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AAA Keys to the Game: Caps face NYR as Ovi nears 500


AAA Keys to the Game: Caps face NYR as Ovi nears 500

NEW YORK -- The Capitals (30-7-3, 63 points) will face off against the New York Rangers (22-14-4, 48 points) today in Madison Square Garden (1 p.m., CSN). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Holtby vs. Lundqvist: Braden Holtby (26-4-2, 1.90, .933) puts his 18-0-2 streak on the line when he faces Henrik Lundqvist (18-11-3, 2.49, .920), who is 4-6-0 in his last 10 decisions, including a 7-3 loss to the Caps on Dec. 20 in New York in which he allowed five goals on 24 shots and was yanked after two periods.

Johansson out, Latta in: Caps coach Barry Trotz said he was disappointed in the two-game suspension Marcus Johansson received for his illegal check to the head of Islanders defenseman Thomas Hickey Thursday night. “I thought it was a pretty legal hit,” Trotz said. “Hickey said after the game that it was partially his fault. Marcus is not even close to that type of player. I was surprised he got two games. It is what it is and we move on.”  

With Johansson out, center Michael Latta will move into his spot on the third line between Jason Chimera and Tom Wilson. Brooks Laich will move to fourth-line center on a line with left wing Paul Carey and right wing Stan Galiev. Trotz said he sees this as a “great challenge” for Latta.

Trotz said Carey, who will wear No. 28, has good speed and skill and can play center or wing. Trotz said he might also double shift centers Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Hat trick from 500: Alex Ovechkin will be playing in his 800th NHL game and is three goals away from 500 in his career. In 41 career games against the Rangers he has 24 goals and 39 points but has never scored a hat trick against the Blueshirts.

Trotz was asked if he senses any nervousness from his 30-year-old captain as he approaches the milestone.

“Nothing,” Trotz said. “We haven’t even talked about that.

“I think the Russian one (his 484th) got a lot of play when he passed (Sergei) Fedorov (on Nov. 19). I think he was more nervous for that one than he is now.

“He’s going to score a lot more than 500 goals. I’m pretty sure on that. It’s a big milestone, but I think he’s got other milestones he wants to achieve as well.”

What the Rangers are saying: The Rangers are 5-8-2 since the start of December, including that 7-3 loss to the Caps in which they blew a 3-1 lead. Coach Alain Vigneault said the Rangers will need to play their “best game” to beat the Caps, who have won two straight after a brief 0-1-1 slide.

“Skill, size, speed, great transition game and probably the hottest goaltender in the league right now,” Vigneault said of Holtby and the Caps. “…We’re ready. We know right now that Washington’s the best in the league and it’s gonna take our best game.”

[RELATED: Backstrom, Holtby selected to NHL All-Star Game]

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Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 74 Capitals at Red Wings Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Detroit Red Wings

Where: Little Caesars Arena, Detroit, Mich.

When: 7:30 p.m. ET

How to Watch: Capitals-Red Wings will be broadcast on NBCSN.

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


The Capitals (42-24-7) take on the Red Wings (27-35-11) Thursday, March 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET in Detroit.


The Capitals-Red Wings game will be broadcast on NBCSN. Coverage kicks off on NBC Sports Washington with Capitals FaceOff at 6:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 7:00 p.m. Check back with NBC Sports Washington after the game for Caps Extra and Caps Overtime at 10:30 p.m. for postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
7:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:30 p.m. — Capitals at Red Wings (on NBCSN)
10:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime


Here are the projected lines for the Caps-Red Wings game:

Alex Ovechkin -  Nicklas Backstrom - Tom Wilson
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana - Travis Boyd - Brett Connolly
Chandler Stephenson - Jay Beagle - Devante Smith-Pelly

Michal Kempny - John Carlson
Dmitry Orlov - Matt Niskanen
Brooks Orpik - Christian Djoos

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Evgeny Kuznetsov (upper body injury), Alex Chiasson, Jakub Jerabek


You can watch the Capitals-Red Wings game on NBC Sports' live stream page.


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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Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Faceoff Podcast: How does Brooks Orpik really impact the Caps?

No player on the Caps gets more scrutiny than defenseman Brooks Orpik. While the analytics aren't kind when he's on the ice, we got to see what the Caps looked like without him when he was scratched against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday and...well, his loss was noticeable.

JJ Regan and Tarik El-Bashir discuss what Orpik's true impact on the Capitals really is both on and off the ice on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast. Plus, they also talk about John Carlson's monster season and Barry Trotz's new strategy for the goalies.

Listen to the latest episode in the player below or here on the Capitals Faceoff Podcast page.