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AAA Keys to the Game: Grubauer in, Oshie out vs. Blues

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AAA Keys to the Game: Grubauer in, Oshie out vs. Blues

Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby will need to wait a couple more days before resuming his pursuit of the NHL’s single-season wins record.

Head coach Barry Trotz said backup goaltender Philipp Grubauer will get the start tonight against the St. Louis Blues (6:30 p.m. Pregame Live, CSN), while right winger T.J. Oshie will miss his second straight game with flu-like symptoms.

Here are our AAA Keys to the Game:

Oshie update: Trotz said the plan is for Oshie to skate on Easter Sunday and “flush some of that out of his system.” Trotz said Oshie did not report to Verizon Center “so that he doesn’t get anybody else sick” and that he hopes Oshie will be cleared to play on Monday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Oshie would have been facing his former team for the first time since being traded from St. Louis to Washington in a summer trade that sent Troy Brouwer to the Blues.

“You always want to play your old team. The good thing is we play them one more time a little more than a week from now (April 9 in St. Louis) and he’ll get that opportunity. Today it will be Brouw’s night.”

Trotz said Brouwer left a “big footprint” in Washington and was “outstanding” both on and off the ice.

Between the pipes: Grubauer (8-6-1, 2.19 GAA, .924) has not started since March 12. He’ll face Blues backup Jake Allen (24-14-3, 2.42, .917).  That means Brian Elliott, who has three consecutive shutouts, will get the night off.

No resting: Trotz said he will not sit any of his players out to give them a rest, saying unless they are injured they will play. Trotz said he spoke with Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen about players in Pittsburgh being rested down the stretch and was told players lost their rhythm and were adversely affected in the playoffs.

Facing Hitch: Tonight’s game features two of the NHL’s winningest coaches. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock ranks fourth all-time with 752 victories, while Trotz ranks ninth with 655. Trotz said Hitchcock’s teams are always disciplined, structured, physical and competitive.

“Hitch is a great hockey guy,” Trotz said. “We’re friends and I’ve learned a lot over the years from Hitch by coaching against him and talking with him.”

Here are projected lineups:

CAPITALS

Forward lines

Alex Ovechkin - Nicklas Backstrom - Justin Williams

Marcus Johansson - Evgeny Kuznetsov - Andre Burakovsky

Jason Chimera - Jay Beagle - Tom Wilson

Daniel WinnikMike Richards - Stanislav Galiev

Defense pairs

Karl Alzner - Matt Niskanen

Dmitry Orlov - Brooks Orpik

Nate Schmidt - John Carlson

Goaltenders

Philipp Grubauer (starter) - Braden Holtby

Injured: T.J., Oshie (flu)

Scratched: Michael LattaMike WeberTaylor Chorney

BLUES

Forward lines

Jaden Schwartz - Jori Lehtera - Vladimir Tarasenko

Robby Fabbri - Paul Stastny - Troy Brouwer

Dmitrij Jaskin - Patrik Berglund - David Backes

Scottie Upshall - Kyle Brodziak - Ryan Reaves

Defense pairs

Kevin Shattenkirk - Alex Pietrangelo

Carl Gunnarsson - Colton Parayko

Joel Edmundson - Robert Bortuzzo

Goaltenders

Jake Allen (starter) - Brian Elliott

Injured: Alexander Steen (upper body), Steve Ott (hamstrings), Jay Bouwmeester (upper body)

Scratched: Magnus PaajarviAnders Nilsson, Petteri Lindbohm

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Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

Capitals vs. Rangers: Time, TV Channel, Live Stream, How to Watch

The Capitals (2-2-1) were dealt a herky-jerky schedule for the first month of the NHL season, already having logged two back-to-backs and two extended breaks.  But Washington finally gets a semblance of normalcy when they host the New York Rangers (2-4) on Wednesday night in the first of two home games before heading out west to end the month.

The Caps enter the Wednesday Night Hockey tilt with their longtime regional foes having dropped a thrilling weekend showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs and their high-powered attack. The Rangers have long been a thorn in the side of the Capitals and fans alike. But the team that will hit the ice at Capital One Arena on Oct. 17 will be one that Capitals need to dispatch of with ease.

The team's first foray into defending a championship has been a wild ride with ceremonies, openers, rematches and a lot of time off. After dropping the first three games of the season, New York has won two of its last three,  with both games needing extra time.

