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AAA Keys to the Game: Early boos, Weber in, Chorney out for Capitals

AAA Keys to the Game: Early boos, Weber in, Chorney out for Capitals

PHILADELPHIA – Roughly  2½ hours before puck drop, as the Capitals’ team bus rolled into the parking lot of Wells Fargo Center, the boos and catcalls began.

“Good rivalry, obviously, Philly-Washington,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said before guiding his players into Game 6 of their first-round playoff series against the Flyers.

“It’s no different than getting off the bus at the hotel yesterday. It is fun. But when you’re just walking around and people are saying nasty things to you I don’t think you really enjoy that. But when you get to the arena it’s Game On and I think guys feed off that.”

After two months of dealing with virtually no adversity the Capitals skate into Game 6 having lost back-to-back games in regulation for the first time all season. 

“Any time you’re in the playoffs you learn something,” Trotz said. “Every experience, good or bad, you build character off that. The playoffs really test you physically and mentally, especially the first round.”

While the Penguins finished off the Rangers in five games of their first-round series, the Capitals have allowed the Flyers to crawl back from a 3-0 deficit.

“If you would have asked me going into it would we be in Philadelphia for Game 6 I’d say, ‘probably,’” Trotz said. “They’re a good hockey team. They’re well built, they’ve gotten better and better as the season’s gone on. I think since January there are only three points difference between us and them. Were we surprised we were up three? Probably.” 

Weber for Chorney: Judging from line rushes during pregame warmups, Mike Weber will make his playoff debut for the Capitals  today, replacing Taylor Chorney on a trhird defense pairing with Dmitry Orlov. 

Weber, a hard-hitting veteran has not played in a playoff game since the Flyers eliminated the Buffalo Sabres in seven games in 2011. 

Chorney replaced Brooks Orpik in Game 4 and was involved in two game-changing plays. He took a penalty that led to a Flyers goal in Game 4 and had a puck go off his skate for the game-winning goal in Game 5.

Mark these words: Trotz said after Game 5 that he’d like to see more even-strength offensive production from his centers, namely Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. But third-line center Mike Richards has had a quiet start to the series with no goals and just three shots in his first three games.

“He’s come in and has been exactly what we hoped he would,” Trotz said. “He pulls you into the fight. He’s fabulous on the penalty kill. He’s a late-game player. He’s a guy that’s in the battle all the time. He’s not the biggest guy, but he puts it all on the line.”
Orpik update: Brooks Orpik, sidelined since Game 3 with an upper body injury, made the trip to Philadelphia and worked out with strength and conditioning coach Mark Nemish.

“He’s continuing to feel better,” Trotz said. “He’s getting treatment and working out with our strength coach. All those signs are real positives for us. He’s won a Cup, he’s a winner, he’s a total pro. He’s a good voice. He has a calming effect on everybody in the whole group, and for young guys he’s like a father figure in our room and they sort of congregate around him.”

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Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

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USA TODAY Sports

Game 58: Capitals at Blackhawks Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Chicago Blackhawks

Where: United Center, Chicago, Ill.

When: 8:30 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Blackhawks 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-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals (33-17-7) take on the Blackhawks (24-26-8) Saturday, February 17 at 8:30 p.m. ET in Chicago.

WHAT CHANNEL IS THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME ON?

The Capitals-Blackhawks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 7:30 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 8:00 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 11:30 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 12:30 a.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

7:30 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
8:00 p.m. — Caps GameTime
8:30 p.m. — Capitals at Blackhawks
11:00 p.m. — Caps Extra
11:30 p.m. — Caps Overtime
12:30 a.m. — Caps in 30

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

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

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

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

Braden Holtby starts with Philipp Grubauer as backup

Scratches: Jakub Vrana, Taylor Chorney

WHERE CAN I STREAM THE CAPITALS-BLACKHAWKS GAME?

The Capitals-Blackhawks 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-BLACKHAWKS 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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NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

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USA TODAY Sports

NHL Awards tracker: How Malkin is helping Ovechkin's case for the Hart

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

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been red-hot as of late and so has Evgeni Malkin. In his last nine games, Malkin has tallied a whopping 11 goals and 17 points. His current run has some people talking about him contending for the Hart Trophy as the league's most valuable player.

But if you want to talk about Malkin for the Hart, you have to talk about Alex Ovechkin as well.

Malkin has 66 points this season, Ovechkin has 65. Even with his impressive goal run of late, Malkin still trails Ovechkin in the goal-scoring race 34-32. What's more, Ovechkin's Capitals still hold a three-point lead over Pittsburgh with two games in hand in the Metropolitan Division.

Granted all of this could change by next week. Perhaps Malkin will pass Ovechkin in goals or the Penguins will pass the Caps in the standings which will change the conversation. Until then, however, there's no way to push Malkin's Hart candidacy without thinking about Ovechkin. What he is doing at the age of 32 with a Capitals team in which no one really knew what to expect is more impressive than what the 31-year-old Malkin is doing with players like Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby with the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Here are the Caps' hopefuls for awards this season:

John Carlson

In contention for: Norris

Carlson is third among all defensemen with 45 points, but his case goes beyond the numbers. With two rookies on the blue line and an injury to Matt Niskanen, the Caps have asked a lot of Carlson this season and he has always been up to the task.

SEE THIS WEEK'S 2018 NHL AWARDS TRACKER HERE

Braden Holtby

In contention for: Vezina

Holtby is on pace to be a 40-win goalie for the fourth consecutive season. He would be the first goalie in NHL history to accomplish that feat.

Alex Ovechkin

In contention for: Hart

If Malkin is a Hart candidate, so is Ovechkin who has done more with less in Washington this season.

Barry Trotz

In contention for: Jack Adams

The Caps still hold a three-point lead in the Metropolitan Division despite having two rookies on the blue line, dealing with more injuries than they have seen in years and down offensive years for some of its top players. Trotz deserves a lot of credit for that.

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