Capitals Daily Report: Caps Prep for President’s Trophy Battle at the Phone Booth

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Photo: @TarikCSN

Tonight is another exciting Thursday night battle at Verizon Center. Tonight the reigning Metropolitan Division champions host the young, up-and-coming Blue Jackets, who have had an amazing season, and shattered pundit’s expectations. Here’s what went down at Kettler today. Puck drop for tonight is 7 PM

MORNING SKATE
There were no changes to the lines this morning. Here is what they’ll look like for tonight’s game.

Forwards
Ovechkin-Backstrom-Oshie
Johansson-Kuznetsov-Williams
Connolly-Eller-Burakovsky
Winnik-Beagle-Wilson

Defensemen
Alzner-Carlson
Orlov-Niskanen
Orpik-Shattenkirk

Nate Schmidt and Taylor Chorney were the healthy scratches. Braden Holtby will get the start in goal tonight for the Capitals.

Head coach Barry Trotz told reporters following practice that the team plans on calling up a forward at some point this afternoon.

With the playoffs right around the corner, the Capitals look to lock-up the top spot in the Metro Division, and secure home ice advantage.

“You’ve got to go through good teams to win it (the Stanley Cup),” said Brooks Orpik. “You got to have luck a little bit along the way. It’s a dangerous game when you try to pick and choose who you’re playing against.”

METROPOLITAN DIVISION STANDINGS
The Capitals can take a four point lead on the Blue Jackets with a win tonight which will get them closer to locking in the all-important top spot and home ice advantage in the playoffs.

“As I said to the guys: games like tonight down the stretch, if you’re a coach or hockey player, that’s what you play for. You play the whole year to get games that have a lot of meaning and we’ll get an opportunity to do that tonight. We’re prepared all year for this so let’s get at it,” said Trotz.

SCENES FROM KETTLER
Jay Beagle and Evgeny Kuznetsov working on their face-off game:

BEHIND ENEMY LINES
The Columbus Blue Jackets have nine games left including a tough stretch of consecutive games against the Blackhawks, Capitals, and Penguins.

Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky will get the start in goal tonight. Bobrovsky leads the league in goals-against average (2.04), save percentage (.931), and wins (39). Columbus is coming off a 5-2 loss to the Maple Leafs and didn’t hold a morning skate today. Here’s what their lines are projected to look like tonight.

Forwards
Saad-Gagner-Atkinson
Foligno-Wennberg-Hartnell
Jenner-Dubinsky-Anderson
Sedlak-Karlsson-Calvert

Defensemen
Werenski-Jones
Johnson-Savard
Quincey-Nutivaara

CAPITALS IN THE COMMUNITY
There were third graders at the rink on a field trip and they got to hear from Joe Beninati of CSN and Isabelle Khurshudyan from the Washington Post about the sports journalism business.

Tonight is Russian Heritage night at Verizon Center and Alex Ovechkin is donning special skates at warmups paying tribute to Russia and America. His skates will be auctioned with 100% of the proceeds benefitting the American Special Hockey Association.

“Obviously I wanted to play with them (the skates) on but the league said ‘no’ so I could only wear them for warmups,” said Ovechkin. “It’s a good thing. We did it for charity and all the money goes toward kids.”

Tom Wilson was so focused on the task of beating the Blue Jackets tonight that he didn’t know the occasion.

“I scrolled by them (the picture of Ovi’s warmup skates) on Twitter, (The skates) looked pretty cool. I haven’t seen them in person… is it Russian Heritage tonight?”, said Wilson.

GAME CHIPS

  • Tonight is the fourth of five meetings between the Capitals and Blue Jackets this season.
  • The Capitals won the team’s last meeting on Jan. 5 at Verizon Center 5-0.
  • The teams will meet one final time on April 2nd in Columbus.
  • The Capitals are 1-1-1 against the Blue Jackets this season.
  • For our game preview click here.

SHAVINGS

  • Karl Alzner needs two assists for his 100th of his NHL career.
  • Nicklas Backstrom is two goals shy of passing Bobby Carpenter (188) for eighth place on the franchise goals list.
  • The Capitals have won 29 games at home and are one win shy of tying the franchise record for wins at home in a season (1985-86, 2009-10: 30).
  • None of the Capitals home wins have come in a shootout and if that stands tonight, it will be the first time they’ve won 30 on home ice without a shootout since 1985-86 (there wasn’t a shootout to decide the winner). The Capitals won four games in shootout fashion in 2009-10.
  • Braden Holtby leads the NHL with eight shutouts this season.
  • The Capitals have scored 28 power play goals in their last 33 games, posting a 29.2% power play percentage during that span.
  • T.J. Oshie earned two points (one goal and one assist) on Tuesday against Calgary including his career high 30th goal of the season.
  • The Capitals have earned a point in seven of their last eight games against the Blue Jackets.

DAILY LINKS
T.J. Oshie Achieves Milestone of His Own
Can Alzner-Carlson Compete With Other Contenders’ Top Defensive Pairings?
Justin Williams Wants Your Input on Hair Style for Team Photo
Fan from Sweden Makes Pilgrimage for First Caps Game
Game Notes vs. Columbus, 3/23/17 (Capitals PR)
Waiting For Columbus (Mike Vogel)
SKATE SHAVINGS: News and Notes From Caps’ Morning Skate (Mike Vogel)

INTERVIEWS
Rinkside Update: Matt Niskanen

Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, and Brooks Orpik

Barry Trotz

By Michael Marzzacco

Thursday night! #GameOn #Capitals #RockTheRed #LetsGoCaps #Caps

A post shared by NoVa Caps (@nova_caps) on

About Michael Marzzacco

Michael is an avid DC sports fan with a passion for writing. He has followed the Washington Capitals since the 2003-04 season, around the time his enthusiasm for DC teams really began. It was from the days when they had the worst record in the league to when they became the most exciting team in the area. His Dad took him to his first Caps game a couple of years later. One of his favorite memories was being in the stands during the 2015 Winter Classic where Troy Brouwer scored the game-winning goal with 12 seconds left. Michael graduated from Radford University in May 2016, earning a degree in journalism and focusing on sports journalism and broadcasting. His goal is to work in sports media in Washington, D.C.
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