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AAA keys to the game: Capitals vs. Oilers


AAA keys to the game: Capitals vs. Oilers

With the Capitals (13-5-1, 27 points) and Edmonton Oilers (7-12-11, 15 points) set to battle tonight at Verizon Center (6:30 p.m. pregame CSN), here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

When we last met: This will be the second and final meeting between the two teams. The Caps enjoyed a 7-4 victory over the Oilers at Rexall Place on Oct. 23. Evgeny Kuznetsov put up a career-high five points in that game, including his first career hat trick.

Caps center Nicklas Backstrom, who is celebrating his 28th birthday today, said the Oilers are a quick team.

"They're always dangerous, wherever they are,” he said. “They can score from everywhere. They go to the net and crash the net. We really better be good defensively and I think it's important too that we have a good start and we play the same way and have the same start as last game."

The Caps scored four first-period goals in Saturday night’s 7-3 win over Colorado.  

RELATED Ted Leonsis focused on bringing a championship to D.C.

Who’s in goal: The Caps will turn to Braden Holtby (11-4-0, 2.01 GAA, .920 SP) for the 16th time in 20 games this season while the Oilers will go with Anders Nilsson (4-1-1, 3.04, .901) for the seventh time in nine games.

No puck luck: T.J. Oshie has an assist in each of his last two games but has just one goal in his last 10. He’s currently on pace to set a career-high with 22 goals, but feels like he should have more.

“I’m getting a lot of chances and when you get that many they’re going to go in,” Oshie said. “I just need to keep shooting the puck. There were a couple on the power play last game that I dished off and I should have shot. If I keep shooting they’re going to go in eventually. I’m getting some bad puck luck.”

Special teams: The Caps are ranked seventh in the NHL on the power play and seventh on the penalty kill. The Oilers rank 14th on the power play and 22nd on the kill.

No McDavid: Caps fans will miss their first opportunity to see Oilers phenom Connor McDavid, who played junior hockey with Andre Burakovsky but will miss his eighth straight game with a broken clavicle. The Caps will be without defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body) for the sixth straight game.

Straight shooters: The Oilers’ Taylor Hall ranks fourth in the NHL with 85 shots on goal this season, including 25 in his last five games. Alex Ovechkin leads all shooters with 96 and is on pace to finish with more than 400 shots for the first time since recording a career-high 528 in 2008-09.

Little Mess: Leon Draisaitl’s 17 points in 10 games are the most by an Oilers player in his first 10 games of a season since Mark Messier in 1989-90.

Remember me?: Former Capitals tough guy and fan favorite Matt Hendricks is expected to be in the lineup tonight. In 10 games with the Oilers he has one goal, one assist and 10 penalty minutes. Hendricks spent three seasons with the Caps from 2010-13.  

Passing Langway: John Carlson’s next point will move him past Rod Langway and into eighth place on the Caps’ all-time scoring list among defensemen.

Hot to Trotz: Barry Trotz is three games away from 1,300 in the NHL and three wins away from passing Jacques Lemaire (617) for 11th place on the NHL all-time coaching wins list.

How about a hat trick?: Justin Williams is three points shy of 600 in the NHL.


Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - T.J. Oshie

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Justin Williams

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Stanislav Galiev

Brooks LaichMichael Latta - Tom Wilson

Defense pairs

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Matt Niskanen - Karl Alzner

Dmitry Orlov - Taylor Chorney


Braden Holtby (starter) - Philipp Grubauer

Injured: Brooks Orpik (lower body)

Scratches: Andre Burakovsky


Forward lines

Taylor Hall - Leon Draisaitl - Teddy Purcell

Benoit Pouliot - Ryan Nugent-Hopkins - Jordan Eberle

Matt Hendricks - Mark Letestu - Nail Yakupov

Anton Lander - Lauri Korpikoski - Iiro Pakarinen

Defense pairs

Oscar Klefbom - Mark Fayne

Darnell Nurse - Eric Gryba

Andrej Sekera - Brandon Davidson


Anders Nilsson (starter) - Cam Talbot

Injured: Connor McDavid (broken clavicle), Justin Schultz (back), Rob Klinkhammer (undisclosed), Luke Gazdic(undisclosed)

Scratches: Griffin ReinhartAndrew Ference


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GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson


GM Brian MacLellan: Capitals are close to re-signing John Carlson

DALLAS—The Caps are “really close” to signing star defenseman John Carlson to a long-term extension, GM Brian MacLellan said Friday night.

“We’re getting closer,” MacLellan said following the first round of the NHL Draft. “Hopefully we can get it done here over the next few days. We’re really close.”

Earlier in the day, the Caps cleared significant space under the salary cap ceiling by trading Philipp Grubauer and Brooks Orpik to Colorado for a second round draft pick (47th overall). 

That space will now be used to lock up Carlson, who could become the best defenseman on the open market if he were to reach it.

MacLellan met with Carlson’s agent, Rick Curran, here on Thursday night.

MacLellan did not divulge any figures, but it’s expected that Carlson’s new contract could come in at eight years and $8 million per—or perhaps a bit more. 

He earned $4 million last season.

Carlson had a career year in 2017-18 and was critical during the Caps' run to the Stanley Cup. He led all defensemen in the regular season with 68 points (15 goals, 53 assists). The 28-year-old also skated a career-high 24:47 per game.

MacLellan has long said that re-signing Carlson was the Caps’ top priority this offseason. And now it looks like that could happen within days, assuming the talks do not hit any snags.

“We’re going to do our best to sign John,” MacLellan said. “We’ve said it all along. We waited until the end of the year. We’ve had discussions. We’re close and hopefully we can close the deal here over the next 24 hours.”


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Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick


Capitals go to the WHL again, select defenseman Alex Alexeyev with first-round pick

The last time the Washington Capitals had a first-round draft pick, they selected a WHL defenseman. They did not go off script on Friday.

With the last pick of the first round, selecting for the first time as defending Stanley Cup champions, the Capitals selected Alexander Alexeyev, a left-shooting, two-way defenseman from St. Petersburg.

Alexeyev, 18, certainly boasts NHL size at 6' 4", 196 pounds. He currently plays for Red Deer in the WHL, a junior league that has become a major pipeline for the Capitals. In his second season with Red Deer, he tallied 37 points in 45 games.

The NHL Central Scouting's rankings list Alexeyev as the 22nd best North American skater of the draft. TSN projects him to be a top-four, two-way defenseman.

Analyst Craig Button described Alexeyev as a "Smart, effective defenceman who moves the puck, plays with a calm and doesn't make things complicated for himself."