Quick Links

AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Red Wings


AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Red Wings

The Capitals (18-5-2, 38 points) will try to avoid their first back-to-back losses of the season tonight when they take on the Detroit Red Wings (15-8-4, 34 points) for the third and final time this season at Verizon Center (7:30 p.m., NBCSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Catching a break?: Braden Holtby (16-4-1, 1.95 GAA, .928 SP) will make his eighth straight appearance for the Caps. He is 6-0-1 in his previous seven appearances.

Despite a pair of incredible performances against the Caps, goaltender Petr Mrazek (8-4-3, 2.41, .924) will sit the bench in favor of Jimmy Howard, who is 7-4-1 with a 2.28 GAA and .918 SP. Mrazek allowed just two goals on 65 shots in his previous two starts against the Caps this season, including a 38-save shutout on Nov. 10.

"The biggest thing for us is we feel confident in both guys and both guys give us a great chance to win," Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill told reporters. "It'll be Jimmy's job to go in tonight and get us a win."

What it means: The Caps can leapfrog over the New York Rangers and into the Metro Division lead with a win or overtime loss tonight. The Rangers play again in Vancouver on Wednesday. A win would also move Barry Trotz ahead of former Caps coach and Red Wings GM Bryan Murray and into 10th place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Trotz and Murray are tied with 620 coaching victories.

Tough to crack: The Caps have managed just two goals against the Red Wings this season, none at 5-on-5. Justin Williams netted a power-play goal and Evgeny Kuznetsov scored in 3-on-3 overtime when the teams last met on Nov. 18.

“They do a real good job tracking and they don’t give you any space,” Trotz said. “They block a lot of shots, they come back to the house. They force you to score goals from the perimeter and from turnovers. They collapse and cut the ice right in half. They have good sticks and a high commitment level.”

Johansson back, Burakovsky demoted: With Marcus Johansson back in the lineup after missing one game with a lower body injury and Tom Wilson coming off a strong game on the third line, Andre Burakavosky will drop to fourth line right wing, where he’ll play with center Michael Latta and left wing Brooks Laich.

In his last game in Winnipeg, Burakovsky tugged jerseys with 6-foot-5, 260-pound defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, but the two did not exchange any punches.

“I probably don’t like his odds if Byfuglien decided to drop the gloves,” Trtoz said with a smile. “But I like the fact he’s not going to back down. That shows me he’s got lots of fire and lots of passion.”

Burakovsky, 20, has just two goals and five assists in 23 games this season.

“He’s been better every game and that’s what you’re looking for,” Trotz said. “We look long-term with him.  He’s going to be one of those guys who scores a lot of goals for us over the years. Right now he’s not scoring a lot and hopefully he breaks through and helps that cause.”

Proud papas: Many of the Capitals’ fathers will be watching tonight’s game from a suite. The Caps’ annual dads’ trip will take place following practice on Wednesday at Kettler, when the club departs for a three-day stay in Florida, where the Caps will visit the Panthers on Thursday and Lightning on Saturday.

Trotz says he tries to get every player into the lineup on his fathers’ trips.

“Last year I did that and I’d like to continue with that,” Trotz said. “Our play will dictate a little bit of that, and injuries. But my plan is to get everybody in, especially if your dad’s here. If your dad’s not here your chances are a little less.”

[RELATED: Green talks fond memories in first trip to Washington]

Quick Links

Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately


Touted Prospect Shane Gersich signs with Caps, joins team immediately

The Caps signed University of North Dakota forward Shane Gersich, a fifth round selection in 2014 and one of the organization’s top prospects, on Friday morning, the team announced.

Gersich, a left shot who is listed at 5-11, 175-pounds, has already joined the team in Montreal, where the Caps play the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Saturday night.

His contract, which begins this season, carries an average annual value of $925,000.

It’s unclear when Gersich will make his NHL debut, but it could happen at some point in the Caps’ final eight games before the playoffs.


NBC Sports Washington has been told that the primary objective for Gersich in the coming weeks is to get his first taste of the NHL by observing—and practicing alongside—his new teammates in Washington. If the opportunity to get him into the lineup presents itself, then it’s possible he’ll suit up.

