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Caps counting on healthy Johansson, Orpik

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Caps counting on healthy Johansson, Orpik

By sending forward Paul Carey and defenseman Connor Carrick back to the AHL Hershey Bears on Monday, the Caps took a calculated risk heading into their three-game road trip, which begins Tuesday night in Nashville against the Predators.

With forward Marcus Johansson (upper body) and defenseman Brooks Orpik (lower body) unlikely to play on Tuesday night, the Caps will have just 12 healthy forwards and six healthy defensemen when they take on the Preds.

That means Stan Galiev is likely to return to the lineup, replacing Carey on the fourth line. Carey scored one very big goal in his two-game stint with the Caps, netting the game-tying goal in Newark to set the stage for Alex Ovechkin’s shootout game-winner.

Carey’s goal is one more than Galiev has scored in 14 games with the Caps this season.

The question moving forward for the Caps is when Johansson and Orpik are ready to return to the lineup. Coach Barry Trotz said he’d like to see both players get through at least one practice before returning. Since Johansson was injured less than two weeks ago, in the game before the All-Star break, he might need just one full-contact practice on Wednesday before returning to the lineup on Thursday night in Minnesota.

Orpik has been sidelined since Nov. 10, so it’s possible Trotz would like to see him skate with the team all this week before getting him back in the lineup when the Caps return from their three-game trip, which concludes Saturday night in Dallas.  

MORE CAPITALS: NHL Power Rankings: Trouble brewing?

Ovi on fire: Alex Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the season on Sunday, becoming the third player in NHL history to score 30 or more goals in each of his first 11 seasons in the league, joining Mike Gartner (first 15 seasons) and Wayne Gretzky (first 13). Ovechkin is the only player in the NHL to score 30 or more goals in every season since 2005-06. He has four goals in his last six games.

Nisky business: Matt Niskanen’s game-winning goal on Sunday was his first game-winner of the season and the 11th of his career. Niskanen was named the game’s first star and led all skaters in ice time (24:51) and shots (7).

Beastly: Braden Holtby is 25-1-3 in his last 30 appearances with two shutouts, a 2.08 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage.

Bura-cuda: Andre Burakovsky’s assist extended his career-long point streak to seven games (6 goals, 3 assists). He has earned 13 points (6 goals, 7 assists) in his last 10 games.

Kuz-tastic: Evgeny Kuznetsov has earned 16 points (2 goals, 14 assists) in his last 10 games.

200: Tom Wilson played in his 200th NHL game on Sunday, becoming the fifth player in franchise history to play 200 games before his 22nd birthday, joining Bob Carpenter, Scott Stevens, Gaetan Duchesne and Kevin Hatcher.

Dominant at home: The Capitals have posted a 14-1-1 record in their last 16 games at Verizon Center and have outscored their opponents 61-34 during that span. In addition, Washington is 20-4-2 at home this season and has earned a point in 19 of its last 21 home games (17-2-2).

Back-to-back: The Capitals completed their 10th back-to-back set of the season over the weekend. The Caps are 16-3-1 in back-to-back games this season, outscoring opponents 71-45.

Beasts of the East: The Caps are 30-7-2 against the Eastern Conference this season, ranking first in the NHL in wins against conference opponents. 

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

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USA Today

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

The Washington Capitals (3-2-2) head to Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada after an overtime/shootout loss against the Florida Panthers last Friday. 

The Caps are determined to avoid the devastation they felt in the first period when they gave away four goals to the Panthers. They will need to focus in the power plays and avoid penalties at all costs.

Many fans were looking forward to the reunion with former player Jay Beagle, who is now centerman for the Canucks, but he is unfortunately out on injury. However you can look out for Caps Nic Dowd, who will have his own homecoming game against his former team. 

Here is everything you need to know about Capitals vs. Canucks which takes place at 10:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports Washington.
 

