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AAA Keys to the Game: Grubauer in, Oshie out vs. Blues


AAA Keys to the Game: Grubauer in, Oshie out vs. Blues

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will need to wait a couple more days before resuming his pursuit of the NHL’s single-season wins record.

Head coach Barry Trotz said backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer will get the start tonight against the St. Louis Blues (6:30 p.m. Pregame Live, CSN), while right winger T.J. Oshie will miss his second straight game with flu-like symptoms.

Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Oshie update: Trotz said the plan is for Oshie to skate on Easter Sunday and “flush some of that out of his system.” Trotz said Oshie did not report to Verizon Center “so that he doesn’t get anybody else sick” and that he hopes Oshie will be cleared to play on Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Oshie would have been facing his former team for the first time since being traded from St. Louis to Washington in a summer trade that sent Troy Brouwer to the Blues.

“You always want to play your old team. The good thing is we play them one more time a little more than a week from now (April 9 in St. Louis) and he’ll get that opportunity. Today it will be Brouw’s night.”

Trotz said Brouwer left a “big footprint” in Washington and was “outstanding” both on and off the ice.

Between the pipes: Grubauer (8-6-1, 2.19 GAA, .924) has not started since March 12. He’ll face Blues backup Jake Allen (24-14-3, 2.42, .917).  That means Brian Elliott, who has three consecutive shutouts, will get the night off.

No resting: Trotz said he will not sit any of his players out to give them a rest, saying unless they are injured they will play. Trotz said he spoke with Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen about players in Pittsburgh being rested down the stretch and was told players lost their rhythm and were adversely affected in the playoffs.

Facing Hitch: Tonight’s game features two of the NHL’s winningest coaches. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock ranks fourth all-time with 752 victories, while Trotz ranks ninth with 655. Trotz said Hitchcock’s teams are always disciplined, structured, physical and competitive.

“Hitch is a great hockey guy,” Trotz said. “We’re friends and I’ve learned a lot over the years from Hitch by coaching against him and talking with him.”

Here are projected lineups:


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Andre Burakovsky

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Daniel WinnikMike Richards - Stanislav Galiev

Defense pairs

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - Brooks Orpik

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson


Philipp Grubauer (starter) - Braden Holtby

Injured: T.J., Oshie (flu)

Scratched: Michael LattaMike WeberTaylor Chorney


Forward lines

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Defense pairs

Kevin Shattenkirk - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo


Jake Allen (starter) - Brian Elliott

Injured: Alexander Steen (upper body), Steve Ott (hamstrings), Jay Bouwmeester (upper body)

Scratched: Magnus PaajarviAnders Nilsson, Petteri Lindbohm

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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!