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Neuvirth likely to start tonight

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Caps coach Bruce Boudreau said Michal Neuvirth “probably” will get his second NHL start, but wouldn’t confirm it. Still, Neuvirth was the first goaltender off the ice and all signs point to him being between the pipes against the Thrashers.

Boudreau did say that Viktor Kozlov will be back in the lineup and on the top line with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom. Staffan Kronwall will be the odd man out on defense again, but who the extra forward is remains a mystery. No one stayed out on the ice longer than everyone else, and Boudreau didn’t want to say who.

If I were placing odds on who it might be, Michael Nylander is probably the favorite.

There were a few questions about the amount of penalties the Caps have taken lately, but Boudreau said he thought people were making a little too big of a deal out of it. Still, the Caps have been shorthanded 43 times in the past seven games (including eight times in three of the past five).

While the PK has performed better of late, Alex Ovechkin and Alexander Semin have seen their PK time mostly vanish, so the more penalties the team takes, the less time those guys are on the ice. Plus they weren’t really getting a lot of scoring chances while killing penalties anyway.

The flip side of this is the Caps aren’t drawing enough penalties. Sure, the power play is among the best in the league and teams fear it, but Washington has had only 23 power play chances in the past seven games, which includes a 1-for-7 against Philadelphia. Before the game against the roungh-and-tumble Flyers, the Caps hadn’t had seven PP chances in one game since Dec. 12 against Ottawa — a span of THIRTY games.

Washington is tied for 18th in the league in extra-man chances. A little extra hard work in the offensive end would lead to more hooking and holding calls, and give the power play a chance to really dominate games.

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