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AAA Keys to the game: Caps at Red Wings


AAA Keys to the game: Caps at Red Wings

The Capitals (10-3-0, 20 points) will look to extend their win streak to three games when they visit the Detroit Red Wings (7-6-1, 15 points), who have won three of their last four tonight at Joe Louis Arena (7:30 p.m.,, CSN+). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Russian knight: While the Red Wings honor Sergei Fedorov’s induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, Alex Ovechkin is one goal away from eclipsing Fedorov’s record for goals by a Russian-born player. Fedorov scored 483 goals in 1,248 NHL games. Ovechkin reached 483 goals in his 772nd game.

Capitals right wing Justin Williams said Fedorov and Wayne Gretzky were his two favorite players growing up and now he’s learning first-hand what Ovechkin brings to the table. Ovechkin has earned a point in 11 of his 12 games this season (8 goals, 8 assists).

“There are very, very few game-breakers, if any, other than Ovi, in the game today,” Williams said, “and I think the elation he shows for his teammates when they score tells you what kind of guy he is. It tells me he’s a team guy.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz agrees.

“I look at his whole body of work and when the game is on the line there’s a certain thing where he wants to take over the game,” Trotz said. “Very few people in this league can do it and he has it. I’m fortunate he’s on our team.”

Beagle in question: Center Jay Beagle tweaked an earlier injury and is expected to be a game-time decision. If he can’t play, look for center Michael Latta to take his place on the third line.

Fun in Motown: The Capitals are 6-1-1 in their last eight visits to Detroit, outscoring the Red Wings 31-21. They have won each of their last two visits by 2-1 scores. Moreover, the Caps have earned a point in 20 straight games against Atlantic Division foes (17-0-3) and have outscored opponents 62-32 during that span.

Caps goaltender Braden Holtby is 3-0-0 in his career at Detroit, with a 2.28 goals against average and a .934 save percentage. Alex Ovechkin has 17 points (9 goals, 8 assists) in 17 career games against the Red Wings. Defenseman John Carlson has nine points (3 goals, 6 assists) in nine career games against Detroit.
The Caps and Wings face off again on Nov. 18 in the Motor City, then at Verizon Center on Dec. 8.

Fast starters: The Caps’ 10-3-0 start matches their best in franchise history. They also went 10-3-0 to start the 1991-92 season. The Caps lead the NHL in shots against per game (25.2) this season and rank fourth in goals per game (3.23).

Big finishers: Nicklas Backstrom’s game-tying goal with 0.8 seconds remaining in regulation was the latest game-tying goal in the NHL since Canadiens forward David Desharnais also scored at 19:59 on March 15, 2014 vs. Ottawa. Backstrom is the first
Capitals player to score a game-tying goal with one second left in regulation since Ovechkin did it on Nov. 15, 2008 at New Jersey, a game the Caps lost 6-5 in a shootout.
Since Backstrom entered the NHL in 2007-08, he has earned an assist on 174 of Ovechkin’s 385 goals (45.2 percent). Since he entered the NHL in 2007-08, Backstrom ranks third in the league in assists (432), trailing Henrik Sedin (480) and Joe Thornton (460).

Chasing Martin: While Ovechkin looks to become the NHL’s top goal-scoring Russian in NHL history, Trotz is just one win away from tying Jacques Martin for 12th on the NHL’s all-time coaching wins list. Martin has 613 NHL coaching victories. Trotz has 612. Speaking of milestones, John Carlson is one point away from tying Rod Langway (202) for eighth place on the Capitals’ list of points by a defenseman.

On the road again: The Caps are playing their sixth road game of the season tonight. They are 4-1-0 on the road, outscoring opponents 20-14. Evgeny Kuznetsov has 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in five games on the road this season, including his first career hat trick at Edmonton on Oct. 23. Alex Ovechkin has 3 goals and 5 assists in five games. The Caps’ mini road trip continues in Philadelphia on Thursday night.

TKO Line: The Caps’ top line of Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and T.J. Oshie has combined for 39 points this season (17 goals, 22 assists). The line ranks tied for fourth in the NHL in points, trailing Dallas’ Jamie Benn, Tyler Seguin and Jason Spezza (56), Chicago’s Patrick Kane, Artemi Panarin and Artem Anisimov (47) and Montreal’s Tomas Plekanec, Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher (43).

RELATED: Alex Ovechkin talks soccer with the Men in Blazers

Projected lineups for tonight:


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Nicklas Backstrom - Andre Burakovsky

Jason Chimera - Michael Latta - Justin Williams

Brooks Laich - Chandler Stephenson - Tom Wilson

Defense pairings

Brooks Orpik - John Carlson

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - Nate Schmidt

Goaltenders Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Jay Beagle (undisclosed, game-time)

Scratches: Taylor Chorney


Forward lines

Justin Abdelkader - Henrik Zetterberg - Dylan Larkin

Tomas Tatar - Riley Sheahan - Gustav Nyquist

Joakim Andersson - Andreas Athanasiou - Teemu Pulkkinen

Drew Miller - Luke Glendening - Darren Helm

Defense pairings

Niklas Kronwall - Mike Green

Danny DeKeyser - Jonathan Ericsson

Jakub Kindl - Alexey Marchenko

Goaltenders Petr Mrazek - Jimmy Howard

Injured: Pavel Datsyuk (ankle), Johan Franzen (concussion-like symptoms), Brad Richards (back), Kyle Quincey (ankle)

Scratches: Brendan Smith

MORE CAPITALS: Green, Caps ready for 'strange' night in Detroit

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Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

NBC Sports Washington

Capitals Extra Podcast: Trade deadline story time with Alan May

Alan May knows a thing or two about the trade deadline.

Over the course of his NHL career, May was traded five total times, four at the trade deadline. He sits down with Rob Carlin on a special edition of the Capitals Extra Podcast to tell stories from his playing days about what it was like getting traded.

This one's a can't miss for hockey fans. You can listen to the episode here on the Capitals Extra page or with the player below.

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NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?


NHL Awards tracker: Where would the Caps' offense be without Ovechkin?

The Hart Trophy is given to the player judged to be the most valuable to their team. With the Caps currently struggling in almost every aspect of the game, consider this: Just where would they be without Alex Ovechkin?

Washington ranks 10th in the NHL in goals per game with 3.05. Ovechkin leads the NHL in goals with 36. He has scored an incredible 19-percent of his team's goals. No one on the Caps is within 20 goals of the Caps' captain.

That's not a typo. Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks second on the team with 16 goals. No other team in the league has a larger separation between its top two scorers. In fact, only three teams have a difference that's in the double digits: Vancouver (11), San Jose (10) and New Jersey (10).

Ovechkin is almost singlehandedly propping up Washington as a top-ten offense. If you think about just where this offense would be without him, there's a pretty strong case to be made that Ovechkin is as valuable to his team this season as any other player in the league.


Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is fifth among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With a blue line that has featured two rookies the majority of the season, an aging veteran in Brooks Orpik and that had to deal with an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

Few players, if any, are as important to their team's offensive production and therefore its success than Ovechkin has been this season.

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