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Rangers which takes place at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Network.

CAPITALS vs. RANGERs HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. New York Rangers, Game 6 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Capital One Arena, Washington, D.C.

When: Wednesday, October 17 at 7:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: Capitals vs. Rangers will be broadcast on NBC Sports Network. (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: Watch Capitals vs. Rangers on  the NBC Sports Washington live stream page and  the NBC Sports MyTeams App.

Radio: Caps 24/7 Radio, 106.7 The Fan FM

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS TV SCHEDULE

6:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
6:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
7:00 PM: Capitals vs. Rangers on NBC Sports Network
9:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live
10:00 PM: Caps Overtime Live

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Braden Holtby, G. Capitals: Holtby has started four of the Capitals' first five games. He's allowed just two goals in the Capitals' two wins, but has given up 11 in the two losses. That being said, the Rangers do not have the caliber of fire-power possessed by the Penguins and Maple Leafs. Expect a big game from "The HoltBeast."

Mats Zuccarello, Rangers: The Rangers savvy veteran leads the team in assists (5) and points (50 through the first six games. While he's not the most dangerous threat on offense, he's the table setter and crafty elder statesman. 

CAPITALS vs. RANGERS SERIES HISTORY

Number of all-time Meetings: 273

All-Time Series Record: Capitals lead series 131–117–18–7

Regular Season Record: Capitals lead series 103–90–18–7

Playoff Record: Capitals lead series 28-27

Last Meeting: Capitals beat Rangers 3-2 OT (3/28/2018)

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4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

4 things to watch as the Caps host the Rangers

The Caps return to action Wednesday as they host the New York Rangers (7 p.m., NBCSN) in a Metropolitan Division clash.

Here are four things you should be watching for in this game.

The schedule finally gives the Caps a break

The early season schedule for Washington has been bizarre to say the least. Finally, they will be catching a break on Wednesday as the Rangers will be playing in the second leg of a back-to-back.

That certainly does not guarantee a victory, but it is something the Caps are very aware of and they hope to take advantage.

“I think speed is a big part of the game and for them to be fatigued off the back-to-back is definitely going to help us whether we move the puck a little quicker than we would in other games just kind of knowing they are coming off that back-to-back,” Nathan Walker said.

“We've got to make them skate, we've got to make their D go back for pucks,” T.J. Oshie said. “I don't feel like they're going to look tired at the start of the game, usually that comes towards the end of the game, second half, and so you've got to work to drain them down a little bit and we've got to take advantage of that opportunity tonight.”

Top-line Stephenson

Stephenson was added to the top line on Saturday with no practice other than the morning skate that day. A few days between games has given him a chance to practice with Alex Ovechkin and Evgeny Kuznetsov and it should pay dividends on Wednesday.

This game also should be a good opportunity for Stephenson who was added to the top for his speed. Playing a tired Rangers team is something he will need to take advantage of.

“It's always tough to play back-to-back and with the travel and stuff like that,” Stephenson said. “For the most part, I think that that's going to be important and just to play a full 60, that's something that we want to get consistent with and we haven't been so far … But for the most part, I think the start will really help us tonight.”

Nathan Walker returns

The Caps made a change to the lineup for Wednesday’s game as Nathan Walker will be in for Dmitrij Jaskin on the fourth line.

When asked why he made the change, Reirden said, “Just a different look. A team that's on a back-to-back, we wanted to really come at them with some speed, tenacity and intensity that we know we always get from Nathan so thought it was a good add into tonight's lineup.

The Caps have got to get more offense from their bottom six and adding the speedy Walker to the bottom six could provide a boost. He has had trouble playing within the system in the past and his play has been more frenzied than controlled at times, but with Tom Wilson still suspended, there’s definitely an opportunity for Walker to earn more playing time depending on how he plays Wednesday.

King Henry remains on his throne

In addition to a tired Rangers team, the Caps are also expected to face a tired goalie.

Henrik Lundqvist started New York’s game on Tuesday and is expected to start again on Wednesday against Washington. That is not confirmed as the Rangers did not have a morning skate because of the back-to-back, but it is believed Lundqvist will play again.

There was a time when Lundqvist was considered the best netminder in the NHL and he is off to a phenomenal start this season with a 1.99 GAA and .939 save percentage in five games thus far.

But how will the 36-year-old goalie handle a back-to-back?

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