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The Capitals have the best kind of goalie problem

The Capitals have the best kind of goalie problem

ARLINGTON, Va. -- The Capitals have a problem. It’s not the type of problem that could torpedo their season or keep them out of the playoffs. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, The problem in Washington is that it has two goalies who are playing really well. Obviously, the Caps should not expect much sympathy from the rest of the league.

It’s a problem, general manager Brian MacLellan knows its a problem, but it’s the best kind of problem.

Braden Holtby is tied for the league lead in wins with a 13-2-4 record on the season. His .909 save percentage and 2.86 GAA may not look all that impressive, but Holtby had a tough start to the season. He has rebounded in a big way and in the month of November posted a .928 save percentage and 2.24 GAA.

“He's a mature guy,” MacLellan said. “He's good at what he does. The times he does get off his game, he works hard to get back on the game.”

Backing up Holtby is rookie netminder Ilya Samsonov. He has only nine games of NHL experience, but already has six wins with a .914 save percentage and 2.58 GAA. And, at 22 years old, he’s only getting better.

“Last half of last year, at the AHL level he's shown what he can do,” MacLellan said. “He seems to absorb a lot of instruction. He picks it up quick. I think he adjusts to the level of NHL shooters. He's a guy that's competitive that wants to get good and that really works at it and so I don't think it's a surprise that he's doing as well as he is.”

So what’s the issue?

The problem comes from the fact that Braden Holtby is on the last year of his contract and in need of a raise. Not only is the team dealing with a severe cap crunch, but everything is made more complicated by the upcoming Seattle expansion draft in which teams will only be allowed to protect one goalie. That means MacLellan has the unenviable task in the offseason of choosing who will be the team's future in net.

Sure, Holtby is a Vezina and Stanley Cup winner and has been the starter in Washington for several years, but Samsonov is younger and thus far proving to be everything the Caps hoped he would when they drafted him.

“You'd have to make a decision on goalies I would assume if Samsonov continues on the track he's on,” MacLellan said of the expansion draft.

While many fans are already hopping on Team Holtby or Team Samsonov, MacLellan made it clear that it is too early to make any decision in net because many of the factors that will go into that decision are not yet known.

"It's tough to say what the cap is going to be and it's tough to say what other personnel decisions you can make," he said. "We're projecting here something that's difficult to project."

Having to choose between two starting goalies is a good problem to have. Some teams don't have any. But it is still a real problem made tougher every day as both netminders continue to play at the top of their game.

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Capitals vs. Canadiens: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

Capitals vs. Canadiens: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, how to watch

The last time the Capitals faced the Canadiens, Montreal rode a four-goal second period en route to a 5-2 win that snapped a 13-point streak that Washington had enjoyed for over a month.

With a three-game point streak built up heading into play Monday, the Capitals will once again be hoping to preserve a run of excellence.

Here's everything you need to know before puck drop.

CAPITALS vs. CANADIENS: HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Montreal Canadiens

Where: Bell Centre, Montreal, Quebec

When: Thursday, January 27, 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals-Canadiens game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington. (NBC Sports channel Finder)

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

Radio: Caps Radio 24/7

CAPITALS-CANADIENS TV SCHEDULE:

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live

6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live

7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Devils

9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS-CANADIENS INJURY REPORT:

Capitals: None

Canadiens: Joel Teasdale (knee/OUT), Paul Byron (knee/day-to-day), Jonathan Drouin (wrist/day-to-day)

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.

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Will Ovechkin catch Gretzky? NHL stars weigh in

Will Ovechkin catch Gretzky? NHL stars weigh in

ST. LOUIS -- What was once thought to be an unbreakable record, Alex Ovechkin's pursuit of Wayne Gretzky's goal record was a big topic of conversation at All-Star Media Day on Thursday. With Ovechkin just eight goals shy of 700 for his career and, at 34 years old and showing no signs of slowing down, it is looking more and more possible that he will be able to push for Gretzky's record of 894.

Ovechkin still has 202 goals to get there, but at the very least his quest now seems possible. That in itself is an achievement.

But will Ovechkin ultimately get there? I asked some of the biggest stars in the game for their take. Here is what they said:

Capitals forward T.J. Oshie: "I think he has a good chance to. I mean, you look at the pace he's at now, I think it's going to come down to what he wants to do, how long he wants to play. But if he keeps working and stays at the pace he's at, you can look at the numbers, I think he can do it."

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews: "I think if anybody's going to do it, it's obviously him. He's obviously been around for a while, I've been watching him since I was a kid. He's an amazing player and I think when it's all said and done he could probably break that record. I think it'd be pretty sweet to see."

Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak: "You never know with Ovi, right? He could do that. I don't know. My guess would be probably not, but he definitely going to hit 800 I would say."

Calgary Flames defenseman Mark Giordano: "I think he has a chance. I think everyone halfway through his career would've said no, he's going to tail off at some point, but he hasn't stopped so he has a chance for sure."

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi: "I think so, yeah. I don't think he's slowing down and then he's going to get a lot more years and he's going to score a lot more goals."

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon: "I don't know. I'm hopeful. We'll leave it at that."

Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy: "I think health-wise will determine that. If he can stay healthy to at least 38, 39, 40, I don't see why he won't at least push up against it."

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