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Opponents say Stanley Cup runs through D.C.

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Opponents say Stanley Cup runs through D.C.

News, notes and some interesting quotes as the Capitals spend a Thursday off in southern California, dreaming about the beautiful weather in D.C.:

Stanley Cup preview?: It seems every Western Conference team the Caps have faced lately has been trumpeted as the team they could face in the Stanley Cup Final three months from now. Whether it’s the Dallas Stars, Chicago Blackhawks, Anaheim Ducks or Los Angeles Kings, everyone in the West seems to think the road to the 2016 Stanley Cup runs through Chinatown.

“If we want to win the Cup there’s a good chance we’ll have to go through them,” Kings forward Jeff Carter said after netting the overtime game-winner in the Caps’ 4-3 loss in Staples Center Wednesday night. “So tonight was a big game. It was probably for both teams two different games. Hot start, slow down. Slow start, heat up. They’re a good team, and chances are pretty good that if we want to get to where we need to be we’ll have to go through them.”

Slow starts, fast finishes: Including Wednesday night’s quick 3-0 deficit to the Kings, the Caps have been outscored

53-48 in first periods this season. On the flip side, they’ve outscored opponents by 27 goals in second periods and by 36 goals in third periods for a two-period total of plus-63.

“I didn’t like our first thirty minutes of the game,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “We needed to fix our battles on the puck and in those one-on-one areas we were a little loose with the puck. It’s not necessarily what you get, it’s what you leave and we left them some prime chances to come back on an odd-man rush and get a good look.

“This group was resilient. They were down three and looked at it as a challenge to see if we could come back and we did. Obviously, in overtime we had a bit of a poor change recognizing that we had to get some players off. That’s what happens in three-on-three.”

Trotz said he’s trying to look at Wednesday game as a glass half full.

“We will take the second half of the game and say, ‘That’s what we need to do and the way we need to play,’” he said. ”This group wouldn’t be satisfied with that effort in the first period for the whole game.

“We’re playing a very good team. The L.A. Kings are not going to let you come into their building and have an easy game. We took a while to engage into it and once we did we were fine. It was a good learning lesson and maybe down the road we can run into each other again. It’ll be a good reminder for us.”

Heavy hitters: Although there was a greater emphasis last season on the Caps playing a “heavy” game, the same can be said this season. The Caps rank 11th in the NHL in hits this season with 1,636. Last season, the Caps ranked ninth in the league with 2,335 hits.

A big reason for the Caps’ third-period dominance has been the physical toll they’ve inflicted on their opponents. Just ask the Kings, who lead the NHL with 2,006 hits.

“Two big teams,” said Milan Lucic, who leads the Kings with 217 hits. “They’re a team that’s played well all season long, that’s why they’re in first place in the league. A big part of their success is playing physical, and that’s a big part of our success, too.

“We learned a pretty good lesson today in the third period that we can’t take anything for granted. Even though we’re up three-nothing and had such a great start, when we don’t play the right way we let teams back in it. Good for us to get that extra point there in overtime, but there’s a lesson to be learned by the way we played in the third period.”

MORE CAPITALS: Williams, Richards react differently to tributes

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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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