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Caps and Rangers by the numbers

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Caps and Rangers by the numbers

Caps vs. Rangers in the playoffs. Hmm, sounds familiar, doesn’t it? It should.

This will be the fifth series between the two team since 2009, the most meetings between two teams in that stretch.

Though it may seem like the same teams meeting again and again, only three player for each team have played in all four previous series: Dan Girardi, Marc Staal and Henrik Lundqvist for the Rangers and Alex Ovechkin, Mike Green and Nicklas Backstrom for the Caps.

The Caps and Rangers met four times in the regular season with the Rangers winning three of those meetings. Braden Holtby was in net for all four games and he did not fare well with a 3.06 GAA and .897 save percentage.

The Caps’ first period struggles may follow them to this round as the Rangers outscored them 7-2 in the first period this season. Overall, New York outscored the Caps 13-10, but despite the Rangers’ familiarity with slowing down Ovechkin, he still managed to score five of the Caps’ 10 goals. In fact, no player in the NHL has scored more goals against Lundqvist than the Great 8 (26). He will need to be just as potent this series given how dominant Lundqvist looked New York’s opening series against the Pittsburgh Penguins.

RELATED: Ovechkin among three finalists for big NHL award

Lundqvist managed an insane 1.53 GAA against Pittsburgh, holding SIdney Crosby to only two goals and Chris Kunitz to one. Evgeni Malkin had no point at all in the series.

Barry Trotz finds himself to be a newcomer to this rivalry in his first year as the Capitals’ coach though he and Alain Vigneault have met once before in the playoffs. In 2011, Trotz and the Nashville Predators met Vigneault and the Vancouver Canucks in the conference semifinals. Vancouver won in six games.

Overall, Trotz has eight playoff appearances with a 23-34 record. Vigneault has nine appearances and a 54-54 record.

But this postseason has been about the Caps overcoming their playoff history which they did in their first round win over the Islanders.

Not only did they play their best game in Game 7, a situation in which the Caps have struggled in the past, but it was also the first time in franchise history that the team allowed no power play goals in a series.

Some have pointed to the exploits of Evgeny Kuznetsov as a major reason for the team’s win over the Islanders and they may be right. Kuznetsov was not with the team for their past struggles, but he delivered for the Caps in a big way. Not only did he record four points in the first round, he also scored the series-clinching goal in Game 7 making him the first Caps’ rookie to do so.

The Rangers have won the last two playoff series between these two teams with both series going seven games. Could Kuznetsov be the key to winning this series as well?

Round two begins on Thursday night in Madison Square Garden. The puck drops at 7:30 p.m.

MORE CAPITALS: Ovechkin braces himself for another war on ice

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

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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

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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."

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