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NHL Awards watch: John Hynes has Caps looking up at the Devils in Metro standings

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards watch: John Hynes has Caps looking up at the Devils in Metro standings

When you were thinking about the Metropolitan Division over the summer, did you give the New Jersey Devils any thought at all? Probably not.

Despite some key additions such as Marcus Johansson and first overall draft pick Nico Hischier to add to the team's core, the Devils still looked like they were a year away from competing for the playoffs.

CHECK OUT THIS WEEK'S NHL AWARDS WATCH HERE

Yet, with the midway point of the season quickly approaching, New Jersey is not only competing for a playoff spot, they currently sit in first place of the Metropolitan Division, the toughest division in the NHL.

Much of that credit belongs to head coach John Hynes. In his third year behind the bench, Hynes has the Devils a year ahead of schedule and playing some fantastic hockey. Rookies Hischier, Jesper Bratt and Will Butcher have provided key contributions to the team as Hynes has managed their first NHL seasons extremely well.

Hynes' performance this season certainly warrants some serious consideration for coach of the year...or at least it would if there was not an expansion team currently sitting in first place in the Western Conference.

Still, don't let Vegas take away from what Hynes has done with the Devils. Did anyone think the Caps would be looking up at the New Jersey in the standings at this point in the season? Probably not.

Check out where Hynes ranks among the other candidates for coach of the year, as well as where the races for all the NHL Awards stand here in this week's awards watch.

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2018 NHL Awards Tracker: Resetting after the bye week

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USA TODAY Sports

2018 NHL Awards Tracker: Resetting after the bye week

A week by week look at where the race for the major individual NHL awards stands and which Caps could be in contention.

There is not much movement from the Caps on the Awards Tracker this week because of the bye week. It's time to reset and look at which players could make a second-half run at some hardware this season.

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

All-Star snub aside, you cannot deny the impact Carlson has had on this team this year. He is fifth in the NHL in ice time per game and second among all defensemen in points with 35. His play on both the offensive and defensive end of the ice should have him on the shortlist of Norris candidates, even if he's not among the top three just yet.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Yes, Holtby’s GAA and save percentage are not as good as in previous years, but he is excelling at perhaps the most important stat of all: Wins. Holtby sits second in the league in wins with 24. Of all the goalies ranked in the top ten for wins this season, only one, Pekka Rinne, has played in fewer games than Holtby's 34.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Alex Ovechkin, for the moment, leads all players in goals with 28 and he is doing it at the age of 32. What's more, he is the best player on a team sitting in first place in the competitive Metropolitan Division, a place not many expected the Caps to be in this season.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

There's no question over who is getting the most out of his talent and that is Gerard Gallant in Vegas. But a reasonable argument could be made to say Barry Trotz is doing his best coaching job in Washington this season with the Caps in first place int he division. Given all the uncertainty over this team when the season started, the fact he has gotten them to this point should at least put him in consideration.

Check out who the top candidates are for the league's major individual awards in this week's 2018 NHL Awards Tracker!

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Game 47: Capitals vs. Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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Game 47: Capitals vs. Canadiens Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Canadiens will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Canadiens game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.

You can also stream the game online with no cable TV subscription on fuboTV (try for free!).

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?

The Capitals (28-14-4) take on the Canadiens (18-21-6) Friday, January 19 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at  6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:30 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals vs. Canadiens
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:30 p.m. — Caps in 30

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-CANADIENS GAME?

The Capitals-Canadiens game, as well as Caps GameTime and Caps Extra, is available to stream live here through NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and is available to authenticated NBC Sports Washington subscribers on desktops, tablets, mobile devices and connected TVs anywhere in the United States.

The game is also available to stream, along with all the pregame and postgame shows, on fuboTV (try for free).

CAPITALS-CANADIENS OPEN THREAD

Use the comment section below to discuss the game action with other Capitals fans. 

For all the latest Caps coverage, follow Capitals Insider Tarik El-Bashir, Capitals correspondent JJ Regan and the NBC Sports Capitals account on Twitter. Be sure check out our Capitals page and NBC Sports Washington's Facebook page.