The 21-year-old just completed his third season at UND. Here are Gersich’s numbers from junior and college, courtesy of


At UND, the smooth-skating and skilled Gersich also produced this memorable goal vs. Denver:

Gersich has been assigned jersey No. 63 in Washington, according to the Caps’ website.

The addition of Gersich and subsequent subtraction of Travis Boyd, who was reassigned to Hershey on Friday morning, leaves the Caps with 14 forwards on the roster.

“I think he did a great job at rookie camp,” Caps GM Brian MacLellan said of Gersich in July. “He was one of our best players, if not the best player, at camp. Really happy about the way he’s progressed and where we picked him. I think Ross Mahoney did a great job with that pick.”

Quick Links

Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division


Stanley Cup Playoffs 2018 projection: Still too close to call in the Metropolitan Division

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are right around the corner and there is still a lot to be decided.

The Metropolitan Division is going to come right down to the wire as each team seemingly continues to win and put the pressure on the first place Capitals.

With just over two weeks remaining in the regular season, the playoff matchups for the first round of the NHL playoffs are still up in the air with only five points separating the top four teams in the Metro. Washington is in good position with a four-point cushion between themselves and the second place Pittsburgh Penguins.

With both teams meeting on April 1, however, the Caps are still a long way off from clinching the division and earning home ice in the first round.



Eastern Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1M Washington Capitals (93pts) vs. WC1 Philadelphia Flyers (88pts)
2M Pittsburgh Penguins (89pts) vs. 3M Columbus Blue Jackets (89pts)
1A Tampa Bay Lightning (106pts) vs. WC2 New Jersey Devils (82pts)
2A Boston Bruins (100pts) vs. 3A Toronto Maple Leafs (95pts)

Western Conference (As of Friday 3/23):

1C Nashville Predators (106pts) vs. WC1Anaheim Ducks (88pts)
2C Winnipeg Jets (98pts) vs. 3C Minnesota Wild (90pts)
1P Las Vegas Golden Knights (100pts) vs. WC2 Colorado Avalanche (88pts)
2P San Jose Sharks (93pts) vs. 3P Los Angeles Kings (89pts)


Washington has won only one out of four games against the Philadelphia Flyers this season. That's not an ideal first-round matchup for Washington, but there is still time for the Flyers to climb and overtake Columbus or Pittsburgh in the standings.

What seems unlikely to happen is for New Jersey or Florida to pass Philadelphia. While things remain close near the top of the standings, there seems to be a growing divide between the top-four teams in the Metropolitan Division and the two teams battling for the final remaining spot in the playoffs.

The Flyers may be in fourth place in the division, but they still boast a healthy six-point lead over the Devils who sit in the second wild card.

If we assume New Jersey and Florida will not be able to climb to any postseason position, but the second wild card, that makes the three most likely candidates to face Washington in the first round Pittsburgh, Columbus and Philadelphia.


Metropolitan Division
1. Washington Capitals (93 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
2. Pittsburgh Penguins (89 points, 74 GP, 40 ROW)
3. Columbus Blue Jackets (89 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)

Atlantic Division
1. Tampa Bay Lightning (106 points, 74 GP, 45 ROW)
2. Boston Bruins (100 points, 72 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Toronto Maple Leafs (95 points, 74 GP, 37 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Philadelphia Flyers (88 points, 75 GP, 36 ROW)
WC2. New Jersey Devils (82 points, 73 GP, 32 ROW)

Still in the Hunt:
Florida Panthers (81points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)


Central Division
1. Nashville Predators (106 points, 73 GP, 43 ROW)
2. Winnipeg Jets (98 points, 73 GP, 42 ROW)
3. Minnesota Wild (90 points, 73 GP, 38 ROW)

Pacific Division
1. Las Vegas Golden Knights (100 points, 74 GP, 44 ROW)
2. San Jose Sharks (93 points, 74 GP, 38 ROW)
3. Los Angeles Kings (89 points, 75 GP, 39 ROW)

Wild Card:
WC1. Anaheim Ducks (88 points, 74 GP, 34 ROW)
WC2. Colorado Avalanche (88 points, 74 GP, 39 ROW)

Still in the hunt:
St. Louis Blues (85 points, 72 GP, 34 ROW)