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AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Hurricanes


AAA Keys to the Game: Capitals vs. Hurricanes

The Capitals (24-6-2, 50 points) just continue to find ways to win. Will Monday's game against the Carolina Hurricanes (13-15-5, 31 points) be a bit less dramatic than the Caps' last two games? Catch all the action on CSN Plus starting at 6:30 p.m.

Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

A rising star: Carolina may not look all that intimidating when it comes to the standings, where they sit ahead of only Columbus in the Metropolitan Division, but the team knows they will face a hard-working team on Monday night and one of the league's top defensemen.

"They play really quick,' head coach Barry Trotz said. "They’ll pressure you all over the ice. They come at you hard. They have a very active dee. Justin Faulk is turning into one of the premier defensemen in the league. They’re hard to play against. Every night they bring a full-out effort."

Faulk actually leads the team in points with 27. He's someone the Caps need to account for on the power play as all 12 of his goals this season have come with his team a man up.

An ouchie for Oshie: T.J. Oshie will be a game-time decision with a lower-body injury. The Caps winger left for the locker room midway through the second period of Sunday's game. He did return for the start of the third, but had only 14:49 of ice time for the game, his second lowest for the season. Oshie has been on a tear of late with eight points in his last four games which earned him Second Star NHL honors for the week.

Vacation starts early: Philipp Grubauer will get the start in net on Monday, giving Braden Holtby the night off after playing Sunday in New York. Trotz hinted on Sunday that he may play Holtby in the second leg of the back-to-back after pulling him early on Friday against Tampa Bay. Grubauer has compiled a respectable 3-2-1 record in relief, but Holtby showed he can handle a heavy workload after playing in 73 games last season. Monday's game marks the sixth back-to-back set of the season for the Caps who are 9-1-1 in back-to-back games outscoring their opponents 40-24. After tonight, the Caps will have another seven back-to-backs over the course of the season.

Brothers in arms: When Eric Staal and Jordan Staal united in Carolina, it was thought the Hurricanes would have one of the strongest lineups down the center in the NHL. Things haven't exactly gone that way for the Hurricanes. This season, the Staal brothers have managed only 32 points combined. Eric Staal, 31, has long been the subject of trade rumors as his contract will expire at the end of the season. With the Hurricanes not likely headed for the playoffs, it's not inconceivable that Carolina could attempt to move their long-time captain at some point this season.

Struggles in net: The Hurricanes added goaltending depth in the offseason with the acquisition of Eddie Lack, but the move has not paid off as both he and Cam Ward have struggled this season. Lack has registered only a .876 save percentage while giving up 3.34 goals per game. Ward has not been much better with a .899 save percentage and a 2.58 GAA. Ward will start tonight for Carolina, but given those numbers, it would not be surprising if the Caps end up seeing both netminders over the course of the game.

Fond memories: Justin Williams returns to Carolina where he registered 201 points in five seasons and won a Stanley Cup in 2006. Mr. Game 7 scored an empty-netter in Game 7 against the Edmonton Oilers to ice the series. Williams scored two goals and added an assist in Sunday's win over the Rangers. For the season, he has 10 goals and 13 assists.

Road-ice advantage? The Caps are 9-3-0 in their last 12 games on the road against Carolina and have won five of their last six. Washington has found plenty of success against the Hurricanes in recent years as they have gone 18-6-3 overall against the divisional foe since the start of the 2010-11 season and 6-1-1 in their last eight meetings.

Lasting success: In addition to the team success, several Caps players also seem to enjoy a matchup with the 'Canes. Nicklas Backstrom has more tallied more points against Carolina than any other NHL team with 49 in 42 games. Alex Ovechkin also has a whopping 74 points, the third-most he has against any NHL team. It's not just the offense. In 12 games, Braden Holtby has enjoyed an 8-4-0 record with one shutout, a 1.99 goals-against average and a .942 save percentage.

Here we go again: The Caps' win on Sunday was the second consecutive game the team has rallied from a multi-goal deficit to win in regulation. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, this is the fifth time in franchise history that the Capitals have won consecutive games by overcoming a deficit of at least two goals in each game, but it's only the second time they've done so with two regulation wins. The only other time the Caps managed this feat was in February of 1986

Projected Lines


Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Brooks Laich - Michael Latta - Andre Burakovsky

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney

Philipp Grubauer

Braden Holtby

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)

Scratched Stanislav GalievConnor Carrick


Kris Versteeg - Eric Staal - Elias Lindholm

Jeff Skinner - Victor Rask - Phillip Di Giuseppe

Joakim Nordstrom - Jordan Staal - Andrej Nestrasil

Brad Malone - Jay McClement - Chris Terry

John-Michael Liles - Justin Faulk

Jaccob Slavin - Ron Hainsey

Noah Hanifin - Brett Pesce

Cam Ward

Eddie Lack

Injured: James Wisniewski (knee), Nathan Gerbe (lower body)

Scratched: Riley Nash

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It's early, but John Carlson is easily living up to his new contract

It's early, but John Carlson is easily living up to his new contract

Whenever a player has a career year in the last year of his contract, there is always some trepidation the next season. Was he really worth all those years or all that money that come with his new deal or did he just cash in on one great season?

John Carlson got the big contract and now is silencing all the doubters with his outstanding play.

Carlson scored his fifth goal of the season Monday as he chipped in a great feed from Jakub Vrana past Vancouver Canucks goalie Anders Nilsson.

On the final year of his deal in 2017-18, Carlson was brilliant with 15 goals, 53 assists and 68 points, all of which were career highs.

It’s rare to see a bonafide No. 1 defenseman hit the open market, meaning there would have been plenty of teams lining up to pay him the big bucks. The Caps never let it get that far and they re-signed Carlson to an eight-year deal worth $64 million before free agency opened. His $8 million cap hit ties him for second among all defensemen.

That’s a whole lot of money to spend on a player whose previous career high was 55 points. Carlson would not have been the first player to regress in the first year after signing a big deal and he certainly would not be the last.

For now, however, he looks like he is worth every penny.

Carlson’s 68 points last season led all defensemen and he looks like he’s on pace to shatter those numbers. His goal Monday was his 11th point on the season. It took him 15 goals to reach that mark last season and 43 games to reach five goals.

Despite a career year, Carlson was not invited to the All-Star Game, he was not a finalist for the Norris Trophy and he was not named a first or second-team All-Star at season’s end. At his current rate of play, however, he will be impossible to ignore. 


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With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

On June 7 in Las Vegas, Jay Beagle was in a Capitals uniform as they hoisted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Three weeks later, the 33-year-old signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks

The Capitals begin a four-game, Canadian road trip this evening in Vancouver. Beagle did not attend the Capitals ring ceremony at the Palm three weeks ago so the Caps awarded Beagle with his ring today.

Each ring contains 252 diamonds, 35 rubies and one sapphire. Beagle was impressed but isn't sure how much use the ring will get.

“Not sure I’ll wear it again. It’s like wearing my truck.”

Jay Beagle will not be on the ice tonight against his former team. Beagle broke his forearm when he blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on October 13th. Beagle is expected to be sidelined for another five weeks.

Despite the injury, it has still been a great week for Beagle. 

A shiny, new ring AND a baby girl. Not too shabby.