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After loss to Ducks, Capitals turn their sights toward Philly

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After loss to Ducks, Capitals turn their sights toward Philly

Mention the words “Philadelphia Flyers” to members of the Capitals and you almost always hear two words: “physical and emotional.” 

On Thursday night at Verizon Center, you’ll see and hear those two words in loud, living color, and that means ...

“Probably staying disciplined,” Capitals defenseman Karl Alzner said. “I think emotions run really high even just in a regular season game against them. 

“I imagine they’ll be even higher than that for the playoffs. Being smart and not taking penalties. They scored that power play goal against us last game (2-1 overtime loss) and that kind of turned things for them. That’s going to be a very big key. There are a lot of little details but making sure we stay out of the box is going to be very important.”

Justin Williams, who played his first NHL game as a Flyer and his 1,000th NHL game as a Capital, said anyone who thinks the first-round series between the top-seeded Caps and eighth-seeded Flyers will be anything less than a battle of attrition needs to think again.

He also said the Caps’ 1-2-2 record down the stretch means nothing, as does their 2-0-2 record against the Flyers this season.

MORE CAPITALS: DATES, TIMES, TV SCHEDULE SET FOR FIRST-ROUND SERIES

“Everything is reset to zero now,” Williams said. “We firmly believe that. Philly is going to be an extremely tough opponent. They’re playing well and you always gotta be wary. We have our home ice and we’ve got to take care of it.”

Sunday night’s regular season-ending 2-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks lacked the urgency, emotion and physicality that was clearly present in the Caps’ 5-1 win over the Blues in St. Louis.

“St. Louis was a big game for us,” said Braden Holtby, who sat out Sunday’s finale. “They’re a team that was fighting for something and they had a full lineup . We did, too. Both teams are playoff ready and it was good to get that one.”

Capitals coach Barry Trotz said he expects the players that sat out Sunday night’s loss – Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Jay Beagle, John Carlson and Brooks Orpik – should be healthy enough to play when the series begins on Thursday night against one of the most physical teams in the NHL.  

“They play a hard team game, sort of that pack mentality,” Trotz said of the Flyers. “We played them four times this year and they were all hard games.

“I saw where we were last night (against the Blues) and I’m pretty confident that if we’re healthy we have as good a shot as the other 16 teams.

“The No. 1 thing is you’ve got to have confidence. This team has confidence. They have belief that we can maybe do something and go far. But you also have to recognize there are other teams that are very, very good. In our own conference there are teams that are hitting their stride. Some teams maybe started a little bit slow and gathered some momentum, like Philly and Pittsburgh. And I think the Rangers and Islanders are a real solid teams. There’s not much difference.”

Beginning Thursday night we’ll find out how much.

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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
Brett Connolly - Evgeny Kuznetsov - T.J. Oshie
Andre Burakovsky - Lars Eller - Alex Chiasson
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!