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AAA Keys to the Game: No Carlson for Capitals vs. Wild


AAA Keys to the Game: No Carlson for Capitals vs. Wild

The Capitals (44-11-4, 92 points) face the Minnesota Wild (27-24-10, 64 points) tonight at Verizon Center (7 p.m.). Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

No Carlson: Caps defenseman John Carlson is sitting out the game with a lower body injury. Carlson missed 12 games from Dec. 28 through Jan. 19 with a lower body injury. He took part in every drill during Friday’s morning skate and gave no indication he was hurting until he missed pregame warmups.

With Carlson out, the Caps are going with Brooks Orpik and Taylor Chorney on their second unit and Dmitry Orlov and Nate Schmidt on their third.

Keumper for Minny: The Caps will get their first look at Wild backup goaltender Darcy Kuemper, who enters the game with 6-3-5 record with a 2.26 GAA and .920 save percentage. Braden Holtby gets the call for the Caps. Holtby is 9-0-0 following losses this season.

"We're just focused game in and game out," Holtby said. "We're focused on getting better. You look at it as you want to bounce back from a loss but at the same time you try to win every game and keep that focus that way."

Where they stand: The Caps are coming off Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens and are shooting for becoming the first NHL team since the 1976-77 Canadiens to go an entire season without back-to-back regulation losses.

Last we met: The Caps beat the Wild 4-3 in Minnesota back on Feb. 11. Two days later the Wild fired coach Mike Yeo and replaced him with John Torchetti. The Wild lost their first game under Torchetti then ran off four straight wins before losing two in a row. They are coming off a 3-2 loss in Philadelphia Thursday night in which Michal Neuvirth earned the Flyers two point with a diving stick save on Charlie Coyle in the final seconds of regulation.

Here are starting lineups:  


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie

Andre Burakovsky – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Justin Williams

Jason Chimera – Marcus Johansson – Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich – Mike Richards - Stan Galiev 

Injured: Jay Beagle (hand), Michael Latta (flu)

Defense pairs

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Nate Schmidt – Dmitry Orlov

Brooks Orpik – Taylor Chorney


Braden Holtby (starter) – Philipp Grubauer

Forward lines

Jordan Schroeder - Mikko Koivu - Charlie Coyle
Chris Porter - Mikael Granlund - Thomas Vanek
Nino Niederreiter - Erik Haula - Jason Pominville
Ryan Carter - Jarret Stoll - Justin Fontaine

Defense pairs

Ryan Suter - Jared Spurgeon
Marco Scandella - Matt Dumba
Mike Reilly - Christian Folin

Devan Dubnyk

Darcy Kuemper (starter) – Niklas Backstrom

Injured: Zach Parise (upper body), Jason Zucker (concussion), Jonas Brodin (foot)
Scratched: Nate Prosser, Devan Dubnyk

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Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal


Trade to Caps potentially offers Jerabek what he never got in Montreal

Defenseman Jakub Jerabek is really happy about the opportunity to play with the Washington Capitals, but it could have come at a better time. The trade came with his parents already on their way from the Czech Republic to visit him.

“It was crazy days past three days because I had my parents on the way to Montreal and they didn't know so it was a big surprise for them,” Jerabek told reporters Saturday after his first skate with the team.

A native of the Czech Republic, Jerabek signed his first NHL contract with the Montreal Canadiens in May 2017. After spending some time in the AHL and struggling to consistently earn a spot in the Canadiens’ lineup, he knew a trade was possible.

“My family, maybe we expected some trade. When its come with Caps and it was Washington, I was really happy.”


Jerabek said he came into the NHL with no expectations and was simply happy for the opportunity, but it is fair to wonder if he was not just the least bit frustrated with how he was utilized by Montreal.

For a player with experience playing for the national team, the Czech league and the KHL, getting only 25 games with a bad Montreal team seems a bit low.

“In first two weeks, I didn't know what's going on because the coaches just told me that I played well, but we just make some competition between the [defensemen] and that I have to wait for my next chance,” Jerabek said. “It was hard, but now I'm happy down here.”

Washington now offers a very different opportunity. In need of help on the blue line, Jeraebek has the chance to earn consistent playing time for a team on pace to reach the postseason.

Jerabek will not play in Saturday’s game against Buffalo, but he was hopeful he would be in the lineup for Monday’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets.


For now, Jerabek and head coach Barry Trotz are unclear as to what his ultimate role on the team will be. With eight defensemen now on the roster, Trotz cautioned any lineup decision could not be rushed because of the trickle-down effect it will have on the other players.

“You always look at chemistry and all that with your group depending how high that player goes up the lineup, it affects different people,” Trotz said. “In a forward group, if you get a guy that you all of a sudden stick on the first line, there's four other guys that are bumped down and one guy's bumped out.”

The addition of Jerabek, however, offers the Caps another defenseman who can quickly move the puck out of the defensive zone, something the team has struggled with immensely throughout the season. Though he shoots left, he also said he is comfortable playing on the right said and has played there regularly over the past few years. That provides the lineup with some flexibility on the third pair behind Matt Niskanen and John Carlson.

As for Jerabek’s parents, they will be arriving in Washington on Saturday.

“I tried to figure out the situation with them to get them to here and they will come today,” he said. “So I'm really happy.”

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Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread


Game 62: Capitals vs. Sabres Date, Time, How to Watch, Game Thread

What: Washington Capitals vs. Buffalo Sabres

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: 7:00 p.m. ET

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

Live Stream: You can watch the Capitals-Sabres game on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page.


The Capitals (34-20-7) take on the Sabres (18-32-11) Saturday, February 24 at 7:00 p.m. ET in Capital One Arena.


The Capitals-Sabres game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. Coverage kicks off with Capitals FaceOff at 6:00 p.m. followed by Caps GameTime at 6:30 p.m. Stay with NBC Sports Washington for Caps Extra following the game, Caps Overtime at 10:00 p.m. and Caps in 30 at 11:00 p.m. for all your postgame coverage. (NBC Sports Washington channel Finder)

6:00 p.m. — Caps FaceOff
6:30 p.m. — Caps GameTime
7:00 p.m. — Capitals vs. Sabres
9:30 p.m. — Caps Extra
10:00 p.m. — Caps Overtime
11:00 p.m. — Caps in 30


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

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

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

Philipp Grubauer starts with Braden Holtby as backup

Scratches: Alex Chiasson, Madison Bowey, Jakub Jerabek


The Capitals-Panthers 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.


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.