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What does a sick Chandler Stephenson mean for the Caps' lineup?

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USA TODAY Sports

What does a sick Chandler Stephenson mean for the Caps' lineup?

The Caps will go through an atypical game day because of the NHL’s three-day Christmas break, which concluded last night.

The team reconvened in Arlington, Va., on Wednesday morning, hosted their pre-game skate at Kettler Capitals Iceplex and then scrambled to the airport for their charter flight to New York, where they face the Rangers at 8 p.m on NBCSN. 

Typically, the Caps arrive in the visiting city the night prior and have their morning skate at the away arena. It’s not a huge tweak, but in a sport where coaches and players avoid messing with routines—particularly on game days—it’s worth pointing out.

RELATED: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-RANGERS

Other than that, Coach Barry Trotz kept things mostly the same.

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Wilson
Vrana-Kuznetsov-Oshie
Burakovsky-Eller-Connolly
Smith Pelly-Beagle-Chiasson

Defense
Djoos-Carlson
Orlov-Niskanen
Orpik-Bowey

Now for some notes and observations from the skate:

  • Fourth-line winger Chandler Stephenson is ill and will not make the trip to New York. Based on the rushes, he’ll be replaced by Alex Chiasson, while Nathan Walker remains a healthy scratch.
  • How long will Walker stick with the Caps? He hasn’t played since being reclaimed off waivers last week. The team, however, can’t send him to Hershey until 12:01 a.m. on Thursday due to the holiday roster freeze, if that's the route they chose.
  • Trotz will speak to reporters at 6 p.m. at MSG and will likely confirm the starting goaltender at that time. Philipp Grabuaer, however, faced shots from the defensemen at the end of the skate, which is typically what the starter does. That would mean Braden Holtby gets the Bruins on Thursday night in Washington.
  • Grubauer is 2-2-0 in five career games vs. the Rangers with a 2.20 goals against average and a .933 save percentage.
  • One thing to keep an eye on: Washington’s power play is 1 for 20 over the last eight games and has slipped to 18th in the NHL at 19.1-percent.
  • T.J. Oshie, who has one goal in three games since returning from a concussion, says he had his best game “in a while” in Las Vegas and feels he’s now got his timing back. He’s currently third on the team with 11 goals.
  • Speaking of the power play, the first unit remain unchanged based on the morning skate. On the second unit, which doesn’t get a whole lot of run, Andre Burakovsky and Jakub Vrana switched out for one another on the goal line.
  • A few weeks ago, Nicklas Backstrom stopped wearing a visor in practice in an attempt to switch up the mojo. At the time he was mired in a lengthy goal drought. As it turned out, he started scoring after ditching the visor and he hasn’t practiced with one since. When I asked him about it this morning, he said, “I’m superstitious” with a big smile. He’s got four goals and five assists in 11 games this month.
  • From the NBC notes on the Rangers: Henrik Lundqvist was 1-3-2 with a 3.15 gaa and .905 Sv% in his first seven starts of the season. His last 24 starts? He’s 16-6-1 (one no-decision) with a 2.46 gaa and .926 Sv%. 

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Game 48: Capitals vs. Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 48: Capitals vs. Flyers Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Philadelphia Flyers

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

When: 12:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Flyers will be broadcast on NBC

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

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

WHEN IS THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

The Capitals (28-15-4) take on the Flyers (22-16-8) Sunday, January 21 at 12:30 p.m. ET in Washington.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Flyers game will be broadcast on NBC. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at  11:30 a.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 12:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington for postgame coverage starting with Caps Extra following the game and Caps Overtime at 3:30 p.m. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

11:30 a.m. — Caps FaceOff
12:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
12:30 p.m. — Capitals vs. Flyers on NBC
3:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
3:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

The Capitals-Flyers game is available to stream live here through NBC Sports.  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).

WHAT ARE THE PROJECTED LINES FOR THE CAPITALS-FLYERS GAME?

Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Flyers game:

Forwards
Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie
Chandler Stephenson - Lars Eller - Brett Connolly
Devante Smith-Pelly - Jay Beagle - Alex Chiasson

Defensemen
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Christian Djoos - John Carlson
Brooks Orpik - Madison Bowey

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

CAPITALS-FLYERS 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.

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3 reasons the Caps lost to the Canadiens

3 reasons the Caps lost to the Canadiens

The Caps battled through the rust on Thursday to earn a point in New Jersey. On Friday, rust cost them yet again as they fell 3-2 to the Montreal Canadiens.

Here's why they lost.

4 shots on goal in the first period

Canadiens goalie Antti Niemi has had his struggles this season. Yes, he has played better since getting claimed off waivers by Montreal, but getting to play against Niemi instead of Carey Price wass a golden opportunity for the Caps to generate some offense. Washington, however, had very little offense to speak at the end of the night. How did they respond with Niemi in net? By getting only four shots in the first period. Four. They finished with 26 shots on goal for the game, but had they come out swinging in the first and put pressure up early on Niemi, they could have gotten a much different result.

RELATED: CHECK OUT THE 3 STARS OF THE GAME FOR CAPS-HABS

Bad passing

After the game, Lars Eller said "It was one of the sloppiest games we've played if not the sloppiest. I don't think we've given up so any odd-man rushes or chances in one game." In no aspect were the Caps more sloppy than with their passing. Here are just a few examples.

A cross-ice backhand pass in the defensive zone? Really? You are not going to be successful trying to make those type of plays and it cost the Caps. They could not maintain possession of the puck or breakout of their zone and it led to several odd-man rushes for Montreal.

Rust

It's not an excuse. The Caps should have played better on Friday regardless, but there's no arguing the fact that rust was a factor. It was abundantly clear that the Caps were out of sync. That will happen when you are playing on the second leg of a back-to-back with no practice time.

Saturday's practice will be absolutely critical since Washington faces a matinee game on Sunday, their third contest in four days.