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Pregame primer: Caps aim for 5th straight road win

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Pregame primer: Caps aim for 5th straight road win

More news and notes as the Capitals (8-2-0, 16 points) visit the New York Rangers (7-2-2, 16 points) tonight at Madison Square Garden (6:30 pregame, CSN):

Goalie matchup: Braden Holtby (6-2-0, 1.90 GAA, .924 SP) will go for the Caps, while Henrik Lundqvist (5-2-2, 1.87, .943) will go for the Rangers. In 11 career games against the Blueshirts Holtby is 3-6-1 with a 2.34 GAA and .926 SP. Lundqvist is 18-8-3 with a 2.52 GAA, .910 SP and four shutouts in 29 career games against the Caps. “He’s our best player,” Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said. “He’s our highest-paid player also.” Lundqvist is in the second year of a seven-year, $59.5 million contract.

Chasing history: The Caps’ 8-2-0 start matches their best in franchise history. They were also 8-2-0 in 1991-92 and 2011-12. The Caps are 4-0-0 on the road this season and have never started a season with five straight road wins. The Rangers are 5-1-1 at home this season.

Ovi and Nick: In 29 career regular season games against Lundqvist, Alex Ovechkin has 16 goals and 11 assists. Nicklas Backstrom has five goals and 15 assists in 21 games against Lundqvist.

Kuz-tastic: Evgeny Kuznetsov ranks fifth in the NHL with 1.30 points per game and some are projecting him as a point-per-game player. “Maybe he went under the radar there for while,” Vigneault said, “but no more.”

MORE CAPITALS: 'YOU REMEMBER THAT HURT'

My baloney has a first name: Rangers rookie Oscar Lindberg is second on the club with five goals and is the first rookie in club history to score a goal in his first three games. Lindberg was selected by Phoenix in the second round (57th overall) of the 2010 NHL draft and traded to the Rangers for Ethan Werek back in 2011.

Quick starters: The Rangers have outscored opponents 12-5 in first periods this season, while the Caps have outscored opponents 9-6 in the opening 20 minutes. “They usually start quick, especially in this building,” Caps defenseman Brooks Orpik said. “So managing the puck and making them go 200 feet will be important for us. If they score the first goal it can kind of snowball on you.”

Solving Henrik: The Caps say the secret to beating Henrik Lundqvist is, you guessed it, traffic. “We have a good scouting package on him as I’m sure he does on our shooters,” Brooks Laich said. “He’s a good goaltender. Their team is also notorious for blocking shots. We need to be hungry around the net and get inside position on their defenders and just be hungry to score”

Fights? What fights?: Ten games into the season the Caps are one of four NHL teams without a fighting major. The Rangers have engaged in just one fight, by defenseman Kevin Klein. If there’s a nifght to see one, it’s tonight, when Tom Wilson plays on a fourth line against Dylan McElrath.  

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With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

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USA Today

With Caps in Vancouver, Jay Beagle receives his ring

On June 7 in Las Vegas, Jay Beagle was in a Capitals uniform as they hoisted their first Stanley Cup in franchise history. Three weeks later, the 33-year-old signed a four-year, $12-million contract with the Vancouver Canucks

The Capitals begin a four-game, Canadian road trip this evening in Vancouver. Beagle did not attend the Capitals ring ceremony at the Palm three weeks ago so the Caps awarded Beagle with his ring today.

Each ring contains 252 diamonds, 35 rubies and one sapphire. Beagle was impressed but isn't sure how much use the ring will get.

“Not sure I’ll wear it again. It’s like wearing my truck.”

Jay Beagle will not be on the ice tonight against his former team. Beagle broke his forearm when he blocked a shot against the Florida Panthers on October 13th. Beagle is expected to be sidelined for another five weeks.

Despite the injury, it has still been a great week for Beagle. 

A shiny, new ring AND a baby girl. Not too shabby.

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4 things to watch in Capitals at Canucks

4 things to watch in Capitals at Canucks

It’s going to be a late night. The Caps are in Vancouver to take on the Canucks (10 p.m., NBC Sports Washington Plus) for the first of a four-game swing through Canada. Grab your coffee, here are four things you need to watch.

Offensive firepower

Washington enters Monday’s game with the top offense in the NHL with 4.14 goals per game. Vancouver had one of the worst defenses in the league last year. They have looked much improved at the start of this season, but they are still giving up 3.00 goals per game. Washington’s high-powered superstars should be able to take advantage and get some points on the board.

Adjusted lines

The fact that Washington has the top offense in the NHL is surprising considering how much their depth forwards have struggled to produce. Prior to Friday’s game against the Florida Panthers, the Caps had gotten only two goals from the bottom six and both had come in the season-opener. After seeing his team go down 4-1 against Florida, head coach Todd Reirden shuffled up the lines and it seemed to create a spark for the offense.

Reirden indicated Sunday he will stick with those lines and he kept them together for Monday’s morning skate:

Alex Ovechkin – Evgeny Kuznetsov – Devante Smith-Pelly
Chandler Stephenson – Nicklas Backstrom – T.J. Oshie
Jakub Vrana – Lars Eller – Brett Connolly
Dmitrij Jaskin – Nic Dowd – Andre Burakovsky

Vrana, Connolly and Smith-Pelly all scored after the change. Per the Caps’ PR team, the third line of Vrana, Eller and Connolly produced two goals, eight shot attempts and allowed just three shot attempts in over six minutes of five-on-five play.

Special teams

In addition to having the top offense in the NHL, the Caps also boast the top power play. With the extra man, the Caps are producing on 38.5-percent of their opportunities. That is most likely not a sustainable number, but it does show the power play is as good as ever.

The Canucks come into this game ranked eighth on the penalty kill at 83.9-percent and they will be the latest team to try and slow down a power play that is really starting to click with John Carlson seemingly developing into one of the top blue liners in the NHL.

Remember me?

Vancouver’s star rookie Elias Pettersson is still in concussion protocol and will not play in Monday’s game, but there is another talented youngster who will the Caps will need to watch out for in Brock Boeser.

Boeser was in a dead heat with New York Islanders forward Matt Barzal for the Calder Trophy as rookie of the year last season before an injury forced him to miss the last month of the season.

In two career games against Washington, Boeser has recorded three assists. He has had a bit of a slower start to the season with five points thus far, but he is a dynamic talent who the Caps’ defense will have to account for.

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