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Capitals' Braden Holtby and 'Tre Kronor' set to face Penguins in opener

Capitals' Braden Holtby and 'Tre Kronor' set to face Penguins in opener

PITTSBURGH—Braden Holtby will start in goal and the ‘Tre Kronor’ line will be reunited when the Capitals open the season Thursday night against the Sidney Crosby-less Penguins.

Here are the other nuts and bolts from PPG Paints Arena (yes, that's the new name for the Penguins' home rink):

  • The lineup was unchanged from Wednesday’s practice, meaning you’ll see (to start the game, at least) Ovechkin-Kuznetsov-Oshie; Johansson-Backstrom-Burakovsky; Sanford-Eller-Williams; and Winnik-Beagle-Wilson. On defense, it’ll be Alzner-Niskanen; Orlov-Carlson; and Orpik-Schmidt. Holtby, of course, will be backed up by Grubauer. Meantime, Connolly and Chorney will be the scratches.
  • Crosby (concussion, Bryan Rust (finger) and Matt Murray (hand) are out for the Penguins. Marc-Andre Fleury will be backed up by Mike Condon.
  • Capitals Coach Barry Trotz on Crosby’s absence: “I got to see him up-close and personal during the World Cup, and he’s a fantastic player. Obviously, when you got a 1-2-3 punch, now they have a 1-2 punch. It’s too bad that he’s injured. He’s a big piece of them and he’s their leader. But that’s not case, [so] we’ll just deal with what’s in front of us tonight.”
  • The Penguins’ banner raising ceremony is set to begin around 7:55. The opening faceoff is scheduled for 8:21. NBC Sports Network will carry the ceremony in its entirety.
  • On Wednesday, Trotz declined to say how his team would handle the lengthy wait. And he offered scant details Thursday afternoon, as well. “From our standpoint, we’d like to be standing where they are tonight,” he said. “They earned the right to be there. And it’s their moment. We’ve got to get it done from our standpoint so we can have the moment maybe in our future.”

MORE CAPITALS: Eastern Conference predictions: Caps, Penguins vie for division

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


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!).


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


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


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

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

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


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).


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


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.


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!