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS HOW TO WATCH

What: Washington Capitals vs. Vancouver Canucks, Game 8 of the 2018-19 NHL Regular Season

Where: Rogers Arena, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

When: Monday, October 22 at 10:00 p.m. ET

TV Channel: The Capitals vs. Canucks game will be broadcast on NBC Sports Washington (NBC Sports Washington Channel Finder)

Live Stream: You can live stream Capitals vs. Canucks on NBC Sports Washington's live stream page and on the NBC Sports App.

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

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS SCHEDULE

9:00 PM: Caps Faceoff Live
9:30 PM: Caps Pregame Live
10:00 PM: Capitals vs. Canucks
12:30 PM: Caps Postgame Live

CAPITALS vs. CANUCKS PLAYERS TO WATCH

Lars Eller, F, Capitals: In his last game, he had a three-point night with three assists. He is a messaive help and shined within the trio of Vrana and Connoly on Friday.

Tim Schaller, F, Canucks: He was struggling in the preseason but came back with a vengeance. He assisted with a penatly kill and is a key component in fourth line. 

MORE CAPITALS NEWS:

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What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

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USA TODAY

What is a back-up goalie’s job during a game?

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. What is his job during the game?

Friday’s game between the Washington Capitals and Florida Panthers was one of the rare games that featured four goalies. Braden Holtby and James Reimer started, but both were ultimately pulled in what was a high-scoring affair. In stepped Pheonix Copley and Michael Hutchinson.

And yet, despite being little more than an afterthought in the team’s preparation for the game, both Copley (one goal allowed on 19 shots, .947 save percentage) and Hutchinson (one goal allowed on 11 shots, .909 save percentage) stepped in and out-performed the starters giving both of their respective teams a chance to win the game.

“It's easier in some aspects,” Holtby said of coming into a game off the bench, something he has done at various points of his career despite being the primary starter for Washington. “I think that's why you see a lot of guys go in and have success right away and have good games because you don't have that day or two days to be getting rid of your thoughts and that kind of thing.”

At the end of every bench in the NHL is a goalie sitting in full pads and a hat. Every team dresses two goalies on the roster for a game. One starts and one sits on the bench as the backup in case he is needed because of injury or because a coach chooses to make a goalie switch. That backup is tasked with being ready at all times to step into the game knowing full well that, if all goes according to plan, he will not get to play at all.

Holtby and Reimer had prepared for Friday’s game knowing they were going to start. Both players took warmups in order to prepare them to play a full game while Copley and Hutchinson had little reason to think they would see any action at all.

By the end of the second period, however, both Holtby and Reimer had been replaced. Copley at least had an intermission to prepare as he came on at the start of the second period while Hutchinson had to step in midway through the second period.

“I guess it can be a little challenging,” Copley said, “But I feel like as long as you’re kind of paying attention to the game and your mind's kind of in that hockey mindset then if something happens, I'll be ready to go.”

Professional athletes are creatures of habit. To have to step into a game unexpectedly with little to no warning or preparation and be expected to perform at the highest level is an incredibly tough mental challenge.

And yet, in many ways, it can be easier than starting.

“The whole thing about mental preparation is so that you go out there not thinking about anything, not worrying about any of that,” Holtby said. “When you're forced in with a matter of 30 seconds, there's no time to think about anything. You just go in and play.”

For goalies, not starting does not mean having the night off. Both coaches and teammates alike can lean upon a backup netminder as an extra set of eyes.

“Sometimes they'll ask a question like did it look like I had room there?” Copley said. “Was it a shot or missed? Did you see what happened on this play? So I just try to be there and watch.”

Some coaches even give goalies assignments in game, though that practice seems to be on the decline.

“I know [Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock] makes them look at faceoffs or something,” Holtby said. “It's pretty archaic. There's guys that do that now that are better than the backup goalie at looking at things.”

In truth, there is no defined in-game requirements for most goalies in the NHL when they sit as backups and that is true of the Caps’ tandem. That makes the job of a backup a very simple one.

“I just try and be ready if I have to go in,” Copley said. “Make sure I'm physically and mentally ready and be a good teammate.”

Holtby put it even more succinctly as he said, “Don't do anything stupid.”