when I was a player you’ve got to take advantage of it. Because sometimes the door or the window isn’t open that long. So when you get the call you got to do it.”

Boudreau said the Caps loved Gordon’s enthusiasm during his first stint in Washington, eight games between Dec. 12 and Dec. 28. Gordon was an AHL All-Star with Hershey.

Follow me on Twitter @bmcnally14